Its been a busy year for DC Comics, with four TV series going on around the same time. And while Constantine failed to attract a large enough audience, the three main shows; Gotham, Arrow and the Flash all ended up reacting their target numbers and getting another season order. That being said after 20 plus episodes each, only the Flash ended up getting it’s ending right. Let’s talk about that.
The whole DC TV reboot really started with the success of Arrow, a show that was pitched originally as a spin-off of the (terrible) Superman origin show, Smallville. While the show did take a lot from Batman and other fiction, the show seemed to strike a chord with comics fans like myself. It had impressive production, with some fun action scenes and character moments spaced out between EPIC (heavy sarcasm) melodrama. So after two years, a spin-off is greenlite, and while the idea of taking the heavily grounded in reality Arrow to a place where Meta-humans run around was a bit odd, in the end everything worked out.
From the first episode of the show, The Flash seemed to get things down. From it’s more fun tone, to having an overall different format from the Arrow show. We got to see our main cast grow and learn how to be heroes in their own ways, you know typical storytelling. I’m pointing these traits out cause it’s amazing how a different show on a different network, seemed to do none of that.
While Gotham, featured a different universe, a different creative team and different production set-up, it doesn’t excuse the fact it ended up being a mess. While the idea of a Gotham before Batman might seem interesting for a Fox executives, the idea doesn’t help fans who want to see these characters in their comic form. In fact, the show went out of it’s way to stomp on some of their dreams, do to who took up screen time.
With a show focusing on Jim Gordon’s rise to top cop, plenty of the show was spent following Penguin and Fish Mooney. While Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal of Cobblepot was impressive, it’s the Fish thing that left many scratching their heads.
Fish was a new character who presented herself as the real crime boss of Gotham, however in the end she turned out to be useless. From her schemes being easily scene through to even leaving the main city and raising an army, it all came off forced, lame and ultimately unimportant to the overall plot.
Don’t believe me? Try and watch the last batch of Gotham episodes and skip Fish’s adventure on Dollmaker’s island. This whole section did nothing for the plot. In fact, the story would have been better if she didn’t show up again until the season finale, with a random army. Then we could see her as a battle hardened asskicker with a mysterious new batch of followers. Instead she just kind forces five people to do some things then the rest all fall in line.
This whole Fish problem is a general metaphor for Gotham as a whole. There’s a good show with interesting characters and ideas hidden somewhere in the mess. If they focused on Penguin and Gordon’s rise with little bits here and there of Bruce’s…investigation (or whatever the majority of that was) and the second season could come out strong.
However, it’s not like Gotham was the only one that could tell a solid story, Arrow was in a similar boat. With the heavy inclusion of Ra’s Al Ghul, one of Batman’s more famous villains, the show felt like it lacked a complete focus. From the flashbacks that ended up filling more time then telling a story to Oliver’s character arc based around being discovered as the Arrow, joining the league of assassins and then retiring after the city is safe, there where a lot of cool ideas that didn’t seem to add up.
While this lack of cohesion could be due to series producer Greg Berlanti focusing more on the Flash and the next show in the series Legends of Tomorrow, it’s clear that an eye needed to be put on what was happening. This goes double for the show finale.
With Steve Amell becoming more of a star in the eyes of Hollywood executives, it’s clear why his role might change for the next season. However, his whole arc of leaving the role of vigilante is a little off. From cold blooded assassin to a Blade Runner ending there were a few steps that needed to expanded upon. Maybe remove some of the boring flashbacks and make the current plot tighter.
All these issue with both shows made a finale like The Flash so more sweeter. Over the course of the season all Barry wants to do is to clear his fathers name, but in the end when he’s presented with the means to do so, another version of himself stops him. Deep down Barry knows that he could ruin his life with this act, and despite all the joy the change would bring him, it’s not his place to change peoples lives (well unless it’s another persons Identity Crisis…google it).
With this heavy choice on his back, he returns to his timeline to stop his enemy/mentor Eobard Thawne. In the process of their fight a wormhole starts and Barry must try and stop it from destroying all of the world and time. What does this mean for our speedster? If series star Grant Gustin is right then some fun with time travel and multiverse is in store for season Two.
But in the end, the Flash gave us a finale that featured our hero making the choice to not save the life of his mother, leave his father in jail and possibly kill himself in a wormhole. You know, hero stuff. In Arrow, we had a fun action scene with Oliver and Ra’s followed by two characters driving off into the sunset, and Gotham…let’s not go there.
What we got over the course of one season of the Flash was a well told story that featured our hero having to question everything he ever wanted, and making the choice to lose in order to win another day. I can’t think of many shows on TV that have such deep ideas of what the hero should deal with.
I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this fall when all these shows return and either continue to be excellent or improve.