TV Review: Star Wars Rebels – “The Last Battle”

The Last Battle
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Star Wars Rebels reviews here.
“The Last Battle” was an excellent standalone Star Wars Rebels episode and a wonderful tribute to its predecessor, The Clone Wars. As a huge fan of that show, it’s no surprise that I ate it all up. But even without the nostalgia factor, “The Last Battle” was a strong and enjoyable installment.
The plot was quite a fun scenario. A group of remnant battle droids from the Clone Wars, convinced the war hadn’t ended, saw in Kanan, Ezra, and Rex—two Jedi and a clone—the opportunity to end the Clone Wars on their own terms. Holding Zeb captive, they challenged the trio to the titular “last battle”.
Naturally, the episode was full of fantastic battle scenes. Blaster bolts zapping, lightsabers cutting through droids, teaming up, splitting up, strategizing—it was all a lovely throwback to a beloved show. Plus, the controlled environment of the droids’ elaborate game made for greatkanan-ezra-rex action beats and a fun capture-the-flag feel.
But it wasn’t the action that made this episode memorable. It was the character work. At its core, “The Last Battle” was about two veterans—Rex and the super tactical droid Kalani—who still hadn’t moved on from the war, coming to terms with not simply the end but the futility of the very war they were bred for.
This message has real-world resonance, of course, but it also works in-universe very well. Kalani is a droid, Rex is a clone. Both were literally programmed to fight a war that was nothing but a ruse. Even knowing that, with all the hindsight in the world, their first instincts were still to battle. It took an outsider—Ezra—to show them the big picture that allowed them to move on. “The Last Battle” was an excellent look at the psychology of droids, clones, and veterans in general.
The only complaint I have is that the ending was a little on the nose. “You ended the Clone Wars, Ezra!” That was a bit of a stretch but I was able to go along with it. This gripe is something to be expected in a kids’ show, so it’s not a major issue.
Finally, how cool was it seeing battle droids fighting stormtroopers? “Eras” mean nothing anymore, Star Wars is one continuous story and I absolutely love it.
“ROGER-ROGER.” “Wait, who’s Roger?” Best line of the series!


TV Review: Legends of Tomorrow – “The Justice Society of America”

The Justice Society of America
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Legends of Tomorrow reviews here.
Legends of Tomorrow‘s second season is starting at a much better place than its first. After a rocky Season 1, it was time to hone in on what worked and reaffirm the show’s potential as a crazy time travel adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that’s exactly what Season 2 has been doing, continuing with this week’s showcase of Legends of Tomorrow‘s best strengths.
Last week’s premiere was Legends of Tomorrow‘s way of saying, “Okay, let’s have some fun!” Martin Stein knocked out Albert Einstein. Sara Lance seduced the queen of France. Ray Palmer was chased by a dinosaur. It was all absurd, but so very fun to watch. The big action sequence in 17th century France, for example, was exactly I’ve always wanted from Legends of Tomorrow.
This week’s installment continued to build on that promise, introducing the titular Justice Society of America. Yet again, the episode kicked off with an amazing action sequence. If you thought seeing one team of superheroes do battle together was fantastic, how about two teams?
Nate HeywoodAside from awesome action, “The Justice Society of America” highlighted another strength of Season 2 so far: fun time travel hijinks! Watching the Legends fumble around Nazi Germany was a delight. Between Martin Stein posing as a singer (allowing Victor Garber to show off his broadway talents) and Ray Palmer failing to even feign a Hitler salute, there was a lot of humour to be had this week.
There was also the inherent “cool” factor of having a legacy group like the Justice Society onscreen. Oliver Queen was far from the first hero in the Arrowverse after all. In fact, even 2016’s Vixen wasn’t the first Vixen.
The Justice Society’s ties to the present don’t end there though. The revelation that Legends newcomer Nate Heywood is the grandson of the JSA’s Commander Steel was a great detail. It acted as the catalyst that allowed the episode to flesh out this new character significantly.
Another improvement in Season 2 was dropping the elements that didn’t work, like Hawkgirl and Hawkman. For instance, Vandal Savage wasn’t a very good villain. But Season 2’s use established villains Damien Darhk and Reverse-Flash was a smart move. They’re both successful and well-liked villains, and they allow Legends to save time on exposition and introductions and spend it better elsewhere.
I only have minor gripes with “The Justice Society of America”. Mainly that it got a bit rushed towards the end, with the climax and what followed being too brief, especially compared to the awesome opening.
I also hope the show is not setting up a romance between Ray Palmer and Vixen. They developed a strong rapport this week, but Ray’s romantic subplot with Kendra was one of Season 1’s biggest weaknesses. Plus, she has a granddaughter in 2016 with whom we’re very familiar. Be responsible, Ray—you wouldn’t want to erase Mari McCabe from existence!


TV Review: Agents of SHIELD – “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire”

Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Agents of SHIELD reviews here.
It’s a shame that Agents of SHIELD‘s new time slot has cost it some viewers, because it has been delivering quality episodes every week. And “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” might be the best one yet this season.
As I noted in my earlier reviews, I’ve been waiting for the season’s different storylines to converge, and they just did.
The focus of “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” was Daisy, who sought the help of Simmons with both her injuries and her hunt for the Watchdogs. This proved to be a fun pairing, as those two characters have always worked well together. And yet both have grown and changed so much since Season 1. That shared history and evolution made their team-up even more interesting.
Coulson and MackTheir investigation brought them to James, aka Hellfire, a welcome return of a familiar character. Yet even this once-charismatic Inhuman has changed after the events with Hive. James betraying Daisy may not have been too surprising, but his self-loathing was a fascinating addition to his character. His betrayal is only disappointing in that he would have been a fun supporting character to have down the line, but it did lead to a Hellfire vs. Ghost Rider showdown.
Which brings us to the other main storyline of “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire”. Robbie’s investigation into Momentum Labs led to him crossing paths with Coulson and Mack, who were after the same information. When I say “crossing paths”, I mean “awesome car chase”. As far as action goes, you can’t ask for much better than that breathtaking sequence of Lola chasing down the Hell Charger. Well done, Agents of SHIELD.
You can already see how the episode gradually brought characters together one pair at a time. This culminated in the climactic sequence where Coulson, Mack, and Robbie came to the rescue of Daisy and Simmons after James’s tracker went offline. And the aforementioned Ghost Rider vs. Hellfire fight, which was kept mostly offscreen for budgetary reasons, but was super cool anyway.
The only subplot that remained off to the side was Fitz and Dr. Radcliffe running “tests” on May—or more precisely, Aida. Those were fun scenes, mostly thanks to Fitz’s panicking and May’s obliviousness about Aida’s true nature. But even this tangential plot thread was brought in neatly in the final scene, when Aida met Coulson and Simmons, and the latter instantly deduced that Aida was an android. And I must say, it was refreshing that she wasn’t upset with Fitz for keeping it a secret. I can tell Agents of SHIELD is setting up something interesting for Aida down the line, and I look forward to seeing those seeds blossom in time.


TV Review: Arrow – “A Matter of Trust”

A Matter of Trust
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Arrow reviews here.
Arrow stayed on course in “A Matter of Trust”, continuing to gradually build a promising season based on a solid, if unspectacular, foundation.
“A Matter of Trust” picked up where last week left off in both story and themes. Both episodes were about Oliver and the new team learning to trust each other. Much like last week, this referred especially to Wild Dog.
That two-episode arc was capped off nicely with this week’s climax, as Team Arrow 2.0 suited up and went to battle together. Last week didn’t flesh out the new recruits very well, but it’s clear the show aims to slowly build them up week by week. Let’s see where it goes.
codyrhodesThe villain this week was solid but notable because he was played by wrestler Cody Rhodes, who had a fictional rivalry and a wrestling match with Stephen Amell last year. That made him a fun addition to the show and an asset in action scenes, but I hope he gets more meaty material in the future.
Meanwhile, we checked in on an imprisoned Diggle, who shared a cell with none other than Deadshot. Who then turned out to be a figment of John’s imagination. Twists like that are usually hard to pull off without feeling cheesy, but it worked well in “A Matter of Trust”. Partly because resurrection on Arrow is so common that I was easily tricked into believing Lawton had indeed come back. But more importantly, there was something poignant about John dealing with his guilt over killing Andy by having an imagined conversation with the man he once thought was responsible for Andy’s death.
Once again, my only problem with “A Matter of Trust” was that it felt overstuffed. Promising subplots like the flashbacks or Felicity admitting her role in the destruction of Havenrock were not given their due. And as good as Willa Holland is, there was no need for the side story with Thea and the reporter.
Really, it was a very good episode, and there wasn’t much to complain about. But on the flip side, there was nothing spectacular about it either, which is why I’m giving it a 3.5.
And to be perfectly honest, I’d prefer an unspectacular but inoffensive season of 3.5s over an inconsistent season of highs and frustrating lows like last year. But I do hope Arrow gets better. It already got rid of many mistakes; it just needs to tighten its screws and narrow its focus and it’ll be good to go.


TV Review: The Flash – “Magenta”

Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my all of my reviews of The Flash here.
After the fun but flawed “Flashpoint” storyline, The Flash benefited from a return to a more traditional episode in “Magenta”.
The big development in “Magenta” was the return of Wells and Jesse from Earth-2, and the revelation that Jesse was now a speedster.
It’s always great to have Harrison Wells back. Tom Cavanagh is simply fantastic on this show, and his Earth-2 Wells is especially delightful. His chemistry with the rest of the cast, especially Cisco, was as brilliant as ever. Plus, I loved seeing him scold Barry with great exasperation for going back in time again. The more room The Flash has for Harry, the happier I am.
Wells and JesseJesse Quick has powers now! I’m glad we finally got some payoff to her and Wally being exposed to the dark matter last season. Plus, her being a speedster was the main source of this week’s character drama.
Wally, naturally, wasn’t a fan of Jesse being the only one to get powers. This led to another great Joe West dad speech, but Wally felt left behind, and I don’t blame him. Even if jumping in front of a moving car is a tad extreme. And of course, Barry has his own reasons for not wanting Wally to have speed, since that nearly led to his death in the Flashpoint timeline.
I’m excited for Wally to eventually become Kid Flash, but I’m glad the show is holding off on giving him speed for now. We don’t want to run into too many speedsters syndrome; it’s best to space them out.
Harry being overprotective of Jesse is a familiar story from last season, so some of the drama in “Magenta” felt like treading old ground. Still, it was a solid character arc for him, and it ended in a great way in the final showdown with Magenta as he finally embraced his daughter’s desire to be a superhero. “Now run, Jesse, run!”
Magenta herself was a better villain of the week than usual, mostly because her backstory was a bit more fleshed out and sympathetic. Plus, Joey King played her well. And her powers led to a great climactic sequence with her levitating a tanker into the sky and threatening to drop it on a hospital.
All in all, The Flash eased back into more comfortable territory in “Magenta”. Hopefully it will only keep moving upwards from here.