|Felicity and her college boyfriend (Nolan Funk) get down to some heavy hacking...|
This was a banner week for superhero TV shows with Constantine and Gotham both delivering their best episodes to date (although neither was perfect, both really hammered home the potential of their shows) and while The Flash may not have been up to its usual standard storywise it showed the writers' willingness to keep expanding what he can actually do with his speed powers (as in the comics).
1) Arrow - The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak: A major hack a attack on the systems and services of Starling City threatened to bring the Arrow's home to its kness. However, this was a good excuse for a series of flashbacks to five years ago, when Felicity was a Girl-With-The Dragon-Tattoo-lite, proto-hacktivist (who also does a passable cosplay of Death from DC's Sandman).
Of course, it so happens that this new arrival is no coincidence, but part of a sinister scheme...
The Secret Origin Of Felicity Smoak had a nice, straight-forward plot, with some subtle foreshadowing elements, resulting in a solid hour of fun and jeopardy.
The episode also boasted a number of engaging sub-plots from Laurel's training regime with Ted 'Wildcat' Grant and Roy's nightmares to the patching-up of the Thea/Oliver relationship.
Probably the most far-fetched part of the story was Laurel's sudden promotion to acting District Attorney.
2) Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - A Fractured House: The world turns against S.H.I.E.L.D. when Hydra impersonates them to attack The United Nations, and an unexpected enemy leads the charge to bring about their downfall.
3) The Flash - Plastique: Despite some classic moments, that I'll get to in a moment, this was the weakest episode of The Flash to date, hampered by a very mundane 'freak-of-the-week' main plot and some quite cavalier liberties taken with Barry's secret identity - from the casual way Team Flash let Bette Sans Souci aka Plastique (Kelly Frye) in to their 'secret HQ' and her using Barry's name (and then him unmasking) within sight of the 'evil' General Wade Eiling (Clancy Brown).
We found out more about Iris's motivation for writing her blog about 'the streak', but Barry's attempts to talk her out of publishing it were less than impressive and you can understand her confusion that a person previously dedicated to proving that the impossible was possible would now be so opposed to her striving to do the same.
As ever, Wells was on top form, working his whole manipulation shtick to wind up Plastique and send her after General Eiling, and the best Easter Egg was saved for the denouement, a flashback explaining - in part - the presence of the 'Grodd' sign in the pilot.
4) Constantine - Danse Vaudou: For all those complaining that the lack of smoking by the lead character, the makers of Constantine seem to be circumventing that network edict as he was puffing away on a cigarette in his first appearance in this episode and later he uses a cigarette to cremate some crucial corpses.
Let's hope Corrigan sticks around long enough that we get to see his transformation into this legendary character. In fact, it was Zed's prophetic final vision of Corrigan that made the whole episode worthwhile, sending gleeful geeky shivers down my spine.
Constantine was drawn to New Orleans where vengeful spirits were returning, years after their death. It turned out they all had guilt-ridden survivors who had turned to Papa Midnite for some medium-sized forgiveness. However, something was possibly wrong with Midnite's magic and Constantine claimed it was "the rising darkness" (the show's nebulous overarching big bad).
The actual resolution of the plot wasn't that strong, but the episode stood on its character work, making this the best episode of the show to date. Outside of the Corrigan material, we had Papa Midnite calling Constantine a "jackass of all trades" and then later, during a heated argument, summing up Constantine's dilettante character superbly for the audience.
5) Gotham - Penguin's Umbrella: Like Constantine, Gotham really upped its game this week by concentrating on the gang politics of the city, dumping its "murder-of-the-week" format and bringing Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) into play (although won't he now be middle-aged by the time Batman arrives?)
The handing-over of the Wayne murder case details to the Major Crimes Unit (who changed their minds about Gordon very quickly) could have been covered in a single line of dialogue between Gordon and Montoya, if the episode needed it at all, given how Gordon's arc worked out. Once again, time spent with Bruce and Alfred was needless filler.
Ultimately, this programme should be renamed The Penguin Show as Robin Lord Taylor's manipulative Oswald Cobblepot is really the only reason I can imagine people coming back week-on-week, just to see whose strings he is pulling now in his climb up the underworld totem pole.