8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: 'The Flash' Pulls Back Curtain on Big Bad
Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Saturday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning, and Fox's Gotham. Note: Gotham did not air a new episode this week.
The big news: Viewers finally got to learn what Cicada's (Chris Klein) deal is in a creative twist from what was expected.
What it means: This week's flashback-laden episode served as the origin story for this season's big bad, Cicada. But in a season full of father-daughter issues, The Flash flipped the script and revealed that Cicada, aka Orlin Dwyer, actually isn't out for revenge for what happened to his comatose daughter ... because he doesn't have a daughter. He has a niece who he reluctantly agreed to raise after his sister was killed in a meta attack. And he was definitely not father material. Of course, he ended up bonding with his niece over time and learned how to be a responsible guardian, which made him all the more devastated when she was injured in the Enlightenment attack at the end of last season in the same event that gave him his powers. The Flash could have gone the easy route and just made the villain another case revolving around a father and daughter but instead fans got a new origin story for the comic book character while being surprised at the same time. Plus, Dwyer didn't immediately jump to some crazy revenge plot after the Enlightenment either. He was convinced to kill all metas by the nurse who had seen too many innocent people get injured or killed thanks to metahumans using their powers. Another welcome twist!
Other noteworthy moments: While this week's episode was mostly a quieter episode, it did pave the way for next week's big 100th episode of The Flash. Prepare for a lot of time travel shenanigans in the milestone hour.
The big news: Manchester Black (David Ajala) officially went from hero to antihero to villain in this week's episode, at least in Kara's (Melissa Benoist) eyes.
What it means: While comic book fans always knew that Manchester wouldn't be squeaky clean on Supergirl, the reveal that he's actually pretty much a serial killer with good intentions was an enormous shock not only to Supergirl herself but to viewers who had no idea just how dark he had gotten. His revenge against the anti-alien hate group Children of Liberty has caused him to spiral, and while he's fighting on the side of the "good guys," his means of execution (literally) means that he's now at odds with Kara. It's fascinating to see this show wrestle with what it means to be not only a hero but just one of the good guys and where the line between good and evil is. The juxtaposition of the evil Ben Lockwood, aka Agent Liberty, (Sam Witwer) represents vs. the evil Manchester represents is going to inspire many debates, both on and off the show. Hopefully the series keeps telling their stories as it moves into the second half of the season.
Other noteworthy moments: The scene at the end of the episode where J'onn breaks down in front of Kara and apologizes to her after getting whammied with Manchester's empathy amplifier was downright gut-wrenching (and Harewood just knocked it out of the park). With J'onn's storyline stumbling a bit out of the gate this season with an incredibly slow burn to the point of being paused, this is definitely a step in the right direction for the character. More of J'onn please!
The big news: In one of Arrow's most action-packed and stunt-heavy episodes yet, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) finally got released from prison while also making sure that Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) stayed locked up as he left.
What it means: While the hour was full of brutal fights and impressive stunts and choreography, not much happened in the bottle episode aside from Oliver and Diaz's final confrontation. It does show how far Oliver has come, however, by not killing Diaz when he had the chance. Instead he chose to turn his back on the villain and choose his life outside of prison, focusing on reuniting with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) over revenge. But does Oliver's release and Diaz's imprisonment mean that Arrow is closing the chapter on the Dragon and the Longbow Hunters for good? Will the show get a new big bad now?
Other noteworthy moments: Oliver's prison BFF Stanley (Brendan Fletcher) definitely took after his DC Comics alter ego in the end. While he was assumed to be wrongfully convicted of murder, he showed his true colors in this week's episode and revealed that he was indeed a serial killer. Is he the "Star City Slayer" like in the comics? Will Stanley's story come back to haunt Oliver?
Legends of Tomorrow
The big news: This week's overstuffed episode featured Ava, (Jes Macallan), Nora (Courtney Ford) and Mona (Ramona Young) bonding in a "friendship incubator" at the Time Bureau while the Legends journeyed to the '20s as Nate (Nick Zano) and Hank (Tom Wilson) dealt with more father-son issues. A lot happened and yet none of it was earth-shattering.
What it means: Legends normally does a great job balancing all the A, B and even C story arcs in every episode, but this one felt especially crowded so that none of the storylines got their due. That resulted in feeling like this hour acted as a filler episode with lots of fun and zany moments thrown in, like Nate getting decked by Charlie (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) in what should have been a bigger moment for these two finally meeting face-to-face. All in all, this was definitely a fun episode that requires repeated viewings for fun, but not essential in the grand scheme of the season.
Other noteworthy moments: Hearing Gideon constantly try to remind the Legends that she's a part of their team was surprisingly heartbreaking. Did not expect to feel this much empathy for a ship's artificial intelligence in such an offhand way!
The big news: Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Khalil (Jordan Calloway) run away from Freeland together.
What it means: Now that Khalil has finally chosen a side, his decision upended his life in both good and bad ways. Obviously, when Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III) found out that his No. 1 henchman betrayed him, he sent his cronies after the teen. Jennifer saw how much danger her ex-boyfriend was in and so she revealed her powers to him. They bonded after so much time apart and their decision to leave town together is a big step forward in them getting back together. But there's no way that Jennifer is going to be able to stay away from her family for long, and when Jefferson (Cress Williams) learns that his daughter is together with a murderer, there's going to be some major sparks flying (both literally and figuratively).
Other noteworthy moments: The Pierce family now knows that Gambi (James Remar) is alive and well, but his decision to keep his survival a secret from them is probably going to come back to haunt him. Will they be able to forgive him? How will this affect his position as their man behind the screen on Team Black Lightning?
Also, it's important to note that Anissa's (Nafessa Williams) girlfriend Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) has started to showcase metahuman abilities. There have been two instances so far of mysterious markings appearing on her skin until she suppresses them, so there isn't much information to go on yet but comic book fans know this is only the start of her hero's journey towards becoming a full-fledged superhero. Will she have the same powers as her comic book alter ego? Will she eventually join up with The Outsiders, or will she fight alongside Thunder on Team Black Lightning?
Supergirl airs Sundays, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow air Mondays, The Flash and Black Lightning air Tuesdays, all on The CW; Gotham returns Jan. 3 on Fox.