8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: 'The Flash' Turns to Horror for Its Creepiest Villain Yet
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: In the creepiest, most disturbing episode of the series to date, The Flash employed contortionist Troy James to bring the DC Comics villain Rag Doll to life. It. Is. Wild.
What this means: While not a major character from the comics, Rag Doll does have a long and storied history in the source material. But The Flash creative team took the criminal in a completely new direction for his onscreen live-action debut, and it is downright nightmare-inducing. With James, a famous contortionist, clad in a tuxedo, creepy Saw-like mask and red dreads, Rag Doll leveled up from a petty criminal to something straight out of a horror film. The crumbling and creaking audio effects paired with James' unreal ability to bend his body in horrific ways is traumatizing (for both Barry Allen [Grant Gustin] and viewers). The Flash can officially do horror — now let's never do it again. Please.
Other noteworthy moments: After an extremely bumpy start, Iris (Candice Patton) and her daughter Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) have finally reached a good place in their relationship in this week's episode. That's definitely a good thing, since their combative attitudes were not only getting old, but also depressing to watch week in, week out. Thanks to some old stories about how kind, generous, loving and selfless Iris is from when she was a kid to now, Nora started to see her mother in a new light (and not just from her experiences growing up with a grieving Iris).
And in a moment of strange timing, The Flash pays homage to Marvel icon Stan Lee with a Spider-Man shoutout in this week's episode, with Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) using his Elongated Man powers to stretch his arms and swing from the rooftops through the city. It is a moment of pure joy for Ralph (although Iris, hitching a ride on his back, certainly looks a little queasy) and viewers to see Marvel and DC come together, if only for a brief Easter egg. Ralph does say he saw it in a comic book, after all.
The big news: Jon Cryer has been cast as Lex Luthor.
What this means: The recurring role of Superman's (Tyler Hoechlin) greatest foe has been cast, and it's none other than the Two and a Half Men alum. What's interesting is that this isn't Cryer's first time playing a Luthor: He previously played Lenny Luthor in Superman IV. First appearing in episode 15 of this season, the iconic DC Comics supervillain will not only be a foil for Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), but also his sister, Lena (Katie McGrath).
Other noteworthy moments: During this week's episode, Kara and the rest of her squad finally have their eyes opened to Ben Lockwood's (Sam Witwer) growing army of anti-alien terrorists, the Children of Liberty. Unfortunately, James (Mehcad Brooks) seems to be getting in deeper and deeper with the Children, whether he realizes it or not, especially after Lockwood starts to get inside his head and plant some ideas. It's fascinating to see James, a character who is a minority, beginning to empathize with a hate group targeting another minority (even if he's only starting to dive in with the intention of getting others to listen to him and hopefully change their minds). If Supergirl continues to go down this road, it could turn out to be a series highlight ... but only if it's done right.
Plus, do Kara's brunch parties not sound like the best? All that talk about basking in the sunshine is exactly what everyone needs to hear on a daily basis, especially right now. Plus, it doesn't get any better than a drunk Brainy (Jesse Rath).
The big news: A surprising return from one of Arrow's best villains: Talia al Ghul (Lexa Doig) survived the explosion on Lian Yu, and she definitely can hold a grudge.
What this means: Over a year after she was presumed dead, Arrow brings back Talia al Ghul in quite the dramatic fashion. Much to his chagrin, Oliver (Stephen Amell) crosses paths with his former mentor turned nemesis in Level Two in Slabside Prison. She reveals she survived the explosion thanks to drugs Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) gave her, which means she is now partnered with Oliver's enemy. But she also got into some trouble in Gotham, which landed her in Slabside (hmmm, was that a Batwoman or Batman reference?). And while Oliver and Talia certainly butt heads (and fists and elbows) at first, they end together to take down the corrupt doctor performing illegal mind-control experiments on the prisoners. Oliver even helps Talia escape, but he chooses to stay to serve his sentence. He didn't want to be a fugitive for the rest of his life, so he's staying put behind bars ... at least, for now.
Other noteworthy moments: Talia's first stop after she tastes freedom is to deliver damning evidence on Level Two to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), per Oliver's instructions. Felicity and Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who are now psuedo friends, decide to use the files detailing inmate abuse at the hands of guards and the corrupt doctor in charge of Level Two to try and overturn Oliver's case. So he may not be in prison for much longer if his legal team has its way. It's disappointing to think that Oliver may be getting a get out of jail free card so soon, as Arrow's commitment to keeping him behind bars and still finding compelling stories to tell has been so satisfying. But a third of the way into the season, the main character is on his way to reuniting with the rest of the cast, whether fans like it or not.
Legends of Tomorrow
The big news: A kid-eating vampire called a striga resulted in John Constantine's (Matt Ryan) life on the line.
What this means: After helping defeat a striga at a summer camp in 1995, Constantine refuses to let "another" kid die on his watch (referencing his failure to save a little girl on NBC's live-action series Constantine). So he gives his life force to a dying child, saving all the kidnapped children, but putting his own life at risk. When the Waverider's medical skills can't fix him, Ray (Brandon Routh) tenuously suggests that they employ Nora Darhk's (Courtney Ford) magic to help him. And with the episode ending on a shot of Nora hiding out at a ren faire, it's pretty clear that the team is going to lean into that plan, for better or worse. Can she be trusted? Ray certainly thinks so ... although he may not be thinking all too clearly when it comes to his current crush. But who knows, maybe she could finally be ready to reform. Stranger things have happened (like Constantine putting on a camp counselor uniform with his signature tie!).
Other noteworthy moments: Thought Nate's (Nick Zano) move from the Waverider to the Time Bureau (and resulting absence from the series in this week's episode) was out of the blue? There's actually a good reason for it: He welcomed a baby girl three months ago and has been taking time off to help take care of her after she suffered health complications.
The big news: Gambi (James Remar) is dead ... or is he?
What this means: Jefferson Pierce's (Cress Williams) best friend/mentor/father figure is seemingly killed in this week's episode from a government hit, with his car being struck and bursting into flames. But since his body hasn't been recovered, the jury is still out on whether or not this major character is dead. Jefferson himself certainly doesn't believe it, but that doesn't stop him from breaking down multiple times in this week's hour. If Gambi truly is dead, that's going to leave a massive void in Jefferson's life, as well as the show, as he is the moral center for both. But without confirmation of death, it's likely that he's actually holed up somewhere safe healing and plotting his next move. Can't get rid of Gambi that easily.
Other noteworthy moments: Anissa's (Nafessa Williams) girlfriend Grace (Chantal Thuy) has superpowers! She is seen freaking out in this week's episode, taking pills to try to control her blossoming powers (some kind of energy, maybe? It's still unclear). But as comic book fans know, she's destined to become a crime-fighting hero in the Outsiders crew, so hopefully she gets a handle on her abilities soon. Just imagine how epic it would be to see a scene with Anissa and Grace fighting side by side as early as this season.
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.