“The Flash”: Season Finale Review

It sure as hell has been a dramatic third season for the speedster hero, Barry Allen, but the season finale goes over the top to prove yet again, that the Flash is the most heroic hero of all heroes.

Let’s get a quick overview.

“The Flash”: Storylines and characters in Season 3

Season three has really taken up some interest with its second half, introducing new characters to Team Flash and building up Savitar as the ultimate villain who is set on destroying the Flash by killing the love of his life – Iris. This particular target is in itself already dramatic, making every episode a chapter of the “How to Save Iris Guide”. The few excurses to for instance Gorilla or musical worlds (Read my review of the crossover episode with Supergirl!) added diverse adventures to the rather basic main plot, but what probably stood out the most throughout the third season were the characters.

Aside from Barry’s constant complaining and Iris’s trying to stay positive, the secondary characters gained more and more importance and depth. Take for instance Caitlin: Her fear of becoming Killer Frost was not new, especially as we already got to see her deal with this problem. But embracing her dark side and realizing step by step that she was neither Dear Good Old Caitlin, nor Monster Frostie, mirrors the recent trend of establishing a “grey-zone” for not-villains and not-heroes.

Then, after three seasons, Cisco finally got a “real” romantic storyline with Gypsy which brought some lightness into the rather intensive episodes. Also, seeing his friendship with Caitlin in jeopardy, it was interesting to witness his inner conflict with identifying himself as a hero and understanding what it means – though he appears to still not have decided whether he wants to stay “regular” or enter the heroic realm (perhaps, the writers are waiting for an O.K. to made a spin-off-Cisco-centered-series, who knows?).

A really nice change was brought by H.R. and, during the last couple of episodes, his relationship to Tracy: As a character who does not really fulfill all the criteria for being part of Team Flash, he actually showed that he constitued exactly the puzzle piece the Team had lacked – humanism. And having a few humans around all those multiplying speedsters sure was no bad thing.

“The Flash”: A rather numb Season Finale?

The character developments which were built up throughout the third season then culminated into the season finale. Starting with the end of the previous episode, we get to see the reveal that has been rumored: [Attention: Spoilers ahead!] H.R. took the place of Iris because it was his fault in the first place that Savitar found her, meaning that Iris got to live while H.R. died. For such a likeable, rounded-up character to die – it sure was not very dramatic. Team Flash moved on pretty quick from his sacrifice, nearly taking it for granted. This ignorance is probably what makes Team Flash sometimes paradoxical: On the one hand, they pretend to always make the right choice and be there for one another; on the other hand, it is totally okay and natural for someone to not just talk about it all the time, but really die for someone else. But of course – Team Flash had to deal with Savitar first.

This however was the beginning of the end: The action died from one second to the next like a candle being blown out. Suddenly, it was all about being nice and forgiving, trying to convince SOMEONE WHO WAS READY TO KILL THE LOVE OF HIS WIFE that it’s okay and in truth he’s a good guy. Of course, this way the writers avoided to repeat another big Flash-versus-Villain-fight…or did they? Because finally, it all did lead to the final battle including the little twist of Iris being actually the one killing Savitar (which explains why she had the gun in the penultimate episode).

Now, the only problem which the writers probably encountered was: Mmh, we still have ten minutes to go – what do we have up our sleeves to fill this screen time? That was probably the moment when they came up with the idea that Cisco’s solution had not been a permanent one and that the speed force always requires a speedster to fill the place. And lucky enough: We have a volunteering candidate!

Digging into the realm of absurdity, the last sequence of the episode not only ruins the finale, but even lowers the quality of the series itself. Barry seems glad to sacrifice himself and his future to be the Speed Force’s prisoner – with a big smile on his face, he says his goodbyes to everyone, gives a quick kiss to Iris and tells her to just “live her life” (Yeah, that is what a woman really wants to hear in those kind of moments…) and enters with Mummy Dearest the speed force. His explanation: Now, he can finally redempt his mistake of having created Flash Point.

Well, Congratulations: Barry Allen is The Most Remorseful Hero Ever. After everyone has been telling you along the season that it is okay and that you are forgiven, you still cannot forgive yourself? Does it mean anything to you that viewers sacrificed dozens of minutes of their time to listen to your complaints and excuses? Just grin and take the first chance you get to prove how much of a hero you really are.

Final Review of “The Flash”

While The Flash’s third season featured interesting and challenging character developments for the secondary characters, the rather numb finale did not include enough action and ended in such a excessively dramatic way that it dug into the absurd. With so many superhero-shows on TV, it is obvious that every series tries to set itself apart with distinctive features of its hero. But in this case, “The Flash” deceives loyal viewers by attempting to ascent its hero to another level of heroism – which instead only leads to doubt in what way “The Flash” still classifies as a true superhero-series.

My tip for you ducklings: If you insist on watching the finale, go on, I won’t stop you. But at least the finale does not make it difficult to wait a few months until the fourth season makes its debut – on the contrary, it rather makes you think of spending your time on your own life, love, family and future. Well done, “The Flash”!

Review: “This Is Us” – Season 1

Between life and death lies an infinite amount of moments. And there has never been a show more able to portray them than NBC’s “This Is Us”.

Last night, the finale of the first season aired and showed once again the magic in ordinariness.

“This Is Us”: A unique show

In “This Is Us”, the viewer gets to explore the lives of the Pearson family. It is not just a drama series, it goes way deeper than that: it is a life series, exploring different kinds of lives at the same time thus making it possible for each viewer to find a way to identify with the characters. Its title even reflects its uniqueness, as it literally applies to everyone – “us”.

Renewed for two seasons, we can gear up for more tears and laughs in the two years to come. But for now, we can reflect and think about the great moments we encountered in the past six months.

Pro of “This Is Us”: Great characters

For one, we met the Pearson family with Rebecca and Jack as single adults, couple, married couple, parents and obviously separated by death/remarried; Randall Pearson as the adopted black son fighting for perfection in his life when realizing he is living the perfect life; the twins Kate and Kevin Randall who are total extremes in appearance, but share much more anxieties than they are ready to reveal – even towards their loved ones. Thereby, the viewers get to see on the one hand, very simple characters, which on the other hand seem to bear much more depth in them than one realizes at the beginning of the series.

Then, we have amazing supporting parts like Randall’s other half Beth, his biological father William and Kate’s boyfriend/fiancé Toby. They fit perfectly in the picture, completing the apparently ordinary with the extraordinary.

Flashbacks in “This Is Us”

But that’s not all. Besides great characters and ensuing plotlines, “This is Us” uses time jumps to keep things interesting. In a lapse of almost 40 years, the viewers can uniquely travel through the timelines of the characters – better than Facebook could ever provide them with.

Whether it is an episode which fully plays out in the 1980s or one whose scenes jump between past and present like a ball in a ping-pong game, the last thing the viewer gets confronted with in this show is boredom.

“This Is Us”… or this is too much drama?

However, the drama is real and intense – sometimes way too much. This is a con, because the show has the ability to create a new genre instead: a series about human life, everyday-life and all the moments which make it special, but sometimes also hard to live. Therefore, some plot twists appear too forced, too much. For example the way too long and artificial extension of Kate revealing what happened to her father – which actually still did not take place. Obviously, the show plays with that and uses the suspense to keep the viewers excited for the following seasons. But the whole reveal took way too long and did not leave enough space for other interesting storylines including for instance Beth, Toby or even Miguel’s life stories which have not been explored yet at all.

Another example for those “too much drama”-twists would be the storyline of Jack becoming jealous of Ben who is playing with Rebecca in the band. The basic concept is interesting and as we have seen: It opens up possibilities for new stories, for instance to see Jack and Rebecca separated (even if we do not want to). But the way it actually turned out and that Ben really tried something with Rebecca was just too much of it all. The effect of Jack’s jealousy having its roots in his dissatisfaction with Rebecca and her life choices would have been much greater, if there had not been any reason to be jealous of someone in the first place (and it would have been much more realistic too, by the way!).

But being in the drama business, the series did not have much of a choice.

A duckling’s review of  “This Is Us” Season 1

Thus, for all of you ducklings who have not watched “This Is Us” yet – it is worth your time. But only, if you are really into drama and do not start crying easily, because even though the show gives you tons of moments to laugh, it opens up double as much possibilities to cry.

Review: “Nashville” – Season 5 Premiere

It’s been forever since we’ve got to see Rayna, Juliette and the whole gang on our screens. Now they’re back and the least one can say is: the 5th season of the country music drama series did not start softly.

Or let’s say more or less.

Summary

The 2-hour-premiere of the 5th season from “Nashville” which moved from ABC to CMT opens with a sequence which at first rather appears to be a flashback, but then turns out to be actually a flash-forward. Rayna is on the road with a glorious Mustang and gets depressed/sad when hearing a song being played by an old man at a gas station. This melancholic start gets shattered by the discovery of Juliette’s fate: No, there wasn’t just a “problem” with the plane, in which she sat in, it totally crashed and – in all Nashville-drama-style – Juliette Barnes was the only survivor. The only thing which kept her alive was the voice of the woman who found her.

Well, now that we and our emotions had a terrifying ride on a hell of a rollercoaster, we get back to the ground safely and move forward in time. Gunnar and Scarlett are back together as I guess the Ex-Exes? The James/Claybourne-patchwork-family finally appears to be happy, though let’s not forget that N°1 nag Maddie is back to being part of the gang so the “Don’t worry, be happy”-course line will rapidly change to “Oops, she’s back at it again”.  Our favorite couple, the star-crossed lovers Avery and Juliette, is also a thing again, but even though Juliette had amazing luck to survive, she is paralyzed and in a wheelchair which doesn’t make things exactly easy for anyone. And let’s not forget Will, who thanks to him standing up for himself in the finale of the 4th season, is suddenly cherished and courted by everyone – and that means TIP (Trouble In Paradise) for Kevin and him.

Themes

Now, let’s move on to what the first two episodes of the new season are all about. Love is of course a big theme with all the couples back together. But let’s not forget that all of our favorite country singers on TV are artists and that of course makes them seek their own selves. While Rayna is looking for her (old or new?) “Me” and finding that in her relationship with Deacon, Juliette is trying to understand how she was deserving of the luck to stay alive; Maddie of course is still very keen on pushing herself to be THE star whereas Scarlett seems to finally get that she isn’t always at the center of attention, meaning that not everyone does something in relation to her person. So, yeah, we have many possible developments originating from those two first episodes.

Review

  • Pros: Juliette finally gets a bigger and more interesting profile than only the country pop star and her eccentricities. Simultaneously, Deacon gets more attention as an artist instead of as a houseman, though at the end, he still gets undermined by Rayna, which brings us to the…
  • Cons: Rayna seems more out of balance due to the plane crash than Juliette, who was the one who had to live through it, and achieves to make it revolve around her and her music which actually leads to the idea of a concept album with her husband (wait, I thought she went on the road trip to find “herself” and not her being with Deacon?) and their bumpy road to their Happily Ever After. Too bad that Deacon doesn’t want to risk too much and simply  adheres to his wifey’s command…
  • Other notable aspects: Will is back to being a rocking country star, but the charming – ***cough: way too old*** – clothes designer threatens his happy, balanced love-life with former and present boyfriend Kevin. Well, Will: You can’t have it all. Speaking about former lovers: With Gunnar and Scarlett being – apparently happy – back together, the writers just had to find something to make their relationship stick out in the whole bundle of couples: Scarlett gets angry because she thinks Gunnar voluntarily chose women who were also part of her life to hurt her (Come on, writers: even for Scarlett, that’s kind of a far-fetched and irrational theory!), but decides then to move on. Let’s see for how long she’s on that trip…

So yeah, “Nashville”’s 5th season started with a (more or less) “bang” and plunged the every-reason-to-be-happy couples back into drama. Hey, let’s not omit the scary reveal of an existing Rayna-stalker at the end of the premiere…but I have the feeling it will not take long to find out who’s sitting behind the wheel and the shattered windshield.

Yellow Duckling’s Tip

My tip for you, little ducklings: Go for it. “Nashville” is back with its drama and there are stories to be told. We’re waiting – and that – BTW – also applies to the music which unfortunately came a little bit short in that premiere. But let’s see where the next episodes are headed. Have fun, y’all!

 

Review: “Once Upon A Time” Season 6 Winterfinale

The time has come: ABC’s beloved TV-shows are one after another starting their nice and long winter nap ’til March 17. For TV-show lovers, December is not filled with joy and love, but with agony having to wait three months for a new episode.

And now, the long winter nap just hit “Once Upon A Time”.

The winterfinale of the 6th season was unique. Of course, every episode is a “one of a kind”, but as many OUAT-episodes share the same pattern, only a few really stand out with their storylines and the actors’ performances.

Attention: Spoilers ahead!

In the 10th episode of OUAT’s 6th season, the slow-paced cat-and-mouse game which has been going on between the Evil Queen and the Snow-Family including Regina finally speeds up: the Evil Queen uses Aladdin (who’s the new genie) to grant Emma’s wish, never to have become the Savior. This leads to Emma vanishing from Storybrooke and reappearing in a dreamland where she fulfills every imaginable stereotype of the Princess. Humble, sweet and obedient: That’s not how the viewers know Emma. Regina joins Emma in her dream and uses all her darkness in order to wake her ex-enemy up and bring her back where she belongs – to reality. However, just before leaving the utopia, Regina herself gets hit by an illusion: Robin Hood is alive and well (and back to being a thief). Therefore, Emma and her miss the chance to travel back to Storybrooke and remain in the literally fantasy land.

Meanwhile in Storybrooke, David tries to prove his manhood by being all brave and aggressive while actually only making a fool of himself (like always). He achieves next to nothing – at first. But then, the Evil Queen gets what she deserves and transforms into a caged cobra snake…but not by the one who granted her wish, Aladdin. Instead, the viewers get to witness the arrival of the Hooded Figure who’s responsible for the Evil Queen’s fate.

Again, parallel to that storyline we have Rumple desperatly trying to find his son and finally coming to his senses that controlling Belle might not be the best way to win her back…a nearly Rumple/Belle-reunion takes place, when the Hooded Figure interrupts the romance originating from the tragedy that their son actually got abducted (!) and reveals itself: it’s the adult version of the Beauty and the Beast’s son, Morpheus.

And now, we have all those bits and pieces hanging in the air – frozen – until next March. But until then, let’s break down some aspects which might make the wait not feel that long.

First: Jennifer Morrison’s performance as Emma was brilliant in this episode. Once again, she shows how great she can really portray her character. Along OUAT’s seasons, we’ve seen a tough, a vulnerable, a hurt, a happy, a dark and now a princess Emma. Morrison, whose character stands at the core of the show, is still able to demonstrate new layers of her role which not only makes the show worthwile, but also keeps her in the center of interest.

Second of all: To get to see Regina truly being a hero and saving Emma from a dream she might not wake up from by herself, valorizes her a lot. Coming from a place where Regina and Emma were the greatest enemies, it’s amazing to see how the show was able to let the characters evolve so much that they became not only friends, but in fact family. Also, even though in the first season it was fun to see the Evil Queen, now, it just seems to be a relief to finally see her gone as Regina is much more interesting to keep as a character.

Last, but not least: Let’s talk a little bit about how the 6th season is still pretty chaotic. We have to many storylines, too many characters and not enough action. As I already explained in my review of the 6th season’s premiere, that makes it difficult to follow with where the show is heading. We have characters stepping up which we actually don’t want to see like David or Jasmine (just a brief remark: at first, she proposes David to wake up Snow but then decides to use her wishes to get back to her home? I mean, who does that? And I thought Aladdin only had three wishes to grant? Why did they put this unnecessarily painful scene into the episode?); and there are characters which we do want to see, but don’t get enough screen time, just like Hook or Zelena. I think those aspects really put the show in a bad place because in the long term, viewers won’t be able to keep up with dozens of plotlines playing out – especially when it’s about figures nobody really wants to see.

So, OUAT’s “game” is still going strong with Emma Swan and Regina standing at the core of the show and thus keeping it alive. But, unfortunately, with so many characters around and a wrong prioritization of some plotlines, ABC’s fairy tale mystery drama series has lost some quality, which on the other hand makes it easier to take a break from and let it sleep ’til March.

My tip for you little ducklings: I wouldn’t count on a faster paced 6B, though the great acting of Morrison and Parrilla do make up for it.

Review: “The Vampire Diaries” Season 8

First came the Vampires, then the Hunger Games and as the dystopian genre slowly comes to an end, so does one of the first vampire-related productions in the US entertainment industry of the 2000s: “The Vampire Diaries”.

During ComicCon 2016, we, loyal fans of TVD had to accept the painful message of our favorite brutal and murderous series ending 2017. But this means in no way that TVD doesn´t end on a high note.

At the end of Season 7, we got introduced to a new villain, a somehow monstruous being whose nature we only discovered in the (last) premiere episode of the eight season: the siren.

Even I have to admit that on the one hand, the siren is a supernatural being which fits TVD´s primary requirements for a villain – charming, brilliant and absolutly evil -, but on the other hand, it is a little bit ridiculous to speak it out loud.

Sybil the siren is able to exercize high control via mind on people. One of those people is Damon who´s so scared to land in hell that he becomes the puppet/slave of TVD´s newest monster. That´s a point which I have to criticize slightly as I believe that it´s a little bit out of Damon´s character to get easily afraid of something. However, it is a good storyline to bring back the old habits of Damon which many viewers missed in the past seasons.

But what about the regular cast? Stefan and Caroline – or Staroline – seem to be at the best of places in their relationship. Ready to be married to eachother for the rest of their lives (which is pretty long in case they don´t get killed by someone – oh wait, they get killed all the time, but somehow they manage to survive for eight seasons, so I think they´ll be good), I believe they symbolize a new favorite couple viewers have to ship instead of Delena/Stelena. Though, nothing will ever replace TVD´s authentic love-triangle and basic storyline.

And poor BonBon: She never seems to get her happy ending, even though she´s probably the one who deserves it the most. I only hope TVD will finally grant her this little favor. The same goes for Matt who´s not only responsible for killing his fiancée, but also all by himself – now with his estranged father on his back. Wait a minute: Why did no one think of a Bonnie/Matt-ship? Wouldn´t that be great? Because let´s be honest: Enzo is just really annoying. He lost his wit and…wait: that was all he had. So, yeah, that makes him pretty unnecessary and boring. And Alaric? Well, once thought and described as a “genius” professor, his fatherhood seems to have drawn out every single IQ point left in him…

So what should I advise you to do, little ducklings? I, myself, watched “The Vampires Diaries” ever since the pilot aired and never missed an episode. It would be really sad if I gave it all up now. But for those of you, who haven´t had such a “close” relationship with the show, I think it´s already time to say goodbye, because all you will see for the rest of the season is more blood and less true and interesting storylines.

My grade for “The Vampire Diaries”´eight season is therefore: “eh, it could be better”.