Welcome back to Boomb Tube! Here, we will be catching you up on the week in comics TV, both through micro-reviews, as well as links to our full-length TV reviews. We also tend to review series that are dropped all at once weekly so there are a few ‘older’ shows mixed in for good measure. Are we missing your favorite show? Let us know in the comments!
And since the summer is here, at least for a few more weeks, check out our 2022 Summer TV binges, where Multiversity staffers reach back in time to review comics/comics-adjacent/nerdy shows all summer (and the first half of fall) long. (Here’s a handy list of what’s being covered too.)
Harley Quinn – “Climax at Jazzapajizza” (S3E9, HBO Max)
Jazzapajizza finally returns to Gotham (I don’t know what it is either) and Ivy is determined to go, despite the plant/zombie hybrid apocalypse in the city’s streets. Things get so bad that Harley calls King Shark from whatever the hell he’s been doing to help therapize Bruce and probably kill Martha and Thomas Wayne again.
The stakes in this show fluctuate wildly in each episode, leaving each conflict feeling hollow by the end. Today, it’s a zombie apocalypse with pretty inconsistent rules (does the plant barf turn you into a zombie or a tree) that is resolved within the confines of the episode. If a zombie theme is what you want to do, maybe give it a couple of episodes to breathe so Ivy sacrificing her Eden for Harley has a bit more weight. Instead, we get another demonstration of how much these characters love each other, and it’s kind of all these two are doing this season. I get it.
Also, Jazzapajizza? Come on, writers. You are better than that. –Carl Waldron
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – “The Tomb of Greyskull” (S3E5, NETFLIX)
Hello, and welcome back to another installment of friend on friend crimes being committed in the name of love. Of course, if you’ve been following you’ll know I’m referring to the new arch-enemies, He-Man and Ram Ma’am. I wonder if the writers chose which friend to go Judas based on their ability to rhyme together in a sentence. Well, it took a half season but the simmering resentment finally goes supernova as Ram Ma’am lets loose with a power beam that would turn an ordinary mortal into fine dust. With many Super Smash Bros moves stolen for the sake of entertainment, it sure is fun to see He-Man finally get pushed to his limits and Skelator perfectly summarizes by saying ‘I could watch this all day.’
As Ram Ma’am tosses a snake talisman to the serpent bad guys, it gathers them all up into a giant mega snake worthy of a Godzilla-sized tussle. It swallows He-Man whole and bye-bye He-man! Time to cut to the B story with Teela teaming up with Evil-Lyn. Of course, Teela shows how naive she still is by thinking Evil-Lyn won’t double-cross her in any way. Which she does, sending Teela tumbling into the water underneath the ice and taking her staff. She is eventually saved by everyone’s favorite side-kick dad King Randor but the most curious part is that Evil-Lyn hangs around and actually gives Teela her staff back after a moment of what looked like.. begrudging fondness? Curious to see how that develops later. They’ve been the most obvious odd-couple pair of the show since the beginning of the series, actually.
There’s an undertone of religious commentary that has been happening since season 2, and this episode there’s a funny moment where a snake henchman senses the coming of the ‘one true ruler’ coming from the ground, which is the evil mega snake conjured up by Skelator. The henchman gets on his knees and says “only you can save me” -and is promptly squashed by the giant snake’s tail. Subtle message about religious fanaticism? –Henry Finn
Locke & Key – “Siege” (S3E5, Netflix)
Read our full review by Alexander Manzo.
Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – “A Shadow of the Past” & “Adrift” (S1E1 & S1E2, Amazon Prime)Continued below
In case you missed it, read our full review of the two-part premiere by Christopher Chiu-Tabet.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – “Adar” (S1E3, Amazon Prime)
We’re finally introduced to Numenor, and seeing Tolkien’s fabled island kingdom realized in live-action admittedly made me emotional; it is far more beautiful, vibrant, and colorful, not to mention more hustling and bustling, than how I ever imagined it — it feels like Greece on steroids. But all is not well in this paradise; the people, led by Queen Regent Miriel (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and Chancellor Pharazon (Trystan Gravelle), have turned xenophobic, to the point they forced the last king to effectively abdicate for welcoming Elves. Halbrand deploys his charisma to stop Galadriel from coming to blows with Miriel, although he cannot prevent her from becoming a glorified prisoner.
Captain Elendil (Lloyd Owen) is ordered to keep watch over Galadriel, and he demonstrates he lives up to his name (“Elf-friend”) by taking her to the House of Law, where she determines Sauron’s mysterious symbol is a map of the Southlands, particularly the mountains that will one day mark Mordor’s borders. She also learns Halbrand is the King of the Southlands, and winds up greeting him in prison after he proves he isn’t as smooth as he thinks, and gets into a (surprisingly brutal) street fight. Halbrand explains he is ashamed of his people’s past as allies of Morgoth, but Galadriel tells him that is why she needs his help.
In Rhovanion, the Harfoots prepare to caravan, and in a touching sequence, remember those they have lost on previous migrations, including Poppy’s entire family. The Stranger accidentally reveals himself after coming to look at a star chart Nori stole from their leader Sadoc Burrows (Lenny Henry), and while Burrows doesn’t exile her because of her youth, he orders the Brandyfoots to the back of the caravan, a move that would surely condemn them after her father, Largo (Dylan Smith), received a leg injury. The Stranger, who was the one responsible for Largo’s injury, redeems himself by offering to help his “friend” keep up. As Nori says, “He helps us, and we help him,” a lesson we sadly forget more often than not.
In the Southlands themselves, Arondir is surprised to find his fellow rangers have also been enslaved by the Orcs, and that the enemy now appears to refer to Sauron as Adar (the Elvish word for “father.”) The Orcs cruelly lull their prisoners into a false sense of safety giving them water rations, letting them murder Médhor (Augustus Prew), forcing Arondir to cut down an ancient tree to stop them from killing more people. Eventually, they stage a spectacular breakout, where Arondir avoids being gored by a particularly toothy warg, but he is captured on seeing his commander, Revion (Simon Merrells), has been slain with arrows.
The Orc commander spares him, ordering him to be taken to Adar, who we see (out-of-focus) entering the trench. I’m surprised we’re already meeting the title character, although it might still not be him; Halbrand’s interest in smithing is certainly unusual for a king. We also meet Elendil’s son Isildur (Maxim Baldry), and daughter Earien (Ema Horvath). Isildur seems to hear Galadriel’s voice during his sea training; but why? – Christopher Chiu-Tabet
Paper Girls – “Some Kind of Burping Trash Hole” (S1E7, Amazon Prime)
“You’re so focused on who you should be and how to get there that you have no idea what you really like, really want, or who you really are.”
In the penultimate episode, the girls split up into three storylines. The Tiffs argue over their past, present, and future, with Adult Tiff delivering the news that they are adopted and that she was expelled from MIT. KJ and Mac visit Mac’s grave, and their remembrance is interrupted by Mac’s step-mother coming to leave flowers on the grave. Erin is visited by 1999 Larry, who brings her (and eventually all the girls) to his farm to find a giant purple hole in the sky that’s spitting out detritus from their home in 1988 and their trip to 2019. The group is joined by Juniper (Celeste Arias), an STF agent who identifies it as a Class 2 time rip. When they find a drone in Larry’s kitchen that is sending information on them back to the Old Watch, Juniper shoots it with a shotgun, warning that the Old Watch is on the way to kill the girls and reset everything else about the timeline.Continued below
This episode is a mixed bag of payoffs and awkward elisions, particularly given the knowledge that the upcoming episode will be the final one of the series. The story arcs are individually compelling, but they all also feel unfinished, like this would function better as the season’s midpoint rather than its penultimate episode. The addition of Mac’s stepmother feels undeveloped and somewhat cruel (if the timeline doesn’t get reset, she’ll be having nightmares for years about the time she ran into the ghost of her beloved daughter and was rejected by her). Larry’s grappling with the decisions of his future self – and Erin’s rejection and semi-forgiveness of him – are only touched on as an aside in between bursts of exposition. The fight between the Tiffs comes closest to feeling satisfying, but it’s a shame that it is so detached from the rest of what’s going on with the girls. Adult Tiff ultimately spells out what could function as the thesis statement of the show: “You’re so focused on who you should be and how to get there that you have no idea what you really like, really want, or who you really are.”
The girls have spent the show redefining themselves both in the context of and in opposition to their supposed futures. KJ tries to find peace with the self she saw in the future, and works hard to get Mac to value herself and fight against her coming end. Erin attempts to assert herself as an author of her own future while realizing that her stubbornness deteriorated her personal relationships in the future. Tiff tries to cling to her strongly held values in the face of a future self that has rejected them completely. Each of them feels like they’re at a transition point, where they could either embrace or reject the paths that are before them. Even if sometimes it can be narratively messy, and if I don’t fully have faith that the show can stick its landing in the final act, Paper Girls has managed to build a set of fascinating, multi-dimensional central characters. – Reid Carter
Resident Alien – “Harry, A Parent” (S2E13, Syfy)
Read our full review by Christopher Chiu-Tabet.
Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles – “Runaway Training” (S2E1, Netflix)
In case you missed it, read our full review of the season 2 premiere by Elias Rosner.
Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles – “Game Dogs” (S2E2, NETFLIX)
While things are still better than last season, things have once again ground to a screeching halt by eschewing all the ongoing plot and going on at least two different tangents within tangents. I think if this were a more put together show, I would have no issues with us spending an entire episode mucking about in an arcade. But it’s not and so here I am, complaining.
Again, Yuichi Usagi is my least favorite part of “Game Dog,” this time because the script gives him some of the worst dialog we’ve seen from Samurai Rabbit and a beyond basic arc. The lesson of the last season – don’t judge by appearances and hearsay – wasn’t heeded by Yuichi and instead he just pledged to not fight Yokai ever. That could be interesting to explore as not all character growth is, well, growth. It’s not interesting at all and the fact that he says, aloud, he’s “never never never fighting Yokai again ever” twice before having to go back on that due to O-Dokuro’s attack, is bad and frustrating and I’ve wasted enough time on this already.
Besides our perennial protagonist, this was also a Gen and Toshio episode, delving more into their backstory and giving us yet another flashback. I won’t begrudge the episode for indulging in more of that art style though. Always happy to see it. Otherwise, it’s pretty stock and dull and adds little to nothing to their character besides teeing up the B-plot of Toshio chasing Ashibasha around town for 3 difficult to parse scenes. I did like how it more directly tied Gen to the hospital, showing how the three Shiba Inus essentially took them in. Though that’d have been nice to know when they were first introduced y’all!Continued below
Besides that, there were a few good gags, like the fighting game being called Slappy Slappy Death Death or something, and O-Dokuro’s finger running around like a puppy. The only other bright spot was Kasa-Obake bouncing around with his one eye and long curly tongue and Lord Kogane being berated by a talking three eyed yokai-possessed clam into practicing self-care in order to revitalize the Arts-and-Craftist in him. I enjoyed that.
Oh, before I forget, I only just now noticed how empty the show feels. I’d been trying to figure out why nothing felt real or cohesive and I think this is why. Unless there is an explicit crowd scene, there are rarely background characters – like in the arcade – and the music and sound effects are languid, matching the slow motion of the action. It makes these 22-24 minute episodes feel endless and the places poorly defined.
Maybe Usagi’s Kaikishi weapon trapped them all in the Ki-Stone. I doubt we’ll find out next time but I can hope. Ikuzo! –Elias Rosner
The Sandman – “The Sound of Her Wings” (S1E6, Netflix)
Read our full review by august (in the wake of) dawn.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – “Is This Not Real Magic?” (S1E4, Disney+)
“Is This Not Real Magic?” is a funny episode of television. I mean that both in the sense that it made me laugh and that it’s representative of all of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s strengths and weaknesses as a series. See, this is an episode with a really basic workplace comedy setup. You’ve got your case of the week in which Wong (making a surprising and delightful return) sues Donny Blaze (a former sorcery student) to stop him from using real magic in his magician performances. Then there’s Jen throwing herself into the world of dating apps and even struggling to find a suitable partner as She-Hulk. Hijinks ensue, work problems get in the way of personal life, a team-up happens, etc. This formula is solid so fundamentally, “Is This Not Real Magic?” works. The thing is, there’s still a gap between having a rock solid formula and having a great tv show. It’s kind of like the way that you can follow a recipe exactly right but not have it come out as well as another cook can make it. Whether there needs to be a proverbial extra pinch of seasoning or a little butter in the pan, a show can only really achieve its potential once those vital but hard to define elements are present. As is the case with much of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, this episode is funny, competently structured, well-paced, and filled with great performances. It’s just messing that extra something.
“Is This Not Real Magic?” deserves credit for introducing us to She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’s funniest character yet, Madisynn a party girl brought to life with an exquisite performance by Patty Guggenheim. She steps through a portal to “another dimensh” at a Donny Blaze show, makes a deal with a demon, then gets transported to Wong’s house where she immediately spoils The Sopranos, prompting Wong’s aforementioned lawsuit. It’s a genuine laugh-out-loud premise that prompts some great material. Madysinn is a delight on the stand at trial, as is Donny Blaze’s legal team, which is made up of amateur magicians. It’s exactly the kind of fun, in the weeds nerd question this show was meant to explore (what legal right does Wong have to prevent someone from doing magic?) and bad party magician Donny makes for a great foil for the episode.
The She-Hulk dating storyline is more straightforward: getting into the dating game is awful and the fact that most guys on dating apps deeply suck in some way or another makes it even worse. That is, until Jen meets a beautiful man who wants to know all about her life, has very little to say about his own, and isn’t intimidated by her Hulk status. Of course, it’s all undercut by the fact the the morning after their date, upon seeing Jen’s human form, he loses interest. It’s a cute, silly B-plot and gives a nice superhero twist to an all-too-real story about dating as a career-driven woman. The inevitable Wong/Jen team-up after Donny accidentally summons demons at a performance is generic CG fun and the most actual heroism we’ve gotten to see from She-Hulk.Continued below
The episode ends with an intriguing cliffhanger- Titania is out of jail, she’s trademarked the title She-Hulk, and she’s suing Jen. Maybe Jameela Jamil will be the extra pinch that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law needs. No matter what, this week was fun even if there’s a certain magic missing (no pun intended). –Quinn Tassin
Star Trek: Lower Decks – “Mining the Mind’s Mines” (S3E3, Paramount+)
Read our full review by Joe Skonce.
Stargirl – “Frenemies – Chapter Two: The Suspects” (S3E2, The CW)
When Stargirl began, her stepfather Pat was the Blue Valley hype man, telling Courtney how much good it will do her. A few years later, Court is now doing the same spiel to Sylvester, explaining that he needs to let Blue Valley do what it can to give him a life outside of being Starman. Somehow, despite her youth and relative inexperience, she is a calming and steadying presence for Sylvester, and attempts to get him to stop acting like a hothead.
Sylvester is the strangest part of the show. Joel McHale is playing him alternately like a total asshole and someone who is legitimately lost. Those could be two expressions of the same emotional turmoil, but the show isn’t tipping its hand just yet. My money is still on Sylvester being less than reputable, which seems to be the only way the show would really have a use for him. Courtney hasn’t run out of disappointing father figures, even as she’s embraced Pat.
This episode also seems to put the Shade on the shelf, at least for the time being. This is probably a good thing for the show, as the character is just too powerful for a show like this. The same can be said for the Thunderbolt, but there’s the built in Amelia Bedelia-ish nature of his comprehension to keep the power in check. Sadly, last season’s Thunderbolt voice, Jim Gaffigan, has not returned. Instead, Seth Green is the new voice and while he’s fine, he doesn’t bring as much to the role as Gaffigan did.
This season is slowly building up a number of factors, but the most compelling of which is the continued heart and empathy shown by Courtney. Her promise to find Becky, the Gambler’s daughter, is one of the more heroic actions in the series thus far. The show’s single best decision is to make Court the beacon of hope and good in Blue Valley; even when the show puts out a less than stellar episode, her genuine kindness makes the show worthwhile. – Brian Salvatore