Friday, May 31, 2019

Superman Leviathan Rising Review Pt 1: Supergirl

The Superman Leviathan Rising #1 special came out this week and laid out the path that the super-books will be taking during the upcoming Event Leviathan crossover. From peeks at the new Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen books (written by their respective creative teams) to linking the threat of the Invisible Mafia to the Leviathan organization, the cavalcade of talent on this special lay out a great sort or mid-story prologue. We have been circling Leviathan for sometime in Action Comics. Here we see him straight on.

I'll be reviewing the bulk of this giant early next week. But today I thought I would focus on the Supergirl chapter. As said above, this special sort of paves the way for the Event Leviathan storyline. And that impacts Kara as much as anyone. Her chapter feels separate, as if she is going to be tangentially involved with the main plot but not a key figure. I can easily pull her pages out of this special and the main story would go off without a hitch.

And bear with me as this is something of a rant. A rant that happens so frequently in Kara's comic history that it flows easily out of me, like some memorized prayer.

The creative team on this chapter is writer Marc Andreyko and penciler Eduarado Pansica. So this segment feels like Supergirl's main book. Now if you have read my reviews of Andreyko's 'Supergirl in space' arc, you'll know that I haven't been too thrilled with it. And angry Kara, wielding an axe, screaming for vengeance, and abandoning Earth seems all so 2004, all so New 52 to me.

Here we see that Supergirl is back home and hoping to reconnect with her adoptive family the Danvers only to find their house demolished and her parents missing. When we get the back story we see that Eliza Danvers acts completely out of character, leading to her disappearance.

It is as if Andreyko wants to scrub away all the good foundation that Steve Orlando and Jody Houser built in the prior issues. A sort of awkward Supergirl, learning to be a hero, surrounded by a nurturing family and a supporting cast of other teens? That was a recipe for great stories and solid, steady sales.

But DC never seems to want that stability. It is always trying to swerve Supergirl into a gritty, dark mess which never works. And after having her be called 'The Queen of the Axe', Andreyko doubles down by removing all the supportive elements from Kara's recent history.

And, much like the Omega Men played way too big a role in her stories, it looks like the Kate Spencer Manhunter might also be around to steal some pages.

Does DC want a Supergirl book on the shelves? Does Andreyko like Supergirl as a character? Does anyone in DC care what the Supergirl fan base wants to read?  I don't think so.

On to the details.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Leviathan Theory: Posters

I know I am going a bit overboard with my Leviathan Theory posts.

But I live for comic mysteries like this. I look for the clues and sift out the feints. I lean on decades of comic reading and too much comic history. It is, simply, a ton of fun.

And I feel like this is the first mystery of this scope that I have been on-line to discuss. There wasn't an internet, a comic community, a blogging atmosphere for Sensor Girl or Armageddon 2001.

So you have to bear with me.

DC came out with 8 one page ads to promote the event and to shine a spotlight on the DC detective characters investigating Leviathan in the main mini-series. And some of the text can be fit into my theory.

And, to make matters worse, I have a theory and I am looking for corroborating evidence for my theory everywhere. But get ready, the end of this post will be a new 'back up' theory in case you don't like my original onw.

Let's start out with this one where Leviathan himself speaks. If this is Ted Kord, he would have seen the heroes doing everything in their power to change the world and fail. Nothing earth-shattering here. If Leviathan is a former hero,which I think they are, this text makes sense.

On to the others.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

DC Superhero Girls #SuperWho

I have been pretty thrilled with the new DC Superhero Girls and the approach to the characters and stories. As I have said, there is as much Looney Tunes humor in these shows as there is life lessons and values. I don't mind either.

And I have been overall pretty happy with this take on Supergirl. She is the tough one, the 'bad girl', the iconoclast of the group. She is the act first, think later member of the team. And in a group show where each of the friends needs to embody a character trait, it makes more sense for Kara to fit that bill.

It also helps that we have seen that the rough exterior probably hides a softer inside waiting to be nurtured, waiting for her to be confident enough in herself to let herself be vulnerable.

One thing that I didn't think I'd be too keen on is her relationship with Superman.

I'm a big fan of the super-family being family. I don't want Superman to dominate Kara. I don't want him to be the stern father figure. But I do like him being an inspiration for Supergirl, someone she can turn to for advice.

In a recent episode, #SuperWho, we see that it is something adversarial. Supergirl is upset that Superman arrived here first and has become this hero. She doesn't like being in his shadow.

And here Superman seems aloof and something of a narcissist. I always worry about how Superman is being portrayed, especially to people who might not be exposed to him anywhere else.

So yes, #SuperWho is a hilarious episode showing an exasperated Kara trying to find her way in the world. It has a deep cut DC villain. But I wish Superman was shown in a brighter light.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Leviathan Theory: The Enforcer In Action Comics #1011

I am trying to figure out in my head how to handle my Leviathan theories here on the site.

One thing to do would be to insert my ideas about the theories in the reviews of the books where new clues appear. New theory ideas would be rolled into the ongoing story. The down side would be that my already super-long reviews would be longer.

The other would be to have separate Leviathan theory posts thus giving me more room to discuss why I have the new idea and give some supportive evidence around it. This would keep my reviews the same length but it would mean many more Theory posts (when warranted).

For now, I think what I will do is insert any new fleeting theory (maybe Leviathan is Ocean Master??) into the review. But anything more substantial, anything that needs a broader discussion or panels from other books for evidence will be in a separate post ... like today's.

My main  Leviathan Theory  is laid out here. I freely admit that I am pretty anchored on this theory.

So let's look at my theory that Captain Atom (as a stand in for Doctor Manhattan who was a stand in for Captain Atom) is the 'Enforcer' of Leviathan.

Squint and you'll miss it but Atom is mentioned in an article for the Planet that Perry is proof-reading. You don't get all of it but it looks like Atom was seen streaking into a building before it exploded. Too obvious a clue?

It is interesting that Atom, who hasn't been seen in a while has suddenly reappeared. But wait there's more!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Off!

Happy Memorial Day!

Thanks to all those who have served our great nation.

I have had a very tough recent period at work and today is a day off for me. So no post for me.

Enjoy the day!

I know I will be!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Review: Action Comics #1011

Action Comics #1011, part 5 of Leviathan Rising, came out this week. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Steve Epting, this chapter focused on enriching the mystery of who or what Leviathan is. We get a lot of discussion, a lot of information, and a lot of clues. And since I already have a theory I am anchored on, I saw a lot of corroborating information.  Of course, I am anchored.

One thing that Bendis does very well is character development and moments. There isn't much action in this issue. But we get a whole role call of people who are impacted by the Leviathan attacks. It is interesting to see the patsies having to fight back. It is intriguing to see spies wonder just what is going to happen next. And we get to see the clout that the press has in the DCU. This is a great Lois issue.

The art by Steve Epting is solid work, perfect for this more street level espionage story. The scenes play out well and he has subtle expressive work which helps in the dialogue scenes which dominate this issue. And the cover, showing the weight of the problem on Superman is brilliant.

But this is what a mystery is like. Not every issue is going to be a slugfest. For someone like me, who devours clues, looks for patterns, and wants to solve the mystery, these issues are a gold mine. I loved it.

On to the book.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

DC Superhero Girls #Beeline

I know that I am beginning to sound like a broken record (a dated reference if there ever was one) but this new take on DC Superhero Girls is a ton of fun and I love it.

As I have said since its debut, the show is a great mix of action and humor. There are deep cuts to the DCU. There is a dollop of adult humor and references, the sort of things to keep the grown-ups happy. And there are messages of pride, empowerment, and inclusion ... but the stories drive the messages, not the other way around.

All the kudos to Lauren Faust for this injection of adrenaline into this franchise.

Take, for example, the latest long form episode airing on the Cartoon Network, #Beeline.

This is a story of Bumblebee learning to be strong, be proactive, and embrace being a hero, someone who puts the well being of others over herself. But we have to get there.

We also get a version of the Legion of Doom and end with a classic superhero trope, the villains and heroes running towards each other.

But the episode opens with a dramatic shot of the heroes running towards the camera, racing to get somewhere 'before its too late!'

What is the threat?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Supergirl 422: Quest For Peace

The Supergirl season 4 finale, episode 422 'Quest for Peace', aired this week and just blew me out of the water. The show just nailed it.

When you look at the season as a hold, I can't help but feel that this was the strongest of the bunch. Yes, some early episodes did struggle with this show's occasional clunky, ham-fisted writing. It was clear there was an agenda to the season and that agenda seemed to overwhelm the story rather than supplement.

And then Lex Luthor happened.

Jon Cryer's performance was like an adrenaline injection. His first two episodes were brilliantly crafted. You definitely felt Lex's presence in the next couple of episodes as the characters all seemed to be scrambling to catch up to the schemes. And then this episode which tied it all together! Amazing.

Moreover, all the plotlines tied up nicely, even if some of them were obvious.

And then, the teases for next season. Just incredible. I can't believe I have to wait months to see where all of these new plot lines are going!!

I don't think I have ever been this happy about a Supergirl season or its finale. Wow.

On to the show.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

DC Comics August Solicitations

The DC solicits for August came out and there are a number of things that stood out to me. You can check out all the books over on Newsarama here:

One thing I will say is that I don't have much interest in the Super Sons novels or the Miller/Romita Superman Year One, so no coverage of that here.

For me, this is definitely the summer of Leviathan as I am all in on this plot. For one, it is fresh and new. As a grizzled fan, I love anything that true feels innovative. And this crossover event, a sort of street level, not galactic/universal, feels very new.

As it is the year of the villain, the title logos of the super-books are all getting busted up, an effect I always like. We also get Lois and Jimmy!

Add to that a reset on the Supergirl book and the summer can't get here soon enough.

On to the books.

written by MARC ANDREYKO
card stock variant cover by DERRICK CHEW

After a year in space solving the mystery of Krypton’s demise, Supergirl returns to Earth to discover that everything she knew as Kara Danvers is gone! Plus, the usurper Brainiac-1 has set his sights on the unsuspecting Girl of Steel – and his plans are far from benevolent! ON SALE 08.14.19

So Kara is back home. But all of Kara Danvers is gone?

Is Andreyko erasing the 2 years of stories we got from Steve Orlando and Jody Houser? Seems wrong. I was hoping we'd pick up that continuity. Maybe I am ringing the alarum too early.

I like Brainiac as a villain for Supergirl given she truly lived through the Kandor event.

Let's hope she stays on Earth, isn't a rager, and acts the hero.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Superman #11

Superman #11 came out this week, The Unity Saga: The House of El part 5. With Event Leviathan around the corner, the time has come to reunite the El Family and time to finish up the Rogol Zaar storyline which began back in last May's Man of Steel.

Brian Michael Bendis has a lot of plot threads out there that have been simmering along. Rogol Zaar's history and motivations are still unknown. General Zod and Superman's visions of the future have blipped in and out. Superboy being gone and now older is just being addressed. Jor-El being alive (sigh) and deranged (sigh) has been running through this book since before Bendis took over. Most interesting is that all these plots are interwoven. So this arc seems like it is going to tie off all the plot threads into a neat bow.

As for the events of this issue, I love Superman's presence in the galaxy, a known hero who is able to shut down a battle quickly. And the last page is winner both in image and words.

This is a wide screen issue which takes place during an intergalactic brawl between four factions. There are two page splashes. There are half page panels. There are giant images spanning two pages with smaller panels around that anchor. Big action deserve big art. Ivan Reis with Joe Prado and Oclair Albert really convey the scope and size of the action.

I do feel like Leviathan is building some momentum for the DC books across the board. That said, I hope the ending of this story doesn't feel rushed!

On to the book.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Leviathan Theory


Please settle down as this may be a rambling post.

It will be an attempt for me to put into words my theory on who Leviathan is. Or maybe more like who are in the group Leviathan.

But it will be trying to connect thoughts and feelings and guesses I have been working through as clues and scenes unfold. And in that way, it will be akin to a neural map of my mind, the blogging equivalent of a conspiracy theory connected by yarn and thumb tacks.

At its essence it boils down to this inescapable Watchmen feeling that is draped over everything. And you know when the Watchmen are discussed in comics, you need to remember their origins, the Charlton heroes they were based on.  And when you think about those heroes, you need to think about their histories in DC Comics.

And so I beg you to stay with me here, as I lay out the crumbs of my case, hoping I can sweep them together in your mind and form a cake.

I also freely admit that this very well could represent anchoring bias. Anchoring bias is when you make a conclusion early on and then twist all further incoming information (even ignoring new information) so that it fits your conclusion. I made a leap early. And this is my anchor.

On to the details.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Supergirl 421: Red Dawn

Supergirl Episode 421, title 'Red Dawn' aired this week and basically blew me out of the water. It was amazing. This episode marked writer Eric Carrasco's last work on the Supergirl series and he went out with a bang, pushing the gas pedal down. Everything is screaming to the finale. Amazing.

There was almost too much to love about this episode, stuff I will cover when I get into the details/recap.

The Alex/Kara moments here were extremely powerful. Their ending scene made me choke up a bit. And getting the young actors who played them in the Midvale episode back was a nice touch. The flashbacks helped flesh out the ending of the Alex memory storyline.

Brainy gets a great turn in this episode as he overcomes his awkward emotions in the least desirable way. I guess Brainiac's like to bottle things up too much. The pressure got to him.

The final fight between Red Daughter and Supergirl drew on Sterling Gates, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Phenomenal.

Ben Lockwood might be heading to a mini-redemption. Although I think he wouldn't care how he got where he got, just that he got there.

And despite all that, my favorite scene was one between Lena and Lillian Luthor, filled with love, death, poisoning, and snark! Kate McGrath and Brenda Strong deserve a bottle episode of their own.

I do have to say that the back end of this season has been spectacular. Probably the best second half of a Supergirl season to date. On to the specifics!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

DC Superhero Girls #HardRock

While long episodes on Cartoon Network remain surprisingly sparse, the DC Superhero Girls minisodes on YouTube continue to flourish and remain a brief 3 minute respite from the doldrums of every day life. (Although a recent full episode on CN did have a 'Legion of Doom' style nemesis group! Sure to cover at some point!)

The latest minisode, called #HardRock is now up here:

It is clear that each of the main characters has a dominant personality trait that drives their characterization. This episode again focuses on how Diana is a stranger in a strange land, getting used to metaphors, idioms, and what consists of normal behavior here in the States.

That sort of trope can be endlessly mined for humor. And here it is no difference.

Supergirl's personality is to be rebellious. Here we again see that she is a hard rocker. And so bringing Diana into a punk concert is a recipe for hilarious disaster.

So get ready for a wild ride as we venture into the Lazarus Pit, a hard rock cafe.

(And how great is it that the club is called the Lazarus Pit, a nice Easter Egg for folks who get it.)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Amazing Heroes #91: Supergirl's Obituary

A couple of months ago I stumbled upon Amazing Heroes #91, a special post-Crisis issue of the premier comic magazine of the time.

The book is a treasure trove for a Crisis fan like me and I have been a mining it for retrospective looks at Supergirl's death and the review of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

Another thing I liked about the book was that the had an obituary section for all the heroes and villains who died in the series. What could be better than one last eulogy for Kid Psycho and the original Dove. Let's face it, they probably weren't mourned enough when they died. There wasn't time.

But that obituary section included all the big names as well.

And that included Supergirl.

One thing about these obituaries are that they are a little bit comic history and a little bit 'Who's Who' style history.

It is funny to read this detailed history in one setting as it highlights just how bonkers the last 15 years of Supergirl's continuity was. That said, the article doesn't poke fun or ridicule the history. It just reports it. After all, Supergirl had been around for nearly 30 years. She was bound to have a few wrinkles in her storylines.

Enjoy the article written by Mark Waid, Supergirl fan extraordinaire.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Review: Supergirl #30

Supergirl #30 came out this week and definitely was something of a reviewing conundrum.

Frankly, I have grown tired of this arc. The angry Supergirl, Queen of the Axe, pulping hands as she wallows in rage, is not a Supergirl I want to read. A plot about finding scattered stones that took an Omega Man detour. A panel in comic admitting the plot wasn't progressing. Then a deus ex machina assembling of all the stones to bring the plot to a rapid close. And then, this issue, more rage wallowing. I just need this approach to end.

So this was not a good story to read.

That said, it was an absolutely gorgeous book to read. Kevin Maguire is back on art and just shines on every page. Yes, the story beats are rough. But boy, are they presented in a beautiful way. I found myself lingering on each page, just soaking it all in. I can't think up enough adjectives. Sumptuous? Phenomenal? Spectacular?

And, it seems, this portion of the story has come to a bit of a close. We end this issue with the opening of the next super-arc.

But have we reached the end of this spin on the 'dark Kara doesn't work, let's bring in a new creator who understands her' cycle?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Supergirl 420: Will The Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up

Supergirl episode 420, titled 'Will the real Miss Tessmacher please stand up' aired earlier this week. As has been the case the last few episodes, the thrust of this episode was moving the main plots of Lex's behind-the-scene manipulations and Ben Lockwood's descent into madness forward. Of course, these two plots are intertwined given how Lex nudged Lockwood on this path to begin with.

But the subplots touched on in this episode were just as interesting to me. We are moving toward the inevitable secret identity reveal to Lena. It is going to happen. And the big question is how will Lena react? The scene at the end of this episode where this truly comes to a boil is one of the best scenes of the season. It also shows that maybe the best time for the reveal by Kara was last episode. I still say when Lena apologized for keeping her work with Lex a secret, Kara should have confessed.

The other subplot, lingering from last year, is Alex's desire to be a mother. This was a major plot point all last season and was basically swept under the rug. So while it felt like it came out of nowhere here, I can't complain. At least it was addressed.

The last subplot was the super-fast (and frankly feeling a little forced) relationship between Alex and Kelly Olsen. These two have basically become besties and now potential romantics in what feels like a blink.

As for the acting, I love Andrea Brooks insane take on multiple Eve Tessmachers, all of varying intelligence. And the action sequences were well done as well.

On to the show.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

DC Superhero Girls #PrizeFighter

I continue to be impressed with the Lauren Faust version of the DC Superhero Girls. While there haven't been many 'main' episodes on the Cartoon Network, the YouTube shorts are released with some regularity.

The latest, 'PrizeFighter', aired last week and was another fun look at the Supergirl character. This Kara is competitive and certainly a bit on edge but in a fun way. Here is a link:

One thing I love about this is that it feels a little more real than the prior DCSHG. The Shea Fontana shows were definitely great and I loved them. But it felt more like kids when they are at their aunt's house ... best behavior and careful. This new take is sort of a 'no holds barred' romp. The messages are still there, a bit more nuanced and always hilarious.

We also got a significant cameo in this episode. And as brief as it was it spoke volumes.

On to the show!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Supergirl Gallery Diorama Statue

I recently purchased the DC Gallery Diorama figuring of Supergirl and added it to my collection.

I am usually a bit more reticent to buy merchandise of the Michael Turner, bare midriff costume as I often feel that that particular costume lends itself to cheesecake. That's not why I am a Supergirl fan. And on first blush, this statue with it's very low-riding skirt seems to veer into that territory.

But looking beyond the exposed hips the statue is quite nice. Ensconced in a bright package, this is an action shot of Supergirl emerging from an explosion or a star all while snapping chains that try to bind her.

So the overall subject matter is one of strength.

I am not a big reviewer of packaging but i am a bit confused by this.

Certainly the pastel blues and bright reds are eye catching. And the actual picture of the statue within showcases the things I like about it.

But it is odd that the illustration on the box is of the more current Rebirth Supergirl costume and more akin to her television version. Why not have a picture of the actual costume on the statue.

 And the text isn't my favorite either.

I am not a fan of the lonely Supergirl, reluctantly living on Earth, armed with her planet-splitting right hook. And while I think she is on a hero's journey, I don't know if she is struggling with her identity.

I suppose I am an old-timer who likes to believe that Supergirl is optimistic and bright, sees the best in people, is an extrovert and wants to help.

Okay, enough about the box. Let's get to the statue itself.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Review: Adventures of the Super Sons #10

Adventures of the Super Sons #10 came out last week. We are officially entering the home stretch for this comic and I for one will miss it tremendously.

Much like the prior books, this issue showcases the differences and similarities between Damian and Jon. It also has given writer Peter Tomasi a chance to look at some of the Bronz-ier areas of the DCU and either lavish homage or poke fun. Sometimes it is a little bit of both.

I also like the 'How I Met Your Mother' opening, a motif Tomasi has used before in the prior monthly Sons series.

Truly, this issue was a ton of fun and I'll get you to my favorite moments in a second.

Carlo Barberi is on art again and brings that crazed energy to the proceedings. We border on anime here, His style really leaps off the page and has brought some youthful vim to the pages. Barberi is really the perfect choice for this book.

So here we go. Buckle up your chin straps. On to the story.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Review: Year of the Villain

It seems like every other year since Dan Didio took over DC has been labeled (or at the very least feels like) The Year of the Villain. From the overall tone of the DCU to an event like 'Forever Evil' to 'Future's End', we seem to have had a darkening and a coarsening of the heroes of the DC Universe for about a decade. And just when you think things were getting better, just when Rebirth sort of reset things in a brighter and more classic way, the pendulum swings back.

So I wasn't too surprised, given these last years, to find that we literally have a Year of the Villain event in the DC books coming up. Scott Snyder is bring in Perpetua, the Anti-Monitor's mother, to rewrite reality. Brian Michael Bendis is ripping apart the political landscape in Event Leviathan. And the Batman who Laughs is lurking around every corner it seems.

This week a teaser of all those events came out for the small price of two bits. DC's Year of the Villain Special #1 hit the stands with stories from each of those writers whetting our appetite for the major plotlines around the corner. Add luscious art by Jim Cheung, Alex Maleev, and Francis Manapul and you have a great bargain for comic readers. Throw in a few articles and process art in the back and you basically have a steal.

For me, this already feels a little different than those prior peeks into the minds of the bad guys. The Leviathan story feels very fresh and looks like it is going to impact everyone. The Perpetua story is a Crisis-level event which probably will have the grandest of scopes. I just don't think I am going to see a ton of hands being chopped off here, a sort of marker I have for what mess I am in for. This seems better.

Too be honest, the Leviathan arc is the one I am most interested in. I have theories. So I will be covering that mini-story the most here. On to the book and a reiteration of my theory.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sales Review: March 2019

The comic sales figures for March 2019 came out recently and as always they are fascinating to look at. And, as always, I'd recommend heading to ICv2 for the breakdown here:

It was a very interesting month because it included Detective #1000 and several other major DC books which made it a great month for DC. And the Superman books continue to move along at similar numbers. It will be interesting to see if Event Leviathan ends up raising those numbers as that crossover seems to be born in the super-books.

Supergirl #28 came out last month. It was another chapter in this quest. We had her fighting evil clones and squeezing off hands.
So how did it sell?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Supergirl 419: American Dreamer

Supergirl episode 419, title American Dreamer, pushed the season's plot forward while shining a spotlight on the character of Dreamer. It also gave us a heaping helping of Kara Danvers. In a show called Supergirl, we didn't see the S-shield once this episode. And somehow I didn't mind that.

One thing that show hasn't always shown us is the Kara Danvers side of our hero's life. Given how much time she has spent at the DEO and adventuring, her 'career' as a reporter has been made something of a punchline for fans of the series. Does she even work at CatCo? So this episode, where we saw her actually doing some investigative reporting, getting an interview, inspiring people with her crusading, and using her super powers discreetly so as not to reveal herself was long overdue. Do I think she should be neglecting her Supergirl identity? No. But for one episode, I can deal.

The other big plot this episode is Dreamer becoming more established in the superhero world. Whether it is out their defending aliens or inspiring hope on television, we get to see just how far Nia has come in her training and confidence. For me, the best part was her 'Spider-Man' like quips and style. Nothing like a powers-related pun to make me grin. Now we only saw her defending aliens from bigots. I wouldn't have minded a straight up robbery stop thrown into the mix.

And the last plot is James dealing with his powers and his PTSD by confronting a repressed memory. I have to say this is the last couple of episodes have been the strongest performances by Mehcad Brooks I can remember.

Lastly, more than other times, this episode seemed to pull from prior events and tropes and plot points from prior seasons. Adding these give the show a sense of history that makes a continuity person like me happy.

On to the particulars.