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“American Ninja Warrior: USA vs The World” Review and Recap

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Image via NBC

This week is another special episode of American Ninja Warrior with USA vs The World. Team USA, featuring the first female member Jessie Graf, faces off with Team Europe and Team Latin America. Stage 1 is similar to the obstacles from Stage 1 of last season with a shorter run up for the Warped Wall.

 

First heat has Daniel Gil for Team USA. With only a slight misstep on the Sonic Steps, he lands with a minute and forty-seven seconds. Team Europe’s Captain is forced to sit out due to injury, so Bjarke Tonnesen from Denmark replaces him. Unfortunately, he goes out in the first obstacle. For Latin America, Wid Eriksen of Mexico makes to the Jumping Spider and fails. With Gil being the only one to finish the first stage, Team USA gains a point and wins heat 1.

Heat 2 starts with Owen McKenzie from London and Ninja Warrior UK. He has a slight problem with the Sonic Steps, but takes four tries at Warped Wall despite his 6-foot 2-inch frame. He completes the course with a time of 2:38. Karl Fow is up for Latin America, hailing from Venezuela. He flies through the first obstacle and just loses his grip transitioning from the propeller to the rope, falling into the water. Jake Murray is up last for USA. After almost losing it at Log Grip. he makes a fantastic save with only his arms at the Jumping Spider. He ran through the rest of the course and won the heat with a time of 1:28, putting USA up 2-0-0.

Heat 3 starts with Alexander Mars from Sweden and for the second year in a row he gets eliminated at the Jumping Spider. Jessie Graf tackles the first stage for USA next. In a shocking turn of events, she loses her balance on the Snake Run and is out early. Team Latin America’s Danee Marmolejo from Mexico has a wide open opportunity with both of his competitors out. He got past the Log Run in shorter time than Mars and completed the Jumping Spider to earn a point for Latin America. He continued through the rest of the course, falling into the water at the Flying Squirrel.

With that point, the score is 2-1-0 with USA in the lead after Stage 1. The best performance of Stage 1 has definitely been Jake Murray who just destroyed Europe’s time in Heat 2, but Owen McKenzie did well for being one of the tallest competitors. It was odd that it took him so long to get up the Warped Wall. He seemed to have lost steam by that point. Stamina is key to running this course. Jessie’s quick end in Heat 3 was disappointing, but she still makes history as the first woman on Team USA.

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Image via NBC

In Stage 2, it’s similar to Stage 2 from the finals last season with some modifications like the Salmon Ladder having an opposite grip and going 3 down and 3 up. Team USA’s Brian Arnold is up first in Heat 1. He is just killing the course and faces The Wedge, which took him out of the National Finals. He once again loses it on The Wedge after getting stuck. Diego Gonzales of Mexico is the top climber in his homeland, winning 3 national titles in climbing. He spends a bit of time on the Ring Swing. He makes through to the Wave Runner and end in a splash. Next up for Europe is Sean McColl, who has 9 world championships in climbing and undefeated in Stage 2. With both competitors not completing the course, he just has to make it past The Wedge to earn 2 points for his team. He has a slight problem with the Salmon Ladder, but makes it. Taking his time though the course, he has to complete the Double Wedge and does. After earning the two points, he kept going and hit the buzzer to complete the course. Making the score 2-2-1 with Europe and USA tied at the moment.

Karl Fow is back up for Heat 2 and a newbie to Stage 2. He misses the transition from the Ring Swing and fails. Daniel Gil for USA gets past the transition in a faster time, eliminating Fow. Being one of the only two to complete Stage 2 last season, he takes his time through the course, but ends his run at the wedge like Brian Arnold. Team Europe just has to complete the Double Wedge faster than Gil to earn the two points and the lead. Stephano Ghisolfi of Italy is the last of the second heat. A quick mess up on the Ring Swing forces him to slow his pace. He quickens at the Wave Runner. With the dismount off of the Double Wedge, Ghisolfi gets two more points for his team and he finishes out the course. Europe is now in the lead with the 4 points earned this stage with USA second with 2 and Latin America last with 1 point.

In the third and final heat, David Saikin of Argentina goes for Team Latin America. After taking too long to get through the very first Ring, he is thrown off for the whole obstacle falls near the end. Europe’s Bjarke Tonnesen makes it through the Ring Swing, eliminating Saikin. He falls at the top of the Salmon Ladder, clearing the way for a redemption run by Jessie Graf. Drew Drechsel was supposed to go, but he gave Jessie his spot who gets the two points for USA and keeps going. She almost slipped in the Wave Runner, but makes the transition and completes an obstacle she had issues with last season. Jessie makes it to the Double Wedge where her teammates failed earlier. She almost followed the but corrected herself and dismounted. After getting past the last obstacle and makes history by hitting the buzzer and completing Stage 2. She’s the only woman to finish Stage 2 and earned the Pom Wonderful Run of the Night and that it was. She ties it up with Europe at 4 and Latin America being last with 1 point.

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Image via NBC

Oh man oh man… Jessie Graf absolutely crushed the second stage. Without her performance, this would have been a very poor stage outing for everyone. Jessie, Ghisolfi and McColl being the only ones to finish the course. Latin America fails horribly throughout this stage with none of them being familiar with the obstacles. The Europeans ended up doing better than the Americans overall this stage. McColl is a guy to watch.

For the first heat of Stage 3, Josh Levin of USA is making his debut in this particular episode. He was the only finisher in the LA City Finals last season. This stage is all about finishing the furthest the fastest with no time limit. He slowly but surely completes obstacle after obstacle. He makes a great transition at the Ultimate Cliffhanger. He makes it through the Body Drop and has gone further than anyone on this version of Stage 3, getting to the walking bar. He transitions to the Flying Bar and masterfully makes it through the obstacle and hits the buzzer at 6:41. He becomes the first person to complete the revamped Stage 3. Latin America’s Santiago de Alba failed at the Body Drop during the commercial break. Alexander Mars moves at a breakneck pace, but loses it at the Walking Bar. That puts USA in the lead after earning 3 points with 7 overall.

In Heat 2, Stephano Ghisolfi tries to repeat on stage 3 what he did on stage 2, but loses it at the Ultimate Cliffhanger. David Saikin has to win this heat for Latin America or they are mathematical eliminated. And he fails to complete the Ultimate Cliffhanger after going too slow on the Boards. USA’s Brian Arnold is last for this heat. He needs to either beat Ghisolfi’s time on the Floating Boards or complete the Ultimate Cliffhanger to earn 3 points and a win for Team USA. He goes too slow on the Floating Boards, forcing him to finish the Ultimate Cliffhanger. He transitions swiftly until the dismount where he misses the pad. That means Ghisolfi’s time earns Europe 3 points and ties them with USA at 7 points.

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Image via NBC

Now the title comes down to USA’s Drew Drechsel and Europe’s Sean McColl in the third and final heat. This is a winner takes all heat with Latin America essentially out of the running. With Gonzales losing it at the Walking Bar, McColl makes his run but fails on the Body Drop obstacle. McColl’s performance sets up a possibility for USA to win. Drew Drechsel just has to get further than Gonzales and USA wins the title. Drew will have a difficult time since he failed at the Hang Climb last season. He’ll need to complete that obstacle to make it to the Walking Bar. He quickly makes work of the first two obstacles as he listens to his music. He changes the song before the Body Prop. He completes that and redeems himself on the Hang Climb, earning the 3 points and the title. He continues on through the course and attempts to finish it and he does. Team USA wins the title for the second year in a row. He reveals that he was listening to “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You” from the Mulan Soundtrack.

Drew Drechsel put team USA on his back in the final heat as team captain. He gave Jessie Graf his spot in Stage 2, so that he was fresh for the last stage. A risky choice, but he had to being one of the only people on the team to face Stage 3. Brian Arnold ended up not doing so well, failing to get past the Double Wedge in Stage 2 and missing the pad after the Ultimate Cliffhanger and a chance to clinch the title. But the rest of the team performed great. Everyone had their moment like Gil and Murray in Stage 1, Jessie in Stage 2 and Levin and Drew in the final stage. Team USA, despite its setbacks, had a terrific performance. Hopefully, Latin America starts practicing on some of these obstacles so that they can be more of a challenge next time. I do wish Japan was involved this year, but those are the breaks. Great episode and a big Thumbs Up from me. I can’t wait for the new season next week.

“Celebrity Ninja Warrior Red Nose Day” Recap and Review

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Image via NBC

This season of American Ninja Warrior kicks off with a celebrity episode benefiting Red Nose Day for Children in poverty. M&Ms and the Rockefeller Foundation will donate $5,000 per obstacle completed by the Celebrity. Each Celebrity was joined by a Warrior as their coach. Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila are back doing the commentary with Kristine Leahy, who you may recognize from her recent spat with Lonzo Ball, as the sideline interviewer. Jennifer Garner made an appearance to explain Red Nose Day and ask for public donations, with you can do here at this site.

Today Show and Access Hollywood host Natalie Morales was first up for the course. She just barely got past the first obstacle and sped the cannonball drop. She passed off the third obstacle, the Flywheels, to her coach Grand McCartney and then she failed in the Block Run, totaling $10,000 for Red Nose Day charities.

Over the commercial break, Nikki Glaser and Jessie Graf tackled the course and only made it up to the Block Run as well. Since Jessie had to help, she only raised $10,000.

Next was Jeff Dye and Meagan Martin. Meagan is my favorite Ninja. He got through the first two on his own, but tagged Meagan in for the flywheels, which she completed with flair. Jeff did quick work of the Block Run, almost losing it at the end. He pretty much skipped the battering ram by walking on the outside padding. He did make it up the Warp Wall, cashing in $20,000 for Red Nose Day charities.

Major Leaguer Nick Swisher took on the course over the break, getting through 5 of the 6 obstacles for $25,000. He was also the first celebrity to complete the Flywheels.

2017-05-27_17.47.49Next is Erika Christensen of “Parenthood” flew through the Floating Steps and the cannonball drop. Flip Rodriguez, her coach, was tagged in for the Flywheels. She ran through the Block Run like lightning and was saved by Flip. Erika unorthodoxly attempted the battering ram, the first celebrity to attempt it, and made it to the Warped Wall. Flip ran up the wall and allowed her to climb his back to get to the top of the wall for $25,000 earned.

Derek Hough of Dancing with the Stars was up with Daniel Gil as his coach. He flew through the first two obstacles and was one of the few who attempted the Flywheels, but failed. However, he did get back up and got it on the second try. He continued with the Block Run and then performed the battering ram how it was supposed to be done. He then climbed the Warped Wall to complete the whole course and earning $30,000 for charity.

Ashton Eaton, a two-time Olympic Medalist, was relegated to the commercial break and made it through the whole course, earning $30,000. A little odd to have him in a break, but then again he isn’t an actor, as with Nick Swisher.

Mena Suvari, of the American Pie franchise, American Beauty and appearances of TV including Boy Meets World, came to compete with the help of her coach Natalie Duran. She took it nice and slow as she followed her coach through the Floating Steps. She made it through the Cannonball Drop, but skipped the Flywheels. She blasted through the Block Run, but skipped the battering ram. For the Warped Wall, multiple ninjas came out to help and formed a ladder of sorts. With their help, she got to the top and earned $20,000. But more importantly, it seemed like a major moral victory for her.

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Image via NBC

Now for the main event… Stephen Amell of Arrow with his coach Kacy Catanzaro are up. He took the first two obstacles with ease. He was took on the Flywheels and became the first non-athlete to finish them. He ran as quick as The Flash through the Block Run and the Battering Ram. He climbed the wall and wanted to keep going. He moved on to the new city course for season 9, tackling what we want to see him do… the Salmon Ladder. He tried to do a new obstacle, but fell to a water end. He raised the most with $35,000.

Altogether, the celebrities earned $205,000 for Red Nose Day with M&Ms and the Rockefeller Foundation giving an extra $100,000 based on the celebrities’ performance for a grand total of $305,000. This was a great start to the next season and saving Amell for last was a good call. Despite the athletes who performed, I think he was the best of the night. I wish we could have compared his time with the Olympian, but of course this is for charity so it’s all for fun. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this season of American Ninja Warrior and hope that you’ll follow my reviews of each episode, starting June 12th. For now, I’ll give this episode a thumbs up.

If you watched Matt Iseman on Celebrity Apprentice, check out my reviews for that here.

“The Flash” Season 3 Episode 23 Review (Season Finale)

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Image via The CW

In the final episode of the season, HR switched with Iris and used his wand technology. Barry and the team go back to Star Labs after HR dies and Julian has a cure for Killer Frost. Savitar knows this and holds Cisco ransom. He threatens to kill Killer Frost if he doesn’t help him with the speed force cannon. Barry convinces Savitar to come back to Star Labs so that they can help him. He goes and agrees to have Team Flash help him. He turns on them and places the philosopher’s stone in the breech room, causing an explosion.

Savitar has Killer Frost use the cannon to help him kill Black Flash and make him a God. Instead, cisco made it so that he freed Jay. Gypsy helped Cisco escape and everyone met up at where Savitar and Killer Frost. Together they defeat Savitar and Iris shoots him. They bury HR and Barry delivers all of their wedding invitations before the Speed Force wrecks havoc on Central City. Barry has to enter the Speed force to pay for Flashpoint and says his goodbyes.

Wow… okay well, let me start with a bit of a side track. I watched the episode where Savitar explains how he came to be again and NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE! Savitar Barry was a time remnant that Barry-Prime created at some point in the future to help take down that version of Savitar. After surviving the battle, Savitar Barry had travelled back in time to become Savitar and kill Iris so that Barry-Prime becomes like him. It means Savitar Barry is from a different timeline, so he isn’t the Barry we met in 2024 when Barry-Prime went to the future. All of this means there is no way Savitar Barry can know what Barry-Prime knows because they aren’t the same Barry. So, most of this episode is illogical and poorly written and scripted.

Killer Frost’s face turn was not earned and Julian just suddenly has a cure for her. Is this why we haven’t seen him? There was no mention of research of a cure prior to this. H.R.’s little swap felt like something that the writers did, simply to keep It on the show and eliminate a Wells from the show. The retcon makes sense, but there wasn’t a real reason for him to die. His arc was very much rushed. It’s interesting how they got Jay out of the Speed Force, but how did Cisco know that would happen? He isn’t an expert in the Speed Force, which he says when Savitar has him fix the bazooka. The Speed Force thing at the end was dumb. That’s not how the Speed Force works. It wouldn’t start attacking the city. Also, It’s not supposed to be purgatory. Having Barry serve “penance” is not what the Speed Force does, but they’ve made it a God-like entity in the show. We also know that Barry will be back for the season four premiere, so Wally becoming The Flash is just a way to come full circle with Flashpoint.

This season has been very up and down, but more down than up. The writers continuously wrote themselves into corners and said “lets just use Flashpoint or the Speed Force to explain it”, which is lazy writing. I feel that the writers had to split their time between the show and the crossover, creating a disjointed season for all of the DC CW shows. I think Flash suffered the most. Flashpoint was too rushed and should have not only lasted until the crossover, but should have been resolved during it, due to it’s effect on Arrow and Legends. I was very disappointed in this season, but now it seems to be a trend that season three becomes a downturn in the DC shows. I’m worried for both Supergirl and Legends next season.

What do I see happening next season? I’m not quite sure. Thawne is gone. Black Flash is gone. They said next season won’t have a Speedster villain. We’ve already had Abra Kadabra. Maybe we see The Rogues unite with Mirror Master, Top, Plunder and others. I’ll be mildly interested to see where it goes next, but I honestly think it won’t get back to that first season greatness. I’m giving not only this episode, but the season, a thumbs down.

Thanks for following my reviews this season and I’ll have articles throughout the summer with news and other opinions.

“Supergirl” Season 2 Episode 22 Review (Season Finale)

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Image via The CW

Superman believes he’s fighting Zod and not Supergirl. They fight all over Rhea’s ship and National City. Supergirl knocks out Superman with an uppercut as the Daxamite ships hover above. They recover in the fortress and head back to the DEO, where Kara challenges Rhea to trial by combat. Elsewhere, Lillian tries to convince Lena to use one of Lex’s devices to stop the invasion. J’onn wakes up and then Clark and Kara visit CatCo. They rush over as the Supers to see the Luthor ladies. Lena explains that they can eradiate the air with lead to kill the Daxamites, but not enough to harm the humans. Mon-El would have to leave Earth.

Clark and Kara spare to prepare for her fight. They have and heart to heart before meeting Rhea. As Supergirl and Rhea fight, Superman, J’onn, M’ggan, Mon-El and a bunch of White Martians fight the Daxamites. Supergirl has to activate Lena’s bomb, forcing her to send Mon-El away in the Kryptonian ship. Clark left for Metropolis, Alex consoles Kara and M’ggan talks to J’onn. Kara talks to Cat, who knows she’s Supergirl and Mon-El gets sucked into a wormhole. A flashback to when Krypton exploded shows another child being shot out into space.

This was a great episode and finale. I loved the fight between Superman and Supergirl. Having the White Martians show up was really cool. Rhea and Supergirl going at it was awesome too. I thought Mon-El would be forced to leave, but I figured they’d go with the Legion of Super-Heroes. I liked seeing Superman and Martian Manhunter team up. I’m just glad they didn’t have James as Guardian fight the Daxamites. I was hoping that Zod would be an actual villain, but that was an okay cameo.

So it also looks like I was wrong about Lena figuring out who Supergirl is… but I thought Cat figuring out who she is took way too long. The glasses are not that big of a difference. I wonder where Mon-El ended up… did he get sent to the future anyway? And what was the deal with that other baby sent from Krypton? Is it someone like the Eradicator? I didn’t recognize that symbol. So, it’ll be curious as to what the Fate of Mon-El is and if we find out who that Baby was. Clark did mention Warworld, which was, I believe, the first matchup between him and Eradicator.

So much stuff was stuffed into this episode, but I loved it. Big Thumbs up for this episode. As for where we go next season, I hope they lose the Guardian nonsense. He is such a ridiculous character. We’ll have a wedding with Alex and Maggie maybe? Lillian is still kicking, so does Lena team with her mother after being betrayed by Rhea? It could be possible. There are so many possibilities for next season. I just hope they don’t get Third Season-itis…

Thanks for following my reviews this season. I’ll have articles throughout the summer as more news comes out.

“The Flash” Season 3 Episode 22 Review

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Image via The CW

It’s the day that Iris is supposed to die and Barry picks up Snart in Siberia 1895 and brings him to ARGUS to steal an item that Lyla won’t give Barry. HR, Tracy and Cisco help from the lab. Barry and Snart run into King Shark and freeze the room to put him to sleep. They grab the Dominator tech and the door starts to close. Barry gets out, but Snart gets locked in. Meanwhile, HR asks Tracy to work at Star Labs and Iris talks to Joe. Cisco gets the door on, but the ARGUS agents and Lyla are already there.

She agrees to let them have it based on her seeing Barry stuck around for Snart. Savitar dressed as Barry finds out from HR that Iris is on Earth-2. He tricks them with his Savitar suit and sneaks up behind them. Wally gets his leg broken and Savitar runs away with Iris. Cisco goes off to fight Killer Frost as Barry goes to Infantino Street. Savitar shows up with Iris, but the philosopher’s stone protects him from the speed force bazooka and he kills Iris.

I liked the Barry/Snart team up, but I felt like this wasn’t a great lead up episode to the finale. The last ten minutes or so were the penultimate episode. It’s very disappointing to see how this season of not only The Flash, but the other DC shows were structured horribly. You can clearly see that the first 8-9 episodes were filler until the crossover. They don’t know how to write the season around the major crossover. I hope they figure it out for next season.

I don’t remember Snart and the Legends being in Siberia in 1895, but whatever. A nice Easter egg is the title of the episode, “Infantino Street”. Carmine Infantino was an artist and editor during the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. He created the Golden Age Black Canary and the Barry Allen’s suit for his introduction in Showcase #4. He also co-respondent the second version of The Human Target and Drew many comics for both DC and Marvel. He passed away in 2013, so this was a fantastic tribute to someone who was very influential in DC Comics history. Honestly was probably the best part of the episode.

As for the finale, I think we are going to see Killer Frost freeze Cisco’s hands during their fight. We’ll see them defeat Savitar somehow which probably won’t make sense. I just hope the next season sees a non-speedster villain. Abra Kadabra is a name that’s been thrown around. I think we’ll get an even more depressing Barry now that Iris is gone. I think we may even see him go dark and brooding for a while because this is what the CW does. Even if it doesn’t fit the character, they force the self-doubt and depressing characteristics onto Barry. Neither Barry nor Wally are supposed to be like that. Wally in the comics has some doubts about living up to Barry, but not to the extent that the CW has done with Barry. The previews don’t give us much so I’ll I can really do is guess. The season hasn’t had much rhyme or reason, so it does concern me. I’ll give this episode a barely thumbs up.

“Supergirl” Season 2 Episode 21 Review

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Image via The CW

In the penultimate episode, Rhea has Lena in her own room on the ship and promises to rule with her. Daxamite soldiers attack National City and the DEO. Mon-El is kept guarded in the throne room. Rhea decided to arrange a marriage of him and Lena. Meanwhile, Team Supergirl meets in the alien bar and get an unexpected visitor, Lillian Luthor. They reject her help and go out on patrol. The President talks to Rhea as she takes Air Force One to the Daxamite ship. Cat Grant shows up on Air Force One. Rhea blows up Air Force One as Supergirl saves Cat. The President is exposed as an alien. Rhea forces Mon-El and Lena to get married by threatening Luthor Children’s Hospital.

Cat Grant gives Supergirl a pep talk and she goes with Lillian to save Lena and Mon-El. They decide to use a Phantom Zone projector that Lillian stole from the Fortress. Cat says she’ll go as a distraction. Alex says she has to hurry before she first a beam, destroying Rhea’s ship. Lillian, Cyborg Superman and Supergirl use the projector at the Fortress to get to the ship. Cat Grant broadcasts a message across National City as Supergirl makes her way through the ship.

Alex powers up the Canon as Supergirl and Mon-El get abandoned on the ship by Lillian. Supergirl made a device to allow Mon-El to piggyback off Cyborg Superman’s signal. Alex has to choose between blowing up her sister and disobeying the president. Supergirl tries to convince Rhea to give up, but Superman shows up and attacks Supergirl.

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This was a great episode. I loved the fight scenes and the coordination with Cyborg Superman and Lillian. Classic team with your enemy, but don’t trust them storyline. The end where Superman showed up sets up an awesome fight between the two Kryptonians. That’s for next week though. Lots happened in this episode. Lena and Mon-El teaming up to escape with cool. I’ve been saying what Lillian said to Kara… once Lena finds out Kara is Supergirl, she’ll turn on her. Hopefully that’s foreshadowing next week. I really like Rhea as a villain. Teri Hatcher is doing a fantastic job. The action scene with Alex pulling a Black Widow at the DEO was great.

Now, for the negative. I didn’t like Cat Grant and it reminded me of the horrible first season. Every time she speaks, she reminds me of a political ad. I could do without Guardian. He wasn’t as bad, but he still bothers me. There was an overtly political statement during this episode with phrases like “She wants to make Earth great”. It’s a clear dig at Trump and I’m not a fan of when they drag politics to the forefront. But of course, that’s why they had Grant come back… as the writers’ politic mouthpiece. I also didn’t like that they sidelined J’onn. I get why they did, but I still would have liked to see him helping Kara against the Daxamite soldiers.

Next episode is the finale which promises many fights. Kara vs Clark. Rhea vs Mon-El. Maybe Mon-El vs Clark? Sounds awesome, but will it be? I don’t know. Now, I think we’ll see Lena finally make her heel turn and team with *Spoiler* who was announced to be in the finale. I hope Guardian either quits being Guardian or goes to Metropolis with Clark. I want Mon-El to take the Legion ring and head off to the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes. I can always hope we meet Batman, but I know we won’t because DC hates us and gives us “Gotham”… Anyway, I will give episode a thumbs up.