Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sherlock Canon References - "The Hounds of Baskerville" S2E2

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Dear Readers,

This post concludes the list of Canonical References in BBC Sherlock episode The Hounds of Baskerville

Scripted by Mark Gatiss, this episode is based on the original novel: The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Here are the references to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories:

1. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) deducing that Henry Knight (Russell Tovey) took the first morning train from Devon – Sherlock Holmes makes similar deductions about Helen Stoner in The Adventure of the Speckled Band. 

2. Sherlock's observation: “The girl, female handwriting is quite distinctive..” - Sherlock Holmes makes a deduction about masculine handwriting in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, and about feminine handwriting in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

3. Sherlock's line: “Off to Devon with you.. have a cream tea on me” – This is a bit tenuous, but reminded me of this line spoken by Sherlock Holmes to his prospective client, Jabez Wilson in The Adventure of the Red-Headed League: “And now, Mr. Wilson, off you go at scratch and tell us all about yourself, your household, and the effect which this advertisement had upon your fortunes.” 

4. Sherlock’s comments about John Watson (Martin Freeman): “Always rely on John to send me all the relevant data, as he never understands a word of it himself”–

In The Adventure of the Retired Colourman, Sherlock Holmes states: “You can thank Dr. Watson's observation for that, though he failed to draw the inference.”

In The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, Holmes remarks: “I have no doubt I can get details from Forbes. The authorities are excellent at amassing facts, though they do not always use them to advantage.”

5. Sherlock's angry reply to John: “I am a showoff. That’s what we do”. Later, Dr Stapleton (Amelia Bullmore) comments about Sherlock's choice of Mind Palace to John: “Why a palace instead of a house or a street”  – Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Naval Treaty: “I can’t resist a touch of the dramatic”

6. Sherlock's remark: “nicotine stains on your fingers...I know those” - Sherlock Holmes states in A Study in Scarlet: “Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed. His linen or clothes are examined, and brownish stains discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a question which has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes' test, and there will no longer be any difficulty.”

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7. Sherlock tricks John into revealing where he hid the drug by pretending that he is sending Watson alone on the case - This is a reference to the plot point in the original novel, The Hounds of Baskerville, when Sherlock Holmes sends Dr John Watson alone to Dartmoor on the pretense of being busy on a case. Holmes' real intention was to travel to Dartmoor and work incognito on the case.

8. Sherlock's comment about his latest case: “Twenty year old disappearance... a monstrous hound? I wouldn’t miss this for the world” -

Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Red-Headed League“I really wouldn't miss your case for the world.”

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes remarks: “I would not have missed the investigation for anything.”

9. The bartender named Billy – Reference to Sherlock Holmes’ page from The Valley of Fear, The Problem of Thor Bridge and The Mazarin Stone.

10. Fletcher (Stephen Wight), the local Dartmoor tour guide – Reference to Bertram Fletcher Robinson, the journalist who collaborated with Arthur Conan Doyle on the original novel: The Hounds of the Baskerville.

11. Sherlock notices Fletcher being interested in racing from the Racing Post sticking out of his trouser pocket. Then Sherlock mentions about the bet of 50 quids to the latter in order to get information – In The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleSherlock Holmes deliberately loses a bet to gain valuable information from a salesman. He  explains his strategy to Dr John Watson: “When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the 'Pink 'un' protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a bet," said he. "I daresay that if I had put 100 pounds down in front of him, that man would not have given me such complete information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was doing me on a wager.”

12. After using Mycroft's ID to enter the Baskerville complex, Sherlock comments about his brother: I’ve told you -  he practically is the British government.

 - In The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington PlansSherlock Holmes explains about his brother to Dr John Watson: You are right in thinking that he is under the British government. You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British government.

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Watson using his rank as a Captain of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers to get inside the main building in the Baskerville complex – In A Study in Scarlet, Dr John Watson writes: In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon.

14. Sherlock repeatedly explains to Dr Frankland (Clive Mantle) that the hat was not his personal property - Excellent reference to the fact it was the illustrator Sidney Paget and not Arthur Conan Doyle who created the image of a deerstalker wearing Holmes

15. Dr Frankland refers to a specific blog post written by John Watson: “that one about the aluminium crutch” - Sherlock Holmes mentions to Dr John Watson about this case in The Adventure of the Musgrave RitualBut there are some pretty little problems among them. Here's the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club-foot, and his abominable wife.

17. When Dr Frankland jokingly says that he would have to kill Sherlock, the latter replies: “That would be tremendously ambitious of you” – This reminded me of the original story: The Thor Bridge. When Sherlock Holmes refuses to take up the case of the millionaire Neil Gibson, his prospective client angrily threatens Holmes. The Bohemian detective responds with a smile: “So many have tried and yet here I am”.

18.  Sherlock's plan to solve the mystery is to deliberately provoke an attack on Henry Knight by taking him out on the moor. Sherlock optimistically predicts: “That should bring things to a head” – This reminded of a similar line spoken by Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Red-Headed League: “And now it is time that we arranged our little plans. I expect that within an hour matters will come to a head.”

20. A visibly shaken Sherlock remarks to John at the inn: “Once you have rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be true.” Later, Sherlock again remarks: “It is the simple process of elimination” -

In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes makes one of his most famous statements: How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

sherlock holmes henry baskerville the hounds of baskerville image poster picture wallpaper screensaver

22. Sherlock's remark to John: We’re looking for a dog, yes, a great big dog, that’s your brilliant theory. Cherchez le chien. Good, excellent, yes, where shall we start?”. Later,  we see some French words flash across Sherlock's mind in the Mind Palace scene – 

Sherlock Holmes explains about his ancestry in The Adventure of the Greek InterpreterBut, none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist.

Sherlock Holmes also uses the word “recherché” in The Musgrave RitualBut there are some pretty little problems among them. Here's the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club-foot, and his abominable wife. And here—ah, now, this really is something a little recherché.

23. Sherlock deduces about the financial state of one of the male customers at the inn: He is hungry all right and not well off - you can tell that by the state of his cuffs and shoes.” -

In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes writes: By a man's finger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt cuffs—by each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent enquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.

24. Sherlock's comment to John: “I don't have friends. I've just got one” –

In The Five Orange Pips, Dr Watson asks Sherlock Holmes if he is expecting a friend at the sound of the doorbell. Holmes replies: “Except you, I have none”.

In The Valley of Fear, Dr Watson writes about Sherlock Holmes: “Holmes was not prone to friendship, but he was tolerant of the big Scotchman, and smiled at the sight of him.” The big Scotchman in question is the Scotland Yard Inspector Alec MacDonald. 

25. John's comment about Sherlock' sense of humor: “Funny does not suit you. Stick to ice” – In The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone, Sherlock Holmes tells Dr John Watson that he expects to be murdered shortly. When Dr Watson replies that he must be joking, Holmes replies: “Even my limited sense of humor could evolve a better joke than that.”  

26. Sherlock's statement to Lestrade: “You are as brown as a nut” - In A Study in Scarlet, Stamford remarks to Dr John Watson: You are as thin as a lath and as brown as a nut.

benedict cumberbatch martin freeman sherlock john watson the hounds of baskerville image poster picture wallpaper screensaver

27. Detective Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) confirms to Sherlock that his first name is Greg - In The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, Lestrade signs his note (sent to Holmes) as G. Lestrade

28. Sherlock asks John to get information from Dr. Louise Mortimer (Sasha Behar) and also send him her picture. He later checks if John got anywhere with Louise – Arthur Conan Doyle has often written about Dr John Watson being a ladies man.

In The Sign of the Four, Dr Watson himself writes: In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents....

In The Adventure of the Retired Colorman, Sherlock Holmes remarks to Dr Watson: “With your natural advantages, Watson, every lady is your helper and accomplice...I can picture you whispering soft nothings with the young lady at the Blue Anchor, and receiving hard somethings in exchange.”

29. The final resolution of the mystery - The explanation for the mystery is a reference to the plot of The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot

30. Dr Stapleton explaining to John that the GFP gene from Aequorea Victoria, a species of jellyfish was used on the rabbits - This could be a possible reference to the original story: The Adventure of the Lion's Mane. In this story, the murderer is Lion's Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata).

31. A drug induced Sherlock “sees” Frankland as Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott). – Reference to the fact that the only person who ever created fear in Sherlock Holmes' mind is Professor Moriarty. As Sherlock Holmes mentions about Moriarty in The Final ProblemMy nerves are fairly proof, Watson, but I must confess to a start when I saw the very man who had been so much in my thoughts standing there on my thresh-hold.... The fact is that upon his entrance I had instantly recognized the extreme personal danger in which I lay.

Readers are welcome to point out any references I might have missed.

Wishing Everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2016!!!

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer - Review and Recap

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The first trailer for the upcoming X-Men movie is here. And it looks promising.

After helming X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer returns to the director's chair. As is typical of a X-Men film, this one has a large ensemble cast. Joining the regulars (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult) are newcomers: Oscar Isaac as the titular antagonist En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse, Tye Sheridan as  Scott Summers/Cyclops, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm, Ben Hardy as Warren Worthington III/Angel, Lana Condor as Jubilation Lee/Jubilee, Olivia Munn as Betsy Braddock/Psylocke, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler and Tómas Lemarquis as Caliban.

Check out the trailer below:

The trailer manages to get one's attention without giving too much of the plot (or) crucial plot/character developments away.

Here is a synopsis of the trailer: Jean Grey is having visions of mass destruction across the globe. She is not comforted by Charles Xavier's assertions that her premonitions are just dreams and will not come to fruition. Moira informs Xavier about a mutant who could quite possibly be the very first one to walk the Earth.

Unfortunately, Jean was right in her thoughts and Apocalypse is here. He has a definite purpose in mind: to destroy the world and create a better one in its place. To this end, he recruits Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke to be his four horsemen. Nice touch there with Moira contending that the Bible took this idea from the mutant himself and not the other way around as Havoc thinks.

We get a look at some of the destruction caused by Apocalypse and his horsemen as the X-Men struggle to prevail over such an powerful enemy. The trailer concludes with James McAvoy's Charles Xavier getting his full bald look. McAvoy makes a fantastic Xavier and I prefer his version over Patrick Stewart's. This decision by Bryan Singer wins brownie points for the trailer right away.

If there was one mutant who gets a bit shortchanged, that would be Michael Fassbender's Magneto. He has no dialogues at all (kind of like Henry Cavill's Superman in the Comic Con trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).

On the other hand, if there was a mutant who gets too much attention, that would be Jennifer Lawrence's Raven (not Mystique). The significant aspect is that Lawrence does not have the blue body-paint at any point throughout the trailer. I guess the studio and producers want to capitalize on having Lawrence in the movie rather than the fact that she is playing Mystique. Even the first shot featuring her with others deliberately reminds one of her character Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.

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The trailer also gives us a look at the new and a younger X-Men team consisting of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler suited up for action. As a fan of Cykes, I enjoyed the brief but powerful scene of Scott Summers going full optic blast against an unseen opponent/obstacle.

Finally, we come to Apocalypse himself. He looks and sounds very much like what a God-like mutant would do. There were complaints about the character being not big enough in the promotional images so far. Bryan Singer seems to have paid attention and we get a beautiful shot of just how big En Sabah Nur can get if needed. His motto is: Only the Strong will survive.

Apocalypse is the main antagonist to X-Men just as how Darkseid is to the Justice League or Doomsday is to Superman. Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder seem to be either clueless or just plain lazy with regards to Doomsday as the recent trailer suggests. Bryan Singer shows us how to pull off such an important super-villain in the right way. Live and Learn, Warner Bros.

Other points of interest: More Quicksilver, which is a good thing.

Bryan Singer's X-Men released in 2000 started the current Hollywood craze for Superhero genre. It is also the longest running Superhero movie franchise. Despite a few hiccups here and there (mainly X-Men Origins: Wolverine), the series has produced some of the best movies in the genre.

Credit to Bryan Singer who has been the driving force behind these movies. He has been instrumental in making the casting choices that have made these movies so great - From the great Ian McKellen, Rebecca Romijn, Hugh Jackman and James Marsden to the current crop of actors including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Evan Peters. Hoping that he would have the same luck with the new set of actors cast as the younger versions of mutants.

The X-Men movies also enjoy a good blend of humor and pathos, like Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie and Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Unlike both the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies that tend to be too jokey or the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movies that are too serious for their own good.

In Bryan Singer, we trust.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Hank Henshaw's true identity revealed as Martian Manhunter in Supergirl TV Show

martian manhunter supergirl scene identity hank henshaw revealed

The cat is finally out of the bag. Hank Henshaw is none other than the great Martian Manhunter (MM) in disguise.

I had guessed Hank's true identity in my review of the second episode (“Stronger Together), when his eyes went red for the first time. MM/J'onn J'onzz is one of my favorite superheroes in the DC Universe. He also happens to be one of the most criminally under-appreciated as well.

As a longtime fan of the DC Comics and MM in particular, I express my heartfelt thanks to the writers (Greg Berlanti, Allison Adler, Andrew Kreisberg) and David Harewood for bringing MM to life in such an amazing and truly epic style.

At a time, when Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder have no clue about what to do with such iconic superheroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe movies, the treatment MM has received on the CBS show comes as a breath of fresh air.

The recently released trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS:DoJ) proves my point. The cinematography, the coloring, the acting (for the most part), the background score just look/sound terrible. The worst aspect is the CGI. I had remarked in my review of Man of Steel, that the movie suffered from really bad special effects work.

Snyder and Warner Bros. do not seem to have learnt any lessons. The CGI still look as bad as it did in the prequel. Shame on the studio and the director for such a low quality product.

Compare the quality of work on that trailer with the work done for Martian Manhunter in Supergirl. On a much lesser budget, the special effects look more convincing. The acting, direction and music are all superior as well. 

Here is the godforsaken trailer for BvS:DoJ

The only time I was interested in the 3 minutes long trailer were the scenes featuring Jesse Eisenberg. He brings some much needed fun into this movie, that otherwise either features unnecessarily heavy music or deadpan /lifeless acting by the other actors or just plainly terrible CGI.

Coming back to the CBS show - I was sure right from the moment that Hank's eyes went red that he was J'onn J'onzz/MM in disguise. Even though Wikipedia claimed that he is Cyborg Superman, I was still betting my money on Hank being MM. The simple reason being that Hank deduced the presence of Alex nearby using his telepathic powers. J'onn J'onzz has these powers and Cyborg Superman does not.

There were other clues sprinked throughout the show that supported my theory. For one thing, there was David Harewood's serious and self-controlled acting style. That was classic MM. In addition, he remarked in Episode # 5 (“How Does She Do It?) that if he was following Supergirl, she would not even be aware of that fact. That alone more than proved my theory, since MM has the ability to shape shift, become invisible/intangible. And there was the scene at the airport, where Hank defuses the bomb all by himself. That also proved that he was MM as he would have have simply turned intangible should the bomb had gone off.

Before he revealed his identity in the episode (Human for a Day) Hank all but confirmed his identity in an earlier scene. When Jemm threatens that he will come after Hank's loved ones, Hank comments that he has none left in the universe.

And then came the insanely awesome scene, when Hank becomes Martian Manhunter: I am the sole survivor of my planet. The Last Son of Mars.... My name is J'onn J'onzz.

That was pure magic. Once again, hats off to the writers and David Harewood.

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But MM is not the only one to get such superb treatment. Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) herself got to shine in her fight scene with Red Tornado. This is the type of epic action that I expect from a Kyptonian superhero. Melissa's acting is greatly supported by the background score, direction and great special effects. Hats off to Melissa and the crew for delivering such a superb scene.

This is how you do justice to the DC Universe. Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder, please take note.

Now, if only that rumored adaptation of Blue Beetle would come true. In the proven hands of Greg Berlanti, I am sure that would be another winner.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 5 "How Does She Do It?" - Recap and Review

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The fifth episode finds Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) struggling to maintain a healthy balance between her office work as Kara Danvers and the heroic responsibilities of being Supergirl.

Supergirl finds herself being followed by drones. After dismantling them, she initially suspects her DEO boss Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). Hank denies this and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) has a suspect on her mind: Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli). His company, Lord Technologies have been working on the materials that were used in making the drones.

These suspicions become stronger, when there is an explosion in yet another Lord Technologies' lab. Hank and Alex pose as FBI Agents to purportedly carry out their investigation to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Alex and Maxwell are attracted to each other. Despite this, Maxwell refuses to take her help.

Kara Danvers faces two issues: The first one is the return of Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum) to National City. Lucy wants to get back with her ex boyfriend James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Even though James believed that it was Lucy who had dumped him, Lucy informs Kara that James' obsession with Superman was the actual reason that caused the separation.

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Kara faces another challenge when she offers to babysit Carter Grant (Levi Miller). Carter is the son of her boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Cat's mother is busy with her career and her former babysitter is injured and unable to help out.

Kara's babysitting duties interfere with her superheroic ones. She takes the help of Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) to take care of Carter while she flies around saving lives.

As was shown in the previous episodes, Maxwell's company has been working on a fast train. He ignores the recent attacks and decides to go ahead the grand unveiling of the product.

All these threads come together in the climax, when Carter runs away to meet Supergirl at Maxwell's function and the venue happens to be target of the next attack.

This was a good episode. The action sequences were the highlights of the episode. Supergirl's flying effects have been executed very well. They are far superior to what we see in the terrible Man of Steel.

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Melissa Benoist is terrific as the Girl of Steel. She is the perfect counterpart to the late Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel. Right from the beginning, she has been great whenever she wears the cape.

Credit also to the producers and crew for making the flying and action sequences so much fun and enjoyable. This show is clearly being made by people who love DC Universe/Superman mythology very much and these scenes are ample proof of this.

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This episode is also significant for another reason: We get our first (and recurring) human villain/antagonist in the form of Maxwell Lord. The show sets up Maxwell as National City's equivalent of Metropolis' Lex Luthor.

If Lex hates the presence of a God-like alien in his city, Maxwell is intrigued by Supergirl's powers. He is the one who masterminded the attacks on his company and forced his employee, Ethan Knox (Scott Michael Campbell) to make himself a suicide bomber on-board the train. Maxwell intends to study Supergirl's powers and all of his actions have been carried out with this single purpose in mind.

This episode shares some common elements with The Last Son of Krypton - the first episode of the critically acclaimed Superman: The Animated Series. In that episode, Lex Luthor deliberately lets his company property get stolen in order to strike an illegal arms deal. Supes prevents this from happening and warns Lex that he will be keeping an eye on him.

Supergirl also issues a similar warning to Maxwell at the end of the episode.

supergirl hank henshaw poster deo wallpaper image picture screensaver

Yet another of my favorite aspect of the show is the mystery surrounding the true identity of Hank Henshaw. As I have mentioned in my reviews of the previous episodes, I strongly believe that Hank is none other than the great Martian Manhunter (MM) himself in disguise.

More clues pop up in this episode. When Kara accuses him of following her, he retorts that if he had been following her, she would not even be aware of that fact. Martian Manhunter (MM) has shape shifting powers and the ability to become invisible as well as phase through objects. These would indeed make him a super spy and it would be nearly impossible to detect his presence. In a later scene, Hank's eyes glow red - another trademark physical characteristic of MM.

As good as the show is with regards to bringing the DC Universe to life, what makes the show so successful is the perfect casting choices. The actors/actresses are great in their parts and enjoy a genuine chemistry with each other.

As I mentioned earlier, Melissa makes a superb Supergirl. The scene abroad the train when she tries to convince Ethan Knox to change his plan shows the humanity and wisdom that is typical of a Girl/Man of Steel. Another great scene was her telephonic conversation with Cat as she flies to pick up Carter from his school.

Both Chyler Leigh and Peter Facinelli get adequate screen-time as their respective characters, Alex Danvers and Maxwell Lord get to know each other and develop a mutual attraction for each other. Maxwell reveals that his parents were killed due to negligence on the part of Government officials. This explains his lack of trust in authority figures. His line: We are orphans. We do not get over things easily reminded me of the Dark Knight himself.

But there are still a few chinks in the armor.  I am referring to Jenna Dewan Tatum as Lucy Lane and Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen. Though these two actors portray characters who are supposed to be past lovers, their lack of chemistry is quite palpable.

Nevertheless, this is a minor drawback that does not distract heavily from enjoying the show. Must watch for fans of Supergirl/Superman/DC Comics.

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