Summary: The third webisode is a marked improvement in wit and fun, propelling the story for its final half.
Mari tells Chuck about her suspicions regarding the necklace’s power. Chuck doesn’t buy it, so Mari harnesses the strength of an elephant to flip a table. Chuck still isn’t sure what he’s seen, so Mari shows him further by harnessing a spider’s ability to wall crawl. She prepares to jump off a roof with the flight of a bird, but hesitates. Meanwhile in Central City, Cisco discovers Mari’s existence, proposing to name her Vixen. Because a metahuman outside of Central City is unprecedented, Barry enlists the Arrow’s help to track her down. They both arrive at Mari’s house, and she prepares to flee.
It’s funny how, even in five minute increments of a single story, writing styles can differ so widely between installments. That makes sense for regular TV episodes, where different staff writers are crafting scripts that, even though the showrunners and editors often do substantial rewrites, the core of that writer’s teleplay and style shines through.
That’s very apparent in this week’s Vixen, which has a strikingly different fluidity in its dialogue and pacing. Considering all the writers presumably contributed to every installment, that’s probably less to do with who’s writing it and more with what’s being written. The past two episodes have been packed with info dumps and characters relaying their backstories or describing the show’s mythology. Even with some superbly animated sequences breaking them up, I’m not sure I’d peg Vixen at that point as very fun or exciting.
The third webisode is marked improvement in that sense, because even though there are still lots of people talking about exciting things rather than doing them, the dialogue is much more in-line with the jittery energy and wit of The Flash. It makes sense, since we have characters from The Flash in a prominent part of it. But even before that, we get a very fun scene with Mari and Chuck, which features very Buffy-esque dialogue. Neil Flynn’s delivery is a major reason the scene works, which isn’t surprising, considering his knack for comedic timing. The snarky disbelief is, at times, piled on a little too thick, but it’s still the most fun exchange the show has delivered in the midst of all its heavy exposition. It marks a major change in tone for the show in a good way. The use of power in the testing phase is fun, too, throwing in a creative spider spirit and creating a new, tangible objective for Mari: having the courage to take a leap and fly.
The appearance of Barry and Cisco is mixed; they bring levity to the episode like we’d expect, but their dialogue isn’t completely natural. It’s fitting that Cisco names Vixen, for example, but his very teenage boy-like reasoning — that she’s a “fox” and “look at that hotness” and whatever — seems closer to early season 1 Cisco rather than how he’d matured by the midpoint of season 1. That said, Carlos Valdes nails the line delivery, while Grant Gustin seems to have trouble getting into it when he’s not on camera. The designs are a bit weird — STAR Labs looks virtually nothing like its live action counterpart, Barry only barely resembles Gustin, and while Cisco’s design isn’t terrible, the slicked back look of the hair is an odd choice. Also, why place him in a form-fitting black shirt when there’s the capacity to do any design imaginable on his t-shirt? Seems like a missed opportunity there.
Most importantly, Mari is finally being fully integrated into the Arrow and Flash’s world — Vixen is notably listed as the first external metahuman, though that’s not technically correct given her powerset. This third episode is notably plot-light compared to the last two installments, but it’s the biggest propulsion we’ve seen, not to mention a marked improvement in the writing. That’s a good sign here at the series’ midpoint, and bodes well for the final half.
Odds & Ends
- Captain Singh gets namedropped, as does the facial recognition software Felicity developed that’s been used in The Flash.
- “You think it’s magic?”