Honourable Mention: For the first time since they had more than one show, the Arrowverse wasn’t able to do a crossover this year due to COVID precautions (Flash cast couldn’t just pop over to the Batwoman set). So in its place we had the John Diggle National Tour, in which Arrow vet David Ramsey dropped by every Arrowverse show that didn’t film in Georgia (sorry, Black Lightning, no Diggle for you) to dispense some classic Diggle wisdom and remind us all these shows were still connected*. And also follow up on that mysterious glowing green object that found its way to him in the Arrow series finale.
(*Okay he didn’t play Diggle on Legends of Tomorrow, he slapped on a ridiculously fake moustache and played legendary lawman Bass Reeves, but Sarah Lance did note he looked like Dig.)
Bronze: Introducing Photon, WandaVision
When last we saw Monica Rambeau, she was a kid answering to “Lieutenant Trouble” excited to see her long-lost Auntie Carol. Now she’s a grown woman dealing with how being Blipped out of existence for five years cost her her mother, and curbed her promising career with government agency SWORD. And her understanding of grief and what it does (there are implications she has some unresolved issues with Auntie Carol disappearing again for another 20+ years) means she’s the only one with a chance of reaching Wanda inside of her sitcom delusion. But doing so means being… changed. Changed in ways she might not fully understand until we see her again in The Marvels. I know, I know, they can’t do any story without setting something else up, but it’s fine here.
WandaVision’s treatise on grief isn’t limited to just Wanda, and it lets them do a solid origin for a potentially great addition to the franchise.
Silver: Fall of the Crows, Batwoman
The crows were never the good guys in Batwoman. Nor would you expect private cops for the rich to be the good guys in any story, any at all. But this season, with the title role taken over by a black woman wrongfully sent to prison by Crows abusing their power, they hit the gas on proving the Crows to be unsalvageable. While Sophie, our sympathetic Crow, initially thinks that she can steer them to being better from within, and that being a black woman who’s top cop is a valuable symbol to people like her… as the season goes on, and Ryan continues to lecture her about the entrenched white supremacy in the Crows (and all US police), it becomes more and more clear that the Crows as a whole will never be like Sophie, they’ll always be like the Crows’ poster child for abuse of power and punchable faces, Russell Tavaroff. The excessive force, unnecessary shootings, willingness to fabricate evidence, disdain for the less fortunate, and racial profiling are deeply entrenched. And so founder Jacob Kane does the only thing he can… shut it down.
Seems simple, doesn’t it. If an organization is that deeply corrupt, you can’t just say “It’s just some bad apples” and move on, there’s nothing to do but burn it down and start over.
Gold: Radicalizing your audience, The Boys
The Boys is a show about superpowered beings and the improbably capable strike team trying to oppose them. But despite that, one of this season’s central arcs was terrifyingly real: Stormfront teaches Homelander how to radicalize an audience. And the way she explains it isn’t some superpowered fantasy, it’s how the right wing indoctrinates its base right now. Fear and hate unite people faster than empathy and compassion. Nobody fact-checks memes, they just spread them. The way she describes her strategy, and how clearly it’s happening in the real world every day, is perhaps the most chilling thing I’ve seen on TV all year. And, again, there was a show about a world-ending plague released during a global pandemic. Examples…
“You can’t win the whole country anymore. No one can. So why are you even trying? You don’t need 50 million people to love you. You need 5 million people f***ing pi**ed. Emotion sells, anger sells.”
“If your uncle shares it on Facebook, you know it’s working.”
“People love what I have to say. They believe in it. They just don’t like the word ‘Nazi,’ that’s all.”
Scary. Very scary.