Arrowverse Couch Club Season Two, Week 13: Painkiller Backdoor Pilot


We now have our second Arrowverse pilot of the year, and after a long time out of the spotlight, Painkiller is finally ready to make his return. This week at the Arrowverse Couch Club, we’re taking a look at the backdoor pilot for the potential Black Lightning spinoff, as Khalil Payne looks to continue his new life without Painkiller in Akashic Valley, but after a year suppressing his violent alter ego, Khalil will have to find a way to learn to live with his other half as a new threat surfaces in his new home. Also not to be forgotten this week, as we were back to a full slate, Batwoman investigated a sinister plot against Gotham community centers, The Flash had to navigated the Speed Force overcharging his abilities and Supergirl met some new, powerful friends in her continued attempt to escape the Phantom Zone.

Batwoman – “Time Off for Good Behavior”

  • One potentially significant detail from this episode is how Mary mentioned that she doesn’t report overdoses at her clinic, which seems like more than a coincidence to say in the same episode where Jacob got addicted to Snakebite. Since this addiction likely won’t be getting kicked anytime soon, could his future overdose be the unfortunate but necessary event that finally allows him to see the clinic as Mary does?

Black Lightning – “Painkiller”

  • Yay or nay on the decision to give Painkiller a deeper, more distinctive voice than Khalil?
  • Are you excited at the prospect of Khalil going up against Agent Odell’s daughter, or would you have preferred the big bad to be a more independent character who’s less connected to Black Lightning?

The Flash – “Growing Pains”

  • Does it make sense that Frost should have to pay for the crimes she’s committed, or do you think her work w/ Team Flash helping to save the city has been enough to fully redeem her?

Supergirl – “Phantom Menaces”

  • Even though Lena has now left L-Corp for good, she still likely has more than enough money stored away to keep her future prospects open. Would you rather see her keep her focus on business, perhaps starting a new company, or shift more of her focus toward being an active part of the Super Friends?

What was your favorite episode from this week?

  • Batwoman – “Time Off for Good Behavior”
  • Black Lightning – “Painkiller”
  • The Flash – “Growing Pains”
  • Supergirl – “Phantom Menaces”

0 voters

This was a bit mind-blowing when I first realized it, and I’m now starting to think that’s precisely what’s gonna happen. As w/ any dangerously addictive drug, this problem is definitely gonna spiral for Jacob, and while he’ll certainly believe that he has it under control at 1st, it probably won’t take long for even an incredibly stubborn person like him to realize that he really doesn’t. But self-awareness probably won’t be enough for him to fully stop, and so an overdose will then become the more likely outcome. Given his high status as the Crows’ boss, having such an overdose reported would be the end of his career…unless he were to be treated at a certain clinic that doesn’t report ODs. While it does suck that Jacob doesn’t quite have enough empathy to understand how important the clinic is in the way it operates just from Mary’s word, the “until it happens to you” approach should still remain effective in convincing him further. Of course I’m sure he wouldn’t feel great about bending the law in a way that’d allow him to look the other way and let the clinic keep going, but that would also further cement his status as the Commissioner Gordon of the series: the man who leads the city’s biggest policing force and preaches following the law, but who gradually realizes that sometimes some legal gray areas need to be embraced in order to do what’s right for Gotham

While I could see it being one of those things that I just get used to over time, I can’t really say I’m a fan of it at the outset. We got through all of season 3 just fine w/ Khalil and Painkiller sounding the same, so I’m not sure why the writers now feel a need to distinguish them this way now. The way Jordan Calloway plays these 2 is still plenty for me to know who’s who, as Khalil is generally gonna be kinder and more focused on doing good while Painkiller has a harder edge to him and acts colder than Khalil, though we did start to see that fade toward the end here

What’s also confusing about this move is the way they tried to make it look like Painkiller’s always sounded like this. Did anyone else notice how, during the recap, the Painkiller scenes from BL were given the same filter they used in this episode. That would only seem to influence people who hadn’t already seen BL before, and I can’t imagine that particular audience is sizeable at all. Plus, both Khalil and Painkiller’s voice sounded the same in the initial trailer dropped for this episode, but now Painkiller sounds much deeper. This tells me that the decision must’ve been made at some point in the last month, which is doable as it probably wouldn’t have taken much work to do some last-minute editing and apply that filter to Painkiller’s voice. If the show does get picked up, maybe they’ll ultimately decide against this and chalk it up to a failed experiment, but even if it does stick, it’s only a relatively minor negative in what was otherwise a strong debut

Considering that we’ve already got a few characters in the supporting cast who don’t seem to have any connections to characters/places we’ve seen before, I think having someone like Maya as the main villain will help form more of a necessary connective tissue w/ BL as the show would look to establish itself in just the 1st season. If it’s fortunate enough to go for multiple seasons, then it should definitely feel more comfortable breaking away more and further cementing its own legacy, but for now, it feels like there’s enough of a balance of familiar and new to work. Based on this 1st impression, Maya looks like she’s learned plenty from her dad about being cunning and ruthless, and the fact that they’re not estranged or anything leaves the door open for Odell to make more appearances further down the line. While I wouldn’t want this prospective show to have to rely too much on BL’s legacy, I’m certainly intrigued by Maya after her debut and hope to see more of her in the future. I’d imagine her operation goes even deeper than we’ve been told so far, and seeing what sort of highly advanced science she’s got her hands in should make for an interesting opening arc

While I do certainly understand both sides to this argument, I find myself leaning toward the rest of Team Flash’s logic in believing that Frost has already made up for her prior crimes. I’m certainly not saying that this is how it should go for every criminal, but the reality of the current situation still needs to be taken into account first and foremost rather than blindly sticking to something that could’ve happened earlier, even if maybe it should’ve happened at the time. If this was season 3 Frost getting arrested, it’d make more sense, but the Frost who’s been helping Team Flash save the city for the last couple years? Well arresting her ultimately harms the public good, contrary to what Kramer told Joe. But something also tells me that all the good deeds in the world wouldn’t sway Kramer from going after Frost. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s revealed that she has some sort of personal grudge against Frost for something that happened years ago, and I was half-expecting that sort of reveal in this week’s episode

I also have to question how this looks when it seems to be public knowledge that Frost has been working alongside Flash. The state obviously doesn’t have a problem w/ his actions, so you’d think they’d realize that those 2 working together is proof enough that Flash trusts Frost. And if Central City’s greatest hero trusts her, shouldn’t that be enough for the state to not bring her in? There’s obviously a lot to process w/ this, though I’m ultimately anticipating that Frost’s trial (in a few weeks after a brief-ish hiatus) will end w/ her being acquitted. Still, neither she nor anyone else knows that, and in fact Frost seems to anticipate that she’ll be imprisoned. But perhaps seeing Frost be so willing to pay for her previous crimes will ultimately wipe out any doubt the citizens of Central City had left about her intentions, thus completely solidifying her reputation as a hero. Well everyone except Kramer, but it’d be pretty damn satisfying seeing the look on her face if/hopefully when Frost goes free

I don’t wanna see Lena completely abandon her business endeavors, but in the short term, I do hope her ditching Lex’s games does mean she’ll be able to be a full-fledged member of the Super Friends. She certainly deserves to be fully in the fold, and I know it’s something that I and a lot of other fans want to see after the fracture of last season. We know that if she’s able to dedicate herself more to the effort to get Kara out of the Phantom Zone, then that’ll certainly reduce the amount of time she’s trapped there. Though I feel that there are probably still some lingering issues amid the group dynamic when it comes to Lena, most likely w/ Alex, Lena spending more time w/ everyone will also give them a better chance to work on those issues so they can move past them in a healthy way and better focus on the mission at hand

That said, I’d also love it if Lena ends up starting a new company from scratch a little later on. She deserves to build a true force for good where she doesn’t have to worry as much about moving past an ugly legacy like she did when she took the lead at L-Corp. I’m sure she still wants to further more scientific development that’ll be used for the betterment of humanity, and she still has so much more opportunity to inspire hope in her own way. One specific theory I’ve seen going around that’s really growing on me is that she could start a new company w/ essentially the same name, but it’s spelled differently: El-Corp. While it’d be pronounced the same as L-Corp, it’d ultimately be taking Kryptonian inspiration (Kara Zor-El, El Marayah, etc.) as a way to really further the message of hope. Perhaps she could have a public partnership w/ Supergirl similar to how they operated in the alternate timeline from the 100th episode where they were partners from the very beginning. Wherever this goes, the important thing is that it’s a hugely important step in Lena’s growth and self-appreciation, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for it

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I’m not a fan of these storylines. It’s one of the reasons I stopped watching Black Lightning. But yes, I do think he will end up at Mary’s clinic at some point. He has obviously been set up but I know that it isn’t obvious to any of the characters.

As for the rest of that episode, man I really hope Julia snaps out of it. Or Alice breaks her out of it. I like Julia’s character and I do like how she and Alice play off each other. I want more of that.

Also, Gotham rule #1, if anyone has a fancy cane, just arrest them. You’ll save everyone a lot of time and pain.

I really think she has been redeemed. She never actually killed anyone. One of the people she kidnapped is now her lawyer. I really hope the judge will be lenient with her.

Though, at the same time, I wonder if this is a way to get Danielle Panabaker back to just one role in the show. I was wondering how long they would let her play double, but I guess she only gets a couple episodes.

Why not both? Start a business with the Super Friends. Publicly help them. But seriously, either way would be great. I like her helping the team but she would be great starting off on her own.

As for Lex, man, my jaw dropped when they showed the Children’s Hospital. I really can’t believe he did that. (At the same time, I guess I can.) But wow. I’m proud of Lena for walking out of his game. I’m kinda hoping she sabotaged something on her way out. But I don’t think she did, just to spite him.

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I will write more on my thoughts this weekend, but I wanted to say something and hope it doesn’t sound crazy. When I heard Painkiller’s voice I swear it sounded to me like Black Lightning’s voice. I half expected to see a credit to Cress Williams for the voice. And I was trying to figure out why he sounded like the hero when he was mostly a bad guy. Go ahead and listen again. It’s all I hear

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She definitely will eventually, but it’s just a matter of whether or not it’ll happen before she actually leaves for Berlin. If she does still leave, I figure it might be a while before we’d see her again, which would be unfortunate

We know Riddler exists in some capacity here, so you’d think they would’ve realized this by now

Oh hell no, if Frost really does go away and Danielle is left only playing Caitlin, I’m gonna be pissed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Caitlin, but I love Frost’s hard edge covering her soft heart way too much to be OK w/ her going away like that

She probably didn’t, but I wouldn’t put it past Brainy after detailing a murder plan earlier :eyes:

Huh. I didn’t piece this together at first, but I kinda do hear it now. That’s weird, and it just gives me even more reason to dislike it

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I hope it is before she leaves. I like her character and I want her to hang around.

Oh, I agree 100%. I hope both characters hang around.

That was the funniest part of the whole episode. Lena’s face as he keeps going on and on. All these guys are amazing actors.

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Maybe the funniest, but also the saddest. That whole scene where Lena and Brainy are finally embracing their emotions instead of just stuffing them down was brutal, but also immensely satisfying to see them both grow so much. Katie McGrath and Jesse Rath gave phenomenal performances, which is hardly surprising considering how great they both are

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I’ll be watching one or two of these this weekend.

For now I just wanted to stop by the club as a "just auditing this class for no credit " fan and note this incredible new cover for the soon-to-arrive DC’s Legends of Tomorrow:

One reason the CW Arrowverse keeps on ticking along would be a genius creative teams that come up with a season theme like this!

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You know I did not even notice this line, but it does seem to portend the future fate of Jacob. Of course, he has been seeing everything in terms of black and white, but now that he has had a taste of Snakebite he may start to loosen those moral codes. The addiction to the drug may cause him to seek more out, and he may end up crossing or at least blurring those lines he vows never to cross. I do feel that these types of stories have been done many times before, so I will wonder if they will hit the same beats and eventually result in overcoming it.
One thing I am curious about is someone knocked him out and injected him with snakebite. To what purpose? If it was to shame the chief of the Crows, they could have done it in a more public place for others such as the press to catch on to. If it was to get him addicted and then later on he would mess up, this seems an awfully long game to play and no guarantee that it would work. He could get cleaned up and move past it without anyone else knowing. I am not sure if it was clear from the episode and I just missed it, but it would be interesting to know what the endgame here was.

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I do not think it is necessary to have the different voice (which I will still swear sounds just like Cress Williams, but I digress) for Painkiller. We are smart television viewers, we can tell the difference between the two. They could have different ways they move or even keep one in white peaceful robes and the other in black killer gear. The voice kinda throws me as they are technically the same person and they did not have to do this before.
MY guess is it will be gone after a few episodes into its first season.
I personally like that there is a tie back to the Black Lightning universe with the villain. He already has Odell in his head with the kill orders still in place and the struggle to control his more evil side, so to have Odell’s daughter to add that psychological edge to their confrontations could mean something. IT would even give him more reason to fight her than her criminal ways.
OK, I was a little thrown off by how futuristic this particular city seems to be. Anissa and Grace being driven in driverless cars into this brightly lit neon city, where there are holograms and all this. It seemed a little jarring to me as this takes place in same universe as the other shows, and all of them seem mostly grounded in reality. Especially Black Lightning which seemed to take place in any town in the US. It just seems like they are in a bubble of technological advancement and I am wondering how it will play with the other shows.
One more thing, I am not fan of backdoor pilots. I understand the need to introduce new characters and gauge interest from audiences, but it seems to interrupt the flow of the original show it came from. They introduce a bunch of new characters, usually in a way where they state who they are and what they are good at, speaking in a way that no one would if meeting new people in real life. Then they try to set up all these mysterious pasts for everyone that will be touched on in future episodes of the new show, so you somewhat feel as if in the middle of a movie. I don’t know, just my opinion. I’m sad to see BL leave and am not yet sure what to make of this show and whether I would watch it.

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I think there should be some consideration made to the assistance she has provided to Team Flash over the years. Flash is Central City’s main citizen and his word should be enough to vouch for her redemption. They should consider it time served. I know this will not happen because this Kramer person seems to have it in for Frost. I agree there is more to her story and why she is even bending the rules to catch her. Maybe this will come out more when they have the trial. I cannot wait for the trial as I love courtroom dramas so I am curious how it will unfold. Revisit her past crimes and maybe bring in some cameo witnesses from the past? I was just thinking how there once was a Trial of the Flash storyline and how they kinda upended it here to be Trial of Killer Frost.
One final note: I love that they ended up at the Wieringo Complex. As you can tell from my username, I loved Impulse and Max Mercury and Ringo was a big part of it, god rest his soul.

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If it does get picked up, I doubt we’d get the 1st season this year, so they’d definitely have quite a while to make changes from this episode. If they do decide to drop the voice, they’ll have plenty of time to do so before any more episodes air, so I have to figure the show would either start w/ both voices back to normal, or the change would be there to stay

We know how Painkiller reacts to seeing any one of the Pierces, but it’d be interesting to see how he reacts to a member of Odell’s family after so long, maybe even Odell himself if Bill Duke keeps returning. I could definitely see either of them being another major trigger for PK, but triggering what exactly would remain to be seen

The fact that it’s so technologically advanced probably just made it all the more appealing for Anissa and Grace to honeymoon there since it is very much different from Freeland. And I also get the sense that highly advanced science would be the defining theme of the series, so it makes sense that they city they operate in reflects that

That’s definitely a fair point. Watching this in the middle of this season w/ no Jeff, Jen, Lynn, Tobias, etc. is certainly jarring and does distract from the main story. But on the other hand, having this now also means there’s less exposition that the actual pilot will have to do if the show gets picked up. It’s a mixed bag to be sure, but at the very least, I’m just glad we got to see what Khalil’s been up to since last season

Oh god, now I’m dreading Amunet Black’s return. She’s the 1st person who comes to mind w/ Frost’s criminal past, but I’ve never liked her character and would be happy to just leave her in the show’s past. Maybe Norvock?

Batwoman - I liked that Roman’s company had Janus in the name, the two faced god. Mary can actually do two clinics: the legit one and the no ID/no report one. Of course, she still has to graduate from med school, but it could work.

Black Lightning - not a fan of the voice change. And I did notice the retcon of the voice. What I liked is that Khalil told Painkiller that he wants him to be free of pain so that they can co-exist peacefully. A sort of ‘Painkiller is Khalil; Khalil is Painkiller’ kind of moment, which might be interesting to explore. The big bad being the daughter of Odell certainly works. i liked her prompt to call him: “Call Him”.

Flash - To me, it makes sense that Frost pay for crimes past. The Flash and public opinion might have accepted her redeeming, but the law or the legal component has not. Kramer has a bigger agenda I am sort of assuming.

Supergirl - Lena can probably do both. one of her companies creates the cure for Mon-El’s lead sensitivity. I have to rewatch the episode; i started watching through my eyelids. I did like how Supergirl gave the 5D imp some hope. I like how the rest of the Friends are dealing with Supergirl’s absence.