I'm really torn about this episode. The geek in me is all excited about all the comics tie-ins and the costumes. Then there's the recapper in me, who is aghast at some of the truly terrible acting and dialog, the plot holes, etc. I'll let my warring halves battle it out in the full recap. On to the recaplet! This is going to get confusing, especially if you aren't a comics enthusiast, so hold on.
Someone is killing off the members of the old Justice Society of America, one by one. A rumpled, homeless Sylvester Pemberton (a.k.a. the Star-Spangled Kid) is attacked while asking Chloe for help. He flips her into a dumpster for her own protection and ends up killed by someone or something that can shoot giant icicles. This sets Chloe on the path to digging up the truth about Pemberton, who, according to his arrest records was apparently part of a gang of criminals. Sandman is killed next and either he or his attacker scrawl the letters "JSA" in his blood. Nobody knows what it stands for. Clark encounters a teen girl named Courtney Whitmore (aka Stargirl) at the hospital, bereft to find that Pemberton has died. Clark offers a shoulder to cry on, but she sees his Press badge and thinks he's just after a story. Meanwhile, Chloe and Oliver have tracked down one of the remaining criminals, a gruff and cranky fellow named Carter Hall (aka Hawkman, aka scruffy Michael Shanks). He's the keeper of a dusty old museum whose contents are obscured under sheets, and the keeper of the mentally shattered Dr. Kent Nelson (aka Dr. Fate), who, in turn is the keeper of a wizard-possessed mask named Nabu. I told you it was going to get confusing, didn't I?
At first, Carter is reluctant to go back to his superhero days, and he really doesn't like Oliver, but he's eventually persuaded when the pattern of deaths becomes obvious. He then persuades poor Dr. Nelson to once don the Nabu mask in order to become Dr. Fate. Dr. Fate tracks down Chloe and Clark at the hospital morgue, checking out the frost-bitten body of Sandman. Dr. Fate ominously tells Chloe that her fate is like his own. Why? Because, like Dr. Fate, Chloe can see what everyone else is doing (via Watchtower, anyway) but her own fate, like his, is obscured. When Fate looks at Clark, he sees the Superman cape. He zaps Clark over to the museum. When he comes to, Clark uncovers all the displays, revealing a treasure trove of comics geekery. There are weapons, trinkets, and costumes galore. The gang weren't criminals, but heroes who were arrested and discredited in the public eye some decades ago. They, along with a much welcomed John Jones (aka Martian Manhunter), all eventually decide to work together to find out who's killing the old JSA members.
Turns out, it's Cameron Mahkent, son of the comatose Joar Mahkent, both known as Icicle. Cameron, bent on revenge because the JSA are responsible for his father's condition, has been recruited by Agent Amanda Waller of an organization known as Checkmate. She's the one who's hunting down the former JSA members and using Icicle as her pawn. You know who else is her pawn? Lois Lane, who shows up at the story's midpoint to receive a package with all the JSA's criminal records. This leads her to the museum, where she encounters Fate. He intones something about her being important to the "savior" and "the sentient power." She eventually uncovers the truth about the cover-up and has a run-in with Waller, who's using Lois for her own means, but Lois is too happy to grab a headline to realize it. Waller also has some kind of history with Tess, as evidenced by the White Queen chess piece she leaves on Tess's desk.
Dr. Fate and John Jones track Icicle to a liquid nitrogen depot where he refuels his icy powers. He also skewers Fate through various vital organs. Fate, instead of saving himself, uses the last of his strength to restore John's long-gone powers. Icicle grabs the Nabu helmet and puts it on. The remaining JSA come together in the Watchtower to fight Icicle, who's even more powerful now with the helmet. The moral of the story is that everyone is stronger when they come together. Even Hawkman and Oliver eventually come to a grudging sort of admiration for each other. Along the way, the Watchtower gang also learn that they should treat each other more like family and not just like teammates. This leads to a cute scene where Oliver shows up at Watchtower to invite Chloe and the gang to dinner, for no reason other than to hang out.
At the end, Waller puts a bullet through Icicle's head, saying, "Welcome to the Suicide Squad." How'd she get hold of him when sure the JSA and Watchtower Buddies surely had him arrested? I guess Checkmate is just that powerful. As she walks out of Icicle's holding cell, she encounters Tess, who she awesomely addresses as "Agent Mercer." It's been a while since they last saw each other. Let's hope it's not very long until they see each other again.
I'm leaving out tons of details, and I probably got some things mixed up, but check out the full recap for what I hope will be a clearer story.
The show -- er, movie -- opens with a cinematic sweep of Metropolis at night. The accompanying music is appropriately grand, yet also quiet and menacing. The pace of the music picks up, becoming urgent as we swoop down to street level. Chloe's just exiting Radu's Internet Cafe with a nice, big cup o' joe in one hand and her cell phone in the other. She's leaving the latest of many messages for Clark, who apparently hasn't been calling her back She walks away from the cafe, telling Clark that she knows he's busy with all the Kryptonian stuff, but she really needs to get the "super gang" together. Girl, don't apologize. Take charge of the situation! Order him around! He responds to bossy girls. She says they need to start taking things more seriously. Suddenly, her phone makes a little electronic strangling noise. The street lamps and shop signs all around her fizzle and go dark. She looks around and finds herself completely alone. People on this show have got to start parking their cars in more public places; it seems like half the times their attacked, it's when they're walking alone to their cars. She looks up and sees a man standing on a fire escape landing, wearing a flapping trench coat and carrying a tall, glowing staff. She translates this as the International Sign For Get the Hell Out of There and runs.
The glowing light from the staff follows her into an alley. Heroic music plays as the light dims and reveals the man standing before her. He's wearing a star-spangled shirt beneath his trench and looks to be in his late forties or early fifties. "Who are you?" Chloe asks. "My name is Sylvester Pemberton," he says in an odd, stilted accent that I don't quite think is intentional. It's like a really bad John Wayne impression, with tinges of something Germanic. He says he and Chloe are both trying to put a team together. Chloe feigns ignorance, but he knows she's called Watchtower. He says technology these days makes hiding a lot harder. He politely calls her "Miss Sullivan" which makes me like him despite his weird, stiff delivery. As he steps closer to her, it's clear that he's more than a bit scruffy. He calls himself a friend, but Chloe scoffs. Just then, the breeze picks up and the temperature drops precipitously. Chloe shivers. Sylvester looks around, sensing danger, then picks up Chloe and flips her into a nearby dumpster, slamming the lid down after her. "Stay down, Miss Sullivan," he says. Aww. Through a handy screen in the side of the dumpster, she sees flurries of ice and flashes of blue light. There are sounds of a fight coming from outside. The dumpster shakes violently and projectiles of ice pierce the walls, narrowly missing Chloe. When the fight is over, Chloe climbs out of the now-frozen dumpster to find Sylvester lying on the ground, his torso full of bloody holes. He gasps shakily for breath. Chloe calls for help. He grabs her shoulder and says, "They came after us, they'll come after all of you!" He tries to say who's coming, but can only get out one last word: Check. Chloe frantically asks him who's coming, but he's already dead. Somebody save Chloe! Because it's too late for Sylvester.