Tag Archives: Supergirl

The SF Bluestocking 2016 Fall Watchlist

After a summer of not watching much at all–though I did finally check out Stranger Things–I feel like September has really just crept up on me. I realized yesterday that I’d been unaware of the premiere date for Son of Zorn, one of the few new shows that I’m even moderately interested in this year, and that’s when I sat down to work out what I’m going to be watching this fall. Sadly, some of my favorite shows (notably The Expanse and iZombie) won’t be back until 2017, and the same goes for the new shows (American GodsPowerlessStar Trek: Discovery) that I’m most excited to see. So, this fall definitely is a season of slim pickings. Still there are a few things I’ll be following.

Son of Zorn
September 11 on Fox

I don’t have super high hopes for this show (in fact, I’m somewhat confused about how this one got greenlit in the first place), but it’s got several people involved in it who I really like. The pilot was watchable and moderately amusing, but it was dedicated almost entirely to basic character introductions and setting up its frankly silly premise. Tim Meadows pulls his weight, but Artemis Pebdani is the real highlight of the pilot as Zorn’s new boss, Linda. The rest of the cast is fine, and I really love Jason Sudeikis, but I’m just not sure this show is going to work. I’m here for it, though, at least for a few more episodes. I expect this one to either sink or swim quickly.

Lucifer Season 2
September 19 on Fox

Lucifer is one of my favorite problematic faves, and I’m very much looking forward to its second season. Adding Tricia Helfer to the cast can’t hurt, and D.B. Woodside and Lesley-Ann Brandt killed it last season. My biggest hope for it is that it gets some better, or at least more consistent writing instead of simply relying on Tom Ellis’s considerable (possibly infinite) charisma to save the show from mediocrity. Also, more Trixie, please.

The Good Place
September 19 on NBC

I like Kristen Bell, and the show claims to be from the same creator as Brooklyn 99 and Parks and Recreation, two of my favorite comedies in recent years. However, the trailer for this one isn’t great, and it seems like it could be taking its concept to a place that is a little more cartoonish than I normally find funny. Still, I’ll check it out for an episode or two at least.

The Exorcist
September 23 on Fox

I’m not that into horror, as a general rule, because I don’t like things that are actually scary, but I’ll watch this for Geena Davis.

September 23 on CBS

MacGyver is the most profoundly stupid-looking and completely inexplicable reboot of the year, and there is no universe in which I don’t check out at least a couple of episodes of this train wreck.

Luke Cage
September 30 on Netflix

Full disclosure: I still haven’t watched the last couple episodes of the first season of Daredevil, but I absolutely loved Jessica Jones, so I’m not sure when I’ll get around to watching Luke Cage. I’m not sure that I’ll like it, since I’m not really that into super heroes, and I was turned off of this show a little by an early trailer (the SDCC one maybe?) in which not a single female character was even visible. However, it’s on my list.

Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2
October 2 on Starz

The greatest virtue of season one of Ash vs. Evil Dead may have been that it was only a half hour show, so it never overstayed its welcome. It certainly made some missteps, most notably in the treatment of its female characters, but it was nevertheless a fun watch, enough that I’ll be tuning in for a second season, anyway. I’m sure it’ll be worth watching just for the artfully spraying gore, if that’s a thing you like watching (and I do).

October 2 on HBO

So, Westworld, is apparently a television adaptation of a 1973 film by the same title that I’ve never seen, but that some people are outraged is being rebooted because that’s how these things go. It’s HBO, so I expect it to have high production values and good writing, but I also expect it to have problematic elements and a similar tone deafness to certain issues that characterizes other HBO shows. That said, it looks good, and I’m always happy to see more serious sci-fi being made even if I do wish we could get more original content–or at least shows based on material written in this century.

October 3 on ABC

I’m not sure the world needs another hard-living anti-hero lawyer show, but if it really must be done I guess casting Haley Atwell is a good direction to go.

Supergirl Season 2
October 10 on CW

I really liked the first season of Supergirl, but it’s a show that was bogged down time and again by poor writing. Sadly, I don’t expect this to improve with its move from CBS to the CW and the correspondingly smaller budget that comes with that. Calista Flockhart has already been downgraded to guest star, which is disappointing as Cat Grant’s relationship with Supergirl/Kara was for me one of the best parts of the show. We’ll see, though. Maybe the smaller budgets will bring a new back-to-basics mentality to the writers’ room, and we’ll see some more coherent storytelling. Melissa Benoist is an amazing Supergirl, and it would be nice to see her get the type of writing she deserves.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
October 20 on Fox

I am unabashedly excited for this.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2
October 21 on CW

I almost never watched this show because I hated the title so much. I still hate the title, but the show itself is amazing, and I cannot wait for season two.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
November 25 on Netflix

I mean, obviously.

Supergirl: “Better Angels” predictably features all of the show’s strengths and weaknesses

I’m not sure what I expected from Supergirl’s season finale, but I feel like what we got—an uneven episode that is equally full of frustration and heart—is probably what I should have expected. “Better Angels,” like many Supergirl episodes, has flashes of greatness, and the sheer earnestness of it is refreshing in a television landscape dominated by darker, grittier programs, but the episode nonetheless exemplifies most of the show’s ongoing storytelling flaws. There’s a lot that’s satisfying about this season finale, but there’s much to frustrate as well, especially in light of the fact that the show still hasn’t been confirmed for a second season.

Last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger of sorts, with Alex under the control of Non through his Myriad program and set to have a fight with Supergirl. Like most similar cliffhangers in the show’s first season, however, this one is resolved within the first five minutes or so of the episode when J’onn J’onnz (I guess I should get used to calling him that now since everyone knows his identity) shows up with the elder Danvers, Eliza, who is able to break Myriad’s hold on Alex with the power of love, I guess, which is just the sort of borderline Pollyannaish thing I expect from this show, but still. It seems like something that Supergirl could have done herself, which would have been more economical storytelling, but I suppose this is the way the show decided to contrive to have Eliza in town so that she could be told about her husband still being alive and then hang around for family dinner at the end.

Eliza being able to get through to Alex does lead to the idea that ends up freeing the rest of National City (except, inexplicably, Superman, who languishes in a coma until the end of the episode when he wakes up to text Kara about how awesome she is) from Non’s control. Unfortunately, because Non is highly impressionable, Indigo is able to convince him that if they can’t control the humans they should just kill them all and move on to a planet that they can control. This is a totally ridiculous plot, and the show itself seems a little sheepish about it, to be honest. Instead of focusing on resolving this silliness, most of the episode is instead dedicated to character work and touching speeches. Sure, Indigo gets ripped literally in half by J’onn, and Supergirl flies the remains of Fort Rozz out into space to save the world, but that stuff seems relatively unimportant and takes up a comparatively small amount of screen time.

Unfortunately, this leaves the finale feeling decidedly anticlimactic. Non and Indigo never feel like a true threat, and their defeat doesn’t feel like that much of an accomplishment. Though earlier in the season the idea was heavily seeded that Astra and Non were misguided environmentalists, this theme is completely abandoned, and whatever “message” the show has been going for with the whole Astra/Non and Non/Indigo saga has been watered down to something vague and mealy-mouthed about kindness and love being the answer. The answer to what? Meh. Everything, I guess.

Still, Supergirl has redeeming qualities. Melissa Benoist is an absolute treasure, and her performance carries this episode just like it’s carried so many others before. I love the evolution of Kara’s relationship with Cat Grant, even if the promotion she receives in the finale makes no sense whatsoever. The show often goes overboard with its number of sappy speeches, but I adore every stupid one of them. The family-friendly comic book feel of the show is exactly what I want it to be, and the supporting cast is solid, even if Benoist does do a lot of the heavy lifting from week to week. All in all, it’s an enjoyable show that only lacks in the writing department. Hopefully a second season will have plots strong enough to actually support the cast’s excellent chemistry and fine character work.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I guess Project Cadmus is going to be the season two big bad.
  • So, does Cat know that Kara is Supergirl or not?
  • Also, Cat finally called her Kara!
  • Is there anyone who doesn’t cry at the end of Working Girl?
  • I’m glad that it looks like they’ll be keeping Lucy Lane around. I really want her and Kara and Alex to be best friends and have lots of time hanging out together just the three of them.
  • Kara and James are legitimately precious together, and I’m looking forward to seeing their relationship develop in the future.

Supergirl: “Myriad” is a very dull setup for next week’s season finale

“Myriad” is almost entirely setup for next week’s season finale of Supergirl, but it’s sadly just not that compelling. The characters who aren’t mind-controlled mostly flail around ineffectually, and the moments of emotional resonance that usually make this show worth watching are few and far between this week. It’s capped off with what passes for a cliffhanger ending on this show, but the stakes still feel relatively low and the pattern of events for next week’s finale already feels predictable and, frankly, boring. To get there, though, we first have to make it through this episode, which is boring enough on its own for two episodes and turns into a downright slog in its second half.

The hour starts out well enough, picking up just after the end of “World’s Finest.” Nearly all of National City is under Non’s Myriad mind control, including everyone at the DEO, where all but one of the prisoners are to be released. Only one—Maxima, Queen of the planet Almerac—actually gets loose, however, before Supergirl arrives and stops the process. The short fight that ensues Supergirl and Maxima is the only real action in the episode, however, and Supergirl is primarily focused with disabling the DEO systems and taking out Lucy Lane and the other agents without seriously injuring them. This is all over with in the first four minutes of the episode, however, which leaves a lot of time to fill with stuff that’s not action.

After leaving the DEO, Supergirl flies straight to the Fortress of Solitude to find out more about Myriad in the hope of finding a way to stop it. Unfortunately, the little robot guy there is no help at all, and the hologram of Kara’s mother isn’t much more help, which sends a dejected Supergirl back to National City, where she spends some more time frantically wandering around and trying to come up with some kind of plan. Lucy Lane’s dad is surprisingly helpful, but the real surprise is when Supergirl is pacing around CatCo in distress and Cat Grant walks in like everything is totally normal. This is kind of hilarious until Maxwell Lord arrives hot on Cat’s heels with a smirk and several infuriatingly glib and too-convenient explanations.

While Max is teasing some kind of plan—it’s a bomb, obv—Non shows up. Probably the biggest problem this show has is that it fails, utterly, to deal in any sensible way with real moral ambiguity, and this is highlighted in this episode in a series of situations that all start with Non’s arrival at CatCo.

First, Non’s goal (and Astra’s before) is not an entirely bad one. He sees the self-destructive trajectory of the human race—much like the successfully suicidal policies of Krypton—and wants to fix it. Unfortunately, the show portrays Non as almost nonsensically villainous instead of recognizing or working with the greyness of his character. Some noise is made about Non’s desire to not have to kill his niece, but with the near-absence of any interactions between them previously, it’s hard to care very much about their relationship or believe that either of them has any sincere attachment to the other.

Before Non leaves CatCo, he has James, Winn, and another CatCo employee, Kelly, all walk outside and fall off the sides of the building, putting Kara in the impossible situation of not being able to save all of them. However, Kelly is a character who has never been named before, and is essentially a throwaway character who exists only to be sacrificed in this manner as a matter of narrative convenience. Any emotional resonance of this scene is further diminished by the fact that it all happens so quickly and things move along so soon after that there’s barely a moment to spare to reflect on the tragedy. Certainly Supergirl herself seems to get over Kelly’s death extremely quickly. It’s a moment seemingly meant to suggest a weakness in Supergirl, but it doesn’t quite connect.

Finally, the whole business with Maxwell Lord’s bomb is a little silly. I love a good Cat Grant speech as much as the next person, and on the surface this one is excellent. Taken out of context, I love this talk between Cat and Supergirl, but within the episode it’s almost silly, coming off as Pollyannaish and preachy. A very generous interpretation would be that this scene is an exploration of the moral dilemma Kara faces in choosing whether or not to go along with Max’s plan, but I would contend that it’s actually a rejection of the dilemma. Indeed, Cat’s central thesis reminded me a little too much of the Fear and Love scene from Donnie Darko. Only the sheer earnest goodness of this show saved it from being completely ridiculous.

Meanwhile, Alex and Hank are still on the run. I’m not sure how much time, chronologically, has passed since they actually left National City, but they appear to still be on a bus out of town when it’s stopped by some shady-looking law enforcement flashing their pictures around. This scene is nicely done, even if the red glow of Hank’s eyes is a bit much—yeah, we get it, the little boy is Hank in disguise—but things are almost all downhill for this pair after that. When they arrive at the Danvers home (because that place is definitely not going to be being watched for the fugitives or anything like that), Eliza tells them the news about National City, and they promptly decide to go back, even though Alex will obviously just get mind controlled along with the rest of the humans.

By the end of the episode, of course, Alex is mind controlled and Supergirl has to fight her, though Kara does say she won’t do it, and that’s where the episode ends. I’d like to say that I’m excited to find out what happens next, but my dominant feeling by the end of this episode was just “meh.” Hopefully next week’s finale can manage to make some sense out of all this.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I did love Cat’s Harrison Ford joke.
  • Superman showing up and getting mind controlled and Max’s explanation for it is one of the dumbest things this show has ever subjected us to. And that’s saying a lot.
  • “We’re way past villains of the week and kittens stuck in trees” is a passably good line.
  • Also “So mind control is the answer to global warming. Why didn’t I think of that?”
  • I’m not really sure why Indigo is necessary. Sure, Non is dull on his own, but the addition of a Lady Macbeth doing a cheap Mystique cosplay doesn’t improve things.

Supergirl: “World’s Finest” brings the Flash to town for reasons

“World’s Finest” was, well, fine, but not great. I kind of think that as someone who hasn’t watched even a single episode of The Flash (though I am peripherally aware of it, what with not living under a rock), it was just hard for me to get very excited about the crossover between the two shows. That said, Barry Allen was a nice addition to the team for a single episode, but I don’t think I could deal with him more often. As Cat Grant pointed out: “He was so unfailingly charming and nice he either had to be a superhero or a Mormon.”

The story of the episode is set up early, with the revelation of Siobhan’s powers and her hatching of a plan to band together with Livewire to take down Supergirl and Cat Grant. Unfortunately, this pair never quite manage to be a credible threat to Supergirl or, frankly, anyone else. When they are finally defeated, it’s practically the definition of anticlimax. Although I did get a little misty-eyed when the people of National City finally seemed to rally around Supergirl, I felt like that development really wasn’t earned. I would have preferred to see the show hold off on Supergirl winning back the city’s love until the penultimate or even the final episode of the season, especially after the way this episode ends.

While Barry Allen’s presence is pleasant and an interesting way of shaking things up—particularly as a way of moving things along with Kara and James’s relationship—it’s really not enough to carry the hour. Far too much time is spent simply explaining why and how he’s there, including an absurd whiteboard drawing of several circles being used to explain the multiverse theory, which comes off more as condescending to the audience than anything else. It’s just not that complicated a concept, and the show uses rather silly comic book “science” to explain it anyway (apparently Barry is just that fast), so the whole sequence just ends up being kind of unintentionally funny.

I did rather like the instantly friendly dynamic between Barry and Kara, but it wasn’t any material that couldn’t have been better off given to Cat or Alex (who is sadly absent this week), and the one lasting impact Barry has on this version of National City could easily be missed by an unobservant viewer: his giving the local police a way to hold and take care of metahumans on their own so that human bad guys don’t have to be sent to the DEO. On the one hand, I appreciate that this is a way of revisiting and resolving a theme from earlier in the season, but it’s done in such an offhand way that it doesn’t seem very important. At the same time, with a likely-final confrontation with Non on the horizon, Lucy Lane in charge of the DEO, and Alex and Hank on the run, this could mean that the show is working towards removing the DEO from the picture altogether. This may not be a bad idea, as the show has always struggled to balance its vastly different settings and CatCo is the more compelling of them, but it also feels like a cheap way to shuffle Lucy out of the picture now that she’s no longer necessary to maintain a love triangle.

In many ways, “World’s Finest” feels a little like the show spinning its wheels. Before the final few minutes of the episode, very little of consequence actually happens, and then it’s as if everything is happening at once, leaving us with a cliffhanger setup for the last two episodes of the season.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

  • Siobhan’s Silver Banshee makeup looked like garbage.
  • Winn was cute this week, which I never say, but it’s true this one time.
  • I feel like there is definitely going to be at least one major character death in the next two weeks, but I don’t even want to guess which one. Before this week I might have hoped for Winn, but he’s starting to grow on me now that he’s not being a gross Nice Guy™ towards Kara.

Supergirl: “Manhunter” has a lot going on, leaving me with a lot of mixed feelings

“Manhunter” picks up more or less where last week’s episode ended and deals primarily with the fallout from the revelation that Hank Henshaw has been an alien in disguise for the last ten years. It’s good to see that the events of “Falling” aren’t going to be dealt with quickly, and at this rate it seems likely that we won’t be seeing a proper resolution to things until the season finale. Unfortunately, “Manhunter” falls apart a bit at the end, with some weird shuffling around of things and a couple of revelations, all of which I have some mixed feelings about.

While the episode is ostensibly dealing with the immediate consequences of last week’s episode, most of the hour is actually spent in flashbacks, with mixed results. The Martian Manhunter flashbacks weren’t actually that interesting and don’t tell us anything in particular that wasn’t already shown in previous flashbacks or couldn’t have been summed up in a line or two of dialogue. It also didn’t help that the interrogator, Colonel Harper, is supposed to have some kind of personal connection to Hank Henshaw—they’re best friends, apparently—but we’ve literally never seen him before, so there’s no context for his feelings of hatred and betrayal. This might have worked better if these things were intended to add some nuance or gray areas to the situation, but Harper is just a cardboard villain who ends up fairly easily defeated in the end.

The Alex flashback—where we learn that she was basically an unmotivated party girl (with a doctorate, I guess) before being recruited to the DEO—was good in theory, but the execution wasn’t great. I really appreciate that Hank didn’t rescue her from a date rape or mugging or something like that, but rescuing her from being busted for public intoxication doesn’t quite make the case for how adrift and struggling we’re supposed to believe Alex was during that time, either. It’s just mildly humiliating, not a total crisis.

The final flashback belongs to Kara, as she finally tells Lucy Lane about her identity. I like the material shared in this flashback best, as it actually gives us new insights into Kara and her childhood as an alien trying to fit in on Earth, her relationship with Alex, and her relationship with her adoptive father, Jeremiah Danvers. Unfortunately, the thematic connections between this little saga, J’onn J’onnz’s decision to impersonate Hank Henshaw, and Lucy’s own desire to fit in just don’t work. These are all very different situations, and the extremely superficial similarities aren’t enough to tie things together in a satisfactory way.

This thematic dissonance is further complicated this week by Siobhan’s storyline, which just keeps happening for some reason. While Kara is out of the office, Siobhan sneaks in and sends a nasty email to Cat Grant from Kara’s computer, but Cat—with Winn’s help—sees right through it. Winn tries to comfort a distraught Siobhan, but she breaks a heel and falls off a roof, screaming, only to have the power of her screams stop her fall. WHAT. After doing some reading about it this afternoon, apparently, this is because Siobhan is the Silver Banshee, a comic book villain I know nothing about, but who is apparently a pretty significant player in the Supergirl story. Siobhan makes a lot more sense now, and I figure we can expect her to show up as a villain of the week sometime before the season finale, but still. Her whole storyline seems like an awful lot of work for another villain of the week, and I don’t think there’s enough substance to her—especially to her interactions with Kara—to carry more than an episode.

The biggest real development in “Manhunter,” though, is the change in leadership at the DEO. While I’m not totally happy with the way they got there, I’m thrilled to see Lucy Lane take it over, mostly because I see this going one of a couple different directions. Either Lucy takes over the DEO and we see much less of it because of Jenna Dewan Tatum’s guest star status, which could be a good thing since the multiple disparate settings of the show have always been to its detriment OR Lucy takes over the DEO and she and Kara work together to protect the planet and become best friends, which would be excellent, since this episode just proved that they can work really well together—even if the stealth bikes were kind of silly. Either way, I think I’d be pleased.

It’s hard to believe there are only three episodes left in the season, to be honest. There are an awful lot of stories going on—Lucy at the DEO, Kara and James’s romance, Siobhan and Winn, Alex and Hank going after Project Cadmus and Jeremiah Danvers, whatever Non is up to these days, plus that much-hyped crossover with The Flash—that need to be at least partially sorted out by the end of the season, and I’m curious to see which ones the show does justice. We’ll see!

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I also have mixed feelings about how kind of sexy chubby Dean Cain is.
  • That poor boa. Just minding its own business when some dude thinks he needs to manhandle it.
  • When did Hank get better at wiping memories? Who has he been practicing on? And what happened to his ethical concerns about doing it at all?
  • I can’t be the only person who gets more of a romance vibe than a father-daughter vibe from the relationship between Alex and Hank, right?
  • Lucy’s face when she learns that Kara is Supergirl is priceless. Because of course. Poor Lucy.
  • Jeremiah Danvers is still alive, supposedly trapped at this Project Cadmus thing, but I’d give even odds that he’s actually the mastermind behind it. I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks, with Hank and Alex going after him.
  • Also even odds on Siobhan somehow corrupting Winn and turning him into Toyman 2.0 or something.
  • Lucy stepping into her place at the DEO was #ICONIC.

Supergirl: “Falling” sets the bar very high for the rest of this season

I’m not sure if I love or loathe this most recent episode of Supergirl. Partly this is because it turned out to be absolutely none of the things that I thought it might be based just on the title. I don’t watch previews for the individual episodes, believe it or not, so I (probably naively, now that I think about it) thought that maybe this week would be centered on Kara’s budding romance with James now that Lucy Lane is out of the picture. So. Needless to say, my expectations were not met at all, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of what the episode actually turned out to be.

Objectively, I suppose, “Falling” does a lot of things right. It’s a structurally sound episode, for sure, with Kara’s descent into badness acting as a grand unifying event and theme for the whole hour. This works really well to bring the DEO and CatCo portions of the show into a kind of harmony with each other that it’s seldom accomplished before. I’d be really pleased if I thought the show would be able to maintain this cohesiveness, but that seems highly unlikely considering this is the first episode (Episode 16!) that they’ve managed it. That said, it was still very nice to see all of Supergirl’s moving pieces working in concert for once, even if it does feel almost out of place after I’ve gotten so used to the ordinary way the show is run.

I also really like the way Kara’s turning bad is presented. While it does touch on a lot of the expected good-girl-gone-bad tropes, Bad Kara is much more than just evil. The red kryptonite essentially turns off Kara’s ability to give a fuck about what other people think of her, and Bad Kara is a creature of pure id, spewing all her worst feelings all over everyone she comes in contact with this week. There’s a little bit of mixed messaging, like when Kara showing up in full on femme fatale mode to a club with Demi Lovato’s “Confident” plays—I guess ironically—in the background, but for the most part I think it works.

The best part of the episode, though, was that there are real consequences for Kara’s actions, and she’s forced to be really accountable for what she does while under the influence of red kryptonite. It’s not fair, because of course I love Kara and only want good things for her, but the fallout we see here is something real-seeming. Hank Henshaw is forced to out himself as Martian Manhunter, which jeopardizes his position at the DEO—he ends the episode locked in a cell there like any other alien. James is still reeling from being dumped by Lucy, only to have Kara act like a monster about it—things are not okay between them now, and he asks Kara for some space right as she’s finally about to declare her feelings for him. I’m not a huge fan of this romance, but this is a real impediment that makes sense and is legitimately compelling.

The heroes of the episode, of course, are Alex, who loves Kara unconditionally, and Cat Grant, who has a different, but similarly unconditional, kind of love for Supergirl. When Kara wakes up after being cured of the effects of the red kryptonite and Alex was there to forgive her, I thought my heart might break. And when Supergirl goes to Cat for comfort and advice at the end of the episode, and Cat was also forgiving, I think my heart grew at least two sizes. These relationships are so important, and I wish the show would cut out all of Kara’s boy troubles and just focus on this. Supergirl isn’t always as revolutionary as it aspires to be, when it comes to women’s issues, but these scenes were absolutely perfect.

“Falling” was a great way for the show to shake up the status quo. As a viewer, it definitely surprised me, and the way things are left at the end of this episode should make for some excellent episodes in the coming weeks. My biggest concern going forward is that the show is going to move too quickly through Kara’s journey to redemption and miss out on the resonance that this story should have. It’s the sort of thing that ought to take til the end of this season, but Supergirl has a worrisome tendency to rush through story. I’d hate to see it miss this opportunity for greatness.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Probably an unpopular opinion, and I know it’s shameless cross-promotion for another CBS show, but I kind of loved Cat Grant’s appearance on The Talk.
  • Is there any possible way that Cat really doesn’t know that Kara is Supergirl? We’re supposed to believe that Cat is highly intelligent and perceptive, so is there any chance that she doesn’t notice her assistant’s bizarre behavior?
  • If Kara burned all her clothes, where did she get her final outfit of the episode?
  • So I guess Siobhan is gone for good? That was anticlimactic.
  • Senator Crane was back this week! I love her, but I hope she doesn’t become an antagonist.
  • I feel like the show might still be trying to make Alex and Maxwell Lord happen, and OH MY GOD PLEASE NO DON’T. He is the literal worst.

Supergirl: “Solitude” is a scattered, ineffective mess of mediocrity

“Solitude” is one of Supergirl’s worst episodes, objectively, but it has one of my personal favorite moments in the series so far. It’s an episode that is overstuffed, with a nonsensical villain of the week and far too many moments that tried and failed to be emotionally impactful. The only thing that really worked was the end of the episode, with everything else being varying degrees of bad.

First, the villain of the week, Indigo, is absurd. She’s apparently some kind of living computer program who wants to destroy humanity. For reasons. Okay, it’s because Non cheated on her and then left her for Astra, I guess, and so now she’s going to take over the world by hacking everyone’s Fake Ashley Madison accounts and then nuking National City. Indigo looks like a second rate Mystique, except when she’s actually being an incorporeal computer being, which is actually a pretty neat effect. Regardless, she’s definitely one of the silliest villains this show has given us yet.

The most inexplicable side plot of the episode was the burgeoning romance between Cat Grant’s new assistant, Siobhan, and Winn. Both of these characters are totally unnecessary at this point, and they have very little to do in “Solitude” except have a sort of awkward hook-up. Winn does do some computer stuff, but it’s just his normal sort of magical tech wizardry, so it’s boring. Siobhan is actively unlikable, even abusive, towards Winn, in a way that isn’t fun or funny to watch. Even a sob story about how the reason Siobhan acts like such a monster is because her dad cheated on her mom isn’t enough to generate many positive feelings about her.

The major emotional event of the week is Lucy breaking up with James, who has been kind of terrible to her for a while now. The final straw is when James blows off a date with Lucy to travel to the Fortress of Solitude. Kara makes excuses for James and tries to talk him up to Lucy, but in a way that tips Lucy off to James and Kara’s feelings for each other. James’s attempt to let Lucy in on the secret of Supergirl’s identity is too little, too late, and it would have only exacerbated the problem anyway. It’s a relief in a way, to have this stuff over with. Lucy is better off, frankly, and now James and Kara are free to do their thing if they want to.

The best moment of the episode was its final one. I have mixed feelings about the way this show rushes through story material, but sometimes its impatience is a good thing. I knew the show wasn’t going to let Alex keep a secret from her sister for too much longer, so it wasn’t surprising to see Alex come clean about Astra’s death before the end of the hour. What was a surprise, especially in an otherwise lackluster and very disjointed episode, was the way the moment played out. Kara’s instant forgiveness of her sister (and Hank!) was probably the most perfect scene this show has ever produced. It doesn’t make the whole mediocre hour beforehand worth it, but it does help redeem “Solitude” a little bit.

Supergirl: “Truth, Justice and the American Way” breaks into some bigger thematic ground

“Truth, Justice, and the American Way” isn’t a perfect episode, but it is on the excellent side for this series, mostly because it finally deals with some of the larger issues that are almost implicit in the premise of Supergirl. The ethical issues surrounding Supergirl’s work with the DEO and her own vigilante fighting for justice have been building all season, and things finally come to something of a head this week. Though the episode isn’t without some hiccups, it’s great to see it being more thematically ambitious.

First, though, the episode almost gets bogged down in HR issues. This week we find Kara back at the office, where she has to deal with some competition in the form of a second assistant that Cat has hired to take up some of the slack for Kara, who has been very flaky recently. I hate everything about this storyline so, so much. Yes, Kara has been flaky, and yes, she drove Cat’s son away, but it’s incredibly unprofessional for Cat to punish Kara like this, especially as publicly as she does here. I also despise that all of Kara’s relationships with women are so fraught, and it sucks that the show has introduced yet another woman for Kara to contend with.

Sure, Siobhan is aggressively unlikeable, but I even hate that framing of things. Siobhan is ambitious, and she is competitive with Kara, but this is a dynamic being fostered by Cat Grant, who is at her most petty and manipulative in her dealings with Kara this week—and all of these women are written that way. By the time you add in Lucy Lane, who is getting suspicious and jealous of her boyfriend’s relationship with Supergirl, CatCo has become a toxic mess for Kara to navigate in. Even outside of her day job, she’s dealing with her aunt Astra’s death, and she doesn’t even know yet that Alex is keeping a pretty big secret from her.

Admittedly, it’s not just Kara’s relationships with women that are on the rocks. She and Winn are still not talking much; she’s so angry with Hank over Astra that she is having trouble working with him; and James just gave her an ultimatum. However, in an ostensibly feminist show, it would be nice to see Kara able to have even one good, healthy relationship with another woman. Instead, the show’s writers seem determined to trot out every tired, catty, bitchy stereotype about women’s interpersonal relationships that they can fit into a single episode. This has been an ongoing problem for the show, but this week all of Kara’s relationships seem to be at nadirs, which makes the problem that much more pronounced and unpleasant to watch.

The real meat of “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” is, or ought to be if he didn’t have to share so much time with Kara’s office tribulations, the villain of the week. In an interesting change of pace, this week’s villain isn’t an inmate of Fort Rozz—he’s one of the guards, and he’s systematically hunting down and executing former inmates without regard to their present circumstances or even their original crimes and sentences. This is set up as a counterpoint to what Supergirl and the DEO are doing, and specifically to their indefinite detention of Maxwell Lord, who isn’t even an alien and probably ought to have some rights or something as an American citizen. Master Jailer is probably the best idea the show has had yet for a villain, but the execution of his story could definitely have been better.

As I already mentioned, this story—which deals with some of the show’s heavier ethical issues, namely the legality and, well, justice of extrajudicial justice—shares far too much time with material that doesn’t really fit together with it. The conclusions reached by the end of the hour feel almost glib, and Kara is portrayed as almost foolishly naïve rather than principled. The questions asked in the episode are worthwhile and certainly deeper than most of the other themes so far this season, but the answers just aren’t quite satisfactory. Still, it’s a step in a good direction for the show, and I would actually love to see this become a recurring theme to be examined in more depth in the future.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Hated Kara’s astonishment that Cat could pronounce Siobhan. There’s not really any comparison between “Kara”—a name that can be mispronounced in many irritating and disrespectful ways—and “Siobhan”—which can only be mispronounced in ways that make the mispronouncer look ignorant.
  • This episode wasn’t terribly dark, really, but it was remarkably light on humor, which gave it a weird tone.
  • I was surprised that they went with a couple of straight up Gitmo references when talking about what Supergirl and the DEO do. It’s interesting to see what real-world things get worked into the show.
  • “It’s under the floor” was beyond words stupid. I mean, they didn’t even look for a cellar or anything first, and bad stuff is always underground. Get it together, Alex.


Supergirl: In “For the Girl Who Has Everything” nothing much actually happens

“For the Girl Who Has Everything” could have, and should have, been a much better episode than it is. Sadly, the episode starts off with somewhat of a disappointment. The thing that attacked Kara at the end of last week’s episode turns out to be a weird plant thing that just puts Kara into a sort of coma, and while unconscious she gets a taste of her ideal life. The rest of the episode mostly deals with Kara’s friends trying to figure out what has happened to her and how to rescue her. The thing is, most of this stuff is very, very boring, and even a major character death at the end of the episode doesn’t really do much to liven things up. This week, the show chooses to focus on basically every character except Kara, but mostly to the extent that it’s a way of returning to a comfortable status quo.

The last few weeks have looked at Winn and James’s relationships with Kara and seemed to be moving both of those relationships towards some kind of change, but this episode reconfirms that they are all just friends. Alex was keeping a secret from her sister at the beginning of the season, but since they’ve both been working at the DEO they’ve had very little conflict. This week, however, Alex gets a new secret, which also happens to be a new reason for Kara to distrust Hank Henshaw. Cat Grant doesn’t appear much in this episode, but Kara’s relationship with her boss is also back to a downright unpleasant square one as well. After weeks and weeks of Kara’s relationships progressing and developing, this episode undoes basically all of it in less than an hour.

The saga of Kara’s plant-induced coma shows us nothing new about the character, which is a huge missed opportunity. Kara’s speech at the end of the episode spells out to us why her ideal world is back on Krypton with her parents, but it doesn’t really ring true. Sure, things haven’t been great lately for Kara on Earth, but they haven’t really been so bad that she should want to regress to her childhood. Even if things have been that bad, the sort of regression portrayed here would be an unhealthy way of dealing with problems. Unfortunately, the episode never really delves into this, and instead sort of glosses everything over with pot stickers and ice cream. It works to establish a new normal, but it doesn’t actual deal in any meaningful way with any of the trauma or sadness Kara has suffered this week.

The thing that seemed most promising this week was Kara’s rage at Non, but it seemed to dissipate as quickly as it arose. Their fight seemed superfluous to Kara’s outburst of emotion, and it doesn’t seem to have actually had any reason for existing other than to add a little more excitement to a dull episode. Similarly pointless was Astra’s sort-of redemption, which would have been much more effective if we’d actually seen Astra more than a handful of times since the show started. It also doesn’t help that she’s really not redeemed here at all and her death has almost no impact on anyone.

It’s a disappointing episode that rolls back a lot of progress the show had made in earlier episodes, leaving us with essentially a blank slate for the rest of the season. With Maxwell Lord imprisoned at the DEO (which apparently has no consequences at all), that leaves Non (now likely motivated by a desire to avenge his wife’s death) as the major villain for the remaining episodes. Without the personal connection that existed between Astra and Kara, however, this leaves Non a fairly one-dimensional character, and with the show paying scarce attention to its overarching storyline I can’t see this improving without a real commitment to changing the format of the series.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Kara can’t get drunk, apparently.
  • Hank-as-Kara dealing with Cat Grant should have been comedy gold, but it was a tragically squandered opportunity.
  • The thing that seemed most promising this week was Kara’s rage at Non, but it seemed to dissipate as quickly as it arose. Their fight seemed superfluous to Kara’s outburst of emotion, and it doesn’t seem to have actually had any reason for existing other than to add a little more excitement to a dull episode.
  • Similarly pointless was Astra’s sort-of redemption, which would have been much more effective if we’d actually seen Astra more than a handful of times since the show started. It also doesn’t help that she’s really not redeemed here at all and her death has almost no impact on anyone.

Supergirl: “Bizarro” has Kara at war with herself

I’m not sure if “Bizarro” is objectively the best episode yet of Supergirl, but it definitely ranks among my personal favorites so far. This show has a strong tendency to rush through material and miss opportunities for emotional shading and depth, but it hit all the right notes this week as Supergirl faced off against her doppelganger while also trying to have a life as Kara Danvers. Supergirl had already delivered one incoherent mess of an episode while trying to communicate a very garbled something about Kara’s struggles to balance the different aspects of her identity, and that made it particularly pleasing to see the show get it right (or nearly so) this time around.

The main plot of the episode deals with the conflict between Kara and Bizarro, but it can really be better understood as a more internal conflict as Kara struggles to maintain her own identity in the face of her responsibilities and the weight of dealing with her specialness. She accepts Bizarro more and more fully over the course of the episode, until by the end she actually identifies with the other woman. It doesn’t show the viewer anything particularly new about Kara, but it does allow Kara to reaffirm her identity to herself. She’s been trying all season so far to separate Kara and Supergirl and compartmentalize her life in a way that allows her to “have it all,” but here she’s forced to integrate her dual identities and come to terms with the fact that she is different and she really might not be able to have a normal life.

The secondary plots this week are both intertwined with and perfectly complementary to the Kara/Bizarro stuff.

The first and more significant one is Kara’s attempt to date Cat Grant’s son, Adam. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work out, though not for the reason I expected. Rather, the relationship ends before it even really begins because Kara just can’t see a way to fit him into her already very hectic—and dangerous—schedule. As sad as this is, especially considering how adorable this pair was together, the real gut punch comes when we learn how this affects Kara’s relationship with Cat. Cat’s remarks to Kara might not seem entirely fair to the viewer who knows the whole story, but from Cat’s point of view Kara has kind of betrayed her. Kara brought Adam to town and was an integral part of Cat’s reunion with her son, but now Kara has failed to deliver on the promise that implied—namely, that she would be Cat’s ally in reforging that mother-son relationship. Instead, Kara has somewhat quixotically started something that she isn’t capable of seeing all the way through, and she’s put her own sanity ahead of her desire to be all things to all people. It might not be fair of Cat to punish Kara by cutting her off emotionally, but it’s definitely understandable and sad for everyone involved.

Finally, there are the other men in Kara’s life, Winn and James, who managed to also be moderately interesting and less tiresome than usual this week. Winn seems to have mostly gotten over Kara’s rejection of him. I cringed when he used the term “friendzone,” but I can mostly forgive it as it’s said without rancor. What I can’t forgive is the gross way Winn suggests to James that James could “have” Kara any time he wants. Yuck. I’m also having an increasingly difficult time forgiving James for continuing his relationship with Lucy when he’s obviously got feelings for Kara. I don’t care if he never manages to ask Supergirl out—especially since that feels like a kind of weird transference of affections situation anyway—but I hate that he’s stringing Lucy along in the meantime. We haven’t gotten to see much of Lucy yet, but she seems like a nice woman who is genuinely in love with James and willing to relocate to pursue him. It’s kind of a dick move to let her do that when he’s obsessed with Supergirl.

The best parts of “Bizarro,” however, are the parts involving its titular character. There are several decently produced fight scenes, and Bizarro is infused with enough real pathos to make her the most compelling single-episode antagonist the show has given us so far. Overall, it’s a solid episode that manages to hit all its plot beats on time and effectively develop its themes without dipping into the after school special territory the show is sometimes prone to. Most gratifyingly, it manages to say something about a moderately complex feminist issue without putting it in Cat Grant’s mouth in the form of a clunky speech.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Loved the Dr. Frankenstein vibe at the beginning. It’s a little heavy-handed, but it’s an appropriate allusion that works to make Maxwell Lord a more well-rounded villain. It’s very unsettling how deeply he seems to believe in what he’s doing.
  • It strains credibility a little that Kara is so quick to blame everything on Maxwell Lord. Sure, he’s a pain in the ass, but she just seems awful certain, awfully fast and in a way that feels more for narrative convenience than for any logical reason.
  • That brown sweater Kara wore to the office was wonderful.
  • I need Alex to get more and better character development.
  • Lucy was visiting her dad this week, apparently. I have a feeling that this is a hint that we’ll be seeing him again soon.