SUPERGIRL: EXPLODING TRUMP TOON HEADS ONE SEASON AT A TIME. SEASON ONE REVIEW, PART THREE

Intro, with parts 1 &2 are here:

https://alfredeaker.com/2018/04/01/supergirl-the-hippest-damned-superhero-show-on-television/

https://alfredeaker.com/2018/04/12/supergirl-exploding-trump-toon-heads-one-season-at-a-time-season-one-review-part-one/

https://alfredeaker.com/2018/04/19/supergirl-exploding-trump-toon-heads-one-season-at-a-time-season-one-review-part-two/

Truth, Justice And The American Way

Airdate: 22 Feb, 2016

Witten By: Yahlin Chang and Caitlin Parrish
Directed By: Lexi Alexander

With Astra dead by the hand of Alex, Kara joins Non for a Kryptonian funeral in the sky. Vance, as Non, does good work balancing grief with controlled menace. At Catco, Kara has a rival in new assistant Siobhan (Italia Ricci) and a villain of the week: the Master Jailer (Jeff Branson) who is executing escapees from Fort Rozz. Something akin to a vigilante Iron Man, the Master Jailer is a generic one-shot (Iron Man himself rarely had memorable villains).

Even short of a superior antagonist, “Truth, Justice, And The American Way” does a good job balancing the various plot points this time. Not too much time is spent on Kara’s growing resentment of Henshaw (for wrongly believing that he impaled Aunt Astra), Cat’s poignant revelation of a past mistake, the rivalry of Siobhan, Olsen’s conflicts over Lucy and Kara, and what to do with the imprisoned Max.

It is Olsen who motivates Kara and the DEO towards an ethical choice in the latter.  Mehcad Brooks shines in the scene and is more convincing as Supergirl’s pal than he is doing the lovestruck routine. Ricci and guest actor Todd Sherry (as alien professor Luzano) add salsa to the mix.

Benoist takes something of a side burner here, but the episode is well-paced.

Solitude

Airdate: 29February, 2016

Written By: Rachel Shukert, Anna Musky-Goldwyn, and James DeWille

Directed By: Dermott Downs

Enlisting”Smallville” Supergirl Laura Vandervoort as computer intelligence nemesis: Indigo was a smart casting move. Vandervoort’s interpretation of the Supergirl role having been quite different, she slips into her villainous blue x-man-like virus skin with iced charisma. Better yet, Indigo is in cahoots with an aroused Non, who is briefly allowed to grit his teeth. However, even he can’t compete with Vondervoort; Supergirl’s best baddie since Livewire. Vandevoort impresses enough that one resists accepting her inevitable defeat.

At Catco, Siobhan continues competing with Kara. She disses Winn when he tries to greet her: “I’m sorry, I have difficulty making conversation with men under six-feet tall.” Hoping to deliver a package with a potential “scoop,” Siobhan defends delivering it to Cat unopened: “I just spent the last 90 minutes in the mail room letting a glorified postal work stare at my chest so that I could be the one to give this to Cat. I’ll take the credit.”

On the domestic front, Lucy Lane and James Olsen appear to be kaput (finally), while Winn and Siobhan, having moved past her initial contempt, promise to be the series’ first interesting potential romance; both having deviant daddies, which of course can make for refreshing off-kilter bonding.

Winn also gets to flash techie talent in assisting good Supergirl against bad blue Supergirl, which may come in handy for a Toyman Jr. resume. Jordan has appealing eccentricity and needs to breath more as he does here.

With the truth of Astra’s fate finally revealed, the episode ends in a scene emotionally well-acted by Benoist, Leigh, and Harewood.

Falling

Air Date: 14 March, 2016

Written By: Robert Rovner & Jessica Queller
Directed By: Larry Teng

With the exception of Superman II, the Kent/Superman character has proven to be consistently better suited to television. Even the 1978 Superman with its episodic quality, plays more like strung-together TV segments (which is not a bad thing). Superman III and IV, along with the Zack Snyder movies are dung heap. Slightly better, but woefully uneven and dour is Superman Returns. However, the first two seasons of “Lois and Clark” are 90s bliss. The first actual Superman feature, Superman and the Mole Men was intended as a precursor to the series, “The Adventures of Superman” and feels like television. It’s also often forgotten that in the first noir season of the George Reeves series, Superman was darker than Batman.

Even with its traditional Superhero gone bad theme, “Falling” restores that darkness in the series’ best episode to date. Unlike the Snyder films, it retains a sense of entertainment and narrative coherence. Poisoned by red kryptonite, Supergirl loses her puppy demeanor and goes full pit-bull mode. Benoist is more than up to the challenge and napalms naysayers. There’s a small nod to one of the few decent vignettes from Superman III when Supergirl demolishes a tavern with a pile of peanuts. In this episode, she almost expunges memories of Christopher Reeve.

As iconic as Reeve was in the role of Kal-el, his Kent bordered on caricature and he really only had four good hours as Superman. Dean Cain was a fine Kent; albeit one stuck in a Superman costume. George Reeves’ Kent is the proverbial yardstick to measure all by; almost more steel than his alter-ego, which was quite good and paternal (something no other actor attempted in that role), but he only had one great season (his first), one very good season (2) and a final good, but uneven one (6). Tyler Hoechlin (from Season 2 of ‘Supergirl’) nails both characters with a balance unequaled by his predecessors. His Kent is sexy geeky, as opposed to cartoonish. Unfortunately, he is competing with the godawful Henry Cavill and it’s likely Hoechlin will be consigned to an occasional appearance in this series.

As distinctive as all the above have been respectively, it’s a supergirl who soars highest as a strange visit from another planet. In the space of one season, Benoist’ dual characters have done something none of the boys have managed; she’ve evolved and proves she was born to play this role. Here, she employs a range that takes comic book character acting to new heights. Supergirl begins by doing her usual suburban hero beat, but after being exposed to and poisoned by synthetic Red K, Kara becomes brassy, sassy, and competitive at work. She gets rid of potential usurper Siobhan (which unfortunately looks to end an interesting relationship with Winn), takes the boys dancing and then turns against everyone. That climaxes with nearly splattering Cat and leveling the city until Maxwell Lord (who created the poison to stop Non) creates an antidote for the DEO (oddly, Lord seems more creative and effective dealing with alien threats than the organization whose job it is to do so). Although Lord hasn’t lived up to full-blown antagonist potential, he’s an interesting minor character.

Henshaw again self-sacrifices, although why he needs to is questionable. Still, Harewood’s characterization is superbly colored (and has been throughout the series). Now, with the plot turn, he adds new potential that begins with a friend’s xenophobia. Along with Leigh and Benoist, Harewood is indispensable.

Exorcized, Kara is devastated and Benoist knocks it out of the park with a performance that has run the gamut within an hour.

For complexities beyond the simplemindedness of Trump and his toons, along with opening the xenophobia can of worms, “Falling” earns a “you ain’t grabbin’ shit award.

Manhunter

Air Date: 21 March, 2016

Written By: Cindy Lichtman and Rachel Shukert
Directed By: Chris Fisher

Finally, Martian Manhunter gets his own titled episode. If only they had stuck with that. Instead, here’s another juggling of one too many plot threads.

After the last episode, Supergirl has to win back the trust of National City. Siobhan is reaping what she sowed. Henshaw and the DEO are thrust in damage control over his outing himself and being arrested. Of course, xenophobia rears its head. This part of the episode makes it feel like a Rod Serling metaphor and it works.

“Manhunter” is saddled with too many flashbacks, but ends with the cliffhanger of Alex and Henshaw escaping after discovering that Jeremiah Danvers is still alive.

 

World’s Finest

Air Date:28 March, 2016

Written By: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and Michael Grassi

Directed By: Nick Gomez

This is a much-needed antidote to the angst-ridden adolescent bowl movement Batman VS Superman. The combination of Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl here is what comic books are supposed to be about; they’re fun, they’re colorful, they have a sense of humor, they’re all about communal heroics, and good guys winning. That’s why kids of all persuasions loved comics forty years ago. Veering from that (I’m looking at you Mr. Hack Snyder) is why comic books have gone the way of the dinosaur today.

Siobhan discovers her hidden Silver Banshee and, out for revenge, knocks Kara out of a skyscraper. Enter Flash, having zipped into the wrong world, to save the day. He and Supergirl hit it off; both of them liking cupcakes and doughnuts (I told you this was a cool episode). James is jealous (which doesn’t suit him) while Winn licks his ice cream cone and says: “Cool.”

A disappointed Banshee busts Livewire out of jail for a super-villain team-up. Cat’s no dummy about National City’s newest superhero: “Of course, Barry’s the Flash. He’s so nice, he either had to be a superhero or a Mormon.” Indeed. If Benoist is the best thing to happen to live-action superheroes since George Washington Carver then Gustin with his humor and heart is the next best thing. That neither of them are pumping iron deities for latently lavender Trump Toons to lust after, er, worship, is all the better. Two rad bad gals are the proverbial icing on cake.

Even the combination of the Scarlet Speedster and Supergirl could use a helping hand, brought to you by local firemen (perfect) and community gathering. Yup, Kara gets her mojo back and Flash zips home.

Pure bliss.

Myriad

Air Date: April 11, 2016
Written By: Yahlin Chang and Caitlin Parrish
Directed By: Adam Kane

Now, for the Kryptonian Invasion of the Body Snatchers portion of the show, brought to you by Non and Indigo. Maxwell Lord becomes a bland anti-hero. He had more potential  in sheer villainy, but he does propose wiping out a few hundred thousand to save the rest of the world.

Non flexes his mind-control biceps by forcing a trio to jump out the window. Naturally, the regulars survive, but no such luck for the red shirt extra. The difference between Supergirl and Star Trek is, unlike Kirk, who just beamed away, Kara is devastated in her failure to save a life. She cares about these earthlings and when she does her inspirational speech, you’ll subscribe to the perfection of Benoist’ performance, unless you’re an apocalypse-craving Trump Toon.

Alex, Henshaw, and Eliza Danvers head back to lend a hand and…

Better Angels

Air Date: 18 April, 2016

Written By: Andrew Kreisberg, Ali Adler, Robert Rovner, and Jessica Queller
Directed By: Larry Teng

Alex, now a Myriad zombie in a metallic Kryptonite suit, gets to battle Kara. The battle is short-shifted, but we do get to see Helen Slater channeling her Supergirl self in imitation of Benoist’ 2015 Supergirl. Actually, Slater’s moment here surpasses anything she did in that original 1984 travesty. She’s surpassed by Benoist’ next speech,which is downright Chaplineque; a great quality for a superhero to have.

It’s Martian Manhunter and Supergirl VS Non and Indigo. This is no Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman letdown; it’s surprisingly graphic, if too abbreviated. The death of superior villains is always a disappointment (why not keep them around for rainy days?), but no time for that; Supergirl has to save the world.