Friday, 8 January 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x09 - "Blood Bonds"

Supergirl
Episode 1x09 - "Blood Bonds"

Synopsis

In the wake of their battle, Non’s attempts to blackmail the DEO into letting Astra free by using Hank Henshaw as a hostage. With the alien-hating General Lane assuming control, Kara must work out a solution that won’t cause war between the two sides. Meanwhile, Cat Grant refuses to believe that Kara isn’t Supergirl, putting both her secret identity and job in jeopardy.

Review

After its Christmas hiatus, Supergirl picks up immediately where it left off with the second half of the battle between Non’s Kryptonian soldiers and the DEO, which culminates in Hank Henshaw getting captured and used to facilitate a prisoner trade-off for the captive Astra. Once again, Sam Lane (or “that Dickhead” as he is known between me and my girlfriend) interferes and brings his anti-alien agenda to the table, complicating matters as Kara and Alex attempt to find a solution that will resolve the stale-mate. While this was an interesting storyline, I was far more invested in the supporting narrative of Cat Grant discovering that Kara is Supergirl – unfortunately, this was played for laughs and didn’t quite get the attention it deserved, although I did like the resolution, which took me by surprise although it should have been painfully obvious.

Unfortunately, this episode was riddled with quite a few plot holes and gaps in logic, which seemed to exist purely in order to maintain some mystique about the season’s overall story-arc. For example, at no point did anyone at the DEO question Astra as to WHY they were targeting Lord Industries or what caused the destruction of Krypton, and I’m surprised that Non’s Kryptonian Army, who appeared to outnumber the DEO in the final scene, weren’t able to achieve their goal, whatever it may have been. It was also a bit unbelievable how Non and Astra had orchestrated their scheme to account for every eventuality, with contingencies in place involving booby trapped bases, etc. There were also gaps in logic during the secondary storylines too, with Maxwell Lord failing to torture Jimmy Olsen for information on Supergirl’s true identity, even though he’d deduced that he was working with her. I even found myself confused why Cat Grant would let Kara disappear out of the office constantly if she suspected her to be Supergirl, or why her grand ultimatum was to fire her from CatCo. It just felt like padding until the eventual shape-shifting finale.


I did find myself enjoying the flashbacks to Krypton, and seeing more about the complicated relationship between Alura and Astra, although the whole “Blood Bonds” theme seemed fairly laboured, and when Clark Kent jumped on the bandwagon at the end, I felt it had been over-played. I’m quite interested in the relationship between Astra and Non, especially since it seems her war-mongering husband is much more fanatical than she is, willing to go to deadly lengths to achieve his goals, no matter how well-intentioned. Despite my criticisms of this episode’s writing, I am enjoying the way that the series is developing with an interesting supporting cast and a mix of villains ranging from Non and Astra, to Maxwell Lord and Sam Lane. For a show initially steeped in Superman’s shadow, Supergirl has done a great job at establishing its own voice, in fact, I’d actually forgotten about all about Superman until his name popped up on the instant messenger chat window, so the writers have achieved one success.

While recent episodes of Supergirl had seen the “Girl of Steel” improve considerably on its initial installments, this episode felt like a step backwards in the wrong direction, clumsily setting up mysteries and over-emphasising the dramatic angst to the point where it becomes cringe-worthy. The scenes where Supergirl connected with her captive Aunt were nowhere near as good as her unleashing her anger and rage at her sister’s betrayal – equally, the scene where an “enraged” Supergirl was ready to confront Maxwell Lord for beating up Jimmy also failed to ring true with me. It definitely felt like the plot was dictating the characters, rather than having the plot evolve organically from the character’s actions. While I’m intrigued about this central storyline revolving around Non and Astra’s attempts to prevent Earth’s destruction, it just feels like everyone’s motivations and reactions are a little skewed, specifically to engineer conflict between the two groups. With future episodes set to move away from the Fort Rozz escapees and back to human-centric threats, I hope the Supergirl writing team can recapture the elements that made the previous few episodes so enjoyable. Oh, and just what is going on with that woman in Maxwell Lord’s secret laboratory – could he be designing his own version of Supergirl using left-over Red Tornado technology?


Score - 8.2 out of 10

Next Episode - "Childish Things"
Kara does her best to support Winn when he hears that his father Winslow Schott Sr. breaks out of prison. Cat offers Lucy a job working at CatCo and Alex asks Hank to use his powers to find out and uncover Maxwell Lord's plans.

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