Friday, 22 January 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x10 - "Childish Things"

Supergirl
Episode 1x10 - "Childish Things"

Synopsis

Winn’s life is shaken to the core when his father (the super-villain known as Toyman) escapes from a high-security prison in the hopes to re-connect with his son and turn him over to the dark-side. Meanwhile, Alex and Hank work together to infiltrate Lord Technologies and discover what he is hiding behind locked doors.

Review

After an uneven return after the Christmas break, this tenth episode of Supergirl reached new heights for the series with a brilliant central storyline revolving around hapless side-kick, Winn, developing the character away from the one-note “best friend in love” persona he’d been stuck with from the beginning. It’s great to see Jeremy Jordan given some meatier storylines, rather than looking longingly at Kara – although he does manage to squeeze some of that in too! As with Kara’s emotional outburst over her 'mother issues' in "Hostile Takeover", this episode sees Winn unleash his buried feelings about his father, resulting in a surprising kiss and attempt to sneak out of the friend zone, although judging from Kara’s awkwardness at the end of the episode; she isn’t prepared to let things change just yet. I do like that the show is beginning to push its actors to their limits, generating some emotionally-charged scenes. Benoist and Jordan have some great chemistry, and have proven themselves to be strong actors, compared to Mehcad Brook’s Jimmy Olsen who just hasn’t really had the opportunity to stand out, and seems to be on the show to look attractive.

I really enjoyed the Toyman storyline, which was surprisingly low-key compared to some of the grander threats to National City in the past ten episodes. Quite rightly, the writers were focused on the emotional consequences of Winslow Schott Sr’s escape and its impact on Winn, rather than organizing another dramatic set-piece, although I quite liked seeing Supergirl stuck in the quicksand when she attempted to confront Toyman in his hideout. The way that Toyman constantly referred to Winn as his “greatest creation”, for one moment, I actually thought that we’d get a shock reveal that Winn was actually some kind of artificial intelligence or ‘ultimate toy’ that had been designed by his father. That certainly would have been a shocker… although the episode did manage to pull the rug out from under me and my girlfriend later on when we both audibly gasped at the reveal that Maxwell Lord had planted a bug on Alex, which led to the reveal of her secret identity. This has to be the best cliff-hanger that the series has managed yet, and promises to be more of a game-changer than the bait-and-switch we had with Cat Grant in “Blood Bonds”.


Ever since the reveal that Hank Henshaw was actually Martian Manhunter in disguise, I’ve found myself enjoying the DEO scenes and appreciating the character more. The opening sequence which saw J’onn J’onzz giving Supergirl some flying lessons provided some great visuals, and I love the fact that J’onzz is beginning to use his powers more to assist Kara and Alex. With his shape-shifting abilities, he was the perfect candidate to sneak into Maxwell Lord’s facility and find out what was going on behind locked doors. It also gave us the opportunity to discover another of his powers – his memory wipe – which not only wipes out short-term memory but appears to butcher the victim’s memory in multiple places. Given the way that Henshaw reacts to being forced to reuse his abilities, I suspect that he has used them before reluctantly, possibly wiping the memories of the real Hank Henshaw and Alex’s father, Jeremiah Danvers. I find it hard to believe both characters were killed off, and it would explain their absence if they’re both memory-wiped somewhere. I mean, you don’t hire Dean Cain to just make two cameo appearances with less than a dozen lines – clearly, we will see more of his character – either in flashback or current day form.

This was easily the best episode of the series so far, developing both the series’ main characters and advancing the central mythology story-arc in a satisfactory manner. While some of the plot holes from “Hostile Takeover” and “Blood Bonds” remain, the series has introduced a great mystery with the Jane Doe in Lord’s laboratories and willingly shaken up the status-quo by having Supergirl’s greatest enemy learn her true identity. This episode feels like the Supergirl writers are planning beyond their inaugural season, dropping hints at a longer story-arc with Winn and his potential dark side, and setting Maxwell Lord up to be a viable threat against Supergirl and the DEO. Despite a few wobbly episodes at the beginning, Supergirl is fast becoming a series that I look forward to watching every week, and one that I am glad I took the chance on. I just hope the writers maintain this winning formula of superheroics and character development, and shy away from the clich├ęd relationship melodrama that soured those initial episodes.


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Next Episode - "Strange Visitor from Another Planet"
Kara helps Hank face his painful past when a White Martian, who wiped out all of the Green Martians from Mars, kidnaps Senator Miranda Crane who is an anti-alien politician. Meanwhile, Adam Foster (Cat Grant's estranged first-born son) arrives in National City.

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