Friday, 18 March 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x16 - "Falling"

Episode 1x16 - "Falling"


When Kara comes across some red kryptonite, she finds her behaviour altered and becomes more aggressive and irrational towards her friends and family. Quickly becoming Public Enemy Number One of National City, it isn't long before the DEO are summoned to apprehend the threat formerly known as Supergirl.


Supergirl continues to touch upon key elements of the Superman mythology with the introduction of Red Kryptonite in this episode, a man-made substance which alters the mind-set of nearby Kryptonians and effectively turns them evil. A common occurrence in Superman stories, particularly Smallville, making use of Red Kryptonite allows the series to play with Supergirl's morality and further complicate her relationships with her friends and family. With all of her pent-up frustrations involving Jimmy Olsen and her aunt's murder, Kara was certainly ripe with repressed emotions which spiralled out of control once she was infected by the Red Kryptonite. It was great to see Melissa Benoist showcase yet another side to Kara's personality, removing the carefully cultivated “goodie two-shoes” identity and showcasing a sexier, more rebellious attitude instead. What really stood out was how Benoist distinguished this iteration of Supergirl from the other alternate versions she's played over the past few episodes – this “evil Supergirl” didn't seem like a revisitation of Bizarro-Supergirl, and her scenes as a bitchy and aggressive Kara were totally unlike her scenes as J'onn-Supergirl. It was a surprisingly nuanced performance and really carried the episode.

There was something fascinating about watching Supergirl sabotaging her own personal and public life, ruining her reputation as both Kara Danvers and Supergirl. I do enjoy these “fall from grace” storylines and with its Red Kryptonite plot device, the Superman universe does this really well. There have been countless episodes of Smallville showcasing Clark Kent turning evil upon exposure to the red substance, and even Superman III involves a similar plot-line, culminating in that iconic fight in the junk-yard against both sides of his personality. Stepping outside of the Superman mythos for a moment, even Spider-Man 3 featured a similar tale of corruption and darkness with the Venom symbiote exaggerating Peter Parker's dark side. Sure, it's a well-worn comic book trope, but Supergirl did a tremendous job at bringing it to life here and it felt like the consequences of her actions will be felt a long time after this episode, especially for the Martian Manhunter, who was forced to reveal himself in the episode's jaw-droppingly awesome conclusion.

There was a cinematic feel to this episode, possibly because it evoked memories of both Superman III and Spider-Man 3 as it tore down all of the hard work that Supergirl had put into her super-human identity. I wasn't sure how far the writers were going to go, and I have to admit I was in open-mouthed shock when Supergirl tossed Cat Grant off of the building. Sure, they made up towards the end, but it was quite a dramatic moment between the pair of 'friends'. As much as I enjoyed Supergirl's descent into becoming Public Enemy No. 1, there were some gaps in logic in the story – unfortunately, not a rare occurrence for Supergirl. For example, I'm not sure why J'onn found himself imprisoned at the end of the episode, considering that he subdued Supergirl, who was the real threat, and that there's no crime against hiding his true identity. It felt like the plot necessitated Hank being locked-up and distrusted, rather than it being a logical decision. I mean, technically, both Kara and Hank would be in a cell together, but because her name is on the title credits, she gets to go free. I'm guessing the fact Hank/J'onn looks like an ugly green alien might be why he is treated differently to the blonde american 'sweetheart', but the writers never make that distinction on-screen.

This was easily the strongest episode of the series thus far, and that's mainly down to the fearless manner in which the show's writers tore down massive chunks of the series' status-quo, in order to rebuild them back up. I loved the destructive element of this episode and seeing Melissa Benoist once again bring her best to the role. It was great to see all areas of Kara's life touched by the Red Kryptonite, including her relationships with both Winn and Jimmy. I suspect her involvement in Siobhan Smythe's dismissal will no doubt lead towards her becoming the Silver Banshee from the comics, mirroring the same journey seen from Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3. There is no doubt whatsoever that this series has hit its stride, delivering episodes such as this one, which kept me enthralled from the opening scene until its blockbuster conclusion. It was immensely satisfying to see this “car-crash” of an episode and I hope this is the first of many “standout episodes” to come, especially considering the upcoming Supergirl / The Flash crossover is on the horizon.

Score - 9.8 out of 10

Next Episode - "Manhunter"
J'onn J'onzz finally reveals how he met Jeremiah Danvers and assumed the identity of Hank Henshaw.

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