Friday, 25 March 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x17 - "Manhunter"

Episode 1x17 - "Manhunter"


With Hank Henshaw’s secret identity revealed, external forces are brought in to judge whether J’onn Jonzz is a threat to the Earth and whether he murdered the real Hank Henshaw and Jeremiah Danvers. Meanwhile, Siobhan Smythe plots revenge on Kara after losing her job at CatCo.


While Supergirl has dabbled with flashbacks in the past, most of them revolving around Kara and her childhood on Krypton, this episode was driven by its multiple flashbacks into the series’ past. Interestingly, the flashbacks were centred on characters other than Kara, providing insight into the “secret origins” of J’onn Jonzz, Hank Henshaw (the real one!) and the Danvers family. To be honest, most of the flashbacks offered nothing new to viewers, merely portraying events on-screen that had been described through dialogue. While it was interesting to see the confrontation between Hank, J’onn and Jeremiah play out, it didn’t actually offer anything new. The same was true for the early interactions between Alex and J’onn, Kara and Winn; and Kara and Cat Grant – sure, it was fun seeing revisiting the first encounters between these characters after getting to know them over the past season, but it kind of stunk like filler at times, which is a shame given the strength of the previous episode.

Okay, so while the flashbacks weren’t as revealing as I’d have liked, this episode of Supergirl still provided plenty of changes to the series’ status-quo as both J’onn and Alex were forced to quit the DEO and go on the run together or face criminal charges. Given that these two characters form a huge part of Supergirl’s life, it is interesting to see how the show’s dynamic will change without them – I’m not entirely sure that Lucy Lane is a suitable replacement for the pair as the new head of the DEO, although I must admit that I was shocked that Kara revealed her true identity to her love rival. I bet that decision is going to come back to bite her in the ass! Obviously, J’onn and Alex won’t be away from the series for long and will no doubt be back in time to help Kara take on Non in the Season One finale, or kick-start the mythology of the second season. Clearly, the show’s writers intend to build up more mystery around Jeremiah Danvers’ “surprise” resurrection and I can’t see them rushing this into the next three episodes.

There was a surprising amount of content in this episode squeezed in-between the slower-paced flashbacks, with Kara struggling to deal with the aftermath of her Red Kryptonite fuelled rampage. While CatCo is quick to explain that she was under the effect of mind-altering drugs, she is still viewed with suspicion and fear, echoing her cousin’s current situation in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Ultimately, the episode didn’t get a chance to focus too heavily on this plot point, but hopefully the writers will continue to position Supergirl in this uncertain role, rather than quickly reverting back to her being National City’s ‘national treasure’. Not content to sit on its laurels, the show continues to demonstrate a brave willingness to shake its status-quo to the core. After Jimmy failed to reveal Kara’s identity to Lucy in “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, I figured that sub-plot was over, but the writers bring it back here to great effect, finally adding some depth and relevance to the Jimmy/Lucy/Kara love triangle. While it seemed the road for clear for James and Kara to hook up, it has been further complicated by the fact Lucy is now the head of the DEO and knows Kara is Supergirl. Awkward!

While this episode was slightly uneven in terms of pacing, it was another example of how well this series has evolved from its pilot episode. Even though the flashbacks were largely confirmation of things we already knew about the characters, it was fun to see the supporting characters interacting before the events of the pilot episode. Two particular highlights for me was seeing a long-haired party animal version of Alex Danvers before she was drafted into the DEO by J’onn, or watching Kara interview for her job at CatCo. While they weren't revelatory by any means, it provided some nice character moments and fleshed out their backstories a bit more. Ironically the present-day events were filled with far more revelations with the shocking plot twists involve Jeremiah Danvers and the reveal that Siobhan Smythe has super-screaming-powers. The synopsis for next episode not only promises the long-awaited Supergirl / The Flash cross-over but also the return of Livewire, and given both she and Siobhan have a grudge against CatCo, it looks like it might be a Cat Grant-centric episode, which is great as I feel like CatCo has taken a backseat recently to the events at the DEO. With only three episodes left of Season One, I am predicting a strong finish for Supergirl, which will hopefully cement its renewal for a second season!

Score - 9.2 out of 10

Next Episode - "Worlds Finest"
Kara gains a new ally when the Flash arrives from an alternate universe and helps her fight the Silver Banshee and Livewire in exchange for helping him return home.

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