Showing posts with label Supergirl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supergirl. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Review - Supergirl: 2x10 - "We Can Be Heroes"

Supergirl
Episode 2x10 - "We Can Be Heroes"

Synopsis

When Livewire escapes prison, Supergirl enlists superhero-in-training Mon-El to help out but it proves to be a mistake when citizens get injured in the process. Meanwhile, when M’Ghan is victim of a psychic attack, only J’onn is able to save her, but does he want to?

Review

As one might surmise from its inspirational title, the focus of this episode was on heroism and what it is that makes someone a hero. There was a lovely bit of synchronicity throughout the heart of this episode with Mon-El, Guardian and M’Ghan’s storylines revolving around their identities of heroes, with each plot thread focusing on a different aspect of heroism. Mon-El was presented as a ‘selfish hero’, only embracing the title because he wanted to impress Kara and frankly, he had nothing else going for him. Sure, he has all the power but he also has none of the responsibility, and that makes him a reckless and flawed hero. On the flip-side, Guardian has no power and too much responsibility, making him equally as reckless and flawed but at the other end of the spectrum. It’s easy to see why Kara grew frustrated with the pair of them as they attempted to follow in her footsteps. The story-arc with M’Ghan was different, and was more about J’onn accepting her as a hero and not the villain he’d condemned her as. Even Livewire had a brief moment of redemption at the end of her journey, further strengthening the episode’s theme.

Kara’s discovery that James is the Guardian was played out as expected, with the female Kryptonian disapproving of her human friend’s attempts at playing hero. I have to admit that I agree with her as James Olsen has no real fighting skills and is largely reliant on Winn’s suit on keeping him alive. That said, this story-arc is the best thing to happen to the character and makes him much more interesting that the eye-candy and love interest role he inhabited during Season One. Part of me wonders if we’ll get a Batman vs Superman-esque confrontation between the two at the end of this season. Guardian certainly looks like the armoured version of Batman from that movie, so it could be possible that he has to fight against a possessed Supergirl at some point. It’s still not clear what the eventual endgame behind Olsen’s decision will be – given the doom-laden predictions from Supergirl in this episode, I suspect that some kind of tragedy lies ahead for the Guardian.


While some may consider him unnecessarily goofy, I find Chris Woods’ Mon-El to be one of the strongest additions to Supergirl since the start of Season Two. Having recently landed on the planet, he provides that “alien adapting to Earth” humour that Kara lacks after being raised on the planet for twelve years. I really enjoy seeing him attempt to fit in with Earth’s conventions and his awkward one-liners and greediness. The chemistry between him and Melissa Benoist is spot-on too, eclipsing the rather weak love interests that were seen in Season One. This episode focuses on his inability to put others before himself, or Kara, and it fits in line with his established personality perfectly. Given the hints from previous episodes that Mon-El may actually be the surviving prince of Daxam, it seems logical that he would be born of privilege and it adds an extra slice of motivation behind his selfish behaviour. Mon-El’s journey to becoming a true hero seems to be the main throughline of this season, and I suspect that we may see more ‘roadblocks’ when he eventually clashes with his mysterious pursuers.

Despite the fact she saved his life, it isn’t until he goes into her mind and actually listens to her story that J’onn forgives M’Ghan for being a White Martian. I quite liked the friendship that was developing between the pair before she revealed her true identity, and I’m glad that the writers have restored the status quo and put the Martians on the same side again. Of course, the threat of White Martian invasion doesn’t mean that the relationship is going to last and I wonder whether J’onn might lose another friend to the White Martians. David Harewood is one of the strongest actors in the show and seeing him incredulous with rage in one scene and full of empathy in another just demonstrates the level of range he has. Even Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen) managed to put in a half-decent performance when talking with Kara about his desire to be a hero. I’m still not a massive fan of the character, but I appreciate the fact that they are moving him into a new direction.

One thing that Supergirl does well is uniting its separate plot threads under one over-arching theme, and this episode was a wonderful example of that. With the skill and grace of a ballerina, the writers co-ordinated the various storylines together to converge and benefit each other. The reappearance of Livewire was an added treat, and even though she was featured in a reduced role, it was great to see the series establish her as both an arch-nemesis for Kara, and a potential ally one day in the future.


Score - 9.3 out of 10

Next Episode - "The Martian Chronicles"
A White Martian called Armek comes to National City with the intention of bringing M'gann back to Mars to be punished for her treason.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Review - Supergirl: 2x09 - "Supergirl Lives"

Supergirl
Episode 2x09 - "Supergirl Lives"

Synopsis

Stuck in a rut, Supergirl searches for job satisfaction when she comes across a missing person case – although she doesn’t realise the full interplanetary ramifications of the situation. Meanwhile, Winn suffers a crisis of confidence when he is almost killed helping the Guardian.

Review

After directing two episodes of The Flash, Kevin Smith makes his directorial debut on Supergirl with this eventful mid-season premiere episode. Smith certainly brings a cinematic flair to the series, aided by the decision to transport Kara and Mon-El onto a different planet for the first time in the series. As a long-time fan of Smith, I was surprised at how different this episode felt compared to his cinematic work and how consistent it was to the series’ existing tone. Known more for his dialogue-driven movies, Smith managed to maintain the action quotient with some wonderful set-pieces, such as the Rocket Launcher-powered car chase at the beginning. That said, he also handled the character moments brilliantly, especially the scenes between Maggie and Alex - it was great fun to see a different side to DEO agent as she acted love-struck and in awe of her new girlfriend. The whole cast were on-point throughout this episode, no doubt super-charged by the presence of their guest-director.

In a marked contrast to the weak romantic sub-plots of Season One, this episode focused on the Danvers sisters’ relationships to great success. I loved the little moments of intimacy between Alex and Maggie after their first night together; and then later on, between Kara and Mon-El as they snuggled under the sofa blanket. I find myself rooting for both couples to succeed far more now, than I ever did with Kara and James – in fact, I used to actively hope they would fail – and it worked! While there was plenty of ground to cover in this inter-planetary adventure, Smith ensured that the episode never felt crammed and there was a strong ‘cause and effect’ to all of the various character arcs. My only nitpick would be how quickly Winn swung from being petrified of dying in the line of duty to being gung-ho about busting crime. Surely almost dying alone at the hands of an alien on a different planet should have exacerbated his fear of a premature death.


The episode also saw the guest appearance of Harley Quinn Smith, who played Izzy Williams – the girl whose disappearance sparked Supergirl’s involvement in the case. I was initially worried that it would be a case of “nepotism gone wrong”, but Smith made the most of her limited screen time, demonstrating herself to be a capable actor. She didn’t distract from the core cast and complemented them nicely during some of the more emotional sequences. Another standout guest appearance for me was the evil Maaldorian doctor who was responsible for luring the victims to the Slaver’s Moon. Played by James Urbaniak, he had that archetypal evil scientist look and I was a bit disappointed when he got executed at the end. He was far more watchable than the true architect of this scheme, the two-dimensional Roulette, who escaped captivity to plague Supergirl again in the future.

While “Supergirl Lives” served as a perfect entry-point to any new viewers that were following the character from last year's multi-series “Invasion” crossover, it also dealt with some of the recurring plot threads from the season – namely Mon-El and his secret. Aside from wearing a sign that read “I am the Prince”, he couldn’t make it any more obvious to the audience that he was actually really the Prince of Daxam, and his tale of escape had been complete fiction. With two mysterious aliens on the hunt for him, it seems like Mon-El’s true identity will be exposed in the near future and I wonder how that will impact his burgeoning relationship with Kara. Clearly there is some kind of bounty on the Prince’s head, so his existence on Earth may bring forth some unwanted attention.

Figuratively and literally, this episode was out of this world as it condensed the plot of a feature-length film into half the time, and with a fraction of the budget. I loved the journey to another planet, and I hope that is something that Supergirl continues to experiment with in future episodes, especially since there has been a much heavier focus on other alien races during this season. Based on his work on this gem of an episode, Kevin Smith has definitely found himself at home with Supergirl and the Arrowverse, and I look forward to seeing him return to guest-direct more episodes.


Score - 9.5 out of 10

Next Episode - "We Can Be Heroes"
After Livewire seemingly breaks out of prison, Supergirl is intent on recapturing her. After training Mon-El, Supergirl takes him with her when she sees Livewire attack the NCPD but things go awry when Mon-El puts Supergirl before the citizens of National City. Meanwhile, James decides to come clean with Kara, and M’Gann has a psychic attack and collapses into a coma.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x08 - "Medusa"

Supergirl
Episode 2x08 - "Medusa"

Synopsis

The threat of Cadmus re-emerges as Lillian Luthor launches her latest plan – a deadly airborne virus that only affects aliens. With Mon-El in critical condition and J’onn slowly becoming a White Martian, Supergirl is forced to turn to Lena Luthor for helping in taking down her mother’s organisation.

Review

Rather surprisingly, this mid-season finale wraps up most of the ongoing plot threads established in these initial eight episodes of Season Two, with Cadmus seemingly defeated and the Martian Manhunter’s “affliction” cured before he could transform fully into a White Martian. I was fully expecting Cadmus to be an omnipresent threat throughout the entire season in the same way that Astra, Non and their Kryptonian army were in Season One, but it seems that they’ve been shut down already with the arrest of Lillian Luthor. Despite wrapping up its ongoing storylines, the episode did drop some hints about future events for the remainder of the season with a brief interlude that featured two mysterious aliens who were searching for Mon-El. Presumably this is related to his attempted confession in “The Darkest Place”, where he tried to tell Kara something important about Daxam but was interrupted before he could finish. While it was refreshing to see Cadmus defeated so quickly, it did feel slightly rushed – especially the Martian Manhunter’s sudden cure – and I hope that we will still see the after-effects of Cadmus’ defeat play out in the remaining episodes since the real Hank Henshaw is on the loose and Jeremiah Danvers is still missing.

One of the central aspects of this episode was the burgeoning relationship between Mon-El and Kara, and I have to admit that the pair have a lot more chemistry than Kara ever did with Winn, James or Cat Grant's grown-up son. Chris Wood does a great job at portraying the  charismatic Mon-El and I find myself rooting for the two characters to finally hook up. This romantic sub-plot, along with Alex and Maggie, demonstrates the vast improvements that Supergirl has made in its soap-opera elements compared to its debut season. There's a maturity to the love stories being told in the series now, and the show seems to have a much better understanding of its supporting characters – especially James and Winn. I'm really fond of the current ensemble and how the show is beginning to show a wider focus on developing its entire cast, rather than being the 'Cat Grant and Kara' show.


After delving into her mother and aunt's chequered pasts on Krypton, this episode focused on Kara's father – Zor-El, a scientist responsible for developing a deadly weapon that would kill any alien apart from Kryptonian. Poor Kara seems to have really bad luck with her family tree, and its interesting to see her attempt to come to terms with the crimes committed by her birth parents. I liked the comparisons between Kara and Lena Luthor, both good people attempting to fix the mistakes made by their parents and I am glad the writers avoided making Lena “break bad” and turn evil as it would have been far too predictable and a waste of a character. Having Kara working alongside Lena Luthor to help aliens on Earth is a great plot development and subverts my expectations of where the writers were going to take Lena's character.

Peppered throughout the episode were appearances of the rift in time and space which culminated in an appearance from The Flash and Cisco. Unfortunately, I don't watch The Flash – despite his brilliant cameo appearance in last year's “Worlds Finest” - and so I won't be following the upcoming four-way crossover into the rest of the Arrowverse in the near future. Luckily, it seems like it'll be relatively self-contained for Supergirl fans with most of the storyline taking place in the other three shows. When the series returns next year with the Kevin Smith directed “Supergirl Lives”, it should pick up from where the series left off without leaving single-series viewers like myself in the dark. This was a great, albeit oddly paced mid-season finale that perhaps fumbled some of the more emotional pay-offs to its established storylines in an effort to clear the deck for the back-half of Season Two. I'm intrigued to see what the writers have left in store for Kara and her friends – presumably the aliens hunting Mon-El and James' turn as the Guardian will be the main focus, but hopefully we will also see Hank Henshaw's Cyborg-Superman take over Cadmus in Lillian Luthor's absence, ensuring that plot point isn't lost completely during the hiatus.


Score - 9.5 out of 10

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x07 - "The Darkest Place"

Supergirl
Episode 2x07 - "The Darkest Place"

Synopsis

Kidnapped and depowered by Cadmus, Mon-El and Kara must rely on each other for help in order to escape from their dire fate. J’onn experiences curious side-effects from his recent blood transfusion that leads him to discover a terrible truth about M’Ghan. Meanwhile, a rival vigilante with a thirst for blood is causing problems for James Olsen in his Guardian identity.

Review

Things took a dark turn with this appropriately-named episode of Supergirl as Cadmus made its presence known by kidnapping both Mon-El and Kara. With Supergirl depowered and Mon-El suffering from lead poisoning after a gunshot to the leg, things looked genuinely bleak for the pair of heroes and it was difficult to see Kara in such a vulnerable position. The setting of an abandoned warehouse, riddled with dank corridors and makeshift cell-blocks was suitably grim and really contributed to the downbeat tone of this episode. It was also interesting to see the real Hank Henshaw make an appearance as the Cyborg Superman – finally realising the character’s comic book destiny after the Season One misdirect with J’onn Jonzz. It’s interesting to see David Harewood tackling the dual sides of the character – putting a subtle inflection on the anger as both versions of Henshaw leapt into battle this episode. I do wonder whether the reappearance of Henshaw will lead to J’onn adopting a new identity with Harewood becoming Cyborg Superman full-time. Hopefully this isn’t the case as I like his stern, yet lovable take on the Martian Manhunter and his human identity.

The revelation that his White Martian blood transfusion was effectively changing him into a White Martian himself provided further evidence that we might be saying goodbye to David Harewood in his Martian Manhunter form. Understandably, he was a bit pissed off that his only connection to his people was a fraud and not only that, but she’d infected him with a virus that would strip him of his very identity. With so much of J’onn’s character rooted in his identity as the last Green Martian alive, taking this from him would be a devastating blow and I have no idea how he will react, especially if he also gains the White Martian’s temperament.


With the increased focus on The Guardian and his vigilantism on the streets of National City, there was a nice grounded-feel to the episode’s action sequences that felt reminiscent of the Batman franchise. In fact, the whole episode felt reinvigorated with a frenetic energy that extended beyond the gritty, street-level superheroics – the opening conversation at the alien bar had the camera moving around the cast in a 360-degrees circle, and several other scenes had a more handheld camera style. It was an interesting cinematic technique and one that definitely brought the audience closer to events.

While this episode was a slight departure in tone for the series, enhanced by the inclusion of fresh camera techniques, it demonstrated that Supergirl is capable of focusing on the darker elements of the DC Universe. Ultimately, I prefer the series to be the more light-hearted and optimistic heart of the DCEU as too many comic-book adaptations rush towards being grim and gritty nowadays. After all, most of what makes the Marvel movies so successful is their humour and relatively even-toned content. Even Captain America: Civil War, which was arguably the darkest installment yet, had bright elements and humour throughout. I enjoy Supergirl because it is more positive than its competitors and I hope that it doesn’t lose any of that upbeat persona in its transition into The CW’s Arrowverse. With one episode left until the mid-season break, it seems that Supergirl is prepping towards another ‘Project Myriad’-style Armageddon as Hank Henshaw activated the Medusa protocol in the Fortress of Solitude. I’m really enjoying the mix of different storylines and it truly feels like Supergirl has settled into its groove and become a truly ensemble show by giving all of its cast members some purpose and story development, especially when compared to the Kara-centric Season One. There isn’t really a weak link in this chain anymore – all of the characters are pulling their own weight and the various storylines are coalescing to produce a strong and consistent core narrative.


Score - 9.6 out of 10

Next Episode - "Medusa"
As Eliza comes to National City for Thanksgiving, Kara turns to Lena for help when Cadmus unleashes a virus that instantly kills aliens, then is asked by Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon for help with an alien invasion on their Earth.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x06 - "Changing"

Supergirl
Episode 2x06 - "Changing"

Synopsis

When a deadly alien parasite puts both Supergirl and Martian Manhunter out of action, who is left to protect National City from its latest threat. Meanwhile, Alex struggles with the new changes occurring in her personal life.

Review

One of the weaker elements of Supergirl’s first season was the series’ attempts to engineer a love story between Kara and James, placing her friend Winn and James’ ex-girlfriend Lucy as obstacles in the way of ‘true love’. At times the show felt like Ally McBeal but with super-powers, which is ironic considering Calista Flockhart’s presence as Cat Grant. The chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Mehcad Brooks just wasn’t there and as a result there was no emotional undercurrent to the relationship. Realising this, the writers quickly put an end to this plot thread early on in Season Two, allowing the characters to develop in different directions. Wisely moving away from saddling Kara with another overt love interest, although Mon-El seems to be a possibility, the writers have focused on Alex Danvers and developed her character beyond the faithful sister and devoted daughter into something far more three-dimensional. The scene where she came out as gay to her sister was impeccably acted by both Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist and for a show that features alien parasites and shape-shifters, it was surprisingly real and grounded. The raw emotion in the acting when Alex was rejected by Maggie was 100% more realistic and affecting than any of the silly love triangle nonsense from the first season and it seems like Supergirl has finally worked out how to get under its audience’s skin. I won’t lie – I did get a little red-eyed watching Alex break down in front of her sister…

Stepping away from Cadmus and human-alien relations for an episode, “Changing” was focused on the development of its supporting characters and the central threat of the episode was almost inconsequential and just a way to clear the stage for both Mon-El and The Guardian to step up to the plate to protect National City. Despite the reduced focus on Supergirl, Melissa Benoist had some great moments – from her first time drunk to her supportive attitude towards her sister.  Even James Olsen, a character I’ve openly disliked from his introduction, showed some promise as he evolved into his new superhero identity. Sure, his voice was a little hard to understand at times and he was effectively ‘Batman on a Bike’ but it was great to see the character being utilised in different ways and seeing the friendship between him and Winn which was gradually built up over Season One turning into a proper partnership. Keeping his secret from Kara is a nice touch and I like the addition dramatic tension that will result from this decision, especially if Guardian straddles the line between hero and vigilante.


For once, the action sequences were not the most impressive element of an episode as I found myself gripped by the emotional whirlwind that was happening to Alex. I applaud the writers for not having Alex and Maggie fall straight into a relationship and making her coming out into a much more realistic affair. Clearly, Chyler Leigh can handle the added emotional weight that this storyline requires and her scenes with Melissa Benoist were absolutely dynamite. Part of me was worried the writers would use this revelation to drive a wedge between the two Danvers sisters, but I needn’t have been concerned as the writers hit the right tone between the pair, further strengthening the sisterly relationship that they share. I suspect that Maggie Sawyer will eventually succumb to Alex’s charms, but that initial rejection was so well-acted that I’m sure it resonated with anyone who had been rejected by someone they loved.

While Alex, James and Mon-El went through the biggest and most overt ‘changes’ during this aptly-named episode, there was a more subtle change hinted at with the Martian Manhunter. Having received a blood transfusion from M’Ghan – it seems like her White Martian blood might be having some adverse effect with J’onn. Given the more barbaric nature of the White Martian, I suspect that J’onn may start experiencing some anger issues of his own in the near future – but who knows who far these changes may go. With Mon-El getting abducted by Project Cadmus, it seems likely that he might also be turned into an enemy against Kara – which will put a stop to any potential romance plans between the pair, although personally I think she should follow her sister's lead and start dating Lena Luthor! There are plenty of storylines waiting to be developed further as this second season of Supergirl continues to go from strength to strength – I’d even go as far to say that this might be the best episode yet as the series finally developed a genuinely effective love story between two of its characters that was strong enough to put the more action-led sequences on the back-burner.


Score - 9.8 out of 10

Next Episode - "The Darkest Place"
Supergirl comes face-to-face with Cyborg Superman when she attempts to save Mon-El from Cadmus.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x05 - "Crossfire"

Supergirl
Episode 2x05 - "Crossfire"

Synopsis

Project Cadmus continues to sow discontent for aliens amongst National City by providing alien weaponry to a gang of bank robbers. Meanwhile, Supergirl struggles to integrate Mon-El into her civilian life whilst both Alex and James suffer from an identity crisis.

Review

The questioning of one’s identity and purpose was the unifying theme of this episode of Supergirl and the series’ writers managed to do a fantastic job at aligning the various sub-plots to highlight this particular subject. Narrowly avoiding clich├ęs or overwrought dramatics, the writers managed to weave a seamless narrative tapestry that saw many of its supporting characters going through the same emotional journey of self-development. First and foremost, we have Mon-El struggling to fit into Earth society and the “Mike Matthews” identity which Kara has created for him – while this was played mainly for laughs, it served as a primary focus for this central theme of self-identity as the character literally had a blank slate to create himself from. While the character is clearly developing into a love interest for Kara – something both Winn and James notice immediately – there is definitely more chemistry between the two characters than any of her previous love interests. Melissa Benoist is at her cutest here, filled with enthusiasm for her new mentor role as she preps Mon-El for his first day as ‘Mike of the Interns’. The humour is pitch-perfect throughout this sub-plot and I love Chris Woods’ ‘fish out of water’ persona as he attempts to fit in with the CatCo workers.

I’ve been quite vocal about the pointlessness of the James Olsen character since his introduction in Season One, especially when he was reduced to an ineffectual love interest. Aside from an unexpected promotion to the head of CatCo a few episodes ago, the character had little impact on Season Two thus far, but this episode finally re-calibrates the character and makes him more interesting by removing his dependency on Superman and Supergirl and allowing him to become a hero in his own right. I quite liked the way the series addressed Olsen’s predisposition towards becoming a sidekick and how little his contributions matter when compared to Kara, Alex and even, Winn. With Winn moving to the DEO and actually helping out, it has left Olsen on the back-benches and so this development makes total sense from the character’s perspective. Presumably, James will be hiding his identity from his super-powered friends, causing even more drama and tension. By introducing this new sub-plot, the writers have reinvigorated the frankly dull character of James Olsen and I look forward to seeing where his vigilante crusade takes him.


After plenty of hints across the past few episodes, we finally see Alex admit that she is unsure about her sexuality and is attracted to Maggie Sawyer. This is a great development for the character, humanising her and giving her a life outside the DEO and her sister. While I did like the idea of her forming a relationship with quasi-villain Maxwell Lord – it seems that the show has completely forgotten he exists in favour of Lena Luthor. Chyler Leigh does a great job at portraying Alex as she re-evaluates her life, and the moment where she attempts to come out to Maggie is wonderfully realistic and even though she fails to say the words, it is clear what her intention is. Hopefully, The CW will treat this relationship with respect and avoid some of the usual science-fiction tropes of killing off one of the characters to cause drama. I might be wrong but I’m also picking up some vibes between Kara and Lena too, and I wonder if her sister’s inevitable confession will lead to Kara questioning her sexuality too. I hope the writers don’t use Alex’s ‘coming out’ to cause a rift between the two Danvers sisters, as Kara quickly forgave her for killing her aunt, so if she can’t get over her sexuality, it will be something of a double-standard.

With impeccable symmetry between its storylines and a strong emotional core, this was the best episode of Season Two so far. The action sequences have become so much more dynamic and fast-paced compared to Season One and the script-writing seems to have gotten tighter and more thematic in style. Sure, we’ve lost Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant and Peter Facinelli’s Maxwell Lord, but the series seems to be far more confident and rooted deeper in Superman mythos than ever before. This season’s focus on Project Cadmus’ attempts to fuel prejudices between human and aliens is extremely relevant in this current political climate, and while the series may have jumped the gun with its vision of a Clinton-esque future, its themes regarding immigration and racial conflict remain just as important as ever before. It’s a genuine pleasure to watch this series spread its wings and grow during its second season, developing into a much stronger TV show and providing its characters with engaging and challenging sub-plots that offer more depth than ever before.


Score - 9.6 out of 10

Next Episode - "Changing"
The Guardian arrives to lend a hand when an alien parasite drains Supergirl of her power. Mon-El contemplates his motives when he considers a new career, and Alex faces a new reality.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x04 - "Survivors"

Supergirl
Episode 2x04 - "Survivors"

Synopsis

Supergirl and the DEO discover an underground alien fight club operating in National City, pitting aliens against each other to entertain the elite. Meanwhile, J’onn Jonnz attempts to connect with his fellow Martian survivor unaware that she is hiding plenty of secrets from him.

Review

One of the most prevalent themes of this second season of Supergirl is the animosity and distrust that humans have towards the aliens living on Earth, treating the outer-space refugees as second-class citizens or animals. While this was glimpsed briefly during the end of Season One with the way that J'onn Jonnz was treated once his true identity was revealed, it has developed into a more widespread threat with Project Cadmus positioned as an alien hate group. This episode delved further into the anti-alien sentiment with the introduction of an Alien Fight Club, which saw wealthy human businessmen paying top dollar to watch two alien species beat the crap out of each other. On its own, it would have been a relatively interesting story-arc, but then the writers revealed one of the willing participants to be Miss Martian, the sole surviving female Green Martian from Mars. It's a great twist, and one that really ensured that the relationship between M'gann and J'onn was enthralling to watch on-screen. David Harewood's take on Hank Henshaw / Martian Manhunter has been one of the best things about Supergirl, and it's always great when the show's writers take the time to develop the character and explore his motivations.

J'onn and his survivor's guilt was one of the most powerful story-arcs to come out of Supergirl's initial season, and its great to see the plot revisited in a different way. While it was initially heartwarming to see J'onn meet with a female equivalent, the writers continually pulled happiness away from him – firstly, by revealing her to be an Alien Fight Club enthusiast and then secondly, revealing her to be a White Martian in disguise. Clearly, M'gann is the kind White Martian she referenced in her 'origin story' but given the universe's natural hatred of the brutal alien race, it makes sense she would hide her real identity. Given J'onn's fierce temper and his own prejudices towards White Martians, I imagine he won't be too pleased when M'Gann reveals her true identity. Still, I love the concept of an alien posing as another alien who then poses as a human – it's like having a secret identity within a secret identity. Despite only meeting at the tail-end of the previous episode, the writers did a fantastic job at setting up their relationship and unique bond as Mars survivors, and I am completely invested in what happens between the pair of them in future episodes.


After three episodes focused on Kara and her new role as reporter, it was great to see some more time spent on the series' supporting cast. While James Olsen attempted his best Cat Grant impersonation, Winn got the opportunity to buddy-up with Mon-El in some rather amusing sequences. I really liked the natural friendship that formed between the two characters and while it seems inevitable that Mon-El will become the new love interest for Supergirl, I am really enjoying the 'bromance' between him and Winn. Aside from teasing potential romances from M'Gann/J'onn and Kara/Mon-El, the episode also focused on Alex and her Maggie Sawyer's womance (the female version of bromance) – although the look on Alex's face when Maggie left with her date suggests that it could be more. I quite liked the banter between the two female investigators and they would make a great pairing – aside from shows dedicated to lesbians, there is very few same-sex female relationships shown in popular drama and I would like to see Supergirl push boundaries in its storytelling. There even seems to be a hint of flirting between Lena Luthor and Kara – although I might just be picking up signals from everyone now!

Even though the Fight Club storyline has been done before in science-fiction, it felt like a natural progression of the series' main themes to include it here and the writers ensured it was an integral part of the episode, fuelling conflict between J'onn and M'Gann. There's a terrific sense of confidence about this season now that it has firmly established itself in its new status-quo and all of the characters seem to be developing nicely into their new roles. The only exception is James Olsen, who appears to be floundering about without any purpose – I have heard online rumours about potential changes to the character's situation which might make him a more interesting prospect on-screen, and it needs to happen fast as he seriously needs some reworking to earn his place on the show. While the humans vs. aliens storyline has certainly ramped up in importance since Season One, it works well as a backbone to the season and is very timely in its approach too. Even without the added boost that the Superman cameo provided, this second season already feels more confident with a much stronger narrative core at its heart. While there are plans to incorporate Supergirl into the wider 'Arrowverse', I hope that The CW still allows the show to maintain its individuality and brighter outlook as these are the keys to its success.


Score - 9.5 out of 10

Next Episode - "Crossfire"
Supergirl faces a ruthless new gang that has been given new alien technology by Cadmus.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x03 - "Welcome to Earth"

Supergirl
Episode 2x03 - "Welcome To Earth"

Synopsis

With the President arriving at National City to sign an amnesty for all aliens living amongst human to come forward and register themselves, the tensions between human and alien reach new heights – especially after an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Kara attempts to find out more about the stranger who arrived in the Kryptonian Ship?

Review

After a corrupt Mayoral election taking place over in Gotham which saw the Penguin rising to prominence, it’s time for Supergirl to address this year’s US Presidential Election on-screen. Providing the light to Gotham’s darkness, Supergirl introduces a female President who is dedicated to improving Human-Alien relations with an amnesty bill providing protection for any aliens currently living on Earth. The Human vs. Alien plot-point is clearly going to dominate this season’s storytelling with Project Cadmus set up as a staunch anti-Alien organisation rebelling against the President’s more liberal agenda. Of course, parallels can be made to the current US climate with the anti-alien sentiment acting as a metaphor for Donald Trump’s ‘Mexican Wall’ and fear of Muslims. The political allegories, whilst well made, never dominate the narrative and the writers do a fine job at showcasing Kara’s own prejudices amongst those of her enemies – with her natural instinct to blame Mon-El for the crimes since he is a Daxamite. While it can be a bit obvious and ‘on the nose’ at times, I do like the thematic explorations that occur within the episodes.

While having a female president in the series is an obvious reference to Hilary Clinton, Lynda Carter’s President Marsdin differs from her real-life counterpart considerably and makes the character stand out from the stereotype, especially with the twist reveal at the end. The writers waste no opportunity to make in-jokes to her time as Wonder Woman in the iconic 1970s TV series. Her comment “you should see my other jet” references the character’s Invisible Jet, and the way Supergirl spun around to extinguish the flames on her costume was intentionally reminiscent of how Diana Prince would transform into Wonder Woman on-screen. I have to admit that I didn’t see the reveal that Marsdin would be an alien coming – that was one of the few twists that slipped me by – although my keen-eyed girlfriend called it moments before it happened. While it adds an interesting wrinkle to the storyline and provides motivation for the President’s actions, it does feel somewhat similar to what is happening over on Agents of SHIELD with the new Director of SHIELD working to improve Inhuman rights whilst he is an Inhuman himself.


Once again, the action sequences in this episode were exemplary and showcased a much keener cinematic vibe than seen in Season One – clearly, the move to The CW has seen the series increase its ‘superhero action’ quotient considerably. The special effects when Scorch attempted to assassinate the President were top-notch and surprisingly violent when her bodyguards were ignited in flames. I also enjoyed seeing Alex and Kara working together to defeat Scorch in the episode’s final scenes, and I wonder whether Alex will gain some kind of special abilities before the series is finished. The introduction of Maggie Sawyer seems to suggest that Alex may be exploring her sexuality this season, as there was definitely some flirting and chemistry between the DEO agent and the lesbian detective. With the Penguin coming out as gay in Gotham and Supergirl setting up Alex with a potential lesbian love interest, DC Comics is certainly embracing the LGBT community in its television shows.

This felt like a busy episode with the central plot involving the President fuelling plenty of secondary sub-plots such as James Olsen’s attempts to wrestle control of CatCo from Snapper Carr and J’onn J’onzz discovering that he might not be the only Martian left alive after all. Despite having plenty of moving parts, the episode flowed along rather nicely and never felt too cluttered, and most importantly, it proved that Supergirl could flourish without the help of her cousin. Superman’s absence was barely felt in this episode with so much going-on and plenty of hints dropped for future storylines. While this fast pace may be down to the writers wanting to quickly engage with new viewers brought over from the change in networks, it certainly seems to suit the series and allows it to nicely settle into its sophomore season. With its new status-quo already in place and some nicely developed sub-plots bubbling away, I have every faith that Supergirl is set to reach new heights during Season Two and become the breakout show it deserves to be.


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Next Episode - "Survivors"
Supergirl tries to stop an alien fight club run by Roulette, whilst Hank gets to know M'Gann.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x02 - "The Last Children of Krypton"

Supergirl
Episode 2x02 - "The Last Children of Krypton"

Synopsis

With Superman in National City for an extended vacation, Supergirl is enjoying not being the only Kryptonian in town – however, both Alex and J'onn find the Man of Steel's presence annoying. Meanwhile, Project Cadmus finally reveals itself to the public as an anti-alien organisation, attacking Superman and Supergirl with Kryptonite-powered soldiers.

Review

After partially setting up the series' new status-quo in its Season Two opener, Supergirl continues to rearrange its cast-members with this second episode. We bid a surprisingly emotional farewell to Cat Grant, whose sudden departure is explained away as boredom with her role at the top – although it isn't particularly explained where she is headed next. It felt very inorganic and a case of behind-the-scenes drama dictating the plot, since Calista Flockhart unable to commit to the series' new shooting location of Vancouver. I'm genuinely surprised that the show didn't have Cat decide to give up the top spot in favour of mothering her two sons, since that appeared to be the trajectory she was headed on in Season One. At least she got a goodbye scene – we haven't seen anything from Maxwell Lord yet! Despite the slightly forced reason for leaving, the moments between Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart felt realistic and it was clear the two actresses had developed a bond. It was also telling that Cat finally started calling Kara by her real name, and I must admit that part of me wanted her to admit to Supergirl that she knew who she really was. It would have been a nice way to say farewell to the character.

Elsewhere, Superman continued to share the spotlight with his Kryptonian cousin and it seemed that he had a talent for getting up people's noses, as Cadmus, Alex and J'onn were all slightly miffed at the Man of Steel's presence. I quite liked the edgier dynamic between Kal-El and J'onn as the two clashed over the DEO's stockpile of Kryptonite, although when Winn shouted out “Superman vs. Martian Manhunter”, it made me wonder if J'onn's code-name had actually been used in the series before. As I was watching the episode, I did think Kara was acting out of character – dismissing her sister in favour of her cousin – but it did allow for the two Danvers sisters to have a huge row with each other. Their relationship is at the heart of this series, so its good to see the writers chip away at it occasionally – in fact, the way that the mysterious Cadmus scientist attempted to woo Alex over to her side makes me wonder whether there might be potential for a larger rift to occur. Clearly, the 'man vs. alien' subplot will be taking the focus in this second season with Project Cadmus taking the antagonistic role, so perhaps we will see another take on 'Alex vs. Kara' at the season's end?


After a brief appearance in last episode, John Corben received more screen-time this time around as his Kryptonite-powered alter-ego, Metallo. I didn't notice during the first episode but Frederick Schmidt, the actor who played Corben/Metallo, bore a strong resemblance to Tom Hardy – to the point where I googled his name to find out whether they were related to each other. Schmidt did a great job at portraying Metallo and I loved the design of his Kryptonite Heart as its pelted Kara and Clark with green energy. The fight sequences were spectacular, and despite rumours of a smaller budget on The CW, they felt equally as ambitious as any of the sequences from Season One. In fact, everything looks a whole lot more cinematic, and I loved that we briefly visited Metropolis for a fight sequence in Krypton Park – it enhanced the episode and made it feel like a joined-up world – much like the mention of Gotham City in the previous episode. Despite being 'killed off' at the end of this episode, I hope the writers revive Metallo for future encounters as he proved to be immensely watchable and a worthy foe for the last children of Krypton. Given Cadmus' predilection for manufacturing monsters to fight against aliens, I'm sure we'll see much more meta-human threats in upcoming episodes.

After deciding she was a reporter, Kara got a reality-check when she met her new boss Snapper Carr, who ticked every stereotype for 'grouchy editor' that ever existed. Obviously designed to reset Kara's work-life back to square one after the relationship between her and Cat had mellowed out, it is interesting to note how Kara's life now closely resembles Clark's. With everyone in their new roles, the series feels retooled and ready to find its new voice amongst the other 'Arrow-verse' shows on The CW...Oh wait, we forgot about James Olsen... and it seems the writers did too, until he turned up near the end of the episode claiming to be the new boss of CatCo – despite having no qualifications, no experience and no personality. It honestly felt like the writers had to do something with the character so they slung him into the only empty space in the show. No longer a viable love interest, it seems they are going to attempt to reposition him as the 'angel' to Snapper Carr's 'devil' – no doubt, offering sagely advice in the same way Cat once did. Despite the occasion moment when it was clear that 'behind-the-scenes' events had dictated plot decisions, this was a great sophomore episode for Supergirl's second season that deftly set up the key theme for the remainder of the season and introduced a brand-new organisation to compete against the DEO. There's still plenty to like here as the show embarks on a new era of greatness.


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Next Episode - "Welcome to Earth"
Supergirl and the DEO are assigned to protect the President when an attack on her causes 'alien vs. human rights' in National City to heat up. Alex investigates the case with Maggie Sawyer while Kara fears Mon-El may be responsible.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Review - Supergirl: 2x01 - "The Adventures of Supergirl"

Supergirl
Episode 2x01 - "The Adventures of Supergirl"

Synopsis

In the wake of defeating Non and Indigo and preventing Project Myriad from destroying the Earth, Supergirl finds herself re-evaluating her life and what she wants for the future, both personally and professionally. Joined by her cousin, Superman, Kara attempts to discover who is behind the assassination attempts on Lena Luthor’s life.

Review

Bland episode title aside, this was a wonderful season opener for Supergirl which addressed one of the main criticisms of Season One upfront by finally casting an actor in the role of Superman and showing him on-screen. Similar to the chemistry between Supergirl and The Flash in “Worlds' Finest”, Melissa Benoist and Tyler Hoechlin worked well together as Kara and Clark – both in their superhero identities and as civilian reporters - and their relationship fuelled this episode whilst the show's writers set the deck for this second season. First up was a new headquarters for the DEO, brought on mostly because of the series' relocation to Canada following its migration to The CW – it's not a bad location, but it lacks the same atmosphere that the DEO caves had. Secondly, the show retooled Kara quite considerably by having her re-evaluate her personal and professional life – dumping James before things got get going and choosing to become a reporter. While this was hinted somewhat during the Season One finale, it felt more like a 'behind-the-scenes' decision than an organic move for the character. Given Cat Grant's general restlessness in this episode, I suspect that Calista Flockhart will reduce her role considerably this season, probably by retiring from CatCo and spending more time with her sons. While I do like her relationship with Kara, it has reached a plateau and a new boss would certainly shake things up.

With Superman guest-starring in the initial two episodes of the season, it was to be expected that most of the running time would be dedicated to the character, however this also meant that some of Supergirl's supporting cast have been pushed into the background. Winn, for example, barely got a paragraph of dialogue and apart from getting a permanent role in the DEO, contributed little to the episode. Equally, J'onn and Alex spent most of the episode playing second-fiddle to Superman and Supergirl, but perhaps that was the point – when her cousin is in town, Kara gets a bit starstruck and ignores her other family. While the romantic sub-plot between James and Kara was my least favourite aspect of Season One, I must admit I was disappointed by how quickly it fizzled out here. There wasn't much explanation given for Kara's change of heart, and to be fair, she kinda messed up James' life by going hot and cold on him. With the romantic sub-plot gone, I do wonder how the writers intend to develop James Olsen as he is easily one of the weaker characters in the series and his whole role on the show was to be the prospective love interest.


With Non and Indigo out of the picture, the show's writers wasted no time in setting up the new villains of the series – Project Cadmus. Moving away from the Kryptonian threat of Fort Rozz to focus on man-made monsters, the series seems to be focused on introducing characters from the DC Comics mythology such as Metallo. I'm not overly familiar with the history of that character, but I found him to be an interesting threat as a human and look forward to seeing how his super-powered augmentation will affect him. This episode also introduced Lena Luthor, sister of Lex, who seems to be replacing Maxwell Lord in the 'secondary antagonist' role. While she seemed to be good and honest in this initial episode, I suspect that she will gradually become more and more like her brother. On that note, I loved the references to the original Richard Donner Superman movie with Miss Teschmacher (the new CatCo assistant) and Lex Luthor's attempt to cause an earthquake on the San Andreas fault-line. Even Tyler Hoechlin's Superman had echoes of Christopher Reeve's performance about him, capturing a more light-hearted and hopeful version of the Man of Steel compared to Henry Cavill's grimmer take.

As a retooling of the series for its new CW home, this opening episode succeeded on a spectacular level. Fans of Arrow and The Flash who'd kept clear from Supergirl because it was on CBS will find plenty to like here, and while the series has gone under some light remodelling because of its new home, the core essence that made Season One so fun shines through. Melissa Benoist's performance remains integral to the show's appeal, and while the introduction of Superman definitely helped attract interest in this Season Two opener – it is still firmly a Supergirl TV show and she held her ground against her more famous cousin. However, while I enjoyed the new changes and updated cast of characters, I hope the show's writers eventually return to the core cast of characters at the DEO and CatCo once Superman returns to Metropolis. There is no denying that Supergirl has a bright future as part of The CW family, although part of the series' charm is that it is relatively accessible for non-comic fans and stands alone from the 'Arrowverse'. Rumours of epic cross-overs across multiple shows fills me with dread as I've yet to dip my toe into Arrow, The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow despite the multitude of positive reviews of all three shows. I just hope when Supergirl crosses over with these shows, it will maintain that same accessible tone and not become convoluted and fanboy-ish.


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Next Episode - "The Last Children of Krypton"
Supergirl is hurt by a Kryptonite-powered villain sent by Project Cadmus to attack National City. Superman blames Hank since the Kryptonite was stolen from the DEO. In the meantime, Kara's first day at her new job doesn't go as planned when she meets her new boss.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x20 - "Better Angels"

Supergirl
Episode 1x20 - "Better Angels"

Synopsis

With Project Myriad averted, Non and Indigo unleash a deadly follow-up attack that threatens the life of every man, woman and child on Earth. Outnumbered and facing certain death, can Supergirl defeat the two villains and save the world?

Review

Despite the huge build-up and high-stakes cliff-hanger at the end of last episode, the threat of Project Myriad and its plan to mind-control Earth’s citizens is resolved relatively quickly. Sure, it’s a bit hokey that “hope” is the medicine that wakes the population of National City from their slumber, but the show attempts to provide some kind of scientific rationalisation behind the goofy premise. The remainder of the episode is spent building up the second part of Non and Indigo’s plan as they hit the ‘nuke button’ and gradually begin to amplify Myriad’s signal with the aim to pop the skulls of every human being on the planet. Of course, the process isn't instantaneous and everyone begins to have headaches that gradually begin to get more painful, allowing Supergirl the opportunity to locate Non and Indigo and head into a final confrontation with the pair.

Once again, the series piles on the dramatic tension by presenting this as a suicide mission for Supergirl and most of the episode relies on Kara saying goodbye to her loved ones. While it was obvious that a show called Supergirl wouldn't kill off the character called Supergirl, I was still a bit worried that someone was going to bite the bullet – especially once an already injured Martian Manhunter agreed to accompany Kara on her dangerous mission. However, thanks to all the build-up and foreshadowing, the actual final battle felt a bit anti-climactic as Kara and J’onn made short-work of their foes. Despite my disappointment at the length of the fight scene, the show continues to make use of some absolutely fantastic CGI special effects that easily rival those used in its big-screen ‘cousin’, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Unfortunately for this season finale, there were plenty of moments where the viewer had to suspend their disbelief, such as the instant cure to Myriad restoring everyone back to normal straight-away, people returning back to work the same day that they were almost conquered by aliens, and most notably Alex Danvers being able to get Kara’s shuttle up and running to pick up her sister from the outskirts of space. This is the problem with season finales – writers are so keen to ramp up the stakes and make everything huge, they sometimes let plot holes slip past in order to get that dramatic moment. Doctor Who is a repeat offender of this with some rather implausible solutions to global, or even universal, threats in its season finales. Just check out “Last of the Time Lords”, “Journey’s End” or “The Big Bang” for examples of some ‘happy endings’ that fly in the face of logic, just to get that dramatic pay-off.


Another element that stuck out for me was Superman himself. After his brief cameo from a distance in the last episode, I thought that we might actually get a glimpse of the Man of Steel once he was freed from Myriad’s control. Well, we got a glimpse…of his fucking shoes?! For some reason, he was laid out in the DEO infirmary doing his best impression of the Wicked Witch of the East from The Wizard of Oz. I can understand the series’ coyness at casting an actor for Superman at the start of the series, as it might overshadow Kara and Melissa Benoist, but over the past twenty episodes she has held her own, partnering with Martian Manhunter and even, The Flash. I'm sure they could have shown Superman’s face without dramatically affecting the series. In fact, by avoiding it and doing a “Wilson” from Home Improvement, the series actually suffers. I mean, because of their silliness, they were unable to show a scene where Kara said her goodbyes to her comatose cousin. She literally was in the same room as him making an emotional goodbye speech to J’onn, and then walked past his clown shoes without a second glance. The one thing that the series needs to do if it is renewed for a second season is to cast Superman in a more recurring role, rather than have the character being played by an IM chat window.

Despite some minor leaps in logic, this was a really satisfying conclusion to Season One of Supergirl and I feel that, like Kara, I've been on a real journey with this show. My first impressions were less than enthusiastic, but over the past twenty episodes it has genuinely become one of the highlights of my week and it also appeals to those without 20 years of comic book knowledge as my girlfriend also loves the show and finds it very accessible and entertaining. DC Comics really need to capitalise on this increased interest in the character and develop a series set in the show’s continuity – sure, there’s a few digital-only comics available on Comixology, but an ongoing monthly would be a fantastic move from the company. After the success of the recent cross-over with The Flash, it seems like a Season Two is almost guaranteed, but I think the show deserves a second season on its own merits too, as it really has grown into a fantastic superhero TV show for all-ages. As for my guess as to who it is inside the pod – I'm predicting either a clone of Supergirl (i.e – Power Girl) or possibly her mother? While it's not quite as gripping as the "Who did Negan kill?" cliff-hanger on this season's The Walking Dead, I really hope CBS renews the show as I'm eager to find out who it is...


Score - 9.2 out of 10

Friday, 15 April 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x19 - "Myriad"

Supergirl
Episode 1x19 - "Myriad"

Synopsis

Non and Indigo launch Project Myriad, which sees everyone in National City become mindless drones working under the Kryptonians. With all of her allies under mind-control, how can Supergirl hope to defeat this threat?

Review

After months of build-up, Non finally puts ‘Project Myriad’ into operation and it seems that the Kryptonian’s grand plan consists of brainwashing the entire human race and putting them to work on solutions to the ecological problems that face the planet. While well-meaning, the plan also reduces humans to mindless drones who are glued to computer screens, which is not that dissimilar to my day job, actually. Fans of Doctor Who may notice some slight similarities between this evil scheme and the Krillitane’s attempts to brainwash school children into cracking the secrets of the universe using specially coated chips – don’t laugh, that seriously happened in the “School Reunion” episode which, despite its ludicrous premise, was a surprisingly good episode. By brainwashing the entire human population of National City, Non leaves Supergirl without her support network of friends and allies, forcing her to work out a solution on her own…or, as it turns out, partnering with an unlikely comrade-in-arms.

Considering this is the first half of the season finale, the show’s writers did at creating an ‘epic’ threat for Supergirl to overcome that surpassed the dangers seen in previous episodes. However, there were some gaps in logic in how the Myriad devices worked, such as Superman being affected by the sound-waves because he was raised on Earth longer than Kara had been. Sure, it’s comic-book logic but it was also a very convenient way to make sure Superman was removed from the equation. I must admit I did get a bit excited when we saw his silhouette heading towards CatCo, only to stop short and fall in line with the masses of hypnotised citizens. Despite sometimes seeing the editorial fingerprints over the story, it was really fun to see Supergirl faced with overwhelming odds, even considering Maxwell Lord’s “Kryptonite Nuke” option as a solution.


While the acting and dramatic tension was spot-on, the episode was riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies at times. For example, up until now Non had been portrayed as cold, merciless and determined to do what he wants but in this episode he seemed to have self-doubt about his plans and was reluctant to kill Kara by his own hands, despite his promise to do so earlier in the series. He also didn’t kill Alex when he had the chance, instead deciding to construct a rather complicated plan where he would force the two sisters to fight to the death. Maybe Astra’s death, and apparent change of heart in “For the Girl Who Has Everything” has begun to affect him too, as it seems Indigo is a bit too gung-ho about this whole situation and is possibly manipulating Non for her own endgame. It was also odd that Non’s army of Kryptonians were nowhere to be seen after their appearances in “Hostile Takeover” and “Blood Bonds”. I’m guessing budgetary reasons forced the writers to just focus on Non and Indigo.

While the writers want us to think that J’onn J’onzz is dead, I suspect he is merely resting and will return to help break up the fight between Kara and Alex, restoring the latter’s mind back to normal. However, I can’t help but think there is a cloud of death over the character and that perhaps he will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the Danvers sisters before this season comes to an end. Given his out of character reluctance to kill Kara, I suspect that ‘Uncle Non’ will follow in his wife’s footsteps and help Kara put an end to Project Myriad, but possibly at the expense of his own life. The main question I have about the concluding episode of this season is whether we will get to see Superman’s face, or whether Kara will get back to her desk and find an Instant Message from Clark saying “Good Job”. As for Jeremiah Danvers, I’m guessing that his rescue will form the basis of Season Two, no doubt propelling Kara and the DEO into a new season-long mystery. Despite a few weak spots, this was a strong start to the Season One finale, placing Supergirl and National City in immense peril and bringing the various plot threads sown throughout the season to fruition.


Score - 9.3 out of 10

Next Episode - "Better Angels"
Supergirl is forced to do battle with an unexpected enemy as she risks everything - including her life - to stop Non and Indigo from destroying everyone on Earth.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x18 - "Worlds Finest"

Supergirl
Episode 1x18 - "Worlds Finest"

Synopsis

Supergirl finds herself outnumbered when the Silver Banshee and Livewire team-up to take her down, but luckily she has back-up in the form of Barry Allen - The Flash - who has arrived from a parallel Earth and needs her help to get home.

Review

As someone who doesn’t watch The Flash, I was a little bit apprehensive when it was announced that Supergirl would crossover with the series, fearing that I would need to binge-watch The Flash to catch up. However, the more details that were divulged during the production of the episode, it became clear that it would involve the Multiverse and that The Flash would be entering Supergirl’s world, rather than Supergirl visiting his. I have to say that the series writers did a fantastic job at making this episode accessible to those who don’t watch The Flash, but also dropped plenty of references to the other series to reward fans of both. After seeing Barry Allen in action here, I must say that I’m very keen to check out The Flash and Arrow to find out more about their universe, so it certainly worked well as a teaser in that respect. Hopefully, viewers of those shows had the desire to watch the earlier episodes of Supergirl. Looking online, it also seems like the show received a spike in its ratings, which will help its chances for a Season Two renewal.

The appearance of The Flash definitely seemed to energize the cast, especially Melissa Benoist and Jeremy Jordan, who seemed to be very excited at the crossover, letting their enthusiasm translate onto the screen. It was fun to see Kara and Barry interact with each other, both in and out of costume, and the script-writers took advantage of the two world’s colliding to deliver some brilliant banter between the heroes. In some ways, it’s a shame that Barry Allen had to go back home as they definitely clicked as superhero partners and I’d have happily have watched more from the pair of them. Moreso than previous episodes, there was a cinematic quality to this installment with the dual threat of Silver Banshee and Livewire against our ‘dynamic duo’. Admittedly, the special effects when the two ‘raced’ at the end of the episode was slightly laughable – I’m guessing they used the old treadmills against green-screen trick – but there was plenty of action that made the 45 minute running time fly by faster than Barry Allen on his way to get ice cream.


While the special effects were largely effective – I have to say that the costume design for both Silver Banshee and Livewire weren’t that great. With more daylight scenes in this episode, the flaws in Livewire’s make-up and wig seemed much more prominent, especially in her close-ups when threatening Cat Grant. Also, her make-over on Siobhan was awful – sure, it made her look scary but it was also really terrible. I get that they were trying to follow her design from the comics, but it just stuck out as a bit weird – hopefully she’ll undergo another make-over before her next appearance! Despite these minor hiccups, it was fun to see some villains teaming up and while they might not have been the smartest of baddies, the show presented them as credible threats – while, right up until they were both defeated by some water. I did like the scene where the city came to Supergirl’s aid – it reminded me of similar scenes in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and while it wasn’t quite as cheesy as those films, I did find myself mocking their earnest attitude towards protecting the Girl of Steel.

Without any hint of hyperbole, I have to say that this was the greatest episode of Supergirl yet, and a strong send-off before the two-part season finale. While I’m sure the series was scheduled for renewal already, I hope this crossover and subsequent ratings bump will ensure that Supergirl returns for another year of stories. Also, given that The Flash has travelled to Kara’s world once now, I’m sure that those TV gods (the execs) will allow the two to meet again the future, possibly returning the favour and having Kara appear in The Flash. If so, I really should get around to binge-watching those episodes to catch up! While it wasn’t as gripping as the recent events in Gotham, this episode of Supergirl was pure, unadulterated fun and you could see it on the faces of the cast as they acted. With just two episodes left to go, Supergirl has the potential to end its first season on a massive high – a far cry from the weak start seen in its pilot episode way back when. Despite my initial judgments, this has become one of the highlights of my week and a perfect example of a superhero TV show, as it strikes the perfect balance between its soap opera elements and action scenes.


Score - 9.8 out of 10

Next Episode - "Myriad"
Non and Indigo use mind control to make the citizens of National City their army, so Kara must find a way to save her friends.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x17 - "Manhunter"

Supergirl
Episode 1x17 - "Manhunter"

Synopsis

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.

Review

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.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Review - Supergirl: 1x16 - "Falling"

Supergirl
Episode 1x16 - "Falling"

Synopsis

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.

Review

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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