Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 20 "Better Angels" Review and **SPOILERS**

And I Think I’ll Miss You Most of All, Martian Manhunter

Starring: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, David Harewood et al.
Story By: Robert Rovner & Jessica Queller
Directed By: Larry Teng
First Aired: April 18, 2016

**Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom**

And now we come to the conclusion of the first, and what may be the only season of Supergirl on CBS. So what have we learned? Well, for one thing, we learned that the show won’t shy away from mentioning her cousin Clark “Kal-El” Kent, as I assumed they might. We also learned that Calista Flockheart is a pretty good actor, despite my having hated her in the Ally McBeal days. Maybe this should be more “things I have learned,” or “crow I have eaten” rather than some collective awareness that is assumed about Supergirl. Assumed, that is, by me. God, I’m narcissistic. In any case, all of my ruminations and assumptions and conjectures about this show’s viability can be put to rest: it is definitely a viable show, as evidenced by the completion of the first season. But does that make it a good show? Well, that’s a horse of a different color. And yes, you can name that horse Comet. Read on to see what I thought of the season finale for Supergirl!

Explain It!

Last time we left Supergirl and the citizens of National City, everything was right as rain because the entire populace had been put under the control of the brainwashing signal Myriad, by the renegade Kryptonian Non and his weird-ass Rasputin-esque sidekick, Indigo. Oh, and also Alex Danvers was mind-controlled to kill her own sister Kara using a Kryptonite sword and wetsuit. I forgot about that. In the present, Kara does a fairly good job fending off Alex’s attacks, mainly by taking them and getting her narrow behind beaten all over this dank alleyway. Just before Alex is about to deliver the killing blow, her mom (and Kara’s adoptive mom) shows up with an incapacitated Hank Henshaw (aka J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter) to tell Alex that she’s a very good little girl and mommy loves her very much. When she mentions Alex’s dead father, Alex snaps out of it because Myriad is possibly the worst brainwashing device since doctors endorsed Camel cigarettes. Finding that the fatal flaw in Myriad is squeezing your eyes shut and balling your fists real tight and believing in yourself with all your might, Supergirl is broadcast over National City television, literally sitting at a news desk, imploring everyone to hope. That’s it. She just gets on TV and tells everyone to hope. And of course it fucking works. Did anyone beta test Myriad before it went live? Non intended to take over the entire planet with this stupid thing, but surely the world isn’t populated by cynical shitbirds like myself. It’s the only thing that gives us nihilists hope.

So that was like in the first ten minutes of the episode, and Supergirl has saved the day already. Not to worry, however, because sore losers Non and Indigo have determined that if they can’t enslave the Earth, then they’ll turn the Myriad’s dials up to ten and pop everyone’s head like a piñata. They keep talking like they’re going to take over the globe, but it seems like all of their efforts are totally centered around National City. Max Lord is able to find out that the bad guys are hanging out in a remote part of the desert near Las Vegas, and Lucy Lane’s army dad is able to confirm that the downed Kryptonian prison Fort Rozz is there because it didn’t conform to Californian recycling requirements. That’s another stupid thing I forgot to mention, that Sergeant Lane, or whatever his rank is, showed up at the Department of Extra-normal Operations and demanded that Hank Henshaw and actual fucking Superman be remanded to DEO custody, because they have such a hard-on for aliens. Yet Supergirl can traipse around unencumbered because she told everyone to have hope. Is the DEO the worst government agency after the Federal Reserve or what? Totally practices favoritism and is burdened by a bureaucracy that demands Superman be kept under wraps even though everyone regards him as a hero. Supes, incidentally, is only shown from about shin down, and is sleeping the entire time on a really uncomfortable DEO gurney with florescent lights on the underside. Anyway, Max Lord determines that no human can get close to Fort Rozz without a whole bunch of extra strength Excedrin on account of Myriad, so Supergirl will have to handle it somehow. And because the DEO flip flops on policy any time it likes, Hank Henshaw is freed to give her a hand. Superman was probably freed too, I forget. Maybe he threw a couple of mannequin legs wearing his boots on the gurney and snuck out the back.

And then—oh god guys—Kara goes around to everyone and gives the pithiest, shittiest goodbye speech because she believes she won’t live through fighting Non and Indigo. It’s so fucking stupid and insulting, not just to the viewer but to the characters who can immediately tell that she’s giving her farewell addresses. In some ways, these extrapolations of the lyrics to the theme from Golden Girls can double as a swan song for the series if it doesn’t get picked up for a second season. But the cast didn’t earn this kind of heartfelt treacle, I’ve never felt like any of the characters (save, perhaps, for Winn) were developed enough or the team cohesive enough that I would be sorry to see them go on to better roles in other television shows. I know this may not be the (comic book website) popular point of view, but I really found myself checking out as Kara went to every character and oozed earnest preserves all over them. Like, we know you’re not going to die, just get on and save the flipping world already. Somewhere in here, Alex explains to her mom that Hank and she initially dropped by in the previous episode to tell her that her long-dead husband is actually alive, so there was that if you’re interested in such a thing.

Kara and J’onn take off for Fort Rozz while the populace of National City buckles under the pressure of a wicked migraine headache. Indigo fights J’onn, and gets a good slice on him, but J’onnz holds her over his head and breaks her in half, which is not something I thought could be done since she seems to be made of silica pellets or something. The fight between Non and Supergirl…so ludicrous that it might require its own college course. They fight each other in the air for a bit, which doesn’t look as good as it can in comic book form, but then they have a standoff using their x-ray vision beams, shining them at each other and gaining and losing increments as each lunges forward in a show of eye beam intensity. Is this the final fight, Supergirl’s “Zod” moment? It’s more like something out of Ditko-era Dr. Strange than an epic battle between super-powered beings. Ultimately, Supergirl’s ocular zappers prove stronger than Non’s, who is rendered dopey with two black eyes as Kara goes to switch off Myriad. That’s impossible, explains a dying Indigo, because she stuck a screwdriver in the gearshaft and now it’s set at “forward” for good. Kara then picks up the entire ruin of Fort Rozz and flies into space to save the Earth. She floats for a moment through the airless void, dying even though I’m fairly certain Kryptonians don’t need to breathe, when Alex pops up in the original escape pod that brought Kara to Earth and rescues Supergirl because who the fuck cares at this point, all semblance of story has been chucked out the window and into the troposphere.

Later, there’s a party at Alex and Kara’s, where Jimmy Olsen kisses Kara and Mrs. Danvers acts really creepy about her husband being alive. The cliffhanger is that Supergirl and the DEO crew chase down a fallen meteor that turns out to be another Kryptonian escape pod, and Kara is stunned at what she sees inside! Which we do not see! But at this point, I could care less (though I hope it’s Streaky.) The dual tropes of the Care Bear Stare and Eye Beam Wrestling have me feeling done with this show. Too insipid by half, sweet to the point of nauseating, and there aren’t even any supremely likeable characters to interest me in another season of this tripe. So long, Supergirl. Perhaps you will continue to give hope and inspiration to little girls and creepy old dudes for many years to come. I, however, will not be watching.

Bits and Pieces:

Kara saves National City when she gets on the news and tells everyone that they’re super handsome, then she saves National City again by being selfless enough to do a farewell tour among her friends before space-littering. I like my television stupid, but not this stupid. Unless Jimmy Olsen turns into a Venusian or something next season, I have no reason to want this pablum to continue.



  1. I actually liked this episode and the series. I'm all up for supporting a lot of DC material on TV and at the movies. I've been a fan since I was 3 or 4. With that said, I'm hoping it's Lor-Zod in the pod since this isn't the current continuity anyway. I'd be interesting especially if he develops feelings for Supergirl like he has for Powergirl in the the comics.

    1. I love seeing DC characters on TV and I'm actually a bigger fan of Supergirl than Superman, all told, but I gotta call 'em like I see 'em! I think this show has all the necessary components but none of them have clicked into place for me. This show lacks the "bite" of the other Berlanti shows, which is probably as much an effect of the network as anything.