Supergirl: 4.11 Blood Memory
This is a funny sort of an episode. It starts pretty well but the logic begins to unravel quite quickly, resulting in a messy third part and finale.
We open with the double whammy scenes of the Russian Supergirl training then to Kara and friends playing games. Unfortunately, both these kinds of scenes leave me cold. I find the Russian stuff a little boring; while it’s obviously meant to be enigmatic and build some tension, we’ve already had an evil Supergirl and a lot of season finales in this show involve super against super. I can’t really build any excitement for a repeat of this formula, even if it does have a Russian accent this time.
Then we have the party at Kara’s place. While this one actually serves some narrative purpose, I always find these scenes too forced. Nothing does a better job of showing you a group of actors aren’t really best friends than a group of actors pretending to be best friends. What this scene does do though, is give us the opportunity to see how wiping Supergirl from Alex’s memory is effected her. Alex forgetting Kara’s favourite movie was genuinely quite sad to see and touchingly performed by Chyler Leigh.
The scene also allows Nia to shoehorn in how she’s from a lovely, non-racist alone town that no one else ever seems to have heard about. I feel like, considering everyone’s line of business and several of them being - you know, aliens - they might have heard of an alien / human town a short drive away? This is where Supergirl's writing too often let’s it down. A passing comment from Kara about having written about it in an article but never actually visited would have cemented some realism and added to her desire to visit later in the episode.
When we do visit Nia’s family we find an almost unsettlingly lovely dynamic. I was almost reminded of the family from Get Out - but there was no dark secrets with this twee bunch. What we do get is Nia’s sister harping on and on about what she’ll do when she gets her powers, powers we already know Nia has. Everything is very bland
On the other side, Jimmy and Lena are having relationship troubles. Lena’s research is getting darker and taking more of her time. When Jimmy is presented with a possible story about Lena’s work, brought to him by the other intern no-one likes, he buries it and tells her not to pursue it. Its an interesting beat to take and hopefully they’ll do something worthwhile with it. Its clear that Jaaaames and Lena aren’t going to stay together much longer but it’s a little a slow getting there.
The main threat this week are a group of drug dealers whose pills have been infused with power from Russian Supergirl (it doesn’t make much sense). Some Children of Liberty get hold of the pills and head to Nia’s town to cause trouble, followed by the drug dealer's young sister who, sick of being bullied all her life, has also taken the super pills and headed after them. This all results in a stand off in the town and a big fight between aliens and humans. This allows a moment for Alex and Supergirl to bond a little, having spent the episode at slight odds.
The weirdest part of this episode is the death of Nia’s mother. During a scene where Nia is confessing that she has developed powers, her mother suddenly dies – from a spider bite. Nia had been having dreams about spiders and her mother and dismissed them as she tried to ignore the dreams. This results in her blaming herself for her mother's death.
Whats odd about the scene is, it just seems to be a simple bite. I don’t know American spiders but there didn’t seem to be any reference to what kind of spider it was or if Nia’s mother was allergic? It was also a clunkiliy directed scene which didn’t help. Of course, when Nia’s sister finds out that Nia has the powers she’s angry and upset, even telling Nia she’s not a real woman. This is an interesting beat and allows for Kara to bond with Nia over her (now) awkward relationship with her sister. Though the key moments of it are a little too signposted, I’m glad the show is taking on trans-themed storytelling like this.
This was a messy episode, the timeframe is erratic (the funeral for Nia’s mother seems to take place hours after she dies?) while the geography doesn’t make sense (it seems to take Kara and Nia half a day to get to the town and others just minutes). I find Nia a very unegaging character; she’s so wet and dull and her family aren’t much better, but her inclusion does allow for some interesting story strands.
I still like the themes the show is playing with this season but things feel a little stagnant post season break.