Supergirl: 3.05 Damage
This series is still a bit of a dark mess, with conflicting tones and forced narrative moments but I enjoyed this episode a little more than some earlier entries this season. Generally though, Supergirl really just needs to get better. There is a way to keep shows fresh without resorting to the same tired arcs and character beats but the current superhero shows do all seem to follow the same narrative path.
This episode is trying hard - and does good work - to develop Sam and her story further but there are a few too many beats that feel forced. I also feel like she lacks a clear personality. A danger that TV shows have is when all characters speak with the author’s voice. Sometimes it could be jarring when everyone who turns up in Sunnydale uses Buffy speak and Dawson’s Creek was basically a town of all the same person. Sam feels too generic at the moment, there is nothing about the way she acts or speaks that makes her any different from anyone else in this show.
This episode all feels a bit too little too late with the insistence Lena has known Sam for ages - it didn't feel like that last week when they were having their girls night - another girls night is had here and while I like the pro-female friendship these nurture, they are clunkingly cheesy and still very forced.
So Lena, Sam and Kara get to build their friendship in a plot based around a villain who is trying to poison the city's children. Yay Supergirl, the light and optimistic show! This does actually give us some good fuel for Lena; her despair at thinking she's responsible after being framed is very real and her very Luthory almost-jump-to-the-dark-side to take care of the villain is quite exciting to watch, Morgan Edge is a solid foe and I liked that the story addressed (even if it was a set up) the potential fall out from Lena’s season two finale, world-saving Lead Bomb.
James developing respect for Lena because she steps down from CatCo. doesn't sit right. Contextually in the episode its to show Lena thinking of the greater good of the company but if Snapper had still been around, angry at an outsider getting involved with journalism etc and he had been won over, it would've felt more earned and character appropriate. Jimbo just came across as territorial when a new woman turned up and his new respect for Lena is meaningless. Also, every time he and Lena hold a long glance my flesh crawls.
The real story, of course, this week is Alex and Maggie. Their break up was inevitable and while the relationship did stagnate for a while late season two /early season three, I've really enjoyed the reason behind their break up; it feels more real and more honest than the usual high drama, half reasons these shows throw in the mix. Their final scenes together are genuinely touching and both actors excel.
This is an important relationship in terms of the show and for shows like this, it's had a very real, earnest but heartfelt core since it's inception and it's important for kids - and any audience - to see a same sex relationship handled so well. It gently delivers the sad but almost inevitable message that first love isn't always forever love but that's okay.
Not the worst of the season so far but not the best; this was a strong episodes for character work but the subtle and heartfelt conclusion (for now) of Alex and Maggie’s story does show up the speedy, in your face desire to be liked feeling of Sam’s story.
Highlight of the episode: James gets shot.
Low point: he doesn't die.