Supergirl: 3.06 Midvale
Supergirl has finally given me an episode I enjoyed and its basically just an episode of Smallville!
After last week's emotional break up for Alex, the Danvers women decide to head home to spend a few days with their mum. I think Helen Slater has been very good in this series but has never been really well utilised; here it feels like they’re using her a little better but it doesn’t last long. I’d like to see her be a bit more central to an episode and used a little more creatively in the plot, not just given words of wisdom to book end episodes.
After not long at home, Alex gets drunk (still really like the consistency of Alex as a drinker) and the sisters end up having an argument, which basically comes about after Kara suggests Alex will get over things and Alex calls her on her Mon-El moping. I’m team Alex in this argument and I still don’t know if we, as an audience, are meant to be feeling irritated or sorry for Kara. There’s no set time frame on grief over a break up but sheesh, they were only together a couple of months and Kara needs to stop acting like an angry teenager towards everyone. After the argument they go to sleep in their shared childhood bedroom (I don’t know why their mum doesn’t have a spare room and why, after fighting, one of them doesn’t use it?) we then have the very cheesy conceit of flashing back to 10 years ago and see both women, as young girls, waking up in their beds.
We then get a high school mystery story about one of Kara’s friends getting murdered and the young Danvers sisters solving the crime. I was really impressed with the young casting. The actresses playing the young versions give really great performances. Their mannerisms and speech patterns are especially good and within a very short time I felt as though I really was watching the characters 10 years ago. It does feel very Smallvilley, maybe that’s just superficial because its set in a small town high school but by the end of the episode I felt like I’d really enjoy watching more of these young versions of Kara and Alex.
Plot wise, I have to say I knew who the killer was from the get go but it didn't make the episode any less enjoyable and the death of Kara’s young, teenage friend felt more impactful than many of the bigger deaths the shows has dealt out. There is a cameo from Erica Durance as an FBI agent who looks exactly like Kara’s mother who is in fact J’onn in disguise - which actually seems oddly cruel on a psychological level - and there is a name drop for Chloe, Clark’s friend who is good at computers and has a wall of weird. I love how that character migrated from TV to comics to wider Super story telling. If this was a deliberate nod to the Smallville-ness of this episode, it worked.
I think Alex might be my favourite character on the show. The young Alex showing such unflinching righteous anger at those doing wrong felt very true to form. I liked also that Alex's anger at her classmate for sleeping with a teacher felt directed at her stupidity for being taken advantage of by an older man and her later conversation with Kara, who for reasons, people will blame the 17 year old girl more than the 27 year old man abusing his position, was a nice unlaboured surface scratch on the wider issues of victim blaming.
This episode was a bit of an upturn for me. Through these reviews I've made no secret of the fact I'm finding season three a slog. It's a hard balance to strike because you need conflict and drama and challenge but it shouldn't come at the sacrifice of the characters' core identities. I feel like Kara has been on a slow descent into arsehole territory for a while. There have been hints and moments of self-righteousness, snobbery, spoiled behaviour and even a smidge of inter-planetary racism from Kara across all her seasons and I haven't always left the episode feeling she'd truly learned from her experience. This episode directly calls her on her behaviour after losing Mon-El but it doesn't quite stick. After we spend most of the episode 10 years ago, we return to the present where the sisters reconcile but only after Alex initiates an apology. Even at the end of this scene Kara feels a bit mopey.
The episode spoils itself a little bit for me by ending on a really awkward, cringy sequence of Kara and Alex (without putting seatbelts on) driving down the empty highway, singing and whooping, in the convertible they borrowed from J’onn (because no one else they know has a car so they had to borrow a space ship disguised as a car). I wouldn’t necessarily want every episode of this show to be flashbacks – a spin off would be fine – but I feel like the fact the episodes I’ve enjoyed most this season have been the ones where Kara isn’t really in them is testament to how much I’m not enjoying being around Kara/Supergirl. I want her back to her old self, however if that is facilitated by Mon-El coming back I might be even more disappointed.
Highlight of the week, Jaaaaames didn’t manage to muscle his way into the story.