Supergirl: 4.21 Red Dawn
This was a surprisingly satisfying episode, even if some of the beats didn’t quite land as well as they could have. I say surprising based on my own personal reactions to the show recently. After the last season I was nearly done with Supergirl, then they pulled things out the bag with their first few episodes this season and snagged me back in. Since then it’s been flip-flopping quite a bit and has developed some very bad habits but episodes like this one have enough fun and insightful stuff going on to keep me enthusiastic.
We’re heading straight for the final episode of the season with all the players moving into place. While I quite like the Lex Luthor behind it all along angle, I do feel that it robbed some elements of the story of their own strengths. But they reclaim this a little this week with Ben Lockwood, who is really starting to fall apart now, emotionally and physically and starts to realise that Lex might have been pulling his strings from the shadows. What follows is Lockwood tracking own Otis to try and find out the truth.
I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that Ben might get some sort of redemptive arc at the end of the story. I don’t think he’s going to turn full-goodie but I suspect his resentment at being used might lead to him turning on Lex, just enough to help Supergirl vicariously and maybe redeem himself in the eyes of his son? Just a guess but the character has seemed conflicted enough in his actions that I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like this happen; I’m not sure it would be that satisfying though.
The episode opened with the young Danver girls, reminding us how much we need - if not a spin off - at least one episode a season based around the teenage adventures of the sisters. This particular moment is actually Alex having a dream and shows that she’s starting to remember who Kara is. I wouldn’t have a problem with this, we all knew Alex would remember eventually, but we also have Kara asking J’onn if he can reverse Alex’s mind wipe and being told it’s impossible.... unless she remembers by herself. I would have liked to see Alex having weird dreams of flashes of memory over a longer period of a few episodes, really build to her regaining her memory but, a little like Alex’s adoption storyline last week, the writers just kind of cram everything into this episode because they need Alex to remember again. Though when it happens it’s a genuinely beautiful (cheesy in a good comic way) scene.
In a side story Nia, Brainy and J’onn are trying to find where the alien refugees are being sent. Nia comes up with the idea of pretending to be captured so they can see what happening. J’onn, obviously, thinks this is a stupid idea but as soon as he leaves them alone, Nia and Brainy pull the trick – it goes wrong and they get captures for real. The plan involves Brainy disguising himself as Lockwood and there is a beautifully performed moment from Sam Witwer as Brainy as Lockwood. The performance is spot on, Witwer really has been a strong addition to the cast. An unexpected but really interesting development is Brainy being tortured by Lockwood’s men leading to him rebooting. This basically turns him into an arsehole. Not full on Braniac Evil but he leaves Nia a prisoner and gets J’onn captured without blinking, as it fits in to his plan. This could be a fun development.
The episode finally has Red daughter and Kara confront each other; unfortunately I still find Melissa Benoist’s goofy accent a bit too comedy-Russian and while she does deliver a good duel performance, the accent undermines it a little. There is no subtlety. The final fight between the two is a little dull and relies on too much slo-mo to try and make it interesting. When Red dawn defeats Supergirl it’s a slightly cheap moment as we know she’s not dead but its real purpose is as the catalyst for Alex remembering and I really like the imagery of Supergirl drawing sunlight from the plants around her. The science doesn’t quite hold up but I love the idea of Kryptonians being able to draw sunlight/power from non direct sources.
The episode ends slightly suddenly, with Kaznia launching an attack on the US and Lex in his mech-suit stopping them, saving the day and emerging with a dead Supergirl (Red Daughter) all within a few seconds. Its an oddly paced and constructed moment to take us into the finale.
Despite enjoying this episode quite a lot I’m not sure how I’m feeling at about the season's end. I often find Supergirl's finales don’t quite land. Not long left to see…