Supergirl: 5.03 Blurred Lines
I feel like Supergirl is trying to take us somewhere this season but I’m not sure where. The show has always made valiant attempts at social commentary and to have a deeper meaning and message beneath its action and fun. The fact that the action and fun don’t always land and the approach to dialogue and subject matter often used is a bit heavy handed, doesn’t negate the intention and I like that about the show. At the moment I’m less clear what themes are that they’re going for, beyond the usual Super subject of identity and secrets & lies for the greater good.
I feel like a new season of any show should really crash onto the scene with some big excitements and new flourishes, establish where everyone is after the last season and showboat what the series is capable of while hinting at future story threads. The second episode is where you introduce new characters and start to focus on character development while riding the crest of the opening episode and the third is where you settle down and start presenting more sedate, monster of the week and ongoing story threads. Despite its fluctuation quality, previous seasons of Supergirl have more or less followed this path. But this season has lumbered, awkwardly onto the scene, introducing new characters in the opener and focusing on relationship stuff in the second, that really could have waited until this week or a couple more episodes down the line.
With that in mind, I was surprised that Nia and Brainy appear to break up this week and I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing. It’s absolutely too soon in the season run - and their relationship - to have this kind of drama happen; they should have seeded it a little longer and held it for midway at least. Maybe next week we’ll find out things aren’t as dramatic as they seem and it’s just a blip?
I can’t decide how I feel about the reasonings too. Brainy is, of course, an alien machine man and his ability and understanding of love provide some classic plot beats. The idea of him going overboard and Nia getting fed up is one I can get on board with, even if it’s a bit overused but here a couple of aspects don’t sit right; they’re still very much in the honeymoon phase of their relationship for Nia to get bored with the overkill that quickly seems a little too quick. Also, Nia had been quite aggressive in her pursuit of Brainy, instigating much of their relationship. It really seems like she’s just got bored of him. She’s quite condescending in the way she treats him and some of her frustration seems very unsympathetic to how he processes emotion - Nia knows love and emotions like love are new to Brainy, so should give him a little leeway maybe? I don’t know if it’s the way it’s written, or the way it’s performed, but Nia seems a bit mean this week.
Lena is still going down her very odd path of murdering/subduing/erasing Eve. I still think this will be undone at some point but it doesn’t sit well with me; it’s a step too far if Lena is to be redeemed. I can buy her killing Lex, I can see her believing he is a force that can’t be allowed to continue and that she is the one who has to do it. That is a take one for the team murder, but even with her near obsessed desire to make people better for the greater good and the betrayal she feels from Eve, what she’s done is a BIG jump, ethically speaking. Also, the super AI is clearly gonna go evil. Come on Lena, watch a film some time...
The most interesting but frustrating part of the episode, is Kara trying to mend bridges with Lena. She’s getting giddy about meeting her for lunch and trying to make it the best Friends Date ever. She flies around the world to collect Lena’s favourite foods from their native countries. This is the kind of fun use of her superpowers I wish Supergirl showed us more often. Dean Cain’s Superman often went to get Chinese food from China and coffee from Italy in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It’s the kind of practical, bonus use of powers, that keep these characters relatable. Though Kara is using superpowers to get near-unobtainable treats for one of the few people in the world with the wealth and privilege to obtain those treats herself, it’s still a nice gesture.
Soon though, Lena manages to manipulate Kara into using those croissant-fetching powers to break into a high security government facility and steal federal evidence (Lex’s diaries). The jump here is one only Superman could manage in a single bound; Lena is very clearly manipulating Kara with some sob story about reading the diaries bringing her closure and Kara jumps on the idea and OFFERS to break in and steal them. While we’re meant to see that Kara is desperate to make things up to Lena, this is a huge departure for right/wrong or even morally grey and I actually think Kara suggesting it simply makes her seem stupid.
There really hasn’t been any reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths in Supergirl, which works as Supergirl doesn’t take place in the same universe as Arrow and The Flash. While Arrow is entirely focused on Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Flash is being motivated, if not steered by it, it has so far had no impact on Supergirl. I don’t know if this is good or bad. Crisis on Infinite Earths coming as a surprise to the characters will be a good development, but if the current narrative, slow as it is, is simply put on hold for a few weeks, it’s going to feel a little disingenuous.
This episode might be one of my favourites because it features SEAN ASTIN! A slightly unexpected cameo performance by Samwise makes any show better. He is an old army buddy/patient of Kelly’s. J’onn’s evil brother. disguised as Sean Astin to get access to Kelly and her machine, attempts to re-access his Conception power, a power that allows him control people. Kelly being Kelly sneaks him in and abuses her job and position at the company she works for again and helps (who she thinks is) her old friend. Of course he turns bad and tries to kill her - the usual, before our heroes turn up for the finale confrontation.
Alex is, as always, awesome this week. Her reaction to Kara saying she’s gonna steal evidence for Lena is perfect (instantly saying she can’t do that and needs a better way to make things up to her) and she’s also trying to get Kelly to stop giving free treatment to randoms and be less cavalier after being attacked and impersonated the previous week. Alex, Kelly isn’t good enough for you, leave her and her toxic, passive aggressive family behind and find a nice single mum who will actually support and appreciate you!
I really don’t know where this show is going this season and I’m finding it hard to care; there are too many characters with far too much stuff being set up and no time being spend getting to know them. I want to like these characters, I want to have fun with them but this season so far isn’t much fun at all. Please Supergirl, get a fun injection soon!