Supergirl: 5.14 The Bodyguard
We open on a cheesy dragon battle – a demo of someone playing Andrea’s VR system, before shifting to Kara, Alex and Nia meeting up with Kelly for one of those patented Supergirl people being casual scenes. They’re getting better at these; the dialogue is less cheesy and the characters feel a little more natural but they’re still a little forced. Alex, though, is complaining that when she quit the DEO Lex took her gun. I don’t get why they’re all annoyed about this? Yes, we all know Lex is evil but still, when you quit your job as a bus driver you don’t get to take the steering wheel with you. Not allowing Alex, who is now an unemployed civilian, to just keep an expensive, highly dangerous assault weapon doesn’t really seem that unreasonable.
Before the titles have even rolled, Andrea is saved by Supergirl from an assassination attempt and a note is found warning her to cancel the launch of her VR. There are so many issues surrounding this whole VR thing; apparently Kelly’s work on the system allows people to actually feel and taste when in the VR world! Come on guys, no one thinks this is even slightly, potentially problematic? In fairness to the show, Supergirl does show signs of concern later on, even connecting with the would be assassin later in the episode to share her concerns. But considering the kind of stuff that goes down in this city, everyone seems super chill about this invasive, reality altering VR system.
Case in point; Lena is still working on her anti violence tech, using the VR lenses to administer her cure. There is a really odd scene early on in the episode between Lena and Lex, where Lena basically spells out yet again the fact she wants to heal the world and Lex tells her he wants her to do it but reminds her and us that he is a baddie. Its an odd scene because I can’t quite get a read on if Lex is manipulating or the script writers just needed a little info dump? I still feel like Lex being around is damaging the character of Lena but in an insipid, boring way rather than a full on Lex as Iago whispering in her ear way, which while more obvious, might be more engaging.
After the attack, Lex calls Supergirl in to protect Andrea. I was relieved when he blackmailed her into helping, I’m glad Supergirl isn’t simply working for the DEO – though she does later refer to herself as being ‘assigned’ to the job of protecting her.
This is probably the first episodes (post crisis) where Lex is fully integrated with the story and I have to say, the weaknesses in Jon Cryer’s version of the character are really on show here. Cryer is a solid enough actor and of course a legacy actor (having appeared in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace). He’s been pretty good so far in his angry, vicious, creeping about way. When first introduced, his was an apparently defeated Lex, taking revenge and working from the shadows. Now the character is a little more front and cetre, he suddenly feels very small, very ineffective. Walking around, chatting to people out in the open he really lacks any intimidation or charisma. Maybe its just this episode and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but I like a dark, intelligent Lex brooding in a huge office. Now he’s a regular, Cryer feels very TV scale.
I actually now quite like William because he’s a bit goofy and, in this story at least, seems to have taken Kara’s rejection really well. By the end of the episode we see that a romance will be allowed to blossom between him and Kara but its nice to see a male character take rejection this well; he literally refers to Kara as his friend when talking about her, showing he is at least trying to respect what she wants. He even apologises for not stepping back and respecting her wishes enough.
With such strong emphasis on the strength and positivity of female characters, Supergirl has a mini problem with toxic male relationships. While Mon-El may have changed thanks to his relationship with Kara, he was a very abusive partner and it wasn’t fun to see Kara being effected by his behaviour and being treated, narrativly, as the catalyst to his redemption – though the show did address that. I’m not even going to get started on Jaaaames and his entitlement in both his relationship with Kara and Lena. There is something actually just quite nice about William and his far more open, honest, upfront-ness to his attraction and interest in Kara. Maybe there is less drama in a well adjusted person asking someone on a date then accepting rejection but it is refreshing to see. That said, Kara agrees to go to dinner with him at the end so I’m sure something terrible will happen to him by the season finale.
I quite like the idea explored this week that Lena’s tech has the side effect of turning the non-violent, violent – or more over seems to awaken a violent desire within them, a desire that they cannot act on. Obviously her tech will backfire in some way but I assumed it would simply be with Lena going evil or Lex co-opting it to control people but a kind of reverse effect, especially one that could prove psychologically damaging, is more interesting than I expected. I feel like she fixed her problem a bit quickly though; I would have liked it to be a longer running plot point. Also, Lena being worried that she might be doing the wrong thing is a little over due, though confiding in Lex that she’s worried she’s going down a dark path seems… really stupid? Lex admitting Superman was his obsession and downfall is nice though.
Alex and J’onn have a side adventure looking for Andrea’s attacker on the downlow. When they get too close and J’onn is attacked, it allows for Alex to have a little reflection on who she is without the DEO. It’s a very small part of this week's episodes but perhaps the most interesting. These two characters have come the furthest away from where they started. I feel like the show maybe wants to segway to them as vigilante super-heroes without doing too much leg work though. Also, J’onn gives Alex a shape shifting Martian gun that changes to any weapon she wants. I don’t know if this is legal?
It turns out the baddie trying to kill Andrea was the wife of an ex employee of hers, who killed himself after becoming addicted to VR. This feels like the kind of thing that should be a bigger deal with this tech and more independent research should be done? Supergirl talks the villain down which was a nice ending and I always prefer to see her resolve things with compassion rather than fighting.
Everything feels very loose after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Andrea seems to have powers still and maintains she’s here to help people but this doesn’t fit too well with her initial introduction. Lena is flip flopping all over the pace and Lex just seems to be… there. Brainy working with Lex for the greater good is still dull and confusing and Nia literally just pops up out of nowhere and zaps people whenever Supergirl takes a knock. This episode was fine but the story arc is moving at a snail's pace and the characters all feel a bit disparate - but not in a way that enriches the story.