Robert Turnbull reviews the latest season three episode of Supergirl.
Season three of Supergirl has a lot of baggage and definitely lacks the fun of its predecessors. A genuine issues with the season is the boring, downbeat opening music they now use. Each episode feels like a slog just to get going! Bring back the enthusiastic, heroic upbeat music from the first two seasons!
This episode opens with Kara giving a speech to the team, a speech which was such an obvious feint the reveal of the gag had no impact. You see, they’re not about to save the world (again) they are actually enjoying a Karaoke night. I couldn’t really get behind this scene; it feels like the show is giving us forced fun to try and help us connect with the characters but the scene was probably more fun to perform than it was to watch… much like karaoke. Doesn’t help that they’re all really boring songs. For me, I’m feeling so detached form these characters recently that watching them have fun isn’t fun, it’s slightly irritating and when Jaaames started singing I practically wanted to turn off.
The scene shows a total lack of realism as well; Winn is about to sing and sees a news report that his father has died in prison and he walks off stage in grief. Problem with this is the audience there who aren’t his friends would have heckled the shit out of him. It’s a karaoke bar, guys!
The key story focus this week is Winn. After his father’s death, his estranged mother returns (played by Laurie Metcalf, that’s a pretty good snag even pre-Oscar win). What we get is a fairly strong story about him coming to terms with his mother leaving him, the reveal of why she left and an exploration of the levels of abuse his father truly put him and his mother through. This manages to hit on some very dark, very real themes at times. Taking his father’s supervillain status out of the equation, he is painted as a very real cruel, abusive man. Unfortunately the show is so laboured and at the moment some of this is lost along the way and they don’t explore all aspects of this kind of abuse as much as I’d like to see but it’s a strong attempt. A story about a failed Disneyworld trip is the highlight of this exploration and almost unsettlingly dark, sad and realistic.
The threat this week comes from someone apparently targeting Winn and trying to kill him, as if enacting some last legacy of his deranged father. This leads exploding coffins and flying monkey robots.
I love Winn, amazingly, the way he’s transformed into a fun character but his darkness is so dark its tragic it almost feels like there is something unhealthy going on for him to be so cheery most of the time, I hope he’s seeing a therapist. He has some honestly heart breaking scenes here but come on season these pleeeaaase give us some fun times. Maybe we’ll have fun with J’onn and his lovable dad trying to get used to Earth… oh. No. J’onn’s dad seems to be developing dementia. This actually feels a slightly obvious and unimaginative side plot, also, rather too human.
We have to endure Jimbo leaving sappy, clingy, irritated messages on Lena’s phone as she isn’t answering her calls. It’s like they want us to find his behavior toxic! Dude, Lena is a busy woman with a lot of work to do, not like you who it seems can just wander around doing no work at all. Who is editing your online content at the moment, James? I don’t understand why Jimmy is just hanging round at the DEO? He even says (when the DEO is attacked by bad CGI flying monkeys) that he’s glad he doesn’t work here! James, you don’t actually work anywhere.
Plenty happens this week and I did at times feel like we might be getting a “behind every evil man is an even more evil woman” narrative, so Winn’s mother not turning out to be evil was refreshing.
These shows do sometimes suffer with the problem of guest stars and growing cast rosters; Winn’s mum says you don’t need me and just leaves. When people leave in these shows they act as if it’s forever. My parents live 200+ miles away, I still manage to see them on a fairly regular basis. If a mother has protected her son from an abusive father by staying away from him, she’s gonna want more than three days hanging out at his workplace then singing karaoke. She doesn’t have to join the cast or move to the same city or have any more guest appearances, just acknowledge that you’ll see each other and be part of each other’s lives.
There is some good stuff in terms of Winn’s narrative this week but some clunky bad stuff too; I’m very bored of funerals in the rain/snow and I wish the flying monkeys had been as fun as they should have been but they were actually a bit cringeworthy. There was also a casual conversation tackling why the Martians chose to be black in America when they could look any way they like, which is really nice.
The big problem with an episode like this is that the show is running low on good will. This is a Supergirl-light episode, that’s fine, a show like this needs hero light episodes but the character of Supergirl is in such a messy place at the moment I feel like we need some upbeat, positive work on her character, instead of some downbeat, darkness development of one of the few remaining upbeat characters.
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