Some home truths come out and a new threat shows its face in the latest episode of Supergirl
Don’t let the title fool you, there are no giant worms, no Kevin Bacon and not even a Fred Ward. What we do have is Mulder & Scully’s Boss from The X Files and Mike’s Mum from Stranger Things. This is a terribly dry episode that casually skips between narrative threads when it should be focusing on just one or two.
We’re finally shown what Leviathan is and it it’s pretty disappointing. While its not been the most exciting threat the show has come up with, it at least has had the benefit of being an unknown, shady organization. There has been intrigue. But now we know it’s a guy in a silly costume. That guy is Mulder & Scully’s boss AKA Rama Khan, a near immortal alien from another Kryptonian sister planet, who crashed on earth millions of years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs. The sequence of his ship crashing into prehistoric earth, wiping out the dinosaurs is fantastic – at least it would have been if we’d seen it. Instead we’re told it through the age old trick of one character telling another character something they already know. I realise showing a scene like this would be very expensive but the way we the audience are given the information of who they are and where they came from is awful and indicative of this shows reliance of lazy exposition.
Mulder & Scully’s boss Mitch Pilleggi, does a valiant job of delivering a believable performance and he almost gets away with it. Mike’s Mum, Cara Buono, fairs less well as her dialogue is so damp and cheesy it’s near impossible to deliver it well. It’s a shame as both these actors have been very good in other projects. Mike’s Mum gets the short end of the stick as Mulder & Scully’s boss can at least play his villain with pantomime energy; but she just gets lumbered with the stodgy exposition dialogue. However, I like both these actors very much and it’s great to have them part of the show.
The episode is so disparate in its separate storylines that I can’t get engaged with any of them, even though they’re all important. I find it very hard to be interested in Alex and Kelly. Their relationship so very dull and Alex’s intense full-on early-on-ness is unbecoming, matched with Kelly’s inane running because her fiancée died in the line of duty just makes for clichéd, faux conflict. They kind of break up and get back together here and I don’t know how much more of this I can take across a whole season.
Lena and Kara take things up a notch, after Mulder & Scully’s boss makes himself known and attacks an event Lena’s is at, persuading Supergirl to take her to the Fortress of Solitude to find a weapon that might stop him. I know that Kara is meant to be a bit blind to Lena’s manipulation because of her unreasonably huge level of guilt, but the fact that no one else notices how manipulative Lena is being is weird and annoying. Lena so glibly tricks Kara into taking her to the Fortress (where she pans to steal a weapon to use her non violent mind control device) I almost thought it served Kara right when Lena trapped her there and told her how she felt. During these scenes get some great new expansive shots of the fortress which help expand the location a little.
Credit to both actors, especially Katie McGrath; the scene when Lena finally tells Kara that she’s known her secret and is angry and what she’s dong, is very well performed. Despite the show’s other flaws, this was nicely done. I do feel like I’m ready for a snap back from Kara though. She needs to tell Lena she’s had enough of her crap and that she needs to grow up, not just simper and say sorry. In a real sense, Kara has allowed herself to fall into yet another abusive relationship. One way or another, there is a pattern of Kara allowing those closest to her to abuse her emotionally.
J’onn has the most frustrating story strand this week; he mind talks to his dead dad, then goes and mind melds with his brother… and now they’re best mates. And that’s it. Sorted. While the scenes with J’onn and his dad (Carl Lumbly, great as always) were nice, it would have been more satisfying if he’d had his heart to heart with his actual brother. It feels like a cheat that they just mind-melded and now its okay. There was no duel character development; the show was wasteful in how it used its time on resolving this story. They might as well have just realised their mum was called Martha.
Both The Flash and Supergirl are suffering from the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Flash is running a kind of twin story and is mostly getting away with it on charm. The season Big Bad has been introduced and evolved from a mad scientist trying to heal the world to crazy killer pretty quickly but because Barry is aware of Crisis and is trying to prepare for it, the show is at least incorporating Crisis into its fast moving narrative. Supergirl, however, doesn’t know about Crisis. The characters aren’t addressing it and storylines aren’t split across a Big Bad and the Crisis, which has left us with the most unsatisfying story progression. As much as I’m not a fan of the idea, the show as a whole has been hinting at and seeding the idea of Lena “going bad’ since she first turned up. Now we’re finally here and they’re just whizzing through the storyline in the most unsatisfying way ready for the crossover.
Part of the problem I have this week – and in general – is that Lena is overreacting and behaving so unreasonably. The show has suggested in the past that she is closed off and reluctant to open up to people because of her past and family but the last couple of episodes have had to race through some retro-active character work to show just how untrusting she is. There is an extreme level to Lena’s reaction and a petulance about her behaviour. For someone so intelligent, I find it hard to believe that she would have such a negative reaction to the news, that she wouldn’t be able to understand even just a little why Kara wouldn’t tell people, let alone someone who would be a strong target for pain and manipulation (think how Lex might’ve – and actually kind of did – use Lena to get to Supergirl). Lena’s line, as she leaves an imprisoned Kara in the fortress “I’m not a villain, you shouldn’t have treated me like one” is all very powerful except, Kara didn’t. She just didn’t confide a huge secret about herself until she was ready. And, you know, Lena did do super secret bad things without telling Kara. Lena, get over yourself.
The episodes ends in a weird place, with Alex and Kelly together (I think?) J’onn and his bro buddies and Supergirl trapped in the Fortress of Solitude while Lena goes off to enact her sort-of-evil-but-for-the-greater-good-but-still-pretty-evil plan; this was the most unsatisfying episode in an unsatisfying season… and not a giant worm in sight.
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum