Welcome back all you Supergirl fans to the column that never stops…except for when the show takes a break…and then I’m indisposed due to a combination of study abroad, sickness, and wicked jet lag. Needless to say, it’s been a while so let’s dig right into what I’ve missed just in time for the show to return to break. Sigh. At least it’s more predictable than any of the cartoon carrying networks. And, as always, some, though in this case many, spoilers are ahead.
“The Legion of Superheroes”
1. Brainiac is Best Boy
Brainiac 5, as a character, could have easily been an annoying character. He is smarter than everyone else in the room, ala the Doctor, and that in the hands of the wrong actor can get us to just roll our eyes and groan, waiting for the moment that he is shown up. But Jesse Rath brings a grounded touch to Brainiac, making every moment he’s on screen a delight. He’s charming in all the ways that Mon-El is not (and I like the new Mon-El…to a point) and while he’s smart, and knows it, it never feels like he’s lording it over the characters or the audience.
His comedic delivery is spot on and he’s the right balance of reserved and animated in action, tone, and volume. While I’m not sure how well the Legion itself works, and I’ll get to that in a minute, Brainiac’s inclusion makes them entirely worth it. He is a breath of fresh air into a cast that has started to feel stagnant and way too self-centered.
2. Kara vs. Supergirl
So, this is a theme that I was harping on for a while before the break and this episode kind of addresses it through Kara’s coma. There is a tension between Kara and Supergirl that has never been resolved, even though it was hinted at first during the Mon-El mope sessions and then later during the flashback to teenage Kara. Who to focus on? Who is the more important character for the audience to follow? Who, within the framework of the show, is the more important person to be? These are all excellent questions and it’d be great if the show could dedicate some more time to actually considering them.
Instead, here we get Brainiac telling Kara that she’s trapped within her mind because she doesn’t want to leave because she doesn’t really know who she wants to be. Which is true. Which is so true. Kara Danvers is dead as far as the show is concerned. Her only purpose is to give her sister moral support and to occasionally show up at work and talk with Lena Luthor and her boyfriend, perpetually sidelined newspaper reporter Jimmy Olson. I’m not bitter.
Regardless, Supergirl is, as the title of the show implies, the focus half of Kara Danvers but by throwing all of Kara’s character development on the backburner in favor of Kryptonians and Supergirl’s heroics, the show is sacrificing what made those early episodes good – the tension of balancing Kara’s life and Supergirl’s as well as how to be Kara Danvers when Supergirl is needed more.
This is probably me hoping for something that isn’t in the cards but I hope we get less of the superheroics in future episodes and more of Kara doing her job as, you know, a reporter and working with Jimmy Olson to be, you know, reporters. I’m not bitter at all.
3. The Legion of Boring
You have the Legion of Superheroes! The episode is called the “Legion of Superheroes!” Do something with them!! Ugh.
As I said earlier, I love Brainiac but the Legion of Superheroes is so much more than just one person and none of that was on display in this episode. Mon-El is there to fret and worry about Kara as well as to provide a link to the Legion, Imra, who spends the episode doing nothing and Brainiac, who is the focus of the episode. Where is the rest of the Legion? Three does not a Legion make. And why did they pick some of the blandest characters to accompany Brainiac into this time period?
When they first teased the Legion, it seemed like we’d be getting some good old superheroics with big personalities, colorful costumes and a new team dynamic. Instead we get a lot of greys and blacks as well as two boring, boring heroes who don’t have much personality…and Brainiac. I hope in future episodes they give Imra and Mon-El something to do but, having already watched the next two, I can say with confidence that that doesn’t happen.Continued below
Also, why did they choose to set their “big return” fight to Living on a Prayer? Heck, they didn’t even set the fight to the song itself. It’s this dissonant music choice that baffles me to no end and really just made the fight super awkward.
*sigh* At least Reign’s crown looks a bit better during the daytime.
4. Costume Choices
Now, I’m a bit late to this party, although I was right there for one of the costume choices, but let’s talk Brainiac-5’s design and Reign’s crown.
First, as I just said, Reign’s crown looks so much better during the daytime. Like, I can actually see the contours of the mask and the openings actually let sunlight in, framing her face in a way that highlights it instead of masking it in shadows. This still doesn’t change that whenever it’s night, which happens way too often, she still looks like she’s wearing a juggernaut-esque mask but it could always be worse. I’ll just have to get used to it.
However, the other costume choice that really seemed to divide people is Brainiac-5’s design. I’m not sure how I feel about it myself. I got used to the grey instead of green face really quickly but it still felt…off. But, as I’ve gushed about already, his performance is so fun that I’m willing to overlook the strange choices they made with his appearance.
5. More J’onn Jones…Please
This is a testament to Melissa Benoist’s acting for this show. Give her the right material and she shines. Case and point: J’onn Jones pretending to be a sick Kara Danvers. She sells it and much like Anthony Hopkins, I totally believed that this was someone pretending to be someone else. When Supergirl allows its actors to be silly and revel in the comedy that can come about, it gets infinitely better and more fun to watch. It really helps to have the personality clash between Kara and J’onn as well. I hope we get to see more relaxed scenes like this in the future (a lesson all the post-season 2 CW shows could learn).
6. Let Livewire Curse!
Livewire has always felt like Captain Cold’s angry cousin, trapped on a network that doesn’t allow her to be her full, angry self. There were a few times in this episode that I was thinking, “Livewire doesn’t belong on this network. Let her curse!” This happened more times than is healthy and while that may have had something to do with the jet lag, I still stand by it.
“Livewire” was one of my favorite episodes from season one and every time she’s back, I get excited. Well, this time I was excited. Last time I was underwhelmed but hey, it can’t all be hunky dory. I’m glad she has a more active part here and that we were exploring her psyche a little more, seeing what made her tick and what it would take for her to be selfless. It’s the kind of character work we could see more of, especially from Reign’s shadowy bosses.
7. Brainiac-5 V Winn Shott
The pettiness. The sniping. The rivalry. It all builds slowly throughout the episode before finally coming to a head at the end, with Winn coming out on top. I’m so glad we got to see Brainiac-5 be insufferable this episode after seeing him be overwhelmed by problems last time. It’s another facet of his personality we can see and it gives him some more depth. I know I just talked about how I was glad he didn’t fall into this trap but this episode shows us just how smart Brainiac is.
He comes up with all these ingenious solutions to the problem of lost contact with Supergirl & Imra but is constantly thwarted by the limitations of the era he is in. But because he is stubborn, he refuses to let anyone else help or offer suggestions. However, through this, we see that it’s more than just a dismissal of others as less intelligent, he places a high-level of responsibility upon his shoulders to be the team’s troubleshooter. It’s a matter of pride that he solve the problem because if he can’t do it with his high intellect, then what good is he?Continued below
Plus, this gave Winn a solid win and something to, finally, do within the framework of the DEO. Comedy + some good character moments = a well done set of scenes. Glad to see something good coming out of the DEO exposition room.
8. Psi, Why?
I’ve just effused about the two characters I love in this episode, now let’s discuss the one I could have done without: Psi. Psi was the villain from a few episodes ago that I really didn’t like. Really didn’t like. Her character has been shallow at best and even in this episode, has muddy motivations and just isn’t fun to watch. Now, not every character has to be enjoyable to watch. There are plenty of amazing characters who make you squirm in your seat and look at the screen in disgust but when you have two characters, especially villain characters, who are similar in attitude, you’ve gotta make them fun or at least interesting to watch.
Psi does not check this box instead feeling inserted into the episode for some cheap tension in the form of “can we trust her?” Give me more Livewire any day.
9. Death Comes for the Archbishop
Was anyone else not surprised by Reign killing Rozz? Like, was there anything that could have been more telegraphed? I’m honestly shocked they played that off as a surprising turn of events. Rozz was introduced this episode and she fulfils the role of fanatic who is killed to suppress her knowledge. Beyond that, she was expendable.
The other death of the episode was more surprising and angers me. Only in death does Livewire get redemption while Psi gets to go back to her cell so that she can cameo another day. I’d have much preferred the other way around and I’d argue it would have been a more narratively satisfying end. Psi atones for sending Imra into a spiral of fear, something I hope gets touched on in later episodes, after opening Reign up to her worst fears. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s better than Livewire dying.
10. Sam and the Missing 52 Seconds
Ok, it’s more than 52 seconds but we’re finally getting to the plot point that was many episodes in the making, Sam’s transformations into Reign. We know, as the audience, that she’s been turning into Reign and going off to fuck up some people’s days but Sam, as well as everyone else in the show, do not. Honestly, I’m surprised that Alex doesn’t even field the idea that maybe this has something to do with Reign but then again, these aren’t the most observant characters in the universe. (See: everything to do with their father and Mama Luthor)
Sam’s freak out this episode was great, showing us the distress that the missing days have been putting on her and the small, little problems that have escalated into whole days of missing time. However, this brings up a problem that I didn’t realize until this freakout – Sam hasn’t been freaking out. Remember, this has been going on for a while now but we haven’t seen her have any sort of private anxiety over the missing time. We saw it earlier in the season, when she was having strange powers just start to manifest but since become Reign full-on…nothing.
That’s bad. It doesn’t matter now, since she’s gone to Alex about it, but it’s glaring in hindsight.
11. Establishing Shots? What’re Those?
Props to whoever handled the direction and cinematography this episode. I noticed that the shot composition of this episode was very different from your standard tv shots and I appreciate that. It made the episode stand out more and made it more visually interesting. I especially loved the establishing shot at the beginning, showing the outside of the DEO and, you know, actually establishing a location, letting it breathe before throwing us into the exposition hell that is the DEO control room.
It’s nice to see them trying new angles and ways of shooting. It made the action more dynamic and the show itself less like a series of talking head. More of this please.
12. Jimmy? Doing something?!
Yes, my friends. After weeks of complaining, they’ve finally done it. Jimmy Olson is finally doing something other than having flirt sessions with Lena and standing in his office, not doing reporting. I’m sure you are all tired of me harping on this but it’s been truly frustrating to see all of the side characters from previous seasons just get shoved to the side in favor of monsters of the week. The only people we got to see really grow were Alex and Maggie…and I’d argue only Alex really grew during that relationship. Getting to see Jimmy be Guardian again was nice, it gave him something to do, a focus that, while I’d hoped he’d be doing something more related to his, you know, job (did the writers just forget that Kara and Jimmy work at a newspaper?) this is a good second thing to do.Continued below
I don’t think he’ll remain as Guardian beyond this episode, as the immediate danger of Lena being an assassination target by her mother/Talbot or whatever he’s called in this show, is over.
13. Reign steps back
Glad we got a breather from the Kryptonian soap opera for a week, even if Reign and world killers’ effects are still being felt. We got to see the return of a couple other, human baddies, reminding us that not every villain will be some superpowered alien that engages with Supergirl in a fist fight. Some of them she will have to outsmart as well as out punch. I hope that maybe she gets to work with the Legion some more but it feels like their plot line and hers are two very disparate narrative threads.
Maybe we’ll see some overlap but I’ve got the feeling that Reign will have to be dealt with before anything with the Legion can be addressed. Honestly, theirs is the more interesting thread. I question why they were introduced here but I have the feeling that Supergirl just needed a team to make it slightly less implausible that Kara can beat Reign and the world killers.
14. Mon-El, King of Orders
Mon-El, for all his growth, is still a character that the writers feel the need to insert into every, single situation. This episode is one of them. The rest of the Legion is MIA for the episode but Mon-El is there to jump into the control room and start issuing orders like he’s the team leader. Hell, I don’t even think he leads the Legion but he’s treated with so much respect by the DEO, you’d think he was some sort of war hero.
Which, to be fair, he is. He saved the world through self-sacrifice and a fitting end to his arc. But now he’s back and is still acting like a cocky, know-it-all. He’s not haughty about it but it’s glaring just how much he’s taking over the control room. Winn, J’onn and Alex are all kind of sidelined and I’d have much rather seen them all ping-pong off each other. Mon-El could contribute his ideas, his knowledge and experience but as a part of the team instead of as the “leader” figure.
Maybe I’m just reading into this since I’m not the biggest Mon-El fan. Still, if I am reading this right, I hope the writers tone down his intrusions and have him work with team Supergirl instead of having them work for him.
I couldn’t not mention the Lexosuit. It’s the Lexosuit. It’s a tie to the superman mythos, to Tyler Hochelin and to an aspect of this universe that we haven’t seen beyond the few mentions by Lena and her mother, Lex. What else has Lex created that is out there? What else has already happened in this universe that we never got to see? It opens a lot of great questions and I want to see the Lexosuit in full use at some point. More Lexosuit please.
And there we are. Whew, that’s a lot of thoughts for one post. Thank you all for sticking with me to the end and for bearing with the break. It’s good to be back, even if it is just for the next couple posts.
So, join me again tomorrow as we wrap up the final episode of this four-episode block. And then join me on Thursday as I take over for Ken on Riverdale. Yes, you heard me right, I’ve been given the reigns to sexy Archie full-time (at least for this season). It’s gonna be a wild ride.