Five Thoughts on Supergirl‘s “Back From the Future Part 1”

By | January 27th, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

Welcome back all you Supergirl fans! You’d think, with a title like “Back from the Future: Part 1,” we’d have had an episode that felt like the start of a two hour special instead of a run of the mill episode. You’d think, but no. I’m disappointed in you Supergirl. I was expecting more.

And as always, spoilers ahead.

1. Lie to Me

Of all the shows dealing with “Crisis,” Supergirl really tried its damndest to shift its main cast to being in on everything, thereby preserving as much of the status quo as possible. This isn’t a bad approach but it does make “Crisis” feel inconsequential for these characters.

Arrow handled things the best in my opinion, granted it has the benefit of wrapping up and jumping forwards in time, Black Lightning only has two characters remember and can thus mine that tension of “What’s different?” and the newly forged connections between Jennifer and Jefferson, while Legends is perpetually in flux and so this was just a more intense than usual crossover. Batwoman is just getting started so I give it a pass.

I appreciated the ways the main cast of those shows try to reckon with what happened in “Crisis” and the ripples it causes. Lex being back and Leviathan being far more nefarious this time around is a good plot use of the new world but there isn’t that good reckoning or sorting out of emotions. Not enough has changed and everyone getting back into the swing of things off screen makes for an easy, cheap reset.

What got me back on this rant was the appearance of Winn Schott, Toymaker in conjunction with the appearance of Winn Schott, Legionnaire. Here’s some more fallout from “Crisis” but when Winn, our Winn, is given his memories of Earth-1 (and caught up on two seasons worth of Supergirl), it’s played off as a joke and he vomits — me too dude. I think they’ve just done a poor job of handling the emotional aspects of the transition. It’s too neat, too tidy. The changes are cosmetic and, to cap it off, all center around Lex Fucking Luthor.

They could have done anything they wanted! J’onn could have been a real fucking detective on Earth-Prime. He could have a non-shitty costume. Director Bones could have been around. Vampires could be real! Sorry. . .No. No vampires. Keep them far away from DC’s Sunday shows.

I want some decent emotional stakes and character work that’s more than skin deep dammit! Is that too much to ask? It’s all so damn shallow and this show is capable of so much more. Melissa Benoist is capable of so much more. They all are.

2. Wanted: Dead or Alive

But, there are positives! Jeremy Jordan absolutely killed it as both Toyman and as Winn. He feels reinvigorated in the role and while I’m sure he’s just a guest, it’s been nice having him around again, playing off the cast, old and new. He’s no longer the nervous quipmeister that’s wasted in a chair, now he’s an emotional core that I didn’t even know the group was missing this last season. He and Nia, he and Brainy, he and Kara, all these one-on-one scenes are fantastic. Did they blow all the good lines on these exchanges?

I’m glad they did. You can feel the years on him and the maturity he now has. When he’s confronted with a version of him he always feared he could become, he steps up to the plate and fights with his friends. It’s inspiring and I wish we could get more of the kinds of scenes we have between him and Kara on her balcony.

That effortless, relaxed banter? The natural conversation that didn’t feel like it was processed through a speech machine and spat out onto the screen? Stop forcing your characters to continually change scenes or jump from overly dramatic even to the next and let them be. Let us connect to them, let them discover and stew and feel without spewing it out in scenes that artificially resolve everything and spell it out in nauseating, generic detail.

. . .*ahem*

3. This Ain’t a Love Song

Continued below

Man, I wish Jon Cryer was a worse actor. I wish he sucked. Because then I could remain completely and totally frustrated with the continued centrality and presence of one Lex “biggest asshole in the multiverse” Luthor. But alas, I cannot because Cryer is just so damn good at being Lex. Never for a second have I doubted that this man is not Lex Luthor nor have I doubted why everyone loves him on Earth-Prime. Cryer gets both sides of Lex: the public, suave though not debonair persona and the private, villainous mastermind. His ego is there in both but filtered differently.

It also highlights how sidelined Lena is and serves to continue my confusion with why we aren’t getting more conflict from Lena. It’s like a piece of her had to be forgotten in order to make her fully embrace the Luthor name but they never filled the hole in, so when she goes from “Steely-eyed, I will use anyone and everyone for my goals” to “You’re not going to hurt anyone?” I remain unconvinced.

Is the hypocrisy meant to be there? That she doesn’t realize that her line has been fuzzy from the start and that what she means by “hurt” is not as well defined as she believes it to be? Or is it a mistake that they’re stuck with? Not a character flaw but a flaw in the characterization? I clearly fall in the latter category, and I will continue to question why her heart is hardened like Pharoah’s, unable to let her barriers weaken, even unintentionally.

4. Thank You for Loving Me

Nia Nahl is still around and I am SO GRATEFUL. Like I said last week, I thought the breakup would push her out of the show more than she had already been but it seems that the opposite is happening. Good. I’m glad I was wrong. Nia deserves more screen time and her path to being a hero should be documented. They also followed up on the breakup remarkably well for both her and Brainy. I still disagree with the handling but I’m glad they play with the fallout, giving Nia a good episode arc and Brainy a tear-jerking confessional.

Now if only they hadn’t opened the episode post-Toyman on Kara, Alex, Nia and Kelly failing the Bechdel test and talking about Brainy and Lex. Come on y’all, you can do better than that.

5. Because We Can

I know this has little to do with the episode itself but I wanted to shout out to the effects team this week. They made those toy tigers look good. They were stylized and integrated well. It made the fight that much more fun and for a show that’s supposed to be the sunniest of the CWverse, we could use a bit more ludicrousness in it.

That about does it for now! What did you all think of Winn’s return? I actually thought the episode was very good, just plagued by most of the season-wide stuff. You ready for that “cliffhanger” to be paid off in. . .three weeks? Yep, that’s right. Supergirl is going on break for a bit, as per usual, so I will see you all again the week after that! Join our guest reviewer in three weeks for the resolution to Toyman’s VR nightmare. Told you it was a bad idea Andrea! Until then, stay super y’all

Best Line of the Night:

Kara: “No way am I letting you eat that. . .that sad sandwich.”

//TAGS | supergirl

Elias Rosner

Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. Co-host of Make Mine Multiversity, a Marvel podcast, after wining the no-prize from the former hosts, co-editor of The Webcomics Weekly, and writer of the Worthy column, he can be found on Twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and really needs to update his profile photo again.


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