Whew, last week’s crossover was a doozy. I can’t wait to find out how it affects the sh…oh. They don’t even acknowledge the wedding. Welp. I shouldn’t be surprised but, here I am, complaining about it. I wish they held some narrative weight so that the character work done in the crossover could have some effect on the show, right?
Welcome back all you Supergirl fans and thank you for putting up with my miniature rant before we get down to the details of this week’s Christmas themed episode and man-oh-man do I have thoughts. So, let’s get down to brass tacks and, as always, some spoilers are ahead.
1. Angsty Supergirl Returns: The Sequel No One Asked For
Two weeks ago, I wasn’t super sold on the return of Mon-El but, by the end of the episode, I was ok with it. He has matured and changed and, while he still is a horrible communicator, I can only blame the writers for that one. Manufactured tension, huzzah!
Well, the writers seem to think they can milk this for all its worth and Kara was finally getting over him. I knew, I knew that they couldn’t leave well enough alone and that Kara would spend the entire episode being jealous of Mon-El’s wife, but did we really have to spend the entirety of Kara’s conversations on him. Every. Single. Time that she is pulled aside for a chat with any character (Alex, Mon-El, Imra), it’s to talk about him and can we please move on, Supergirl?
We had such a great character arc forming for Kara, learning to move on from loss, and we were finally getting somewhere, finally getting Kara (as Kara) to have some form of character growth and then Mon-El shows up and all that is thrown out the window. She refuses to talk about her feelings, like, at all. Choosing instead to regress into herself, just like she has done since she was a teenager, and rebuff every attempt at honest and healthy conversation.
CW, you love conflict, especially emotional conflict, but this episode really shows why so much of it never rings true. Kara has every right to feel betrayed; as she says in the episode, her worst fear isn’t that she’ll have lost the person she loved and that loved her back, but that they will return without that love in their eyes. So she avoids Mon-El. That’s engaging conflict, it speaks to a character’s fears and is rooted in who they are.
What makes it not work here is that we don’t know any of this beforehand. We find this out near the end of the episode, in a rushed conversation in the halls of the DEO and it was preceded by so many pointless, reiterative conversations that could have been easily heightened. If Kara had opened up, even a little, and admitted that she was hurting, this could have been a compelling series of conversations that spoke to Kara’s insecurities and acted as a touchstone for us, connecting disparate thematic threads weaved throughout the season and allowing Kara to work through this, at least a little bit. It’s especially frustrating that she doesn’t open up to Alex considering everything they’ve been through.
2. Why the Mystery?
Why the hell did Supergirl feel the need to keep Reign’s “identity” a secret for 80% of this episode? It wasn’t interesting, it wasn’t necessary and it certainly didn’t add anything to those scenes. We all know who she is at this point. The foreshadowing was heavy-handed (Sam waking up in bed with missing time and no memory), if it was supposed to be foreshadowing at all, and two episodes ago all but confirmed who she was. They don’t even offer up a plausible red herring so what was the point?
It made the scenes she was supposed to be “scary” in feel empty and only served excuse sloppy camera work during the dock drug deal fight. That fight was like a mix of the worst Marvel shaky cam fights and the 1st person kill cam in any ‘80s slasher flick. I could not follow any of the action and instead of making Reign feel more powerful or scary, it just made me annoyed at the scene. But, I have a theory why they did that.Continued below
3. Really? You’re Going Out Looking Like That?
What is with that costume Reign? You look ridiculous. There is nothing menacing about that mask, it just makes you look like you strapped some coral to your face. Professor Pyg looks more menacing and he has a pig head strapped to his face. At first, I thought that this was the show’s attempt at matching the comic look of Reign but, having looked at her design, I much prefer the costume they’ve given her here, sans mask.
Why did they think that looked scary? Looking at photos, it’s not that bad but in the episode, it frames her face so that it looks distorted, off but not scary, which it really should. It was a distraction throughout the entire final fight scene and wasn’t helped by that voice disguise trick that sounds the same as every other CW superhero disguised voice.
4. Blair Witch Mom
Supergirl needs to pick a tone for Reign. Is she supposed to be scary or just powerful? Because she sure as hell isn’t scary, even though the show seems to want to insist that she is. And she should be. Hell, if you want to make your villain dark and scary, take a cue from Netflix’s Daredevil not Wonder Woman (you all know whose mustache I’m talking about). Spend the entire episode following her slow descent and don’t shy away from showing the horrible things she is beginning to do. Play up the psychological torture this must be inflicting upon her. Don’t just show a couple scorched fields and a shaky, messy fight in a brightly lit dockyard, slow it down, kill the music.
Let the scenes breathe because if you don’t, you end up getting someone who feels like they’d fit in with a watered-down version of a Gotham villain instead of a truly formidable Supergirl opponent. Right now, however, we have neither of those and, instead, have what feels like a villain of the week that’s been elevated to season long baddie.
Also, that final shot of her standing in the corner of her house. Not scary, just silly.
5. On a Lighter Note
I’ve spent a lot of this complaining so I’ll close out on something that Supergirl keeps getting right, J’onn’s father and Winn. They both have the best lines and some of the only funny ones, even if they both have minimal, minimal roles in the episode. Will we ever get the humor of earlier seasons or even earlier episodes back? Will the Supergirl writers learn to use their existing cast or will they be shoved by the wayside?
Can I go one week without writing way too much on one of my thoughts? Find out after the new year, when Supergirl returns from its mid-season break. I will try my hardest to get you coverage then but you might have to deal with a fill-in reviewer or two (what is this, a DC Rebirth title?).
Either way, let me know what you thought of the mid-season finale. How off-base with the costume am I? Do you too want more of J’onn’s father? And, as always, stay super.