Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Supergirl Episode 4: How Does She Do It

Supergirl 'How Does She Do It' aired this week, the fifth episode of Supergirl aired was actually the 4th chapter in this season. This was the episode delayed a week given the tragedy of that occurred in Paris earlier this month.

This was another fun episode in this series, showcasing that this is still an inexperienced Kara learning how to juggle a secret identity and a life as a super-hero. It isn't easy. This is a Supergirl pulled in a number of directions and something's got to give. But the show makes a point to show that these are also the problems of non-super beings as well. Lucy, Jimmy, and Cat are all stretched to their limit and need to lean on others for help now and then. The inability to be everywhere at once, to save everybody all the time, is a lesson every hero needs to learn.

This episode also did a good job in pushing forward a couple of the brewing subplots, revealing more of Hank Henshaw's secret and introducing a new, fascinating villain. Some of this borrows or homages some classic scenes in comic book/superhero TV, something that always makes me smile.

Lastly, I have to say, the effects on this show continue to impress. The action sequences are thrilling.

As always, this isn't perfect. But my quibbles are minor and will be shared throughout the episode.

Remember, this episode was supposed to air after the Reactron episode. Supergirl is feeling pretty confident about herself at the end of that show, with even Superman telling her she is doing great.

So it isn't surprising that this episode opens with Kara saying that she can have it all, she can do everything.

That reverie is broken when she notices that a drone is following her. After a bit of a chase, more difficult than I would anticipate, Supergirl destroys it. It reminded me greatly of an early Byrne Superman issue where Luthor has a flying camera drone trying to trail Superman to discover his secrets.

Kara assumes that this is the DEO trailing her but Henshaw says it isn't from them. And the tech is highly advanced but not alien.

Meanwhile, at CatCo, Kara learns that Cat has won the prestigious Siegel Prize for women in media. This is the first time Cat has beaten Lois. But Cat can't go to accept the award because no one is around to watch her son Carter. Kara agrees to babysit. I like that Cat assumes Kara is doing it to have Ms. Grant owe Kara something. Now you would think that Cat could afford a high priced nanny service or bring Carter with her. So this is just a bit contrived. But just like that, Kara is on babysitting duty.

Off to fetch lunch, Kara runs into James and Lucy at the restaurant. We learn a bit about Lucy here. She works for the military JAG office. She calls James 'JImmy'. And we learn that Lucy broke up with him. Jimmy says it is because Lucy put her career over their relationship.

So we see that Lucy can't 'do it all', at least from James' point of view.

There isn't much time for chitchat. A bomb goes off in the city, gutting a building. Kara sweeps in, holding the building up, welding the steel infrastructure with her heat vision, and blowing out the flames with her superbreath.

This is a great action sequence and very classic. How often have we seen Superman do this welding trick to save a building or a dam. I love it.

What Kara doesn't see is another drone taking in the whole scene.

The building was a high tech lab with a connection to Maxwell Lord. Alex and Hank will pose as FBI agents (they have nifty switcheroo DEO->FBU badges) to investigate.

But that rescue and debrief at the DEO delay Kara from her other charge, taking care of Carter. She has to fly to his school to pick him up.

It is a cute scene as Carter is a shy, nerdy sort of kid. I think he is meant to remind us of Kara, having us get behind him and his little journey.

As always, Melissa Benoist is just a delight. She has this little character quirk of adjusting her glasses when embarrassed or caught in a little lie. Here she futzes with them after saying how much she liked school because it taught her about this 'new planet'. She is truly wonderful.

Kara drops Carter off at CatCo but can't watch him for long.

At Lord Industries, Alex interviews Max. He is a rather charming, independent mogul. But he tells a backstory of wanting to change the world. He doesn't trust the government or anyone, revealing his parents died in a lab accident when safety regulations failed. All this comes out in the silkiest of ways as he seems to be wooing Alex.

But their talk is interrupted by the discovery of a bomb in one of the lab's at Lord's building. Alex calls Kara in for the rescue forcing Kara to leave Carter with Winn. Again, we see she is being pulled away from one responsibility to deal with another.

In another great sequence we see Kara swoop in and fly the bomb out and up, away from the city. Waiting until the last second, she takes the brunt of the blast, falling into the ocean.

Kara is revived in a concentrated sunbath at the DEO. But in her haze, we see that Kara sees a red-eyed Hank. Hmmm ...

Those schematics could be cyborg eyes. The images definitely look like a head CT scan. Maybe Hank is looking at his own anatomy?

We then get some character building before the big finale.

Winn says he is dying every day as he pines for Kara. #PoorWinn

Lucy tells Kara that she may have left Jimmy but that was because Jimmy had checked out of the relationship. He always chose being Superman's Pal over being her boyfriend. It shows that James can't do it all either. It also sets up a bit of a Rashomon feel to their relationship. Who was at fault? Probably both? And Lucy is already jealous of Supergirl as a potential rival for Jimmy's love. Are these the seeds for Superwoman?

We learn that Carter is semi-obsessed with Supergirl, enough to sneak out to the Lord magnetic train maiden trip, in hopes of seeing Supergirl there.

And we learn that the likely bomber is a Lord ex-employee named Alexander Knox. Knox was fired, divorced, and dealing with a sick daughter.

Things take an interesting turn when a bomb scare is called at the airport, exactly as Lucy is heading to catch a flight home. Meanwhile, Winn, while trying to find Carter, sees Knox on the train, with a very obvious bomb poking out of his coat.

So there are some problems here. One, you would think that security would be high enough to not have this guy get on the train. But how could no one else see this thing?

Second, Carter is escorted onto the train by Lord. Lord assumes Carter has been separated from parents. So that was a bit too contrived a way to get Carter on the train.

Third, at the airport, we see Lucy helping an elderly woman out of the terminal. It is clear that the creative staff doesn't want us to dislike Lucy. So she is given a sympathetic angle to the Jimmy romance. And we see her helping someone in the most trite manner. I don't mind us liking Lucy. But that felt a bit too obvious.

Regardless, with two bombs, Kara has to make a decision. She can't be everywhere. She can't do it all. She has tells the DEO that she'll deal with the train. They have to take the airport bomb.

At the airport, Henshaw sends everyone away. And then, all red eyed, he rips the bomb apart and disables it.

If he was the true Cyborg Superman, able to communicate with devices, he could shut it down in a less physical way. But maybe he is just a cyborg without the other powers.

Of course, this also could easily be the Martian Manhunter as well, showing powers in J'onn's repertoire.

To explain how he defused the bomb, Henshaw claims it was a dud.

On the train, Kara confronts Knox. She tries to talk him down in the most Supergirl way possible and I love it. She says she'll help him. She says she knows what it is like to feel pulled in many directions. She calls upon his love for his daughter, a sick daughter who needs her father. She doesn't go straight to fisticuffs.

But Knox doesn't seem demented or enraged. He says he wasn't expecting to blow up the bomb. But he couldn't face his daughter if caught. He activates the bomb. Supergirl can fly it or Knox away. If the bomb is removed from the train it will automatically detonate.

The only thing left for Supergirl is to save the rest of the train. With Knox in the front, she disconnects the locomotive and stops it, allowing the bomb to detonate further down the track.

Get it ... more powerful than a locomotive, even an electromagnetically propelled one.

The episode really sticks the landing though as the last scene is brilliant.

Supergirl puts it all together that Maxwell Lord was behind the whole thing. The bombs, including the one at the airport, had a kill switch. Knox's daughter was being kept alive by a grant from Maxwell Lord. Lord was behind everything but was never in danger because he could have stopped the bombs remotely.

Lord basically confesses, stating that the drones and bombs each tested an aspect of Supergirl's powers. And her choosing to save the train over the more populated airport perhaps means she had feelings for someone there. Lord was evaluating Supergirl; he wants to have all the information on her ... to control her? Kill her?

Regardless, it's all nefarious. And Peter Facinelli, as Lord, is perfectly smarmy and here oozes some malevolence.

It ends with Supergirl saying she'll be watching Lord closely. It isn't over.

We have seen a similar scene between Lex and Superman many times. Whether it is Superman floating outside of Lex's office on the animated series, or Dean Cain questioning John Shea on Adventures of Lois and Clark, we have seen this. But it worked so well here. This is Supergirl confident in her abilities.

There were more bits. We got more of Cat Grant throwing down wisdom of going slow in life, gaining skills and doing more as you learn. We see Jimmy and Lucy back together, thrown into each others' arms by the airport threat. But that ending with Lord was fantastic.

So overall another fun episode with Supergirl. Melissa Benoist is a star, as usual, running the gamut of emotions in Kara. And the subplots of the show continue to move forward, making this more than a monster of the week.


Martin Gray said...

What a fantastic episode, and it didn't suffer from being broadcast out of the intended sequence. I love how the story moves along. I do hope Lucy and Jimmy stick together, because I see no chemistry with Kara. Whereas, Win ... wotta guy!

How old was Carter meant to be? He looked about the, but sounded about 30. Good actor, mind!

Gene (Supergirl's Pal) said...

"We learn a bit about Lucy here. She works for the military JAG office."

Wouldn't it be funny that Lucy's superior officer is played either by David James Elliott or (even better) Catherine Bell?

There is no way that bomber could have gotten on the train without Maxwell Lord's help. He had his jacket unzipped for Rao's sake!


Anonymous said...

Win has to be doomed, Berlanti loves to make blood sacrifice of key supporting characters although the exact cast member is usually money is on Win or possibly Cat (athough snuffing Cat would alter the setting considerably IMHO). Jimmy and Alex have to be bulletproof that leaves Lucy who might be a Superwoman mark at the end of the day.
I like this ep but it had a few contrivances that dropped it down to the "Better Lois & Clark" class until the last five minutes and Maxwell Lord's true nature got thoroughly exposed. Good scene and clearly Lord is being set up as the show's in house "Playboy Lex Luthor" stand in....
I'm thinking that maybe just maybe Lord is the means by which Kara will learn a lesson about too many people knowing her secret....just a thought though.
Melissa Benoist continues to be a delight, she has this great inappropriate skeptical snort she deploys whenever someone talks outside her circle about Supergirl...that woman was just made to bath in the cool blue light of television the small screen just loves her.


Anonymous said...

Melissa Benoist is doing a great job of separating Kara from Supergirl. She is playing two different characters on the show. The question is which one is the real Kara? The nerdy stumbling awkward girl or the confident take charge Supergirl? This is a major subplot of the show.

Darrin said...

Really enjoying your reviews Anj. Nice insights. We're definitely enjoying the series but like you have some minor quibbles. It's obvious this series has the potential to be even better and I'm hoping they work out the few kinks.