Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Supergirl Episode 10: Childish Things

Supergirl Episode 10, titled 'Childish Things' aired this week and was the equivalent of a break issue in a comic run. Yes, the long-running plots of Hank being J'Onn and Maxwell Lord's villainy continued to move forward. But the bulk of this episode focused on Winn Schott and his father the Toyman. While this plot wasn't crucial for the overall arcs of the season, it did add some significant depth to Winn, the one character who still seemed a bit too two-dimensional for me. This was an episode where Justin Jordan got to shine. And his scenes with Melissa Benoist were wonderful.

Now to get this story out, Supergirl has to overcome some rather mundane threats from the Toyman. In fact, she should have easily handled these threats. But I need to look over these action scene quibbles because I felt the character bits of this episode were really strong.

I'll concentrate on the Winn/Kara plot and touch on the Hank/Alex/Max stuff here as well. There is a Lucy/James plot I'll touch on at the end.

The episode starts with the Toyman breaking out of jail, killing his security guards ruthlessly with a yo-yo armed with a circular saw blade. This was a pretty grim scene and nicely set up how crazy Toyman, played brilliantly by Henry Czerny, would be in the episode.

This horror scene was countered nicely with the publicized scene of Kara and J'onn flying. We learn that J'onn is reluctant to show who he is or openly use his powers. Earth won't accept him because he is a monster. Kara's response resonates far beyond commenting on J'onn and his powers. She talks about how after she  'came out' and 'embraced who she was meant to be' that she has never been happier. That can be an empowering statement about anyone who feels they are hiding a part of themselves out of fear.

The FBI and agent Cameron Chase come to CatCo to question Winn about his father. It is only then that the staff, including Kara, learn that Winn's father is the Toyman. (You would think that Cat would know given background checks. I mean, here he is Winn Schott Jr.!)

Winn lets it be known how much he hates his father. Winn loved his dad, a person similar in personality, until his life changed when his father murdered 6 people. Toyman wanted to kill his old boss Dunnholtz, who stole Schott's toy designs. (This mirrors the John Byrne origin.) Unfortunately, the Toyman bomb killed Dunnholz assistant and some co-workers. Jordan plays Winn's emotions well, showing the hate he has while trying to keep it controlled.

I have to say, I love the Toyman Easter Eggs, riffing on both the Super Friends version and the Superman:The Animated Series one.

 The Toyman doll leads Winn to a boardwalk arcade, complete with creepy dolls, robotic stuffed animals, and a feel of antiquated grime to feel creepy. Toyman is there and tells Winn that they share a genius which lesser people call madness. Brrrr ...

The FBI storms the arcade and open fires on Winn Sr. Unfortunately, this isn't the real Toyman but some simulacrum which triggers a counterattack of poison gas. This seemed like a pretty quick use of force.

Kara flies in as Supergirl and takes in all the gas with vacuum breath and disperses it in the sky. Hey, any time a new power is used, I'm happy.

This scene ends with Kara telling Winn how much she needs him in her life. She can see how Winn's past could make him feel isolated and alone (much as she sometimes feels), but they can help each other move beyond that.

 Meanwhile, Alex bullies Hank into using his Martian powers to infiltrate Lord Industries and Room 52. She'll keep the real Max Lord away by wining and dining him. I like that Lord has Alex in his speed dial as 'Mata Hari'. Alex admits that her organization has a partnership with Supergirl.

Lord is pure Lex here, talking about how Alex has accomplished all she has through hard work and grit, not because of alien physiology.

 Meanwhile, Hank has shapeshifted into Hank and walks through Lord's compound. He has some fun with an administrator, stating that his (that is Lord's) 'narcissism and unkempt facial hair' cut his date off with Alex early.

Inside room 52 Hank sees BizarroGirl, basically braindead and being infused with some chemical concoction.

Unfortunately, a security guard comes in, questions Hank/Lord about 'Codename Phoenix' forcing J'onn to mindwipe the guard. He robs the guard of years of memory. Later, Hank is curt with Alex, saying she made him do something he vowed he would never do again. I am calling it now, he mindwiped the real Hank who is still alive in South America.

 Winn figures out his father is probably holed up in his old factory. Supergirl heads over and confronts the Toyman. Somehow she is trapped in thermite quicksand hidden in a giant building block. She is being sucked down to her death. Meanwhile, as another distraction, the Toyman has put a child in a steamer trunk headed towards an industrial shredder.

This seems like a simple trap for Supergirl to have avoided let alone escape. Using her super-breath for the second time this episode, she freezes the sand and shatters it.

 The 'child' in the trunk is a Supergirl doll. In fact, Toyman used creepy Supergirl toys in this scene twice. I said it before, Czerny's understated acting, playing this as if he is perfectly normal to feel the way he does, is chilling.

 Back at Kara's apartment, Winn talks about how he worries that he will snap one day like his father. He was so like his dad that he thinks his genes are time bombs.

I like Kara's response, saying that Winn's dad killing those people is similar to her losing all of Krypton. Both of their lives ended that day. But rather than giving in to rage and hate, they both strive to give back.

Kara didn't let Krypton's destruction make her wallow in hate and rage. DO YOU HEAR THAT JEPH LOEB, JOE KELLY, and SCOTT LOBDELL???!!!!

Unfortunately, Winn thinks is the right moment to lean in and try to kiss Kara, a kiss she recoils from.


 Embarassed, sad, or both, Winn leaves only to be kidnapped by his father. Toyman Sr.has come up with a truly insane plan. He knows that Dunnholtz will be at a Toy Convention. Toyman has planted 10 bombs around the convention floor. Unless Winn goes and kills Dunnholtz, Toyman will detonate the bombs killing hundreds. It is up to Winn. That is madness!

Perhaps more chilling is that Toyman says that this murder by Winn will bring them closer together. In fact, throughout the episode Toyman talks about how Winn is 'the best thing he ever made'. Could Winn be a robot???

Winn refuses to kill Dunnholtz. Toyman activates the bombs, a move which would kill Winn as well. But Supergirl girl arrives. She activates the sprinklers in the convention center and uses her super-breath (again) to freeze an ice wall between the crowd and the bombs. That's using her brains!

Just like that the Toyman is captured.

 But the relationship between Winn and Kara is damaged.

He finally confesses his love for her (how could she not know??). And he can't be with her when it hurts him to bottle up his feelings. It was his father bottling up his feelings that turned him into the Toyman.

Is it a little immature of Winn? Yeah. But this is the first time he is dealing with this stuff openly. I suspect he'll come back a wiser and more mature friend after.

The episode really sticks the landing though.

Alex and Kara share TV night where they talk about how the Danvers sisters should 'come with a warning'. Kara has hurt Winn and she can't live with herself. Alex pressured Hank into doing something terrible. At least they have each other.

They also have Maxwell Lord who planted a camera on Alex's purse. Now Max knows Supergirl is Alex sister. Brilliant turn.

Also, Cat and Lucy continue to be catty about Lois. Cat says Lucy is too smart to pine away for James without an identity. Lucy is hired as Cat's lawyer. And James initially seems cool to the whole thing but it has nothing to do with not wanting Lucy around and everything about him wanting to be Mr. Action and not an art director behind a desk.

There are a lot of nice little moments in this episode. But this is really Jeremy Jordan's show. His scenes with Henry Czerny are tense and gut-wrenching. His scenes with Melissa Benoist are compelling and tear-inducing. I don't have words to convey how I thought those scenes shined. They were the highlight, surpassing super-breath and creepy dolls.

I don't think this was any where near the best episode of this series. But it made Winn something more and did keep things moving forward. Plus, Toyman Easter Eggs!! And two new Anj theories. The real Hank is mindwiped and alive in South America. And Winn could be an automaton.


Martin Gray said...

That is a brilliant notion, Winn being a robot. Has he met Max, I don't think so... I expect Matt would catch on pretty quickly. Either way, Jeremy Jordan was just stellar, I hope he doesn't go bad, or mad. Him following Dad would be a terrible message to send out, that you can't escape your dreams, or that he's so weak-willed and unable to take rejection that he'll be Toyman Too. I'd rather he rejected his father by takin a new name, 'Ted Kord', maybe. One path for him from here would be a job with the DEO, he could do good, challenge himself more and wouldn't be around Kara all day.

(I still, though, don't understand how Kara doesn't find him totally adorable, he's husband material, definitely.)

J'onn needs to cheer the heck up. Get out there, show himself, be proud - people would get used to his green-ness soon enough. Plenty of people could do Hank's job, but how many can be a superhero?

I really liked the '50 years' reference, putting his origin back to the pre-Silver Age, as in the comics. I'd love a flashback episode of him and Dr Erdel.

Neal said...

This is a great review, and this is actually one of my favorite episodes of the series. Great character moments for Winn and Kara. I like the idea of Toyman have a trap for Supergirl as goofy as quicksand, but the writers needed to put a bit more thought into that one. I appreciate that they're trying to not to overdue kryptonite on this show, but adding a throwaway line about the sand being laced with kryptonite would have made the whole thing seem a bit more plausible.

KET said...

"This seems like a simple trap for Supergirl to have avoided let alone escape."

...which it was, as common sense knows this would never physically stop a Supergirl. However, Toyman's whole 'trap' with the quicksand was a metaphor Symbolizing Kara's crumbling friendship with Winn, and the doll was being used as a play upon her humanity (much like when Red Tornado created a whirlwind to distract Kara in "Red Faced".

In fact, this episode begins building up the psychological wall Kara will have built around herself in time "For The Girl Who Has Everything". Cat is actively looking for a new mentor, James is distracted by Lucy, and now Winn is no longer in the friend-zone. All that's left of Kara's 'circle of influence' is Alex and Hank, and it looks like Hank will likely be out of commission by the end of the next episode. Alex's inaccurate assumption of Maxwell Lord's character may be her undoing as well.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm thinking too much on the uses of fictional telepathy but how is it easier to mindwipe someone of years of their life as opposed to a day or something shorter? Mindwiping someone of years of memories should really require more knowledge and skill of telepathy than mindwiping them of a few hours or days. Seemed like overkill personally. J'onn is being a little mopey and reclusive but at least it's nice to see him somewhere in live action, unlike some people who are keeping him out of their club.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

Mart, glad you like the robot idea. Thought I was insane even thinking it.

Ket, nice idea about the symbolism of the quicksand. I agree that the dream world of Krypton in 'Girl who has everything' is that much more tempting if her Earth life is in turmoil.

Louis - my guess is that J'onn's mindwipe was more carpet bomb than surgical strike. Maybe he doesn't have the skill to do something small. Or maybe he was in a hurry and just overdid it.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Hey Anj, great review as always. And I completely missed the easter eggs to Superfriends and TAS, SWEET inclusion on that!
Don't know about anyone else, but the tilt-a-whirl in the background during Winn's initial meeting with his father IMMEDIATELY
made me think of Supergirl The Movie... maybe it's just me.

Interesting theory about the real Hank Henshaw and what Winn is... will have to see how TPTB play it in the future.

I continue to love what this show shows us about Supergirl... and the memorable oneliners they stick into the dialog, thanks for
pointing them out, they still put a smile on my face.

Eagerly await the next episode!


Anonymous said...

Most of the supporting cast crossed a line in this ep, J'onn allowed Alex to bully him into using he powers to essentially burglarize Max's laboratory and of course had to do something morally unpleasant to escape.
Alex tried to vamp Max and ended up compromising her sister's secret.....Winn crossed a line when he fruitlessly kissed Kara.
So some good fuses are lit to be sure.
BTW Max video bug's a young woman's purse serious Norman Bates creepage...serious.

Yeah I agree the quicksand trap seemed a little underdeveloped (she could grip the sides of the box and simply tear it apart....that much was clear and who knows how long she can hold her breath, maybe she doesn't even know....) but it represents a good faith attempt to do something other than magic or kryptonite so I'm gonna let it pass.

KET said...

"nice idea about the symbolism of the quicksand. I agree that the dream world of Krypton in 'Girl who has everything' is that much more tempting if her Earth life is in turmoil."

Well, the whole episode concerned itself with the mental states of nearly all the main characters, not just the obvious stuff surrounding Winn. Consider what Hank said afterwards regarding his encounter in Lord's lab with that guard...sounds like he is scared that he might turn into a Manhunter? Anyone remember Laurel Kent from the LSH?

Even Max is thinking that he is outsmarting the others, yet he seems to have conveniently forgotten the old saw that 'one shouldn't disturb the lioness in her lair'. While Kara doesn't kill, Alex has already done so without any hesitation whatsoever.


Gene said...

This episode proves that it can go sick and twisted without going over the top. The very idea of people getting killed by exploding teddy bears is messed up.


Uncle Screensaver said...

This was a good episode, even if they continue to mispronounce names - it's pronounced "Scott" according to the comics.
The killer yo-yo's were cool although I thought that this show was for kids too.
I loved the nods to Toyman and I want those Supergirl toys!
I was thinking that Winn Jr. might be a clone, or perhaps it's just a reference to how they presented the character as a young Toyman himself when the series was announced, and that he'd become the villain after being spurned by Kara. It seemed like after complaints they then said that it was going to be his son.
Having Winn as being the child of a villain is a nice addition to the dynamics of the cast. I do hope they don't have him snap and become the new Toyman just because Supergirl doesn't love him.
The Max Lord spying is creepy and reminded me of Buffy when - I can't remember her name - was watching Riley (whom she considered to be her son) and Buffy having sex. Obviously M.M. can mindwipe him later.
I didn't know why he'd have to completely mindwipe that guard, though. If he's been around for over 50 years he should have a handle on his powers.
I like that Kara has used her freeze breath/ super-breath so much, as it's a power that is often underused. I wonder if we'll ever get to see super-ventriloquism?
I still have issues with the show but I find it is becoming much better written and overall a lot of fun with a definite respect for the character and mythos.
I think of how DC said the New52 Supergirl's animosity toward humans and all the negative stuff included was "the core" of the character. It shows that the writers of the TV show get Supergirl's true core: hope, love, fun, and if need be, indignant rage but not rage for angsty, angry, grr "i hate the world" rage. There are aspects of Supergirl in this show that only a few have realized and understood since Crisis, and I love that, even if it is sad that the comics have lost so much of it. It's another reason I love JL3001 so much!

Anonymous said...

My gut is something bad down the line is slated for poor Win he isn't an established canonical DC characters so the producer's can do what they like with him as I see it. I don't think he is an automaton (wouldn't Kara figure something out by now? Super senses doncha know)....clone has some possibilities or going rogue although he'd start out with full knowledge of her secret ID, strong advantage IMHO....or he could end up dead Occam's Razor strongly suggests that...
I think it'd be funny if he ended up with Alex...they have such similar personalities...


Anj said...

Winn as robot would be bizarre I know. But remember, the child killer in the comics was retconned to a robot so refined no one, not even Superman, knew.

Maybe more like a replicant?

I hope he doesn't go bad because he is spurned. I think this is a growth moment for Winn.

Anj said...

Agree ?Uncle. The writers seem to 'get' Kara.

Anonymous said...

> It shows that the writers of the TV show get Supergirl's true core: hope, love,
> fun, and if need be, indignant rage but not rage for angsty, angry, grr "i hate
> the world" rage.

> The writers seem to 'get' Kara.

Amen to that, all. Amen to that!


Anonymous said...

Love your reviews. But I would give the DC writers a little slack. After all this Kara has had 12 years to work through her grief over Krypton's destruction before the TV series opens while for the DCU Supergirl she hasn't had that time to process her grief.

Gerry Beritela