Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Supergirl Episode 19: Myriad
Supergirl Episode 19 'Myriad' aired this week, the penultimate episode for this first season. It seems like just yesterday we were seeing the poster put on the WB water tower and (not) watching the leaked pilot. And here we are a week away from the finale ... maybe a show finale. We still don't know if there will be a season two.
Now there is a lot to like about this episode. There is some action. There is a great cliffhanger. And most importantly, there is a lot of Supergirl philosophy in the dialogue. Do the ends justify the means? How do you fight evil without becoming evil? What is stronger than fear? And are heroes perfect and infallible? These questions and concepts are what make me love Supergirl as a character. So seeing the writers, producers, and actors showcase these ideas makes me very happy.
That doesn't mean this is a perfect episode by any means. There are a lot of plot holes that you need to just gloss over. If you think too hard about things, you're bound to start thinking about ways this episode could have played out more realistically. But if you can buy super-powered individuals, phantom zones, living internet women, and aliens living among us, maybe you can look past some plot lapses.
As usual, the acting on the show is wonderful. Melissa Benoist really shows range again. She is frustrated, scared, and angry. She is doubtful at time, resolute at others. Calista Flockhart shines as well. As Cat she has to play the cold, distant boss. And yet, we have seen her open up and be vulnerable. A scene where Cat and Kara talk about hope is the high point of this episode.
On to the show.
While I countdown to depower the cell doors ticks away, Lucy personally opens up the cell of Maxima. She has been invited to be Non's queen. We get a fair amount of Maxima info in the dialogue here. We learn she was royalty on Almerac and wanted to be Superman's mate.
Kara arrives, hears about Maxima's copulation plans (love how Kara says 'gross'), trounces the villain, and smashes the DEO controls before the cells can open. It felt like a little bit of a waste of Maxima, even thought the brief fight was great. Perhaps she can return next season?
For me, the big part of this scene was seeing Lucy and the others open fire on Kara with Kryptonite bullets, even putting one into Kara's arm. The threat is real. Seeing Kara fish out the bullet with her finger showed how determined Supergirl is to win.
It was nice to see Laura Benanti as Alura again. She gives us a nice info dump about Myriad. Astra created the mind control technology on Krypton but was stopped before she could use it. As a result, Astra was thrown into Fort Rozz. Myriad was felt to be so dangerous that robots like Kelex weren't even allowed to discuss it.
I do hope, if there is a second season, we see more of Benanti.
Back in National City, Kara finds a city entranced. Some people are walking down the street in formations. The CatCo staff are all at their desks, typing Kryptonese into their computers. Only Maxwell Lord (wearing fancy signal-blocking tech) and Cat Grant (wearing earrings sent by Max which also block the Myriad wave) are free.
Superman arrives but also is overwhelmed by Myriad, joining the throngs of zombies on the street!
Lord says he didn't turn over the blocking technology to the DEO because he only trusted Alex and Hank. (That seems thin to me. He'd rather face annihilation?) He also presumes that Superman's long life on Earth made Kal's brain more human-like and therefore more susceptible to Myriad. (This is a convenient way for the writers to answer the 'where is Superman' question while leaving this a Supergirl story.)
But I have issues.
While we hear that the Lord satellites broadcasting the Myriad signal are surrounded by force fields, couldn't Kara try to push them out of synch? Couldn't Max make more blockers? Put them on key personnel? Shouldn't Cat or him relinquish their blockers so Kara could put them on Superman? If there villains are Kryptonian, isn't the DEO dripping with K-weaponry that could be used?
Indigo is back this episode and is deliciously wicked. Laura Vandervoort is straight up devious. Throughout the episode she seems to be playing the part of Lady Macbeth, constantly pushing Non to do more and more evil. He doesn't want to kill Supergirl. He would be happy ruling Earth.
But she keeps pushing death and universal domination. Remember, she is responsible for planetary genocide. She can't be a good consigliore.
It looked like Vandervoort was having a blast playing this part, smiling devilishly as she deals out the pain.
Alex and Hank are still on the run. They head to Midvale to stock up at the Danvers. I loved seeing the undercover blond Alex with her 'son' (J'onn shapeshifted as a child).
At first Eliza Danvers doesn't trust Hank. Remember, she has been told that J'onn killed Jeremiah. But after some assurances, Eliza shows her scientist side, peppering Hank with questions about his physiology.
Eliza tells them about the perils of National City and the two begin to plan their next steps.
Now comes the real heart of the episode. These were the game changing scenes.
Non shows up and calmly talks about the merits of Myriad. In one day, all crime has stopped in National City. There is no longer class wars, racial tension, anger. Everyone is at peace. And he has put the minds of the city on trying to solve the problems of the planet. Isn't this a good thing? And yet, freedom has been lost. Do these ends justify the means?
And to show how powerless Kara is, Non orders James, Winn, and a Catco employee named Kelly to jump off the building. Supergirl can't save everyone. Kelly dies. Non says he will order more people to kill themselves if Kara interferes. Remember, this is a young hero learning. She can't save everyone. That is a hard lesson to learn.
Non then leaves.
Once alone, Max Lord says he has designed a K-bomb which will kill all the Kryptonians in the city as well as 8% of the city's population. Is that the right answer? Killing 300,000 to save 7 billion? Do those ends justify the means?
This was pretty thought provoking. And maybe just a little dark, but in a good way. Not gratuitous. Not wallowing in it. This was dark in a way to make the light shine brighter. I did have to chuckle that one death and talk of a bomb was dark for this show. That is nothing compared to the carnage of the current DCEU movies.
But I have some issues here as well. Why would Non let Max and Cat remain with free will? Even if he doesn't want to kill Supergirl, why would he let her roam free? Why wouldn't he capture her and bring her to his stronghold to witness his victory?
On the Balcony of Zen, Cat and Kara talk.
One thing I love about this is that Kara begins to question her mother's role in the death of Krypton. Alura was always perfect in Kara's mind. But could Alura have stopped the destruction of Krypton by letting Astra use Myriad? Would Krypton be alive, their culture intact? Did Alura make the right choice? This is a heavy topic and echoes the problems Kara had with Alura in the Gates' run of the book.
Kat then gives the inspirational talk Supergirl needs to hear. Everyone is afraid. And people shouldn't make decisions out of fear. They need hope. Hope is stronger than fear. And Supergirl is that hope. Supergirl's belief that goodness will prevail can change people. It has changed Cat. And now when Cat sees the S-shield, she sees hope. The shield meaning hope?? Nice reference to the film. And it actually seems right here.
Supergirl just needs to be Supergirl. People will follow.
That encapsulates my feelings for the character wonderfully. Just incredible.
I would love a reel of just the season's conversations on this balcony. I bet it would be a greatest hits piece.
J'onn and Alex head into the city. J'onn tries to telepathically protect Alex from the Myriad signal but it is strong enough to even shake the Manhunter. Indigo arrives and she and J'onn fight. It seems like J'onn is winning but Indigo has the Terminator 2 power to simply reassemble herself. Bathed in and weakened by fire, J'onn is skewered and left for dead.
The three will use Cat's old radio station, analog not digital ... so Indigo-free, to piggyback a message of hope on the Myriad wavelength. It will be so powerful a message that the people will break free.
I have to assume the message is going to be Supergirl. But I actually would like it if it was all three. Imagine Lord, Grant, and Kara working together? That is a message of hope.
A mind-controlled Alex arrives, laden down with K-weapons including the K-atana which killed Astra. The sisters will have to fight. Nice cliffhanger. That needs to be an action figure.
There is a lot more to love in this episode. Earlier there is a conversation between Alex and Kara where Alex perfectly reads her sister's tone and knows Kara is lying. General Lane trusts Supergirl will protect his daughter. And the Indigo's constant nudging of Non deeper into darkness even as people tell him Astra wouldn't approve was brilliant. And Cat has a killer meta-line about not dating Harrison Ford.
So to heck with some plot holes and easy contrivances. This episode was about how hope is stronger than fear. This was about Supergirl embodying hope. This was about Supergirl being tempted for a second but then correcting her moral course.
And so we are on to the finale.
Hopefully there will be more to come after that.