Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Supergirl Episode 202: Last Children Of Krypton

The second episode of this second season of Supergirl aired earlier this week and continued to showcase the super-cousins as they faced the Kryptonite-powered menace of not one ... but two Metallos! I got the sense from this episode that the show runners were using this first mini-arc to set up the current season, redefining some of the characters' roles while reestablishing some of the emotional cores of the show. Remember, a network change happened. The producers might feel they need to inform new viewers exactly what happens in National City all while satisfying everyone who followed from CBS.

As a result, 'Last Children of Krypton' felt a little busy. A lot happens in this episode. And some of it felt a little off as the emotional beats and some storylines happen a little quickly. This isn't as nutty as last season's premiere which could have used another 30 minutes. But it felt a bit cramped.

That isn't to say I didn't like the episode. What is stuffed into this episode is, for the most part, pretty good. From the strained relationship of J'onn and Superman to the new Catco to Winn being the voice of familial reason, there is some solid stuff here. I was happy and entertained. You can't ask for more.

So with the deck chairs rearranged and everyone's roles reset, this season is ready to take off. No complaints here.

On to the particulars; settle in.

The episode opens with a fun montage of the Kara and Kal zipping around the city dealing with a number of minor incidents - a building on fire, a robbery, and even (off screen) taking out an alien Kigori. Everything seems happy and perfect. I have never heard Kara laugh or seen her smile as much as this. And that elation seems to be a little too much for the DEO to take. J'onn is irked by the mirth. And Alex seems exasperated, maybe a little lonely.

Things aren't as rosy at CatCo. Snapper Carr arrives as the head of the investigative branch of CatCo magazine and he is everything a rumpled, old school, curmudgeon should be. It is clear (as the producers said) that the template here is Lou Grant. That is a high bar to aim for.

I think the trick here is going to be not making him a caricature. He has no respect for Kara as a reporter because she hasn't made her bones. He derisively calls her 'Pony Tail' (this season's Kira?). He acts like he has an ethical core. He has won a Pulitzer. But I hope he isn't going to be the target of some of the Feminism 101 that we heard last season. My hope is he'll become the grizzled mentor of Kara, the stand-in for Cat while being the unpolished opposite of her.

I love how Kara gets flustered as she tries to come up with barbed comebacks for Carr's insults. Perfect acting by Benoist.

After he horns in on Danvers' Sister Night (you can feel Alex bristle), Clark drops the bomb that he is heading back to Metropolis, a statement which deflates Kara. But before he can leave, news talks about a jumper on a nearby bridge. The cousins decide to team up one last time.

The 'jumper' is Metallo. Corben has been brainwashed (programmed?) by Cadmus to be a zealot for the anti-alien cause. And his heart of Kryptonite is the perfect weapon. He actually gets the upper hand on both Superman and Supergirl until Kal shoulderblocks him miles away. (I do think that Supergirl actually does a better job in fighting him in the battle.)

Weakened by his Kryptonite ray, Kara needs to be carried back to the DEO by Kal. Yes, this is clearly a riff on Crisis for all us comic fans. And, as I have said before, I have come to terms with this image, recognizing how important it is to both comics and Supergirl fans. So I like it.

After all, she is just weakened here, just as Superman was seconds before.

This does open up a can of worms. The DEO was supposed to have all the Kryptonite on Earth. Some has gone missing. And Superman isn't happy about it. In fact, for a second it looks like Kal and J'onn might throw down. (Winn, like any fanboy, is both scared and giddy!)

J'onn seems to have a reasonable argument for having it. After all, without it Zod and Astra would have taken over Earth. But Superman isn't having any part of it. This is an angry Superman ... interesting.

But before that can fester, Cadmus announces themselves in a very Man of Steel Zod-like message, including the glitchy sputtering and static. I wonder if the writers were trying to capture some Snyder-iffic imagery.

As someone who didn't like Man of Steel, it seemed odd for Cadmus to tip their hand like this. So I hope it wasn't done just to get that vibe.

At CatCo, Kara talks to Cat about Snapper Carr's flippancy. Cat basically tells Kara that she needs to stand up on her own. After all, Cat has decided to move on from CatCo for a bit. She has 'swam in the same pool' for too long. I think that makes sense. I will say, as someone churning away in the same job, I occasionally thirst for a new challenge.

The hug from Cat seemed both spot on and way off. I suppose she has developed a closer relationship with Kara than with most. So I guess the Ice Queen has melted.

But Kara understands that things in her life are changing rapidly. After years of personal stagnation, Kara feels unsettled. So you would think she would cling to the rocks in her life ... Winn and Alex.

With Metallo still out there, Kal and J'onn head to the Fortress to try to track him down. Luckily, a shard of Metallo turns out to be made from Promethium, an easily detectable metal.

The power of this scene is the J'onn/Kal interaction. J'onn actually speaks Kryptonian to say a prayer for Superman's parents. But Superman won't have it. The Kryptonite issue still looms.

I'm sorry but I tend to side with J'onn about this. He has witnessed genocide. He has declared Earth his home. He needs everything at his disposal.

Remember how I said that Kara should cling to the rocks in her life? That would seem like something she would do based on all of last season, right? Instead, she says that she's decided to move to Metropolis to be with Kal.

Not surprisingly, Alex can't believe it. But she doesn't tell Kara why that would be a mistake. No, instead she turns it around saying how much she has given up personally for Kara ... how could Kara abandon her! That feels way off to me. Almost petty.

What I did like is Alex pulls no punches. She says that Superman abandoned Supergirl with the Danvers. We all have thought that now and then, especially when reading the Silver Age stuff. But instead of sounding self-centered and needy, you would think that Alex would say why this would be a bad decision for Kara instead. And there are lots of reasons why it wouldn't be good.

Of all people, Winn is the voice of familial reason!

He knows that family don't keep score. They show up. Alex needs to think more about Kara and less about herself. This is a short scene but might be my favorite of the episode. This episode is about family and togetherness. It took Winn to make Alex see that she needs to be there for Kara.

I like Winn in this new role. I like how he is a little more confident, more salty. He is, of course, going to be the omni-scientist. More than a hacker, he is someone who can retro-engineer armor that counteracts Kryptonite. Because comic book scientists know all fields of comic book science. And his complete awe in the face of Superman makes sense.

And Winn is able to help Alex figure out who is the DEO mole who stole the Kryptonite. This leads Alex to meet the Doctor, the woman who made Metallo. She says that she will tell Jeremiah hello and then has her men attack. She even offers Alex a seat at the Cadmus table, reminding Alex how much she has personally forsaken to be with 'aliens'.

It is always good to see Alex cut loose and she gains the upper hand momentarily. In the end though, Kara has to come in with the rescue, catching a bullet and finishing one of the Cadmus thugs off. After all, family needs to stick together. Kara recognizes she can't leave. Alex is too important. That makes sense ... especially given all the things we saw last season.

Cadmus does fascinate me. It is the scarred side of the DEO coin. Both places seem to have a mission of keeping Earth safe from aliens. But  Their methods and ultimate goals are much darker.

I am forgetting to mention the super-villains. Earlier in the episode, Cadmus created a second Metallo and sent one to Metropolis to run amok. Suddenly the cousins have to defend their respective cities.

In what has to be a bit of a no-brainer, Kara realizes they can't win one-on-one. They need back up. So action-suit Alex joins Kara and J'onn teams up with Kal. I guess, given the subplots of the episode ... of forgiveness and acceptance ... those pairings make sense. And J'onn has a nice finishing move, using his intangibility to rip the Kryptonite out of Metallo. Nice.

I don't know why shattering the K or ripping it from Metallo's chest makes it less toxic, but I guess I'll roll with it. Both action sequences are well done.

Nothing left but the wrap up.

Cat meets with Supergirl on the 'Balcony of Zen'. I thought for sure Cat would reveal she knows Supergirl is Kara ... but no.

Jimmy inherits Cat's position.

Snapper accepts Kara's first article .. begrudgingly.

J'onn gives Superman all the remaining Kryptonite (hurray, can't be used as a crutch any more!). Clark heads back to Metropolis.

And Mon-El awakens ...

Overall, the emotional turns seem fast. Kara decides to leave Alex then stay with Alex in about 10 minutes. Alex seems petty then reasonable within minutes. That said, the action was well choreographed. J'onn was solid. I am glad to Superman was on the show. But I am very happy he is gone. Supergirl needs to shine a bit on her own now. (As a side note, even my 13yr old complained about his presence saying this was Kara's show!)

So what did you all think?


SG Fan said...

I thought there was a lot in the episode but I didn't feel like it was overstuffed. In fact I remember I was thinking, 'wow they're almost ready for the big final showdown' and then looked at my watch, it had only been a half-hour. I felt like I definitely got my money's worth for the episode.

To address a couple things you mentioned Anj, Alex's argument might have seemed a little petty but being an older sibling myself; that happens. In fact Kara wanting to move to Metropolis actually I thought was a subtle nod to her comics history. How many jobs/cities/etc has Kara moved to over the years. Kara being unsure about her world and wanting to move and change things up struck me as being in character. Of course glad Alex and Kara fixed things before the episode was out.

Winn is totally in the right place now. I think centralizing Team Supergirl with the DEO was the right move. I love the dynamic he's building with everyone there.

Cadmus big reveal is a bit odd I thought. Clearly they wanted to nod to the General Zod bit. However Cadmus was very much implied to be a government control agency or group in season one. Heck that's here Alex and J'onn/Hank were being sent by the government. Now though they're operating more like a terrorist group. I would like some explanation of what's going on. Maybe President Carter will give us some next episode but we'll see.

Overall I was really happy with this one, solid 8/10 I'd say.

Anonymous said...

Warp Speed Pacing seems to be a hallmark of Supergirl and the Flash for that matter I've made my peace with it even if I feel it opens the way to uneven or clunky writing.
beside the super cousins teamed up SEAMLESSLY this week!! We haven't seen this since Empire Days of Bruce Timm & Co....I mean Curt Swan couldn't have done them more Justice as the World's Greatest Super Team".
My big cavil in this ep is the whole "Kara as a reporter" meme, it feels pat and forced and uncreative. Granted for a number of reasons she couldn't have stayed as Cat's assistant forever so she had to move along as Kara Danvers...but reporter meh...been there done that.
I mean she has access to the hugest story of the age "Aliens are Among Us and the DEO keeps em' locked up" and can't spill it....sad.
I always thought Supergirl should have been self employed something that would give her the maximum control over her schedule without the inconvenience of punching a timeclock somewhere. JF

Anonymous said...

Maybe not rushed so much as alot to unpack emotionally... I have to scream this from all the high points
happy! Kudos to TPTB that allowed this to happen!

Think that was the point I kinda lost my emotional center as the show then brought us back to reality that
things are / have changed -- between Cat / Calista F and Clark / Superman / Tyler H mentioning their
departures, and the bit of Kara musing about moving to Metropolis to be with her cousin fit within the
context of the show -- who doesn't want to see more of the Supercousins together after this? And the change
with Jimmy and Winn. Just alot to process.

The MOS Zod-esque intro to Cadmus I thought wasn't the best. Personally I would have preferred Cadmus to
be the shadowy (rogue) government agency awhile longer, a la XFiles. Definately hoping there's more of them
the rest of this season, and definately hoping there's more of "The Doctor."

I'm also hoping for Snapper Carr to be that kick to keep Kara growing and moving forward, and not just be
a caricature; it's also rather soon for me to form an opinion on him. I need a new target of hate and
loathing post-Peter F / Maxwell Lord and either "The Doctor" or Snapper fit the bill best :)


Anonymous said...

Should also add the spoken "I love you" between the Supercousins, and the SMS "Miss you already,"
THAT was the ultimate capstone to seeing the Supercousins together.

Yes it's Supergirl's show, but I miss seeing them together already...


Martin Gray said...

I loved Kara's announcement of her 500-word piece: '...and zero adjectives' Good on her - and hopefully no abhorrent drop intros either!

Cat so knows (again).

Good on Alex for her point about abandonment, even though I didn't for a minute believe Kara would be so emotionally dense. It's not like a team-up with Clark has to necessitate relocation - they can fly back and forth whenever, and Alex and their parents (whom Kara seemed to forget existed, with her eventual 'you're the only one who...' comment to Alex. That was poor shortcut writing.

But Lord, Clark is wonderful.

Brenda Strong is like an evil Julie Andrews

I didn't miss Jimmy at all, but look forward to seeing him as Guardian.

J'onn is a pillock, far meaner than he needs to be. This is not the J'onn I know.

I wish Kara and Karl would stop promising to do everything to find Jeremiah, then fail to do anything! With no super-criminal on the loose, it should be priority number one.

It's nice to have a Metallo in this Supergirl story as he debuted in the same issue of Action Comics, as you know - but why did they have Frederick Schmidt play him as English – his accent was awful.

The fights were great, love the Kryptonite effects, and the back and forth tussle. And J'onn as a wee Supergirl!

Overall, a good episode but the writing could have been tighter.

KET said...

I would probably say that with so much transition going on into the new season, there was bound to be some noticeable hiccups as the new and existing players move into their positions. However, it seems clear that episode pacing seems to stressing on action beats more than lingering emotional ones. With Kal now out of the picture for the time being, we'll have to wait and see if this is going to continue in future episodes.

Hoping that the new Kara/Snapper office dynamic won't feel too much like it's aping Mary Richards/Lou Grant from decades ago. Seems like the show runners moved James into Cat's old office space in order to still be a comforting presence when things get too tense.

The Winn and Alex conversation at the DEO definitely was a highlight of the episode for me. I liked that he's already contributing more than merely a Cisco riff to the organization.

In the end, Kara recalled her family's motto of "Stronger Together" and got her family and friends on the same page to deal with the Metallos.