Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Supergirl Episode 206: Changing

'Changing' aired earlier this week and was a very strong episode. As has become the norm this season, there are great action moments and those are fantastic. But more importantly, there are truly incredible character moments. Each of these characters is going through an arc. No one is being shuttled to the sidelines. And every character's story is compelling.

The title of this episode - Changing - is so appropriate. Yes, Rudy Jones is changing, mutating into the Parasite. But most everyone is changing. James is becoming the Guardian. Winn is becoming more confident and is acting as James' partner. Mon-El is trying to changing his selfish ways and become a hero.

And the biggest change is Alex finally realizing she is gay and coming out. And it is a very emotional arc even in this one episode. She is nervous revealing it to Kara. She is afraid Kara disapproves. And just when things seem bright, the rug is pulled out from under her. It is truly a gut punch. After not getting much sister moments this season, we get three separate scenes with the two in this episode!

None of these stories could work as well as they have if the acting isn't there and everyone shines here. In particular, Chyler Leigh's performance as Alex this episode is phenomenal. Because we have scenes of her showing her strength, showing how she became a leader in the DEO, being stern to M'Gann and Mon-El. And at the same time we see her at her most vulnerable. I'll also say that Jeremy Jordan is showing how much Winn has changed.

If I have one minor complaint, it is that it is clear that the show has a progressive agenda in mind this season. We saw the idea of refugee amnesty early on. Now the enemy is climate change. The Parasite is the villain but he is fighting 'evil, well dressed men' who are denying science. Even if I agree that climate change is a problem, I don't need such a ham-fisted way of being told it.

On to the episode!

The episode starts with Kara and the gang hanging out at the alien bar. Mon-El gets Kara to drink some alien ale which gets her drunk. Maggie tells Alex that she needs to come out to her family. The night is interrupted by Winn at the DEO. He has received a distress call.

In what is clearly an homage to John Carpenter's fantastic horror movie The Thing, the Thorul research center near the north pole has sent out a SOS call. The scientists there found a wolf buried under the ice which that was still warm and housing an alien. We see it attack Dr. Rudy Jones, a very passionate scientist trying to combat Climate Change.

When the DEO arrives at the site, only Jones is alive. Everyone else looks drained of life. Back at the DEO, we see Jones recover. But a literal ear worm crawls from his mouth and into his ear. Disgusting.

Now I am a huge fan of Carpenter's The Thing so I liked what I saw there.

But more importantly, the THORUL Arctic Research lab. We know that in the comics, Lena changed her name to Thorul. Is this a Cadmus lab (since the Doctor is Lena's mother)? Or is this a site Lena is in charge of?

 Kara's training of Mon-El is cut short when Alex interrupts. She needs to talk to Kara.

It is the first of the three scenes of the sisters. Walking outside, Alex comes out to Kara. She says that she developed feelings for Maggie. And that now that she has been thinking about this, she is remembering these moments early in her life where maybe she had those feelings and didn't know how to deal with them. It is a heavy scene and Chyler Leigh really shows the struggle of getting this out.

Meanwhile, Kara seems surprised and says she is trying to understand all of it. But that sort of lukewarm response is off-putting to Alex. She says she doesn't want to talk about it anymore and storms off.

But the two are soon called out on a mission. Winn has found footage of Jones attacking the lab staff. The sisters go to engage.

And Jones is now assimilated into this new symbiotic being. He and the Parasite are one. They use the pronoun 'we'. He realizes he can use his powers to lead the war on climate change.

We see him use his powers to drain Kara, absorbing some of her power greedily, and then storming off.

I like the effects here, the purple energy draining Kara and her scared face sells the moment.

As I said, Winn has shined this whole season. James arrives to check on Kara and is upset that he wasn't out there help in the fight. He demands that Winn give him the hero suit he is making.

In a superb acting job by Jeremy Jordan, Winn yells back at James. He isn't taking orders. They are partners. He is good at his job and the suit isn't ready. If James goes out now, he'll die. He won't give it to him. And frankly, James can't treat him that way. After a season of Winn being meek, this season Winn has stepped up.

I love the directing here showing just how far apart they are in their opinion, putting them on opposite sides of the room. 

 Kara was sent home to rest after the attack and when she left, things felt awkward between her and Alex.

Alex goes to confront his sister, asking Kara why she is acting weird.You can sense that Alex is worried that Kara is upset about her revelation.

But it is the exact opposite. Kara left because Alex said she didn't want to talk about it. She says clearly that she is 'so okay' with Alex's sexuality. And then she apologizes for dominating their relationship in the early life. It was all about Kara's secrets. And Kara knows that keeping something about yourself hidden is lonely.

With the air cleared, the two hug. It was a great moment. The scene ends with a great line. Kara is called away to fight an alien. She says 'I'll get the alien. You get the girl.'

The alien turns out to be Mon-El who is acting as a strong arm for the mob to collect debts. Kara isn't surprised a Daxamite would stoop low and not be a hero. And Mon-El says it isn't his desire to be a hero. He even says that Kara isn't perfect, loving the adulation she gets as a Supergirl. I think they like each other!

Realizing that Jones wants to fight climate change, the DEO figures out who is next victims will be.  Supergirl and J'Onn go and fight Jones (still in his human form). But the Parasite gets them in his clutches. Nearly draining them to death, he mutates into a huge, purple, humanoid lamprey.

This was a great action sequence. And again, the effects were great here. We see J'Onn shape change and phase. And the wire work on the physical aspects was cool.

The attack leaves them skeletal. Supergirl can recover with yellow sunlight exposure. But J'Onn needs a blood transfusion. And there is only one person who can do that ... M'Gann. Alex heads to the bar and the two leave. But before they go, Alex sees Mon-El drowning his sorrows. She lays into him calling him a coward and running at the first sign of danger.

And back at the DEO, she demands that M'Gann donate blood for J'Onn. M'Gann hesitates, probably because she knows she is a white Martian. But Alex isn't back down. She says that M'Gann needs to put custom and history and personal issues and squeamishness behind her. M'Gann has to save J'Onn.

After a couple of scenes of the vulnerable Alex, the one who is dealing with personal issues, we see the iron-willed professional Alex.

With Kara near dead, James and Winn decide that they can't wait any longer. James knows this is the end of his life as he knows it. But he is ready.  And Mon-El realizes he can't avoid problems. Both attack the Parasite when it appears again.

James armor has weapons. And the shield is impressive acting like Vibranium, absorbing and reflecting energy sent at it. Winn is nearby in a van (the 'DEO Speedwagon' ... awesome) directing things. And Winn calls the Parasite 'Grimace', the big purple McDonald's character.

Again, great action scene.

And in another nice comic homage, Mon'El as to run and catch a car that is thrown. It definitely riffs on the cover of Action Comics #1.

I love that the show recognizes comic history a bit.

 Kara recovers and decides the best thing to do is overload the Parasite. She tricks him into trying to absorb Plutonium 239. It is too much energy and he literally explodes. She vaporized him.

So ... she killed him. Hmmm ...

Second, that seems like a risky gambit. What if he could absorb it? He would be that much stronger!

And we know that cold works! It forced it into hibernation. Why not super-breath???

Okay, I'll move on.

James calls himself the Guardian and rides off.

With the bad guy killed, there is nothing but the wrap up.

James and Winn decide to be super friends. They are in James' office, next to each other, in the same position. They are now united in purpose. But they will hide the Guardian from Kara. Why????

J'Onn wakes up improved from the transfusion. But we see his hand shake a bit. Maybe the white martian blood might have some weird effect on him??

Mon-El gets kidnapped by Cadmus! Maybe he is the Cyborg Superman?

But the big ending scene is (no surprise) with Kara and Alex. Alex heads to the bar and sees Maggie. Giddy with realizing who she is, she kisses Maggie and tells Maggie who she is feeling.

But Maggie backs off. Alex is at a different place. Everything will be heightened. She doesn't want to be with Alex in that way. Alex walks away crushed. Kara shows up at Alex's apartment. and hugs her heartbroken sister. Alex feels humiliated and alone. Kara holds her as she weeps. It is just a powerful, emotional, very natural feeling scene. I loved it. Seriously, I know it is Supergirl ... but I hope the Emmy people are watching. Chyler Leigh runs the gamut of emotions here.

So overall, just a great episode with action and character moments that resonated!

This show just seems to be on a roll.


Anonymous said...

Two weeks ago someone left a comment here that got me thinking. People assume Supergirl has no Rogues Gallery, and, honestly, who blame them? Look at how many of Supergirl's own villains from comics the show has used in one season and a half, I can only think of three: Reactron, Bizarrogirl and Silver Banshee.

And the worst part is that the fans do not demand that from the show, so they just keep using villains from other heroes and it feels like her supporting cast was never relevant to her history. And don't tell me it's because they're too obscure, we can't say that when the same showrunners that brought The Turtle and Savitar to live-action on another show. (even the easter eggs tend to reference more Superman comics than anything in Supergirl solo adventures, tbh)

I just think many enemies fit on this season (The Gang, Blackstarr, Nasthalthia...) and it's disappointing that I just keep waiting.

Kent G. Hare said...

"If I have one minor complaint, it is that it is clear that the show has a progressive agenda in mind this season." Agreed. I still like the show, based in part on, as you say, some very good acting and generally good story-telling. But, not being at the "progressive" end of the socio-political spectrum, these elements are not what I'm tuning in to see.

Incidentally, in the penantepenultimate paragraph, I think you mean that Alex "tells Maggie HOW she's been feeling" ....



Anonymous said...

This one is definitely on Chyler Leigh's highlight reel it was her show from start to finish.
I was a little squeamish about "Drunk Kara" during the opening given the show's reach into the middle school cohorts but it was hardly depicted as desirable behavior even with the comedy.
My big takeaway is that it sure looks like Kara killed The Parasite...which is a violation of her code against killing something she promulgated in ep one on CBS....not sure if I like the cavalier way it was handled overall.
As for nuking him, clearly the Parasite can only absorb energy from organic sources, an inorganic energy surge flummoxes his metabolism....and makes him go Bang!
Which still bugs me.


KET said...

"My big takeaway is that it sure looks like Kara killed The Parasite...which is a violation of her code against killing..."

Well, Kara sort of already threw that code away last season, when Red Tornado went sentient, and she fried him with a solar flare anyway.


Supertorresmo said...

I had a nerdgasm this episode when I saw that they used the silver age Parasite disintegration.

In the original story line the Parasite absorbs too much of Superman's energy and disintegrates. He re-integrates later on, so maybe Kara didn't kill him after all.

KET said...

Yes, I don't think Kara has probably seen the last of the Parasite...always new host bodies around to infect.

One interesting constant I saw about this episode was that almost everyone was growing impatient about something, even Kara. But Maggie Sawyer turned out to be the lone exception, by friend-zoning Alex.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the Parasite is snuffed per se. but its human host is pretty much dead for sure. I could be wrong I chalk this up to the show's maddening breakneck pace and the sometimes clunky writing that comes with it.

Not that I wanna incite anything but I do wanna point out that Kara, Kal El & J'On are ALL illegal immigrants and or refugees who travel under false identities...


KET said...

Well, the Parasite's human host was likely gone once he transformed into a monster, so I suppose that's Kara's alibi in this case.

Yeah, I suppose the 'illegal aliens' conceit could possibly come up later in the back half of the season, if the show's POTUS becomes exposed as not being human herself. Time will tell.


Anj said...

Thanks for all the interesting comments.

I like the idea that the Parasite's host was destroyed and not the being itself. In some ways, you could say that Jones was gone ... 'dead' as the disease of the Parasite took him over. So maybe it was more of a mercy killing.

And yes, this was Chyler's show. Incredible stuff.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I found the drunk Kara scene one of the highlight of things. That, and the "Bring It!" gesture she makes at
Parasite. Just shows how good Melissa B is with whatever the writers, etc throw at her character, she manages to do so
well with it :)

Agree the climate change theme was alittle heavy handed, but didn't detract from the episode overall.

The MAJOR WTF moment though was why Supergirl thought it was a good idea to bring a chunk of Pu-239 to a PUBLIC area, never
mind if any of it got scattered in the fight. If it did, National City should've become another Chernobyl or Fukushima.

One thing I do appreciate thought, and it bears mentioning, is the move towards more serialization / longer term arcs
in the stories compared to Seeason 1. DEFINITELY though can't wait to see what's up with Cadmus... and hoping Helen Slater
and Dean Cain make a return appearance.


KET said...

"DEFINITELY though can't wait to see what's up with Cadmus... and hoping Helen Slater
and Dean Cain make a return appearance."

Then the next two episodes should make for interesting viewing; Cadmus plays a big role in both of these, and Helen Slater returns as Eliza for another eventful Danvers family Thanksgiving dinner on November 28th, which also kicks off The CW four-show crossover that week.


Scrimmage said...

I have complained several times this season about the obvious liberal bias in "Supergirl", and in my opinion, the writing has become so increasingly contrived and unbalanced in order to accommodate their left leaning point of view, it is now hurting the show. Recent themes of amnesty for illegal aliens, a woman president, (ray)gun control, and now climate change are threatening to literally alienate about half of the show's potential audience (pun clearly intended). This is supposed to be a fantasy based "space opera," not political propaganda. "Supergirl" needs to be less "M.A.S.H." and more "Star Trek."

Alex's coming out scenes with Kara were seven minutes of my life that I'll never get back, but it seemed like MUCH longer. I always thought of Alex as a strong-willed, self-confident, fiercely independent, kick ass woman, who not only survived, but excelled in a male dominated environment, and became a LEADER of men, without ever losing touch with her feminine side. In short, I thought she was the perfect role model for Supergirl.

Now she's been reduced to a blubbering hot mess of the kind of self-doubt and conflicted emotions that I would've expected from a college freshman co-ed who just experienced her first crush on a girl, followed by her first same sex rejection. Alex works with a shape-shifting alien for whom gender preference really IS a choice, and yet we're supposed to believe that she got thrown off her game because she was obsessing over her attraction to a woman who, for all intents and purposes, is just a reflection of HERSELF? GMAFB! What kind of role model is THAT?

Is THAT the kind of person you would trust to protect the entire world from extraterrestrial threats? Not ME! Personally, I don't really care if Alex is gay or not. I just don't want her to act like such a "girl" because of it.

As bad as that was, it wasn't the worst part of this disappointing episode.

Jimmy... excuse me, JAMES Olsen as "The Guardian" (a poor man's cross between Batman and Captain America), with Winn filling the role of Robin, (or is it Bucky?) is absolutely ridiculous. You need a better reason than "I wanna be a hero TOO" to put on a costume, and try to beat up monsters in the street! This is more like an ego trip to soothe "James'" feelings of inadequacies when he's around his "Super Friends"... two words I NEVER want to hear spoken in that order on this show ever again!

KET said...

"I have complained several times this season about the obvious liberal bias in "Supergirl", and in my opinion, the writing has become so increasingly contrived and unbalanced in order to accommodate their left leaning point of view, it is now hurting the show."

No, it isn't. Ratings have been fairly steady for the show all along this season, with some slight attrition due to its new network home. Your unhinged, imaginary 'agenda' rant sounds more like you need to watch something else instead, like a test pattern.

Unclench, dude. Your neo-con conspiracy theory bias towards media entertainment is showing.


Anonymous said...

With all this talk about the liberal/progressive bias this show is pushing, which I agree with, I came up with my own personal speculation on why Dean Cain's character, Jeremiah Danvers, doesn't show up very often. Apparently Cain is a Republican and against the SJW/PC crusade going on right now so maybe the showrunners are keeping Cain out so he doesn't conflict with their interests. This has no proof to it bear in mind, just my own personal speculation.


Anj said...

Well, I don't think there is any guesswork on what end of the political spectrum the show's staff is on.

As for me, I just want good stories. And so far this has been an excellent season.

The Alex story I thought was treated incredibly well. These are all new feelings for her so of course everything is going to be heightened. And rather than weakening her, I thought those scenes humanized her, made her more three dimensional.

What bothers me more is when the leanings are presented in a 'club over your head' fashion. Don't tell me ... show me.

Anonymous said...

"Club over your head"....everyone has forgotten "The Twilight Zone" apparently.

Yeah love the Alex is gay storyline and Ms Leigh sells it like water in a drought. But then I never saw Alex as a Modern Day Red Sonja to begin with, she made a host of bad decisions based on surging emotions last season and sure seems to have a borderline drinking issue....when distraught and off duty the bottle is close by almost always.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, just one little quibble,

You said: "But more importantly, the THORUL Arctic Research lab. We know that in the comics, Lena changed her name to Thorul. Is this a Cadmus lab (since the Doctor is Lena's mother)? Or is this a site Lena is in charge of?"

Yes!!! Thorul, love the comic Easter Eggs, but Lena didn't change it in the comics, her parents did while she was still a toddler and thus Lena never knew her real name or connection to Lex Luthor till much later.

And yes, Chyler and the writers did a TREMENDOUS job with the coming out. It's so true that even the "strongest" of us have moments and times in our lives when we are feeling vulnerable. That's human nature!!!

Gerry Beritela

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Scrimmage said: "Supergirl" needs to be less "M.A.S.H." and more "Star Trek."

Dude. "Star Trek?" Really? The first show on TV to ever have an interracial kiss? The show famous for it's consistent progressive slant?

Yeah, the more like "Star Trek" the better!!!!

Gerry Beritela

Aaron said...

It really bugs me that Supergirl kills in this episode. Why hasn't a bigger fuss been made about this? She's tainted now; she's taken a life. Horrible mistake, other "superheroes" kill, so leave the killing to them, why taint the morality of the only real superheroes that are left? BUT... Rudy Jones never took human form again after he absorbed Kara and J'onn, so maybe it was at this point that Rudy Jones died, and the parasite became so strong that it no longer required a host body. And if Rudy Jones was still alive at the end, surely (being a scientist) he would know not to absorb plutonium? The parasite, at this stage was just hungar and not really alive. It all points to the fact that Supergirl did not kill in this episode. As for Supergirl apologizing to it, I think Kara would apologize to an ant if she trod on one. BUT... again it still bugs me that either way, the writers blurred the lines with her morality here (maybe because of time restrictions? still no excuse); and that really sucks. When Mon-el says 'is he...' (dead?) and Supergirl just nods, all it would've taken is one simple line: 'he was dead long before I arrived here.' that's it, cleared up and sorted. But no... I sure hope the writers don't pull crap like this again. I still feel that Supergirl is tainted after this episode. In the crossover event, I hear it's going to be heroes vs aliens, I dread to think if the writers will have Supergirl killing in those episodes too. I really hope not.

Martin Gray said...

Terrific episode. Coming out is rough, even for the strongest person. The writing here is superb, the scene of Alex explaining to Kara how she hid, first and foremost from herself, this is real, lived gay experience. And a seeming knockback hurts. Maggie is an emotional dunce, claiming to be Ms Been There, Done That, but having little idea of how she's been presenting herself to Alex.

And I love it - people ain't perfect. As for the idea of a 'liberal agenda' including an acknowledgment that we're not all straight, thanks CW! I'd say it's a human agenda.

The only thing I don't like is Jimmy - sorry, James - as Guardian, it's simply one hero too many. You don't have to be on the streets, in a tin can, to do good. And he's not even blue and gold!

Didn't that van Win was in have a Star-Spangled Comics homage logo on it, rather than DEO Speedwagon?

Anj said...

Totally agree that Chyler Leigh and her scenes are brilliantly done and superbly acted. As you say, Maggie was needlessly cruel. Luckily she ratifies that later on.

And yes, it is a human agenda. I like it better when that agenda is shown (like Leigh's performance) than told in a heavy handed way. But it is all good. This show is so much fun and so well done. It is the character stuff, not the action stuff, that makes it so great.