Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Supergirl Episode 208: Medusa

"Medusa" aired this last week, the first part of the 4 part CW Superhero crossover event. And while that crossover promise was trumpeted as the main draw for this episode, it really played a minor role. In some ways this was more the 'first scene' of the crossover.

Instead, the main plot of this episode was Cadmus and the threat of Project Medusa. And surprisingly, that plot line is tied up pretty quickly. In fact, several subplots are sort of pushed forward or finished within this episode, some of them almost too fast. It is as if there is another major storyline that is coming around the corner and so much of what has happened so far needed to be wrapped up. I am still trying to get my head around some of these choices. Are things moving too fast? Or is it better than dragging something out? Or is it the *how* things are resolved that seems to be my issue?

While that main plot is the foundation on which this episode is built, it is the smaller, more personal character moments that shined. This seems to be a recurring mantra in my reviews. The character building this season has been very strong. And the acting has matched these moments wonderfully. So we get a lot of Alex progression here, coming out to her mother who she has feuded with in the past. We get some Mon-El progression. J'onn acts truly heroic, willing to sacrifice himself for others. We see significant character development with Lena and the Luthors. And we see some further maturation with Kara. The idea of family and mothers and the support they can provide was a nice nugget of contrast for the main characters. It really is a great episode from that perspective.

And yes, we see two major kisses and the Flash. As is also becoming a recurring mantra, when this episode was over my youngest looked at me and said 'too intense'. Awesome.

I truly loved that the episode opened with a Thanksgiving dinner at Kara with Eliza in attendance. You might remember how awkward last season's turkey day was with Eliza and a tipsy Alex getting into an argument.

This season, James, Alex, and Mon-El all vied for the main stage of the Thanksgiving table, each hoping to reveal something major. James wants to tell Kara he is the Guardian. Mon-El wants to state his feelings about Kara. And Alex wants to come out to her mother. I loved how all three stood up and tried to one up each other. But none can tell their secret because a brief breach interrupts them.

The scene was a lot of fun. Alex clearly had some 'liquid courage' inside her. In fact, this has been an ongoing event this season - Alex with a drink in her hand. Are we building towards something there? Mon-El is chatting up Eliza, trying to garner some favor from Mother Danvers. It is a very fun scene.

In the DEO after the dinner, the group realizes that they need to investigate Lena. If Lillian is in charge of Cadmus, could Lena be in cahoots? Kara says she'll go and interview Lena for a clue. It is amusing how Alex and Winn have to stifle a chuckle when Kara says she is going to be stealthy. In that interview, Lena reveals that she was never loved by Lillian.

Meanwhile at the nameless alien bar, the Cyborg Superman places a bomb under the bar which emits a gas which kills all the aliens inside. Mon-El, who was there and followed Hank on the way out, gets into a brawl and loses. The Cyborg escapes and Mon wanders back into the bar to see the carnage.

The fight sequence here is done very well.

Back at the DEO, Mon-El is quarantined. Eliza will be brought in to help investigate the virus.

Meanwhile, we get a great, tense scene between Lena and Lillian. Lena lets her adoptive mother know that 'a reporter' in investigating Lillian. The conversation is a cold exchange. Lena says how her 'mother' didn't love her. How she was always reminded she wasn't a Luthor. And Lillian responds by saying that no parent loves their children equally.

It is a nice contrast to how loving and supportive Eliza has been.

In the DEO, Kara and Mon-El flirt with each other. Their cute exchange is interrupted by the news that the aliens died from a Kryptonian virus which targeted aliens. Kara knows that the virus must have been taken from the Fortress, explaining why the Doctor needed her blood. She speeds to the Arctic.

Now there is a lot about this scene which is off. Kelex attacks Kara as an intruder. I don't know why nor is it explained. Maybe Hank reprogrammed it? This seemed like a needless scene to pad the effects and action component of the episode.

Kara learns that Zor-El made the Medusa virus as a biologic weapon to kill all non-Kryptonian lifeforms, a last ditch effort should Krypton be invaded. Zor-El thinks he is being a hero. Kara thinks it is a horrible idea. Now I love the idea that once again Kara is faced with the reality that her parents weren't pure beings of good. We saw Alura lessened a bit last season. Now we know that Zor-El could be considered a biological terrorist. This could have been used as an offensive weapon, fired at a planet.

But I feel bad for Zor-El who has mostly been dragged through the mud in comics for the last decade or so.

I also wonder why the humans didn't die from the virus if it would kill all non-Kryptonians. Did the Doctor alter it?

And if it won't kill Kryptonians, why would the Doctor leave her alive last episode? That question will haunt me all season I think. 

But I couldn't dwell on those questions too long.

Mon-El is dying from his limited exposure to the virus.

Then we get a fantastic scene were Eliza talks to Alex about whatever Alex is hiding. Showing some intuition, Eliza says she knows Alex is gay. And she wants Alex to be happy. XShe knows Alex is exceptional so will always be 'different'. But she loves her daughter and accepts her.

It is a very nice scene, well acted by both Helen Slater and Chyler Leigh. But I wish that Alex said the words rather than Eliza saying it for her. This is a minor quibble.

The two realize that the virus must be aerosolized to be weaponized and only if carried on 'isotope 454', a substance only made at LCorp. Supergirl streams to the building while Alex calls Maggie and asks that the Science Police be sent there as well.

Supergirl arrives as Cyborg Superman does leading to a fight that reminded me of the Non/Kara fight at Lord Industries last season. Supergirl has to save Lena. And Maggie is injured. But the Cyborg doesn't get the isotope.

I like that Maggie gets involved here. And I like that Supergirl has to rescue Lena. But I don't like that Cyborg Superman again defeats Kara. He leaves only when interrupted by another transient wormhole.

Once more the DEO wonders if Lena is working with Cadmus. It seems silly given Lena almost died at the hands of the Cyborg but Winn and Alex know the Luthors are devious.

In another powerful character scene, Supergirl confronts Lena, telling Lena that her mother is the head of Cadmus. Lena is upset. Even if she has a contentious relationship with her mother, she has some loyalty. She wonders if Supergirl will eventually come after Lena. Could this be the first step down the path of evil.

Supergirl is inspirational as always. She reminds Lena she is her own person, not a slave to her parents legacy. She even says that she knows what it is like to be disillusioned' by her parents.

Again, it is a taut scene, rather intense, and well acted. Katie McGrath really emotes well here, with her expressions, dialogue, and body language.

Things get even heavier.

Lena calls her mother and gives her the isotope 454, joining Cadmus.

And Mon-El, slowly dying, gathers his courage and kisses Kara. He says she is beautiful, knowing the weight of worlds are on Supergirl's shoulder.' He recognizes that Supergirl is trying to atone for her family and her planet's sins as well as protect Earth. incredible.

The virus is loaded onto missiles. J'onn decides to join Supergirl in trying to stop the attack. J'onn knows this could kill him. But he would rather die, as himself for a cause he believes in, then stay in the DEO and slowly turn into a white martian. I also like that in this scene, J'onn tells Supergirl that she is Alura and Zor's legacy. Whatever her parents did in the past, she is their future. Sweet.

And it looks like Lena has joined in. She fires the missile. It looks like she has turned.

But the resulting explosion shows that the virus has been made inert. Somehow Lena tinkered with the isotope making the attack harmless. The Doctor is taken away by the police. Whew ... talk about a turn of events! I sensed that Lena joining her mother was a feint. But I didn't expect the Doctor to be taken away so easily.

We also get a Hank vs. Hank fight which is nice. J'onn turns into a white martian. But it is only when Supergirl arrives that the Cyborg is temporarily defeated. But before he can be incarcerated, he disappears.

So just as quickly as the Medusa plot is introduced, it is ended.

There is nothing left but the wrap-up.

In the biggest new hook, we see some cloaked aliens searching for Mon-El. They look almost nun-like. Could this be a Laurel Gand introduction? Why are they after him? What did he do?

Now that is a hook!

Then we get a number of plots advanced or ended quickly.

Eliza developed a cure for Mon-El. He is safe.
Mon-El pretends he doesn't remember kissing Kara.
Eliza was also able to use the virus to create a cure for J'onn. He is back to being a Green Martian.

And Maggie shows up at Alex's apartment and declares her love. Her near death experience at the hands of the Cyborg made her realize life is too short.

I don't know. I like the Maggie/Alex plotline. But it seems sooooo fast. In the span of a few days, Alex came out to Maggie, came out to Kara, was rejected by Maggie, told Maggie to stay away, said she would be Maggie's friend, came to terms with not being with Maggie, and then is now with Maggie. I would like to see this progress a bit more slowly ... but I guess you only have 20 episodes.

And then, finally, we have Barry arrive. He needs Kara's help.

Without hesitation, Kara says she is in! I love how quickly she joins in.

Overall, I loved the character elements. I liked the action sequences. A lot of subplots are resolved almost too quickly. But we are into the crossover.

So far, so good season two.


Anonymous said...

Great review as always Anj, and heartily agree it was a very enjoyable episode, punctuated by a few rough spots.

My personal highlight is the return of Helen Slater as Eliza Danvers. Was great seeing her again in this series!
The Danvers Thanksgiving Tradition of going to hell in a handbasket didn't disappoint, between Alex drinking,
the secrets that need to be revealed, and the breach opening above the dinner table... wonder if this will be a
running tradition in future seasons onward :)

I also wonder if I'm reading too much into Alex and her drinking habits... we'll have to see.

The Lena and Cyborg Superman moments were great as well... I wonder if Lena is playing the "to fool your enemies
you have to fool your friends" card or will be a future enemy of Supergirl, and seeing Harewood act and fight
against himself was a treat!

The final scene of Barry and Kara, and Barry's acknowledging the time they spent last year, and Kara's answer of
"what are we up against?" BRILLIANT!

> But I feel bad for Zor-El who has mostly been dragged through the mud in comics for the last decade or so.

+9000 on this comment Anj. That was my immediate thought when I saw Zor-El mentioned as the originator of the
Medusa virus, and had a "here we go again" moment. *sighs*

I've mentioned this before, and I may be the minority, but I'll repeat it again : regarding the KaraxMon-El
romance... Just... No! Personally they could sell me on "budding respect" and the whole "get over your prejudices,"
but another romantic suitor (again)?

Hope everyone's enjoying the 4series crossover; Supergirl's time in The Flash last night, other than the "all
superheroes mindcontrolled again" trope, I think she's the highlight of it all.


Anonymous said...

Helen Slater is just....Zen, can we have her in every ep? She projects calm and serenity thru the TV screen in a show that revels in it's warp speed pace...I love her for that.

I'm calling it, Alex is an alcoholic she shows all the symptoms and poor Kara is likely oblivious due to her own resistance to earthly liqour...

Mon El doesn't feel like a long term BF....I think he is there to remind Kara not to rule out love thats all.

More bad news about the House of El whose last true descendent Kara is, tangled legacy again....

Oh and at some point we are gonna need some serious Supergirl v Cyborg Superman "KaraTharsis"..


KET said...

"I also wonder why the humans didn't die from the virus if it would kill all non-Kryptonians. Did the Doctor alter it?"

I would have to assume that this was the case, since it wasn't explained.

"And if it won't kill Kryptonians, why would the Doctor leave her alive last episode? That question will haunt me all season I think."

Lillian probably cut a deal with Henshaw to leave Kara alive, so he could be the one to finish her and J'onn off in due time. And while the Doctor may be thwarted this episode, the real Hank will likely spring her from prison in short order. This also opens another opportunity to figure out just where Lena Luthor's true loyalties lie.

As for the mysterious aliens after Mon-El? Could their leader possibly be a jilted former lover...maybe with a giant green eyeball for a weapon? :)


Unknown said...

Here's a list of all the things I'M thankful for about this Thanksgiving Episode.

I'm thankful that this episode was a VAST improvement over last week's mainly because it seemed to focus primarily on Supergirl instead of giving equal time to the supporting cast.

I'm thankful that the silly "OlsenGuardian" subplot was put on the back burner, and that the cliché ridden, stereotype filled, romance between Alex and Maggie has been settled. It's still fast-forward fodder for me, but at least it didn’t take up a quarter of the episode this time.

I'm thankful for the return of the luminous Helen Slater. She's a stabilizing presence in Kara's life, which is something that's been missing from the beginning, but why didn't Alex and Kara tell Eliza that Jeremiah was still alive and well? I couldn't believe they didn't even discuss it.

I'm thankful that the writers at least brought up the question of why Lillian didn't kill a de-powered Kara when she had the chance. They didn't come up with an answer, but at least they acknowledged that it was odd.

I'm thankful that they're making Mon-El a bit more likeable, and that they're giving him a different, more interesting backstory than the one he shared when he first arrived on Earth.

I'm thankful that Supergirl finally lived up to her name throughout the episode, making short work of Kelex, and more than holding her own this time against the stupidly named Cyborg Superman. I was SO happy that Kara called him out on his misappropriated sobriquet.

I'm thankful that the subplot of J'onn turning into a White Martian was resolved so quickly, even if the idea that the antidote for a bio-engineered Kryptonian Alien Killing Virus would also solve J'onn's supposedly incurable condition was just a little TOO neat. That's like saying a treatment for Sarin Gas could also cure leukemia.

I'm thankful that the Cadmus story arc was wrapped up in a rather unambiguous manner, at least for now. Their constant success against Supergirl was becoming tedious, and made Kara look bad. I was afraid we'd be seeing them get the best of her for the entire season.

My only real complaints about this latest episode are the enormous plot holes, which led to questions such as...

Why didn't Cadmus take over the Fortress once Cyborg Hank got access?

Why didn't we see Kara inform Superman that the Fortress had been breached, that her blood had been stolen, and that she had to disable Kelex? Even a text would've done the job.

Why didn't Kara “super” hear Alex, James, and Wynn talking about revealing James' stupid secret identity? If everybody at the DEO knows that Superman is really Clark Kent, it seems ridiculous that James' secret would – or even COULD remain secure.

Finally, why would a Kryptonian scientist name a biological weapons system after a character from an ancient Earth myth?

KET said...

"Finally, why would a Kryptonian scientist name a biological weapons system after a character from an ancient Earth myth?"

Well, that's probably the biggest head-scratcher that I had about the virus plot development...but perhaps this will be addressed in a future episode? Certainly the return of the real Hank Henshaw was a bit unexpected, and perhaps we'll get to see his back story of how he became such a xenophobe down the road as well.


Anonymous said...

A Kryptonian Doomsday Virus called "Medusa"? Yeah I thought the same thing, unfortunately I'm started to get numb to the show's tendency to klunky writing....
On the other hand Helen Slater....Zen...Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


Anonymous said...

"Finally, why would a Kryptonian scientist name a biological weapons system after a character from an ancient Earth myth?"

Why would an alien race name their planet after the Greek word kryptos just like humans did for the element Krypton? Why would their symbol of hope just happen to have the right shape to look like the letter S so it could also stand for Superman? Why would the genetic structure of a species from a distant planet be so similar to our own that they could mate with humans and produce viable offspring like Jon Kent? And on and on and on.

Because Comics!

Martin Gray said...

Apologies for the lateness...

Great episode, and thank goodness the plots were wrapped up/advanced. The White Martian transformation threat would get very repetitive. So I'm all for dealing with it, and the cure made nice comic book sense. The Mon kiss seemed to be a continuation rather than the end of anything. And I don't want the Alex-is-Gay thing to drag on forever; been there, done that. And Eliza is awesome, her character should be part of the DEO full time - Helen Slater manages to excude massive charisma without unbalancing the show. And hurrah for Lena!

The only thing I didn't like was Eliza and Alex talking about being gay as 'not normal'. It may creep up on a person, surprise a parent, be other than the majority status... but believe me, it's normal.