Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Supergirl Show Episode 218: Ace Reporter

Supergirl episode 218, title 'Ace Reporter', aired this week and was a very Kara-centric episode, something which has been a bit lacking recently. We see a lot of Kara Danvers and a little bit of Supergirl. And for me, someone who loves complex characters with some depth, this was phenomenal. Yes, we have a mega-arc going on with Cadmus and Daxam. And yes, those are important.

But I watch the show for Supergirl.So I was thrilled about this. The title Ace Reporter is an appropriate one since the search for truth is a key part of the plot. And one of the things that I have noticed this season is that Supergirl is feeling good about herself lately. She has a swagger that makes me worry that she is heading for a fall. This story also played on that a bit.

But, in some ways, this was just as much a Lena episode as it was a Kara one. Lena has been sort of on the periphery of the show. We learned a lot about her early on in the season and during the 'Luthors' episode. But in many ways she is something of an enigma. We hear that she and Kara are best friends but we haven't really seen how that relationship came about. We see how Lena worries about whether she will descend into the megalomania her family is so well known for. But she is a mystery. Every episode she is in ends with me thinking 'is she a bad guy or a good guy?' We see much more of that up front here. There are some ominous overtones to the arc. And I can't help that there is some foreshadowing to an eventual confrontation between Supergirl and Lena. I have to add that Katie McGrath is stunningly beautiful in this episode.

There is a fine subplot with Winn, James, and Lyra.Mon-El is funny and helpful here. We get a lot of Snapper here. There is a great cliffhanger.

But the main focus is Kara and Lena. And that made for a great episode.

The issue starts with Kara flying circles around National City smiling. She heads into the DEO and spouts something that confidence. She is 'ready to take on the world, kick ass, and do it with an endearing smile.' There isn't much for the DEO to do. Hank will review budgets. Alex will practice knife fighting. And Kara can go back home to be unemployed and fail at baking. (I do love that Kara doesn't need to use oven mitts!)

Luckily Lena shows up. After a jab about 'grief baking', Lena says she needs Kara for support. Lena's ex, Jack Spheer, a technological whiz, is having a press conference to reveal his latest breakthrough. After 5 years as work partners and 2 years as romantic partners, the break-up was tough. Lena needs a friend to be there to help her get through it. As she says, Jack is her Kryptonite.

But the most potent line is Kara saying she will always be there for Lena. That's easy to say as friends. But something that absolute is troublesome. I fear there will be a time she won't be there ... and Lena won't forget.

This is a press conference meaning there are plenty of reporters there, including Snapper Carr. He isn't too happy to see Kara there. In his mind, she isn't a real reporter. She is a millenial falling for clickbait. The two sass each other until Spheer takes the stage.

Spheer's announcement is for Biomax, a cloud of nanobots that can heal wounds, cure diseases, even perform surgery. To prove it, he cuts his hand on stage and has the bots take care of the injury.

This is a press conference though and Kara (representing ... a site which doesn't go anywhere in real life) asks a probing question about FDA approval. Not bad for a blobber.

Afterwards, it is clear that Spheer and Lena still have feelings for each other. The chemistry between guest star Rahul Kohli and Katie McGrath is excellent. A lot of sizzle being held back!

As the presser winds down, a former Spheerical worker finds Kara and says he needs to talk to her in private that night. She posted about the aliens because she wanted to help them. He can trust her. That is a nice nod towards her character!

That night, while in his car in an abandoned lot, the worker says the human trials for Biomax were faked. There is no evidence of them ever having happened.

But then, the nanobots come in cloud formation and blow up the car killing him. Kara is able to escape but there is this nice visual of her S-shield appearing in her burning clothes.

There is a lot for me to unpack in this scene.

First, the nanobots remind me of the microbot cloud in Big Hero Six.

Second, a bomb going off right next to Kara that kills someone. It definitely reminded me of the congress court room scene in Batman v Superman. I wonder if that was intentional. And will Kara get excoriated like Superman has been by fans who dislike that movie (I was one of them).

But lastly, this shot reminded me of the Linda Danvers Earth Angel Supergirl. I know ... that is my bias showing.

As I said, there is great chemistry between Lena and Spheer. He arrives at her office to woo her into having dinner. We hear more about how she left to lead L-Corp. There was something of a relationship ultimatum and both seem to regret the outcome.

McGrath can kill with a raised eyebrow. And her performance throughout the episode is nuanced. Vulnerable. Strong. Nervous. Passionate. The whole spectrum

As for the subplot, Lyra is back and Winn has her join the Guardian team.

In the episode, a young kid is caught stealing from a liquor store and she absolutely thrashes him. James has to intercede so she doesn't seriously injure the kid. I guess the Guardian hopes the kid is scared straight because he lets him go.

It becomes clear that Lyra, who has always been a bit over the top, can't reel it in. Winn tells her she can't fight alongside Guardian anymore and she snaps. She talks of ripping of James' jaw and essentially breaks it off.

I guess Winn has his type.

As for Kara, she tries to have James report the Biomax incident but Snapper says that it would be a conflict of interest which would threaten CatCo. Anyways, Snapper has his own source. Luckily Kara overheard it.

When Snapper heads to that person's apartment, the source says he will state that even though he was listed as a human trial member for Biomax, he never was involved in testing. 

The Nanobot cloud arrives and even Supergirl's timely arrival doesn't stop them from literally consuming the guy. There is nothing left of him but a haze.

In a cool sequence, Kara delays the cloud from attacking her and Snapper by freezing them. This was a nice wrap-around shot of that power in action.

That's two people who got killed with Kara right next to them.

The only lead left is Spheer himself. She decides to grab Mon-El and crash the Lena/Jack date. It is 'stalking' or 'creepy journalism' according to Mon-El who is at his most supportive and charming this episode.

At the dinner, Spheer is unbelievably charming. He says it was Lena who provided him the metaphorical clue to program the nanobots. She is a starling. He also looks at Mon and says that he paid extra to be the most handsome guy in the restaurant. It's cute.

Seeing the romance bubbling, Mon-El says that he and Kara are leaving. He hugs Spheer, saying they have a 'man-nection'. But that is all a ruse! He picked the guys pocket and stole his work passkey! Slick!

At the Spheerical headquarters, they guess Jack's password 'Starling'). (Mon-El mutters 'that romantic bastard!' - funny). They find evidence that Spheer injected himself with the nanites and became the cloud himself. He is the killer.

Kara heads straight to L-Corp and shows Lena the video. You can see how crushed Lena is but she also says she is glad Kara shared the video and doesn't want her to bury the news. That is surprisingly noble of her.

Then Kara heads to CatCo and turns over all her info to Snapper to put into his story exposing Spheerical. She apologizes for not respecting the rules of journalism. He accepts her apology and is impressed with her work as an ace reporter.

I liked this scene. It shows Kara's growth in this role of journalist. It shows her respect for Snapper's experience. It isn't quite the Kara/Kat level of mentoring but I was glad to see it.

In the end, Lena decides to confront Jack. He seems oblivious to her accusations. It turns out the nanites in his system robbed him of his free will. He is being controlled by Spheerical's evil CFO who plans to enslave the planet with them! And if controlling the CEO if Spheerical is good, controlling the CEO of L-Corp as well is even better.

Supergirl shows up but the nanobots have learned and end up pinning her to a Kirby-crucifix looking thing.

As for Lena, she says she has never stood behind a man and she is unimpressed with the CFO's black belt. After all, Lena is a Luthor. She beats the snot out of the woman and smashes the control device.

Now in some weird comic book way, smashing that controller makes Jack become wracked with pain. Only overriding the mainframe will stop the nanites and free Jack and Supergirl. But that override ends up killing Jack.

Smashing the controller hurts him? Stopping the nanites kills him? I guess that is just comic book science.

The wrap-up was my favorite part of the show, mostly for the Lena/Kara denouement.

All along fans have wondered if Lena is going to go dark. And this scene makes me think she is. She says that her family doesn't do well with loss. She feels cold and calm, like Lillian did when Lex was arrested. She only feels warmth when she thinks of the CFO dying in jail. Chilling. And then, like at the beginning, Kara says she will always be Lena's friend and always protect her. This can't end well. They may as well flash 'foreshadowing' on the screen!! McGrath and Benoist just crush it in this scene. Lena seems so disconnected ... it's eerie.

The Snapper gives Kara her job back, praising her as a reporter willing to risk it all to pursue the truth.

And James says Winn is his best friend, just like Clark was, and invites a toned down Lyra back into the fold.

Nice wrap-ups ... but wait there's more.

Who shows up at L-Corp with a business proposition?

Queen Rhea!


In comic book talk, this would be a rest issue or a 'day in the life' issue. We didn't get much progression of the season's big story. But there was progression in characterization. I loved Lena most in this issue. Her arc covered all the emotional beats. And it was good to see Kara get rewarded for her work. I also liked the James/Winn friendship get a big boost with the Clark reference.

With all this behind us, onto Daxam and Cadmus!



Neal said...

I loved the Kara and Lena stuff in this episode. I am getting a little confused by what they're going for with Lyra. The scene in the bar where she became angry and violent was creepy. Are we supposed to be rooting for her and Winn? Winn might be better off without her.

Anonymous said...

Agreed re. Lyra but like Mon El I suspect she is a short term character, too bad Alex is a lesbian, her aggression makes her a natural fit with Win...
Yeah I liked this ep I agree with our host that Lena is gonna turn on Kara for whatever reason...although I always thought it was cool that Kara was able to keep a solid relationship going with Lena in the comics....but comity isn't good television I guess.
I was sort of glad Alex was pretty much off screen this time, it gave MB more of a chance to burnish her Kara Danvers characterization, BTW apropos of nothing, but doesn't Supergirl use her super-freeze breath (which is right next to super-ventriloquism on the list of silly kryptonian super powers) ALOT in these eps? I'm guessing that Lena isn't gonna turn evil over the short term based on the precedents set by Smallville with Lex Luthor, I see this as a third season issue maybe into season four (fingers crossed).
My main complaint is "big picture" a whole season has passed and a variety of Big Bads and Big Bad Storylines keep flickering on and off, the Dominators, The Daxamites, Cadmus, Madame President....I wish they'd a just picked one and run with it...instead it'll be a huge mash up at the season climax and I suspect it'll leave us wanting. But on that one I'd be happy to be wrong... JF.

Anonymous said...

Good episode. Pretty intense. And it was good to see a Kara-centric episode.

I really hope Lena doesn't turn evil. Or Kara manages to get through her.

"My main complaint is "big picture" a whole season has passed and a variety of Big Bads and Big Bad Storylines keep flickering on and off, the Dominators, The Daxamites, Cadmus, Madame President....I wish they'd a just picked one and run with it..."

I guess this is due to the move to the CW and dropping several plotlines like the Kara/James romance.

I hope now everybody know beforehand the show has been renewed, the screenwriters will have more leeway.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read todays DC Superhero Girls Out of the Bottle?
Kara's comic she drew of Supergirl & Batgirl best friends is maybe the funniest Supergirl arc ever written. I was laughing out loud reading it. I can't recommend it enough.

Anonymous said...

I can't stop gushing about the opening scene, and Supergirl flying / aerial balleting around National City,
then finishes with that "ready to take on the world!" line! It's moments like this I live for in Supergirl! :)

The other priceless bits throughout are too numerous to mention... between Lena & Jack , Mon-El, Snapper,
and the Jimmy / Lyra / Winn Trinity. And just when I thought the show couldn't pull any more out, the bit
at the end with (Queen) Rhea gone native... with a business proposition for Lena. WOW!

> Every episode she is in ends with me thinking 'is she a bad guy or a good guy?

Same here, and though Katie M is on record as saying to her Lena's a WYSIWYG type of person, don't know if
TPTB is going to find that (right) thing that will push the character over the edge. Beautiful scene and
acting by Benoist and McGrath! As was the end scene with Jimmy's admission of the friendship and trust he
has in Winn, and putting it on the level as the one he had with Clark Kent.

Here's to 4 more uninterrupted weeks of Supergirl till the season finale!


Scrimmage said...

This episode gave me a lot of what I've been asking for, namely more of a focus on Supergirl (as opposed to the supporting cast), and on Kara's fledgling career as a reporter. Frankly, I've always thought that the DEO's function in the show was overblown at the expense of more traditional plot devices, like Kara's day job, and her secret identity. It was understandable that the DEO would be giving Supergirl her assignments when Kara was nothing more than Cat's glorified assistant, but now that Kara's a mild-mannered reporter, she should be able to find more of her OWN stories, and be able to determine for herself when “this is a job for... SUPERGIRL!” The truth is, the DEO should only come into play on what should be the rare occasion when there is an alien based threat, something that has become an overused plot device on this show.

It was good to see them put the DEO on the backburner while Supergirl dealt with a more terrestrial menace, and Kara stretched her reporter muscles. I liked that Kara used her super-hearing and x-ray vision to help in her investigation, which is “old school” stuff right out of “The Adventures of Superman,” but she should've used her “super-speed typing” power to try a few million passwords in mere seconds before finding the right one. I also enjoy the underused (and appropriately named) Snapper, and the little insights they give us into his character, like the fact that he apparently bakes, but I don't want to get to know him TOO well. I don't need to see him at home, or meet his family. I need him to be at work 24-7, pushing Kara into becoming the kind of reporter he thinks she can be!

I do think Lena is an interesting character, but whether she's truly “bad” or not, I need to see a little bit more of the “Luthor” in her. While the elbow to the face of the Evil CFO black belt WAS delicious, I'd have preferred if Lena had come prepared with some kind advanced, hi-tech, self-defense gadget like her infamous brother is known for. If we're supposed to believe that Lena really IS Lex's kid sister, and his equal, then let's SEE some of that vaunted Luthor scientific genius out of her. The prospect of her partnership with Queen Rhea might be the perfect opportunity for just that!

Unfortunately, this episode failed to deliver on several fronts, most notably that in the end, Supergirl didn't save the day, Lena did. What's worse, not only did Supergirl fail to save the lives of THREE innocent people who were RIGHT THERE, but if it wasn't for a Luthor, Kara would be up to her “endearing smile” in nanobots, and probably dead. HUH?? How could those tiny, man-made robots be strong enough to hold the Girl of Steel? These “plot convenient” fluctuations in Supergirl's power levels are one of the worst things about the writing on this show, but without a doubt THE most annoying thing is the utterly pointless “James as Guardian” subplot. This week, while James wasted air time beating up on a couple of low level, unpowered, petty criminals, it seems his MAIN purpose was to advance the Winn/Lyra subplot. I don't really care, but if the VERY distinctive looking Lyra is going to be a crime-fighting superhero, shouldn't she at least be wearing a mask? If someone recognizes Guardian's sidekick as Winn's alien girlfriend, how hard would it be for them to put two-and-two together and come up with Olsen! Bye-bye, secret identity!.

All in all, I thought this episode was a small step in the right direction. At least Kara's no longer “fun-employed,” and back to being a full time reporter, and the prospect of a Lena/Rhea alliance is FULL of potential, almost as much as a Luthor/Brainiac team-up. I'm looking forward to the next episode, and in the end, I guess that's all that really matters.

Anonymous said...

> These “plot convenient” fluctuations in Supergirl's power levels are one of the worst things about the
> writing on this show,

Totally agree on this @Scrimmage, and one of the innumerable items that while it renders the show less
than pitch perfect, I STILL wouldn't trade away actually HAVING a Supergirl TV show for ANYTHING!

> but without a doubt THE most annoying thing is the utterly pointless “James as Guardian” subplot.

A friend managed to catch Mehcad Brooks at a con this last weekend, and I got them to pose the question
to him where / how James and Guardian is going to fit in, just to get it from the horse's mouth. The good
news is while Mehcad is slated to return season 3, Mehcad himself hasn't been given specifics what TPTB are
going to do with him.

Mehcad admitted besides more superheroics, he himself would like more James / Clark time.

Speaking for myself, irregardless of the Guardian stuff, I still want and like Jimmy Olsen on Team Supergirl.


Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that is old-school hilarious to me, that The Maid of Might, the One and Only Supergirl...can't cook worth a damn.


Fluctuating power levels are a hallmark of almost all The House of El's movie-tv appearances over the past twenty years, the animated series was very inconsistent in this regard. I regard it as a signal that the writers are struggling with what constitutes a super-challenge for a super cousin....I'd like more consistency, but consistency is sometimes a vastly overrated thing.


Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments.

I don't think Lyra is quite right for Winn but he seems to have a type doesn't he. I worry she falls into the dreaded 'crazy hot chick' trope. That superficial characterization is pretty tired.

And I understand that this was Lena's story. It's Lena who saves the day. But it is all part of character building. We have a way better sense of her now and that is playing it forward.

Martin Gray said...

It's funny, while Googling around I saw someone describe this episode as filler, and you liken it to a 'day in the life' comic book story. To me, it wasn't either. Not filler, because it progresses all the subplots, and not a New Teen Titans #8 because there was a villain story through the episode. Much as I liked Buffy, TV series have become too beholden to the idea of a Big Bad, so that if they ain't around, the show doesn't matter.

But this was one of my favourite episodes to date, with plenty of Kara, a lovely bit of 'Mike' and lots of lethal Lena... I really hope she doesn't go bad, it's just too, too predictable. Have her get electrocuted by a machine and develop psychic powers (I thought of that all by myself >ahem<).

I can't tell you how much I hate Lyra, she got on my nerves even before her temper tantrums got out of control, with her entitled posh English girl accent. And her alien make-up is just chronic, so unconvincing. I already disliked Jimmy - sorry, James - as Guardian and this make her even worse. Is it wrong to want her to be fridged? I'd much rather see Jimmy actively helping with the crimefighting via some clever toys.

And while I am glad Kara and Snapper are getting on again, that girl really need somes proper training – Snapper should have made her return to CatCo conditional on getting some actual journalism training. This is an insult to my profession, I tell you!

Anj said...

I think you're right Mart. Maybe 'done in one' is a better description than 'slice of life'. Plots were progressed. But this could be sliced out of the season and probably wouldn't impact the main story.

Felt like a Bronze Age issue a little.