Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Supergirl Episode 221: Resist

Supergirl episode 221, titled 'Resist' aired this week, the penultimate episode of the season. Given we have reached the boiling point on all plots, 'Resist' moves along at a very brisk pace, bringing together a number of subplots and characters that have been in the background of late. This episode really has a great combination of action sequences, suspense, and character progression. And it also has the return of Cat Grant, a return that made me remember just how important she was to this show last season on CBS.

In fact, the return of Cat was the high point of one of the most important efforts of the show. All the characters with agency in this episode are women. James, Winn, and Mon-El are really along for the ride and less important to plot progression. Supergirl, Alex, Maggie, President Marsdin, Rhea, Lillian Luthor, and Lena Luthor carry this story. And perhaps best of all, outside of one snarky Cat speech, it wasn't shoved down the audience's throats by corny dialogue. There was no 'why can't I? Because I'm a girl' cringe worthy lines here. Instead it just played out on screen. I was thankful for that.

I'll add here that the acting in this episode was stellar as well. As usual, Teri Hatcher just fills the screen with her diabolical Rhea, switching from loving queen to enraged sociopath in the blink of an eye. I already mentioned Calista Flockhart's performance as powerful. But there were small, subtle, powerful moments from Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, and Chyler Leigh that made this whole thing sizzle.

And we get a great cliffhanger to lead us into the finale.

There were some notes here that hearkened back to last season's ending, maybe a bit too close. But otherwise, this episode was fantastic. It even came with a great cliffhanger.

On to the show!

The show opens with Lena waking up on board the Daxamite satellite. Rhea is there and says she has nursed Lena back to health after Supergirl's bullheaded attempts to stop the transmatter portal nearly killed them both. As with last episode, Rhea talks of how she respects Lena's intelligence and wants Lena beside her in this new world.

The whole conversation plays out quietly. It is motherly and supportive. And then we reach the window of the ship where Lena can see the Daxamite fleet raining lasers down on the city while Daxamite infantry swarms the streets.

That flip of the switch - from calm conversation to outright bloody battle - was a great opening. It just showcased that duality in Rhea. Royal on the outside, but violent on the inside.

And we see how that battle plays out within the city. Rhea's messages of how National City is the New Daxam, how she will be the Queen, how the citizens shouldn't resist play everywhere, on screens on the street and broadcast in the sky.

But this speech about transference of power seems incongruous with what is happening. We see Maggie and the NCPD overrun. We see Daxamite troops teleport into and ultimately take over the DEO.

It was great to see Maggie kicking butt. But seeing Chyler Leigh taking on the Daxamites and jumping out of the DEO backwards (knowing Supergirl was nearby to catch her) was my favorite moment of the show. Alex is basically a video game character, wading into battle and doing it in a super-slick way. 

But this reminded me of the Kryptonian invasion of National City last season.

Meanwhile, we see Mon-El just sullenly sulking on the ship. He hears his mother's words of the best of Daxam being on the fleet. He hears how his mother plans to rebuild the Earth in Daxam's image. He listens as she says she is planning to marry him to Lena.

And he simply acquiesces.

He does nothing.

Now I know there are a lot of Mon-El haters out there. I have taken his antics with a grain of salt this season. But this irked me. Why isn't he trying to escape? Sabotaging the weapons? Figuring out a way to get his friends on board.

Nope. He just mopes around. Irksome!

The surviving DEO agents set up a makeshift headquarters in the alien dive bar.

I guess the writers realized that J'Onn has too many powers and was too strong to keep on the chessboard. So the Martian Manhunter remains in the endless torture dream Rhea put him in last episode the entire time. He can't lead them. This reminded me of how Superman was taken out of last year's finale as well. (Remember his super-boots being visible in the background?)

James and Maggie show up there as well. For those of us worried that Alex has a drinking problem, it was chilling to hear Maggie say 'isn't it like us that when trouble arises we run straight to a bar'. I still worry.

With little tech to aid them, the DEO seems inept. But who should walk in but Lillian Luthor. Cadmus hasn't been seen for a while. I thought they were the big bad of the season. Lillian is there to help. After all, Cadmus hates aliens and this invasion is their worst dream realized.

But the DEO simply won't work with these villains. They kick her out.

We do see some humanism within Lillian here. She confesses that she has no idea where Jeremiah is. And she pleads with Kara to save Lena. She has real love for her daughter.

The scene is broken when the President (on Air Force One and flying to National City) and Rhea begin having an on-air negotiation. Well, it is more of a shouting match. The President yells for Rhea to stand down. Rhea laughs at the strength of the Earth military. The President says she isn't kidding. Rhea says she isn't either. In some ways it is laughable.

Luckily, Cat Grant is on Air Force One and tells them both how idiotic they sound, like boys 'measuring'. They are women; they can come to terms peacefully. Rhea still wants no part of it.

I like how Cat introduces herself as the Queen of All Media, making her the equal of Rhea. And I like how Cat bares her claws, telling Rhea that her tiara is overkill. No one puts Cat in a corner! I didn't realize how much I missed her acidic wit until it was back once more.

Rhea won't put up with the insolence though. The fleet fires on Air Force One, destroying it. Supergirl is able to save Cat but the President seems dead. That is, until she climbs out of the wreckage in her alien form.

I love Cat's response. "At least tell me you're still a democrat." Hilarious.

At the Dive Bar, Cat learns that Winn and Supergirl now work for the DEO.

The President reveals she is from Durla (yay Chameleon Boy!), a world that tried to accept invaders peacefully. But the invaders enslaved the Durlans and only a few escaped. She vowed never to let that happen to another world.

The President says the DEO has a Positron Cannon on the roof that must be used to vaporize the Daxamite main ship. Alex has a mission. She needs to infiltrate their building and fire.

I know the politics of the show skew pretty left. But this plot about Durla needs to be discussed a bit. Supergirl says that the President's past shows why she feels strongly about alien rights. And I get it.

And yet, couldn't we say that the fate of Durla is a cautionary tale. The Durlans accepted their invaders with open arms, trying to live peacefully, and yet were ultimately massacred, their culture erased. Isn't the dark side of outright acceptance and amnesty, that you open the front door for your enemies and invite them in.

I wish this was discussed a bit more.

As for the Positron Cannon, how can Alex not know about it? She's second in command of the DEO!

Anyways, if it anything like the Positron Rifle in Neon Genesis:Evangelion, it is a weapon to be reckoned with.

Rhea continues to move forward with her plans for a Mon-El/Lena marriage.

Initially Lena and Mon-El refuse to go along. But Rhea ups the ante. First off, she has stolen genetic material from them both, to create an heir. Second, if Lena won't go along, the Daxamite ships will fire on the Luthor Family Children's Hospital! (Hope I am not on shift when that happens!)

Unwilling to let sick kids be killed, Lena agrees to marry Mon. And Mon agrees as well.

This is infuriating.

Hey, Mon-El!! Do something!!!!

Despite Mon-El and Lena being on board, Alex plans to follow orders. The needs of the many ...

Kara can't believe it and so heads outside to get some air. And who is out there but Cat. This opening shot with Cat in the far back worked well for me. Cat's wisdom is in Kara but it isn't close by. Cat hasn't been close by. There is this distance.

But the real Cat is here now. She has one of those famous Cat inspirational speeches. It isn't selfish to want to save her boyfriend and best friend. If it is one thing Cat learned in her time away in Bhutan is that life is defined by who you love. Supergirl needs to save them.

The best way of doing that is for Supergirl to deal with Cadmus. She finds Lillian. The enemy of my enemy is my friend ... at least for now.

Again, this showed me how much I miss Cat's presence.

The plan is simple. Using the Phantom Zone Projector in the Fortress, Supergirl, Lillian, and the Cyborg Superman will beam onto the Daxamite ship. They will rescue Mon-El and Lena. Then Alex will blast the ship out of the sky with the Positron Cannon. To distract Rhea, Cat will broadcast a speech.

I loved how this scene played out. Alex reminds Lillian just how awful she is. How can Lillian say she loves Lena when she framed her daughter. How can Lillian be their friend when this was the bar where she released a poison gas? Alex just slays.

Alex also has this great moment where she acknowledges that Kara is right to go after Mon-El. She'd do everything for Maggie. She hugs Kara and tells her to be fast. There are tears. There hasn't been enough super-sisters in this season, what with Mon and Maggie. This showed how close they are. Great stuff.

At the Fortress, Kara asks Lillian why she hasn't told Lena about her secret identity. Lillian says Lena will learn on her own and hate Kara for hiding it. Brenda Strong just drips smooth evil. I love how cold, calculating, and conniving her Lillian is. She totally acts like a Luthor. And seeing her loading an assault rifle is awesome as well. 

I said, there are great performances here. Strong is so understated in her Lillian portrayal that it speaks loudly.

The three beam up.

The wedding is on and Rhea is reading the vows. It looks like this might happen. Hey, Mon-El ... thanks for doing something!

Meanwhile Cat decides to do her part in the plan. She and Winn set up to broadcast in her old office. She is dismayed by what James has done with the place - free weights, sports memorabilia, and stench. Then she wonders where James and 'Kira' are. (Winn says they're cowards. Awesome.)

So the three prongs of the plan are in motion.
Supergirl, Lillian, and Cyborg Superman are on the ship, battering their way towards their friends.
Alex and Maggie infiltrate the DEO, dispatch some Daxamites, and are powering up the cannon.
And Cat is ready to go live.

I appreciated how everyone had their role to play in this.

Cat's speech did remind me of both her own similar speech and Supergirl's 'hope' speech from last season. That doesn't mean it isn't good. In fact it's great. Just rang a similar tone.

Cat takes over Rhea's broadcasting capabilities and tells the citizens of National City she is back. She tells them to resist. The Daxamites promise to make the world great again (yes we get it). They threaten to beat the people into submission. But the city is united. They need to resist. After all, she's Cat Grant and she isn't going anywhere.

The speech is so infuriating that Rhea stops the ceremony to send troops down to kill Cat. I think all she had left to say was 'I pronounce you man and wife.' It seemed to convenient. She was one phrase away! (I couldn't help but think of The Princess Bride where Prince Humperdink yells at the officiant to say 'man and wife'.)

On their way back to their quarters, Mon-El finally does something and tries to beat up a guard. Lena grabs the guard's gun and blasts him. The two work their way from the ship and run into Supergirl who has been bashing her way through the guards herself. (I love how Lillian actually compliments Kara.)

Lillian activates the Phantom Zone projector and beams everyone except Mon and Kara away. 'Only humans', as ever.

I did like this look of surprise on Lena's face when Lillian showed up. It only turns to despair when her mother leaves Supergirl on board. That is one troubled relationship.

And I also liked how Mon and Kara have to act civil in front of Lena. After all Lena thinks Mon-El is Kara Danvers boyfriend, not Supergirl. This secret identity thing is a little ridiculous.

Supergirl however expected the backstab. Earlier in the episode, Winn bumps into Cyborg Superman. It's obvious. During that, he planted a device on Henshaw to make him reopen the portal.

Mon and Kara kiss but Supergirl insists on staying behind to try again and convince Rhea to work peacefully together. Help, hope and compassion for ALL ... remember. Mon-El beams down.

Supergirl being optimistic and still trying to reason with the enemy is one of the many reasons I love her as a character.

Meanwhile, the Daxamites beam into CatCo. Just when it looks like Cat and Winn will be killed, the Guardian shows up. Shooting lead dust (reminiscent of the K-grenades in BvS?), he is able to incapacitate the soldiers.

Cat instantly recognizes that it is James. After all she can see the eyes through the slit.

So how can she not see that Supergirl is 'Kira'??? I think she knows.

Alex stands poised at the trigger. The President is yelling at Alex to fire. But Alex knows Kara is still on board.

Kara pleads with Rhea to save herself and her people and work together. But Rhea is all Snow White Evil Queen. She says that she killed her own husband to do this. She can't have her heart strings pulled. And she still is going to win.

We see the Positron Cannon destroyed by familiar laser beams. And then someone appears on board and punches Supergirl away from Rhea.


Nice cliffhanger!!!

Whew. The pedal was all the way down this whole episode. I had about 20 screen caps I wanted to use here. I am sure I missed a ton of great lines and moments. But this was a great set-up for the finale.

What did you all think!


Anonymous said...

Intense episode. Second Season has gotten some big flaws but at least they're trying to end it with a bang.

Do you know what it's funny? People is always complaining about Kryptonians being overpowered, but the show-writers constantly need to come up with excuses to get J'onn off the table.

I'm shocked at Lillian all of sudden displaying motherly love. I'm glad that Alex pointed out what an abusive step-mother Lillian was.

The Phantom Zone Projector used as a teleport beam has been done but it still seems a very risky move.

I like Supergirl made a last-ditch attempt to solve the conflict peacefully but she was still ready for a backstabbing. Goodness and compassion don't equal naivete and foolishness, contrary to what villains seem to think.

I'm not thrilled with Superman being turned into a mind-controlled dope again. Sigh.

Okay, we have seen now the Projector. Will Mon-El will be trapped in the Zone after the next chapter? Will we finally meet the Legion?

After the "Girl or Woman" "controversy" I SO want Imra to be played by an adult actress but keeping her Saturn Girl codename. Can you imagine? And I don't think Rokk and Garth keeping their classic codenames will shut any complainers up.

Anonymous said...

I know this is dense but, exactly when did Lillian figure out that KD=SG? I seemed to have missed that one completely. This was also a really really violent episode with Terri Hatcher seizing the spotlight as a sort of Distaff Ming the Merciless...curious to see how she got Supes under her spell for that fact she seems to have Mon El in a trance as well....I suspect that Daxam may be a Matriarchy after all.
Otherwise its a notable thing all season long that Mon El almost never makes a good decision unless Kara makes it for him, without her his judgement is perpetually compromised.
Two things I need to see Kara bust Supes in the nose....and then Rhea getting her beatdown, no help no Alex, Kara wins on her own strengths. IF I get this then it's all good.
The reason why MM gets put on ice is simple telepathy is such an overwhelming power that writer's need to take it off the table, otherwise why doesn't J'onn have better and constant insight in to the bad guys plans? ST TNG had this same problem for seven years with Deanna Troi.
Two big inponderables going into next week, how does Zod enter the mix, is he being set up for Season Three and Does Mon El stay in the picture at all? I wonder still if they'll use their 3rd season renewal to set up a hard core cliffhanger next monday?


Anonymous said...

Personally I can't decide which would be a better pissing contest to have front row orbital seats to :
Lillian v Queen Rhea, POTUS Durlan v Queen Rhea, or Cat Grant v Queen Rhea. I do agree Cat Grant's life
lessons speech to Supergirl, and her applying the heel to Team Supergirl makes me realize how much she's
been missed this season; her sarcastic wit and bare-knuckles, subtle-as-an-upraised-Digitus Impudicus
speech to Queen Rhea was just icing on a great cake of an episode!

I also wish Cat Grat revealed her knowledge of Supergirl's identity as well... there's still one more
episode this season to do so, so we'll see.

I have to admit the unexpected twist with POTUS being an alien refugee herself was quite unexpected...
I kept thinking she was part of the invasion force herself, but being a refugee herself puts an her into
an interesting light for (possible) future episodes. It'll be an interesting (legal) debate, especially
considering current US laws for a "foreign-born" national, who happens to hold the highest elected office
in the land!

> I like Supergirl made a last-ditch attempt to solve the conflict peacefully but she was still ready for
> a backstabbing. Goodness and compassion don't equal naivete and foolishness, contrary to what villains
> seem to think.

+9000, would've ROYALLY pissed me off to see Team Supergirl get suckered by Cadmus again.

> and then Rhea getting her beatdown, no help no Alex, Kara wins on her own strengths.

+9000 on this as well. Haven't seen any good bare Supergirl fisticuffs in awhile.

I'm also wondering what's going to happen next episode, what Zod's role will be, and if we're going to
get subject to the same tired cliche of a Supercousins Versus fight (again). Next to Alex's drinking,
a mindcontrolled Superman v Supergirl seems to be the next biggest repetition TPTB like to pull with
this show.


Scrimmage said...

How disappointing that a show with such potential for entertainment has degenerated into a thinly disguised propaganda piece, promoting the far-left, liberal Democrat agenda, while denigrating Republicans, disparaging real-life conservatives, and insulting at least half of their potential audience with snide references and snarky insinuations about President Trump. I expect that sort of thing from Saturday Night Live, but NOT Supergirl.

It's clear that TPTB are embracing the show's reputation as one of the most politically slanted drama series on the air. Either they are arrogant enough to think that everyone who watches “Supergirl” shares their political point of view, or they simply don't care if their obvious bias costs them viewers, especially if those viewers happen to be white, straight, conservative, male, Republican, or anyone else who voted for the winning side in the recent election. Their openly hostile attitude toward anyone who doesn't agree with them made those elements hard to enjoy, and rendered the show nearly unwatchable.

The truly sad thing is that all this heavy-handed political advocacy is completely unnecessary, and contributes nothing to what would've otherwise been a very compelling, and entertaining storyline. The action scenes were great, as were the special effects, and the performances of a very talented cast, but TPTB's insistence on constantly beating us over the head with their mean-spirited political jabs, adopting Hillary Clinton's “Resist” quote, while bastardizing of Trump's “Make America Great Again” slogan, were obvious attempts to appeal to the ultra-left, while at the same time, ignoring the sensibilities of the millions of Americans in “fly-over country” who happen to support the President.

Meanwhile, the fictional (female) President on the show is revered, conveniently ignoring the fact that as an Alien, she would be ineligible to hold that office because the Constitution requires that the President MUST be a natural-born American citizen. That means that President Wonder Woman is a fraud, and a felon in violation of the law, but apparently, none of that matters to Cat Grant, just as long as she's still a Democrat. Unbelievable!

And if running off large numbers of potential viewers based on its slanted politics wasn't enough, the show seems intent on alienating, or at least insulting any MEN still left in the audience. “Supergirl” has not only become myopically political, but in this latest episode, the show's most basic theme - “female empowerment” - has morphed into blatant, man-bashing sexism, suggesting that women are not only EQUAL to men, but SUPERIOR to them. If the situation was reversed, and J'onn, James, Winn, and Mon-El decided to take charge simply because they're men, the paid protesters of the not-so “progressive” left would descend upon the network like the Daxamites on CatCo, and blow up the whole building!

I'm sure I'll probably still tune in next week for the Season Finale, but I can't say that I'll be back if and when the show returns, unless I can think of a really good reason why I should continue to subject myself to a show that deliberately insults me, and other people whom I respect and admire, on a regular basis with their childish political vitriol.

Anonymous said...

Scrimmage I am in a bit of the same boat as you. I have graded this season as a "C" which is a drop from the B+ of season 1.

The staff of all the CW shows are mad that Queen Hillary did not win. Well little do they know their leftist attitude has led to all these ultra left ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter rioters to explode on the scene. They should know THERE IS MORE TO THE US THAN NEW YORK AND LA!

There should be a reality show where someone in HOllywood walks a mile in the shoes of a blue collar worker.



ESPN as a result of going left has lost $100 million in revenue and cut 100 jobs. Marvel had to drop a BLM comic book because the free market said no!

So let me say to the SG staff...HIRE SOME LIBERTARIAN WRITERS you millennials.

And for next season, writers either stop with the leftist anti-Americana stuff (we are at war with Islamists in case you don't know)...OR I WILL BOYCOTT!

Anonymous said...

"especially if those viewers happen to be white, straight, conservative, male, Republican, or anyone else who voted for the winning side in the recent election"

Three of the above here, and I love "Supergirl" AND its politics.

"the show seems intent on alienating, or at least insulting any MEN still left in the audience"

Again, not alienated (or, you know, threatened) at all.

Anonymous said...

The show's politics are nothing compared to "The Twilight Zone" in it's heyday....sorry kids. BTW props to Cousin Kara for outwitting Lillian so effortlessly this week, the only thing sexier than when Supergirl triumphs unaided is when she OUT THINKS her opponents...its' been a hallmark of the character since 1959. Long may it reign.


Aaron said...

The politics is a bit in-your-face, but if the show manages to obtain longevity and passes the test of time, then no one will care about the politics in years to come; all people will see on screen is a superhero who genuinely cares about people.
I think that as long as Supergirl doesn’t kill anyone (again), or does anything that’s even slightly reminiscent of Joe Kelly’s run in the comics, then I’ll be okay with it. I may not always like the show, especially since its move to the CW, but Melissa Benoist is kinda brilliant at portraying one of my favourite comic book characters.

KET said...

"It's clear that TPTB are embracing the show's reputation as one of the most politically slanted drama series on the air."

Somebody's been reading the whiny fanboy click-bait over at Screen Rant again. That lazy armchair stuff merely counts up a bunch of semantics, and suddenly starts crying out "politics' if they can stitch together a phony conspiracy theory. They're worse than Agent Orange whining about his slipping ratings again.

However, Supergirl pretty much laid out its so-called 'agenda' as a pro-female superhero show right from the pilot episode, when Kara asked Cat, "Shouldn't she be named 'Superwoman?" Honestly guys, if having the POTUS be a female alien, or Cat Grant explaining that women don't need to measure their dick size is getting your underwear all bunched up, then perhaps you need to find another program to watch. The series has never shied away from addressing the topical right from the get-go, which makes it more relevant for those who didn't grow up reading male-dominated comic book fare. That's way more than half the audience, BTW.

However, it also makes Supergirl the TV series fall right in line with the tradition of most science-fiction/fantasy adaptations, before "Star Wars" arguably dumbed down the concepts to just mere populist entertainment for the masses. That's what the genre does in the best traditionalist sense, so the series is merely following tradition.


Anj said...

Thanks for all the great conversation.

There is no doubt what the politics of the creators are in the show. It has been pretty evident from the beginning of last season. And as this is Supergirl, one of the whole points was to give girls a superhero to emulate.

And while I agree that political subtlety isn't a strength of the writers, I still think it is less ham-fisted as last year's season. Maybe more matter-of-fact and less preachy.

I do wish that some sort of counterpoint could be made now and then to show the complexity of these issues. As Lillian says, the Daxamites are her worst nightmare come true. Maybe this is the danger of opening the gates to potential enemies. But as Lillian is the villain, her viewpoint is laughed at. Even her telling Kara that it is her politics that are the issue, not her alien heritage, shows the message being sent.

And yes, I like the show. It won't change my politics in any way. It is a superhero yarn. But I worry when people 'if you are upset by the show's politics, look elsewhere'. If this was a right-leaning show, and the right-leaning fans said 'look elsewhere', I doubt the left would nod and leave without a fight. Looking at the brutal fights happening about current comic arcs where people can literally vote with their dollars, I think a fight would happen.

Television is supposed to be my break from the contentiousness of real life!

Aaron said...

I think you’ve nailed my problem on the head there, Anj. I watch TV shows and films so that I can escape reality. I think that’s why I love classic TV shows and movies; they have an innocent charm that carries me away into their worlds. Fans of shows like Supergirl I feel could benefit from a kind of after-thought show, like The Walking Dead has The Talking Dead (I realise of course that Supergirl isn’t popular enough for this (unfortunately)). But I guess that’s why websites like this are so popular, because people love talking about what they’ve just seen.
I think that’s why I enjoy comics, they have amazing characters with terrific stories, but the emphasis is on the fantasy and escapism, and that’s what I love. When I read comics, my mind can relax and enjoy the journey of the characters and (more times than not) it’s a stress free experience. On screen, things can sometimes get too intense because the fantasy must often give way to encompass reality and social issues, and this can divide an audience. Live action draws us deeper into the rabbit hole.
I have no idea what my point is; I don’t think I even have one. I just felt the need to write this. Anyway, stay well, Anj (and everybody), and thanks again for the platform.

Anj said...

I understand how art has to comment on current events. 100%.

I also think that there has to be some understanding of the particular art to decide how much current events you infuse.

And I also think you have to decide are you making art that comments on politics. Or are you making politics in the form of art. I don't want Supergirl to be a political infomercial for either side.

As long as she is showing 'help, hope, and compassion for all' I'll be happy.