Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Supergirl Season Three Wrap Up

Supergirl Season three ended just last week, crazy as that is to say. But a long hiatus in the winter has led to an early summer finale. And here we are.

I debated on trying to put together a wrap up post. I haven't had the luxury of going back and watching the episodes again. I am basing most of what I am writing here on overall recollection and feel for the characters and plots. So bear with me if I don't give specifics or forget conflicting scenes.

What I can tell you is that I feel this season sort of limped to a close. I think back to the midseason finale, right after Reign pummeled Kara, right after a major plot thread was showcased, and I remember being excited. That Reign/Supergirl fight was brutal and palpable. Kara trying to bury her humanity seemed like a mistake. And the supporting characters, while dealing with issues of their own, were helping us tell Supergirl's story. We even got an incredible crossover where Supergirl and her evil doppelganger Overgirl played key parts. This was her show.

Then the middle portion of the season seemed to refocus on the supporting characters. We got a bit more muddled in the main plotline of the threat of Reign. What was she? Who was she?  We began to dip into some clunky 'relevant stories. I was still able to see some of that struggle Kara was having with embracing her humanity but it seemed to be more in the background.

Then the hiatus came and momentum seemed to be lost.

And finally when the show came back, we seemed to get even more confused. The Mon-El love plot took up more time. We got several episodes which very forcibly shoved a political agenda down the viewers' throats. These weren't stories with a lesson; these were agendas with a story built around it. And the mythos behind Reign and Argo City and valleys and swords came at us so fast that there was nothing consistent to hang on to. We spent much more time with supporting characters such that Kara felt like a guest star on her own show. And, unfortunately, time and time again someone saved Supergirl and not the other way around.

So much story and time seemed wasted such that saying goodbye to the Legion, her mother, her ex-lover, her friend, and her boss all happened in the span of 10 minutes with little effort to show what that even meant for Supergirl and her life.

We peaked early.

Next season I hope we Kara back in the spotlight. Let it be her show, her adventures.

On to specific plots.

1) Kara and Humanity - 
We open the season with a Kara still mourning the loss of Mon-El. While we can debate the merits of Mon-El (and will later), it was interesting to see that Supergirl's response was to close herself off from her friends and family. Melissa Benoist was able to convey that so powerfully in those early episodes. Brilliantly, the writers did a good job of comparing and contrasting and commenting on this with all sorts of plots. Sam's struggles with her humanity. The idea of people worshiping her as a goddess. The presence of the cold Overgirl. The idea that being 'cold and Kryptonian' led to a vicious beatdown. Even the flashbacks to Midvale and the presence of Streaky in her mind-prison, how the presence of Kara led to her awakening from a coma ... it all worked. It seemed that the purpose of this was to show how being human was in fact power and that being purely Kryptonian like Reign was wrong.

Unfortunately, this seemed to get shelved a bit. I though that sending her 'back home' to Argo with the chance to live as Kara Zor-El not Kara Danvers would again showcase this. But that plot was done so fast that I just couldn't get invested. I mean we saw Alura and Thara Ak-Var on Argo! I should be floored.

And the Mon-El potential romance just seemed to get way too much air time. I suppose this Kara is in a better place at the end of the season, realizing that Earth is her home even while Mom and other Kryptonians float through space in a virtual prison. 

It is a shame the build up of those first episodes fizzled.

2) Reign
First things first. I am extremely impressed with Odette Annable and her ability to juggle the two roles of Sam and Reign. She was able to tell me, just with a glance, who was running the body.

And Reign as a villain was perfect for Supergirl, just a vicious, alien killing machine. That first fight with Kara where she used wreckage and detritus as weapons as she tossed Supergirl around showed us that.

Again, unfortunately, the story became more and more muddled as we went along. At first the other World Killers were good additions, again adding to that struggle of humanity versus alien. But they sort of diluted the brand. And then they were gone.

More and more I had questions about what Reign was. Was she a Kryptonian baby rocketed to Earth? Then why didn't Sam have powers. Was she a Kryptonian spirit which possessed a human baby? Then why did Sam's mother say she found her? Was the 'dark valley' a spiritual place? An actual place? Once you through in, dark witches, swords of Juru, and Fountains of Lilith, I was so lost in the mythology that I stopped trying to understand it. And that again fizzled the early momentum.

What's worse is that ultimately the writers separated Sam and Reign, allowing them to have their cake and eat it too. It shouldn't end so pat. And worse than that? It is Sam who defeats Reign in the end ... not Supergirl.

I just feel there was so much lost potential here.

3) Mon-El
He came back. He was married. He was a changed man and a better hero. He used Supergirl's heroism as a template for the Legion of Super-Heroes. He cured a dying kid on Argo. Okay ... on paper all good.

But his conflicted feelings and his need to just keep hanging around Kara to maybe end up back with her seemed icky. Saturn Girl basically giving him a hall pass didn't help. And his not extricating himself from the problem was horrible. Basically we were one Kelex attack away from Kara making out with a married man. Terrible.

It seemed like we were going to get some Kara-tharsis when Myr'nn's telepathic instability had Supergirl finally vent her spleen to him. But instead, we slid back into the 'will they/won't they' spiral.

Perhaps even worse is that he got valuable super-heroic time, destroying giant T-Rex's, punching out Dark Witches, and saving Kara a bunch of times. No amount of 'cape tricks' could save that. It should be Supergirl's show.

I suppose I should be happy that he realized he needed to head back to the 31st century and lead the Legion again.

4) The Legion
The Legion is one of my most favorite comic book properties. Seeing it live was thrilling. And having it be Brainiac 5, knowing his history with Kara made it that much sweeter. Imra being a telekinetic rather than a telepath was a bit of a let-down but not that big a deal.

Brainy being awkward and silently into Supergirl was a bonus. Hearing about Winath, the Blight, Chameleon Boy, and seeing flight rings was fantastic.

I am very happy that we'll get way more Brainy next season.

5) Alex

First off, Chyler Leigh just crushes it. I love her performance.

The one supporting character I feel should have ample screen time is Alex. I love the interaction of the Danvers sister. I liked how Alex had to get through her own sort of crisis this season. Breaking up with Maggie, semi-adopting Ruby, wondering about work/life balance ... it all resonated well. I was so happy when she got time to talk to Kara on screen.

But again, much of her arc was spent away from Kara. She had more super-heroic time than Kara, facing off against 2 Kryptonians at once, fighting off Reign in the Luthor mansion, and catching grenades tossed at her without batting an eye. Heck, she even got a super-suit.

I like her arc's resolution. Having her run the DEO feels right. And maybe it'll stop her from outshining Kara on the battlefield.

But seriously, we need to see the sisters on the couch talking more next season.

6) Alura and Argo
I mention this is in the beginning part of this post, but I should have been floored about the introduction of Alura and Argo City. We have seen Kara be very conflicted with her thoughts on her mother. Both thought the other was dead. We should have got significant scenes where the two reunited. But we spent way too much time with Thara Ak-Var, the farmers market and its customers, and even Selena to really get to know this Alura. Even when she came to Earth to fight with Kara, we just didn't get any grist for the character mill. The characters said goodbye in a nonchalant and quick way.

There should have been emotion and grandeur but there wasn't imagine. Think of how we could have explored this relationship instead of being preached to about the latest social causes.

I hope she comes back next season. Alura deserves something more than this flyby visit.

7) J'onn
In one of the best arcs, we got to see a touching commentary on honoring your parents and dealing with dementia. The addition of Myr'nn and J'onn's struggles played out very well. His stepping down from the DEO at the end of season made sense. He needs time to redefine himself.

David Harewood plays space dad very well. He plays devoted son very well.

But it still makes no sense for J'onn to disarm the DEO.

8) Lena

If there was one saving grace to the season, one character arc that started strong and ended stronger, it was Lena.

To see her slowly turn against Supergirl was played out so well. She has been hurt throughout her life for being a Luthor. She had to combat Morgan Edge. She needed to face off against her mother again. She wasn't going to open herself up to emotional hurt again. She doesn't care about Supergirl. They aren't friends. She can love, she can protect. But she can attack.

She isn't full evil yet. But she seems to be teetering.

And I love it. Katie McGrath just slays. As she should. Brilliant.

Yes, no specific paragraph for Winn or James. Sad to see Winn go. Glad to see James be with Lena as it may provide some friction next season.

So I guess I'd give this season a solid C+, tossing a lot at us, starting strong, and sticking it out.

What did you think?


Anonymous said...

Hmm... I agree with you. A strong opening, but it kind of limped at the end, among other things because I focused on the "wrong" parts. This is subjective, of course, but I think the show should have spent more time delving into Kara's reactions to a restored Argo City and meeting her allegedly dead mother again than into a pointless love triangle with a married couple.

I never hated Mon-El but I think it's a good thing he's gone because he can't bring anything new to the table anymore. Querl Dox, on the other hand... now Winn and Mon are gone, Brainy can be both the tech guy AND the potential love interest, which should allow a bigger focus on Supergirl.

I'm not exactly thrilled with S4 apparently adapting "Red Son". First of all, I want the show to adapt SG stories; second, I know who the "Red Daughter" is, and she isn't a Russian pawn.

Anonymous said...

The show's greatest strength is an excellent cast, they are very good at redeeming mediocre material which is vital since the show endlessly ping pongs between too hurried a pace or else clunky writing. The season has its manifest flaws but its mostly a function of making poor decisions seemingly at the outset by introducing and then dropping interesting themes in favor of dubious stuff. The producers and writers need to make better choices because certainly the plotlines are there for the taking.
Despite any one of a number of eps that I liked and enjoyed, overall Season Three was the weakest so far. The show can retake the high ground but the creatives have to commit to making better decisions, slow the pace down and send scripts back for revision when the writer refers to the creation of a synthetic extraterrestrial element as "a recipe".
I could also do with a whole lot less of "Alex The Omnipotent SuperAgent" hopefully the promotion will reduce those sequences to a minimum.
And is it me, or is Melissa Benoist like getting prettier as the show goes on? :)


KET said...

I feel the season suffered a bit from the extended hiatus breaks, due to technical difficulties beyond the show's control. Writing seemed just fine to me; but the lengthy breaks robbed the overall arc of its initial momentum. The pacing of this series has normally been a bit faster than the other CW superhero fare (especially Black Lightning, which often moves along at a glacial pace) Seems to me that this season will play better as a binge watch, which can happen now if one has Netflix (since S3 just became available this week)...or when the DVD collection arrives September 18th.

Arc was mainly a spiritual journey, as both Kara and Sam needed to forgive themselves for human failings. Kara thought she needed to be a 'perfect' alien instead of letting her heart guide her, as it did in the past. Samantha was filled with self-loathing, not only for putting off Ruby due to work obligations, but also from neglect from Patricia, which made a convenient dodge from being a responsible mother.

Selena's role in this comes from manipulating Sam at an early age, although how she managed to acquire a being she could genetically alter via witchcraft was never well explained, admittedly. The Dark Kryptonians motives also seemed too similar to that of Season One, wherein Astra and Non had planned to transform Earth into a more palatable environment for their kind to rule. Show could probably use a break from megalomaniacs for a bit, although I suspect that's probably not happening next season. However, adapting Red Son should provide a more focused framework for viewers to latch onto for next season. Speculating that the showrunners let this adaptation info slip out so they could gauge the feedback, and respond accordingly.


Anonymous said...

I had a lot of trouble watching due to the season's flaws - frankly if it wasn't Supergirl, but just a sci-fi adventure show, I would have stopped watching. It was hard to get past the turn to extreme "comic-book logic" - they painted themselves into a corner with Reign that it doesn't seem they couldn't write themselves out of successfully. Does seem they had production problems of some sort.

Don't ask me to explain Valleys, Sanctuaries, the 2 Fountains, the Cauldron, magic rocks, witches, holographic witches (or whatever Selena was on Earth before she was the real Selena), Sam's mother/hallucination/ghost who is expert in distinguishing a good fountain from a bad one, or why Reign was perfectly fine when she emerged from the cauldron, yet it melted her when Kara threw her into it later. It was just too much for my poor brain to deal with. (Though I'm sure some readers have a better handle on all of that than I do.)

J'onn did look fantastic in that hat! If he's not coming back to the show, I'll miss David Harewood. And Jeremy Jordan, who was terrific but just didn't have enough to do. Yet James/Guardian will remain? Oh well. And I still miss Calista Flockhart.

I'm convinced Guardian was added so that they could have action scenes that were easier to produce than the ones with Supergirl - the helmet means it's easier to shoot stunt doubles and do special effects. No face. So they could maintain the action while reducing the Supergirl action scenes (and hope that no one notices?).

At least Kara and Mon-El kept their hands to themselves, and thank God he took his bullfighting cape and went home!

Anyway, I appreciate reading some more positive, and deeper, thoughts above, and I'll keep watching and hope next season the writing takes a turn for the better. And hope that Supergirl gets to star in her own show again.

Thanks for the reviews and this season wrap-up!

Anj said...

Thanks all for comments.

This has been n up and down season as evident by the things yiunall have said. Anyways, still a lot of ups. We have a solid Suoergirl show on screen. The cast is great. Hoping they grab the brass ring next season!

Anonymous said...

The highs in this season:
Midseason finale
Morgan Edge
Streaky moment
Space Granddad

The lows:
* Most of the writing for Melissa Benoist
* Lena Luthor (Sorry about the unpopular opinion but she was written too powerful and I didn't believe her character after midseason. She was fine before. )
* James/Guardian
* Mon-El:s love drama and being more powerful than Supergirl.
* Alex becoming more powerful than Supergirl, and also a ninja.
* Winn making everyone more powerful than Supergirl.
* Kara's reunion with her mother was very underwhelming.
* Hokus-pokus explanations for everything Reign related.

My grade:

Anonymous said...

C Plus Agreed.....oddly enough I suspect the producers are addressing the issue of "Supergirl as a special ongoing Guest Star in her own Show" by making Melissa Benoist her own Big Bad in Season Four.
Which given said performers talent, charisma and good looks is ON PAPER a smart decision but given the sheer volume of clunkyness occasioned in S3 we still need to be watchful.


Anj said...

Thanks for continued discussion!

I guess we will get double the Benoist next season!

Professor Feetlebaum said...

"And unfortunately, time and again someone saved Supergirl and not the other way around."

This has been one of my biggest problems with the show. Not just that Supergirl should more often be the rescuer and NOT the "rescuee", but that she can't seem to do anything without the other DEO agents coming along, and too often overshadowing her. Yes, one of the themes of the show is "stronger together" (maybe it should be "with a little help from my friends"), but the writers and producers need to let Supergirl be Supergirl.

"Next season I hope we get Kara back in the spotlight. Let it be her show, her adventures."

Hopefully, this will happen now that Mon-El is gone (HOORAY!) and Alex is no longer in the field. For season 4, I would love to see some episodes that don't involve the DEO. How about, for one episode, "a day in the life of Supergirl", following Kara around National City as she stops a crime here, performs a rescue there, and so on. And if Kara is supposed to be still working at CatCo, then lets see it. Otherwise, they should establish her in some other profession. Guidance counsellor, maybe?

I'd also like to see more of Eliza Danvers, maybe another Midvale adventure with young Kara and Alex, and another appearance by Mxyzptlk. If Kara could visit the Legion in the 30th century and avoid Mon-El (he could be out of town), I'd like to see that too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the introspective on S3 Anj. Rereading my own personal thoughts on this, I think alot of
this season was held back by clunkier and clunkier writing as the season went on, and diminishing the
fact that it's a SUPERgirl show. Alot of good ideas at the start -- Morgan Edge, Legionaires, Cult
of the Supers -- but as time went on, seems like TPTB were throwing darts at the wall to see what
stuck -- Olsen x Luthor romance, more convoluted Reign origins and endgame, Argo City and Selena.

I do agree a lack of Calista F and Helen S was kind of a downer this season -- I'd LOVE to have seen
a scene between Helen and Erica -- but I'll never forget that they brought back Livewire / Brit Morgan.
And I'll NEVER forget the wonderful dual acting by Melissa B during the annual crossover as Overgirl.

See where things go in Season 4!


Anj said...

Yes to more Eliza.
Yes to another Midvale Adventure.
Yes to more Mxy, especially in a battle of wits with Brainy.