Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Supergirl 419: Crime And Punishment

Supergirl Episode 419, titled Crime and Punishment, aired this week and was an interesting episode. In many ways it felt like a middle chapter of a mini-series. The purpose here isn't to solve any problems. It isn't really there to progress the plot. Instead the purpose it serves is simply to churn up the suspense, bringing the simmering plot lines to more of a boil.

The main plot is the dream team of Lena and Supergirl trying to track down Lex Luthor and figure out how he was able to get some version of Supergirl into the White House. Seeing these two team up as they try to unravel the clues and get into Lex's mind is pretty great. It truly was something of a mystery. And I liked the glimpses we had into the insanity of the Luthor mind.

A subplot is Kara's reaction to being treated like a villain in her own world. She is used to being the hero, being the inspiration. So seeing her become despondent about the fear Supergirl now invokes was another fascinating wrinkle. And her solution, how to be the hero while not being Supergirl is also great, giving us a look at the other side of her dual identity.

And yes, we get to see how this new world of 'Supergirl, Public Enemy #1' effects Alex, Colonel Haley, Brainy, and James as well.

But the big win is the main plot. We haven't seen Lex or Red Daughter in two episodes but we definitely feel their presence here. And that is a good thing.

We start out with President Baker taking a bold step in his attempts to fight his war against Supergirl. He believes she attacked the White House in retaliation for his revoking the Alien Amnesty Act.  He basically imposes martial law in the country, initiating a sundown to sunup curfew for the general public. He tells Supergirl he is at war with her and asks her to turn herself in.

Now part of me wonders how a curfew is going to help him stop Supergirl. But if you are looking for machinations within machinations, if you are trying to see how Lex would benefit from this, a curfew is going to make your average citizen hate Supergirl. If I can't go out to dinner because we are at war with Supergirl, I am going to blame Supergirl.

And we see this play out in reality. Supergirl heads to a car accident to help someone trapped in the vehicle. Some well meaning, gun toting bystanders try to make a citizen's arrest and open fire on her. They almost kill the passenger. When Supergirl saves the car driver by flying him off, that man wonders why she would save him and kill everyone else. He says his daughter no longer loves Supergirl. She is Public Enemy #1. The tide has turned against her.

And it pains her. All the good she has done has been wiped away by this lie, this fake Supergirl.

Of course Lena and Alex are there to support her. Alex says Ben Lockwood has been spreading lies for months. Lena talks of Lex as the someone adept at gaslighting people.

But it still doesn't answer the how. This Supergirl wasn't Bizarro (Alex checked on her, meaning she is still in her coma from season 1). It wasn't a shapeshifter. It was something real.

At least they have a lead. Lilian told Lena to investigate Lex's warden.

This is the dream team - Supergirl, Alex, and Lena. And I love how Kara's friends support her when she is so upset.

In the prison, Supergirl and Lena air all the Warden's dirty laundry of kickbacks and bribes. If he won't give them access to Lex's cell they'll reveal all his nefarious acts ... and implicate the guy's husband. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sheepishly, he agrees to help.

Given that Supergirl is wanted, the Warden has to clear the staff away from the cell. He doesn't want them trying to arrest her.

It is amazing to see Supergirl walk to Lex's cell, passing the other prisoners who are cheering her name. She really has become a villain in the eyes of the people.

In the cell, Lena can't help but notice how pretentious the whole thing is, especially the Hannibal sculpture.

She sees the Luthor family chess board and remembers that Lex used to leave messages for her in the body of the queen. Sure enough, there is a photo of the man Lena killed when experimenting with her Harun-el formula. That is some vicious stuff by Lex.

But it also has the date the Romanovs were executed in Russia. This is a clue enabling Lena to open up to chess board to reveal all of Lex's diaries.

Why would Lex leave them there ... unless he wanted them to be found. He is goading Lena.

Meanwhile at the DEO, Secretary Lockwood, of the recently elevated cabinet spot as Director of Alien Affairs arrives at the DEO. He wants all their alien weapons. He wants them to summon Supergirl. He aims to kill her. And he says it is all in the name of justice.

Haley and Alex don't believe Supergirl is guilty, so they make him leave and come back with a Presidential signed order. In the meantime, Haley asks Alex for the signal watch. Alex says that pressing the button twice summons Supergirl.

You can see the conflict with Haley. She both doesn't want to help Lockwood but also understands rank and order. Haley has had one of the more engaging character arcs this season.

Meanwhile, Brainy knows that after Supergirl, the next targets for Lockwood will be all the aliens on the alien registry.

He decides that he will erase it from the DEO mainframe, thus denying Lockwood access.

He screams to Alex how he will be clandestine in his doing it. Ahhh Brainy ... irony at its best!

Realizing that she needs to change Haley's mind about not following orders, Alex asks for help from Kelly Olsen. Olsen reminds Alex that the best way to reach people is to remind them of what they care for the most. She tells an anecdote about her time in Bashur.

I have to say this scene felt almost like a forced 'meet cute' for Alex and Kelly. Alex has been in a position of authority for years. She should know what to do. And it felt weird for her to reach out to a trauma therapist for advice.

But there it is.

Meanwhile, Brainy has to get to the DEO mainframe and has to get through some defenses.

First is a voice recognition system. Funny to see him talk in Haley's voice.

Then it is a retina scan which he can also easily outmaneuver technilogically.

But then he has to get by live guards which he does by imitating Mission Impossible by fooling the guards into thinking he is being sent into the mainframe by Haley herself.

But once there he delays.

According to his systems, if he destroys the registry it could lead to aliens being safer or more persecuted. If he doesn't destroy it, it could lead to aliens being safer or more persecuted

It is an actual 50/50 dilemma. And it is unlike a Coluan to flip a coin.

Meanwhile in Lex's cell, Lena pores over her brother's diaries. Some are about Superman and his failings. Others seem to have plots he can use against Superman - citing Scarecrow and Poison Ivy as having potential ways of controlling the Man of Steel.

But one is basically a list of all of Lena's failures in life.

That is dirty pool by Lex. He really knows how to push Lena's buttons.

The diaries look amazing by the way. Well worth screen capping and trying to read. Lex is a madman.

James is still suffering from his PTSD and decides to get help,

For the first time he feels helpless. He thinks of himself as Guardian, a hero. But he can get triggered and anxious. And when he does, he seems to manifest some odd powers.

Back in the prison, Supergirl heads to a cell neighboring Lex's and runs into someone named Steve Lomeli - a rebelwho was tossed in jail when he released classified documents which showed the government was participating in illegal drone warfare.

He tells Supergirl that her very presence is a concern for his own well being. The government might toss a tactical nuke at her, risking the inmates. He says outright that everything Supergirl touches, she ruins.

Again, you see how this would effect Supergirl. Gone are the accolades. Even people who she might admire, like this man who spread the truth in the name of justice, hates her, calling her a malignant narcissist. And once again you have to tip your cap to Lex for being able to pull this off.

As for Brainy, he is too confused to know what to do about the registry so he asks Nia to dream and see the future, thus telling him what he does. In some ways that would take to risk of deciding off him.

In the end she tricks him into realizing that he knows he needs to destroy it. Sometimes your instinct is more important than math.

Let's hope Nia is right.

Back in the DEO Alex confronts Haley about following immoral orders.

Alex says following flawed orders makes Haley complicit. Then, taking a big chance, Alex talks about Haley's daughter. It backfires. Haley won't let Alex manipulate her, using the daughter as emotional leverage. And Haley also knows that the signal watch uses 1 touch to summon Supergirl; two clicks is a warning.

It is Alex who might be in trouble now.

What I liked about this scene was the opening. Alex is way on the other side of the room, a visual representation of how far apart she and Haley are on this issue. And yet, as the scene progresses, Alex closes in, showing she is trying to bridge that gap. Nice touch.

Back in the prison, Supergirl laments to Lena about how much she hates being viewed as a villain. I love how Lena empathizes. She's been accused falsely as much as anyone!

As they continue to scour Lex's cell, we see that Otis (now Metallo) has arrived.

Otis opens up all the cells and tells the inmates whoever stops Supergirl will be given a lifetime parole. Lena gives Supergirl a Kryptonite shield she brought with her in case Otis arrived. and the fight is on. In the end we get a hallway fight reminscent of Old Boy or Daredevil. It is great to see Supergirl just toss these guys around.

Meanwhile Lena continues to look for clues.

Back at CatCo, James hears gun shots on the news and his powers kick in. His eyes go black. His senses become super. And he crushes a metal lamp.

Hmmm ... could we get a Lex versus James fight in the end? Two super-HUMANS fighting in this plot about alien refugees?

Maybe while Supergirl is fighting Red Daughter?

SG – Warden dead.

Back at the prison, Supergirl finds the Warden has been killed by Otis.

And Lena flashes back to a memory of her and Lex in a treehouse in the alps. He points to a spot in the mountains where he said his dream house would be.

Lena touches the Hannibal artwork at that spot on the mountain and it reveals a secret passage behind that art. Finally, a breakthrough in the Lex investigation.

How cool to see a young Lex and Lena hanging out!

Otis is indeed Metallo and his chest is entirely Kryptonite.

He and Supergirl have one heck of a brawl through the prison, breaking through walls, pounding each other, and using the gym equipment as weapons.

Unfortunately, the bludgeoning fight shatters the K-shield.

I do love this Otis, a sort of idiot savant who bashes in saying 'Here's Otis' like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

With the Kryptonite shield destroyed, Supergirl is about to lose when she plays one last trick.

She changes into Kara! She says she was there as a member of the press when the attack happened.

And somehow the secret identity fools Otis. He leaves her alone.

But what I love, again, is this idiot savant role Otis has. He says he hates reporters because they have little regard for the larger systemic issues at play in news stories. That is some high falutin' words for someone who is supposed to be something of a dullard. Fantastic.

Metallo storms off but Kara is again grabbed by a rioting prisoner.

She is 'saved' by of all people Lomeli. He recognizes her as Kara Danvers and a journalist himself he wants her safe to continue her work. He loves her CatCo columns and says he knows a lot about Lex.

When the National Guard threatens to come in guns blazing, she runs off and dons her Supergirl costume again. She uses her patented super-clap attack to knock down the rioting prisoners as she heads back to Lena.

She joins Lena in Lex's secret lab.

But then Otis shows up. Before the two can gather any of Lex's intel, they have to fly off. Otis has been set to detonate. He explodes in a green cloud forcing Supergirl to grab Lena and take off.

Meanwhile, Nia dreams of Agent Liberty coming for Brainy. She calls him to warn him that he shouldn't destroy the registry but it is too late. He has destroyed every copy but the one he has downloaded into his brain.

While he knows that makes him a target, it makes him a hero.

But I love how he dismisses it because he knows Nia isn't very good in interpreting dreams yet.

Unfortunately, it looks like the dream is correct. Lockwood does return to the DEO and grabs the alien weapons there. When he asks Haley to use the signal watch she presses it twice, the warning sign.

Lockwood leaves disgruntled. Haley invokes her daughter as the reason. Her daughter had a panic attack over the ideas of martial law, curfews, and how her favorite teacher, an alien, might be taken away.

This is a real crisis of conscience for the Haley. Again, her character fascinates me.

Back in LexCorp, Lena, Alex, and Supergirl reconvene.

The news is playing this story as Supergirl trying to lead the prison break. Fake news.

Supergirl is disgusted. She says that Lomeli was right. She is doing more harm than good. Maybe she needs to lay low. She flies off.

What do people think of this? Is this a good idea by Supergirl? She does have a plan. But if there was a super-villain attack, would she stay off the grid.

Nothing left but the wrap up.

James admits to Jenni that his powers are manifesting. He shows the destroyed lamp as proof.

The President deputizes all of the Children of Liberty. That seems like a crazy move. Giving a citizen group with no real way vetting process law enforcement powers is crazy.

Supergirl might be laying low but Kara Danvers isn't. We see here getting a thumb drive from Lomely with Lex's plans. Here 'the pen is mightier than the cape'.

And lastly, even though he detonated, somehow Miss Tessmacher was able to reintegrate Otis. His threat isn't over.

Well, for everyone who wanted to see more of Kara Danvers, investigative reporter, looks like we are going to get a heavy dose of her.

This stirred the pot. It raised the temperature. I love the look into Lex's mind. And Haley's growth continues to impress.

So what did you all think!


Nutation said...

Disappointed in Kara. The reporter should know that you can't fight disinformation with no information. Supergirl should have done an interview with James immediately to tell her side of the White House story. She should be helping people in small ways, frequently, as she did in Season 1 Episode 2.

I thought after the last episode that Supergirl should have been visibly helping with rescue & firefighting at the White House disaster. An opportunity lost, but Kara doesn't think at superspeed.

I would have thought Brainy would play out the registry scenario in his mind to the end before actually executing it, but I admit that facing a dilemma right there in the computer room is better drama. (I also think James Phelps is the proper MI role model, but oh, well.)

Note that Willie Garson, who played Steve Lomeli, did very similar conspiracy-prone roles in White Collar and Stargate SG-1.

Anonymous said...

Attacking Supergirl thru her bond with the public is a tried and true stratagem, its the only reliable way to sow doubt in her mind. I did enjoy some serious Karatharsis when she simply strolled thru the cell block clocking convict after convict. Oh and yes I am gonna need a serious Supergirl "Metallotis" show down before the end of the season, no help from Alex or Lena, or Brainiac or whoever...I need "Kara Uber Alles".
All in all, I'm liking this particular Luthor plot it has all the classic elements, political manipulation, malignant narcissism, mad science, Eve Tessmacher....


Anonymous said...

"Others seem to have plots he can use against Superman - citing Scarecrow and Poison Ivy as having potential ways of controlling the Man of Steel."

Was this something I missed -- perhaps visible in Lex's diaries? If so, you seem to be one of the few people who picked up on it, since I read a lot of post-episode reviews and discussion, and nobody else has mentioned it. It would be, I think, the first reference to these characters' existence in the Arrowverse.

Anonymous said...

Wait ... now that I think about it, I guess Scarecrow was at least suggested (on Earth-1) by the fear gas at Arkham in the crossover this year.

Scrimmage said...

The action scenes in the prison were fun, and Supergirl's encounter with the gun-toting citizen trying to arrest her FINALLY addressed the age-old problem of Superman and Supergirl allowing bullets to ricochet off their chests in an interesting, and fairly logical way. I always enjoy it when Supergirl realizes that there are times when she can be more effective as mild-mannered reporter, Kara Danvers, than as the Girl of Steel. After all, if one of the driving forces behind this season has been keeping Supergirl's civilian identity a secret, it's only right that we see why that's so important.

If Supergirl is forced to go underground, or at least keep a VERY low profile, this might be a good time for her to explore the idea of establishing MULTIPLE secret identities, temporary disguises that she could use to infiltrate the Children of Liberty, or even the US Government. With one of Lena and Brainy's Image Inducers, and a fake ID from Alex, Kara's disguise could be MUCH more effective than a pair of glasses. There would also be the added bonus of throwing the authorities off the track, since they seem to be under the impression that Supergirl has only ONE Secret Identity. Why not have Brainy manipulate some records, and fake some photos to create a FALSE persona that could trick Haley and the President into believing that Supergirl had been living as a recluse on top of a mountain outside of town in her spare time, under the name of Linda Lee?

My biggest problem with this episode was that I don't understand the motivations behind some of the characters' actions. For example, why hasn't Supergirl gone on record denying that it was she who attacked the Oval Office? What good is having Jimmy run CatCo if Kara can't use him to set the record straight? For that matter, what good is there in Jimmy being on the show at ALL?

Why did the President declare Martial Law? I get that he believes Supergirl attacked the White House, but Reign was killing citizens, and destroying public property all over the country, and that didn't trigger a Martial Law decree. Instead of showing the President having an understandably negative response to Luthor's deception, the writers are portraying him as someone who would take advantage of the situation to further his OWN political agenda.

The President's sanctioning of the COL is another head scratcher. What can they do to capture Supergirl that the DEO can't? In light of the repeal of the Alien Amnesty Act, I'm sure their role will probably be to round up less powerful Aliens, and put them all in internment camps, to make the comparison of the US Government's treatment of extraterrestrials to Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews as blatantly obvious as these left-leaning writers possibly can. In their eyes, if the Cops aren't the Bad Guys, then the US Military, and the President are.

If Alex doesn't know that Kara is Supergirl, why does she find it so easy to betray her oath as a soldier, by committing treason on a weekly basis? She's SUPPOSED to be a career soldier, but if her attitude about refusing orders that she disagrees with was common among the military, the chain of command would disintegrate. There are PROPER, and ESTABLISHED ways for a subordinate to object to, and protest questionable orders of their commander, and if those fail, she can always resign her commission, but there is NEVER any excuse for a soldier to commit TREASON, by actively working to thwart or sabotage a sanctioned military operation, no matter HOW misguided she may think it is. Alex is definitely NOT a patriot, and now, she's infected Brainy and Col Haley! It's completely out of character for Alex to NOT be deeply conflicted about her actions. At best, she's flushing her career down the tubes. At worst, she's looking at doing hard time in a military prison.

Scrimmage said...

Speaking of out of character...

Since when does Lex Luthor leave little clues lying around that can only HELP his enemies, his sister Lena, and Supergirl, foil his dastardly plans? He's NOT the Riddler!

Teaming up with Lena seems to be slowing Supergirl down. One sweep of Lex's cell with her X-ray Vision would've quickly revealed the secret passage behind the carved wall, and his secret stash of diaries hidden in his chess set, but instead, we had to wait around for Lena to figure out all that stuff. BORING! The writers should let Lena handle all the scientific mumbo-jumbo, but they need to let Supergirl be Super! Between wall carvings, writing diaries, and training Red Daughter, Lex sure has been a busy boy!

Blowing up Otis, and then immediately bringing him back was the most ridiculous plot device I've seen on this show in YEARS. Absolutely pointless, other than for the entertainment value of seeing Otis' face just as he realized what was about to happen to him. He's quickly becoming a favorite, along with Miss Tessmacher. By the way, where did Lex get all the Kryptonite for his multiple Metallos?

So many plot holes, so little time.

Martin Gray said...

Pretty decent episode. My ‘why doesn’t Supergirl...?)’ is ‘why does she play Silence of the Lambs rather than just fly down the corridor with Lena at speed?’