Friday, November 29, 2019

Supergirl Show 505: Dangerous Liaisons

I continue my catch up reviews on the Supergirl show with my post-Thanksgiving look at episode 505, title Dangerous Liaisons. Of course, there is the famous book by the same name which looked at the treacherous and secret-filled relationships in French courts. But this episode looks at the relationships within this show and points out where there is some peril. Many of these relationships aren't amicable. Many are damaged. It is an interesting title to showcase that.

As I have said in prior reviews, this season has really done a good job in pushing plot lines forward. We aren't slow burning many of these. Every episode seems to have us take a good step forward. That makes me happy.

But there are a couple of character things which haven't sat well with me. First off, the good. This season we have seen a lot of Kara Danvers. We have seen her as an investigative reporter on the job. That was a big complaint from last season. But while Kara has been very visible in season 5, Supergirl really hasn't been. The time in costume feels limited. And more importantly, we haven't really seen Supergirl win much. Another thing which has stood out is how Dreamer and her powers are really a sort of Deus Ex Machina. If the plot needs some quick resolution or a way to progress, Dreamer can somehow do it. So just two things I have been noticing and will be looking out for.

And finally we have the reappearance of Leviathan! As many know, I immersed myself in the comic mystery surrounding Leviathan. Now I get to mull over the puzzle again, this time in live action.

The bottom line is I have been very pleased with this season so far, but what I wouldn't give for the end of an episode to be Supergirl standing triumphantly over a villain.

On to the details.

We start out with Andrea Rojas starring in a commercial for the Obsidian Tech VR contact lenses which are being released within the week. The ad is a Rojas walking through a field where she suddenly sees people throwing rainbows, dancing, and doing other things only possible in a dream world. The slogan is 'Make your imagination your reality, today.'

It works well as an ad, showing everyone gloriously happy in paradise.

Andrea then tasks the CatCo workers to basically use CatCo as an ad agency for the lenses. She wants stories about the launch event. She wants numbers of subscribers touted. It all seems unscrupulous for a news agency to become a shill.

While in CatCo, we learn that Kara hasn't told Nia that William Dey is undercover, investigating Rojas himself. In fact, Kara lies to Nia, giving some excuses for Dey's behaviors last episode. You would think these characters would know by now how secrets can divide.

There is a small subplot where Kelly is planning a Date-versary party for Alex. She asks Kara for some gift ideas and it is cute that Kara knows exactly what make,model, and size of a motorcycle helmet Alex would want.

But this Kelly/Alex relationship seems oddly intense for something which we have just learning about. More on this later.

Kara approaches Dey about his mission to dig up dirt on Rojas. She wants to help even if he thinks it will put her life in danger.

Kara tells him that there is someone they could interrogate, Breathtaker, the wind powered villain from last episode. But she then basically tells him all about the DEO ... you know the secret (but is it) government agency? Seems weird to just tell him, a reporter, about the whole set up. Maybe they'll be his next story.

But then again, I thought the DEO was more in the open now.

What I did like is Kara saying she wasn't helping for a share of the byline. She was doing it for justice.

Meanwhile, Lena and Hope/Eve begin their study of Malefic.

They first give him a human illusion (I know it is to save special effects money but I guess it is easier to explain a human than a Martian should someone stumble in.)

What I did like was the casting. Phil LaMarr! Jon Stewart from the Justice League animated show! That's fantastic.

 At the DEO, Dey watches Alex question the Breathtaker. In a nice bit of continuity, they have strapped a Truth Seeker onto the villain. We saw those last season. So that was a nice callback.

But the interrogation is pretty fruitless, even when Dey tries to take over with pointed questions. Breathtaker doesn't know who hires her. She just takes the money.

She does reveal a couple of assassins she has worked with in the past, including one called Riproar, a sort of Robocop meets Doctor Octopus mashup.

It turns out Riproar killed Dey's best friend Russell Rogers.

When Kara says they will continue to look for ways to take down Rojas, Dey practically breaks down. He calls the whole story an emotional abyss. Hmm ...

On cue, we cut to Riproar stealing something from the Luthor cache in Fort Summit.

Afterwards we get a very nice scene between J'onn and Kara. She asks him for help in the Riproar piece of the puzzle but also talks about how she is reeling. Everything seems unreal these days. He gives her some words of reassurance. It is always good to see space dad in action.

It turns out that Riproar stole a rifle Lex called the Marathon Laser because it was accurate up to 26.2 miles away. It is an assassin's dream. But luckily it has a power source that can be traced.

Supergirl is convinced this is somehow related to the Obsidian go-live of the VR lenses and that Rojas must be behind Riproar's actions. But it was hard for me to figure out the angle. What could Rojas want with a single assassination.

I will admit that the 'fall of Lena' is my favorite subplot so far this season.

Malefic offers a quid pro quo. He will work for her, allowing her to study his powers so she can figure out the frequency for his mind control powers. In return, she has to remove the mental block which stops him from attacking J'onn.

She seems to take the high road saying all her work is to stop people from hurting each other. Why would she allow him to kill J'onn. But then she acquiesces.

It is fascinating to see that murder is a line in the sand for Lena even though most everything else she has done has been villainous. Yes, her goals are noble. But the means to get there? Not so much.

Since Breathtaker didn't pan out, Brainy says they should question the other assassin they have in custody, the sentient tattoos from earlier this season. He can have the tattoos put on him while shutting down his mainframe so they cannot control him.

This questioning doesn't get us far either. Just a lot of blather.

But it does give Jesse Rath the opportunity to completely chew the scenery. He really goes all out pretending to be the vicious personality of the tattoos. Kudos to him for basically losing it on screen. Delicious.

Thinking they don't have much to go on, Supergirl says she is basically going to confront Rojas.

But Alex stops her. Rojas is Kelly's boss. Accusing Andrea could make Kelly feel wronged or interfere with Kelly's work. And Alex doesn't want that to happen this early in their relationship which is going so well.

This is the same Alex who quickly sanctioned the Martian death ray last episode to protect Kelly, sort of the reverse pace for this request.

It all seems fast and very personal with Alex here, weirdly so. Like she is putting her feelings for Kelly above her job and mission. I wonder if this is a subplot we'll see progress ... maybe Alex makes a mistake in her job because of her feelings and has to reconsider things.

At long last, the Leviathan Lady from last season's finale shows up.

She tells Riproar to change the world!

Back at LexCorp, Lena says that she will hone down to the frequency of Malefic's brain waves by having him incept three of the more ornery critters (my words) in the universe - a Daxamite scorpion, a Terran Oceanic Devil, and a Maaldorian Dendroasp.

Malefic is oddly poetic. He calls his incept power his cross to bear and is amazed it is basically a frequency. Isn't cross to bear an odd saying for a Martian living in the Phantom Zone for centuries? Did they have crucifixions on Mars? Did he eavesdrop on Earth?

It just struck me.

Back in CatCo, Kara and Dey break into Rojas' office to look for some sort of evidence connecting Andrea to Riproar. While there, Kara finds a picture of Andrea looking chummy with Dey's friend Russell Rogers.

In a flashback we see Dey heading into Russell's apartment only to find Riproar there. While they never found Russell's body, it seems clear that Riproar killed him.

So now a conncetion between Russell and Rojas.

All that said, it was pretty obvious that Russell and Riproar were the same person even halfway through this episode. No mistaking that chin and beard.

The Marathon Laser signal is detected in New Mexico and Supergirl flies in to fight. There is brief fight with a decent left hook by Kara that sends the Doc Ock lookalike flying, tentacles all crazy.

But then he shoots her with the laser rifle which was tricked out with whatever he stole from this lab. It floors Kara, stopping her in her tracks and allowing him to escape.

The new rifle was modified with a particle amplifier which makes it a fusion cannon with the heat of the center of the sun. And it can no longer be tracked. So now Riproar is even deadlier.

In Lexcorp, meanwhile., Malefic calms all the aliens allowing Lena to calculate his q-wave frequency. She knows now how to manipulate the q-waves for inception.

Once Brainy figures out what the rifle does, he goes back to see that the trip of assassins all killed a member of an Icelandic crew around Lake Vostok. If the laser was shot into the ice cap there it would flood the Earth.

I do like how Brainy says it is what he would do if he were a super-villain. At least in the comics, he has come close a couple of times.

J'onn and Kara race to the lake but it's too late. Riproar blasts the ice shelf.

And Riproar is no help once captured. He can only say he does what 'they tell him to do'.


It is clear that J'onn and Kara will need to create a reverse vortex to stop the flow of water and then have Kara freeze it with her superbreath. But J'onn warns her that if she is sucked into the vortex, Kara could suffocate.

So I guess, especially after last episode, that Supergirl does indeed need to breathe air this season.

While the two heroes fly around the geyser, someone has to stop the tidal wave about to sink National city.

People are stumbling around, oblivious to their surroundings while their new VR lenses are on. Seems like an odd thing to be using in public. But the DEO runs interference, shepherding people to the high ground. Alex is there and almost dies as wreckage falls.

And here is the Dreamer Ex Machina move of the episode. She basically goes all Goku and whips up a  Kamehameha blast of dream energy, dissipating the tsunami.

Okay, that's a stretch.

There is nothing left but the wrap-up.

Riproar is in DEO custody but is basically a blank slate. Even J'onn can't get a telepathic read. His armor is adhered to him. And yes, he is Russell Rogers. So that is a weird coincidence.

Second, the tidal wave would have wiped out Obsidian's manufacturing hub so it probably wasn't planned by Rojas.

Kelly witnessed Alex almost getting flattened during the tsunami and is completely stressed. It triggers her PTSD from her time in Afghanistan. Luckily, Nia is there as a friend to help.

And it turns out that the Leviathan lady has some connection to Andrea Rojas, slipping into Andrea's limo for a chat.

But the biggest ending scene was Lena sporting lenses that can incept. She brainwashes Malefic that he likes being imprisoned. She won't erase the martian mind block and instead will have him stay there.

Lena can incept now.


She really has gone dark.

So everything has been pushed forward nicely again.

Things I'll keep my eye on moving forward. The Alex/Kelly relationship becoming so encompassing that they interfere with each other's lives. Dreamer becoming a cure-all. Supergirl and how much she accomplishes in her super-suit. And, of course, Lena's descent.

I'm close to being caught up!


Anonymous said...

I'm glad Rip Roar turned out to be Russell Rogers, because between those two, and Rojas, and on Flash we have Ramsey Russo and Mitch Romero, I'm finding that I would need to take notes to keep track of all these R-named characters. I guess we are just out of letters.

But I don't care as much for these two shows as I used to. I now let them both just wash over me, half-asleep, while hanging on for Crisis, which I hope will be worth the wait.

You're generous in your reviews. I find the show increasingly preposterous, because there are no rules, just a dozen new contrivances each week.

But I did like Jesse Rath's scenery chewing! It was fun to see him cut loose.


Anonymous said...

Its a lot like your typical season of "The Flash", Barry Screws Everything Up for Months on End with his Amazing Capacity to Make Bad Decisions...and then at the last moment when he embraces his ideals and reconnects with his "family" he finally defeats the villain at the very last second. This is "Berlanti Pacing".
And while I'm already sick of Kara getting confused and or jobbed out, I am liking the overall arc of the Season Lena v. Supergirl. It works to the best skills of the two captioned actresses, and they both seem to be fully creatively committed to the same.Now to me, It seems pretty clear that Lena has gone over to the dark side, but this is Berlanti we are talking about, narratives and character arcs can pivot completely with no notice and less logic.