Thursday, August 26, 2021

Supergirl Show 608: Welcome Back Kara

The Supergirl show finally came off hiatus this week. The second half of this ultimate season for the show started with an episode titled 'Welcome Back, Kara'. Given that the first half of the season for the most part had Supergirl trapped in the Phantom Zone, keeping her separated from her Earthly family (while reuniting her with her birth father Zor-El), I was looking forward to this episode, bringing the great cast together and starting the last great arc.

For me, one of the best parts of this show has been the Danvers sisters. I still hold out hope that Supergirl and Brainy will find love. I have loved the dastardly Luthor family, Lex and Lillian, doing their best to destroy the world. And I have missed Melissa Benoist interacting with everyone. She *is* the best part of the show. 

I mean, can you imagine a young girl who has seen Benoist's hero, talking about 'help, hope and compassion', heading into a comic store and reading Tom King's Kara? Two different Supergirls. I guess maybe I needed Benoist and her take on Kara more than ever.

I suppose I would have been a bit more upset about the 3 plus month hiatus if Superman And Lois hadn't been such a great show, filling the need for a super-show on the small screen phenomenally. 

This episode was a nice way to get back into the show again. We have supporting character subplots. We have the end of the Zor-El story. We have Alex and Kara supporting and caring for each other. And we have so many Supergirl standards - couches, balconies, battles, and  hugs. It felt like I was slipping into a warm bath. I will say Supergirl doesn't get the best action moments. But the team does well. Suffice it to say I was a happy fan to have the show back on and to dive into this version of Supergirl again! 
On to the show.

The episode starts with Brainy on a street saying 'the package is in hand' over the comms. Nia responds that he has to hurry back because the 'Golden Sleeper' is awakening.

Brainy twirls and spins and ducks his way through the busy street all while keeping the box steady in his hand.

At the base we see the 'package' is a 'Welcome back Kara' cake and that the super-team is planning a little celebration. Kara is still under the yellow sun lamps regainign her strength.

In an earlier episode Jesse Rath was twirling a baseball bat like a ninja. Here his moves to keep the cake steady and avoid mishap shows how gifted a physical performer he is. And I like how that montage was shot giving it the feel of one continuous take. Very well done.

Kara indeed awakens but it is because she is haunted by her Phantom Zone experience.

Alex is there and when she sees how startled and frightened Kara is, she swoops in for a 'Danvers sister' hug. Indeed, this scene ends with Kara asking for another hug.

Supergirl does try to downplay her fears talking about how she never wants to hear the word phantom again, especially in a Star Wars prequel title. But it is clear that her time in the Zone has shaken her. And this clearly is going to be a theme throughout the back end of this season. Will she be able to overcome her PTSD? Or will that inform her decision on what to do with her life (since the show is ending).

At the party there are hugs all around.

Call me old school but I keep hoping there will be a Brainy/Kara romance.

Even Zor-El is there. When the team talks about how wonderful it will be for the El family to reunite, we see pained expressions on the faces of Nia and Lena. As we will see, even later in this episode, this will also be a running subplot. Lena has to deal with her past and her guilt over her mother's death. Nia has been dealing with the loss of her mother.

But before Zor-El heads to Argo City, he wants to experience his daughter's life. So he becomes Uncle Archie from Midvale, accompanying his niece to her workplace. Of course some minor super-powered shenanigans ensue. I love Nia's skeptical look on this plan.

As for Kara's absence all this time she was in the Zone, Nia has concocted an alibi. Kara was in a resistance leader's camp all this time, at the behest of Cat Grant. Alas, she has no story to give Andrea. She says the leader rescinded his clearance to print something.

Okay, that is a sort of classic Clark Kent excuse so I think it works here.

Andrea then calls for a staff meeting where it becomes clear that in the wake of the first half of the season's story, CatCo is in a freefall. They are #8 in the Top Ten National News outlets. They took a hit for their coverage of the Luthor trial.

She needs there to be a quick turnaround to save the company. CatCo has to be trusted again. (Interesting turnaround from the 'we simply want more clicks' Andrea when we first met her.)

And Andrea wants to lean into CatCo's relationship with Supergirl. She asks Kara to find Supergirl and do hard-hitting in depth reporting on the Phantom attacks on National City.

Kara didn't even know that National City was attacked in her absence. But the idea of reporting on it has her a bit offput. She is still suffering.

Thankfully the subplot no one wanted - the Kara/William romance - is pretty much swept away. While she was gone, he met a nice pediatrician named Mary and they are dating.

Hey, pediatrician is a noble profession. Good for him.

But good for us that this isn't going anywhere. It seemed forced from the beginning.

As always, balcony scenes have been a big part of this show and often are significant character moments.

I liked this one where at CatCo, Zor tells Nia that he is floored by how intense his powers are on Earth. 

As luck (or unluck) would have it, while on the balcony he sees a satellite falling from orbit.

How fun to see Zor and Kara speed off on a dual rescue.

A chunk of the satellite hits the ocean, lighting a debris field on fire. Interestingly enough, a DEO logo is in the floating litter island. While Zor puts out the fire with his superbreath, Kara throws the satellite into space.

So fun,dad and daughter saving the day!

Back at CatCo, we see a disturbing news report that stock in the company has dipped by 12% and that it is time for everyone to abandon ship. Andrea becomes even more flustered.

After the rescue, Kara comes in to ask that she do this story of the DEO trash island in the ocean. It is an environmental issue and probably can be linked to Lex.

But Andrea is insistent that Kara work on the Phantom story. William can start looking into the trash.

Kara thinks it is her story to tell. But she again flashes to her time in the Zone when the Phantom story is brought up. This isn't going to go away easily.

In the Watchtower, Zor-El says that his research shows that Earth is on the same path to destruction as Krypton was. And in particular, the pollution in the ocean is the tipping point. The DEO trash island is riddled with alien tech they had. The fire has restarted because a Dominator warp drive was in the litter.

One thing that earlier episodes and seasons of this show did was become overbearing and at times sanctimonious in their social issues storylines. Here, J'onn and Kara just say that fixing environmental crises and ocean pollution is 'complicated'. It is ... and the Supergirl show isn't probably the best place to dole out facts about it.

As we saw earlier, Nia and Lena share a bond about dealing with their family loss.

They are an interesting duo to play off each other story wise. They have a nice little heart to heart about how they are coping.

One thing they do try to get to the bottom of is Lena's nightmare back in the midseason finale where she had to deal with a water demon in the form of her mother. What did that mean?

One thing I do know, this is a very capable cast of characters and actors. This scene played very well.

With Zor-El hellbent on saving Earth from Krypton's fate, Kara takes him to the Fortress of Solitude. Here he can review the data from Krypton's last days. It becomes clear that he has serious guilt issues around the destruction of Krypton, wondering if he could have done more and seeing the effect on his family. He is becoming a bit more complex of a character here and I like it.

But even here in this 'safe space', Kara has flashes of the last time she was there. That was when Lex nearly killed her with Kryptonite and then sent her to the Zone.

She tailspins a bit before she regains her compusure.

While I am glad that we are seeing that her time in that Hell has some repercussions, I do hope that this doesn't become too overwhelming to the story.

In the end, William says that the trash can't be linked to Lex because he paid a third party company to haul his trash away. It is someone else's fault. Now there is still a story there. Someone *is* still at fault for illegal dumping. Instead, Andrea shoos him away calling his writing a 'human sleep aid'. I guess that story isn't sexy .. but it is still an exclusive.

Meanwhile, Zor-El think he has an answer to save the planet. He has tacked on Coluan tech to Kelex. Now deemed Oscar (named after the trash loving Sesame Street muppet) Kelex will use Coluan science to shrink the trash and Kryptonian science to convert it to energy that will then power him.

Now J'onn has worries about the mixing of alien techs and the fact that some alien tech is in the litter. But Zor-El is almost too passionate, too pushy, that the time to deploy Oscar is now. So the team relents.

It is clear that Zor has serious baggage around Krypton's fate.

Knowing her company is failing and needing a story to badmouth Lex, Andrea uses her shadow powers to break into Luthor Mansion.

While there is nothing to link Lex to the trash dump, she does see files he is putting together on Supergirl, Sentinel, and J'onn.

It gives her an idea!

Glad to see that the Shadow power hasn't been forgotten!

Out in the ocean, Oscar seems to be doing a fine job at first.

But then the trash begins to cling to him rather than be disintegrated by him. With the mass building up, his power core becomes unstable.

There is a lot of comic book science here. Oscar must have absorbed a Daxamite cloaking tech so he is now invisible. He absorbed Teallian tech so the trash is just being heaped on him and he is suddenly programmed to protect it.

When the team realizes that the need to stop this or Oscar will explode in an atomic blast, Zor tried to stop them saying 'he can still save Krypton', a most obvious Freudian slip.

The team puts together a plan. After a testy exchange to set Zor right they move into action. Lena, Brainy, and Zor will write a virus program to shut down Kelex. Kara will stop Oscar from endangering others. But since Kryptonite was probably in that mass of trash, she'll need her spacesuit.

Look, I get that a lot of comic book science needed to be blurted out quickly to explain the danger. But if the result is a giant trash Kaiju stomping around, I am happy!

Brainy will need to fly a virus load drone into Kelex's core to activate it while Supergirl and J'onn battle it old school!

A trash Kaiju!!! Love it!

But this thing has absorbed all sorts of tech including force field. Supergirl and J'onn just bounce off it. Her suit cracked, Kara begins to suffer from K-poisoning. She once more flashes back to her Zone time and the pain she has suffered.

The drone gets drawn into the behemoth before the virus can be downloaded.

Thankfully, Brainy insults Kelex enough that he himself gets drawn into the monster.

With the virus on board, Kelex shuts down. And Brainy can extricate the tiny robot from the golem around it.

I do think Jesse Rath got some of the best moments in this episode, including this one.

I don't know why the K-poisoning stops. But it does allowing Kara to throw the shell of the kaiju into the sun.

I will say, this is part of the problem of inserting every day issues like ocean trash into a world with immensely powerful super-beings.

Why doesn't Kara just toss all the ocean trash into the sun? Why this complicated robot solution?

If Zor-El truly cares, why doesn't he do ocean cleanup 24/7? I doubt countries would bemoan his doing that.

Whenever you insert big 'real' problems into comic books or comic based shows, you have to be very careful. Because if the heroes can't solve it, they look inept. If they do solve it, it feels unreal.

Nothing left but the wrapup.

We get another balcony scene! This time between Zor and Kara at the Watchtower.

Here Zor voices his guilt over Krypton. He says he will have to 'face' Alura in a way that makes it sound like he is ashamed to see her because he failed to save the planet.

But then he tells Kara that she doesn't have to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. I suppose he knows how destructive and negative that can be given his own issues.

I do wonder if this horrific Zone ordeal is going to end with Kara moving to Argo for family support.

Andrea asks William to cover the 'Super Friends', the heroes who defend the city. She wants them tracked closely. She wants to know what drives them. I suppose this will lead to some 'secret identity' plots. But this is WAY better than what I thought Andrea was going to do. I feared she would say that a vilification of the heroes might sell more papers and William should destroy them in the press. Whew!

Plus we got the name Super Friends on the show!!

As for the Nia and Lena subplot, Lena calls Nia. Lena is heading back to her 'home' to try and learn more about her mother. Interesting!!

And then perhaps the most 'Supergirl show' scene of the episode.

The sisters are in Kara's apartment to have dinner and catch up. Classic!

Kara stares at her phantom story and again flashes back. She begins to explain to Alex how cold it was there. How she suffered. And how she simply hasn't processed it yet.

Holding her sister, Alex says that the only way out is through. They will work together to help Kara recover.

It is so wonderful. And the chemistry between Benoist and Leigh is so palpable. I loved this scene so much.

But then the stinger! Nia dreams of Nyxly, the 5th dimensional imp who escaped with Kara from the Zone.

I suppose this was a nice sort of stand alone episode to reintroduce all the characters and tropes of the show before the big plot of Nyxly takes over. It also makes it clear that Kara is suffering.

While her emotional turmoil makes sense and is a good theme to explore, it does mean that the other characters will get bigger moments. I mean, in this episode Kara's super deed is to throw something big into space. She does it twice! She actually doesn't do much against the Kaiju.

I want this to be a Supergirl-centric show so I hope she gets to shine heroically at some point.

Still, that is a minor quibble. Seeing the Danvers sisters together again and supporting each other AND a trash Kaiju (no matter how silly it came to be) makes this episode a winner.


Anonymous said...

It does seem like the writers start off every fight by removing Kara from it since season 3-4 or something.

It's my absolute biggest peeve with the show, and a huge part of why they can never reach the quality of the earlier seasons. They handled telling a Supergirl story better before they gave everyone and their mother superpowers.

Apart from that this episode was pretty good. I think it would be pretty cool if they let Kara and her family fix Earths ocean pollution later. Earths problems aren't going to end with that, but it would be a lovely win for the Kryptonian family we love.

Anonymous said...

Anj, it's nice to hear you think "Superman & Lois" has "been such a great show, filling the need for a super-show on the small screen phenomenally." I completely agree. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Bitsie Tulloch has taken the crown for best live-action Lois Lane ever, and that the show overall may be the best media adaptation of Superman since Donner's 1978 film classic. I wonder why you haven't covered the show on here? I know this is primarily a Supergirl blog, but you're not usually shy about letting other Super-stuff bleed in as well.

As for the "Supergirl" TV series, I unfortunately feel like it hit the skids badly starting with Season 5, and that hasn't changed this year. Leviathan was a mess narratively and conceptually, the Phantom Zone stuff felt exactly like the production workaround it was, all the recently added characters (William, Andrea, Kelly) are duds, and the writing has become increasingly uninspired and slipshod. It makes me sad to feel this way, because I used to adore the show with my whole heart, but now it feels like it's just running on fumes till it reaches the end.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to acknowledge in all that "Supergirl" negativity that the return-to-Midvale two-parter earlier this season was a sheer delight, easily the best episodes of the show's last couple of years.

SG Fan said...

Good thoughts Anj, and I enjoyed the episode as well. Yeah, with how lackluster things had been in the comics, it's nice to have Melissa and Supergirl back.

On your comments about the problem of doing real world issues in a superhero show...yeah that's always an issue, in and out of comics. Like, why was everyone fretting about aliens in S4 when they can build orbital space guns that can shoot across light years of space? Earth should be scaring the aliens, considering they seem to be able to make weapons that can shoot across the galaxy LOL

As you said, why doesn't Zor-El go and just start cleaning the oceans if he's worried? Why not throw the garbage in space? Also, how does climate change equals, Earth explodes? I get what they were doing with Zor-El's guilt but it was some pretty dumb leaps of logic LOL

BUT all that said, it doesn't really effect the quality of the episode cuz this was about Zor-El and Kara and their homecoming, which was done well. I loved the Lena scenes here and her new place in Team Supergirl is just great. Hope she's not gone long.

Anonymous said...

She hucked "Mecha-Hedorah" into the sun, I'm fine with all of it.
William gets written out as coldly as Jimmy Olsen, romancewise our heroine cannot catch a break in her ride-or-die season. I do wonder, much our host if Kara's PZ PTSD will lead her off planet in the end, back to New Krypton etc. I hope not, simply because depowering her due to stress is a pretty sexist outcome IMHO...but this is Berlanti, and in his permanently chaotic DCU I guess there has to be a narrative resolution to MB's real-life departure from the role. But on the other hand, because it IS Berlanti he could literally have Kara fall stupid in love with Brainy in the last ten minutes of the final show and decide to zoom off and Party in the 31st Century until further notice. My money is on Mon-El though...or Lena...or ...something:)
There are two things I wanna get some action on:
1.) What are the odds that DC is listening to pitches for a "New Supergirl" right now, schedded once her current mini wraps up in the floppies and Kara becomes (zzzzzz) Superwoman?
but more importantly ...
2.) How long before the Superman & Lois franchise introduces its own version of Supergirl...either a Kara from yet another multiverse ("Supergirl Prime" think about it :) OR Their own version of Powergirl? Prior to the current season I thought maybe year three, but the show connected so many dots so well, now I'm thinking its a second season possibility, this is Berlanti remember, he likes a crazy fast pace.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

It appears that the Supergirl people borrowed the title for this episode from "Welcome Back Kotter", although Melissa Benoist looks NOTHING like Gabe Kaplan! Anyway, it was a nice way of welcoming Supergirl back from the Phantom Zone, and the show back from hiatus.

Super Heroes dealing with real life issues has been something of a problem for writers at least since World War II.

I don't know if the line "William can start looking into the trash" was meant to be funny, but it was.

"Different target audience for each media, since modern comics these days appeal to a much smaller cult than those who watch TV or movies. That's like saying that Tom King's SG readers should be of the same age demographic for DC Super Hero Girls."

Okay, I see the point about DC Super Hero Girls, because that show is meant to appeal to a young audience (although adults can enjoy it too), but I would think that the comic and the TV show would appeal to roughly the same demographic. I'm certain that the comics have always had a much smaller audience than the movies or TV shows.

I wouldn't mind Kara and Brainy getting together, but I hope the show ends with Supergirl still in National City.