Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Supergirl 616: Nightmare In National City

 Life comes at you hard sometimes and I don't have a time stone or a speed totem. So I am a few episodes behind in reviewing this last season of Supergirl. I promise I will do my best to catch up so I do the review of the series finale around the time it airs.

So here I am reviewing an episode from three weeks ago, episode 616 title 'Nightmare in National City'.

Overall I thought this was a very solid episode. The main focus is to wrap up some Dreamer plotlines which have been percolating over the last couple of seasons. Nicole Maines does a very good job here, showing how difficult Nia's relationship with her sister Maeve has been on many levels and bringing in pride and confidence to her identity. This is our last chance to be with these characters so giving Nia some closure makes sense.

This episode also gives us some solid Supergirl/Kara moments. While the action is there briefly, this is more about showing how Kara is struggling with the life she is living. She is living parts of two lives here. I think she is still recovering from the pain of the Phantom Zone as well. There is this low level despair in her, something I'm not used to seeing in the usually smiling and bubbly Kara. Melissa Benoist, as usual, really crushes it here letting her expression and body language do as much acting as the words.

And yes, the Nyxly plot is pushed forward a little. I don't know if I exactly know what the Super Friends are thinking strategically this back half of the season. Throwing Hope into the sun made little sense last episode. Their bottling of a monster in a city this episode also seems suspect. 

But even an episode like this will be missed when the show is gone. Benoist has become Kara. She will be missed.

On to the episode.

We start out with something rather domestic. A rather beefy looking Brainy, shirt unbuttoned, making Nia breakfast in their (?) shared apartment. He has made spinach pancakes for her ... remember kid, eat your greens. I love how that gag has persisted.

Nia is frustrated because nothing she has done has figured out where the Dream Totem is. And she can't look for clues in her mother's research because her sister Maeve took it all and ran. There was a rift in the family after Nia's mother died. As reminded in the preview, Maeve even called Nia 'not a real woman'. That wound ripped the family apart.

Brainy's advice to let a dream tell Nia where to go actually gives her a vision of a place called Crippen Institute. 
Meanwhile, Nyxly puts on the Lexo-suit and hears her own voice in her head, a sort of self-Jarvis.

This voice knows everything about Nyxly's life, even small memories like her girl crush on Duke Nzykmlk. 

And this voice also knows that the Dream Totem can make all Nyxly's dreams come true.

I do love Peta Sergeant's giddy craziness. She is scary in that Joker sort of way.

The show seems to know the cast is too big giving some of the members reasons to not be around for whole episodes. Here Kelly has taken Esme away for an Olsen family get together.

And it seems like maybe Alex can join them because with the Hope Totem destroyed and the Courage and Humanity totems hidden, it is unlikely Nyxly has a move.

This allows Supergirl some time to be Kara Danvers, reporter. The efforts of the Super Friends has put a pause on the war between Kaznia and Corto Maltese. And Kara is now poised to interview the leaders of both countries when they visit National City.

I like how excited Kara is about this opportunity this may show others that people can come together as friends and achieve peace. I like seeing Kara the reporter enthusiastic about her job. 

Of course, the inscrutable Andrea isn't initially keen on the idea. She isn't sure it is interesting enough. But then Andrea knows it can be spun like the Oprah/royals special. That will get views. This won't just be a CatCo magazine interview. It will be broadcast.

I still don't know if Andrea wants solid journalism, sizzle and clicks, or both. 

I really love how Kara gives an exasperated 'WHAT!' when Andrea at first shoots the idea down. Benoist is a treasure.

Meanwhile, at Crippen Institute, Nia tracks down the office of Professor Revee, the name she saw in her dream. Imagine her shock to discover it is actually her sister Maeve sporting a new name. Maeve teaches dream theory and science. (Revee must be some root of dream, like in reverie.)

You can feel the temperature drop when the two first make small talk. Their separation wasn't a good one. 

In what I thought was an olive branch, Maeve starts to apologize for all she has done, the harsh things she said and the things she took. But before she can finish, Nia shuts her down. I guess the wound hasn't healed.

Nia is there to find the Dream Totem and it turns out that Maeve knows a lot about it, specifically that it can bestow dream powers to however wields it. 

An angry 5th dimensional imp wielding dream power. Doesn't sound good. 

Back at CatCo, William says he will help Kara with the interviews given his experience. But before that can go far, she is called away.

There has been a sighting of Nyxly at the National City Dream Institute. There, a Professor Pavoni has made a machine that can tap into the dream realm\. The Nyxly voice in the Lexo suit says the gauntlets can absorb energy from the machine and crack open a portal to the Dream Realm where the totem lies.

At first I wondered if these gauntlets would become like an Infinity Gauntlet, a glove to embed the totems. But no such luck.

Instead Nyxly uses them to blast the heroes that arrive, including Supergirl, before opening the portal and disappearing.
As Nyxly goes in, a Nightmare Monster comes out. The thing is like a white gorilla covered in dripping silver paint. Very quickly it becomes kaiju sized. It makes a beeline for a nearby nuclear plant and nothing Supergirl or Martian Manhunter do slows it down. Somehow they know that if it grabs the plant, it will cost a meltdown.

Surprisingly, Kara asks Lena to use her magic to stop the thing. This is Lena who learned like a day ago she had some natural talents. Thankfully, the writers don't have her do that as it would be too much too soon. Instead she puts on her old science hat and uses Lexcorp satellites to create a force field around half the city, stopping the monster's progress. Angered, the monster goes invisible and tromps off.

Now I get how the heroes don't want a nuclear meltdown. But it seems that trapping half the city in a bubble with a giant angry monster seems like a bad idea too. I will point out that neither Supergirl nor J'onn just tried punching this thing, or lifting it up up and away.

Back at Crippen, Maeve tells Nia all she knows about the Dream Totem. It was initially held in an ancient Minoan temple before being hidden in the Dream Realm. Perhaps it is hidden there in a maze like the Labyrinth. 

Maeve pulls out a small tapestry which shows the totem within the realm. Interestingly enough, it also has some Naltorian symbols. According to the oracle of the temple, only someone pure of heart, mind, and sight can read the tapestry.

Knowing her sister knows more than she does about all the imagery, Nia invites Maeve to join her in the quest within the Dream realm.

In National City, the presence of the dome is driving the citizens crazy. Some can't get to work. Others are separated from loved ones. 

This concept of the general public not being happy with the Super Friends actions will be a good one to follow. For now, Lena says she thinks she can build a portal to open to get the Nightmare back into the realm.

Within the Dream Realm, Nia and her sister walk through the woods we have seen before in her dreams. I like the continuity there. 

As they wander, Nia and Maeve sort of bicker. Maeve in particular points out that it is clear Nia hasn't studied any dream theory or symbology. 

Before the two can really get into it, the necklace Maeve is wearing, a gift from their dead mother, begins to glow. That clue leads the sisters to find a door to a subsection within the Dream Realm, called the Dream Expanse, home of the totem.

It is a good thread to see how the two sisters still don't seem to be on the level with each other.
Because the dome is up and peopl in the city can't lead, Andrea has lined up an earlier interview for Kara. The Kaznian main negotiator is stuck in the city and agreed to be interviewed. 

While Kara is happy with the chance, William uses the conversation to point out that he agrees with the people who are upset with the dome being up. Even the Governor is upset it is up. When Kara defends the decision, William sort of shines her on.

Nyxly is also wandering through the field of spires when her own voice speaking from her armor tells her that the totem is hidden in one of the spires. 

Moreover, the voice warns Nyxly about Dreamer and Maeve's presence.

The denizens within the dome are getting restless. Alex tried to tell the Governor that keeping the monster in the city is for the greater good. But in describing what would happen if the monster was free, it only cements how dangerous the kaiju is to the nearby people. 

So Alex tries to say it is right to trap people with a deadly monster by talking about how deadly the monster is? Seems like a wrong tactic.

There is no way that Brainy and Lena will create a portal to the Dream Realm any time soon, The heroes are going to need to find the monster and calm the people, some of whom have gathered into a mob to complain.

Within the dreaming, Maeve realizes that the tapestry of the totem is actually a map showing where it is. Needing a high view, Nia uses her powers to make a sort of dream flying globe. 

From above, the two spot a gold dream spire, glowing like Maeve's necklace. 

While this is a sort of joint victory, the two are still struggling to sort of understand and respect each other. 

I did like the effects used to make the globe here. Nice stuff.

Supergirl has been so busy trying to get the mobs to disperse and find the monster that she misses an interview with a Kaznian negotiator that Andrea set up. The governor is calling in the National Guard.

Over the phone, Kara is read the riot act by Andrea who says usually she can ignore Kara not being around because the journalistic output is strong enough. But that isn't true now. Kara is a great reporter but she just isn't around.

In many ways this makes sense. How many of us watch this show and wonder how Kara even has a job given how often she isn't there?

And then this scene where we see Supergirl sort of stressed out because of that conversation. She looks like she is about to lose control of her emotions. 

We know Kara has been under a lot of stress this season. Here, Benoist just exudes that feeling.

It doesn't help that the Governor is demanding the dome be brought down within the hour. And it also doesn't help that William shows up saying that Supergirl needs to make a statement. But Supergirl can't stay to do that because Kara is due to interview the Corto Maltese and Kaznian leaders. 

In the Dream Realm, the Nal sisters enter the golden dream spire and see the Dream Totem. 

Amazingly, Maeve tries to run up and grab it but the protector of the totem booms out its voice saying she isn't pure.  But it shows how Maeve is still jealous of Nia having the power. She went for it, that last attempt to gain dream powers.

It is enough to make Nia finally unload. She reminds Maeve how she tried to transfer the powers to her big sister. And yes, Nia might be in over her head, but she has no pity for Maeve. She call Maeve selfish.

And then in a moment of pride, Nia says she knows who she is. She is the Dreamer. 

I really liked that moment, Nia affirming who she is.

But there is no time for that to marinade. Nyxly shows up.

She uses her Lex-o-gauntlets to blast the Nal sisters.

And then she begins breaking through the defenses of the totem.

Nice effects.
A battle ensues. 
In a nice sort of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan vs Cell moment, Dreamer and Nyxly square off. At first it looks like Nyxly, now armed with the totem's power will overwhelm Nia. But then Maeve gives Nia the necklace of her mother's. 

When it looks like she might lose, Nyxly teleports away.

With the dome dropping, Kara makes a decision to not go to the interview Andrea set up and instead help her friends.

Brainy and Lena finish their Dream Portal door which will actually draw the monster to it. But before it leaves on its own, the National Guard arrive and just start firing on it, distracting it. Even when Supergirl and J'onn block the bullets, the enraged beast stops heading to the door. It is up for Supergirl to push it in.

But when she gets back to the interview site, the leaders have left. 
We finally get a balcony scene! And what a balcony scene it is!

You just feel the despair on Kara's face. She admits to William she is drowning. She never has enough time to do what she needs to. She always has more to do. I know that stress very well. And I think some of that stems from the trauma Kara is still dealing with. She doesn't have the time to self-heal and be Kara Danvers and be Supergirl.

William reminds Kara of something Cat Grant said. 'You can have it all. You just can't have it all at once.'

She takes that advice.

Kara walks into Andrea's office and quits.

Now I wasn't expecting that. At all. Nice surprise!
With the episode all but over, there is just some wrap up.

The Nal sisters finally come together. Maeve states that she was feeling so much pain she wanted others to feel it too. Nia says she was forced to deal with all the power alone when she needed a big sister to lean on. 

Now is the time for second chances.

And that is true for Nyxly as well. She plugs the dream totem into the gauntlets and somehow that creates/summons/forms Lex Luthor! Lex is back for a second chance. Now that is a nice cliffhanger!

Overall,  I thought that this episode was a great Dreamer episode. And the Kara moments, her pain and growth, were also excellent. The monster subplot with the dome seemed off and almost unnecessary. And more Jon Cryer Lex. That is always a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Catco has become such an afterthought these days, with the unlikeable Andrea in charge, Kara should've quit last season quite frankly. If the show wasn't so haphazardly written with only three episodes left we could wallow in speculation as to what next for Kara Danvers intrepid journalist...instead we are getting TMA aka "Too Much Alex" crowding out her sister, the program's alleged lead and namesake. Jon Cryer's return though is a real shot in the arm, I'm calling it, so far to date, he is the Best Luthor, he just gets Lex's toxic mix of arrogance, sociopathy & legit brains. This despite the fact that in all of Hollywood there is no actor physically less suited for the role with his undershot chin, overbite and buck teeth, Cryer resembles Dr. Sivana more that that brooding Mussolini-esque Lex Luthor, but he is so very good in the part, he makes you forget all that, which is the heart & soul of Real Acting.
Benoist plays everything they give her here to the hilt, every action scene, every emotional beat, at the show's curtain fall she's become the franchise Face of Supergirl, my appreciation of her, has never stood higher. But the show squandered a lot of opportunities over the years, leaned too hard on secondary characters and often made MB a supporting player on her own show...sometimes not even a particularly well written supporting player as well, but MB was always good at holding the audiences sympathy despite challenges.
This is it, folks its over in a week, gut check time "Twilight of the Goddess" Ride or Die.


SG Fan said...

The odd thing about Season 6 is, a lot of the character moments where we slow down and focus on those, are pretty good. Whether it's the Kelly/Alex/Esmay family stuff, Nia and her arc, a bit of a preview of the next episodes Brainy and what he finds out; and the stuff with Kara and admitting to who she feels overwhelmed. It's just the overall plot driving things is just not grabbing me.

I have to agree to disagree about Nxly. I think it's less the actress's thought but the writing for Nxly is just not working for me. Along with this whole magical fetch quest.

While they announced a while ago this would be SG's last season, I wonder how far along in writing thing they were before they found out. Cuz, my other big complaint is nothing has felt like this is heading towards a finale. For what is the 'last' season, this feels not like we're heading for a finale but just a normal season ender.

So, character stuff in this episode worked, overall plot along with more questionable Super Friend decisions...yeah not great.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree, my other observation is that they didn't seem to tell the writer's room that MB was bailing until the last two eps were being written, so while Alex & Kelly's arc has been settled and on track for weeks I promise you, Kara Zor El's final fate won't be determited until literally 9:56pm EDT Next Tuesday...The Future, New Krypton, Mon El, The Milkman? Who knows they could well send her back to the Phantom Zone as a Raoist Missionary/Nun. Whatever it is, it'll be casual haphazard and unsatisfying.
"RIde or Die My Friends, Ride or Die".