Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Supergirl Show 619: The Last Gauntlet

I suppose it has been nearly a month since the Supergirl series finale was aired, 2 episode (619 and 620) aired back to back.

The two episodes have been sitting on my DVR since then, unwatched. Part of me wonders if this was a sort of Schrodinger's Cat phenomenon in my fandom. If I haven't seen it, it could be very good. (Obviously, it could also be very bad.) Because as this Totem storyline moved forward, it has become more and more erratic. 

While I have simply accepted the idea of totems and the Allstone, it is the character side of this storyline that has been difficult for me. Characters aren't acting the way I would anticipate them to act. The strategies the hero team has set up have been a bit insane or a bit ludicrous. And, despite Melissa Benoist maintaining her high-end acting of Kara, Supergirl has been pushed to the periphery, a bit player in her own series end.

Episode 619, The Last Gauntlet, is unfortunately more of the same. 

I will forever love this show. It brought the idea of Supergirl to the mainstream. Melissa Benoist has been a revelation. Chyler Leigh as Alex, for the most part, has been a nice addition to the Supergirl family. And I got to see my favorite hero on the small screen for 6 years.

So let's just dive into this episode and enjoy the good parts.

Last episode ended with Lex Luthor gunning down William in the watchtower and kidnapping Esme, the living embodiment of the Love Totem.

When the team returns from Alex's bachelorette party, the find William's still warm corpse. They also get a video call from Lex.

He tasks the heroes to recover the Destiny totem and turn it and the other 5 totems they own over to him. In return, he will return Esme to them unharmed. To prove he isn't being deceitful, he shows them he is wearing a truth-seeker. (Of course, this could be a prop ... but let's believe it.) However, if they do try to trick him, he'll kill Esme.

He has decent plan for the exchange. It will occur at the crashed Fort Rozz site, on a bridge near where the Omegahedron exploded. That's Season One continuity! Because of that, no powers or tech will work in that area. It is a dead zone. (More on this later.)

There is a little weirdness in this.

Alex is almost unhinged when she screams at Lex about not hurting her daughter. She is enraged. And I suppose I get it. Alex has wanted to be a mother forever and Esme has just entered her life. But it seems almost over the top. We have known Alex to be stern, sometimes cold. This season she has been almost emotionally fragile. I suppose you could call it character growth but it seems like she vacillates between extremes.

But there isn't one word to Lex about William who is still there on the floor! Not one word. It just seemed off that no one would say something to Lex about his having just gunned down their friend.

I can only imagine the guilt they all feel. While they were at Lena's high end club partying, all this unraveled.

With the message over, the team all break and promise to use their skills to find either Lex or Esme.

But Alex is still seeing red. She'll use a fake totem to trick Lex and kill him. 

Now the team knows that the 'dead zone' area will make the fake totem easily spotted. But Alex doesn't care. 

Finally, Kara has to stand up and say that Alex needs to trust her. Supergirl will remain level-headed.  She'll get Esme back.

It is a little turnabout which is okay. Usually it is Kara who is thinking of emotions while Alex is the militaristic field general. Nice contrast here even if, again, Alex seems almost insane with rage.

Back at Lex's headquarters, Esme is going pretty emo. She says 'nothing good ever lasts for me'. She is definitely going to listen to The Smiths when she grows up.

That said, she is the living Love Totem. When Nyxly holds Esme's hand and says the activation word, nothing happens. Nyxly isn't shown the gauntlet to pass. 

Instead, we see the Love Totem tattoo lose a petal. Esme's link to the love totem is fading. I suppose it also makes sense given the love was from her mothers and the new family and now she is apart. But the falling petals? Even Lex gives a 'Beauty and the Beast' reference. It is a bit cliche.

Of course, Lex says he could always 'cut it out' of Esme (don't ask how that would work or how that jibes with his truth-seeker declaration). But Nyxly, hurt by men trying to acquire power in the past, tells him she will never agree with that.

I keep hoping there will be some redemption for Nyxly. But I don't see that happening.

Back in the Watchtower, Andrea in her shadow form comes to see where William died.

She is immediately met by Lena wielding a gun. Andrea unmasks.

Andrea talks about how she is having a crisis of conscience. She always does what she needs to do but this time it has led to William's death.

It gives Lena some nice screen time. Lena tells Andrea that there is time to become a better person. Lena talks about all the mistakes she has made and how if you are mindful of the darkness within you can move forward like she has.

While I love this true redemption in Lena, it is a little amusing that she talks about being a better person seconds after she was brandishing a pistol at someone. I also like that despite all the super-science and sorcery that Lena has used in the show, she isn't above some old-time firearm usage. In fact, all the Luthors seem to like gunplay as a backup.

I worried that William's death, which should be a huge plot point here, would be swept under the rug. I mean imagine a civilian dying on the JLA satellite! It should be a big deal. 

So I was very happy to see this brief scene where J'onn and Kara talk about how she is devastated that someone died on her watch. How it is her job to keep her family safe.

But there is a dark part to this too. She talks about how she is tired of the fight and would use the allstone herself if need be. 

That sounds a lot like burnout.

I suppose her time in the Phantom Zone didn't help. But this was the first time I felt like the character hated her job. Glad she steeled herself to go on.

Now I know this aired a month ago.

But the best Christmas gift I could get is more Brenda Strong as Lillian Luthor.

Talk about someone who just dominates every scene she is in. And that is saying something given she is going toe to toe with Jon Cryer as Lex. And I love that she is just oily enough to make me cringe. She is always on the dark side, but sometime she is more gray than black.

Turns out she is quite upset that Lex is in love with an alien. He should be concentrating on seizing power with his family, his one true destiny.

I don't quite believe Lex is in love but apparently that is true. He chooses Nyxly over his mother. See, I don't know if that quite jibes with his character.

And I love how the alien hatred is the biggest motivator here for Lillian. At least that is consistent.

Meanwhile Esme is drawing a picture of Alex and Kelly so she won't forget them.

Nyxly hopes that kindness will rekindle the love Esme feels so the Gauntlet will show itself. She talks to Esme about how she loved art when growing up but her father destroyed her supplies and tried to kill her.

No surprise, such a horrifying story doesn't kindle love. The gauntlet again fails to appear.

Now I have talked about how Alex's wrath is over the top.

Here is her strongest moment in the episode. She is scared and upset and is showing that as anger. We see her unable to handle the weapons she might bring to the bridge. In a moment of vulnerability, she puts up her hand towards Kelly, asking for a second to compose herself. A subtle but very powerful gesture to show that she recognizes she isn't in control.

She tells Kelly all about the 'what ifs' she has been thinking of, other courses of actions that would have spared Esme this horror.

I like that Alex is perhaps trying to bury herself in 'work' (weaponry) to try and stabilize herself. Who amongst us hasn't done that at times?

Remember how Brainy needs to return to Colu when the threat is over.

In the meantime, he makes a Dream Totem gauntlet for Dreamer. She also worries about using the totem. What if she sees a nightmare? What if it ends badly?

To help her, she says she will bring Brainy with her into the dream realm.

Guess what ... we don't see it! It happens off screen! What a bummer!

They return and tell the group that within the realm she could sense Esme was safe. And also, she dreamed of the site of the Destiny totem, in a statue of the three greek fates at St. Vassily's cathedral in Prague.

Wait a minute ... a statue of greek myth characters is at a Christian cathedral? Hmmm ..

I do wish we could have seen a little more of Nia and Brainy interacting.

Supergirl gets the totem and activates it. The Gauntlet is to see the world's destiny if she doesn't act. She is bombarded by images of Lex and Nyxly running amok.

But before she can move, Alex arrives and grabs the totem from Kara's hand.

Alex says she will take all the totems and make the exchange with Lex. Alex would risk the world to save her daughter. And she can't trust Kara to save the day. She also knows if Kara tries and fails, she could never forgive Kara or herself.

What a terrible scene.

You would think these two sisters, who have been shown to be the bedrock in each other's lives, who have fought and won together against huge threats, would pause and trust each other. Would strategize together. Would win together.

This is pure grandiose Alex. She is putting down Supergirl. I hate the idea that she would willingly give and all-powerful artifact to Lex without blinking an eye.

But just as much, I don't like Supergirl simply backing down and letting Alex walk away. She should have more faith in herself. She also should know that willingly handing an all-powerful artifact to Lex is wrong.

This scene also felt way off for these characters. 

Perhaps knowing I needed a palate cleanser, the show gives me more Lillian Luthor.

She tells Nyxly that Lex loathes aliens. That Lex is incapable of loving anyone but himself. That Lex is using her.

This is pure Luthor logic. If Lillian can't convince Lex to break up with Nyxly, she'll convince Nyxly to break up with Lex. And best of all, she'll make it look to Nyxly like she has noble intentions. 

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

And the two actors have a nice bristly chemistry between them. 

No surprise, without informing anyone, Alex has taken the other totems and headed to Fort Rozz. 

Everyone can't believe Alex would jeopardize the universe like this. (I hope there will be some fallout to Alex acting unilaterally like this.)

And then we get another hero strategy that seems outright harmful. I mean, locking a giant invisible kaiju within a forcefield in the city was bad enough.

Here we learn of a new deus ex machina. A solar satellite built to 'help crops grow' could be utilized to draw energy from the sun and super-charge Kara. She would be so powerful she would be invulnerable to magic. The downside? The sun would be out for 6 months.

This is insanity. Humanity won't survive a 6 month ice age. And yet, Kara agrees to do it. Even Lena says it would be like 'playing god'. But more importantly, it WILL KILL HUMANITY.

One simple line - Kara saying she'll use the Allstone to reignite the sun - would make it palatable. But that line never came.

In order to jumpstart the Love Totem, Lex opens up the crystal ball that Mxy is captured in. Why Mxy didn't manifest there and stop everything I don't know.

With Esme lying in bed and the energy not doing much, Lex goes at Esme with a knife. (Again, I don't think you can just cut the totem out.)

When Nyxly stops him from hurting Esme, the love totem activates. Nyxly's protective love and the 5th dimensional energy boost was enough.

However, Lex showing his true colors, willing to hurt anyone in his way, reminds Nyxly of Lillian's words and her own father's actions. She tells Luthor she could never love him. She pities him because no one can ever love him.

All right, that is a very quick turnaround for Nyxly. But we only have two more episodes.

And I still don't like Lex being like a lovesick puppy.

But scorned?

We are back to old school Lex.

With Nyxly about the do the totem exchange, Lex tells Lillian it is time for fireworks.

There is the Lex I know!

The factions meet up on the Dead Zone bridge. Nia and Kelly have shown up to back up Alex.

Meanwhile, Kara has brainy begin draining the sun to power her up.

Once in proximity, the totem stones float in the air and form the Allstone.

Then Lex and Lillian show up and Lex uses his signal watch to detonate explosives he has planted there.

Ummm ... wasn't this place supposed to be a dead zone to tech? Do I have to roll with the very plot point they brought in being circumvented?

Meanwhile, Kara continues to juice. But the lack of sun rays impacts the city immediately. Cars burst into flame. The streets buckle.

She hears the people wonder how Supergirl could have gone bad and begging Kara to stop.

Just prior to her snuffing out the sun, she has Brainy stop the process. She is a hero and heroes don't seize power.

Heroes don't extinguish the sun either!

I don't exactly know why we needed this side plot other than to keep Supergirl away from the exchange.

At the Bridge, everyone fights. 

And all the powers and tech seem to work just fine. I like how Lillian has electric shock weapons built into the high heels of her shoes.

There is a wild skirmish with the Allstone being passed around like a hot potato. 

The Supergirl arrives to join the fray. (I do love that Lex calls her The Brat of Brawn!)

Finally the Allstone ends up in Esme's hands. The girl throws it on the ground shattering it into three pieces.

Okay, while this was an entertaining fight with people pairing off and skirmishing, it violated the premise they used that no one can use powers or tech there!

Lex, Nyxly, and Kara all have pieces.

With their love affair off, Lex and Nyxly immediately square off, using their shard to blast each other.

I don't exactly know what happens next. The heroes all sit around doing nothing. They ask Lena to do something. (Perhaps the 'no powers' rule suddenly kicked in leaving only Lena's magic?)

Lena chants and the unknown spell kicks up sand which distracts the combatants.

Just when it looks like Nyxly might kill Lex, Lillian dives in front of the blast saving her son's life.

Nyxly and Lex fly off fighting.

I still don't think we needed Lena to become a sorceress. But here we are.

Nyxly and Lex seem to de-evolve into monsters. They blip in and out of portals all over the world fighting. The blasts they use are totem-based, draining the world of those emotions. They are slowly robbing humanity of these ideals.

Kara says she could join the fight with her third. 

In a line that made me roll my eyes, Alex says to Kara 'you could win'. Ummm ... just a few minutes ago in Prague you told Kara she would lose. I guess now that Esme is safe, Alex is allowed to think differently. I am surprised Alex didn't grab the shard and fight Lex and Nyxly herself. Sorry that small character miscues like this irk me. 

Kara says she needs to think and flies away from her friends. Heck, even that seems off.

However, in the city, she sees old friend Orlando making an impassioned speech to people to have hope. Seeing that spurs an idea in Kara. She knows what to do.

Whew ...

Not a lot of that made sense in either character or strategy. I do like that Lillian Luthor showed up. I do like that Lex finally became Lex again.

But Alex's bullying and Kara's passiveness at the beginning seemed way off. The plot points entered and ignored are tough to swallow. 

Roll on part two!

What did you all think (if you can remember that long ago)!


Anonymous said...

Feh to this episode. Waiting to leave the nonsense behind and get to the heartfelt stuff during the second half of part 2.


Anonymous said...

This episode was as terrible as most of the season, if not worse. Thankfully, there is a lot more to like in the concluding installment.

SG Fan said...

The penultimate episode here, is pretty much a microcosm of the problems with Season 6 in general. Character's making bad decisions, the magic plot being uninteresting, Kara making dubious decisions, and above all else...bad writing. I was pretty frustrated by time they got to 'use the satellite' to super-power Kara...though it messes up the sun for 6-months. Like, I was face palming as once again Kara thinks 'more power' is the solution when not ONCE this whole season that's worked, for anyone.

This is the low point of the finale stuff. LUCKILY, the conclusion and focusing more on the characters for the finale, will pay off better. So, I await that review eagerly.

Todd said...

Even though it was a shorter season, this has just dragged on for far too long. This episode dialed up the cringe to 11. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that the producer's and writers of "Supergirl" were taken by surprise when MB threw in the towel, because this whole ep seems to be nothing but an exercise in spite and resentment all aimed at the show's nominal star. She has a right to call it quits, she owes us & them nothing. I firmly believe it was all about the husband and the kid, I also suspect she may have felt the character had been marginalized these last three years and when that happens you have to pick your exit with dignity.
That having been said, this finale was amazing for one reason, the bar was set low across the board, and yet no one was satisfied, the show managed to disappoint every single Supergirl Subfaction from Twitter to Facebook and back.
The finale was in fact so bad, that MB had to throw us all a lifeline asserting that she wasn't opposed to strapping on the cape again, which is an oblique admission that the finale didn't work for her either. On the other hand I doubt we'll ever seen Melissa back as Supergirl, no unless different people are doing the writing.
I was thoroughly sick of Alex's histrionics by the twenty minute mark, I actually felt bad for Chyler Leigh a lot of her scenes with Melissa felt off in this ep. I think both actresses knew they were being let down by the writing. Redeeming 4th rate material has become Ms Benoist's specialty at this point, because God Forbid anyone should write anything...y'know, "good" for her.
Can anyone else feel the sheer spite in this script?
I'm calling it, kowtowing to Alex's rage and letting her abscond with the totem is Supergirl's lowest most craven moment in the entire series. Afterwards I thought if this is the best the writers could do, for Kara-Alex drama then maybe it's time for the curtain to fall.
What little fun was to be had here was all courtesy Brenda Strong & Jon Cryer all their scenes crackle with demonic oedipal comparison Luthor's infatuation with Nxyly (while funny in a dark way) seems like a May/December fling. Too bad this is really the last we see of Cryer's Lex, he basically turns into a destructive digital effect after this, denied some necessary histrionics of his own in one final showdown with Supergirl. But for that to happen, you've got to make Supergirl the center of the storyline, don't you?All the same, Cryer is to date, The Best Luthor, if the CW is smart they'll keep him under contract.
For that fact Jesse Rath is a bit of a DC TV find, I don't think space could be found for him on "Superman & Lois" or "The Legends of Tomorrow" but all the same he is an illustration of something Berlanti always did right, which is casting. He found Melissa Benoist remember, the definitive break-through Supergirl whatever else can we say about the writing nigh these last six years.

And that is sort of a summary of what the finale really meant to me, as bad as it was, it reminded me how much I liked Melissa Benoist, enjoyed the way she played the role, I even love bold way she intones "I am Soo-PerGirl!" in the opening narration, her voice reeking with pride. It also reminded me how much I am going to miss her. I am not going to miss however "Too Much Alex" (no matter how much I love Chyler Leigh the performer), "Too Much Martian Manhunter", "Too Much Dreamer", Too Little Brainiac Five and too many confrontations between Lex Luthor and "The Team" when Lex should be dueling with his hated nemesis, Supergirl.
One final though, before we segue into the last ep...I do think Our Host should be encouraged to do an additional "overview" posting about the show in general, what they got right, what they got wrong, I have some thoughts of my own along these lines...


Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments.

Looking forward to seeing the true finale.

A review will be up probably next week.

And yes, I have thought of doing a sort of final overview of the show, at least in broad strokes.