Monday, December 27, 2021

Supergirl Show 620: Kara

On November 9th of this year, the last episode of Supergirl aired, episode 620, titled 'Kara'.

Here we are 7 weeks later and I am just getting around to reviewing it.

Why has it taken so long?

Well, I will admit that these last two months of my life has been about as hectic as my life has ever been.

Also, I have been trying to figure out how to review this episode which stands as both the season finale and the show finale.

In the end, I am probably more forgiving of this episode than I should be, particularly the end of the Nyxly/Lex story because it is the end of the show.

One thing that I think is thought provoking about this episode is the theme that Kara has felt weighed down with having to defend the entire world. She wants to empower and inspire people to be their own hero (good idea). She wants to lead a full life for herself (also a good idea). 

But it makes it sound like she finds being Supergirl a burden. It is hard for me to feel like she has felt that weight given she is one of 7 heroes on this one show! Plus there is Superman, Flash, and the Legends. But okay, maybe it is being the 'premier' hero that weighs on her. And I also think while it is great to empower people this way, I don't know if she can feel less pressure because people are stepping up if the world is facing a threat like the Anti-Monitor.

I suppose one of the central themes of this entire show has been discovering who you are, accepting yourself, accepting others, and thriving. So I suppose this final idea hammers it home. I just wish we had one more season (or even a half season) to explore this new reality of Kara.

Lastly, I am glad the show runners and writers made sure to stuff this finale with cameos and history,

I am sad to see this show go. Melissa Benoist captured Kara perfectly. She will be missed.

On to the details. 

We start out right where episode 619 ended. Lex and Nyxly are using their Totem gauntlets to battle and in doing so are draining humanity of those essential feelings of hope, courage, etc.

The news is reporting how humanity is powerless as hope is fading. And I like how that is shown as well as told, the color draining away from people as they become ashen black-and-white.

Meanwhile, we get a deathbed chat between Lillian and Lena. Lillian admits that she knew Lena's mother was a witch, she saw how Lex's father loved Lena for her light and intuition. So, in classic Lillian fashion, she blunted Lena's ability. She placed talismans around the mansion to stifle Lena's powers and she drove Lena to science. That all sounds cruel and completely in line with Lillian's persona.

But now, dying, she tells Lena she wants to set her free. She wants Lena to own her power fully. 

It's a very good scene as these two have always had great chemistry. I especially love how in the middle of this speech, Lena assumes Lillian wants absolution and is disgusted. But eventually they forgive.

I will say that Brenda Strong as Lillian Luthor was a revelation here and always incredible.

Last episode, Kara was so overwhelmed by what was unfolding that she flew off to 'process'. 

Here she returns to talk it over with the team. I include the top pick because I still remain tickled that for 6 years I got to see a live action Supergirl do a dramatic hero's landing. I will miss those.

But here is where that odd sentiment is spelled out.

Kara says her whole life as Supergirl is based on a 'deeply flawed' premise that people need to be rescued. Instead of being Earth's hero, she needed to partner with the people of Earth. And maybe if she calls on people to be the hero in their own life, she will empower them, drawing back the power from the totem and de-powering Lex.

So let's start first with the idea of Kara hindering humanity by being their hero. I just don't know if I could be my own hero against Myriad, the Daxamites, Reign, or the Phantom Zone phantoms. At some point when the threat becomes a super-threat, you need super-heroes. 

Now let's start with the notion that people need to be their own hero and save themselves. It also seems odd coming from this show which has preached about governmental aid to the disenfranchised throughout the last two seasons and sometimes loudly. So it is 'be your own hero ... unless you need a bailout?'

I am troubled more with the former than the latter.

It does lead to the idea that we need a Supergirl hope speech. 

But how can she get the speech to everyone?

Well, first we get a Colu Ex Machina! Brainy's 'Legion Crown' can communicate with as many people as possible. But he needs to have people take in the words.

So we get a Lena Ex Machina! She has a spell that will breakdown people's natural defense mechanisms to let Supergirl's words resonate.

Kara gives a decent speech. She talks about people's innate strength. She says together the can heal the world. It can flourish. She wants people to own their own magnificence.

On a show which has really talked about understanding your personal truth, and has had role models to showcase that in people like Alex and Nia, this speech rang true. And it works. The color floods back into people.

I was glad that Lena got closure with Lillian.

The totem gauntlets do lose power leaving Lex and Nyxly without magic.

When the super friends show up, the two forget they were squabbling and decide to unite once more against the common good.

Using science and magic, they bring some troops to fight for them.

And what a nice nod to the past. We see the dragon and the junk kaiju from this season. But we also get Red Tornado, Overgirl, and Metallo from the past. Very nice nods.

Still, I thought that Nyxly had no magic! Unless somehow she manifested her troops with whatever residual power was left in her totem.

It's a decent skirmish as the heroes square off with rivals. I love seeing Supergirl brawl with Overgirl again. 

I don't know if I needed Alex to say 'no touching without consent' in the context of battle but giving this show's focus on social concerns, I'll allow it.

Now I would have loved if our heroes were up to the challenge on their own. But they aren't. 

Luckily some back-up arrives. That includes Mon-El and Winn from the future, Andrea with her shadow powers, James Olsen in his Guardian uniform, and ... Eliza Danvers with a pump shotgun?

Okay, I'll allow any excuse to see Helen Slater on this show. But it does come with a groan-worthy like about how maybe in another life she was Kryptonian. And if that wasn't on the nose enough, Alex responds 'only in the movies'. Okay! Okay! I saw what you did there!

The evil troops are scattered and disappear leaving Nyxly and Lex alone again. 

So Luthor does a slick move. He opens up a gateway to the Phantom Zone and lets the Dementors fly in. 

Even our heroes steel themselves knowing these things are powerful. 

But in a very nice nod to Kara's hope speech, the people of the city rally and join the heroes. They aren't fighting alone.

Turns out that there isn't much fear in the heroes or the crowd.

Instead the Dementors turn on Nyxly and Lex and drag them into the Phantom Zone and close off the gate. It is explained that the hubris of the villains equals fear. 

I don't know if hubris is the same as fear.

I don't know why the gateway would close or be closed.

But most importantly, I was hoping that somehow there would be some redemption for Nyxly in this season. She was wronged. She should have been exonerated. She should have been helped to move through this and heal. Instead she has to suffer for an eternity.

And Lex! In the Phantom Zone! I suppose that is an apt punishment given he sent Kara there last season.

Just like that the Allstone saga is over.

So we have about 30 minutes to wrap up the show and give characters some moments to shine.

I didn't like William last season but this season I thought he was a much stronger character.

I am glad we get to see his funeral, people mourning him. He isn't an afterthought.

Andrea recognizes he lived by his convictions and should be remembered.

And J'onn announces that given the latest skirmish, the government will re-establish the DEO but to fight extra-normal threats, not just extra-terrestrial. Moreover, they will have complete authority without the red tape.

Suddenly everything old is new again.

Once more we hear Kara's thoughts about how the super friends need to work with humanity, not as vigilantes but as civil servants. They can't be super heroes; they need to be friends.

So what does that mean?

We see the DEO announced with J'onn, Alex, and Supergirl. (Seriously, look at Benoist with hands on hip, looking off to the horizon, smiling ... she is Supergirl.)

Lena opens a foundation.

Andrea opens up the William Day Journalism School.

And Nia opens up the Dreamer Center for LGBTQ Outreach.

Three weeks later, everyone is prepping for Alex's wedding.

While everyone else seems to have solidified their identity in this world, Kara is still struggling. She even is denied the opportunity to save a cat in a tree when the fire department manages it.

Out of the blue, she gets a call from Cat Grant. On a beach, in a wet suit complete with leg knife, Cat talks about how the Earth is being slowly destroyed and CatCo needs to tell it to people. She has bought CatCo back and she wants Kara to be its editor-in-chief.

How great was it to see Calista Flockhart as Cat again!

But does this offer help or hurt Kara's personal crisis?

Initially it makes it worse.

Kara has already struggled between her role as Supergirl and having a life as Kara Danvers. She can't take the job. 

She heads to the Danvers couch to talk it out with Alex.

I feel one of the successes of the show was the relationship between the Danvers sisters. It was rocky at first but grew. I came to love moments on the couch. Over the last two seasons as Alex's personal issues took screen time and Kara became a sideshow in her own show, that relationship has faded.

So I was thrilled ... THRILLED ... that we got another couch scene, And how great to have Alex say that Kara is amazing and that she knows Kara will choose the right path.

And so we get to the wedding. 
Alex gets ready with Eliza and Kara.
James helps Kelly get ready.
All talk about how proud they are.

Brainy, who had returned to the future to save his world, returns to be with Nia. Colu be damned! He loves her! So I guess self-sacrifice isn't allowed in this new world of being your own hero. 

But the best part of the pre-wedding scenes was seeing Winn and Kara sing some Pat Benatar as the brides walk down. 

We should have had more musical episodes!

Pat Benatar!

J'onn does the officiating and wells up as he talks of Kelly being Alex's missing puzzle piece. 

Then the two say wonderful vows, too wonderful to paraphrase.

It's official!

I love how Kara is the first to stand up and clap!

Nice touch!

Time to celebrate.

J'onn hears from Winn that the DEO will be a beacon of peace in the future. Winn heard it from M'Gann and J'onn's son. So much for keeping information from the future a secret!

I said it before and I'll say it again. Melissa Benoist is a star. Tremendous to see her just having a blast dancing!

One of my favorite moments in the episode was a reunion of the OG super friends.

I forgot the chemistry these three had. Seeing James, Winn, and Kara together, hearing them reminisce about the creation of the super suits, the old ops room at CatCo, and realizing how far they've come was great.

I might just have to revisit those early seasons again. 

While Alex and Kelly literally take off for their honeymoon, Kara gets another call from Cat. Why hasn't Kara accepted the editor-in-chief offer.

Kara says she has felt split recently, unable to lead a full life.

Cat unravels the whole thing by revealing to Kara she knows that Kara is Supergirl. That shouldn't be an excuse. And imagine what Kara could do if she became 'one being'?

In a scene that most certainly fanned the flame for a subset of this show's fandom, Kara talks to Lena about her issues. 

Perhaps Kara failed the courage gauntler because she created a different identity. 

Lena talks about her own struggles trying to figure out who she was given she was a Luthor. Now she knows it isn't about a name. She gets to decide what she wants to be. And she will help Kara. After all 'El Mayarah', stronger together.

The two hug. Kara says of all her friends, Lena has pushed and challenged her the most. (Also, of all her friends, Lena has tried to mind control and kill her the most too!)

I do think these two have a very complicated and interesting history. But I never saw them as potential romantic partners. But as a fan I do know what it is like to want something to happen. 

The show ends with us watching the friends enjoying game night and talking about their next adventure.

At the same time, we see on a nationally televised interview, Cat reveals to the world that Kara is Supergirl. 

Now that is a solid ending to the show. We all now get to write in our minds what we think would happen next. It also links nicely to the current DC continuity of Clark revealing his truth. I do wish we could see how it all plays out.

Was this a good season finale? It nicely wrapped up the season's villain and completed each character's arc. But I feel it was more of a series finale. That last half hour really had a 'we may never see these characters again so let's finish their stories' feel to it.

I liked the cameos, homages, and nods to the past. I loved how Melissa Benoist again showed what a star she is. 

I can't say I thought this season made a lot of sense. From episode to episode and even sometimes from moment to moment there were plot gaffes and leaps. 

But I will miss it. It made Supergirl a household name. It always showed her as a hero. Here's hoping we get to see her on a CW show at some point in the future.

And thanks for all who waited for this! Sorry it took me so long!


Anonymous said...

This season was mediocre if I am being generous. Kara or Supergirl was constantly getting lectured by others, she was badly depowered, the writing was all over the place for her.

Hell, she didn't get to showoff her powers even in the final battle. The entire phantom zone thing was weirdly handled too.

Even in the final ep of her own show, she felt like an afterthought. There were more misses than hits this season. Overall, Melissa Benoist carried this show and I am glad that it has finally come to an end.

Now to see how Sasha Calle does in the role of she is indeed playing Kara. Can't wait to see what the future holds for Kara. But for now, I am happy with the comics offering.

SG Fan said...

Glad to see your thoughts on the finale Anj.

Season Six of Supergirl, well if I'm honest, left a lot to be desired. Part of it I think did come as a result of the issues with COVID and Melissa's maternity leave. One, naturally was outside of the shows control. It sadly limited the ability to have crossovers (I really wish we could have gotten Barry back or one more adventure) and stuff, but again even Supergirl can't fix a pandemic. In the case of Melissa having her first kid, even without COVID they'd need to find ways to work around that, so we'd of probably got something like the Phantom Zone stuff regardless. And the Phantom Zone stuff was okay if not always engaging.

I will say I never got into having Nxly as the main villain of the season. The whole magic macguffin storyline, along with Lex supposedly falling in love with her was pretty dubious. If they were just want to have a big bad at the end, then have it be Lex. Even though I think they got a bit over reliant on Lex, it's only because Jon Cryer was that good. I mean even though I don't think Lex could ever love anyone but himself, Cryer just is a joy to watch.

I also would say, some of Kara's decisions this season were pretty dubious and felt like she was well...constantly making mistakes she shouldn't at this point. The enforcing her will to remove Kasnia and the other fake country's nukes without their say so, and no not talking about the weapons launched but clearly she was going to disarm all their nukes cuz she said so, was just like...what? And the whole seeming to need 'more power!' all the time, when clearly that never worked once the whole season.

Where I think Season Six did well was mostly the character stuff. Those moments were generally done well, and I think everyone got some good stuff. Lena being a, something I think maybe could work if the show was still going on...but like something introduce in the last season, eh seemed a little silly. And yeah at times it could think there was lot of focus on others, but again I wonder if that's partly cuz of the COVID/maternity situation.

So while I didn't quite enjoy the storyline/main plot stuff of the season; Alex/Kelly's stuff, Kara's when she wasn't making bad decisions, interactions between characters, and again those character moments episode to episode worked well. At least I thought so.

The series finale, did surprise me as I'm glad they didn't just get rid of Kara by sending her to future. I was almost convinced, that's what was going to happen, just like it did in JLU and Smallville. Thankfully though, they decided to go another route, and it's an interesting idea. Kara revealing her identity and just being Kara who is Supergirl. It gave a sense while maybe we're not watching her adventures anymore, they're still going on. And maybe in the future, with the CW. Melissa will be cool and come back for a special event or episode. Plus, Cat Grant coming back and wanting to do the 'Newsroom' with Kara...HELL YES!

I loved Cat being back, and doing what she always does, giving Kara the kick in the rear she needs, and motivating her. Plus, a big awesome thank you to Calista Flockhart for agreeing to do those scenes and help close out the show. Like you said Anj, the scene with James, Winn, and Kara with them reminiscing, was great. Again, all the character bits of the finale were well done, even if the main plot didn't grab me.

Overall, not a bad way to end things. I really worried there'd be this sense of, 'oh we've got Superman & Lois now. Supergirl get lost!' But I didn't feel that with the finale. Kara is out there as herself, ready to do go in the newsroom and as Supergirl, with more adventures with the Super Friends ready to be had.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this season was mostly a dumpster fire, but I have to say the resolution of Kara's arc hit me hard in the feels. It felt emotional, moving, and true to the character. It was a tough road getting there, but the last 30 minutes or so of this episode sent me out in tears -- the good kind.

Anonymous said...

"The Owl of Minerva Flies at Dusk"
Friedrich Hegel

I needed a double brandy to get thru this at about 9:40pm, right about the time I saw Alex in her repurposed White Communion Suit, you could tell Chyler Leigh felt uncomfortable, and Helen Slater clearly needed to restrain a guffaw or two.
My two main takeaways as the sun set on Supergirl, I've grown to despise Alex as the embodiment of everything the show got wrong, she was an emotional terrorist from the pilot to ep 120. I like Chyler Leigh just fine and would happily watch in anything else, but here the character was a millstone around Supergirl's Neck.
My other takeaway was my deep and abiding respect and regard for Melissa Benoist who despite appalling challenges, brought Supergirl to life, made her profitable, noteworthy, elevated bad scripts and no matter how marginalized her character always found her way back to the center. She is to Supergirl, what Lynda Carter is to Wonder Woman, "The Standard By Which Others Shall be Measured. If the show with all it's squandered opportunities lasted 120 eps (a DCU record for a super heroine I think) it's all thanks to MB and her talent/charisma.


Mary said...

I don't think hubris was meant to be a substitute for fear, but rather it had been masking Lex and Nxly's fear. They were still had fear, just let their hubris make it seem like they didn't until the Phantoms appeared.

I was also thinking we'd see a Nxly redemption story, especially after her day of dealing with the consequences of taking up the humanity totem, as well as her reaction to first meeting Lex, but they decided on the "love story" for Lex and Nxly instead.

I understand that they had a different plan for season 6 before it was announced that the show would be ending. I do wonder what that plan was.

RicG said...

The quality of the last season or so has really buckled around the realities of covid so it's a pity, but probably best they allowed it to end now.

Three thoughts; Flash still has one last season, but for now Kara is way ahead in the 'see how many people you can reveal your secret identity to' competition. It'll be hard to top that.

I was also hoping for Nxly to get a better ending. Nyxly, a woman whose issues were rooted in deep trauma from the Phantom Zone being exiled back there for all time? Unspeakably cruel, especially in light of the vile Lillian getting a last second redemption. But these CW shows will forgive family for anything.

Totally agree on her being a superstar so cheers to Melissa Benoist.
No matter what the show threw at her, her Kara was never less than inspiring and she was never less than heroic in it. I hope she still feels like the occasional cameo in other DC shows but whatever role she has next we can all hope she shines as brightly in it.

Anj said...

Thanks for the great comments especially given the late timing of the review.

I am sad to see it go.

I wish it had been better in many ways.

I'll forever be a Benoist fan.

Anonymous said...

In a perfect universe "Supergirl" would be preparing to wrap TV production in order to move up to a Big Budget Feature Film, MB could do that, she has a charisma and the sheer chutzpah....others have done it, why not her? But no, Supergirl didn't get a real finale, so much as it was simply an abject surrender to the show's worst centrifugal tendencies. I am convinced she didn't so much quit as flee a show that wanted to be about anyone else EXCEPT Supergirl. If she ever does "strap on the cape" again (and she won't) we can only hope Ms Benoist is the line producer it'll be the only guarantee that the damn thing will be about "Supergirl"
BTW No One to date as ever intoned the Name "Supergirl" with more reverence and confidence than MB, her opening narration is thick with respect for the character, no matter what else went wrong with the show her respect for Kara shone thru like a lighthouse on a foggy night.

Rob S. said...

Glad to see your thoughts on this, Anj. We just watched the last 3 episodes today. It was good to see the original cast again.

Overall, I think this was a pretty weak season. Some of that might have been down to the difficulties of filming under covid protocols, but other shows have certainly weathered the storm better.

The Myxly/totems plot was drawn out, and once Lex showed up, I never believed that he was in love with her either.

The conclusion to Brainy's problem -- he just shrugs off protecting the future -- was infuriating. Just come up with another solution! A line or two of dialogue would fix that whole thing. It was the falsest of false jeopardies.

And as for Supergirl revealing her identity? It should have been HER idea; the idea she'd need to be bullied into it by Cat Grant doesn't do either character justice. I thought I was seeing Alex nudge her in that directing on their last couch talk. Her conversation with Cat should have been "I've been hesitating to accept the job because I'm Supergirl. I was holding off the announcement so my sister could have a wedding in peace, but I'll be telling the world tomorrow. And it wouldn't have been right for me to accept the job without telling you. What do you say, Ms. Grant?" And then let Cat either be welcoming and flabbergasted or welcoming and telling Kara she knew all along. Either way, Supergirl should have the power in her last major scene, but that isn't how it plays out at all. She's just backed into one more corner.

The secret ID revelation was handled so much better in the recent Superman comics. If it's not the character's own choice, the choice loses a lot of its power.