Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Supergirl Episode 19: Myriad

Supergirl Episode 19 'Myriad' aired this week, the penultimate episode for this first season. It seems like just yesterday we were seeing the poster put on the WB water tower and (not) watching the leaked pilot. And here we are a week away from the finale ... maybe a show finale. We still don't know if there will be a season two.

Now there is a lot to like about this episode. There is some action. There is a great cliffhanger. And most importantly, there is a lot of Supergirl philosophy in the dialogue. Do the ends justify the means? How do you fight evil without becoming evil? What is stronger than fear? And are heroes perfect and infallible? These questions and concepts are what make me love Supergirl as a character. So seeing the writers, producers, and actors showcase these ideas makes me very happy.

That doesn't mean this is a perfect episode by any means. There are a lot of plot holes that you need to just gloss over. If you think too hard about things, you're bound to start thinking about ways this episode could have played out more realistically. But if you can buy super-powered individuals, phantom zones, living internet women, and aliens living among us, maybe you can look past some plot lapses.

As usual, the acting on the show is wonderful. Melissa Benoist really shows range again. She is frustrated, scared, and angry. She is doubtful at time, resolute at others. Calista Flockhart shines as well. As Cat she has to play the cold, distant boss. And yet, we have seen her open up and be vulnerable. A scene where Cat and Kara talk about hope is the high point of this episode.

On to the show.

All of National City, including the DEO headquarters, has been effected by the Myriad mind control device. Lucy Lane and the crew have been given instructions by Non to open all the cells and let the prisoners out. That is, all the prisoners except the White Martian. Even evil Kryptonians don't trust those things!

While I countdown to depower the cell doors ticks away, Lucy personally opens up the cell of Maxima. She has been invited to be Non's queen. We get a fair amount of Maxima info in the dialogue here. We learn she was royalty on Almerac and wanted to be Superman's mate.

Kara arrives, hears about Maxima's copulation plans (love how Kara says 'gross'), trounces the villain, and smashes the DEO controls before the cells can open. It felt like a little bit of a waste of Maxima, even thought the brief fight was great. Perhaps she can return next season?

For me, the big part of this scene was seeing Lucy and the others open fire on Kara with Kryptonite bullets, even putting one into Kara's arm. The threat is real. Seeing Kara fish out the bullet with her finger showed how determined Supergirl is to win.

Kara wings to the North Pole to find Superman to find that he was currently off-world. Very Silver Age convenient.

It was nice to see Laura Benanti as Alura again. She gives us a nice info dump about Myriad. Astra created the mind control technology on Krypton but was stopped before she could use it. As a result, Astra was thrown into Fort Rozz. Myriad was felt to be so dangerous that robots like Kelex weren't even allowed to discuss it.

I do hope, if there is a second season, we see more of Benanti.

Back in National City, Kara finds a city entranced. Some people are walking down the street in formations. The CatCo staff are all at their desks, typing Kryptonese into their computers. Only Maxwell Lord (wearing fancy signal-blocking tech) and Cat Grant (wearing earrings sent by Max which also block the Myriad wave) are free.

Superman arrives but also is overwhelmed by Myriad, joining the throngs of zombies on the street!

Lord says he didn't turn over the blocking technology to the DEO because he only trusted Alex and Hank. (That seems thin to me. He'd rather face annihilation?) He also presumes that Superman's long life on Earth made Kal's brain more human-like and therefore more susceptible to Myriad. (This is a convenient way for the writers to answer the 'where is Superman' question while leaving this a Supergirl story.)

But I have issues.

While we hear that the Lord satellites broadcasting the Myriad signal are surrounded by force fields, couldn't Kara try to push them out of synch? Couldn't Max make more blockers? Put them on key personnel? Shouldn't Cat or him relinquish their blockers so Kara could put them on Superman? If there villains are Kryptonian, isn't the DEO dripping with K-weaponry that could be used?

As for Non, he is quite happy with how Myriad is progressing. National City will be the first stop of his world domination.

Indigo is back this episode and is deliciously wicked. Laura Vandervoort is straight up devious. Throughout the episode she seems to be playing the part of Lady Macbeth, constantly pushing Non to do more and more evil. He doesn't want to kill Supergirl. He would be happy ruling Earth.

But she keeps pushing death and universal domination. Remember, she is responsible for planetary genocide. She can't be a good consigliore.

It looked like Vandervoort was having a blast playing this part, smiling devilishly as she deals out the pain.

Alex and Hank are still on the run. They head to Midvale to stock up at the Danvers. I loved seeing the undercover blond Alex with her 'son' (J'onn shapeshifted as a child).

At first Eliza Danvers doesn't trust Hank. Remember, she has been told that J'onn killed Jeremiah. But after some assurances, Eliza shows her scientist side, peppering Hank with questions about his physiology.

Eliza tells them about the perils of National City and the two begin to plan their next steps.

Now comes the real heart of the episode. These were the game changing scenes.

Non shows up and calmly talks about the merits of Myriad. In one day, all crime has stopped in National City. There is no longer class wars, racial tension, anger. Everyone is at peace. And he has put the minds of the city on trying to solve the problems of the planet. Isn't this a good thing? And yet, freedom has been lost. Do these ends justify the means?
And to show how powerless Kara is, Non orders James, Winn, and a Catco employee named Kelly to jump off the building. Supergirl can't save everyone. Kelly dies. Non says he will order more people to kill themselves if Kara interferes. Remember, this is a young hero learning. She can't save everyone. That is a hard lesson to learn.

Non then leaves.

Once alone, Max Lord says he has designed a K-bomb which will kill all the Kryptonians in the city as well as 8% of the city's population. Is that the right answer? Killing 300,000 to save 7 billion? Do those ends justify the means?

This was pretty thought provoking. And maybe just a little dark, but in a good way. Not gratuitous. Not wallowing in it. This was dark in a way to make the light shine brighter. I did have to chuckle that one death and talk of a bomb was dark for this show. That is nothing compared to the carnage of the current DCEU movies.

But I have some issues here as well. Why would Non let Max and Cat remain with free will? Even if he doesn't want to kill Supergirl, why would he let her roam free? Why wouldn't he capture her and bring her to his stronghold to witness his victory?

But that earlier scene with Non's talk of security and Kelly's death sets up the real show stopper.

On the Balcony of Zen, Cat and Kara talk.

One thing I love about this is that Kara begins to question her mother's role in the death of Krypton. Alura was always perfect in Kara's mind. But could Alura have stopped the destruction of Krypton by letting Astra use Myriad? Would Krypton be alive, their culture intact? Did Alura make the right choice? This is a heavy topic and echoes the problems Kara had with Alura in the Gates' run of the book.

Kat then gives the inspirational talk Supergirl needs to hear. Everyone is afraid. And people shouldn't make decisions out of fear. They need hope. Hope is stronger than fear. And Supergirl is that hope. Supergirl's belief that goodness will prevail can change people. It has changed Cat. And now when Cat sees the S-shield, she sees hope. The shield meaning hope?? Nice reference to the film. And it actually seems right here.

Supergirl just needs to be Supergirl. People will follow.


That encapsulates my feelings for the character wonderfully. Just incredible.

I would love a reel of just the season's conversations on this balcony. I bet it would be a greatest hits piece.

But there is more action.

J'onn and Alex head into the city. J'onn tries to telepathically protect Alex from the Myriad signal but it is strong enough to even shake the Manhunter. Indigo arrives and she and J'onn fight. It seems like J'onn is winning but Indigo has the Terminator 2 power to simply reassemble herself. Bathed in and weakened by fire, J'onn is skewered and left for dead.

Meanwhile, Supergirl has a chat with Max. She points out that his using a bomb to kill people makes him the very monster he swore to fight. He needs to use hope to fight the darkness. He needs to honor his parents. She is just being Supergirl ... and it works.

The three will use Cat's old radio station, analog not digital ... so Indigo-free, to piggyback a message of hope on the Myriad wavelength. It will be so powerful a message that the people will break free.

I have to assume the message is going to be Supergirl. But I actually would like it if it was all three. Imagine Lord, Grant, and Kara working together? That is a message of hope.

But the plan can't be brought to fruition yet.

A mind-controlled Alex arrives, laden down with K-weapons including the K-atana which killed Astra. The sisters will have to fight. Nice cliffhanger. That needs to be an action figure.

There is a lot more to love in this episode. Earlier there is a conversation between Alex and Kara where Alex perfectly reads her sister's tone and knows Kara is lying. General Lane trusts Supergirl will protect his daughter. And the Indigo's constant nudging of Non deeper into darkness even as people tell him Astra wouldn't approve was brilliant. And Cat has a killer meta-line about not dating Harrison Ford.

So to heck with some plot holes and easy contrivances. This episode was about how hope is stronger than fear. This was about Supergirl embodying hope. This was about Supergirl being tempted for a second but then correcting her moral course.

And so we are on to the finale.

Hopefully there will be more to come after that.


Riddering said...

I loved this episode. Beyond the wonderful and unexpected "end of the earth" team coming together to agree on a choice embracing life and hope, my favorite scene was definitely Eliza questioning J'onn. What a wonderful character moment! The writers on this show respect the professions of the female characters and it's lovely to see.

I'll have my tissues ready for the finale. Hopefully I can put them away afterward for an announcement of a second season.

Paul said...

No comments about Cat mentioning Harrison Ford?

Anj said...

I mention Cat's line in one of the last paragraphs. I know I need to be briefer!!!

Thanks for comments. This was a great episode.

Anonymous said...

Great review as always, Anj. And yeah, sad that there's still no official announcement of a renewal for S2, though
all pundits point to it being "almost certain."

Agree that there were some contrivances and plot holes, enough that I suspect many viewers will simply deride the
whole episode. The part I think is key, and that I like best, is Cat's comments about hope being stronger than fear,
and all Supergirl needs to be is Supergirl. As you said, THAT'S the core of Supergirl and the S-Shield in general
-- think we can all agree as comics fans that that speech by Cat was as blunt as an upraised middle finger to the
last 5 years of DC BadGrimDarkKill New 52, for which I'm thankful TPTB on the show put in :)

The guest stars this ep played their parts brilliantly : Maxima's scene was a delight... and yes, hope she's brought
back again in the future; possible plot twist, though Kal-El rejects her, and after being bested by Supergirl, Maxima
instead pursues her as a genetic mate? Laura V's Lady MacBeth performance is spot on. Also another character I hope
is brought back more in the future. And Helen Slater, between how she slides between concerned mother to a scientist
with the greatest biological puzzle in front of her? Wow!

Can't wait till April 18th! And hoping we get an official confirmation of S2 soon!


Anonymous said...

Plot holes is putting it lightly yo......couldn't Kara have extracted her friends to safety out of range of Myriad? Granted the rest of the city is hostage to that decision but still....and yes couldn't Max Lord had safeguarded some key personnel? For that fact the DEO had mind control filters Alex could've used one to be sure. To say nothing of Lucy and her cannon fodder.
AND WHAT THE HELL is wrong the Fortress AI that it only tells our heroine the Bad News After the Doomsday Button is Pushed??
On the other hand Maxima got JOBBED OUT to Supergirl well and thoroughly, I've been waiting for some good old fashioned violent fan service like this for weeks.
Oh and Supergirl casually grimacing and digging a kryptonite round out of her arm in Prime Time? Bad@ssery of the First Rank.
And Alex keeps making bad decisions she should have known that she'd be "Hostage Priority #1 and a key weapon against her sister" if she went back to National City.
Laura VV is like William Shatner in one respect (other than their mutual Canadian Citizenship), she got typecast as a heroine when clearly her core talent is for one screen villainy, she has a wicked evil smirk that will take you far in Hollywood IMHO. This was much more Indigo's ep than Non (whose ultimate plan duly unimpressed me, why in hell's name does he "care" so much about our allegedly dying planet doesn't he have the skills and powers to colonize some other world?).....
There was a little too much of Kara fretting uselessly in CatCo and I don't understand why Superman got jobbed out to Myriad like that (wouldn't he be sent to round up his cousin first thing?)...leaving him off world was a far more elegant solution. Now we will wonder why he isn't being used by Non to thwart Kara...unless this is not what it seems...
But helluva cliffhanger I just hope our heroine triumphs free and clear in a cathartic fashion that reinforces her ideals and saves her sister as well...cuz thats what Supergirl the TV is really about a girl and her ideals.
As for who allegedly dies in the final ep....that is a puzzle it's not the Manhunter as they tipped his survival in the promo for next week....
I'm guessing its Max Lord as atonement for his earlier evil, allegedly the captioned actor isn't available next year due to a series commitment. James, Cat, Lucy and J'onn are all licensed from DC so I'm guessing they are bulletproof, that leaves Win or Alex as possibilities if it's Alex I can't believe she'd be dead too long as the sister vibe is too central to the storyline and Win exudes the air of tons of plot possibilities going forward.
It might be Helen Slater though, symbolically that would leave both sisters orphans at the expense of losing a seasoned character actress from the repertory company.
Unless it's Supergirl and given my paranoia on the topic I do not discount this notion.
I've had my complains but overall this has been a helluva ride possibly Berlanti's best superhero show....hope they renew it.

Its been a great pleasure discussing this show on this blog I hope we get the opportunity to do this again and again :)


Gene said...

Great episode overall, but I thought Alex convincing Hank to take her back to National City was the episode's weak spot. He should have replied "To do what exactly?" It would have been better for Alex and Eliza to to put their heads together to figure something out, but hey, the plot goes where it has to be.

When Kara was talking to General Lane on the video phone I can see where it would have been opportune to show President Linda Carter there. Oh well, fingers crossed for that and Maxima returning next season (if there is another season.)


KET said...

"I don't understand why Superman got jobbed out to Myriad like that."

It's a distinction that the show has reiterated on more than one occasion. Kal was raised on Earth, so he thinks like a Kansas farmboy, while Kara was raised on Krypton until she became a teenager, so she retains memories of Krypton. The reason for him to be affected by Myriad is not biological, but through upbringing.

"I thought Alex convincing Hank to take her back to National City was the episode's weak spot. He should have replied "To do what exactly?""

Well, Hank already knew that he really can't reason with Alex when she gets worked up over her sister. That's been proven throughout the course of the series...and often to the detriment of common sense and logic. Naturally, he couldn't spread his powers to protect both himself and Alex while fighting Indigo at the same time, and the fire didn't help matters either.

Naturally, this brings the relationship between Kara and Alex to a full circle from the second episode's training session. Alex's original goal was to prepare her sister to be 'better' at hand-to-hand combat than she was.


Gene said...

Two more thoughts:

The whole Superman being incapacitated leaving Supergirl to save the world herself is an inadvertent homage to the original draft of the Supergirl movie when Christopher Reeve was expected to make a cameo.

Chris Vance is no Terrance Stamp, but it was thrilling to hear him exclaim "Son of Jor-El."


Dr. Thinker said...




Unknown said...

Hello....You left out the fact that Alura mention a certain kryptonian city...while explaining Myriad and that city was ARGO CITY!

The fact that the omegahedron is making a appearance on the show is fucking awesome and now that they mention Argo City, i really hope it makes a appearance on the show

Martin Gray said...

Did we not have Argo in the Black Mercy episode, or was that Kryptonopolis?

Anyway, great review, and yeah, thee were more plotholes than in Argo City's shielding, but I went with it for the good stuff. I loved Maxwell Lord moving further down the road to redemption, and while he's going along with Cat and Kara for now, if something drastic has to be done next week, there he is. And while Peter Facinelli has a new series for next season, the Supergirl producers should keep his role open in case his new show gets cancelled quickly, as can happen. Max and Cat are such a great pairing - how much must he want her to make those earrings?

And that Harrison Ford business was priceless - Calista Flockhart is so good for this series.

I cringed at Non's line about Superman kneeling before him, can we ever get beyond 'Kneel before Zod'? Pound to a penny, Non winds up a mindless brute.

There was one moment Laura V's Canadian accent came out so strongly, I grinned, it's charming to have an evil cyber-entity sound so polite.

Melissa B, as ever, was just great. I'll need to rewatch, I was under the impression National City was below a force field - I guess it's an automatic assumption after seeming this enjoyable scenario so often. I also thought Superman passed out when he fell from the sky; whatever, that 'raised on Earth' made loads of sense to me.

Maxima was great, if only she'd had bigger hair and underarm wings!

Having Alex suit up to fight Kara surprised me ('K'atana, hah!), because Indigo's line made it seem they were going to go for Eliza - perhaps they were, at one script stage, killing her off in the finale, but changed their mind because Helen Slater is awesome.

I didn't miss the lesser role for James at all, he really is dull beyond compare. When (when!) the series returns, he really needs to become a cross dressing turtle man, or something.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments!

You know I was thinking about Non getting his mind wrecked just yesterday. I bet he tries to link to Myriad himself and somehow fries his mind!