Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Supergirl Episode 305: Damage

Supergirl episode 305 aired this week, another strong episode focusing on Lena, the mini-boss Morgan Edge, and the evolution of Reign. It also marked the end of Floriana Lima's run as Maggie Sawyer on the show, and therefore the end of the Alex/Maggie relationship. That is a lot to put into one episode but somehow the writers and director Kevin Smith gave each story enough space to breath and progress nicely.

For me, the Lena storyline was the best. All last season, this shroud of 'is she evil?' was on the character. I was waiting to see the heel turn. It never happened. Now in this episode, Lena is suspected of doing something harmful, albeit accidentally. All her doubts about herself, all those 'nature vs. nurture' (or in her case 'nature AND nurture') questions come back. It makes Lena a compelling character.

Lena's antagonist is again Morgan Edge, played with delicious slime by Adrian Pasdar. Edge is everything Maxwell Lord wanted to be, oozing his way through scenes with this superiority complex. For me, there is one big head scratch about his methods in this episode but otherwise Pasdar is spot on fantastic.

The Sanvers dissolution is handled well, perhaps a bit heavy. This show is now into its third season. Most of what Alex says here is fine. But some of her words sound weird when put in the context of 2+ seasons of characterization.

Finally, I do have to say that I needed to suspend my medical disbelief a bit here. The concern is that Lena has made lead poisoning occur in children. And lead poisoning does typically present so acutely. I suppose that ultimately makes sense.

On to the show.

The show opens with an action sequence. A prison bus has been hijacked by the inmates, one pressing a shiv against the driver's side. The bus lurches to a stop when Supergirl blocks it. That seems a bit dangerous. The bus comes to a sudden, violent stop. The shiv could easily have stabbed the driver ... but okay.

The ringleader tells Supergirl to stand down but then Alex pops into the bus from the roof, dispatching the other rebelling passengers. Almost cocky, Supergirl asks if anyone else wants to try something. It was fun to see all the other inmates look away or shake their head.

But this was all a delay tactic to keep Alex from home and having to deal with Maggie.

Some sisters go to Starbucks to get away from it all. The Danvers go on missions!

At school, one of Ruby's classmates collapses to the ground and starts to seize.
Meanwhile, at CatCo, Lena plays hard businesswoman with James who is playing hard ethical journalist. Lena has sold a page for an 'advitorial', an ad which looks like a column. James thinks it threatens Catco's integrity. Lena said CatCo needs to revenue.

The discussion is interrupted by Kara who points them to the monitor in the office. Morgan Edge is at Luthor Children's Hospital. An outbreak of lead poisoning has afflicted children in National City. It has to be the result of Lena's lead bomb which drove off the Daxamites.

There is a ton to unpack here. First, I love how Lena's skin crawls when she sees Edge in her hospital. Second, I love that the news here is by GBS. In the comics, Edge owned GBS. Is he controlling the media here. And I love this photo op for Edge, surrounded by the various sick kids in all the standard sad medical conditions.

Medically though, you can measure lead in the blood. You can treat lead poisoning. So the fact that things are like this says something is off.

Back at the apartment, it is clear that Maggie and Alex are ending their relationship. They are still unwrapping shower gifts as they talk of this break.

The acting here is pretty tight. It is clear they love each other. It is clear both realize how great they are together. But they can't talk their way out of the big topic. Alex wants kids. Maggie doesn't.

As usual, both Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima bring the emotion here.

 Lena realizes she needs to get on top of the story. She rushes to the hospital with Kara where they meet Sam (still there with the student who collapsed near Ruby). In the meantime, we see Edge there, acting as the white knight, paying for the medical bills of all the affected children.

It is the small things Edge does which makes him so easy to loathe. Here he silences Lena with a finger, a small sign that he thinks he is above her, can control her. It is a tiny little moment which just speaks volumes about his character.

He then spins a story about how someone trying to do good (like Lena buying CatCo) can lead to a bigger threat and more deadly consequences (like Edge being ticked off). If Lena wanted to be a hero, she has to deal with the downsides.

There is so much more Edge in this episode which is perfectly odious.

Suddenly Lena begins doubting herself. Could she be responsible for poisoning kids? She wants CatCo to investigate thoroughly. And to make sure everything seems above board (and as suggested by James, she steps down from running CatCo and LCorp. She can't let this be like Flint Michigan where bureaucracy mucked things up.

She holds a  press conference where irate parents chant 'lock her up'! Lena talks about how she worked to earn the faith of the people and now it pains her to potentially lose it.

Then a shot rings out. An angry mother shoots at Lena, hitting James in the arm.

I suppose James and Sam need to be on stage as they are taking over Lena's companies. But no security?

Anyways, a Flint mention and a Hilary-esque 'Lock her up!' chant? The writers are consistent in their political leaning.

At the DEO, James is patched up. Of all the main cast, James is the one who has questioned Lena's motives the most. He says that Lena jerry-rigged the lead bomb, tech made by Lex. Maybe she deserved to be shot at. That is ice cold, Mr. Olsen.

Then Winn tests the lead bomb. When he and Lena tested it before using it last season, he said 99.96% of the lead would bond to Daxamite DNA. That left 0.04% to be left, a negligible amount. But the test in the DEO shows it is actually 89.76%.

Here is where stats get a bit jumbly. Kara says that means there is a 10% chance that Lena caused the illness. That's not true. That means 10.21% of the lead remained in the air. Now is that enough to cause acute lead poisoning? Who knows.

But there are epidemiology questions here too. This was a world bomb. Shouldn't more kids in more areas be toxic? Shouldn't it have happened sooner?

Meanwhile, Lena is hiding out at Sam's house. She needs to get away and Sam is a friend. But Lena is starting to feel the pressure.

What I love is we start the scene with Lena in a sweat shirt and washing dishes. It humanizes her just a bit, doesn't it? She isn't some ivory towered, gold plated one-percenter. She is 'normal'.

Alex and Maggie end up having one more fling. Drinking, dancing, and then rolling in the hay, the two share one last intimate moment.

This plot unfolds throughout the episode, but I'll finish my discussion here. In the glow of the moment, Alex talks about how throughout her life, no matter what else was happening, the dream of her being a mother was crystal clear, the one constant. She can't deny herself that.

But outside of this season, have we ever got a hint of this? Her relationship with Eliza was a mess in season 1. She had that hard drinking, bad girl period before J'onn saved her. She has always been this hard edged, almost unfeeling agent. I won't say this came out of left field. After all, she did 'mother' Kara a bit before she was Supergirl. But this sounded a bit too ingrained. An "I didn't realize it until now" line would have gone a long way.

And so Sanvers comes to an end. Maggie tells Alex she'll be a great mom as she closes the door.

Meanwhile, all those old fears of Lena surge to the front. Swimming in red wine, she confesses all her concerns to Kara. She says she isn't fighting the PR fight because she thinks she did it. She poisoned kids, something even Lex wouldn't do. She wanted to do something good. But maybe something is in the Luthor DNA.

While she loves Kara's optimism, she can't deal with it now.

Katie McGrath kills it in this scene. All the emotions comes out here. I love McGrath's work.

Finally there is a break. Sam has been violating all sorts of people's rights breaking into hospital records, financial records, and patient data. (There is a great line where Kara thinks they can connect the victims' addresses on the map to figure things out but Sam shoots her down saying 'movies lie'.)

There isn't a pattern of who has been poisoned. It isn't geography. Credit card bills show many bought food at an Oktoberfest fair. And there, Kara sees that the public pool has been laced with a synthetic chemical which mimics lead and can cause symptoms of lead poisoning. The chlorine, from Acre Lee chemicals, has been tainted.

Kara calls Lena to give her the good news.

Lena decides to start thinking like a Luthor and heads to confront Edge. Pulling a gun, she says there are times cases simply need to be decided without judges or juries. It is chilling to see how quickly Lena can sink.

Luckily for Edge, his security guard knocks her out.

Unluckily for Edge, he suddenly starts to think like Dr. Evil. He could kill Lena there in self-defense. She has a gun. He could have her arrested, saying she planned to silence his work to reveal her for the poisoner she is. He easily could have used this to his advantage, a drunk gun-toting Lena coming into his office. If he is looking to drag her through the mud, there is no better opportunity!

Instead, he straps her into a drone plane which is going to dump more of the fake lead into the reservoir, hurting more kids and implicating Lena more.

WHY??? Just kill her like a real life villain! (Not that I want Lena off the show!)

What's worse is he didn't even strap her to the chemicals. At least that would be poetic. Nope. He just had her sitting there. And not even locked in. She frees herself by clicking the seatbelt buckle. What was the plan, to have her land with the plane when it returned to the airstrip?? This is why super-villains lose.

Supergirl arrives and stops the chemicals from dumping and then has to keep the plane in the air when Edge tries to crash it to taint the reservoir. Holding a plane up from the inside doesn't seem like a physics problem that can be solved.

Thankfully, the writers know it too. The plane splits right where Kara was pushing on it internally. One half has the chemicals. The other has Lena, deep in the hull. Kara can't hold both sides. There are great effects here.

Lena tells Kara to keep the chemicals out of the water and to let her die. If Lena needed some event to prove to herself that she is good, this sacrifice to save the kids is it. Lex wouldn't have cared about anyone but himself. She is thinking of others.

But Kara says 'climb Lena climb' to inspire Lena to help save herself. 'Climb Lena climb' has to be a riff on 'run Barry run'!!!

Lena indeed does climb and Kara grabs her, letting the empty front of the plane fall.

To cover himself, Edge kills the man who was drone piloting the plane, making it look like suicide.

The rescue reminded me of the end of True Lies where Jamie Lee Curtis is pulled from a limo plummeting into the water.

 There's nothing left but the wrap-up.

Lena and James seem to make up. James even tells Lena to call him 'Jimmy'. I wasn't seeing romantic vibes before. But now? Maybe.

Then Kara confronts Edge. He is at his oiliest here. He smugly drinks his scotch. He says he was inconvenienced by Kara putting him on the cargo ship in the premiere. If she was a true adversary, she'd kill him as her enemy. HE JUST HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO KILL LENA! He doesn't play by his own rules!

Anyways, he even tries to see if he can get Kara to flinch in the middle of this tete a tete, opening his eyes wide and leaning in a bit ... like a high school bully. Knowing Kara won't hurt him, he walks away and tells her to leave. Brilliant.

And then the final wrap-ups.

In the opening episode, when Alex was trying to console Kara, Kara said Alex would be in a bar, broken, if Maggie left her. It was a line that was heavy with history. Even then, I noted it because I fear Alex has a drinking problem.

And Alex calls back to that line. She says that Kara was right. There she is, in a bar, broken. Now that is fantastic. I love the continuity. And it felt perfect. The sisters need a break. They'll head home to Midvale for a break.

And then, we see that Sam is bulletproof. She was also shot at the Lena press conference. But was unharmed. It is all coming together!

So overall this was a very good episode. There were some plot holes. But Edge was great, even if his plan fell apart.. Lena was great. And the acting between Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima was powerful, even if it was a bit schmaltzy at times.

I have to say, this season is pretty sizzling.


Anonymous said...

Good episode. It touched on the consequences of the S2 finale and gave us some good moments.

Anything related to lead poisoning I file it in "comic-booky science" and try to not thinkg about it too much unless it's too blatant.

Poor Lena. She's trying hard to be a good person, but the universe appears to conspire against her. Luthors typically are temperamental and hate people getting in their way; and Edge is the kind of jerk who would make Lena think maybe she should forget about her morals for once.

"But outside of this season, have we ever got a hint of this?"

There was no a good way to end it, I think. They would not kill Maggie, obviously; or would make one of them into a shrew to justify a quick breakup. Alex realizing all of sudden she wants children was the most harmless solution.

At least -I hope- Kara and Alex will have more screentime from now on.

"Holding a plane up from the inside doesn't seem like a physics problem that can be solved."

It's always inconvenient when the laws of physics choose to work.

"Anyways, he even tries to see if he can get Kara to flinch in the middle of this tete a tete, opening his eyes wide and leaning in a bit ... like a high school bully. Knowing Kara won't hurt him, he walks away and tells her to leave. Brilliant."

What if she decides to hurt you, Morgan? What if you make her snap? Have you thought about it? Have you considered she can vaporize you before can 'blink' and no one would be able to prove it?

What is with idiotic corrupt businessmen, mad scientists and criminal ringleaders taunting Kryptonians? Power goes to their heads and think themselves untouchable? Good Lord.

"And Alex calls back to that line. She says that Kara was right. There she is, in a bar, broken. Now that is fantastic. I love the continuity. And it felt perfect. The sisters need a break. They'll head home to Midvale for a break."

I'm thrilled!

I think it'll be a breather episode before the heavy stuff: the return of Mon-El, the transformation of Reign and the arrival of the Legion.

Anonymous said...

This episode was really good too. I must say Supergirl is on fire this season! And if all goes well it might even break the dctv curse of bad third seasons.

I am feeling like the theme of seeing Supergirl as a god and a messianic figure has been running throughout the five episodes. The camera angles are positioned as such- always a upward looking shot whenever she is saving someone. I dunno, it is just jumping out to me a bit.

Also, the ending of the episode tied in nicely with the ending of the last episode. In the last episode, Coville wholly depends in kara to save everyone and he doesn't save himself even when Kara repeatedly tells him to. Instead, Lena saves herself when Supergirl tells her to. It is like the proverb- God saves those who save themselves and Supergirl (a God) gave Lena the inspiration and faith to climb out. When no one believed in her, a god did and that God didn't want her to die. I maybe reading a lot into this, but this struck me a bit and I am reading those 'seeing Kara as a god' from these instances.

But I am superexcited (all puns intended) for the next episode. We get to see teenage Kara learning to use her powers and midvale looks beautiful from the promo. I am glad they changed the location from the beach to Pacific Northwest. Let's hope we can see some 'alien is new to earth' shenanigans.
Another thing which I also kinda want to see is Belinda the bully, we will be seeing her in the comics and I will probably hate her but it will be a nice continuity between the show and the comics.

Anonymous said...

Agree with. Anj, the whole "Alex wants to be a Mom" plotline is simply a graft to explain the cast change, if Maggie was still part of the plotline the whole "I wanna be a mom" thing wouldn't be touched on one bit. Overall it was a another strong acted ep (my ghod I think MB gets prettier every season she literally doesn't have a bad angle at all, I just wish she wasn't so "Hollywood Actress Skinny"), Sam & Kara make a fun pair of investigators in a Nancy-Drew-ish sort of a way. Nice super stunt at the end, the saved something very kewl for Supergirl to do, I appreciate that...and if this season seems to have stepped up a notch just remember that the Danvers sisters are now both single, that always makes them more interesting...:)

Anonymous said...

Hey Anj, great review as usual, and I have to say I liked this episode more than last week's. My personal nitpicks for
this ep, in no particular order :

- the Danvers Sisters Save at the beginning -- yes, it was the Danvers sisters working together so well, but on the other
the forced "you can't do anything with your super/speed/strength/etc." hostage threat grated my teeth. She's frickin'

- the Sanvers breakup -- agree the acting was spot on, but rather boatanchor pacing-wise between "the talk," to the Cindi
Lauper "All Through The Night" packing, to the final romp in the hay scene. I did like how Kara found Alex in the bar
after the breakup though... brings that bit full circle.

- Supergirl being forced to choose between the piece of the plane with the chemicals and the piece with Lena -- from a
Suspension Of Disbelief(TM) perspective, this from a girl who lifted a fullsize submarine in the season opener?! But hey,
TPTB needed the dramatics, so I'll just roll with it.

That being said, in addition to the kudos for the acting by everyone -- Lena especially with her "I'm thinking like a
Luthor" bit -- I had to like what TPTB have Jimmy doing so far this season... being a reporter / sounding board / friend
/ confidante. In hindsight, THIS is what they should have had him doing last season instead of Snapper taking the role.
Keep it up!

As for Edge... I think that's 1:1 now? Last time Supergirl got the last word when she left him on a ship in the middle
of the ocean with the warning "now you have all my attention!"... but he's right, Supergirl doesn't and shouldn't have to
take him down dirty, as much as a heatvision or fist thumping or "free trip to 10,000feet and dropping without a parachute"
treatment is WELL deserved by him. Personally I'd _LOVE_ to see the last one shown onscreen in this series, my inner geek
would SO love that!


KET said...

Not much to say that others haven't already mentioned....except, whoa, the drama was VERY intense this week! Seemed free of the usual Smith in-jokes, which was welcome. Acting ensemble delivered the goods, as usual.

Some responses:

"the whole "Alex wants to be a Mom" plotline is simply a graft to explain the cast change, if Maggie was still part of the plotline the whole "I wanna be a mom" thing wouldn't be touched on one bit."

Might not be. After seeing an in-depth interview with Chyler earlier today, it looks as if the Alex subplot is shifting into some territory that she has personal experience with, since she IS a mom, too. And my hint of where I believe this mom angle is going still stands, although it will likely be quite a number of episodes before the Ruby connection will kick in. After all, the relationship was initiated by Sam in the first episode of this season.

In regards to the Sanvers break-up sequences, they were handled quite well, and with warmth and passion....but also showed respect for each other's views even in the end. Sting used to sing, "If you love somebody, set them free", and that's the song I was thinking about afterwards instead of Cyndi Lauper.

"Also, the ending of the episode tied in nicely with the ending of the last episode. In the last episode, Coville wholly depends in kara to save everyone and he doesn't save himself even when Kara repeatedly tells him to. Instead, Lena saves herself when Supergirl tells her to. It is like the proverb- God saves those who save themselves and Supergirl (a God) gave Lena the inspiration and faith to climb out. When no one believed in her, a god did and that God didn't want her to die. I maybe reading a lot into this, but this struck me a bit and I am reading those 'seeing Kara as a god' from these instances."

Good catch; I saw this as well. After her refusal to be thought of as a god last week, Kara's plane save of Lena once again asserted Supergirl's godlike presence in the situation. And Lena, having fallen from grace into despair, had to climb up and seek self-redemption by grabbing her savior's hand. Very striking metaphorical imagery here, which is why the laws of physics didn't need to apply.

Morgan Edge seems hell-bent on taunting the ladies to join him down there, doesn't he? However, this attitude might cost him if and when he suddenly needs their help some day...such as with a being who maybe has no self-control. :)


Scrimmage said...

Aside from being a little TOO “on the nose” with all the “feminist empowerment” stuff, and the odd attempt to equate the lead contamination issue with the Flint, Michigan tainted water scandal, I was glad that this episode avoided the usual political rhetoric that always tend to bog down the show. Unfortunately, this episode also featured a horribly written, nearly incoherent plot, with absolutely no logic behind the actions driving the story.

It would've been SO much better, both dramatically, and in terms of character development, if Lena HAD been inadvertently responsible for the illness that afflicted the children. I thought the first half of the show, when all signs pointed to Lena's guilt, was extremely compelling, and it could've been a fascinating look at how these characters dealt with the unintended, negative consequences of their actions. Instead, the writers took the easy way out, letting Lena off the hook, and putting all the blame on – who else? - a MAN, who deliberately poisoned a swimming pool full of random children just to get revenge on a woman who beat him in a business deal.

How ridiculously convoluted is THAT? If that's the best “diabolical plan” that Morgan Edge can come up with, then he needs to turn in his Villain's Union membership card. The only thing stupider than his Plan A, was his Plan B, with the transport plane and the reservoir. This guy is a Real Estate developer, for cryin' out loud. What does he think poisoning the air and the water around town would do to his property values?

I can think of a dozen better ways that Edge could've gotten back at Lena that would be much less expensive, and FAR more satisfying, but Edge's kind of all-encompassing “evil just for the sake of it” with no real logic behind his actions makes it hard to take him very seriously. The writers seem to have forgotten that the best villains are multifaceted people, who rarely think of themselves as bad, and who have clear motivations driving their despicable acts. But on this show, they're writing Edge as a one-dimensional, mustache twirling, cartoon villain, who has more in common with Snidely Whiplash than Lex Luthor.

Overall, I thought we got some wonderful performances in this episode, especially from Lena and Kara, proving once again that a talented cast can overcome a mediocre script. I did enjoy the action sequences at the beginning and the end of the show, but the resolution to the whole story was much too tidy, and contrived. By next week, I'm sure no one will remember that the whole city was getting ready to lynch Lena, and she'll be everybody's favorite Luthor again.

I'm not even going to comment on the subplot about Alex and Maggie's break-up over the kid issue, other than to say that if Alex always wanted to be a mother, she picked a lousy profession for it, and she's been playing on the wrong team if she really wanted to make that happen. That seemed like it was part of a completely different show, and one that I have NO interest in watching, whatsoever. I can only hope this is the last time we'll have to deal with Alex's love life, or lack of one, at least for awhile. That stuff's been taking up WAY too much airtime that would've been better spent on other, more “super” storylines.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I don't see the problem with Edge as a MAN being the villain. After all, last year it was Lillian Luthor and Rhea who were the villains, two women.

I also think Edge probably knows what he is doing. Poison the water and land with your synthetic lead. Buy up the land when the market bottoms out. Detoxify it and sell it for a mint.

I thought this episode was very good. And yes, Lena climbing was a very metaphorical image. Well said!

Anonymous said...

Sanvers never really bothered me other than it seemed wildly improbable (in a show that deals in wild improbability ever single minute of it's broadcast) that Alex would decloset herself so quickly into her late twenties embark on a whirlgirl girl on girl affair with a more experienced partner and then get engaged to the same telescoped over roughly a nine month period..."too soapy" in other words.
The lack of any finesse or even patience in the way this was presented as a subplot stands in stark contrast to the myriad of ways the show has signaled that Alex also has a significant problem with alcohol abuse that no one else including her sister and her mother want to confront at the moment.

Martin Gray said...

Gosh, I’m so late to the party. But I brought drinks...

... is it a Britain vs America thing that I don’t see Alex as some kind of functioning alcoholic? So she likes a drink, and turns to it when depressed, have we actually seen her utterly squiffy, or on a bender, or destroying relationships? Would there be as much hoo-hah if a male DEO agent were shown as a hard drinker? Yes, Kara predicted she’d be at a bar if she broke up with Maggie, but that’s what a lot of people do, take a drink or five to dull the immediate pain. Then they realise it’s not the answer.

(And in case anyone wishes to jump to conclusions, I’m teetotal myself, allergic to the stuff!)

I like Lena so much, even if she doesn’t notice Kara is Supergirl, identical earrings and all. But that press conference was too much about her, not enough about the kids.

I’m sure I saw Chris Wood’s name at the start, but I never saw him in the show, unless there was a second of him in the recap I never noticed and he has the most amazing contract.