Thursday, June 14, 2018

Supergirl Episode 322: Make It Reign

The penultimate episode of Supergirl season three, titled 'Make it Reign' aired this week and it felt like things were sprinting to the end. There are a number of plotlines that need to be tied up before this is over. And, of course, we have the main villains, the Dark Kryptonian Witches of Juru and their agent Reign to deal with.

I have been trying to wrap my head around this season as a whole as we near the end. This mental exercise has given me a headache. Because there has been so much to love about this season. We got a flashback episode, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Argo City, a supervillain threat in Reign with a compelling back story, a ton of comic Easter eggs, and the wonderful theme of Kara needing to embrace her humanity and accept Earth as her home. Heck, we got Streaky! All of this has been wonderful.

But the counterbalance to that has been a Mon-El subplot which has been cringe worthy. I have never been hardcore anti-Mon but seeing he and Kara do this romantic dance knowing he is a married man is just horrible. And we have had to deal with a few episodes with politics delivered so heavily and clunky that the message went over like a lead balloon. There were times when Supergirl felt like a guest on her own show, saved by other people more than saving the day. And because of this, small things which shouldn't matter seem to magnify in my mind.

This episode moved the Reign plot forward, giving us a bit of an info dump, giving us an upcoming deus ex machina, and some unnecessary angst for a supporting character. I can only hope it all ties up nicely.

And I am trying to light a candle and curse the darkness in this up and down review.

On to the show.

We start with the three Dark Kryptonians landing on Earth and heading into their new Fortress of sanctuary. They are pleased the prophecy is unfolding.

They take the Harun-El to try to complete whatever spell they are trying to perform but on Earth, the Harun-El has become toxic. (We saw earlier that Supergirl seemed to get super-charged by the Harun-El, not weakened.) Luckily, Thomas Coville is there to be a willing participant in all they do.

I wondered if somehow Coville would be the one to become Reign given his interaction here. But that didn't happen.

I also wondered about this prophecy they mentioned. We haven't heard that word a lot this season. Maybe they just mean the coming of Reign.

On Argo, Kara, Mon-El, Alura and Thara head into Selena's room to look for clues about what is happening. Inside they discover an atlas of Earth and similar writings to what was in Coville's journal. It is instructions on creating world killers.

It is clear the Earth is in danger and the team needs to figure out a way to get word to the DEO.

Despite being separated from Reign, Sam is feeling ill. So whatever happened last week was not a cure.

It is clear that she needs to head back to Lena and Alex to figure out what to do.

There are some nice moments here of Sam talking to Ruby about now there won't be any secrets between them anymore.

I wonder if this is ongoing commentary about Kara keeping secrets from Lena and how that can only hurt the ones you love.

Back at the DEO, Alex is looking at adoption sites on-line. At first I was going to complain that this seemed ludicrous but as someone who often has Twitter open in the background at my desk, I guess I can't be a hypocrite.

Myr'nn and J'onn show up. The time has come for Myr'nn to let go of his life. He and J'onn will perform 'The Reach' and share memories.

This was a nice emotional scene which showed how deeply these characters have been developed. Myr'nn thanks Alex for being a good friend to J'onn and for always intuiting the feelings of others, like a green martian would. He then says that he realizes that home is not a place but living with those who love and honor you. Alex says she sees the dignity J'onn has in Myr'nn.

Myr'nn's words are powerful given the situation Kara is in. She is torn between Argo and Earth. But which is truly her home?

Back on Argo we get a bit of an info dump in Selena's apartment.

Thara discovers a scabbard with an inscription. Whoever wields the sword will bathe in the blood of the old world and reign with might over the new one. This would hold the Sword of Juru.

That seems to activate a Selena AI hologram who monologues a bit. Earth's culture has been deemed unworthy. Reign will make the Earth habitable for Kryptonians by terra-forming it. The cure of Reign was no cure at all but a needed step to strip away Sam's humanity.

Like most super-villains, Selena has rigged her speech with a bomb. Thara takes the brunt of the blast.

So there is a lot to unpack in this little speech. For one, the idea of terra-forming Earth sounds a bit too much like the Snyder Man of Steel movie for my taste. Second, why terraform it when you can live there now with the powers of a god? Third, what good is terraforming it if no Kryptonian can get there from Argo? I guess I can say that this is another layer on the 'what is home' theme. You can't force a place to be like your old home.

I also think this idea that the witches needed to remove Sam from Reign because of her humanity again resonates with the themes of being human. All along I thought Sam and Reign would need to fight for control and that it is Sam's humanity that would save the day.

In the DEO, Winn shows of his new invention, a force field belt, to his frenemy Deimos.

I am a bit irked by this as force field belts are a huge part of Brainiac 5's character within the Legion. I suppose when we see Brainy again, he might say that Winn's discoveries led to his future model. But still, why do this. (I know, only deeply entrenched comic fans will be questioning this, but that's who I am.)

Meanwhile, Sam's cells are mutating to Kryptonian ones. She is dying. Somehow, Ruby comes up with the plan that maybe yellow sun rays will cure her mother and the team decides to do that. Although, I would think that would only strengthen the Kryptonian side of things, killing the human side more.

Since Selena couldn't know Kara would be going to Argo, she must have been planning another way to get to Earth. Alura and Kara investigate Zor-El's old lab. There they discover a transmat portal that he was working on. It looks very similar to the other portals we have seen on the show. It could be the way to get back to Earth.

There are small touches that I love about this show that remind me of what I love about the character. Here, Kara says that she spent time with her dad in the lab and that he always included her in his thought process. She was a little scientist. That definitely is true of comic incarnations of Kara.

Coville is able to perform the spell like his followers did before, but this time in hopes of bring about a new Reign. Handling the Harun-El burns him but he hopes his suffering appeases the Dark Gods and bring about salvation from Yuda Kal. Amazing how he flipped from Rao worshipper to Yuda worshiper so quickly.

Unfortunately, the Reign being formed is incomplete. They need blood from Purity and Pestilence to create a whole being. That means they'll need to raid the DEO.

I love the inclusion of this sword as it pulled straight from the Mike Johnson/Mahmud Asrar Reign from the comics.

On Argo, Kara realizes that the sun crystals can be used to communicate with Earth. Kara activates the Alura AI in the DEO and speaks through it. She completely freaks out Winn. I wonder if Erica Durance tried to mimic Melissa Benoist's mannerisms. And I love that Winn doesn't believe at first it is Kara, asking her questions to prove she is who she says she is. (Everyone knows Streaky was Kara's first cat!) Again, a fun little scene which makes me like this show.

At the very least, the DEO know now that Reign is alive and wants to terraform the planet into a New Krypton. 

Talking with Winn later, Mon-El thinks he can boot the transmat portal open to get to Earth but it will fry itself. It is a one way trip. I guess that neatly solves the 'what is going to happen to Argo' plot. They'll become unreachable.

But Mon also talks about how he doesn't know if he can lose Kara again. Listen guy ... it has been seven years! You're married! Give it up. And Winn, instead of saying, 'dude you're married' instead says they should talk about it over drinks.

Then Alura says she can tell there is history between Kara and Mon. She hopes to hear about it in the future. Maybe she'll tell Kara not to be the mistress who breaks up a marriage.

I really dislike this subplot.

Throughout the show, we have seen Myr'nn and J'onn mindlinked using the Staff of Kolar from way back in episode three. All along I have said that we were going to see this powerful artifact again. It's like Chekov's gun.

These scenes were well done with Myr'nn's memories, both happy and traumatic, unfolding around J'onn. Great effects here.

I suppose that this also leans into the theme of Kara accepting Earth as home. There may be harsh memories, based out of her trauma, but they have made her who she is. And there are happy memories as well.

The yellow sun lamps aren't helping Sam.

And then the three witches fly into the DEO to try and get the blood.

There are some great action scenes here of them blasting away the infantry. We see Winn's belt deflect one set of heat vision. But that doesn't protect him from being tossed around. And then we see Alex head and get the cache of Kryptonite Lena gave the DEO and weaponize it. She shoots K-bullets and has it built into her new suit. Pretty badass. Only Alex would try to take on three Kryptonians on her own.

That said, the variable potency of Kryptonite sort of irked me here. Two witches were shot with K-bullets. That should put them down. Instead, they pick them out of the wounds and march on.

And now, the scenes that made me pause a bit. Like I said before, these are small quibbles but for some reason they stand out.

Through some trickery, Kara tricks one of the witches into activating the portal on the Earth side. Alura, now in her fighting togs, decides to join in. She, Kara, and Mon-El jump through the portal. Mon-El punches out the witch.

Seriously, it should have been Supergirl who punched her out! Give your star a moment! We have seen Alex and Mon-El fight these three. Not Supergirl!

Then Deimos, who has the Purity and Pestilence blood in his hands, heads to the main DEO area and tosses the samples to Kara. He is killed by a triple heat vision blast from all the revived witches, overcoming the force field belt Winn gave him. (Maybe he should have just destroyed the blood in bleach when he got them?)

Then Kara tosses the blood back to Selena, heat visioning the samples as the witch catches them. Seemingly defeated, the witches teleport away.

But why toss them to Selena to begin with? While a 'cool moment', it could (and will) fail to stop them. Just pour the blood onto the floor. Heat vision them in your own hand. Why give them to the witch?

Winn is overcome with grief. He thought he had protected Deimos but instead relying on the belt killed the agent. This seems like unnecessary angst to put on Winn. I also think it removes Deimos who could have been a fun side character, a frenemy of Winn, for us to see now and then.

Everyone gathers in the meeting room, including Sam and Lena. Sam is still dying.

We get another little info dump of completely new information. Perhaps Reign's powers don't derive from the yellow sun but from the 'Fountain of Lilith' in the Dark Valley of Juru. Perhaps sending Sam back to the valley and getting her into the fountain will cure her and maybe stop Reign. The only way to do that (as we know) if for Lena to electrocute her friend. But hard times lead to hard decisions.

Okay, all this Fountain of Lilith stuff is out of left field. And is the valley a 'real place' or some place in the mind? It isn't like Sam is teleported there. I guess I have to roll with this comic book science and sorcery.

There is another nice scene where Alura and Alex meet. I love how happy Kara is when she gets to see these two meet. Alex wonders if she saved Kara or if Kara saved her.

This is another small moment which just played out so well.

But the Dark Kryptonians are close to realizing their goal. The blood Kara heat visioned in Selena's hand is still there, just dried. She spills it onto the fetal Reign and suddenly the world killer is reborn.

Outliving his usefulness now that Reign is alive, Thomas Coville is killed by heat vision.

And then, grasping the Sword of Juru, Reign dives into what must be the evil version of an atomic cauldron and speeds to the center of the Earth.

By piercing the center of the Earth, Reign will start a genesis wave, turning Earth into New Krypton!

Seriously! An atomic cauldron on live action television! These are special times!

Sam is shocked and finds herself in the Dark Valley.

Meanwhile, the Earth literally begins to shake apart. This interrupts The Reach. J'onn and Myr'nn head to the DEO. Mon-El says this is like a genesis event like they do on Zuun (Timber Wolf's home planet). It will take hours to complete. They must stop Reign.

Then, in the most comic book-y thing I have heard, Myr'nn says that he needs to go to the heart of the planet, shapeshift and merge with Earth. He can save the planet that way. Hmmm ... okay. That's a lot to swallow in such a quick time. Moreover, even if true, do you want the violently demented Martian to fuse with the soul of the planet??

It all comes down to the final battle.

So some ups; some downs. My guess would be if the Mon-El romance wasn't hanging over this season like a pall, I might have loved this episode.

What did you all think?


Anonymous said...

"But the counterbalance to that has been a Mon-El subplot which has been cringe worthy. I have never been hardcore anti-Mon but seeing he and Kara do this romantic dance knowing he is a married man is just horrible. And we have had to deal with a few episodes with politics delivered so heavily and clunky that the message went over like a lead balloon. There were times when Supergirl felt like a guest on her own show, saved by other people more than saving the day. And because of this, small things which shouldn't matter seem to magnify in my mind."

Succintly and accurately put. There's been good and bad things.

I was never a Mon-El hater but I'm sick of that particular subplot. Rumor has the final episode will kill Karamel for good and Brainiac will be a regular in the next season. Let's hope so, and it isn't because of my KaraDox shipping but because I'm tired of the Karamel drama.

"That said, the variable potency of Kryptonite sort of irked me here. Two witches were shot with K-bullets. That should put them down. Instead, they pick them out of the wounds and march on."

My guess? The writers are trying to give the "Lena's right!" crowd ammo. Some of them were claiming the finale would prove Lena was right to make Kryptonite.

KET said...

A few replies, and then an ending comment:

"I am a bit irked by this as force field belts are a huge part of Brainiac 5's character within the Legion."

Probably shouldn't be; seems like foreshadowing for a "Stronger Together" creation solution between Winn and Brainiac Five. Eventually persuading the two techno-geek characters into teaming up seems to have been the show's plan for several episodes now.

"But why toss them to Selena to begin with? While a 'cool moment', it could (and will) fail to stop them. Just pour the blood onto the floor. Heat vision them in your own hand. Why give them to the witch?"

I noticed that Kara looked to her mother briefly before taking action. Alura nodded back. So perhaps Kara's mom still has a few unsaid ideas on how to defeat the witches...after all, she allegedly was one who had banished the dark magicks from Krypton before its explosion. Kara merely took after her mother's cue.

"Okay, all this Fountain of Lilith stuff is out of left field. And is the valley a 'real place' or some place in the mind?"

Seems like a mental playing field instead of a physical one. I'm recalling viewing one of those BTS pics taken of next week's finale, there's an in-joke on a CatCo Magazine advertisement in the background of the shot...the cover blurb proclaims that it's a "dream season". :)

"But Mon also talks about how he doesn't know if he can lose Kara again. Listen guy ... it has been seven years!..."

...or seven hours, or seven minutes...time does tend to be a very fluid and flexible variable, depending on how a story unfolds. The idea that Mon-El is married in one future timeline might no longer apply, if said time is somehow altered by changed events in the past.

Oh, and I suspect that the series has been building up to provide an answer to a notorious moment which occurred in Man of Steel...just sayin'...


Red Forever said...

I was far more irked that they didn't make Carl and Harewood put the make-ups during the Reach but the shots of them as martians in the memories is enough to give it a pass. The whole thing was just way too earthly and pdestrian than a supernatural and enlightening meeting of the minds and memory transfering, like an alien buddhist meditation session. And it confirmed how the show is unfortunately running on fumes as far as budget goes(why though?).

The scene where the wicked witches of Krypton lasered everyone in the face was so tame it was kinda underwhelming. Not even clever camera tricks to imply decapitation via laser etc Not even Deimos' death is shown to be brutal.

Hope the finale will have some budget saved and uses it all there.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say I'm a little sick of seeing Supergirl get whupped episode after episode, I GET IT, Reign is physically stronger....I hope Berlanti et al remember the cardinal virtue of "Karatharsis" next week...alas I have my doubts.
The "Krypton-forming" sequence seems to suggest that the "Kryptonian Coven" is trying to set off a controlled version of Krypton's Destruction" one that will entirely wipe out the human-race and permit the Juru cultists an expunged planet to colonize. That seems to be the limit of their planet "New Krypton" is merely Earth with it's original inhabitants annihilated.
But I agree it was addressed in a clunky fashion.
I wonder if this means Allura will be stranded on Earth after this season? Will she be able to bond with her daughter again, or will Kara get sick of having her around? :) Maybe Allura could join Eliza's "Book Club" which might make a cute sequence for cameos from Faye Dunaway (who is still taking phonecalls) and Brenda Vaccaro.


Scrimmage said...

The problem with this episode is that it felt as if the writers were trying to cram too many storylines into the season finale, which didn't give them enough time to develop any of them properly. On top of all that, the actions and motivations for many of the characters, mostly the bad guys, didn't make any sense.

I didn't get why Zod wanted to terraform the Earth in “Man Of Steel,” and I don't get why these witches want to do it either. Not only is it a ripoff, it's totally illogical. It's not as if they have the entire population of Krypton waiting to move in. Why don't they just terraform Rhode Island? They could easily fit every Last Son and Daughter of Krypton from Argo City into a suburb of Providence, and nobody would have to die.

Turning this a world-wide event was a big mistake. It makes it all too big and too important for Kara to handle on her own, ESPECIALLY when we're talking about three “Dark Kryptonians” who not only have super powers, but also MAGIC on their side. There's no way Superman wouldn't be in on this, whether Kara asked for his help, or not.

Now if the DK's “evil plan” was simply to bring Argo City down on top of National City, THEN I could understand it if Supergirl treated it like it was her responsibility. It would be a symbolic clash between Kara's old hometown, and the city she adopted, and it could put Kara in a difficult position of having to choose between them. That would've been a much better story than another round of Evil Kryptonians trying to destroy humanity... AGAIN! People are going to lose patience with Supergirl if her relatives keep showing up uninvited, and making a mess of things.

The raid on the DEO to get the blood of the Worldkillers was another contrived bit that served as an excuse for some action, but made little sense. The Witches could've gotten in and out of there using super-speed before Winn could think of a snarky quip. It's not as if the blood was protected, or anything. I also don't care HOW strong Alex's armor is supposed to make her. She shouldn't be able to bowl over a Kryptonian with a few MMA moves. If it was THAT easy to match their strength with an exoskeleton, Luthor would've beaten Superman YEARS ago. That suit should give Alex superHUMAN strength, NOT superKRYPTONIAN power.

And on a shallow note, I just can't reconcile the idea of Alex wearing body armor and huge false eyelashes. There's some kind of a disconnect about that for me. Is she a kick ass, alien hunting soldier, or a weepy girly-girl, searching adoption sites on company time? Either way, I just want Alex to be portrayed more consistently. After being separated from Reign, Sam wasn't overly made up, which made the contrast between her, and Reign, with the dark, “goth” makeup even more pronounced. False eyelashes just don't go with Kryptonite gauntlets. And I can't help but wonder if Kara would approve of her sister's lethal-only-to-Kryptonians upgrades to her suits capabilities? So much for a “kinder and gentler” DEO.

Nutation said...

Definitely both good and bad in this episode, though nothing like the cringe-inducing political lecture from last week.

Deimos was not treated well. First, with Alex battling a Kryptonian, he did nothing. We've seen plenty of DEO agents try to fight them even without a super-suit (itself a bad idea), and that kryptonite gun was lying on the floor at one point. Second, he (and everyone else) didn't destroy the blood samples immediately. Third, he should have been fighting when he was so brutally killed. Deimos should have been more active all-around in his final episode.

I did not see any Kara mannerisms in Erica as the Alura hologram, but there must have been something - Alex accepted her immediately without any silly test questions.

Force field belt? They have been so good at using existing continuity properly, but this was an error. Brainy had better produce a much better model next episode.

I thought the scene with Myr'nn and J'onn was very well done. Two fine actors and a bit of scenery was enough. Though I was expecting the Reach to pull memories from Myr'nn so that he became increasingly forgetful. J'onn had made the ceremony sound like a drastic and final choice. Maybe, culturally, it is.

I could get to like super-Alura, but it would probably be bad to have yet another Kryptonian around for the writers to deal with. As it is,they didn't even mention Superman this episode (or in most emergencies). Send her back to Argo City?

Scrimmage said...

A few other problematic observations...

Yes, tossing the blood to Selena was stupid. If Supergirl had done anything other than that, the Witches' plans would've been thwarted.

Since when is RUBY(??!!) of all people, calling the shots for her mom's medical treatment? It's bad enough that she's even allowed to roam freely around the DEO, but now she's coming up with “brilliant ideas” that never occurred to Alex, Winn, and Lena? GMAFB!!

Since when did heat vision become a kinetic weapon? Instead of incinerating people, it looked like they were being hit with a shotgun blast, from the way they were flying backwards. Again, I'm just looking for some consistency.

When the Alura hologram faked out the old witch, why didn't her super powered punch destroy the control panel, instead of just turning it on? That was just silly, and YES, Supergirl should've been the first one through the portal, and yes, SHE should've been the one to clock the “Stupid Witch.” It seemed rather unchivalrous for Mon-El to punch a woman, and an elderly one, at that.

There were far too many head shaking, "WTF?" moments in this episode for me to suspend my disbelief enough to get into the story. I hope the season finale is better written, more dramatic, and a LOT less contrived, but then, I'm an optimist.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments!!

Seems like everyone agrees there were ups and downs to this episode.

It did feel a bit cramped. But the force field/Winn plot could have been dropped without a hitch leaving more time for other plots.

Will it all wrap up? See you next week!

Mary said...

While I loved finally seeing Kara introducing her mother and Alex to each other, it was way too short. These two are the most important women in Kara's life and the intro was over and done in a short few seconds. And also done way to close to where Lena and Sam are.

Anonymous said...

Are we certain Coville is dead? I wasn't convinced by that short blast.

I hold on to a sliver of hope for a Coville redemption. I loved his character before he went dark.

Anj said...

Agreed I’d love more Alura/Alex.

And I hope Coville is dead.

Scrimmage said...

My favorite parts of this episode were the scenes between J'onn and Myr'nn, and the depiction of “The Reach” ritual. This subplot deserved a LOT more time than it received. It got me thinking about the elegant concept of Martian virtual immortality, living in the hearts and minds of your descendants, as a means to preserve both a family's history AND the culture of an entire civilization. It's very reminiscent of a similar ancestral awareness concept in Frank Herbert's incredible “Dune” series.

I was also thinking about what should happen to Myr'nn AFTER the process is complete, and he has uploaded all of his memories, and all those of his ancestors, into his son, J'onn. I was thinking that once Myr'nn is reduced to being an “empty vessel,” that a fitting and beautiful Martian death would be if he uses his powers one last time to slowly become invisible, and intangible at the same time, until there was nothing left of him. If I was a Martian, that's how I'D want to go.

Instead, it looks like Myr'nn will sacrifice himself deep in the Earth's core, merging with the planet itself, which is not quite as peaceful of an ending as I might've liked, but it's still the kind of honorable death the Martian Manfather would've wished for himself.

If this really IS the end for Myr'nn, I'm really going to miss him. He's truly the embodiment of a "Stranger In A Strange Land."