Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Supergirl Episode 412: Menagerie

Supergirl episode #412, titled Menagerie, aired this week and overall was a very solid episode. Every plot that has been percolating this season was moved forward. Every character had strong moments. This was mostly an Alex episode and that was needed given that her brain has been made into a frappe in recent times. We needed to know that *our* Alex was still in there somewhere. We even got a new villain! So I was overall pleased with this one.

That said, there were two moments in this episode that will stick out in my mind and neither are good. One is a terrible continuity gaffe for anyone who has watched this show since its inception. The other is an unintentional 'laugh out loud' moment about a plot twist which has irked me since it started. And both involve Alex's mind wipe to some extent. I am sorry, I can't align myself with any universe where that was a wise decision.

Still, we get Dreamer. We get Agent Liberty. We get a proactive Brainy. And we get a lot of Kara and Alex, something which I think elevates the show every time we see it. In fact, we got so much good Danvers stuff that it was only on the second watch that I realized we only see Supergirl in costume in one scene at the end.

I know. I shouldn't curse the darkness. I should light a candle.

Let's accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

The opening shot is a jewel thief couple driving away with their ill-gotten booty when the are distracted by a flaming meteor/ship overhead. Driving off the road, the woman investigates. Out of the wreckage slithers a giant snake which flies at her.

I couldn't help get a little whiff of Superman's origin from this. After all, it was Kal's rocket which had Ma and Pa drive off the road. But he was a wee bairn ... not an ophidian symbiote.

In the light of day, the Danvers sisters visit J'onn's office to drop off his Valentine's Day gift. According to Alex, this is the first time she has seen it. Ah yes ... the mind wipe raises its ugly head. Her brain must be oatmeal.

But during this visit, both sisters divulge reasons why they are personally unhappy. Alex has let her career overtake all her personal hopes. She hasn't taken advantage of the 'stable' role of DEO director to find someone special or applying for adoption.

After Alex leaves, Kara says that she is unhappy because she misses Alex. They don't work together any more. Their relationship is diminished.

At the very least I was thrilled that Alex mentioned all her goals. We haven't seen much of them this year. And that growth was a big part of her arc last year. Amazing she can remember those goals. The mind wipe hasn't erased them.

Brainy arrives at Nia's house.

He wants to train her and his computer mind says she is 87,4% likely to be ready.

But she is still mourning her mother's death and reeling from her sister's reaction. She just isn't ready.

I love how he advises her to compartmentalize her grief the way he has structured his mind. She tells him that isn't very healthy and he snaps that it could be.

Jesse Rath has been killing it as Brainy and this interaction is no different. He is awkward and about as subtle as a bull in a china shop. But she doesn't mind. In fact, she asks him to attend her Valentine's day party as her date.

Look, I will ship Kara and Brainy all the time. These two are cute together. But this isn't my one true pair.

We also get a peek at Ben Lockwood. He is still in prison but his followers have grown. There are still protests around the country.

Ben further radicalizes his son, telling him to become a man of action and defend the world. He should become the man his grandfather would want him to be. It is a nice call back to show just how far Ben has come. He didn't agree with his father at first. Now he is preaching those ways. And this timid kid has bought in.

Alex had been called away to examine the car wreck from the opening scene. The woman is gone. But the man is there ... missing his heart. The wound is sealed cleanly, no blood anywhere. Colonel Haley repeats her weekly dialogue. The DEO needs to keep this story out of the news. The President is unhappy.

At least we learn she has a daughter. I wonder if that will be the ultimate hook to warm her. I still see a redemption arc for Haley.

Back at the DEO Brainy surmises the alien is a snake-like creature. And, oh by the way, he has a fear of snakes. I don't know where that came from. There is no comic history behind it. And you would think someone as logical as him wouldn't have simple phobias as that.

J'onn arrives at CatCo to enlist Kara's help on a case. The Director of Alien Affairs, the author of the Alien Amnesty Act, has gone missing. His wife wonders if he is the victim of a hate crime. Figuring CatCo could do some digging for him, J'onn asks Kara for help. And then, he goes one more step. As it involves alien, maybe Alex can join in, an attempted healing of the Danvers split.

Not a bad idea J'onn.

I did chuckle when J'onn notices the new layout of CatCo. It almost looks like an actual newsroom! Too funny. Because I don't know if CatCo is a new agency, a magazine, a newspaper, or all things communication.

And I love that it actually makes Kara be an investigative reporter, a side of her we don't see enough on this show.

Remember, this is the Valentine's Day episode.

James gives Lena her gift, a photo he took of her while she was sleeping. Then he says this is how he sees her, without all the world around them, the time when she is perfect.

I don't know about you ... but it skews to the creepy for me. I felt my skin crawl a little.

But he knows Lena. She loves it and says that she will fly them to Paris for an impromptu romantic getaway!

This James/Lena thing has never really worked. Not much chemistry.

Now maybe you thought the 'CatCo IS a newsroom' comment was one of my two weird moments. Or maybe you thought James' off-putting gift was one of the two moments that struck me as wrong. But neither of those made the cut.

It was this one.

Brainy is distracted, trying to buy a Valentine's Day gift for Nia. He asks Alex for advice. She tells him she hates Valentine's Day.

Ummm ... no.

We know she LOOOOVVESS Valentine's Day. There was a whole episode about it. She tried to warm up Maggie to it. She loved Eliza's cards. She loved it all!

This is a clear break in continuity. With one line ... like 'since Maggie I have a hard time with it' ... I would have let it pass. I suppose this could also be a mind-wipe effect. But this was way off for me. It was so jarring it took me out of the episode.

That said, after some advice that he should just buy a gift that represents his feel, the two get back to the case. The heart-eating alien has struck again. And at every crime scene, all the jewelry is missing. There is a pattern.

The new alien serial killer does make the news. It gives Ben Lockwood's son the moment he needs.

He posts a video to the Children of Liberty. They need to rise up. They need to kill this alien threat. And it needs to be clear that it is their group that are the heroes.

Later, back the the prison, Ben reinforces that point. The people need to know it is the Liberty group that is defending them against these threats.

J'onn and Kara's investigation leads them to a new understanding. The Director wasn't a victim of a hate crime. He was having an affair with a diamond importer. When they go to her house, they discover them both dead, both with their hearts missing.

Shortly thereafter, the DEO arrive. They deduced she would be the next hit because of the jewelry connection. Of course, Alex doesn't like Kara being at a crime scene. It isn't safe.

Kara has to fake her way through staying by saying she isn't shocked by the findings. And she has to secretly use her x-ray vision to uncover some clues. It is awkward and strange. Thanks mind wipe!

I did find it funny that Kara wouldn't use her xray vision when they first arrived because she was too afraid she'd find the couple getting it on. Ha!

With a clue in hand, Alex, J'onn, and Kara head to Nia's party to find Brainy.

While there, Alex runs into someone she casually dated named Becca. Becca seems very likeable, supportive of Alex's hope of being a mother and wanting to catch up. But Alex can barely remember her name. More Mind wiping nonsense?

While everyone is partying though, Nia is alone in her room. This leads to some old fashioned Kara advice.

Nia wants to honor her mother. She wants to dream and be a hero. But her sister's response is still too painful. For once, Kara gets to be the voice of experience. She held herself back too long in the past. No one should force you to not reach for your destiny. When the time is right for Nia, Kara will be there.

The clue from the crime scene, a sample of venom, showed that the alien had killed Pamela Ferrer. Imagine the team's surprise to head to Ferrer's apartment and find her alive, kicking, and fused with the alien. Now calling herself Menargerie, they attack.

It is an interesting fight. Brainy is clinging to the ceiling, scared witless of snakes. J'onn is wrapped up in smaller snakes she can seemingly spit out at will. And Kara has to pretend to be helpless. She even has to do the 'fake sneeze' trick again to blow some away.

Ultimately, the main snake tries to bite Kara and is hurt, forcing a retreat.

Here Alex lays her main problem on the line. She can't believe she let her sister be in this war zone. Kara's protection has always been her number one priority. Perhaps this is what is holding her back from her own life.

Earlier in the show, Col. Haley asked Lena to share her superhuman research with the government.

On the way to Paris, Lena tells James this and he says he can't back her. The government will weaponize the 'cure'. He can't stand by her if she makes that decision. He knows she is better than that.

Lena is angry at his judging her and kicks him out of the car. I guess we are step closer to full Luthor.

Umm, wasn't it Lena who asked James to be her conscience a couple of episodes ago. Now that he does it, she dumps him. Hmmm ... not exactly a great take on Lena.

Now you might think Lena taking a 180 on asking for James advice might be the second moment that stuck out. But Luthors are unpredictable.

No, it was this moment when J'onn and Kara realize that the mindwipe is really effecting Alex for the worse. J'onn says 'I feel like this mind wipe has hurt our family in ways we didn't intend.'

Ummm ... DUH!

This was unintentionally hilarious. I actually laughed out loud when he said it.

Of course some lifetime mindwipe is going to have unintended consequences!!
Kara and Jonn – realizes she is what is holding Alex back.

Okay, somehow the Children of Liberty figure out Ferrer is the killer. They track her back to her apartment where she has returned and killed the DEO guards staked there.

Needing more capital (and jewels), Menagerie heads to a local high-priced charity event. It is the fight of four armies as Menagerie, the Children of Liberty, the DEO, and Supergirl all converge.

In the only Supergirl scene, our hero scoops Menagerie up and tosses her from the penthouse party. When Menageriee gets the upper hand, a fifth contingent arrives. It is Nia, dressed as Dreamer. She helps Supergirl rid herself of the pesky snakes.

I do like how in battle Supergirl says that she protects everyone.
I don't like that somehow this snake has enough constricting power to immobilize and choke her.

And it is nice to see Nia don the costume and join in.

The truth is the battle is chaos with the DEO having to protect the Children of Liberty more than fight Menagerie. Still, after Supergirl blasts Menagerie with her superbreath, it is the younger Lockwood who ends the battle, beheading the main snake.

He declares the Children of Liberty as the true heroes, the ones who saved humans, something Supergirl couldn't do. And the DEO, led by Haley, let them take the glory. It is that or let Supergirl be deemed the hero, something they are loath to do.

There's nothing left but the wrap up.

Supergirl says she is glad Nia is joining the fight but she needs better control of her powers.

Nia in turn asks Brainy for help.

Back at Kara's, Alex confesses that she realizes that it is her compulsion to protect everyone else that has led her to not protect her own interests.

It is time for Alex to let some people protect themselves. She will try to proceed with her desires too.

There are some nice flourishes in the scene. I am pretty sure Kara is watching an old version of Count of Monte Cristo. And I like how she has to rush to put her glasses on when Alex arrives.

But the real wrap up are rapid fire looks at the villains.

Lena says yes to working with the government.

The President releases Ben Lockwood because the anti-terrorist laws only talk of protecting humans. Lockwood has technically not committed a crime. He leaves the prison to cheers and signs like 'Make Earth Human Again'. Hmmm ...

And Ferrer? It turns out the Menagerie snake isn't truly dead and still inside her. From within the prison she gets a letter from Manchester Black. Hello Elite!

Okay, I have jabbed at this episode a lot. But for some reason the sum is more than its parts. I thought this was a good episode. Outside of Alex now hating Valentines and J'onn realizing the mind wipe was a bad idea, the rest I could sort of roll with.

What did you guys think?


Anonymous said...

Once again, the wonky writing just seems to reveal the disdain the writers have for conservatives, libertarians and old school liberals who do not think like their progressive/globalist selves and are thus thrown to the side and/or bullied.

Those in the Earth First movement are done in a way to make America First supporters into racists. Excuse me, it's THE LEFT WING that hate America and want it to fall to the elite (and I don't mean Manchester Black), namely billionaires like Soros, The Koch Brothers, Tom Steyer and globalist cabals that many on the left and far far right call conspiracy theories (Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Club of Rome).

It's clear the material being used is taken from what the writers get from the corporate globalist media and its agenda, including Canadian state run and corporate media like CBC, CTV, Rogers, The Vancouver Sun, stc.

Well, OT, CBS news reporter Lara Logan on a podcast described media as a mostly left-wing and partisan Democrat news landscape in the U.S. and abroad. Lara has now become the latest female journalist daring to speak the truth; like former CBS reporter Sharyl Atkisson or Laura Loomer, who has become more of a guerilla tactics journalist.

These are women Kara Danvers should look up to, not a bunch of paid government operatives like Rachel Maddow, Dana Bash or even some women at Fox News (Arthel Neville, Julie Banderas, Dana Perino).

Just search on YouTube "Lara Logan Mike Drop podcast Mike Ritland."

While I found Menagerie a decent villain, the heavy handed NWO/leftist politics turned it all into "MEH."

Supergirl got its 5th season. If it doesn't turn off...not tone down...BUT TURN OFF the left-wing fueled hate...IT WILL BE ITS LAST!

Anj said...

I won’t break down the specifics of your comment.

All I can say is u like your premise, I think that the show seems to be going out of its way to show both sides of these issues this year, much more than prior seasons.

But please, comment on the show only.

Anonymous said...

Well, that was certainly an interesting comment, though it could have used perhaps a tad less spittle-flecked jowl quivering outrage. Love the design of the tin-foil hat though!

Anonymous said...

"corporate globalist media"

lol get bent

Anonymous said...

Well, to comment about JUST the show, my immediate impression is "they made me wait two weeks just to show this?"
I agree with you Anj, great character and interpersonal moments overall -- Danvers sister moments, the Danvers
sisters and J'onn, Brainy, Nia -- and we get more world / character building in the form of Menagerie. Just
remember kids, the quickest way to ANYONE'S heart is an alien like that! LOL :D

That being said, a couple weaker points I found :

a) the ongoing mindwiped Alex. I get it from a plotting perspective, but it's one of those annoying "will they / won't
they" things. J'onn's line about what it's done to their family is about a subtle as the whole brick factory dumped
on your front lawn this probably wasn't one of the better ideas TPTB had this season, never mind its sustainability.

b) Lena / Jimmy breakup, and Col Haley's contract offer. Oh great, ANOTHER brick in the pile of Lena Going Dark
reasons. I've said before and I'll say it again -- and feel free to disagree with me -- that Lena SHOULD NOT go
dark/evil. Heck, I could get behind a "I'm not your enemy, but neither am I your friend, Supergirl" portrayal,
but quite frankly, between her own mother / Brenda Strong and Jon Cryer's upcoming Lex appearance, 3 evil Luthors
in a set isn't very interesting I think, and diminishes from the unique perspective Lena's brought to the table
the last couple years.

c) Kara's comment to J'onn "I can't use my Xray vision" while the two were working together. HUH?! I don't think
the diamond importer's house is leadlined, is it?

d) Lockwood's son somehow getting into the old Lockwood steel mill, never mind moving the Agent Liberty safe FROM
his family's house to the steel mill. For me, that was the biggest point that broke my suspension of disbelief.

Overall, I'm glad to have Supergirl back, but some of the clunkier elements this episode kept me from fully enjoying
the return of our favorite superheroine after the hiatus. Still looking forward to Cryer's Luthor portrayal, and
I still wonder how they will resolve the CoL and Red Daughter plotlines. Neither can or should be wrapped up in
a pretty bow / "Happily Ever After" type ending that's for sure, but we'll see how TPTB go with things.

> I don't know about you ... but it skews to the creepy for me. I felt my skin crawl a little.

Speaking from an artistic perspective, I think it speaks volumes to Jimmy's photographic abilities being able to
capture a side of Lena she normally doesn't show. Or one she only shows only VERY unique circumstances and/or
select people.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments and observations!

I think Kara didn't want to use her xray vision in case the guy was having sex with his mistress.

Thanks for point on the photo. I know I would feel weirded out if someone was taking pics of me while I was sleeping. But I also knew that just might be me. Thanks for your perspective!

Anonymous said...

> I think Kara didn't want to use her xray vision in case the guy was having sex with his mistress.

HAHAHAH! Good point about that, Anj.


KET said...

Some replies:

"I don't know where that came from. There is no comic history behind it."

But there's certainly movie history...Brainy got his snake phobia from watching Indiana Jones flicks too many times.

"Umm, wasn't it Lena who asked James to be her conscience a couple of episodes ago. Now that he does it, she dumps him. Hmmm ... not exactly a great take on Lena."

It's not supposed to be. The Lena & James relationship was always going to operate like a see-saw at times, due to personal insecurities from both of them. However, Lena has had a habit of isolating herself from others when she's about to abandon her ethical sense. We saw this with her experiments on Reign/Samantha last season. Lena also nearly got herself killed when she suddenly went rogue after Morgan Edge. So Lena's growing self-isolation is really a carryover from last season...although the pattern is getting more noticeable now.

"He asks Alex for advice. She tells him she hates Valentine's Day.

Ummm ... no."

...except that Maggie is long gone, and as by extension, so is Alex's former love for Valentine's Day. One of the consistent fearful things about humanity is in clinging to self-denial when one is suddenly put on the spot. Of COURSE, we viewers know that Alex used to love everything about the heart holiday, which was also the point of her forgetting to follow-up on subsequent dates with others...and also using Kara as a constant crutch to not explore new self-interests outside of the DEO. Seems like Alex and Kara may finally be stepping up to growing out of their symbiotic sisterhood relationship a bit more.


Scrimmage said...

A story is only as good as its villain, and unfortunately, this episode's “baddie-of-the-week,” a jewel thief with a heart eating, snake spewing, alien symbiote as her partner in crime, wasn't up to the task. “Menagerie” didn't pose much of a threat to Supergirl, which was made painfully clear when she was knocked out by a girl with a sleep disorder, and later, incapacitated by a teenage boy with a machete! As we saw, that was only a temporary solution, but she's fortunate that young George Lockwood, the LITERAL “Child of (Agent) Liberty” didn't chop off her HUMAN head as well. After all, she WAS responsible for the grisly murders of at least a dozen people.

Once again, the writers had to depower Supergirl in order to make her showdown with Menagerie an even fight, but it should've never come CLOSE to being a contest. I mean, C'MON! Supergirl vs SNAKES?? Puh-LEASE! It was bad enough when the Snakehead spit out little crawlies that tried to choke Supergirl, but when she got blinded by Alien Snake Venom, I just shook my head, and wondered “What part of INVULNERABLE don't these writers understand?” You can't MACE Supergirl!

The real disconnect here is that once again, we have a hostile alien coming to Earth uninvited, and attacking and killing innocent human beings, and yet the humans who want to organize for their own mutual protection, and to fight back against EXACTLY this kind of invasion, are demonized even MORE than the inhuman alien who instigated this conflict. I can see why the cause of the Children of Liberty is growing more popular, and attracting new followers every day. Clearly, there are a LOT of aliens showing up on Earth who DON'T “come in peace,” and who have no interest whatsoever in coexisting with humans, yet apparently, they are ALL allowed to come to America because of some misguided, ill-advised legislation called the “Alien Amnesty Act.” The government seems to be more focused on playing politics with the “alien issue” than on protecting its citizens. (Where have I heard THAT before?)

Clearly, the government and the DEO are not the solution to the problem. I wonder if some of the other countries around the world are as welcoming to aliens as they seem to be in National City, which has apparently become some kind of Extraterrestrial Sanctuary City. I seriously doubt if the Russian Supergirl's masters have an open border policy when it comes to strange visitors from other planets.

Scrimmage said...

Speaking of strange...

Brainy is a treat to watch! His hilarious discomfort at Nia's Valentine's Party made it obvious that he really IS a “Stranger In A Strange Land.” I can grok that. I also like J'onn's new, super plush digs, and his new gig as a private investigator on the ET beat. We need to see a LOT more of the Martian man hunting.

On the other hand, I'm bored with James and Lena's on again / off again relationship. They're following the same pattern we saw with Alex and Maggie, where they would alternate breaking up (over some contrived conflict or misunderstanding), and making up every other week. The problem, of course, is James. I can't imagine why someone like Lena would find herself attracted to a pompous, self-righteous, anti-military, fourth rate Batman wannabe like him. She could do SO much better. I'm glad she dumped him, but I'll be shocked if it lasts beyond next week.

I'm also tired of watching Alex whine about trying to balance her private life with her professional one. That is SO last season! As a tiny, green Jedi Master once famously said, “Do or do not. There IS no try.” The only good thing about Alex, and this silly mind wiping plot device, is that it gives us an opportunity to watch Kara go to great lengths to hide her Secret Identity from her sister. Now THAT'S a way to put some limitations on Supergirl's ability to use her powers that actually makes some sense!

Finally, on a slightly picky note, the alien's spacecraft was originally mistaken for “an asteroid,” but any asteroid that breaches the Earth's atmosphere is called a meteor. It would've been more scientifically accurate if they had referred to it as a meteorite – a meteor that has fallen to Earth.

Anj said...

It’s interesting.

I think the show, if anything, has really focused on showing why ‘normal humans’ are so afraid of aliens. In fact, that aspect of the show has irked the folks on the left. By having so many aliens be the ‘villains of the week’, they aren’t shying away from that.

There are some who think the show hasn’t focused enough on the plight of humans and are demonizing the Children Of Liberty and their cause. I think it isn’t their defeating Menagerie that is bothersome. I think it is their beating up peaceful aliens at a funeral that is the loathsome behavior. But this portrayal has irked some on the right.

As for me, I think the show has done a decent job of showing that some aliens are pretty evil, just like some humans are. “Not all humans.” “Not all aliens.” I am sure I am opening myself up to attack here, but I never quite understood why “Not all” arguments enrage people. No group should be painted with a single brush.

We need to focus on the criminal element of all beings on Earth and protect all the innocent beings.

Again, it isn’t easy. Just look at real news to see the problems played out.

I guess we should applaud a superhero show for trying to tackle this problem.

Anonymous said...

Alex's sudden turn against a hearts and flowers Valentine's Day seems symptomatic of the "collateral damage" induced by J'onn's mind wipe, OR IT WOULD BE If...the writer's were willing to play with that notion, otherwise it's simply "this week's clunkiness".
Y'know I'm gonna throw out the counter intuitive notion that with a team build around Brainiac Five, Dreamer, J'onn with Kara as "Legacy Leader", there is almost no need for the DEO or...Alex. Its a stronger collection of characters and players with excellent asymmetrical powers and potential storylines.
So this being Supergirl we can expect that team to be scatters to the four winds by May...:)
Anyhoo...I guess somewhere up there ten or eleven posts ago, someone is fulminating against the show's alleged politics in terms most diresome. All I can say is, none of it is any more politicized than the average episode of "The Twilight Zone" and its several notches below the Claremont-Byrne run on "The X-Men"...
But I'm not gonna argue with people's grievances thats a fool's game.

Oh and "Agent Libert Jr"...slashing away at an injured opponent when they are down on the ground no less?...."class all the way" as we say in my neighborhood.


Nutation said...

The argument between Lena and James in the car felt rushed to me, as though it was originally longer and some lines got cut. James didn't insult Lena in the dialog as presented; if anything, he was urging her in a complimentary way to retain control. Or that's just as valid an interpretation as hers - the phrases we heard were kind of half-formed.

Not a convincing villain. (Snakes constricting the Girl of Steel?) Better if Menagerie had used the snakes in some kind of hostage situation to hold off Supergirl. That still leaves Nia an opening to hit her from behind. Maybe more than one scene in this episode was written too quickly.

Martin Gray said...

This was my least favourite episode to date, oh, sooooo much boring angst. Thank goodness Jimmy and Lena are breaking up, their on-offness is tiring. And thank goodness for Brainiac, who actually brings some fun to the table.

Menagerie is an interesting choice of villain but the effects didn’t look great, she was like a bad Avenue Q tribute act. As for the voice, it sounded like a Gremlin.

Nice spot on Kara having to watch she has her specs on around forgetful Alex... I had noticed that for a couple of episodes around the mindwipe she’s finally stopped wearing them around folk who knew she didn’t actually need them, now I get why.

The good aliens need to ditch the facial imager thingies and show the world that all extraterrestrials aren’t bad. Yeah, they’ll face negativity but they have to come out - the alien bar needs a Stonewall moment.