Thursday, May 9, 2019

Supergirl 420: Will The Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up

Supergirl episode 420, titled 'Will the real Miss Tessmacher please stand up' aired earlier this week. As has been the case the last few episodes, the thrust of this episode was moving the main plots of Lex's behind-the-scene manipulations and Ben Lockwood's descent into madness forward. Of course, these two plots are intertwined given how Lex nudged Lockwood on this path to begin with.

But the subplots touched on in this episode were just as interesting to me. We are moving toward the inevitable secret identity reveal to Lena. It is going to happen. And the big question is how will Lena react? The scene at the end of this episode where this truly comes to a boil is one of the best scenes of the season. It also shows that maybe the best time for the reveal by Kara was last episode. I still say when Lena apologized for keeping her work with Lex a secret, Kara should have confessed.

The other subplot, lingering from last year, is Alex's desire to be a mother. This was a major plot point all last season and was basically swept under the rug. So while it felt like it came out of nowhere here, I can't complain. At least it was addressed.

The last subplot was the super-fast (and frankly feeling a little forced) relationship between Alex and Kelly Olsen. These two have basically become besties and now potential romantics in what feels like a blink.

As for the acting, I love Andrea Brooks insane take on multiple Eve Tessmachers, all of varying intelligence. And the action sequences were well done as well.

On to the show.

We start out with the team of Kara and Lena heading off to the Lex missile base in Kaznia.

It is amusing that Kara pesters Lena that they didn't need to fly together. Because, of course, Kara wants to fly there under her own power.

But Lena assures her the LCorp plane is the fastest plane on Earth, has cloaking, and would be the safest and quickest way to go.

And Lena needs to be there to face Lex and look him in the eye.

That means they are expecting to run into Lex. I might remind them that Lex has super-powers now. And has a Supergirl on his side. It seems odd that they would fly off on their own without much back up.

Meanwhile, Alex and Kelly are so chummy now that they are jogging buddies, complaining on the aches and pains of getting old.

I do think it is intentionally ironic that the mind-wiped Alex muses to Kelly that it must be strange for Kelly to have a super-powered sibling.

But the big news that happens is that Alex gets word from the adoption agency she registered with that her application has been accepted.

Now one thing about this show that has been a complaint of mine in the past has been the very one-sided and heavy handed story telling approach. Now it is clear what the politics of the show are. But while alien immigration and safety and acceptance has been part of the show's message, they also have shown how not all aliens are good.

For example, Mrs. Lockwood was killed by an alien last episode, albeit it one out for revenge against Ben.

We head to Mrs. Lockwood's funeral where we see son George grieving. We also see an irate Ben storm off mid-sevice. Certainly, this shows his mindset is even more addled than before.

And he storms to the DEO to force them, in the absence of Colonel Haley, to begin rooting out Dreamer for her taking over the airwaves. Plus he wants to know how James Olsen got powers.

En route to Kaznia, Lena brags about her fully automated plane. I'll get back to this in a second.

Then Lena again apologizes for not telling Kara about how she worked with Lex in the past. It is the second time she has opened up about this secret she kept. It is yet another opportunity for Kara to tell Lena her secret identity.

But no such reveal. Instead Kara tells Lena that she will always be on her friend's side.

As they approach Kaznian air space, a purple lightning storm crops up suddenly, battering the plane and shorting out the engine. It is clear that normal lightning isn't purple. This is a defense ... most likely set up by Lex.

He doesn't want people to interfere.

Lena runs to the cockpit to try to restart the engine and crash land the plane.

With Lena in the front, it let's Kara sneak out and do a plane rescue, all while still in her civvies.

It is a nice little sequence with Kara pumping herself up ('you got this') and then pushing the plane over the mountains and helping set it down.

Before Lena can notice, Kara is back in her seat pretending to be knocked out.

Ah ... but remember those fully automated lines? There has to be video surveillance footage on this thing, don't you think? Wouldn't it be crazy if that is how Lena found out?

And, I suppose, the two are lucky that Lex isn't there. What would they do if he was?

The base is clearly a lab/torture chamber where Lex, using Amertek device, tortured aliens, keeping them chained, and trying to extract their powers for his nefarious uses.

Luckily Eve Tessmacher is a believer in paper files, not electronic. Paper can't be hacked. And by the way, how perfect is it that Miss Tessmacher dots her i's and j's with little hearts. That is excellent!

Meanwhile, the Alex plot progresses. She and Kelly head to the town where the baby will be born.

The mother is a 17 year old girl actively in labor. The pregnancy was hidden for a long time. The mother picked Alex as the only potential adopter. And having a baby is a big part of Alex's life vision. After all she left Maggie because of this.

But Alex does worry that maybe this isn't the best time to become a mother. She wishes Kara was there to talk to. When Kelly asks her to role play Kara, Alex brings out the Kara wisdom. She knows that Kara would remind her that this was her dream. That it is never a perfect time to become a mom. And that this possibility is a gift. It would be a sacrilege to turn it down.

I do love how that sister relationship was shown to be so strong. She really sounded like Kara here.

In the base,Lena and Alex find notes on Kopy the alien who could replicate himself but each copy grew less intelligent as time wore on. In fact, all the aliens were from the DEO's desert facility. Someone in the DEO was helping Lex.

Suddenly they here a bang and find Eve locked in a closet. Initially she says she was put there by Lex because she couldn't stand what he was doing. But then she admits that she was lying. While she absolutely loves Lena and Kara, she simply loves Lex more.

There is no doubt that this Eve seems a bit goofier than normal. She doesn't seem like the scientist right now. More like a lovestruck teenager.

With Eve in cuffs, looking on, Lena and Kara explore the lab. They find Kryptonite. And Harunel.

It is there they discover a military staging map where it looks like Kaznia is preparing to attack the US. Of course, we know this is part of Lex's scheme. But Lena is dumbfounded knowing that Kaznia doesn't have the military strength to pose a real threat.

But then they find Red Daughter information - charts, vitals, footage.

Throughout all this, Eve seems to be unraveling mentally. We should know, given the exposition Kara gave about Kopy, that this must be a duplicate becoming more stupid.

The sight of Red Daughter leads to a great interaction between Lena and Kara. Lena deduces that the Harunel must have split Supergirl, the same way it did Sam and Reign (nice callback).

That means this clone was raised by Lex, turned into a weapon. Lena breaks it down to nature or nurture. And she would be one to have an opinion on this. She is always trying to fight her Luthor 'nature'. She even goes so far to dehumanize Red Daughter, calling her an 'it' and not 'she'.

But Kara is much more forgiving. She has to believe that somewhere in this killing maching there has to be some 'Supergirl' in her. It makes me wonder if when this comes to its conclusion if Red Daughter sacrifices herself heroically after being reminded of who she really is.

But then a second Eve shows up.

She has been somehow given Kopy's powers. She re-absorbs the unintelligent Eve and sets off the lab's self-destruct mechanism.

During the initial quakes, Lex's Kryptonite gets uncovered, giving Eve the time she needs to scamper off.

Back at the DEO, Ben Lockwood still is trying to deal with his grief. He turns away his son who is looking for support. This fight for justice takes precedent.

And then he discovers the Lena formula that cured James. Realizing it can give him powers, Lockwood contemplates taking it. Even when Brainy says that the undiluted, raw serum probably would kill Agent Liberty, Lockwood scoffs.

And when they hear that the killer of Lockwood's life has been found, he palms the serum and demands for a DEO squad to assemble.

Again, the series has shown, quite reasonably, how Lockwood's life has been turned upside down by some aliens. It doesn't forgive him lumping all aliens into one category. That logic holds true for all groups. You can't judge all people by a subset.

Back in Kaznia, Lena and Kara split up to try and find an exit.

Lena runs into a dead end.

Kara finds Red Daughter's room. It is covered in photographs of Supergirl and Kara Danvers. She sees pictures of Alex and Lena. She finds her journal. It is a whole room showing who Supergirl/Kara is.

When Lena doubles back, Kara has to send her away from this place. No discovering the secret identity that way. Instead, Kara immolates the place.

You can imagine how scary this must be for Kara. It is one thing to have a clone be out there murdering politicians. It is another thing to know that clone could target everyone she loves. It is a reason why Kara, at least partially, keeps her identity secret.

Closer to the exits, Kara and Lena run across more evidence.

The President's chief of staff is the one who signed off on the DEO prison transfers. There is a mole at the top.

Or, perhaps the mole is the top. More to come.

Lena heads out to the plane and discovers an Eve copy in there leading to a great on-board fight. Lena has equipped her stiletto heel to be converted to a battle baton! Always prepared that one! When she defeats Eve, she amusingly says 'snake on a plane'. Melee quips from Lena! Love it.

In the base, Kara changes into her Supergirl costume for some reason. (Maybe there is some quota of times she has to be in the suit per episode?) Then we get the real fight sequence ... Supergirl on to Eves of Destruction!

It is like the Neo/Agent Smith fight in Matrix 2. Of course, they hold no real threat to Kara other than volume. In the middle Kara says 'thank you next' as she batters these things. I love it.

The DEO crew finds the murdering alien in a sort of alien refuge/group home and arrest her. But then, Lockwood demands all the other aliens present get arrested as well for 'harboring a murderer'.

Dreamer and James show up to try and stop the innocent folks from being arrested. Brainy even calls on the troops to follow their morals. The Lockwood demand is against the constitution. The DEO should ignore such an order.

When it looks like Brainy's words might turn the tide, Lockwood injects himself with the Harunel and gets black veiny and powerful.  He shrugs off Dreamer's blasts and tosses cars with James.

Now here is the thing, it actually makes sense to question these aliens because maybe they do represent some cabal. Maybe the killer did have a partner there. But that only makes sense if you release people once they tell the truth and show their innocence. The problem here is that you can't trust Lockwood to do that.

With the juiced up Lockwood a bigger threat, it seems all is lost.

But then J'onn J'onzz shows up.

In an interesting flip, he shows how maybe these two have a similar past. Ben feels the weight of his world's pain on his shoulders. I am sure J'onn sometimes feels that way. He even brings up Manchester Black, the other side of the Lockwood coin.

And yes, Ben is violent and J'onn has stuggled with violence this season too.

The difference is that Ben has compounded that pain, created some of that pain, and has let it consume him. The two brawl with J'onn getting the upper hand when he tosses Lockwood into a gas tanker.

Of course, this footage will only be used by Lockwood to further his cause. Without context, it looks like a terrorist cell was freed by Dreamer, James Olsen, and Martian Manhunter.

Kara shows up on the plane just as the Eve that Lena defeated dissipates. That Eve was just another copy. Maybe Eve Prime was never there.

As much as I loved the nature/nurture conversation, the next scene was my favorite. Lena chastises herself for putting Kara in danger by leaving her in the missile base (which ultimately did self-destruct).

Kara says she was never in any danger and prepares to reveal her secret to Lena. You see her in the background striking the pose, glasses off. This is Supergirl.

But Lena talks about how Eve's deceit has made her even more wary of opening up to people. It is only Kara's earnest and truthful friendship that has helped Lena hold it together. If someone in Lena's life lied to her the way Eve did, day after day, she could never trust again.

Whew. With that emotional bomb dropped, Kara puts the glasses back on and clams up. No reveal now. Of course, the best time to reveal this had already passed.

But if the plane video footage angers Lena (as I surmise), maybe Kara can fast forward to this bit to show she was going to tell her.

It is funny. In the past I wanted Lena to go dark. Now, I think I'll be gutted if she goes evil.
On plane, Eve disappears. Maybe all were copies.

I'll wrap up the Alex subplot here.

Throughout the episode we see Alex struggle with this sudden reality of being a mom. She confesses she is terrified. She thinks of Eliza as being the perfect mother, something she can never be. Kelly tells Alex that Alex is the most nurturing person she knows.

In the end, the young mother backs out and decides to keep the baby after 'a priest' talked to her. I am sorry but I really hate how a priest is the stand-in villain for Alex's pain. That line could have been another family member, a counselor, even just having the girl change her mind. That is the sort of heavy handed scripting that irks me sometime.

Finally Alex talks about how this whole episode is going to hurt for a long time. Kelly reveals she is gay and had to remain in the closet while in the military. Her fiancee got killed in battle. But that fiancee left a note telling Kelly that time would heal the wound and she would find someone to make her smile.

It is abundantly clear that these two are going to end up as a couple, probably next season. But this relationship, much like many we have seen on the show, has traveled very far in a short time. I would have rather this grew a bit more organically.

There is nothing left but the wrap up.

Geirge Lockwood tells Ben that he hates her. He blames Ben for the death of his mother as Ben's approach has incited violence, not stopped it.

That can't sit well with Agent Liberty who most likely will blame media indoctrination on his son's change of heart. And an angry, super-powered Agent Liberty running around isn't a good thing.

Kara has a sit down with James.

She admits that while she knows she has to bring Red Daughter in for her crimes, she feels bad for her and her rough life which led her to becoming this tool for Lex. It could have been her if she landed anywhere else.

And she tells James that she will come clean with Lena once Lex is behind bars. Of course, Lex knows the secret. Maybe he reveals it to Lena beforehand to spur on a schism between the heroes? Remember at the end of last season. Lilian said that Lena learning of Kara's secret would be the end of them.

And then Kara brings the incriminating evidence to the President (who now has Kryptonite in the oval office as protection). When she says she went straight to him about the Chief of Staff working with Lex, he has her blindfolded and captured.

So maybe it is the President himself who is working with Lex to bring about some catastrophe. Maybe he wants an impetus to bring about a fascist sort of control. Or ... maybe he IS Lex!

I did like that the President said he was scared of Cat Grant. I'd love a Cat Grant cameo!

Anyways, we are marching towards a big conclusion of super-powered beings.

Supergirl, Dreamer, James, J'onn, and Brainy on one side.
Lex, Eve, Red Daughter, and Lockwood on the other.

This could be a brawl of a finale.

So another very good episode pushing the main plot forward. I have to say, the back half of this season is killing it!


Anonymous said...

Great review Anj, and generally pretty enjoyable episode all around, helped by Andrea Brook's
portrayal of all the Eves, the amusing ways both this episode and last of Kara surreptitiously
using her powers without being discovered, and Melissa B's "Thank you. Next!" quip during the
fight! Regarding the Kara / Lena stuff, I've firmly been on Lena being on Team Supergirl, and
Kara revealing her secret identity to her would be the final initiation rite into the club, so to
speak. To TPTB, Lena joining and staying on Team Supergirl, PLEASE!

I also have to credit J'onn's speech in taking on a powered Lockwood. Nice bit of balance between
"naked force" and "defensive force" there.

Regarding Alex and Kelly, yeah, I forget who but at the start someone mentioned that it was
"clickbait" that Kelly would end up as a romantic interest for Alex. There's still space to see
where things go, but I have to admit after the last couple episodes, I've warmed up to Kelly's
presence on the show, and she has great chemistry with the rest of the cast.

The final scene, with the reveal of President Sheridan (nee Baker) 's chief of staff as the mole,
the kryptonite defences, the President ominously putting the report into his desk drawer, and
the black bagging of Kara... suspect alot of the hateon will be, as you put it, "the show wearing
its politics on its sleeve."

The positive to this I'll point out in comparison to Season 3 and TPTB's to rush out plotlines
towards season end, or throw things at the wall to see what sticks, I'll say while things still
aren't perfect writing-wise, they're MUCH better executed this season. Looking foward to the
rest of the episodes, the return of Jon Cryer and Brenda Strong, and what happens with Red Daughter!
Chris Reeve set the bar in his good Clark / bad Superman fighting one another... looking foward
to Melissa meeting and exceeding that bar!

...oh yes, and a good dose of Karatharsis would be MOST welcome as well! :)


Scrimmage said...

I thought there were a LOT of problems with the whole “automated jet” scene. First of all, no plane in the world would be allowed to operate in international airspace without a pilot, regardless of how sophisticated the automation is supposed to be. They should've at least had the inflatable pilot from “Airplane.”

Second, how did Kara get out of, and back into the plane without causing an immediate cabin decompression? Super-speed or not, as soon as she opened a door, that would've been all she wrote! Getting back in, while the plane is in flight, without damaging it, would've been even MORE problematic.

Third, as Anj mentioned, Kara was clearly still in her civvies outside of the aircraft when she gave herself that little pep talk, but then, during the actual rescue, the CGI showed Supergirl in uniform, her cape fluttering in the wind, as she guided the jet over the mountains. It's a small continuity error, but it does raise the question about what point does changing into Supergirl – even at super speed – become a waste of precious time in a crisis?

If Lena is going to learn the truth about Kara's dual identity in some way other than Kara telling her, it should come at a time when Kara has no other choice than to reveal herself in order to save Lena's life, like smothering a bomb against her chest, only to reveal the “S” shield under her civilian clothes. That would be much more dramatic, not to mention heroic, than having Lex rat Kara out to his sister.

In the “New 52” comics, Superman's secret identity was exposed in a similar scenario, and it would also echo one of my favorite scenes from the classic “Adventures of Superman” television show, starring George Reeves, when Clark had to reveal himself in order to rescue Lois and Jimmy from a mad scientist's death trap. I'll never forget Clark saying, “Well, there's no time for secrets NOW!” before breaking out of the ropes that tied him to a chair, whipping off his glasses, and freeing his understandably shocked friends.

Jimmy: “Jeepers, Mr. Kent! You really ARE Superman!”

Now THAT'S Jimmy Olsen! In case you're wondering, Superman saved his secret identity by using a convenient “new” power, super-hypnosis. He wiped Lois and Jimmy's minds much the same way J'onn erased Alex's memories of Kara's dual identity. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Scrimmage said...

Based on this episode's title, I was hoping for more Eve Tessmacher, but instead, we ended up with more Eve TessmacherS, as in multiple. Interesting as that may be, the idea that almost EVERY human on the show is getting super powers so easily, seems to dilute the notion of just how unique Supergirl is... or should be. Hopefully, their Harun-El based powers will be temporary. It's bad enough that there are so many super powered aliens living on this version of Earth. We don't need a bunch of regular human beings leaping over tall buildings too!


I posted last week that I think the character of James Olsen is dragging the show down, because they don't know what to do with him. Now they've given him a sister, and unfortunately, it's all too clear what their plans are for HER! Instead of going the predictable route, and pairing Kelly up with Alex, she should be turned into some kind of super villain, at least temporarily, which would send her running back to Metropolis, and convince Alex that she's not cut out for anything resembling a “normal” life. Sometimes, you simply CAN'T have it all.


Where is all this Kryptonite coming from? I thought Superman dropped the government's supply on the Far Side of the Moon, or something. All of a sudden, it's turning up everywhere from Kaznia to the White House. Apparently, Kal-El wasn't as paranoid as he seemed when he first bristled at the idea of the DEO stockpiling Kryptonite.


It's good to see J'onn embracing his Martian Manhunter persona, and using his intangibility powers to make the inexperienced Lockwood look foolish. Even so, a skilled telepath like J'onn shouldn't be so easily duped, or surprised by duplicitous people like the President, Ben, Lex, or his minions. For that matter, neither should Brainy. It's just another example of the writers “powering down” the good guys in order to drive the narrative, and keep the bad guys competitive.

I'm looking forward to an EPIC brawl between Supergirl and Red Daughter. I just hope it lasts awhile, before it deteriorates into another instance of Supergirl TALKING the villain out of being bad! I put up with that nonsense when she talked down a fire breathing dragon, but it shouldn't be so easy with a White House burning, Superclone graduate of Lex Luthor University, who's been majoring in “I Hate SUPERGIRL!” for most of her life.

I say it's time for less talking, and more punching!

Professor Feetlebaum said...

The Adventures of Superman episode referred to is likely "The Big Forget" from the final (1957) season. Professor Pepperwinkle has invented an Anti-Memory vapor- "one whiff and you can't remember anything that's happened in the last 15 minutes." Naturally, 2 crooks (Muggsy Maples and his pal Knuckles) get hold of it. Eventually, Lois, Jimmy, Perry White, Clark Kent and Professor Pepperwinkle are taken captive and find themselves tied up in a room filling with poison gas! Clark breaks his bonds and changes to Superman. He gets rid of the poison gas with a little help from his Super Breath. Then he unties Jimmy, sprays a bit of Anti-Memory vapor around the room, and leaves. Jimmy then frees the others.

In the end, with Superman's involvement forgotten (thanks to Professor Pepperwinkle's invention) Jimmy is convinced that HE was the one who saved the day. And Professor Pepperwinkle has forgotten the formula for the Anti-Memory vapor.

Anonymous said...

Kara torches Red Daughter's Creepy Fangirl bedroom and never once seems to process that Lex must know her secret ID and Lena's ignorance thereof hangs from a very frayed thread indeed...
I too hope that somehow Lena can stay on the side of right, Lena is way more interesting when she fights with her her Brother and Mother as a pure villainess she'd end up being a bore.
I personally feel that the show gave itself a huge shot of B-12 when Lex was brought in, Cryer has been offscreen for three weeks but his influence permeates every scene, for all the show's legendary clunky writing, this is no small achievement.

Whether Supergirl beats the living daylights out of Red Daughter or charms her, is immaterial to me, I wanna see her overpower "Metallotis" by main strength! Sadly I am sure he'll get jobbed out to Alex or something....


Scrimmage said...

Once again, my thanks to Professor Feetlebaum for the clarification and confirmation of my recollection of a classic "AOS" episode. When it originally aired, I was four years-old, and I'm sure I was watching, since it was my favorite show. Back then, if you missed an episode, you never knew WHEN you might get the chance to see it again.

KET said...

"Throughout the episode we see Alex struggle with this sudden reality of being a mom. She confesses she is terrified. She thinks of Eliza as being the perfect mother, something she can never be. Kelly tells Alex that Alex is the most nurturing person she knows.

In the end, the young mother backs out and decides to keep the baby after 'a priest' talked to her. I am sorry but I really hate how a priest is the stand-in villain for Alex's pain. That line could have been another family member, a counselor, even just having the girl change her mind. That is the sort of heavy handed scripting that irks me sometime."


..except that the sudden return of possible 'family matters' already seems like the perfect distraction to keep Alex (and Lauren Haley as well) out of the DEO, thus allowing Ben Lockwood to take over the facility. One should keep in mind that Lex already knows what was going on at the DEO, and it's re-emphasized in this episode by the evidence that DEO prisoners were subjected to experimentation in Kaznia.

And as far as the appearance of Green Kryptonite, well...Lena already admitted that she can manufacture it was likely stolen out of an L Corp vault.

Martin Gray said...

I can accept Lena operating a robot plane in international territory - it’s cloaked, so why assume she told the local authorities, but Kara not immediately getting Lena out of self-destruct range with her super powers makes no sense - the heck with the secret ID, who believes a Luthor/Eve countdown?

I didn’t get Jimmy insisting J’onn trust him and toss Lockwood into the petrol tanker... if the tests at the Fortress had shown that invulnerability didn’t immediately kick in, fine, but all this really did was make fire-phobic J’onn flinch. And why did they just allow Lockwood to wander off?

Sam Witwer looks fantastic in a nicely tailored suit! He’s such a Lena.