Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Supergirl 422: Quest For Peace

The Supergirl season 4 finale, episode 422 'Quest for Peace', aired this week and just blew me out of the water. The show just nailed it.

When you look at the season as a hold, I can't help but feel that this was the strongest of the bunch. Yes, some early episodes did struggle with this show's occasional clunky, ham-fisted writing. It was clear there was an agenda to the season and that agenda seemed to overwhelm the story rather than supplement.

And then Lex Luthor happened.

Jon Cryer's performance was like an adrenaline injection. His first two episodes were brilliantly crafted. You definitely felt Lex's presence in the next couple of episodes as the characters all seemed to be scrambling to catch up to the schemes. And then this episode which tied it all together! Amazing.

Moreover, all the plotlines tied up nicely, even if some of them were obvious.

And then, the teases for next season. Just incredible. I can't believe I have to wait months to see where all of these new plot lines are going!!

I don't think I have ever been this happy about a Supergirl season or its finale. Wow.

On to the show.

The episode opens with a flashback, showing Kara escape from Red Daughter in Washington DC. As Linda Lee, she heads back to Lex who tells her to attack Supergirl's heart and go after Eliza.

With Red Daughter gone, we then head to an Amertek factory where Lex is putting aliens into metal shells similar to Matrix pods and the teleportation pods in Cronenberg's The Fly. The pods draw bioelectric energy the aliens which in turn power the Claymore cannon gauntlets Lex now possesses.

He and Miss Tessmacher learn that Otis has been killed (again) by Ben Lockwood. Lockwood is now a loose end that needs to be dealt with.

One thing interesting is that as Miss Tessmacher leaves to deal with Lockwood, Lex makes her pause. He calls her Eve and says their world plans are almost in reach. They kiss.

Back in the Oval Office, we hear how Lex  manipulated events to put the president into power. He went from a 'backbench, backwater Senator' to 'beloved victorious Wartime president'. All this because Lex killed President Marsdin's original running mate and dealt with Marsdin. Much like Ben Lockwood's rise to power, Lex has had his hands dirty here.

Then Lex calls on Kaznia to attack and completes the double cross by donning his Lexosuit and stopping them. All while singing 'My Way'.

There is some collateral damage. Power grids go down. People get killed.

And when Red Daughter hears the Kaznian cries she confronts Lex only to be stopped by his Kryptonite hand cannon. Lex has played everyone.

No doubt this is yet another Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 reference.

Meanwhile, Kara, Alex and Eliza reconvene. Lex seems to hold all the cards. But he doesn't know that Supergirl survived the Red Daughter attack. And as both Supergirl and Kara, our hero won't let fear win. Especially now that Alex is again 100% at her side.

Lex plugs Red Daughter into his energy draining device.

As she cries over his betrayal, he cackles. He mocks her naivete. And he reminds her that at his core he hates all Kryptonians. And she is a Kryptonian.

Dude is cold.

Meanwhile, things are changing fast. A dying Ben Lockwood gives himself another dose of the Harunel to maintain his powers.

On the news he sees that evidence has been found at Otis' murder scene implicating him as the real culprit for all crimes attributed to Lex. So Lex has been cleared and is now the new Secretary of Alien Affairs.

As if that wasn't enough, a gaggle of Miss Tessmacher's show up to try and off Lockwood. But he's powered and wipes them out pretty quickly.

In National City, the super squad of Lena, Alex, Kara, and Brainy get together to try and figure out next steps.

Lex has been embraced by the country as a hero, especially when he restores power to the grid.

The unnaturally cold Brainy is able to recover all of Kara's scrubbed data that would show how Lex has been pulling all the strings and was in collusion with Kaznia.

Lena gets invited to the White House for Lex's swearing in as Secretary and decided to take the invite to keep her eye on him.

Meanwhile, everyone is worried about Brainy's unemotional assessment of their friends Dreamer and J'onn being kidnapped.

It is interesting to see how quickly sentiment can change. Lex is suddenly a hero.

For everyone who loves all the Luthor family scenes, they were treated to Lena, Lillian, and Lex all in the Oval Office. As Lex says 'only in America'.

And while Lena throws some barbs, Lillian says they should enjoy themselves and have some tea.

Lex says that if he wanted to kill Lena and Lillian he could have but he is sentimental. I have to believe him here. Although, at least according to other plot lines, he was trying to kill Lillian.

And then we get his plan, straight out of the Matrix. Lex will imprison the aliens in his pods to act as batteries ... a vile and viable energy source.

Moreover, he will make sure that Superman, 'the man of Yesterday', won't come back to avenge Supergirl's 'death' and stop him.

Because the first move of his new energy system will be to fire his new Claymore satellite cannon at Argo City. Incredible! And totally Lex.

Miss Tessmacher didn't sign up for that and asks Lex to stop. It sort of reminded me of Miss Tessmacher going against Lex's ultimate plan in the Donner Superman Movie.

And suddenly, that kiss from earlier seems more distant. He calls Eve his protege, his flunky. No more romance. And he states, rather scarily, the Superman will die by his hand.

As a side, I love that Lillian was only playing along in the office. She poisoned Lex's tea.

Gotta love the Luthors!

Meanwhile, Dreamer and J'onn realize they are on Shelley Island (the power dampening island James almost blew up. Also a beacon for accepting aliens and now it is being used by Lex as his prison. Delicious.)

Those folks not in pods are put to manual labor building the pods. Okay ... that seems ridiculous.

J'onn and Dreamer lead a revolt, break into the aptly named and easily entered 'pylon control room' and turn off the power dampeners. That sign is like something out of Batman '66.

With the pylons off, Dreamer can try to astral project to her friends.

Kara finishes writing her expose of Lex and sends it out into the world.

Meanwhile, Dreamer is able to project to LCorp. But she can't directly talk to her friends, something which flummoxes both Alex and Dreamer. Hysterical when both question Brainy about his plan.

Dreamer can interact with the environment and clues everyone in that Shelley Island is the alien prison. 

There is a nice little run of scene snippets of Lex laughing about how truth is meaningless and facts are irrelevant. Humans wanted a hero and he is one to them. No one reads or thinks. Meanwhile we see how far Kara's article spreads. We see the Lockwood son reading it on his phone.

Meanwhile, Shelley Island is getting crowded. The aliens are revolting against Lex's troops. Alex, Kara, James, and Brainy all arrive on the beach. Lockwood and his troops also arrive. A brawl ensues. It is wondrous.

Inside the facility, Brainy realizes the cannon will vaporize Argo. They can't shut down the device, so they can only hope to overload it. J'onn grabs on hoping his level of power will short out the cannon. While it has an 18% chance of success and a 98% of him dying, he won't let Argo die the way he let Mars die.

This was a great moment for J'onn.

The cannon won't fire so Lex has to again don his armor and head off to the island.

With Lex gone, Lena calls Eve a 'wretched little traitor' and bashes her. She and Lillian overpower the guards and take off.

Lena has been a revelation this season. And things are going to get even crazier!

The brawl on Shelley Island continues.

I love seeing Supergirl land a Roman Reigns' style Superman punch on Lockwood's jaw.

Meanwhile, James is able to fight of Children of Liberty, but he is dying. The Harunel is killing him.

And then Lex shows up.

It is time for a throwdown.

Lex is stunned that Supergirl is still alive.

I love how she says she is still around because she is Supergirl. It is a simple powerful statement.

And she adds 'truth and justice always prevail'.

Lex arms Kryptonite gauntlet cannons. She dons her helmet K-armor. And it is on!!

Meanwhile, J'onn can't overpower the cannon on his own.

Dreamer also grabs on hoping to add her power to his and finish the job.

Seeing this sacrifice effects Brainy so much that he ultimately realigns himself, going back to the caring Brainy he has been. While cheering on his friends, he admits his love.

And with that, the cannon overloads. As an added bonus, the pods overload as well releasing all the aliens captured, including Red Daughter!

Back on the beach, James and Alex both try to use portable Harunel extraction devices on Lockwood.

Lockwood turns the tables, stabbing James with Olsen's extraction device.

But then Alex uses the other to take Lockwood's powers away. In one of the best scenes of the season, a moment of Alex-tharsis, she lays out Lockwood with a right hook to the jaw.

He has had it coming.

The Lex/Kara fight is quite the brawl but his cannons are working. We see Kara starting to falter from K-poisoning. But when Lex unleashes his coup de grace, Red Daughter dives in front.

As Red Daughter dies, she tells Kara to protect her people.

It is a noble death.

And then in moment similar to other versions of Harunel/Black K clones, Kara absorbs the essence of Red Daughter.

A month ago I ran a poll asking people what they thought would happen to Red Daughter.
39% thought she'd be reabsorbed.
34% thought she'd die a noble death.

Turns out 73% of the voters can say they were right.

My guess of living as a depowered citizen of Kaznia caring for Mikhail was wrong.

For the first time, Kara has purple harunel vision and blasts Lex.

He tries to escape but she is too fast and powerful for him.

While dangling in the air, he refuses to be saved by a Kryptonian and wriggles free. But with his armor smashed, he plummets to the ground, seemingly vaporized by an explosion.

But we know better.

We see the old Luthor house, the one with the treehouse looking out at the Alps.

Lex arrives in a lab there, teleported in.

But once there, he is immediately stabbed by Lena with the Harunel extractor. He won't have powers.

And she knows the world can't be safe with Lex in it.

She pulls out a gun, old school, and shoot him.


I was not expecting that at all.

I audibly gasped.

I was stunned.

This was cold.

And a far cry from the Lena who couldn't pull the trigger last season in 'Damage ( )

But, dying, Lex has the last laugh.

He might have underestimated Lena. But so has everyone, including her friends. Everyone has been mocking, humiliating, and betraying Lena with the information that Kara is Supergirl.

He shows her footage to prove it.

He might die. But he won't die a fool with no one and nothing.

I think we all knew that Lena was going to find this out the hard way. And it happened ... the hard way.

Poor Lena.

Now if the show ended there, I'd have been satisfied. Lena shooting Lex and being told the truth was huge.

But we get some wrap-up which just adds to this.

The President is arrested. A new President, President Plastino (a nice nod to Al Plastino) is now in office.

James injured (or lost) an eye in the Harunel extraction. He looks like Nick Fury! That has to be intentional.

With Kara's article, people are talking. Divisions are softening. The 4th estate saved the day.

And Colonel Haley, a very compelling character this season, is named the new Secretary of Alien Affairs. She publicly thanks Supergirl.

In the most telegraphed relationsip turn, Alex and Kelly admit the like each other and kiss.

Brainy and Nia are together.

Everyone assembles for game night. And then Lena walks in. But our Lena is totally Luthor here. She smiles and joins the fun, even if her first look is one of reserved anger.

Kara again tells Alex that she needs to tell Lena but Alex says she should wait a little longer until things normalize.

Uuuggghh! This would have been another time to reveal. They all could reveal. J'onn is Martian Manhunter. Nia is Dreamer! Kara is Supergirl! They needed to wait ...

But nope ...

Again, this would have been a fine ending, setting up the Luthor storyline for next season. But wait, there's more.

We see the Lockwood son is now on the sidewalk preaching tolerance, an interesting turn for the family since his dad used to be on the sidewalk teaching intolerance.

Eve Tessmacher tries to get onto a bus incognito. But she is stopped by a woman who says that Eve still works for them. She was sent to Lex but Lex didn't do what he was supposed to.

And Eve still works for Leviathan. Leviathan is everywhere and everyone.



This is just happening in the comics!!

So Leviathan is the big bad next season I guess?

But wait, we see an angry Lena smash a picture frame  that has a picture of her and Kara.

So maybe Leviathan AND Lena are the big bads!

But wait, the Monitor shows up and brings back another villain, J'onn's evil brother Ma’alefela’ak!

So I guess Leviathan AND Lena AND Ma'alefa'ak are the big bads next season.

But wait!

Then we see the Monitor show up to Lex's body, probably to resurrect him.

So Leviathan and Lena and Ma'alefa'ak and Lex are the big bads? And we have a Crisis?

I am shook.

This was a way to stick the landing.
This was a tremendous finale.
This just worked.

And it made me want season 5 to start now.

Pure joy.


Anonymous said...

...and FYI, the Monitor appeared in Arrow's finale, as well as the Legends finale, tho in the latter, he was a "spectator" in the "circus" tent. And I liked Nate's(?) comment about them not appearing in this year's Crossover event. And Kara, Oliver, and Barry's costumes by them?

Anonymous said...

Bendis breaking the comic to TV adaptation record I guess.

But overall, this was a great finale, I can't wait for crisis and I can't wait for season 5

Professor Feetlebaum said...

President Plastino? Fantastic! These comic book references are always extra fun for comic readers. I know Otto Binder's name came up in the pilot episode. Can't recall if Jim Mooney has been mentioned or not.

Along those lines, I wonder if Shelley Island was named such in honor of Sheldon Mayer, editorial director for All-American Comics in the 1940s and creator of Sugar and Spike in the 1950s and Black Orchid in the 70s? Apparently, Mayer was one of the first to see potential in the new Superman strip that Siegel and Shuster had submitted. Because of his recommendation, DC (then National Comics) decided to take a chance on it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

And I've wondered this since season one: Did National City take it's name from DC's former name(s): National Allied Publications, National Comics,and National Periodical Publications?

Nutation said...

It was a great season. The tiny amount of Jon Cryer dominates, plus we got several actors doing alternative characters or personalities.

I wish Eliza had been allowed to have some agency in these last two episodes. She shows fear, then horror, then worry, but doesn't really do anything. If we delete the silly "sunlight from grass" homage, then she and Alex can carry Kara back to the house where I presume Eliza has sunlamps. (She has medical training, spy training,and mother training. I say Eliza has sunlamps on hand.)

My other quibble is the TV cliche of not telling Lena, just so that this can go wrong and cause drama. We see much more of that on Arrow, but it's unjustified once essentially every other cast regular knows Kara's secret.

Television never gets the 25th amendment right, but in actuality there was a lot of necessary shorthand in this episode. Kara's quick success with her expose is another example, as are the relationships that accelerate.

Ready for next season and a convergence of villains.

Anonymous said...

I swear to Rao that Supergirl literally resolved three season long plot lines in five minutes and then opened up five new plot lines for the next season in less than five minutes. Such is Supergirl's Glory and Curse, "Warpspeed Pacing".
Jon Cryer was a like a welcome shot of B-12 in the arm, who knew he had any kind of bad guy props in him? Yet you could tell how much he loves playing Lex Luthor, I hope they can get him back next year, he is a bargain at twice the price.
Its the season finale and the usual demand goes up "We want MORE Helen Slater"...the producers never listen but its fun to beat the pots on behalf of Cinema's First Supergirl...
I don't mind a season that meanders given the show's tendency to hyper-toxic pacing and clunky writing, if at least it can stick the finale, and by Ghod they stuck this finale!
Bring on Season Five, I am Fortified...


Anonymous said...

Not much new to add that hasn't been said before. There's the usual breakage of suspension of
disbelief -- like why Ben would seek out Supergirl instead of Lex as his target of revenge, and
how to coordinate and time that massive of an invasion like that without SOME sort of leak,
there's some plotholes they tie up -- like how Red Daughter knew of Eliza's identity, and of
course Cryer's epic rendition of Lex and the face and heart full of malevolence while belting
out "My Way." Or channeling Gene Hackman's "Miss TessMACHER!" BRILLIANCE!

As stated, more Helen Slater involvement would have been great, but I'll take whatever Zen she
projects when she's onscreen... OMMMM! And we got a Supergirl / Luthor smackdown! HAHAH! But
I think the part I loved the best was the 3 Luthors in the White House scene, and the family
politicking at play during that. Let me repeat again : Lena on Team Supergirl! Or even neutral.
Full on evil really doesn't suit her, IMO.

And speaking of poor Lena, yeah, would it have been too hard to use the family game night scene
as the moment to let Lena in on Kara's secret and initiate her into the team? That rather irked me
they'd leave her hanging like that.

Counting down to Season 5 and COIE crossover, and what TPTB brings to the table for that!


Scrimmage said...

Overall, I thought the Season Finale was excellent, despite feeling more than a bit rushed. It was like wolfing down a delicious meal, because you didn't have time to relax and enjoy it.

Looking back, this season spent WAY too much time on Ben Lockwood and the Children of Liberty, and not NEARLY enough time developing the much more interesting Lex Luthor / Red Daughter storyline. As a result, these last four episodes have seemed rather frantic, as the writers struggled to wrap up all the loose threads from throughout the season, while at the same time, trying to set up a thrilling and suspenseful, action-packed climax. Many of the subplots surrounding some supporting characters could've been given less emphasis and air time, or eliminated altogether! You don't have to be an Evil Super Genius to see that Lex Luthor is a FAR more compelling character than Ben Lockwood could ever hope to be.

I would've preferred spending less time on the Lockwood clan, and more time exploring the highly dysfunctional, but strangely fascinating Luthor Family dynamic, between Lex, Lena, and Lillian. That's something that, to my knowledge has NEVER been explored in the comics, which could've provided the show with the opportunity to actually contribute something unique and original to the overall Superman / Supergirl mythos, instead of always adapting the work of previous writers. There's a fine line between paying homage and being derivative.

Scrimmage said...

I believe the show misallocated its resources in terms of how much time was spent on the character development of the supporting cast. The Brainy / Dreamer “romance” was strictly paint-by-numbers storytelling that lacked the “will they or won't they?” element of suspense that usually makes these things more interesting. The biggest problem was that Brainiac 5's love-driven distraction from his duties, which led to several “miscalculations” on his part, was totally out of character for him. Fortunately, the show didn't waste an inordinate amount of time on this couple, or on Alex and Kelly, where predictability was the problem from the moment we first met James Olsen's never-before-mentioned sister. Aside from providing Alex with a new love interest, Kelly contributed nothing to the show, but that seems to run in the family.

The entire storyline about James Olsen getting shot, and then developing super powers after getting injected with Harun-El was totally superfluous! If all of it had been edited out, it wouldn't have had ANY major effect on the main narrative, or the eventual outcome. James didn't have to be on the verge of death to prompt Lena to refine the Harun-El, when curing Lex's cancer provided her with just as much of a motive, and James didn't have to be a super powered badass to help stop the Children of Liberty or Luthor's cronies. He was already beating them up as Guardian! This was just the latest example of TPTB trying to find a way to wedge an otherwise useless character into a storyline, in order to justify his presence on the show. The “Super-Olsen” subplot was a complete waste of time.

More time and emphasis should've been spent on developing the supporting characters of Eve Tessmacher, Otis, Eliza, and Col Haley, instead of James and Kelly, or the Lockwoods. It goes without saying that there's no such thing as “too much” of Jon Cryer's Lex Luthor, who should've been a focal point from the beginning of the season, instead of just the “invisible hand” controlling people and manipulating events from behind the scenes. Likewise, the fabulous Melissa Benoist should've been given the opportunity to play Red Daughter for more than just a handful of episodes throughout the season. She was BRILLIANT, both as Red Daughter, AND as her unrecognizable alter-ego “Linda Lee.” Red Daughter was just hitting her stride, and then, just when she attained a new level of self-awareness, she was unceremoniously re-absorbed into the original, which temporarily super-charged Supergirl's power levels, making it child's play for her to defeat Lex in relatively short order, only to have him escape by teleporting from the frying pan into the firing line, with little sister Lena pulling the trigger.

Lex's prolonged death scene, where Lex revealed Supergirl's secret identity to Lena, was almost as hokey as the idea that Lena would feel “betrayed” by her friend's deception. Hell, Lena just SHOT one of the biggest reasons why Supergirl's civilian secret identity is on a “need-to-know” basis, and she should be smart enough to figure out that she DIDN'T need to know, especially considering all the secrets SHE'S been keeping from Kara this season.

Despite its flaws, I thought this was one of the better seasons of Supergirl, and the finale left many of the characters in an interesting place. Along with the upcoming COIE crossover, it's setting things up for next season quite nicely. I'm looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

How does a show go from 12 million views to 1 million views? In all honesty, Supergirl as a character deserves better than to be a vehicle for agenda writing. To me the writing is aberrant to the character.

Martin Gray said...

Well, that was loads of fun. I do hope that Lena won’t go bad in the next season...then again, as the producers have said (I paraphrase), this year will be a battle for Lena’s soul, it’s not a given. I strongly suspect she’ll come out just fine. Heck, just send her to spend a weekend with Eliza and everything will seem alright ht.

I loved Jon Cryer’s Lex, he’s the best screen Lex ever, but I’m glad we didn’t see much of him; that allowed for the fantastic reveal, quite reasonably just how involved he’d been in everyone’s story.

Likewise, I love love LOVE that Eve wasn’t a sappy prison pen-pal type, she was playing Lex all along

Oh boy, Lilian really is one of this show’s secret weapons, Brenda Strong is just brilliant, as are her screen kids. I’d love a spin-off special,
Life With the Luthors.