Thursday, September 9, 2021

Supergirl Show 610: Still I Rise

Supergirl episode 610, titled 'Still I Rise', aired earlier this week and was another very solid episode for the back end of this final season.  Once more this is a socially relevant episode covering another important topic of gentrification and affordable housing. But unlike prior seasons, this episode showed us the problem, had a plot around it, and didn't just tell us the problem.

We also get a nice push forward of the Nyxly storyline with the imp becoming a much bigger threat. We also get progress with Nia and her need for closure with her family. I also like the role that Brainy is playing this entire season. Jesse Rath is a delight. 

Kara is the straw that stirs the drink here, being a key part of the storyline in both her civilian and superhero identities. She still doesn't have much action to do here. But Melissa Benoist is just stellar in both sides of the character. I have said it before and I will say it again, she is just perfect for the role.

Lastly, I like how the continuity of the show is being leaned into, both from earlier this season and even from the first season. I'll be sad to see this show leave the air.

On to the show.

The episode opens with Nyxly being freed from the dream dimension by Nia. Why delay? We saw that Nia made the deal last episode.

And true to her word, Nyxly does what she promised, giving Nia a day with her dead mother. Unfortunately, it will sap Nyxly of her remaining magic. And she isn't quite ready to head back to her world as she said she was. She has further business.

And then in a little Deus Ex Mxyzptlk-ina, Nyxly says that Nia's day with her mother will also have her trapped in this apartment. And it will be free of interruptions. No one will miss her.

When Nia's mother does show up, she tells Nia she has 'unleashed a force of Hell on Earth'.  She also wonders why Nia would do this when in the dream world she kept sending Nia images to warn her, like the owl she blasted.

Nia and her mother have good chemistry this whole episode. I like how they relate to each other and there is a familial vibe.

Back in National City, we see that Brainy and Supergirl have recorded a Super Friends PSA about the nutritional value of eating greens.

It looks like Supergirl is a little embarrassed by the whole thing, looking awkwardly at Brainy and the camera. But my guess is Benoist had a hard time not laughing.

Jesse Rath's delivery of how his eating donuts wasn't fun ('Correct? Incorrect.') and how he has 86% more energy is just hilarious.

But they do talk about having a media platform gives the Super Friends the opportunity to bring attention to important problems like mental health and the welfare system, issues already commented on this season.

Elsewhere in the Watchtower, Alex is training Kelly in fighting tactics. Kelly hasn't quite got the handle of Alex's moves but shows she can improvise. 

But I like how Kara enters and smiles, commenting how Alex used to train her with blindfolds and Kryptonite emitters. That is a call back to the first season! How long ago that feels!! As always the Danvers sisters are my fave part of the show. Seeing Alex point her finger happily at the memory was great.

But the session is interrupted. Joey and Orlando are having issues. The low income housing building which had rooms set aside for the recently incarcerated has been rezoned for a corporate building.

Supergirl says she promised Orlando that she would help him and so she flies out to see him.

Orlando gives a good job expressing the catch-22 he is in with the Ormfell building being converted to offices and not low income housing.

He afford an apartment without a job. And he can't get a job without an address to list as his home. And he can't get his brother Joey out of the welfare system until he has both a job and an address.

This Ormfell building changing from low income housing to a corporate headquarters has significant ripple effects.

I do think that the Orlando speech was very effective.

Meanwhile, the powerless Nyxly ends up being captured by Mitch, the sidekick of Naxim, the alien zookeeper from the Midvale episodes earlier this season. 

He has just been released from prison himself but can't get a job. And so he is hoping to open up the Menagerie again. A 5th Dimensional imp is a great find ... that is if they have power.

With Nyxly at 0.05%, Mitch frees her from her cell.

As she walks about the ship, she sees that Mitch actually is hoping to capture Supergirl. She'd be a great catch. Nyxly knows she can help this guy. But they'll need an engineer.

One thing that I have liked in the first two episodes of this back half of season 6 is the writers showing us Kara at work at CatCo. And as hard as it is for me to believe, I actually like her interactions with William. The Kara/William pair of investigative journalists has been pretty effective.

We hear how the tech company Orquoia is going to buy the Ormfell. The vote to rezone the Ormfell is on the city council docket. And the community is thrilled by it. 

Unfortunately the vote is the next day. Kara thinks a Supergirl interview is a great idea for the newspaper. But Andrea thinks a live streaming media event will be even better ... both for the cause and CatCo.

I still don't quite understand Andrea as she walks the tightrope between serious news outlet and sensationalism. But I did like her quips of how 'hashtags are battle cries' and the 'fuse of a revolution can be lit with one tweet!'

In dreamland, Nia is being trained by her mother. We once again are in the dim lit forest. As with last episode, a flock of ravens swarm around Nia, almost attacking her. Last episode, that bird attack woke Nia up.

Here, with her mother to steady her, she remains in the dreaming to analyze instead. There is a bit of spiritual insane talk here. "Never exit a dream out of fear." Nia needs to take note of the 'interplay of her deepest self and the universe".

With that guidance, Nia sees that the ravens lead to a dollhouse, the toy she played with as a kid.

I did like the directing of these scenes with multiple cuts and this decent crane shot looking down. As I said, the chemistry here worked very well even if the dialogue is a bit silly.

Mitch and Nyxly get the engineer they need to make the trap for Supergirl Nothing says super0intelligent alien like bald mega-cranium with arched eyebrows. This is a sort of egghead working in a cryogenic lab.

William takes Andrea's advice and sets up a streaming live Q&A with Supergirl about the low income housing needs in National City. 

Again, Benoist is just delightfully charming as she struggles a bit with the format. She shrugs off all the comments about vegetables (going back to the PSA she did). 

But this is where things get tricky. 

Some citizens point out that Orquoia will bring improvements to the city. Some like the idea of improving the town through this venture with the company. When Kara says that it will have some human cost. 

I do like that Supergirl didn't have easy answers for the dissenters. They have some points that make this a tricky subject sometimes. 

But before she sinks, she is called away by cries for help from the intelligent alien. But she is too late to stop his abduction.

We then get a little exposition about the real life problems of the recently incarcerated. 

When Kara wonders why Mitch has returned to a life of crime, Brainy is able to say that those released from jail for nonviolent crimes, who suffer from poverty, on welfare, and not having any aptitudes, have a 40% recidivism. 

Of course, that leans into the Ormfell story. Orlando is trying to not revert. But what can he do.

So I get that is 'telling us' but not showing us. But that was part of a scene revolving around character beats in the show. So it again worked.

Cutting back to Nia, she enters the dollhouse where she sees her sister Maeve.

In the house, Nia holds a glowing ball which Maeve wants. But when Maeve grabs it, it seems to injure her. Maeve then morphs into a raven herself.

So now the dream's meaning is obvious. The ravens are Maeve. The ball was the powers that Maeve wanted but were manifested in Nia instead. And just as Nia runs from the ravens in her dreams, she ran from Maeve, not wanting to hurt her sister by manifesting the powers her sister so desperately wanted. That works very well with Nia's whole arc. How she didn't know about her powers early on.

I also like how Nia's mother tells her 'your authentic self is the greatest gift you can give to the world'. Yes, it could be about Nia not denying herself powers. But it also is a powerful thing to say to a trans character.

With the streaming event a lost cause, Supergirl goes to the Councilperson who is behind the rezoning.

She again makes important points. Orquoia will bring in jobs. It will bring in tax dollars to improve the section of the city and raise property values. That will lead to better schools and infrastructure. You can see why some citizens might like the idea.

When Kara brings up gentrification, the politician walks away. I like this shot, showing how far apart they are in their beliefs.

And this council member gives it back to Supergirl, first joking about vegetables and then telling Supergirl to stick to leafy greens and leave the politicking to the politicians.

I do like how the innocent PSA about healthy eating is being used to ridicule Supergirl.

It is enough to tick Kara off and make her let off some steam in the gym while Kelly continues to practice.

And Kelly has some good points. For one, that veggie video has 5 million views. Social media can reach a lot of eyes.

And Kelly says it is personal stories that can carry the most power. Supergirl's speeches about hope work because they are personal. So maybe someone else's voice needs to be heard.

I can tell you that this 'story harvesting' is a powerful tool.

The 24 hours is over though and Nia's mother's time back is gone.

She warns Nia. The deal Nia made was a dark bargain. There will be ramifications. And the times ahead are most trying.

I hope Nia comes clean with the team how she released Nyxly.

Back at the Ormfell vote, Supergirl arrives with Kelly. But Supergirl says she isn't there to speak, She is there to let Orlando speek.

And Orlando tells his story. He talks of how his parents died. He dropped out to get a job and care for Joey. When things got tough, he made a mistake that he paid for. But without the Ormfell, Joey will never know love and a caring family. 

He askes the council to 'see' people like him. He asks that when they vote, they think about how they are voting for his life.

It is another powerful speech. The actor who plays Orlando does a great job here.

Ultimately, Nyxly's plan unfolds. The trap she set is a cryonuclear bomb which happens to be in the basement of the Ormfell building. It begins to go off, freezing the building. If it hits critical mass, it will freeze everything for a mile around and is cold enough to even freeze Kara in place.

While J'onn and Kara head to the basement to try and stop the bomb, the rest of the gang tries to save the folks in the building.

On the way out, Kelly improvises to help save the evil Councilwoman from the ice. 

Kara is able to turn off the bomb ... barely ... by using her heat vision on it. I get it; it is a cool power. But why not just chuck it?

More importantly, why not just have Orlando use his EMP power to just shut it down?

Still, even after all this time, Benoist can glare with the best of them.

There is nothing left but the wrapup.

The council votes to keel Ormfell as a low income housing building. Supergirl appropriately tells Orlando that it was his story that swayed everyone.

But the councilwoman isn't too happy. She thinks all Supergirl has done is let criminals into the city.

You know I love balcony scenes on this show.

Yes, Supergirl helped keep the Ormfell from being sold. But it is one battle of many. She is thinking of Mitch and how the system isn't built to help folks like him.

I love how Brainy props her up. He says that systemic change is hard and people need to keep showing up to fight. And he will always be by her side.

I love that support. That sentiment that it is a never-ending battle was solid.

But the moment is broken when the team senses energy from the Ormfell.

Kara goes to investigate only to find a repowered Nyxly there. Somehow the mix of Supergirl's heat vision with the bomb created energy Nyxly could absorb. Okay, it's a bit of a stretch but I'll roll with it.

And then Nyxly delivers a deliciously evil speech. She couldn't wait to be free so she could head back to her dimension and kill her father. But now, having been betrayed by Supergirl, she wants to kill Kara too. 

But first she wants to make Kara feel pain. So she traps Supergirl in magical ice and takes down the Ormfell. Great speech and such a petty thing to do just to cause some emotional pain. 

Knowing only magic can fight magic, Kara calls out to the only person who can help her.

She yells for Mr. Mxyzptlk!

What a cliffhanger!

I can't wait to see more.

So another socially relevant episode in the books. But honestly, this was story first, agenda second. I liked it. So far, so good for this season. 
magic beat magice- mxy



Anonymous said...

Waaa-al I thought it was a little heavy handed in places myself, but there was so much Supergirl in play, I let it pass. I think finally now with "The Owl of Minerva" flying now at dusk, the writer's seemed to have mastered how to deftly intermix the A, B & C Plotlines. Nxly getting her powers back from Supergirl's heavy vision used on a cryo-bomb didn't make a lick of sense whatsoever, but in this last pellmell "Ride or Die Season" it's pretty much Supergirl Being Supergirl.
The PSA though, was literally one of the show's best moment in all six seasons on both networks!! I want MORE PSA's!!! Dental Hygiene, Bike Safety, How to Cross the Street by looking both ways, Keep Away from Tide Pods, THE WORKS!! All remaining episodes should open with one....


Scrimmage said...

This was probably the worst, and most boring episode in the entire run of the series. The plot was utterly predictable, absolutely nothing exciting happened until the very end, Supergirl barely used her powers – other than her overused, and over rated powers of persuasion – and the supporting cast did little to justify their inclusion in this episode.

The so-called “woke” agenda is ruining this show. Complex social issues like criminal recidivism, and low income housing vs “gentrification” of urban neighborhoods are not the kinds of topics that make for compelling super hero stories, especially when they are written from such a simplistic, one-sided point of view, namely “urban development = bad, cheap government housing = good.”

Did Supergirl ever give any serious consideration to the number of steady, full time jobs, many probably with health benefits, that the relocation of a large corporation like Orquoia could bring to National City, and all the good that would come from that? Why was there no suggestion of a compromise, where Orquoia would partner with the city to build, or better still, refurbish existing homes, and other buildings more suitable for multi family living than the Ormfell Building, that appears to be an old, abandoned office building that the company would've probably torn down anyway? Why does it always have to be “us against them” when both sides are part of the same community, and whose interests are equally valid? Why are the “bad guys” on this show - the city councilwoman in this episode, and the crooked prison warden in the last – always white?

Myopic political correctness aside, I still have a problem with the portrayal of National City as some kind of “sanctuary city” for off-world alien refugees, who ALL seem to have super powers, and have apparently been living there for generations, predating Kara's arrival on Earth, and watering down her (and her cousin, Kal-El's) formerly unique status as “Strange visitors from another planet.” In this episode, this plot device leaves a lot of obvious questions unaddressed. Why did Orlando and Joey's family come to Earth in the first place? Why is returning to their home planet not an option? Why can't Kara help Orlando find a job?

It's hard for me to believe that someone with his ability to generate EMPs couldn't find gainful employment testing military, or even commercial electronic products that need to be “hardened” against EMPs stemming from a nuclear explosion. The ability to test their protection without having to set off an atomic bomb would be invaluable! Orlando should be raking in the dough, instead of ripping off convenience stores, or whatever petty crime he was convicted of. He could be a success story instead of a welfare recipient, living in government housing, but that outcome wouldn't fit in with the show's agenda.

Scrimmage said...

Random Observations:

I have no idea what that business with Nia and her dead mother was supposed to have accomplished, and frankly, I don't really care. Dreamer's poorly defined powers have been all over the place, and it's a little late in the game for her to finally get an instruction manual from the ghost of her dead mother.

As usual, Brainy once again stole the show in limited action, but he is immensely talented, and always entertaining. Alex continues to embarrass herself as “Sentinel,” with her mandrill-like makeup, and her ridiculous “universal weapon,” but the subplot surrounding Kelly's training as she tries to take over the “Guardian” mantle from her brother Jimmy is eye-rollingly bad. Before she declares herself a “great” Guardian, I'd like to see Kelly take just one punch, right in the face, from a normal, 250 pound, human criminal, and see how she handles THAT! If she can't take a punch without protective armor, she's got no business wearing it. If she can't defend herself against a larger human opponent, she shouldn't endanger innocent civilians by trying to protect them from super powered menaces. There's no reason why everybody on this show has to be a “Super Friend” (I cringe every time someone mentions that term), and Kelly is Exhibit A of why that particular trope should be avoided at all costs. A costume does NOT a super hero make!