Thursday, September 30, 2021

Supergirl Show 613: The Gauntlet

Supergilr episode 613, The Gauntlet, aired this week and was one of the more enjoyable episodes of the season. This was a high point.

We got progression of the main plot, Nyxly trying to unite magic totems to create a super-weapon. There is a fair amount of action and Supergirl is part of it. The show, as it has done this whole season, leans into its continuity heavily. That all works.

This also is the last chance for these actors to play these characters. So this episode also allows our characters to break from their mold a little bit. They all get courage but it effects them all differently. If you have followed these characters for 6 years, this almost felt a little like comedy. I loved that too. In particular, and in what is becoming a sort of weekly statement, Jesse Rath as Brainy just slays. And, as always, Melissa Benoist is wonderful as Supergirl and Kara, showing hope and relying on her family and friends. Wish we saw some of this in the comics.

And I have to admit that I was wrong in thinking that the characters themselves are the totems. But I will hold on to the hope that I will end up being right in some way. 

On to the details!
The episodes starts with the super friends all wondering where to find the totems. They have to beat Nyxly to the punch.

On cue, Lena arrives. She gets a one sentence recap of what is going on, enough to know why a giant cat attacked National City last episode. What she doesn't do is open up about her learning about her tie to witchcraft.

While the other continue to monitor the city, Lena and Kara head to the Fortress to talk to an AI version of Vita, a known Kryptonian witch. They should have called her Vita Exposition.

We get a lot of information from this projection. The artifacts must be found in a certain order, courage being the first.
They are artifacts hidden over the globe.
To obtain its power, the holder of the artifact has to activate it by saying 'cgyrzyx'. That person is then subjected to 'the gauntlet', an emotional quest that must be overcome and that is painful to the user. If they fail, the energy from the item will disperse to those around them.

I still don't know if I am on board with the Lena being a witch subplot but here we are in the last season so all bets are off. I do like how readily she is accepted in the team and how trusted she is.

I don't know if I 100% follow the rules of the totems but I can muddle through.

Meanwhile in the National City Museum of Science and Technology, a Dr. Lahr learns that her funding for a device to capture the power of lightning has been cut because the research was felt to be too dangerous. She was sure Project Bolt would work.

In the museum wing of the building, we see Mitch searching for the totem of courage. We pass by David's actual slingshot from the bible story of David and Goliath.

A couple of things here. One, I am pretty sure it was a sling, like a rawhide device to spin and throw stones in the Bible. Someone let me know.

Also, surely Dr. Lahr is named that after Burt Lahr who played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. This is an episode about courage.
Sure enough, Nyxly's globe points out that the David slingshot is the totem of courage.

And Mitch has even figured out a an 8 minute window in the museum when the slingshot will be less guarded and open to be stolen!

Suddenly we're in a heist film!

In an interesting side plot, we learn that William is probably suffering from PTSD.

Andrea is very upset that William hasn't been able to bring home any stories about the Super Friends. She brings up all his prior major stories, all when he was undercover in dangerous situations. She wonders where that reporter has gone.

At his desk, William remembers when he was shot by Miss Tessmacher. (Glad he remembered! I forgot!)

Maybe WIlliam isn't putting himself out on the line because he is afraid. Huh, another storyline about courage.

The Watchtower picks up Nyxly being in the the museum and everyone suits up and enters the fray.

Nyxly smashes the glass case and grabs the slingshot but before she can teleport away, Kara bisects it with her heat vision. Everyone is bathed in blue light.

As Nyxly grabs it, she sees visions of her and her brother in the 5th dimension, a sneak peek at the gauntlet.

How crazy to have Supergirl blast the holy relic with her heat vision. But here we are!

Without knowing what to do with half a totem which is radiating 5th dimensional magic, the team re-activates the Vita AI.

Now don't ask me how but it possesses Brainy, allowing Jesse Rath to deliciously camp up the proceedings by acting like the old crone. I absolutely loved it.

When the totem was split, everyone was hit by the magic and infused with raw courage. The only way to unite the pieces is to gain control of it by surviving the gauntlet. But the scenario will be emotionally difficult. And if the person trying to do it fails, more courage energy will leak out. It is a race between Kara and Nyxly.

Okay. I don't know if I follow all that either. But it sure sounds fun. And that explanation did let me see Rath stretch a bit.

Grabbing her piece Kara activates it and hears the words 'Face the past, face yourself, face the moment you lacked true courage!'

We flash all the way back to the pilot episode. Kara is in the bar waiting for a date when she hears about Alex's plane about to crash. She jumps into action just like she did 6 years ago.

As she is flying home, she hears someone crying for help. The original night she flew straight home for fear of being seen. This time she stops the mugging.

But it turns out that wasn't the moment. She is pulled back to the present and hears she failed.

We see all those in the museum in the prior scenes get magical blue eyes, charged even more with courage.

I have to say, I got goose bumps seeing the plane rescue again. And great work on this season's crew in recreating that night with new footage. Amazing!

As for Nyxly, she also tries to run the gauntlet.

She is taken back to the day of the coup. Her father stops the rebels. But as we heard, he praises his son for taking initiative. As for Nyxly, he banishes her because what daughter could betray a father.

This time Nyxly shows great courage by pulling out her dagger and killing her father outright.

Alas, this was not the lesson to be learned. She also is pulled into the present and told she failed.

Remember the people exposed to the energy were in the Museum and its lab division. Fattened up on courage, everyone there just starts fighting with each other. I guess courage for a lab nerd is to throw down!

And a nearby lizard has the magical energy pump it up into a dragon!

I don't know if courage means belligerence. But it does so here.

The Super Friends arrive at the museum cafeteria to try and quell the riot. But nothing seems to be going right.

Alex tries to take on the dragon by herself showing a lack of self-control.

And J'onn is standing around smiling and just watching, talking about how proud he is of Alex and Kara.

He even tries to just talk down dragon instead of using his powers. Thankfully Supergirl does a great cape rescue before he could be burned to a crisp

Finally she convinces him to use his mind powers to calm everyone down. Even the dragon shrinks back to a lizard.

The best part is an exasperated Kara wondering 'what happened here!'

Benoist is a wonder. But I bet Chyler Leigh and David Harewood loved playing their characters with a little bit of goofiness. I mean, this is the last chance to do these sort of things.

Back at the Watchtower, Supergirl figures out what is going on.

Alex is normally a hard realist. Now she is courageous enough to throw caution to the wind. J'onn is also reserved. Now he is brave enough to express his true feelings. Courage is impacting how they think. I mean check out that goofy expression on J'onn's face and the huge smile on Alex. These actors must be loving it that they can break mold.

Meanwhile Nyxly wonders why killing her father wasn't the answer to her quest. Mitch wonders if instead she was supposed to kill her brother, an idea which seems to anger Nyxly.

Everyone wonders what the next step is. Left together, Kara talks to Lena about how that moment when she saved Alex, she actually felt the most courageous. So what could the gauntlet answer be?

In a moment that will surely make one section of this show's fandom giddy, Lena says she believes in Kara. For me, I just like that these two are friends now.

Once again Kara activates the totem and once more is brought back to that fateful night.

This time she decides to hop around the city stopping all the crime that night. But once more she fails. Even more courage is blasted outwards.

Now Dr. Lahr decides that she will activate Project Bolt without testing it. Fortune favors the bold!

So tell me? What do you think Kara's mission was supposed to be that night? Maybe to tell Alex firmly she was going to be Supergirl (remember Alex forbid it initially)? To tell Clark? To announcer herself to the world?

I'd love to hear everyone's idea.

Alone, Lena decides to talk to Vita more.

Even the AI can sense Lena's connection to magic. If Lena would accept her gift and harness her magic, she might be able to control the totem or stop Nyxly.

I love that Lena is continuing to question all of this. Magic is just another form of energy. Magic is unreliable.

But it is clear that this connection will play an important role in this last part of the season. After all, we are fighting a magical imp.

Kara gave it a shot so why shouldn't Nyxly. She faces her gauntlet again.

She doesn't kill her brother. Instead she confronts his complicity in allowing her to be arrested. She calls him out. She loved him. She raised him. She would never turn her back on him. She was ready to die for him.

Suddenly she is pulled into the present. She did not fail.

In fact, it was the courage to be vulnerable which led to the victory. Her piece of the slingshot transforms into a tiny shard. And Kara's does as well.

In fact, Supergirl can barely hold on to her piece as it tries to fly and reunite itself with Nyxly's. To stop that from happening, she puts it in some dampening box.

Now you might think it would be better to allow the piece to go to Nyxly so Supergirl could follow it and capture the still-powerless imp. But maybe that makes too much sense. Also, great job by the show to give us a set of the 5th dimension which looks appropriately wonky.

Meanwhile, Lahr's device is bringing down a lightning storm with more and more massive strikes.

Brainy says the storm is right over their tower but Lena tells him he is wrong. It turns out that Brainy is showing the courage to do his calculations wrong, something he is afraid of.

Once again, Rath delivers the perfect line spitting out 'this while time I was guesstimating??' He is perfectly disdainful! I love it! And I love again how exasperated Kara is.
The team decides the lightning storm is a huge threat and must be stopped.

They find the mobile unit Lahr is working from.

Lahr won't tell Supergirl how to stop the storm. Alex is diving into action almost being fried by lightning. And J'onn just wants to talk about his feelings.

It is clear that Kara has one choice. If she lets the totem reunite, the courage energy will coalesce back into the totem itself. But she will get her team back and Lahr might help.

This is why I think we haven't seen the last of my idea that the heroes are the totems. It must take tremendous courage for Kara to give Nyxly the totem. But it is the only way to save the city. In this instance, Kara was a totem of courage.
With everyone back to normal, everyone is now seeing how the lightning is going to destroy the city. If the fliers on the team swirl around the storm to condense it, Alex can shoot a Negative Ionizer beam into it and stop it. At just the right time, the Guardian show up. Kelly will protect Alex from the lightning while she fires the beam.

Just like that, the lightning threat is ended.

But when the two pieces of the totem reunited, both Nyxly and Kara were hit with a different energy, this time knocking Kara out.

There's nothing left but the wrap-up.

In the med bay, Kara awakens and can sense that somehow the exposure to the totem have psychically linked her and Nyxly. She can sense Nyxly's thoughts. And Nyxly is feeling triumphant.

Meanwhile, William's boost of magic courage doesn't completely fade away. He has been brave enough to face his almost dying and wonders if now he could embed himself with the super friends. That won't be easy given he works with two of them.

And with Alex together with Kelly, Kara needs someone else on her couch to eat chinese food. So she and Lena talk about the events of the day.

Lena finally admits that she has some magic in her family and that she owes it to the team to try and strengthen it in the fight with Nyxly. Kara doesn't seem to shocked to hear about this.

But in another show of bravery, Kara says she wants to keep the psychic tether she has with Nyxly intact. It could be an asset.

But that tether goes both ways. Nyxly can sense Kara and she senses that she is 'hopeful and happy!' Imagine that!!! Supergirl hopeful and happy!!

It is then that Nyxly realizes that if she is to gain power she must suffer.

No doubt that will tie into the end of this season. Perhaps the friends will convince Nyxly that the pain of vengeance and power isn't worth it.

I have to say, this was a fun epiode, completely bonkers, not weighed down with political messages, and chock full of fun and show history. Might be my favorite of the season.

What did you all think?


marvelboy74 said...

I was surprised how well written this episode was. I am not sure what Kara's trial challenge was to be either.

SG Fan said...

I thought perhaps that Kara's trial was to apologize to the man she didn't save, for her worrying more about herself than others. That, she could have helped him, but didn't. My logic being, sure she can with hindsight go help him, but it would have been even bigger to say sorry to him.

Anj said...

Wondering now if she needed to reveal herself as Supergirl immediately; that would take great courage!

Anonymous said...

I don't think Supergirl's trial challenge involves confronting Alex, after six years the show is very comfortable with the notion that Alex isn't Kara's conscience, she is Supergirl's Spiritual Overlord, taking the elder sister down a peg would give the writer's the screaming bedspins.
But what that challenge could be, I cannot say, maybe....and this is pretty heavy, given her dependence on Alex, it might've taken more courage for Kara to leave her sister to her fate in the airliner. But that guts the show's continuity and not in a good way either, on the other hand it's cheap heat so the show runners might go with it :)
Otherwise it was peachy keen to see the show get back down to Superheroinely brass tacks, Supergirl had some fun saves and everyone's talent for comedy was put on full display, Melissa B. has a rare talent for mining exasperation for comedy, I wish she'd get more chances to run with that sort of say nothing of Jesse Rath's comedy chops.
Nxly is starting to give off a definite Faye Dunaway Selena Vibe right down to her fawning toady, I loved her "Grinch Moment" she is shocked to discover Supergirl is still happy & hopeless even after losing the courage's hard to imagine MB's Supergirl sitting back and just allowing a public stoning to happen. Ohh did I just write that, yes I did.