Supergirl S2E9 “Supergirl Lives” Takes the Show to Space with Mixed Results
Unlike director Kevin Smith’s two stellar episodes of The Flash, his directorial debut on Supergirl is a little bit of a mixed bag. Writers Eric Carrasco, Jess Kardos, and Andrew Kreisberg give the show more of a sci-fi bent as Supergirl (in disguise as reporter Kara Danvers) and Mon-El chase down a lead on a missing girl and end up on a planet called The Slaver’s Moon. They have to liberate a coterie of missing humans from Roulette, played by a woefully underused Dichen Lachman, and the twist is that this planet has a red sun. Without her abilities to back her up, Supergirl relies on her power to inspire Plus Mon-El has a sketchy connection to the Dominators from the “Invasion” crossover, which could play a bigger role in episodes to come.
The villains of “Supergirl Lives” are kind of an intellectual and physical snore. Roulette seemed otherwordly earlier this season when she was running an alien fighting ring, but being on another planet has kind of ruined her bite. Her scientist henchman is just plain creepy and not really threatening like an annoying guy on a subway whereas the alien guards are there to get punched over and over again by depowered Kryptonians, random civilians, and Winn. But, luckily, Supergirl has a stellar cast, and character development given to Alex Danvers, Winn, Supergirl, and especially Mon-El keeps this episode from being a disaster. Plus Ian Gomez returns as Snapper Carr, and his cynical attitude towards Kara’s reporting skills thaws just a little while he goes on a hilarious rant about wanting to be left alone with his coffee and Danish.
Up to this point, Mon-El was a character that I kind of detested as he came across as an overprivileged douche from another planet and not a good romantic match for Kara. However, in 2017, it seems like the writers have decided to make him a little likable and more heroic while using his laziness and obliviousness to some things on Earth for quick bits of humor. For example, there are running gags involving club soda and Highlights magazine that create a real bond between him and Kara to go along with their teaming up to save runaway aliens. Mon-El truly changes in “Supergirl Lives” as he goes from trying to run through the portal back home to covering the runaways’ escape routes with some well aimed blaster bolts. He is inspired by Supergirl’s optimism and willingness to take multiple energy blasts to become a hero in his own right. But his work ethic is still terrible (He takes a day off on his second day as a bartender who doesn’t know the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.), and his connection to the Dominators is a little unsettling. Maybe, he is not all he seems to be.
Even though they gets the C-Plot of “Supergirl Lives”, Smith, Carrasco, Kardos, and Kreisberg nail the dynamic between Winn and James Olsen with all the fear, anger, and adventure of being a superhero team. The opening car chase scene featuring him, Guardian, and Supergirl gave me chills as Smith ably switched angles to show Supergirl’s epic poses and heat visions before swooping in up, close, and personal for some street level vigilante action. Also, Winn gets his face bruised, and a jewel thief puts a gun to his head.
Even though he’s relegated to comic relief for the most part in Supergirl, Jeremy Jordan channels pure fear in “Supergirl Lives” in the opening scene, and also when Alex decides to take him along as tech support. He kind of nails what I would be feeling if I had to go into action against criminals or aliens with a bit less vomiting and promptly quits being a team with Guardian. However, going on the off-planet mission gives him a surge of confidence that he shows off to James in a meeting where he is ready to go back into action as “Agent Schott, Defender of the Stars”. Alex and Winn have had a special bond in Supergirl, and her little nudge to get him into to go into the field is a nice payoff for this.
As usual, Chyler Leigh gives the best performance of Supergirl and has the most emotionally powerful arc as she struggles with her newfound happiness with Maggie Sawyer. This can be seen in the lighting used by Smith to film the morning after their first sleepover, which is filled with super cutesy, rom com-ish dialogue. But this is kind of the point. Alex has only recently come out of the closet and gone through a crazy “will they, won’t they” thing with Maggie, and it’s nice to have them pleasantly chatting over coffee. However, Alex is new to romantic relationships and feels insecure about letting Maggie into her problems rebuffing her at the DEO when Kara goes missing.
Instead of pointless drama, Carrasco, Kardos, and Kreisberg go for more nuance with Maggie and Alex’s relationship as Alex feels like she doesn’t deserve to have an amazing glow on her face when she describes Maggie as her “girlfriend”. Her work and protecting Kara has been her life so far, and she doesn’t feel like she’s entitled to this kind of relationship so Alex pushes Maggie away when she wants to help her find Kara. However, at the end of the episode, Alex realizes this is kind of ridiculous and has a cute, touching reunion with her where Maggie reveals that she knows Supergirl’s secret identity. There is room for Alex to care for both Kara and Alex in her life.
“Supergirl Lives” has a nifty car chase scene and some great hand to hand fight scenes featuring Alex Danvers, and the red filter used by Kevin Smith and Shamus Whiting-Hewlett brings out Kara’s vulnerability as she and a depowered Mon-El wander Slaver’s Moon. This combined with the strong characterization of Winn and Mon-El along with the continuing acting brilliance of Chyler Leigh balances out a weak bad guy and a yawn of an alien infiltration arc to make a decent hour of Supergirl.
Overall Rating: 7.5