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TV Review: Supergirl S2E22 “Nevertheless She Persisted” has Kick-Ass Action and Human Emotion

Supergirl‘s Season 2 finale “Nevertheless She Persisted” opens up a potent can of whup ass with a no holds barred throwdown between Supergirl and Superman, who is being controlled by Rhea with silver kryptonite that makes Kara look like General Zod, courtesy of veteran Arrow and Smallvile director Glen Winter. And it has a Battle of Pelennor Fields-esque second act with White Martians, a Superman and Martian Manhunter team-up, and even Mon-El busting out some kung fu to defeat the Daxamites. However, where this episode really shines is how writers Robert Rovner, Caitlin Parrish, Jessica Queller, and Andrew Kreisberg,  and actor Melissa Benoist show how far Kara Danvers has come along as a woman, reporter, and hero. She’s not afraid to make the hard choice and irradiating the atmosphere with lead to make the Daxamites go away but feels terrible about having to send her boyfriend Mon-El away before he dies. Her grief comes out in teary, silent close-ups of Benoist as she flies in the twilight and wishes there was some way she could be with Mon-El. Also, having a nice trial by combat between Supergirl and Rhea is an excellent main plot point.

And this is where Cat Grant is kind of perfect in a more dialed down performance from Calista Flockhart even though she makes some great, leaning on the fourth quips about never seeing Star Wars to Winn and Kara. She gives Kara the pep talk of all pep talks by praising her investigative reporting while giving her constructive criticism about her writing style. Then, Cat hits what is honestly the thematic core of Supergirl as a TV show: women can be emotionally vulnerable and still fight on. And this goes for all the women of Supergirl, including the bad guys. Rhea is a terrible, cowardly tyrant, but she still has love for Mon-El even as she collapses in lead dust. On the other hand, Lillian Luthor will do whatever it takes to protect the world from aliens, but she regrets being so negative towards Lena while she was growing up and straining their relationship.

Even more so than the MacGuffin/mind control/Myriad season 1 finale, Supergirl Season 2’s finale is a war story. Most of the shooting is done in the dark, but Winter occasionally shows shots of buildings, fountains, and windows being caught in the crossfire of powerful aliens from the Superman vs. Supergirl battle in the beginning to Supergirl vs. Rhea and finally the all out Martian/human/Kryptonian/Daxamite battle royale. But unlike its higher budget cousin, Man of Steel, “Nevertheless She Persisted” consciously shows the heroes helping every day people, like Martian Manhunter carrying civilians out of harm’s way or Superman protecting them with his freeze breath. Superman and Martian Manhunter have a truly epic moment when they say “Stronger together” in their native tongues before giving us one of the coolest superhero team-ups in TV history.

But they get emotional stories too with Superman playing a supporting role even though Tyler Hoechlin has leading man charisma, and you can tell why Cat Grant has a crush on Clark Kent. In a sparring session, she opens up to him about her fear of losing Mon-El if she activates Lillian Luthor’s fail safe, and he empathizes with his fear of losing Lois. Except for when he’s under the influence of silver kryptonite (Which I didn’t know was a thing), Superman is kind, compassionate, and a team player. And the writers of Supergirl use him in small doses so he doesn’t overshadow Kara and the main supporting players’ arcs.

They don’t spend a lot of time onscreen together thanks to the frantic flying and rushing to fight Rhea and the Daxamites, but “Nevertheless She Persisted’s” writers manage to get a few great scenes out of Kara and Alex’s interactions. Their bond as sisters has been this season’s bedrock and even enhanced the romantic relationship between Alex and Maggie, which gets a bit of an upgrade in this episode. Alex nurses her back to health in the Fortress of Solitude and then later on thanks her for helping her come out as lesbian earlier in the season although she was struggling to be herself. Kara is definitely thinking about Mon-El as she flies and broods above National City, but her last great interaction is with Alex, the woman who she inspires and is inspired by in turn.

Supergirl is a TV show about women of action who also have rich emotional lives, and when the writers strike that balance between those two things (Instead of following Mon-El down a douchy rabbit hole), it can be a great genre show as “Nevertheless She Persisted” (And a great Cat Grant speech.) demonstrates. Supergirl Season 2 has definitely been a rocky ride, but by doubling down on the relationships between female characters and villains, it stuck the landing while leaving some threads for next season like Lillian Luthor being free as a bird, yet another pod being sent from Krypton, and perhaps a romance between Kara and Lena Luthor.

Overall Rating: 8.50

Supergirl S2E1: The Adventures of Supergirl Recap

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Season 2 of Supergirl kicked off with a bang last night on its new home The CW. Any fans who were skeptical about how the change in networks would effect their beloved show can relax.

Fans and newcomers to the show were treated to a new intro and that classic CW look. Always ready to keep the viewers on their feet there was a space pod crash and a mystery Kryptonian crash landed on earth.

In the interim between season 1 and season 2 the clandestine alien hunting team have moved into newer digs. No longer underground and with a little more autonomy, the lovable laughable Winn is now a member of the team. He’s their tech guy and it was a clever way to keep him on the show since it looks like Kara won’t be spending much time at the office season.

Supergirl -- "The Last Children of Krypton" -- Image SPG202a_0016 -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist Kara/Supergirl and Tyler Hoechlin as Clark/Superman -- Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

We also get to meet Superman and see the big cousin, little cousin ribbing and love that we needed. Having Clark on the show means Kara has someone, like her to talk about her Kryptonian problems. The Superman intro was delightfully campy, complete with slow motion running and shirt ripping to reveal the giant house of El crest.

The villain this time around is kind of ambiguous. Lex Luthor may or may not be trying to take his sister out and he’s willing to put all of National City at risk to do it. Supergirl and Superman team up throughout the episode and prove that two heads are better than one. I just hope that this mash up does not turn into the Superman show with Kara as a side kick.

Everyone’s favorite mogul and Kara mentor is back and still being the awesome example of a boss chick that we love. She is putting pressure on Kara to chose her next career at Cat Co. because she’s too good to just be an assistant. A good quarter of the episode is Kara trying to choose her path and Cat trying to lovingly but, bluntly get her to make a choice. In the end Kara chooses to be a reporter which Cat knew she would chose from the second she met her. That’s why Cat was so hard on her. She wanted to polish the diamond in the rough. There’s something refreshing about seeing them interact. We get to watch an older successful woman mentoring a young woman just starting out. She’s not trying to turn her into a clone, she’s trying to help her be the best she can be. So often in media we see women tearing other women down, exhibiting a sort of Highlander (there can be only one) mentality, or lamenti about boys. Their relationship is the kind that little girls need to see because it’s an image that is lacking in most media & depictions of female relationships.

clarkandkaraSpeaking of relationships, Jimmy and Kara are trying to make the relationship thing work. But, it’s not going as well as planned. clearly these two love each other and we all love to ‘ship them but, the timing isn’t right and Kara isn’t as into it as she could be. There is this great moment where Kara breaks the news to Jimmy and he acts like a human being. I phrase is like that because so often men take it the wrong (aggressive) way when women friend zone them. When Kara tells him that she just wants to be friends because she needs time to figure out who she is, how she can be Kara and Supergirl and, how she can manage a career he accepts it and supports her instead of telling her why she is wrong and pushing a romantic relationship on her. There was no saltiness and he kept his sulking to himself. It was a nice example for the young men watching, a feminist flag saying that women are not property and they don’t owe you a romantic relationship .

Another nice example for the men watching was Superman himself. When Kara asks for his advice about balancing it all he gives it to her. He doesn’t mansplain or tell her what to do instead he tells her how he did it and that she can figure it out. He treats her as a person instead of an object. He listens instead of ordering and, helps instead of sowing seeds of doubt.

Lena provides an antiCat for the series, she’s a strong woman but, she’s a variation on the most common women in power trope. She’s ruthless, cold and kind of heartless. She doesn’t even bat an eye at shooting a mama who was sent by her brother to kill her, even though Superman or Supergirl could have taken him down. But, the shows  take on this trope makes her relatable. She’s end fighting for her place so long she knows she’s alone and somehow it comes off less sexist and cliched and more complex and real.

With the threat to Lena neutralized and another unconscious Kryptonian pod person in the mix, Clark decides to stick around. The last few minutes of the show gave us the birth of Metallo who I’m assuming will be one of this seasons villians. Pod man (or should I just call him Valor? Because, it’s not like y’all weren’t thinking the same damn thing) will hopefully join the fight and I’m hoping the hero injection on the show doesn’t over power the She-ro the show is supposed to be about.

Overall this was a great start on the new network. It was serving up a little Smallville magic and I am hoping the magic continues. Supergirl is one of the few truly Girl powered (and empowering) shows on right now and, I am hoping that the writers continue to do right by her because she deserves it.

Overall Rating: 9.7

TV Review: Supergirl S2 E1 “Adventures of Supergirl” is a Crossroads for Kara

Supergirl -- "The Last Children of Krypton" -- Image SPG202a_0016 -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist Kara/Supergirl and Tyler Hoechlin as Clark/Superman -- Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Much of the press surrounding the season 2 premiere of Supergirl has been centered around Teen Wolf‘s Tyler Hoechlin guest starring as Superman, and he does turn in the best performance as the Man of Steel since the last Christopher Reeve. However, “Adventures of Supergirl” is about a turning point in Supergirl’s (Melissa Benoist) life as she must decide what job she is taking at Catco, whether she wants to date James Olsen (Mechad Brooks), and basically choose what kind of person she wants to be. Sure, a mercenary with a British accent and a name that is familiar to comic book nerds shows up to wreak havoc, and there is some intrigue from Lena Luthor. But writers Andrew Kreisberg, Jessica Queller, and Greg Berlanti focus the main brunt of the plot on Supergirl’s “coming of age” and ably position Superman’s guest apperance as both a family member and someone she can aspire to be. It’s the bedrock of a pretty overstuffed premiere that also features a subplot about tension between Superman and Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) over the DEO keeping kryptonite as insurance against any rogue Kryptonians.

“Adventures of Supergirl” is a major episode in Supergirl’s continuing character arc, and Melissa Benoist shows some nice acting range as she goes from smiling while saving a plane with Superman to stuttering about filling out an Internet quiz to pick her new job at Catco. And even though she isn’t Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockhart) assistant any more, Kara is a little unsure of herself as she and Superman (in disguise as Clark Kent) investigate Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) and in some of her interactions with Cat. However, she has never been more confident as Supergirl as she smiles while speed fixing L-Corp (formerly LexCorp) Tower and crack jokes about changing Superman’s diapers on Krypton to a family of bystanders she rescues. When Supergirl shields civilians or bullets or flies to save an airplane, it makes you believe in things like truth and justice. And this extends to her civilian life as Kara Danvers as she channels some of her life as Supergirl into an impassioned plea to Cat Grant to become a reporter at Catco. (Also, it’s the perfect job for a superhero, and you can get “exclusive scoops”. Just ask Peter Parker or Lois Lane.)

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“Adventures of Supergirl” also features a trio of wide-ranging guest performances for the earlier mentioned Hoechlin, Flockhart, and McGrath. Hoechlin’s plays Superman as a human being, not an icon, and he channels the competent, mature reporter and hero that has settled down with Lois Lane as written in Post-Crisis stories by John Byrne, Dan Jurgens, Mark Waid (His investigative reporting in Superman Birthright especially.), and the DC Animated Universe. The writers give him just a dash of cheesiness in his dialogue to satisfy fond memories of “bumbling reporter” Clark Kent, and director Glen Winter frames the big “S” front and center in the action scenes and establishing shots before cutting to him making a dry quip or shaking DEO soldiers’ hands. Superman is a family man with godlike powers, and Hoechlin and Benoist have a cheerful chemistry with Superman giving her helpful tips about being a more efficient superhero while Supergirl tells him stories about Krypton. I’m glad that they will have a few more episodes to explore their relationship, grow together, and share more triumphant high fives and smiles.

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Unfortunately, Cat Grant’s time as a main cast member of Supergirl has drawn to a close, but “Adventures of Supergirl” is hell of a curtain call for her. Kreisberg, Queller, and Berlanti build off the friendlier relationship that she and Kara developed at the close of Season 1 while still keeping some of her trademark sniping for good measure, like her constant reminders of the exact time Kara has to choose a job at Catco. Cat gets some of the most perceptive writing in the episode as she remarks that Supergirl’s beliefs are what make her a hero, not her abilities. Cat also gets a tiny bit sentimental when she talks about Kara’s potential to grow from an awkward, unsure assistant to a confident woman because she sees her drive to succeed in Kara. Flockhart excels at playing the mentor much more than the angry boss even though her one-liners are sharp as ever.

Finally, Katie McGrath brings an otherworldly presence to the role of Lena Luthor. Her calculated line delivery makes her initially seem like a femme fatale played by Eva Green, and Clark Kent doesn’t trust her, but she is really a woman, who wants to make something for herself apart from her family. She isn’t Lex Luthor’s plant, but a woman with a vision even though we don’t get to see her business acumen in this episode. Lena does end up being the one to take out Corben, and Kreisberg, Queller, and Berlanti do a twist on the Superman/Luthor dynamic by writing a favorable article about her and her company L-Corp because it’s the “truth”. But from the slow, measured ways that McGrath delivers Lena dialogue, and the “all too easy” ending of this episode, she may end up being a villain yet.

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Despite strong performances and inspirational themes, “Adventures of Supergirl” does have its shortcomings. The lack of budget in the move from CBS to the CW definitely shows with Winter’s quick cuts to not expose the fact that Supergirl and Superman are flying against a generic cityscape green screen. The sad richness that David Harewood brought to his voice performance as the Martian Manhunter in Season One is also distorted in the sound mix. Besides these technical hiccups, John Corben is a pretty one-dimensional villain of the week as your standard run of the mill merc with a drone that looks bought off eBay. (He becomes immensely cooler in the stinger though.) “Adventures of Supergirl” is also juggling a ton of plots and subplots, and major one of them (Jimmy/Kara romance) doesn’t get the kind of attention and lingering camera shots it got last season as Kara decides to just be friends with James. It does make sense that she wouldn’t have time for a romantic relationship at such a transitional time in her life though.

A villain of the week and some special effects issues aside, “Adventures of the Supergirl” is a sparkling example what an inspiring show Supergirl is and features some excellent character chemistry between Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman, and Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant. The episode dedicates itself to establishing and shifting the character of Supergirl while setting up a couple of mysteries to explored down the road. Lena Luthor is especially captivating thanks to Katie McGrath

Overall Rating: 8.5

TV Review: Supergirl S1E20 Better Angels

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1Supergirl is forced to do battle with an unexpected enemy as she risks everything – including her life – to stop Non and Indigo from destroying everyone on Earth.

CBSSupergirl wraps up her first season as she takes on Non and Indigo in freeing the people of her city and then thing escalate. That issue is resolved rather quickly which is interesting and definitely caught me off guard.

But that false ending (in a way) is just the end of that plan, and instead there’s a bigger plan out there, kind of a scorched Earth policy by Non and Indigo.

That leads to a big showdown that has ok action and a meh ending.

The episode is really about its heart which is shown just before the battle as Kara/Supergirl realizes she might not return from the fight, and the end of the episode where Kara deals with Cat and then her friends. That’s where they show does best I think and here it’s cute and sweet in a way.

The episode has some good and some bad and feels a bit anti-climactic and the resolution to the battle with Non is just ok.

But, the end of the episode is really cool in that it sets up a possibly exciting second season if the show is back. There’s a mystery, a job change, some relationship stuff. A lot is wrapped up and a lot is set up!

Supergirl sputtered a bit, but this episode had more than enough to show off why this show is fantastic and why it’s needed on the air. Here’s to a super first season and hopefully a super second one.

Overall rating: 7.6

TV Review: Supergirl S1E19 Myriad

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1Kara must devise a way to free her friends when Non and Indigo employ mind control to turn all of National City’s citizens into their own army.

CBSSupergirl last week gave us the beginning of the end game for the first season as National City was enslaved by Non with a mysterious signal that turns individuals into zombies.

The goal?

To use the zombie brainpower to solve issues. Yes, Non’s big plan is to use crowdsourcing to solve Earth’s problems….. yes this was a weapon that was created in the hope it could be used to save Krypton, but yeah. Even the weapon is kind of cute in a way.

Beside the master plan, the episode is actually good. The stakes feel high as Non and Indigo team up to take on Supergirl and the few folks she has to help here.

There’s some really horrible parts, like Superman being enslaved (the excuse given is eye rolling, as well as the lack of his actually being used). There’s some silliness absolutely, but, the episode feels like there’s some pretty heft battles going on and even though there’s lots of space in the battles, lacking a feel of an epicness to it, the episode still feels pretty big in the battle.

The first season is wrapping up and this story arc has done a good job at setting itself up. Here’s hoping it sticks the landing. Not a super strong episode, but it’s entertaining.

Overall rating: 7.8

TV Review: Supergirl S1E18 Worlds Finest

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1The Flash arrives in National City from an alternate universe. He teams up with Supergirl to battle the villains Livewire and Silver Banshee, in exchange for Supergirl’s help finding him a way to return home.

CBSSupergirl gets a friend in the Flash as the hero from The CW crosses channels and Earth’s to join Kara for a team-up episode that has them taking on Livewire and Silver Banshee and having a great time while doing so.

The last couple of episodes folks have been untrusting of Supergirl, but this episode puts that at the center and has the city make a decision as to where she stands, so there’s a solid use of that storyline.

Before I get to the excellent, I have to ask, is Livewire’s music the same as Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man!?

But, what’s really fun is Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist working together after a rather short stint on Glee together. The two have fantastic chemistry and what’s truly amazing is that they bring back the fun to a series that has missed it a bit for a few episodes. There’s such an energy in this episode it’s kind of hard to not smile and giggle at the jokes and enthusiasm of its two leads. The fun explodes off the screen and Benoist is back to her adorkable fun self.

There’s the plot as well having to do with Kara and James, which I will say I am not a fan of the two. There’s something storywise that just doesn’t work for me at all.

But, the episode is beyond fantastic nailing things in every way possible and creating a fun enjoyable episode that’s fun in every way. The title of the episode is “Worlds Finest” and it might have been the show’s finest yet

Overall rating: 9.6

TV Review: Supergirl S1E17 Manhunter

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1J’onn J’onzz reveals the details of meeting Kara and Alex’s father, Dr. Jeremiah Danvers, and assuming Hank Henshaw’s identity. Meanwhile, Kara considers confiding her secret to someone new; and Siobhan plots to bring Kara down.

CBSSupergirl bounces around the present and past as we learn the history of Martian Manhunter as well as Supergirl. The episode does a great job of intertwining the two’s history. The show is entertaining filling in some blanks as to the two characters’ history. And the solid about that is that it really frames the two as immigrants trying to assimilate to their new world.

In the present the fallout from the revelation that Hank Henshaw is really J’onn J’onzz is being dealt with and the fact he might be a threat to national security and the objective of the DEO is at the center. The episode really is a bunch of interrogations and the flashbacks. And together it’s all really good with some decent resolution.

There’s also some things dealing with Siobhan who is seeking revenge against Kara for getting her fired. That part of the story is ok, but the bigger is a reveal at the end that deals with her.

The episode overall is pretty decent and very entertaining. It does a great job of diving into the past and giving the characters a more fleshed out background and history. The revelations and small details add wonders to them, but also fills in blanks for us viewers too. The themes explored as well feel relevant and something many of us can relate to.

A solid episode overall that is simple in execution and focus.

Overall rating: 8.3

TV Review: Supergirl S1E16 Falling

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1Kara has a major personality change after being exposed to Red Kryptonite. As her friends and the citizens of National City face a malicious and dangerous Supergirl, Cat appears as a guest on “The Talk.”

CBSSupergirl takes Kara for an evil spin as she’s exposed to Red Kryptonite and while I’ll say the episode is generally good, it also feels like we’ve seen this sort of thing a lot in comics, or even television. The episode has Kara slowly change, and it’s an interesting one that lets actress Melissa Benoist stretch her legs (and her cape) a bit with the character.

The episode has a lot of winks and nods to previous entertainment, and there’s a great nod to Superman’s evil turn in the bland Superman III, peanuts, mirror and all.

But, the episode also feels somewhat original and interesting in that it does a nice inner look about the character herself and what she stands for as a character. That to me is the more interesting thing, and I’d have rather had the episode focus on that a lot more. It’d have been a much stronger episode with that debate, which is really one it’s having with its audience.

There’s some bad with the episode as well. Kara’s moments with James is especially bad and feels like it’ll be handled wrong. Also, I’m not sure how I feel about the events with Henshaw/Martian Manhunter. All of that will depend on where they take both plot lines down the road. Both may be minor bumps where there’s a nice recovery after.

I will say of particular note that I find interesting is Supergirl’s relationship with Cat which has really evolved over the series and is very different, and somewhat original, compared to Superman with Lois or Jimmy.

The episode is an ok one. Not super in any way, but it has it’s touching moments and it also sets up some strife with Supergirl, taking here away from her rather perfect and squeaky clean image.

Overall rating: 8.8

TV Review: Supergirl S1E15 Solitude

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1Kara travels to the Fortress of Solitude hoping to find information on how to defeat Indigo, a being from her past who can travel through the Internet. In the meantime, James and Lucy reach a crossroads in their relationship.

CBSSupergirl does an ok job mixing things together in tonight’s episode which gives us a new villain in the Brainiac spin-off Indigo.

Lets start with the villain of Indigo herself. The character and concept are cool, basically a computer in person form, and aspects of the character look cool, but the costume is just so poor it distracts from the episode.

This is a character that can change her shape and travel through the internet, but there’s seems on the outfit and a zipper on the back…. it just looks really silly.

The episode really focuses on Supergirl walking away from the DEO due to Hank “killing” her aunt, but we all know it’s really Supergirl’s sister. There’s also relationship issues between James and Lucy dealt with.

The James and Lucy spat seems a bit odd, especially since James never shared Superman’s identity, so it’s odd he wants to do that for Supergirl. It’s clunky writing definitely and the weakest spot of the show.

The episode is an ok one. Not super in any way, but it has it’s touching moments and a fun villain in some ways.

Overall rating: 8.8

TV Review: Supergirl S1E14 Truth, Justice and the American Way

Melissa Benoist Supergirl 1Supergirl battles the deadly Master Jailer, who is hunting and executing Fort Rozz escapees; at the same time, a second assistant hired by Cat tries to one-up Kara at every turn; James and Kara find themselves in a disagreement over the DEO’s methods.

CBSSupergirl is an interesting episode in that it gets to more of a debate about the ideals of Supergirl, it’s something that hasn’t really come up a lot at this point.

That really revolves around Maxwell Lord’s detention which has just kind of been out there up to this point. He’s been detained, and I myself have been wondering why no one was looking for him, or how he can be detained.

That’s been a big debate here with it outright being called a Guantanamo like situation and that Lord, though evil, still deserves due process and has rights by which he should be afforded.

It’s an interesting debate and dives in to solid discussions. It allows Supergirl to think about what she stands for as a hero. Mixing that with the Master Jailer she has to deal with creates an actual debate along with the entertainment. I want to see more of that in the series, because it’s a deeper look at the character along with the action.

There’s big movement when it comes to personal lives as well. Jimmy wants to tell Lana about Supergirl/Kara, which is the weakest point of the episode as he can just say he’s working with Supergirl and not mention Kara. There’s also the introduction of a new rival for Kara.

The episode is a good one in that it mixes some moral debates along with action. More of this please!

Overall rating: 8.8

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