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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

Review: Supergirl S2E21 “Resist” is the Cat Grant/Kara Power Hour

Beginning with an action prologue showing the Daxamites putting National City under siege, writers Jessica Queller and Derek Simon literally bring out the heavy guns in Supergirl Season 2’s penultimate episode “Resist”. The core plot is simple: the main cast of characters plus special guest stars Cat Grant (Callista Flockhart slaying everything.) and President Olivia Marsdin (Lynda Carter) are fighting back against the Daxamite occupation. President Marsdin (Whose alien secret is revealed early on.) introduces the equivalent of the nuclear solution pretty on by authorizing Alex Danvers and the DEO to disintegrate the Daxamite flagship with Mon-El and Lena Luthor on it. They are arranged to be married and have a “perfect” Daxamite/human child because Rhea is basically a space Nazi. Katie McGrath’s side eye reactions to all things have to do with Lena’s arranged marriage to Mon-El are priceless.

Because her boyfriend and best friend are on the ship, Supergirl has a personal connection and decides to team up with Lillian Luthor and Cyborg Superman to save them, which goes pretty well… They might be the Big Bads of Supergirl Season 2, but they’re definitely bad guys. It’s not a Professor X teaming up Magneto in X2 situation, but more like being cool with the “bigger fish” in The Phantom Menace for five seconds or so so your submarine survives to be a part of yet another inane subplot.

It’s an understatement to say that Callista Flockhart steals every scene she’s in as Cat Grant, and that someone at the CW should move heaven and Earth to get her back on Supergirl as a regular or recurring guest star. There’s her reintroduction scene riding shotgun in Air Force One where Cat says that she could broker peace because she fixed Kanye and Taylor Swift’s relationship, and she even comments on the fact that James Olsen made her office smell like a gym locker room. But she’s not just comic relief in a relatively dark episode of Supergirl. Cat brings a high level of inspiration and direction to “Resist” and gives a great pep talk while sitting on a trash outside an alien dive bar. It definitely seems like the writers try to pack in a half season of interactions between her and Kara, but the scene where she talks to her about the importance of human relationships and connection stands on its own.  And it pays off later with Kara and Lena kicking ass together on the Daxamite ship and definitely with Alex and Maggie infiltrating the DEO. Also, Flockhart gets to share the screen with Lynda Carter and Teri Hatcher that turns a rote disaster movie plane crash into three strong women verbally sparring with Cat Grant playing referee to the political posturing of Rhea and President Marsdin. As a journalist, she truly wants to follow the path of peace and truth.

In its last few episodes, Supergirl has definitely rekindled its political allegories and is definitely not shy at taking potshots at Donald Trump, or using the Daxamites as a metaphor for his administration. Cat’s “resist” speech pinpoints all the problems with his campaign promises, including basically selling his supporters up the river with false promises and con artistry while taking away their healthcare and some basic social services, like Meals on Wheels or PBS. And there are broader themes of resisting fascism represented by the faceless Daxamite goons, who try to subjugate National City.

Supergirl‘s treatment of President Marsdin is interesting too as she protects extraterrestrial refugees because she is one too. However, she is also perfectly okay with firing upon civilians (Lena, Mon-El) for the greater good. Marsdin represents the problems I had with former president Obama and Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy with their liberal social conscience meets hawk-ish foreign policy. It’s nice to see a sociopolitical critique in a superhero show in 2017 that doesn’t just go for the obvious target.

Millicent Shelton, who has directed episodes of Empire and Black-ish along with the first Earth-2 episode of The Flash, brings a visually muscular style to “Resist” that matches its subject material. The cold open of the episode is quite epic and filled with whip cuts culminating in Supergirl catching Alex in slow motion. It’s the kind of action scene that immediately raises the stakes of the episode and is worthy of a Warner Bros blockbuster and not just a CW show. It’s good storytelling too as it introduces the conflict between human and alien by centering on Maggie Sawyer and the National City P.D. and not Supergirl or the comatose Martian Manhunter. There are good aliens and bad aliens just like there are  good and bad humans, and this keeps the conflict messy and nuanced as Supergirl Season 2 rounds its final bend. Also, Maggie Sawyer should use shotguns more often.

“Resist” is a visual treat from director Millicent Shelton (See the slow-mo action sequence where Cat deduces Guardian’s secret identity.) , is packed to the gills with action and moral conflict as Supergirl teams up with Lillian Luthor to save her friends, and has a season stealing performance from Callista Flockhart as Cat Grant. Add a fun/weird cliffhanger, and I can’t wait for the season finale.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Review: Supergirl #2

supergirl2fiSupergirl #2 has all the ingredients of an intriguing teen superhero comic: twisted family drama, killer robots, punching, and of course, adolescent awkwardness. Writer Steve Orlando, artist Brian Ching, and colorist Michael Atiyeh give Supergirl quite the hard time as various men in her life keep telling her what’s best for her from Cyborg Superman saying that he’s her dad Zor-El to her classmate, Ben Rubel, interrupting her and getting a spot as one of Cat Grant’s Young Innovators. In light of a male presidential candidate interrupting a female presidential candidate multiple times and still complaining about not having equal time, the events of Supergirl #2 are very relevant as Orlando simultaneously explores the tragedy of Krypton’s destruction and the cutthroat world of new media.

Speaking of media, Orlando and Ching’s take on Cat Grant is fantastic as they start to build her arc as a journalist who wants to go from reporting gossip for the Daily Planet to running an “open source” media empire. She is the most engaging character that Orlando has written this side of Midnighter and his original creation Virgil and gives Supergirl life lessons while Ching makes her throw choice side eye at Kara’s timidity as well Ben’s brashness to interrupt Kara and answer the question. Cat is also self-aware and understands that her ego and cult of personality could lead to fall of her nascent media empire, which is why she is getting the most talented people to research and check the news before she brings it into the world. Even though (for now) it’s missing the warm banter and friendship/love triangles of Catco in the Supergirl TV show, Orlando and Ching’s version of the organization in the comic is much more bleeding edge and intriguing. It will be interesting to see how the company as well as Kara’s civilian life fits into the storyline featuring Cyborg Superman and the return of Argo City.

For most of Supergirl #2, Kara speaks in her native Kryptonian to Cyborg Superman, who claims to be her father Zor-El, and towards the end of the issue, shows her memories that only Kara’s father would know. His story is a tragic sci-fi epic as he subjugates himself to Brainiac to save Argo City and his daughter, who meets in battle as a supervillain. However, Cyborg Superman remembers his life on Krypton when he sees the hope shining through Supergirl. The overly literal connection to the House of El is on the nose, but Atiyeh’s faded reds, blues, and yellows create the effect of long forgotten memories coming to the forefront of Kara’s brain and also make Cyborg Superman a more sympathetic figure. He cares about Kara even though his body possession and robot-obsessed ways are extremely creepy.

supergirl2interiorThree issues in, and Orlando and Ching should be praised for not resolving the conflict between Kara being a native of Krypton and a current resident of Earth as she struggles to fit in. Ching captures her loneliness in a quiet scene where she floats above her bed while her adopted mother, Eliza Danvers, calls out to her. This moment where she finds solace in her special abilities is a perfect transition for Cyborg Superman’s “flashback attack”. Supergirl has been treated like dirt over her peers so maybe a return to Argo City would make her feel better. (If the city wasn’t populated by the main family from Tom King and Gabriel Walta’s Vision.) However, just like she defeats Cyborg Superman with the power of her fists, she uses sarcasm to keep Ben Rubel on edge saying that he only got his position at Catco because of his super interruption abilities.

In Supergirl #2, Steve Orlando, Brian Ching, and Michael Atiyeh take the internal conflict between Earth and Krypton out of Supergirl’s head and into the light of day. Cyborg Superman may speak Kara’s language and give her the offer of a return to her home planet, but his Argo City is definitely not And Orlando doesn’t just focus on the upcoming battle, but deepens the characters of Cat Grant and Eliza Danvers as Kara begins to forge relationships. Ching’s loose, John Romita Jr-esque art style that adds energy to the brawl between Cyborg Superman and Supergirl, and Atiyeh’s nostalgic color palette make Supergirl #2 a comic with both a physical and emotional punch.

Story: Steve Orlando Art: Brian Ching Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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

Calista Flockhart Joins Supergirl as Cat Grant

Calista FlockhartCalista Flockhart is returning to television, and will be joining CBS‘s pilot for Supergirl as Cat Grant. In the television series, Kara Zor-El, played by Melissa Benoist, will be working as a personal assistant to Grant who has her own company, CatCo.

Flockhart break big as Ally McBeal who premiered on The Practice before getting her own series which ran from 1997-2002. This is her first step into the “comic” world of television or movies.

Catherine “Cat” Jane Grant first came to DC Comics in 1987 and was a gossip columnist for the Daily Planet. She was a potential love interest for Clark Kent, twisting up the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle.

The character did appear in Lois & Clark, and Smallville, and also has appeared in some of the various animated movies and series.

(via Deadline)