Supergirl Has a Supergirl Problem
Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 30
We're nearly into the true Summer season for the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming.... just as Fall is upon us. We have a couple of episodes of Legends of Tomorrow still to get through but the big return this week is Supergirl, back for the back-half of it's last season. We're going to focus on that episode in particular, along with Legends, as the seasons blend together.
COVID times are so weird...
Supergirl, Season 6, Episode 8: Welcome Back, Kara
Supergirl is back, and together with all her friends, so the show can finally settle back down to normal. That means having Kara try to be Kara, newspaper reporter, while also being Supergirl and fighting the good fight for National City. Unfortunately her time in the Phantom Zone has left a mark on her and now she's feeling fear, especially when it comes to thinking about the Phantoms. She has PTSD, and bad, and that can be crippling for a hero. Meanwhile, her dad is in town, having been dragged with her back to Earth when they escaped the Phantom Zone. He sees that the Earth is dying (Supergirl being topical and heavy handed, as is the norm) and he wants to save the world since he couldn't save Krypton. Instead, though, he unleashes and out of control trash monster and almost causes a nuclear explosion. Ooops.
This episode, if there's a theme to unite it, is all about recovering from the past: past sins, past terrors, past trauma. Every character this week has some trauma they're working through (or worked through), such as Lena and Nia and each of their mommy issues, or Kara and the Phantoms, or her dad and his guilt over Krypton. This causes the characters to sometime act blindly, or get caught up in old patterns, and then they act impulsively when they really just needed to calm down and relax. That's not bad from a character perspective.
Unfortunately, despite great character work from the cast when it comes to just playing their casual characters -- Kara, Nia, etc. -- this episode doesn't come together at all. As I alluded to in the title of this article, Supergirl has a Supergirl problem. What I mean by that is that the show has gotten really bad, and worse really lazy, when it comes to anything involving its actual superheroics. It can nail the mild-mannered character moments but everything falls apart this week the second the costumes come on and the heroes have to battle a bad guy.
The big issue, really, is the lazy writing. When the characters realize there's a problem it can't just have a simple solution -- Kara can't just fly in and heat vision something to harden it, then punch it good, which really are her primary moves; No, the show has to dump a bunch of technobabble on us that clearly makes no sense and, even to a lay person, has no scientific reasoning or, even, basic logic. Then everyone says, "that's a great idea," and the heroes go off with their half-baked plan and it suddenly works and everyone cheers. Everyone, that is, except the audience.
I'm not sure if part of the issue is that the CW barely gave this season a budget or what but this whole season, and especially this episode, has felt really cheap. The superheroics, as illogical and stupid as they are, could still work if the action was good but even the action here fails. It's practically non-existent, really, with a lot of stuff happening just out of frame and the characters reacting as if something big happened. Some of it is the age of the show, and the writers taking short cuts, but I think this show is just running on fumes, and very little cash, and it shows.
The CW wants to run the clock out on this show, eek out just a few more episodes to get a better deal with Netflix (or whoever). But episodes like this aren't up to the standards of Supergirl, and sadly that's becoming a common refrain this season. It's starting to look like Supergirl, already abused by a split season so it could fill time on the CW schedule, is going to end up going out with quite the whimper when its final episodes air, and that's just sad.
Legends of Tomorrow, Season 6, Episode 13: Silence of the Sonograms
Where Supergirl falters, the Legends rise. As expected last episode, Bishop is back, having given himself a new body courtesy of the Waverider's DNA writer, but instead of immediately trying to take over the ship he lets himself be taken to a holding cell and spends the entire episode being helpful. It's almost like he's no longer a villain. Almost, but of course not everything is as it seems when it comes to that character.
Meanwhile, Constantine has to battle his own demon, literally. He's become addicted to his magical sauce, a nasty brew that gives him dark powers but, sadly, is also wrecking his body and his soul. He's like a junky on the stuff, and everyone on the ship is starting to notice. Even worse, he's starting to see an apparition, an evil version of himself and while he thinks it has no power, it's very real (and very magical) and it just might take him over completely. The John we knew could be gone for good.
So, in short, this show is doing one thing I expected -- Bishop returning as the villain -- mixed with something I found much more interesting -- John Constantine as the villain. I think Constantine turning evil and going after his friends is an idea worth following and it certainly provides a new twist on character dynamics. What makes me sad, though, is that Bishop actually is still a villain. This episode does a lot to build him up as a more interesting, and more thoughtful character, and I was actually starting to like him (finally). Turning him back to evil, though, ruins that work a little.
To the show's credit it's at least put enough work in that these two villains together, Bishop and Constantine, actually provide a strong finish. These are villains we (especially now) know and find interesting, key factors when designing worthy villains. The show has momentum with these two and certainly could find some interesting twists and turns to follow which continues to make me excited for this show as it heads to this season's finale. The season may have started off rocky but this episode shows the assured writing we expect from the series.
All that being said, if the show decides to twist again and somehow make Bishop not as evil I don't think I mind. He's finally growing on me.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- Stargirl brought in another JSA II candidate: Mike as the keeper of the genie Thunderbolt. This actually wasn't a bad episode, largely focused on Mike who, frankly, hasn't gotten a lot to do in this series. As we get into the season a lot of the rust is shaking off and Stargirl is becoming a better and better show.
- Titans gave us an episode focused on Jason Todd, showing what led to him eventually dying, including his distrust of Bruce, and then his resurrection (which, as in most versions of this story that don't involved Superboy-Prime punching the source wall, involved a Lazarus Pit). This was an episode we needed, and we really needed it a few episodes back to give us more insight into Jason before his death. Now it just feels weirdly tacked on. Worse, this show is still making stupid choices with all its characters and its really dragging the whole production down. This show, frankly, sucks.