Television

Supergirl: Season 1, Episode 20 - "Better Angels"

Gregory L. Reece

Supergirl ends its freshman season on a disappointing note.


Supergirl

Airtime: Mondays, 8 pm
Cast: Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, Chris Vance, David Harewood, Calista Flockhart, Laura Vandervoort
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 20 - "Better Angels"
Network: CBS
Air date: 2016-04-19
Amazon

Supergirl ends its freshman season on a disappointing note. The season finale wraps up the storyline from the previous episode in which the Kryptonian bad guys employ a mind control device known as "Myriad", which turns the citizens of National City into subservient zombies.

Picking up where things left off last time, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) is forced to battle her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) who, under the control of Myriad, is armed with a cool Kryptonite sword and looking to take her super-sister down. The two engage in a cool battle, but the scene is marred by a lame resolution that brings Alex back onto the side of good a bit too quickly.

I noted in last week's review that Supergirl sets up a nice contrast with the brooding Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The cinematic version of Superman does a lot of talking about hope, but can't summon much in the way of optimism about the human condition. His TV cousin, however, discovers that hope’s the only thing that can free the people from their mental enslavement.

Unfortunately, this episode has Supergirl bring hope to the city by delivering a boring speech about it on television; it was a missed opportunity. This first season of Supergirl has provided plenty of moving moments when Kara's courage and optimism have saved the day. It would have been nice to have seen another one of those moments: a kitten saved from a tree, a little girl taught to stand up to bullies, Supergirl walking into a dangerous situation without her powers.

(I have to admit that when Supergirl and her team broadcast her symbol to screens across the city, there was something moving about it. But that's probably because it called up all of my own nostalgic feelings from childhood, feelings associated with the heroics of George Reeves and Christopher Reeve, not to mention the adventures of Superman in the pages of DC Comics. It had the desired effect on me, but the effect was mostly unearned by this episode of Supergirl.)

After defeating the Myriad mind control scheme early in the episode, Krytponian mastermind, Non (Chris Vance), ups the ante and takes his plan to save the earth to the extreme. Myriad no longer controls human minds but, instead, does something much worse. Unless Supergirl and J'onn J'onnz (David Harewood) can stop the scheme, everyone on earth will be killed.

Fortunately, when the two superheroes show up to do battle, Non's super soldiers have already been placed in suspended animation for some reason. That means that Supergirl and the Martian Manhunter have to defeat Non and his robotic sidekick Indigo (Laura Vandervoort). The battle is a pretty good one, and the best part of the episode. The Manhunter stops Indigo in a suitably dramatic fashion, while Supergirl and Non engage in a cool heat vision battle.

Bad guys defeated, Supergirl's then required to employ a herculean effort that once again puts her life at risk. It’s a nice scene, and Supergirl gets her chance to have her own version of the outer space scene that’s become something of a standard for her cousin, Superman.

The action-packed ending works very well. It's a shame that the set-up for it had to be so glum, with Kara having to give perfunctory good-byes to all her friends and family before she goes off to battle. This sort of things seldom plays well because viewers know that Supergirl isn’t going to die and, if she does, the writers will find a way to bring her back.

Overall, I was disappointed with the final episode of what will hopefully be the first of many seasons for Supergirl. There have been plenty of stronger episodes, and recent changes to the status of recurring characters, like J'onn J'onnz, have only worked to make things better. This final episode of the season does illustrate why Supergirl isn't as strong as it could be, however. Like its sister series, The Flash, this series has a strong ensemble cast who interact effortlessly with sharp and witty dialogue mixed with true emotion.

Supergirl, however, hasn't yet managed to make its plots as fast moving and exciting as those that propel the Scarlet Speedster to exciting adventure after exciting adventure. It’s hard to say exactly why this is, except that the character of Supergirl doesn’t have as rich a history of comic book storylines as does the Flash. Supergirl's alien-of-the-week/Kryptonian politics plot lines just don't have the same punch as The Flash's rogues gallery/time travel/multiverse-spanning stories.

This isn't to say that I don't think Supergirl should be brought back for another season. It has definitely shown plenty of promise and, despite a weak finale, is a well-crafted superhero drama. Benoist, in particular, is a natural in the role of the young superhero. Especially in her scenes with Calista Flockart, Benoist's charm more than makes up for lame plots and boring bad guys.

5
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