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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Supergirl S2E4: Survivors


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 4
Survivors.



You know, the whole dynamic of Supergirl feels different this series. In the first series, it was almost archetypally superhero-y, taking its cues from shows like Smallville and The New Adventures of Lois and Clark, with a heavy emphasis on the entanglement between Supergirl's heroic activities and Kara's human life. This series feels almost more like a police procedural, and it's eased off the focus on Catco (Jimmy didn't even show up in this episode) and emphasised focus instead on a running theme of aliens being victimised by humans.

I'm not going to say that that's necessarily a bad thing, I don't think a strong theme has ever hurt any show (although adding in police procedural elements very frequently does hurt shows), but it is certainly a bit different, and it consistently leaves me a little jarred, especially as that paradigm shift only really set in after the first two episodes. Maybe it's just a temporary thing, though, a theme that will run throughout this 'arc' of Supergirl. Or maybe not.

In these week's episode, the murder of an alien who, despite being from a very peaceful species showed signs of repeated violence, leads Kara, Alex, and Maggie to an underground alien fight club owned by Roulette, a wealthy businesswoman with friends in high places and a flair for the dramatic. To make matters worse, Kara discovers that M'Gann, the Martian woman J'onn discovered, is a regular competitor at the fight club. Meanwhile, Mon-El, forbidden from leaving the DEO, starts to go stir crazy.

All Winn wants is a romantic partner who is infinitely stronger than him.

We'll kick off with the Mon-El subplot, since, while it's woven throughout the story, it is very definitively the C-plot of the episode (with the B-plot being J'onn and M'gann's problems with each other, and the D-plot being Kara trying to write a good article for Snapper, which is just kind of ... there ... I guess?). It mostly serves as a way for us to get to know Mon-El, and it's a lot of fun to watch, even though I do think it would have made for a more interesting storyline if they'd made him slightly more alien, instead of just a regular dude who sometimes misuses words. Still, Mon-El and Winn are very cute, and I guess Winn's odd penchant for staring adoringly at aliens continues.

Mon-El's plot sort of ties into the main plot, but only insofar as he gives Kara a necessary hint for taking down one of the alien cage fighters. That alone tells us a bit about Mon-El's character -- that he was a fighter, probably even a soldier -- but it's not exactly crucial to the story.

As far as the main plot goes, it's mostly tied together by Dichen Lachman's performance, which is dramatic and full of flair, and very fitting for the owner of a fight club where the rich and wealthy bet on fights. The old 'superpowered fight club' storyline is a pretty old one -- hell, I remember it showing up in Smallville -- but Lachman's elegant, cultured Roulette sells it pretty well.

I admit, those would not be my choice of shoes if I had to walk along a raised catwalk.

Apart from that, it progresses in actually pretty predictable fashion. They go to the fight club, discover M'Gann is there, drama ensues, J'onn learns a lesson about -- I don't know, acceptance? Privacy? I am honestly unclear on what manner of lesson he purportedly learned in this episode, but I recognised the 'interpersonal lesson learned' acting and writing cues -- and then they shut down the fight club.

It does, however, net us a nice scene with Kara and Lena, where Kara asks her if she knows where the club is and Lena tells her, since Roulette regularly invites her despite her being uninterested. More than any scene prior to this point, this was the one that made me wonder if Lena is going to turn out to be evil. Quite apart from how suspicious it is that Roulette would send her these invitations if she is as moral and forthright as she says she is, we also had the telltale 'camera lingering just a little too long after the protagonist leaves' shot.

It doesn't look like M'Gann is going to be becoming a regular, since the episode ended on a 'call us if you need anything' note, but I'm sure we'll see her as a guest star again -- especially as the end of the episode reveals that she's actually a White Martian, something obvious to everyone who has either read her comics, watched Young Justice, or was paying attention during her 'oh, there was one White Martian who was different' speech. 

This guy has a name, but I forgot it since it wasn't at all relevant.

Actually, the mode of this series so far seems to be setting the story up for a big 'getting an army together' moment at the end of the series, where Kara calls in Clark, Hank, Jimmy, Cat, Maggie, M'Gann, and maybe Barry to help her out with something.

I'm kind of a sucker for those kinds of plots, so that won't see any complaints out of me.

Still, a fun enough episode, and after this week's totally Jimmy-less episode, it looks like next week we're getting a Jimmy focused episode! So that's nice. I do like Jimmy.

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