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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Supergirl S2E8: Medusa (Invasion! Part 1)


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 8
Medusa.
(Invasion! Part 1)



You have no idea how glad I was when that breach appeared in the opening scene of this episode. I was actually deeply concerned that I'd gotten the schedule mixed up again, and that the big DCTV crossover wasn't this week, either, so the moment that breach showed up, I breathed a sigh of relief.

In truth, though, despite it being billed as the first part of the crossover, this episode barely ties into the crossover -- apart from the final scene, where Barry and Cisco arrive to pick up Kara, and a few quick moments where breaches appear only to immediately shut again, it basically doesn't factor into this episode at all, which is really there to cap off the Cadmus storyline.

(Well, to seemingly cap it off. There's always the possibility that Lillian Luthor will escape imprisonment, somehow, and Hank Henshaw is still at large by the end of the episode.)

Anyway, in this week's episode, after Cadmus infects a bar full of aliens with a virus that kills only aliens, the DEO goes into overdrive to try and fix the problem -- especially when it turns out that Mon-El is infected. As J'onn struggles with his slow transformation into a White Martian, Kara attempts to enlist Lena Luthor's help, believing her to truly know nothing about her mother's activities. Things go from bad to worse, however, when it's revealed that the Medusa virus is of Kryptonian design, created by Kara's father as a weapon of war.

Also, Barry appears.

So, we'll start with the elephant in the room: Kara's burgeoning romance with Mon-El. I'm not going to say they don't have any chemistry, because if this episode sold me on anything it's that they do have at least a little bit of a spark, but there's also at least three characters who have more chemistry with Kara, and who would be more believable in a relationship with her: Namely Jimmy, Lena, and Barry.

The result of the romance subplot is that it rather feels like Mon-El is in the show solely to be a love interest, which isn't exactly an interesting elevator pitch for a character, especially when he doesn't really have much else going for him, apart from occasional comic relief moments of him not understanding human culture.

The main plot of this episode, however, is actually pretty interesting. Admittedly, we've been on the 'Kara's parents aren't who she thought they were' train before, but 'Kara's father created a biological weapon' is a pretty new low for them, and it'll be interesting to see if learning that actually impacts Kara at all in coming episodes.

(Some of) The Danvers-Jonzz-El family.

Meanwhile, the episode manages to raise and keep tension by keeping the viewer in suspense as to whether Lena will remain on the good guys' side, or join her mother. We are, after all, invested in her and Kara's friendship now, so the idea of her going full villain makes for a pretty good stakes raiser, when used in moderation.

In this instance, it works in part because Lena's development up to this point has left things deliberately ambiguous. We know that she takes a stand against what she sees as injustices, but we also know that she's suspicious of aliens; we know that she's often critical of her family, but we also know she has fond memories of them and at least somewhat wants her mother's approval. The episode builds on that by having Lena be unhelpful towards Kara, but confrontational with her mother, and later by having Lena get upset over finding out that her mother runs Cadmus -- but also equally upset by the idea that Supergirl might one day turn on her, like Superman turned on Lex.

The result is that we're not well positioned to figure out exactly what Lena's driving motivations are, or exactly which side of the conflict she'll fall on, so we're kept guessing right up until the point where Lena reveals that her plan all along was to render the virus inert and have her mother arrested.

Kara and Mon.

Along the way, we get some pretty good action scenes as well, with Mon-El, Kara, and J'onn all facing off against Hank (as Cyborg Superman) at various points, and a surprisingly engaging battle between Kara and Kal-X, the Fortress of Solitude's guard robot. This certainly wasn't an episode lacking for action sequences.

We also got a few nice moments involving Alex coming out to her mother, and even an Alex/Maggie kiss -- which I don't think surprised anyone, given that we've been building to it for several episodes now. If anything, the biggest surprise is that it happened this early.

So, that's Medusa, leading in to a big blowout multi-episode crossover that we'll be spending this entire week covering. It doesn't look like we have a promo for the next episode, titled Supergirl Lives, yet, but it'll probably involve those mysterious alien women who are searching for Mon-El.

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