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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Supergirl S2E9: Supergirl Lives.

Series 2, Episode 9
Supergirl Lives.

It seems like Supergirl's been off our screens, even though it's actually only been gone for less than two months. Our last episode, Medusa, saw the conclusion of the Cadmus plot, and set up the band of mysterious women who are searching for Mon-El, thus laying the groundwork for what I'm sure will be an exceedingly tiresome plot about him and his backstory.

Incidentally, the title of this episode -- which is a reference to the cancelled Tim Burton Superman film with Nicholas Cage in the lead role -- might lead you to believe that this is an episode about people thinking Kara is dead and her making a triumphant return, as in the plot synopsis of the film. It's not, and actually the title doesn't seem to connect even tangentially to the plot, which is weird.

In this week's episode, which kicks off the series' second act, Kara and Mon-El track a disappeared young woman, and end up discovering a gate to a world that's at the center of the intergalactic slave trade. Trapped on an alien world, with no powers due to a red sun, the two must hold out until Alex and Winn can come rescue them. Meanwhile, Winn, after nearly being shot while acting as Jimmy's tech support, finds himself beset with fear for his life.

Mon-El, just -- just leave.

Honestly, the highlight of this episode was Winn's storyline, and that's entirely down to Jeremy Jordan's acting. He manages to nail Winn's terror pretty perfectly, producing an effective, emotive performance. The flip side of that, of course, is that Jimmy comes across as being utterly heartless when he tries to convince Winn to come back to being his support guy. In a series that has thus far not been kind to Jimmy's character, that only serves to drop him a few more pegs in my estimations, which is a shame, given that I really liked him in the first series.

The storyline also feels like it's resolved too quickly. Alex gives him a pep talk on facing his fears, and then he hits an alien with a rock, and suddenly comes to the conclusion that he's 'not a redshirt,' which is -- I mean, fear and anxiety are a bit more complicated than that? I know it's a television show with a pretty rigid structure, and there's a necessity for a degree of emotional pay-off, but there is such a thing as having your pay-off come so quickly that it feels cheap.

The main storyline, meanwhile, is about Kara and Mon-El's romance. It's dressed up as a story about the nature of heroics and also alien slavery, but considering that 'what it means to be a hero' is ground that this show has covered several times before, much more adeptly, I stand by it actually being about developing Kara and Mon-El's romance.

In the actual episode, this moment is shot with a glaring golden filter over everything.

It doesn't work. That romance is still boring. If anything, all this episode does is highlight how much it feels like it can't work, largely because Mon-El is such a weak character. Compare him with, say, Alex, or Lena, or Jimmy, or Cat -- these are characters who possess not only a certain amount of presence, but also have clear, sharply defined motives and ethos(es?) that define them as characters. They have forceful personalities and can hold their own in scenes. Mon-El, meanwhile, is motivated by -- I don't know, staying safe? Getting on Kara's good side? And his personality is wisecracky? I suppose?

When Mon-El has his change of heart at the end and decides to become a superhero, it feels both completely believable and totally devoid of impact because he doesn't have enough of a personality to make it at all relevant to the story. Yes, we know that he's big on self-preservation, but so is everyone -- so is Winn, whose plotline, while flawed, feels a lot more like an arc an actual character might theoretically go through, instead of a bunch of boxes on a Love Interest Checklist getting ticked off one by one.

Domino, is that the only dress you own?

Oh, and Domino is back in this episode too, but only barely -- she appears in all of three short scenes, and while Dichen Lachman is always excellent, it feels like Domino is only in this episode because the writers felt like it behooved them to bring back an earlier villain for the start of the second act. She's also suspiciously absent when Mon-El's would-be hunters arrive asking after him, so I'm sure we'll see her again.

Next week, we apparently have Livewire returning, with a vendetta against Supergirl. Also, her feet in a bucket of water, because that's apparently how you neutralise people with lightning powers in television.

God, I just remembered I have to review Teen Wolf tomorrow. That's depressing.

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