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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Supergirl S2E12: Luthors

Series 2, Episode 12

Supergirl has a problem. Having teased us with the idea of Lena going evil only to then, much to our collective relief, reveal that she isn't evil at all, they're now faced with a peculiar conundrum: If they have Lena go evil, they're going to disappoint their audiences, but if they tease it and don't follow through, they're retreading old ground. The answer to this conundrum isn't a difficult one, though: Just stop doing 'will she won't she turn evil' episodes.

There are seriously more interesting roads the character can be taken down. Maybe she has well-meaning ideas for her company, but those ideas lead her into conflict with Kara. Maybe Lex is released from prison and makes a bid for L-Corp, setting up a feud between them. Maybe she discovers Kara's secret and has mixed feelings about it. Anything but 'Lillian talks to Lena and we're all convinced that she's evil, but she's not.'

The episode even tries to pull a 'maybe she really is evil' moment at the end, too, as if we're not already exhausted by this whole thing.

In this week's episode, after Lena gives her testimony at Lillian's trial, she suddenly comes under suspicion as a video shows her taking kryptonite to Metallo, who uses it to free Lillian and go on the run. With Lena framed and in prison, she is swiftly kidnapped by Lillian, who wants to use her DNA to unlock a vault of weapons Lex left behind. With everyone around her telling her that Lena is guilty, Kara sets out to clear Lena's name and rescue her from Lillian.

Honestly, she makes prison garb work for her.

Honestly, my enjoyment of this episode was dampened somewhat by how exhausted I am with this plot, especially as it's not just Supergirl that has done it: This exact plotline was Smallville's bread and butter for years, and the only thing that made it tolerable was knowing that there was a foregone conclusion involved in it. 

Incidentally, this episode even makes reference to Smallville, naming Lex and Lena's father as 'Lionel Luthor,' a name which originated in Smallville and only later caught on to comics. This isn't the first time Supergirl has paid homage to Smallville -- in fact, it, the 1984 Supergirl film, and The New Adventures of Lois and Clark are far bigger influences on the series than the comics themselves and are consistently referenced -- but it does throw into sharp relief how this episode could basically be a Smallville episode with the names and genders switched around -- Kara instead of Clark, Lena instead of Lex, Lillian instead of Lionel, Jimmy instead of ... I don't know, Chloe, probably, it's been a while.

As a side note, why is Lionel bald in his flashback? Smallville did this too, somewhat, having Lionel's shift from 'ambiguous ally-enemy' to 'out and out enemy' marked by his head being shaved, employing imagery associated with the already-bald-in-show Lex to indicate a change in disposition, but in this case, Lionel is just appearing for five minutes in a flashback prior to Lex losing his hair, creating the odd impression that 'unnaturally going bald' is some kind of family trait. It's not male pattern baldness, because male pattern baldness does not make one completely hairless from the eyebrows up.

"I'm a serious superhero," says Jimmy 'Nearly Lost An Arm' Olsen.

If it feels like I'm harping on a lot about an entirely different show here, that's because there's not a lot for me to say about this episode -- and I don't even mean that in a bad way. It's a plot they've used too many times by now, but it is still a competently put together episode, and both Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath bring their A-games as far as acting goes.

The A-plot chugs along at a nice pace, makes sense, and is enjoyable to watch. Meanwhile, it's in the B-plot -- this episode has no C-plot to speak of, not really -- that the highs and lows of the episode come into play.

The high: Alex coming out to Jimmy, Winn, and Mon-El, and everyone's reactions, and all the general cuteness involved there. The low: Any scene involving Kara and Mon-El's romance, oh dear god, just let it end. I don't know why the writers think watching these two flick through the Book of Romance Cliches is going to be interesting viewing, I really don't, and it doesn't help that Mon-El is just not a very compelling character. He just isn't.

Where on earth is everyone getting these colour-coordinated prison scrubs from, anyway?

Oh, there's also some kind of plot thread about how Kara still doesn't have faith in Jimmy as the Guardian, and honestly, I don't blame her, because what has Jimmy even really done as the Guardian so far? He effectively fights street level crime in a show about super-powered aliens. He can't even handle Metallo. Metallo, you guys.

The episode ends on Mr. You Can't Make Me Try To Spell His Name appearing, and it looks like next episode is going to be a week-late Valentine's Day special about him trying to woo Kara, which is -- fine, I guess. Honestly, don't expect me to give that one a positive review, I'm having conniptions just thinking about it.

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