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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Supergirl S2E20: City of Lost Children

Series 2, Episode 20
City of Lost Children.

You know, this episode had an uphill battle as far as my actually enjoying it goes: It is, after all, an episode largely about Jimmy's totally useless Guardian storyline, and Mon-El. That's not exactly a winning elevator pitch.

That said, if every episode of Supergirl was like this, I would be very happy. This episode was mechanically pretty good, but what really stood out to me was that it actually felt like it had heart -- there was a sense of warmth and passion behind it that we haven't seen in Supergirl for quite a while. 

A quick check of the writing credits tells me that the story writer, Robert Rovner, was behind some of my favourite episodes this series, and the screenplay writers had produced some episodes that were, at least, usually adequate. Rovner's last credit was 'Luthors,' a rushed but otherwise pretty damn solid story about Lena and Lillian, and their relationship with each other.

That's a nice camera.

This week's episode sees the DEO attempting to interrogate a young boy, after his mother -- a powerful telekinetic and telepath -- seemingly goes insane and attempts to murder hundreds of people. With the child uncooperative but, it seems, feeling some kind of connection to Jimmy, the DEO decides to let Jimmy try to bond with him. Meanwhile, Lena becomes frustrated when her project with Rhea -- a giant, powerful portal -- repeatedly fails, prompting Rhea to give her some earnest advice.

So, I've been fairly critical of Arrowverse shows in the past for being fairly tepid with their political commentary -- just earlier this year, we had the now-infamous Arrow gun control episode where the solution was 'mysterious magical gun control that controlled guns but also didn't at all make it difficult to own or have a gun,' and The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl do not tend to be much better. While all three shows have aspirations towards being political, they almost never dare to actually commit to a point and see it through.

Oh, hey, Kara and J'onn! And the other one.

When I talk about actually committing to your political commentary, though, episodes like this are what I mean -- and in this case, that was maybe an easy bar to reach, because the political point this episode is trying to make isn't especially incisive or biting: It's a pretty simple 'hey, it can be rough being black, and it also can be rough being a refugee, and American society is not very welcoming to either,' and while I'm sure that would offend some people, it's by and large a fairly uncontroversial position. It is, however, a position that the episode actually commits to, and follows through on with a sense of sincerity behind it.

It's also just a sweet, well-written story. I've seen people saying it 'rehabilitates' the Guardian storyline, and -- no, no, it doesn't, but it does give us some actual focus on Jimmy, and honestly, we've been starved for that so far in this series. It would have been very easy for a writer to take this storyline and give it to Kara, banking on 'we're both aliens' as the point of connection, but I'm so glad that they made it Jimmy's storyline.

The other side of the plot is Rhea and Lena, and that's also actually really well-handled. We the audience know that Rhea is untrustworthy, so convincing us that she actually cares for Lena is not exactly an easy task for any writer -- but the show manages it, having Rhea be genuinely motherly to Lena. It's the most depth we've seen out of the Daxam storyline so far, setting us up to hope that Rhea might turn good, even though we know that she is, inevitably, going to betray Lena (and possibly shunt Lena down her own path towards going dark).

Rhea's dress is so stylish.

Less strong is when Mon-El confronts Rhea. It's a confrontation that relies a lot on us accepting that Mon-El is a hero, and I don't accept that as a premise, not even for a single second. I also don't really buy that Mon-El is full of affection for his mother, because we've really not been shown anything that indicates that this is the case.

The idea of Daxam invading Earth didn't so much take me by surprise, but it is the first outright invasion we've seen in Supergirl, and I'm excited to see where the show goes with it. I'm even more excited that Cat is apparently returning, and even though I know she won't be sticking around, I so, so wish she would. Her brief lines in the preview just reminded me of how much vitality and zest Cat brought to the show, and it's never really managed to replace that.

All in all, this was a really good episode. I hope the series can keep this quality up going into the last two episodes. 

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of, I literally only realised this episode that Kevin Sorbo played Mon-El's father.