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Supergirl - Hostile Takeover - Review: "I am not programmed to give you that information"

18 Dec 2015

Hostile Takeover
What does a Supergirl winter finale needs? Excitement, moving the plot along, good character dynamics and growth, How does Supergirl fares on these fronts? Eh, I’d say it made a pretty good job overall, but it didn’t quite hit the good notes that “Human for a Day” did last week. Why is that? Well, there is a story that seems to be merely stalling our characters and messing with their dynamics, while there is another story going on that conveys some of the show’s greatest strength and weaknesses.

Let’s get off the bad first to talk about the good: CatCo keeps being a troublesome setting for me, mostly because it feels like an outsider to most of the storylines Supergirl comes up with each episode. It is like an afterthought, a subplot that really doesn’t convey much relevance beside setting some dynamics, mostly on the Winn-Kara-James angle, and sometimes throwing the Kara-Cat relationship into the mix. On the latter the episode made a big when by the end, but I think it is messing around too much with the love triangle that is building with Winn, Kara and James.

The whole hacking Cat plot felt like it was merely stalling from any real development on the Astra storyline and it honestly didn’t do much to solve the tension that is building up in the show’s core trio. Winn came out as pretty petty during the episode: yes, he has a crush on Kara, but couldn’t he be more subtle about it? Or at least couldn’t he avoid being passive aggressive towards both Kara and James? As of late Winn is feeling a bit alienated by me because he is acting rather childish and in a bad way, showing the least development as a character on this show.

I honestly don’t care to watch how Kara and company save Cat from being hacked and kicked out of the company. The good thing that came out of it was Cat finally connecting the dots and figuring out that Kara is Supergirl, a moment that proves how far she has come from the pilot. She finally sees Kara and after the development gone over through the episodes (most notably “Livewire”) it was time that she finally realized what was going on and it was delicious to see how she realized and how she let Kara go do her Supergirl business. It’s going to be a pleasure to see another side of Calista’s character once we come back from hiatus.

Now onto the good things: the best themes Supergirl develops are family and friends dynamics. While clunky on its first outing, the show’s strongest relationship is by wide and far Kara and Alex: they have created a believable sister rapport of trust that the show has explored well, and only made more interesting once their mom came along for thanksgiving. While it was revealed on episode 2 to Kara that aunt Astra was around she never had the chance to develop any dynamics with her.

The nature of the conflict between Kara and Astra is complicated because, even though her methods are evil, Astra is not acting out of spite or hatred, but rather a desperate measure to save the planet she could not before. That doesn’t justify what she has done thus far, but it does make her more sympathetic, and the reveal that Kara’s mother used her to lure Astra is harsh.

Kara lashing out to her mother’s hologram is both an acting win for Melissa Benoist and a poignant scene for the episode.
Kara: Could she have saved us?
Alura: She was a criminal.
Kara: But was she right?!
Alura: I am not programmed to give you that information.
Kara: Tell me!
Alura: I am sorry, I am not programmed to give you that information.
Kara: You let everyone that I love die! You lied to me, you left me alone, you sent me away, how could yo do that?!
Alura: I am not programmed to give you that information.

Talk about harsh: it’s sad, and it’s poignant when Alex turns off the hologram and goes hug her sister and gives her a pep talk, reminded her that she doesn’t know what happened there.

Astra is revealed to have acted out of despair and Kara wonders if she was right to do what she did. In the end we have the implicit answer that, even if that was the case, it doesn’t justify the harm she is bringing to Earth. Of course that’s not something told in text, but that’s something that you rather imply, and it’s both interesting and necessary for Kara to be given the question “does the means justify the end?”, and it’s not fully answered even though you could take this interpretation.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger: Lord technologies is under attack. Turns out Astra left herself be captured to distract the D.E.O, which has to rush into battle with the kryptonians while Supergirl gets there. People die, fights ensue and by the end Supergirl gets there to fight Astra’s husband. We’ll see how it unfolds upon return.

There is enough goodwill here to consider this a good episode of Supergirl, but I do feel the show is still lagging in finding a place for CatCo on the story and on making the necessary adjustments to some of the dynamics (the Winn-Kara-James love triangle simply does not work for me), but that’s all stuff that can be worked on later, and if this episode is any indication, there is the will to make all these elements improve and give them a place where they can fit on the show. Until then, I’ll still regard this show as delightful and enjoyable, but I’m not quite there on a “good” or “great” label yet, but we’ll se upon return.

Grade: B

Mini reviews for past episodes
Sorry for not posting regular reviews for the past 3 episodes: it’s been 3 weeks of hell juggling between finishing my semester and some family issues. I’ll do a quick mini review of each of these episodes I didn’t get to review and move on to the next one.

How Does She Do It?
This is probably my least liked episode of the show thus far. Kara as a nanny for her boss’ child is a storyline that I grew bored of pretty quickly. I understand it was used to portray the difficulties of managing everyday life with superhero life, but still, they could have found a more compelling way to do it. Not to mention that all the love triangle (square?) drama just doesn’t click with me; Supergirl is the best when it focuses on the friendships rather than the romantic feelings.

Aside from that, it was interesting to see Maxwell Lord rising as a Lex Luthor kind of villain: the way he plays with Kara and tests her make for an interesting dynamic. We have a lot going on with Astra and Hank, but Lord is certainly making a first good impression. I want to see where he goes next.

If only the rest of the episode was that interesting.

Grade: C

Red Faced
This is another Supergirl episode I found disappointing: Red Tornado wasn’t nearly as compelling as some other villains of the weeks we had, mostly because he was merely a robot for Kara to use as a punching bag. And it was very predictable that the creator of Red Tornado was using it.

Aside from that, it was very interesting to see how Supergirl’s public perception is easily swayed by the way Kara acts, and it is good that it is shown that Kara, like anyone else, also feels anger and frustrated. I actually rooted when she stood up to Grant, but then immediately rolled my eyes when she started apologizing the next second. It didn’t help that Cat never recognized her fault on this (something she did on “Livewire”) and that Kara just accepted that it wasn’t about her. Sure, there was more underlying, but I don’t like how she is just willingly accepting abuse from her boss and that Cat is not showing any growth when “Livewire” showed a more human side to her.

Also not a fan of Lucy’s father: he’s very cartoony in the way that his motivation is simple and he seems really unidimensional. Add to that lackluster special effects and we have a very disappointing episode, that manages to live up by exploring Kara’s character, and thus keeping it a tad better than “How Does She Do It?”

Grade: C+

Human For a Day
Thankfully, “Human For a Day” gets the show back on track with the exploration of a classic comic book theme: who are our heroes without superpowers? It has been seen on “The Flash”, “Smallville”, the “Spiderman” movie trilogy, and that’s just to start.
It would have been easy to just let sink Kara on despair for the whole hour, but instead the show’s optimistic beats came to show and portray some of its greatest strength: at a moment of extreme vulnerability Kara got to fear, but also got to prove herself that she can do something by seeing the best on people. Supergirl isn’t just about hitting villains, it is about hope.

Hope is a well explored theme during the episode. As Cat says: “these moments of adversity bring the worst of us, but they also call for the better angels in each one of us”. I think that theme was almost masterfully explored through the hour. We see just how much the Supergirl persona is rooted into Kara and the episode shows us that it’s not her powers, but rather her heart, what makes her the heroine she is, and that’s very strong.

My only complaint would run on the D.E.O, which had to deal with an isolated incident to keep them from taking action on the main plot. This whole mind controlling alien storyline wasn’t captivating until Hank revealed himself as the Martian Manhunter, a plot twist which I deem brilliant, but then again I can’t really excuse how much the storyline here felt like it was lagging up until the final reveal.

Grade: B+

And that’s it for now! Let’s meet once more upon Supergirl’s return! I’ll do my best to bring the reviews on time next time around, in no circumstance I see this kind of delay happening again.
Now, if you excuse me, I have 2 seasons of The 100 to re-watch (and I’d suggest you to get into it if you haven’t already)

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100 and the upcoming Supergirl
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