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Supergirl - Childish Things & Strange Visitor From Another Planet - Double Review: "Winn and J'onn Jonzz Origin Story"

Childish Things
This episode is one that Winn really needed. I don’t mean just in the way of almost kissing and saying “I’m in love with you” to Kara, not even in the way to showcase his backstory, but rather in the way that he comes fully formed by revealing his deepest fears: becoming insane just like his father did.

”We are the same, you and I”.
That line, right there, summarizes Winn’s biggest inner demon, what he has to live with every day, fearing that the day will come in which he will finally lose it and start killing people just like his mentally deranged father (played masterfully by the great Henry Czerny). This kind of insight on his character is what I have been craving for him, as he has been mostly used as love fodder for Kara and add unnecessary jealousy when it comes to James. Now we are finally given something else, and Winn’s fears come to light spectacularly during this episode.

This is also Jeremy Jordan’s best performance to date as he plays sadness, fear and panic with an astonishing authenticity, making clear where the root of all his anxieties come from. From day 1 he seemed like he was quite nervous, even when he was playing relaxed, and it makes me wonder if the actor knew all along about this backstory, because it ties really well with the way Winn has been acting so far, protecting himself with goofiness, trying to hide fears that were already there.

At the beginning I didn’t appreciate the episode much because I felt it was wasting Henry Czerny’s talents with the clunky first appearances he made, but the show delivered on the second half as it embraced Toyman’s madness instead of justifying it and I realized that Henry was just playing crazy all along, and wonderfully so. He is so calm and so sure while delivering every single crazy line of dialogue and he does it with a confidence that only enhance the feeling of madness, which Czerny’s proved to deliver perfectly on Revenge during 3 seasons.

One of my favorite moments in the episode is when Winn is falling apart as the fear of becoming his father takes over and Kara reassures him, as she reveals to have the same fears of becoming Astra. It’s a moment of pure empathy, one of those Melissa Benoist plays so damn well (which makes her the perfect Supergirl), and that makes this deep connection between the two feel stronger. And then there’s the almost, but not quite, kiss.

First of all, I don’t ship anyone on this show, I think Supergirl is better when it doesn’t focus on romance, but damn, it was about time that Kara realized the obvious. It’s an awkward realization and Winn is almost immediately friendzoned, which is sad for him, but good for the show. It would have done no good to keep bottling it up and keep Winn miserable, at least now he has an answer, as unpleasant as it is.

I also admire Supergirl’s will to go through this without forcing Kara to accept Winn’s feeling and without making her look like a bitch. This is just an unfortunate situation that can’t be helped, we don’t control how we feel, and in this case it was better to just let it play out.

Near the end of the episode, Winn’s father forces him to go kill the man who sent him to prison as a form of revenge (REVENGE!) and also as his twisted way of getting to be Winn’s father once more. He puts him under duress, forcing him to kill one or allowing everyone else (him included) to die on the explosion of multiple bombs. We know Supergirl will save the day, but seeing Czenry and Jordan play each other and show the fallout of each other choices was great, magnificent even.

I particularly liked how the Toyman found multiple ways to delay/fight Supergirl. It’s showing that even humans can come up with non kryptonite ways to face off kryptonians, using only wits and intellect. Of course, at the end of the day he loses, but you have to give it to him for trapping Kara using quicksands. Maybe Lord will pick up something from this.

Speaking of which, the whole subplot of infiltrating Lord’s facility was pretty good too, even though I think Alex’s date approach was too clich├ęd and I immediately thought “yep, he is going to plant a bug to spy her” and so he did. But even though predictable, it is still interesting to see how Alex and Lord play each other while allowing us to see J’onn using some of his powers, which includes profound memory wipe (!).

The only thing I really didn’t care about was the whole James/Lucy drama. She is coming to work to Cat Co and I just hope this doesn’t mean more love triangle drama, which even Cat herself implies. But that’s a mere stone in the way of an otherwise brilliant episode, maybe the best Supergirl has done to date.

The ending in which Winn leaves in bad terms with Kara is a promise to develop these characters farther, and the show allowing Kara to be hurt while being comforted with Alex while watching Game of Thrones (good taste, sister Danvers, good taste) makes the show feel more honest, closer to what it wants to be. And of course, it adds that predictable, albeit fun, Maxwell Lord twist in the end: now he knows who Supergirl is, and I can’t wait to see his next move!

Grade: A-

Strange Visitor From Another Planet

The first thing I thought after the episode was done was “wow, what a performance from David Harewood” Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz has quickly become the most interesting and most compelling character in Supergirl; every week he shows development and new layers of depth, making him the most complicated and intriguing character on the show thus far, and David Harewood has made his acting flexible enough to cover all the gravitas of his character. He is quickly becoming the best reason to tune in to the show.

The beginnings of Supergirl are proving to be sluggish from week to week, but they get better as the episode goes along. To be honest, the whole rally against the aliens seemed rather random to me, it would’ve worked better if Maxwell Lord was involved on it, but we get this random senator who as a character comes as bland as oatmeal. I think there was a missed chance here of having Lord taking chance on this rally to pit Supergirl against the people, but that’s really a rather small issue.

The storyline really kicks in when J’onn reveals that the monster that attacked the rally is actually a white martian, the very same who destroyed his race, which explains why he was unable to act before. From there onwards the focus starts to be put on his character, on his own baggage and traumas, allowing the show to expand the range of the character and letting Harewood play a scarier version of his character (even his voice changes) while making him really sympathetic and quite tragic.

It’s nice to see how Alex has got attached to J’onn: it almost seems like he has become a sort of surrogate father to her and we see how much Alex cares for him, developing the kind of caring and sweet relationships that Supergirl just nails. Whenever this show aims for heart and warm it does wonder, and now that it showed edges of darkness it has shone brighter than ever.

The interactions between J’onn and Kara were also pretty strong, as they can relate to what is losing everything, and that’s why Kara is the only one able to get through J’onn, as she makes him realize that giving up is not an option. By the end of the episode, the whole journey J’onn went through feels earned, it feels sincere and it’s one of those moments where I know that Supergirl works the best when it allows its optimism shine through the darker edges it has. This is an upbeat show that has learnt to accept darkness while still embracing light.

I think there are still flaws though. The whole white martian backstory has too many parallels to World War II, which is not a problem on itself, but it rather feels way too on the nose for one to ignore and I felt that in a way it kept me from fully engaging as it seemed as the writers were aiming for an easy way to write the green martian extinction. But that is a minor flaw. So, what is my main flaw? The most troublesome aspect of the show for me to day: Cat.

This week she was way more likeable than any previous week, but I still think the show can’t decide if they want to make her a likeable or unlikeable character. I roll my eyes every time she antagonizes Kara because I don’t feel any real reason for it: granted, Kara did sent that letter behind her back, but the treatment she gets from Cat is, once again, abusive.

The ongoing abuse Kara withstands from Cat bothers me to no end, and that’s why when she finally let it go out on the Red Tornado episode I got angry that the show decided to make it all about Kara instead of recognizing the Cat problem. Sometimes she can be inspiring as Kara says, she can be a good person, but most of the times she just abuses her and takes her for granted and Kara, being the sweetheart that she is, bears this when she shouldn’t.

The best Cat for me is the witty boss, with a sharp tongue, but that is able to recognize the worth of others and the importance they bring. Such version we have seen on “Livewire” and “Human for a Day” and largely on this episode too, as Adam helps putting her in place.

Her exchange with Adam at the end is poignant and I would say that this is a step forward for Cat’s character development, but I have said so before and her writing is so inconsistent that I can’t come to be convinced it’ll be fixed. It is as if the writers want to keep her inconsistent just because they think she is best served that way. However, her arrogance and her abusive behavior keeps bothering me and will continue to do so until the show fixes her.

But hey, for the most part I saw commitment to improve her character, even with the arrogance and the abuse in between. Adam is a good way to have her realize that she has to face her mistakes and every once in awhile say sorry, with no buts in between. In that regard, I thought Cat’s storyline was strong, but it still has the lingering problems she has had all season.

As a whole I really liked the episode: it wasn’t really action heavy, with fights reduced to a few minutes, but the insight on J’onn was pretty stellar and while Cat still shows flaws I do appreciate this instance to bring her back to Earth. The dynamics with the characters were the spotlight as well, as Alex showed how strong her bond is with J’onn, Kara brought the best of Cat while also saving J’onn from himself, and ending the episode with the Danvers sisters sharing ice cream is always welcome, as their warm sisterhood is the bright light that makes this show the delight that it is. If it was only more committed to fix its flaws, it could be excellent.

Grade: B+

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 Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, Jessica Jones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100 and Supergirl
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