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Supergirl - Falling & Manhunter - Double Review: "The Grace and The Fall of Supergirl"

28 Mar 2016

I’ve mentioned a couple of times how Supergirl is a bright show, one that is delightful and optimistic, how just like Kara Danvers, it just wants us to smile. So an episode like “Falling” is an oddity, but also a welcome change of pace: it reveals Supergirl’s id, it portrays her as an actual person by letting out all of those thoughts we would always keep to ourselves and never say.

The importance of “Falling” comes from humanizing Kara: it may sound weird since she is an alien, but having Kara Danvers be a real human being with recognizable and relatable emotions is the only way to make the show work. So far the show has shown us her incredible strength, and I don’t mean just physical, but also her emotional strength: she is unstoppable, her empathy and her kindness can inspire criminals and she is so strong that she can even get pass through her sister killing her aunt… or so she makes it looks like.

The show was going to delve on how much Astra’s death has affected Kara in a way or another, and “Falling” is pretty much the best way to do so. The red kryptonite (like any kryptonite device) feels a bit too much deus ex machina, but is an established piece of cannon in the Superman universe that helps us humanize Kara by presenting us her dark side.

It’s not that the red kryptonite brainwashes her, it’s that every dark thought she ever had comes to surface: we get to see the path of the villain Kara could have taken, and we see everything she has been holding on to. She is ruthless, rude, she is loosen up, she tries to seduce James, almost forcing him to be with her, she dismisses everyone around her, and most importantly, she wants to take control.

Kara Danvers and Supergirl have a surprisingly low control of their life and everything that go around her, they react, they deal with, but they never experience the feeling that things go according to what they want. So, infused by the id propped by red kryptonite, Supergirl goes rogue, she starts being a symbol of fear as she tries to subdue everyone on the city to worship her.

Probably the most hurtful part of the episode (and I mean this in a good way) is her conversation with Alex before she dresses up like Astra and start wrecking havoc on the sister.
You have always hated me. That’s why you killed my aunt. While Kara reveals she didn’t mean it in the end, those feelings were there, they were true. She has felt that Alex has done nothing but try to grasp control over her because of how powerful she is, and even Alex admits there is some truth to that. As amazing as the Danvers relationship is, there is true that they also are responsible for each other’s darkness.

After Supergirl is beaten by J’onn is really hard to see the fallout of J’onn being contained for posing as Hank Henshaw and it’s also heartbreaking to see Kara breaking into tears after realizing what she has done. Alex’s line we’ll have to work on that pretty much sums up every relationship: there’s never perfection, there’s always lingering darkness to the connections we have with other people, but we have to work on it because we need them. Alex needs Kara just as much as she needs her. And both of them need J’onn too, which makes his decision to be captured all the more harder for them (as we see on the next episode), especially for Alex.

For a show that is all about the triumph of belief on the human spirit, this episode is surprisingly dark, but in the best way. The only way to truly believe in the human spirit is recognizing is darkness and moving through it once we’ve seen it, ready to step into the light. That’s something Cat Grant realizes by the end of the episode when Supergirl apologizes to her: she’s taken her down, drown her image after she became dangerous, but she knows Supergirl can be a hero and she is willing to help her rebuild her image. That’s what is important: as much inconsistent as Cat Grant can be, lately it seems she is also stepping into the light, realizing that just because she is rough it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to do something about the world around her. After all, it’s with a heavy heart that she announces Supergirl has gone rogue, but she does so to help protect the city.

This is an episode that should not be replicated: I’m not meaning to say that Supergirl shouldn’t try darker approaches every now and then, but rather that this is Kara’s ultimate fall of grace, and the episode stands out that much because we’ve never seen her being so selfish and ultimately evil. When Supergirl goes dark, even Maxwell Lord has to realize he has made a huge mistake, which is a great character moment. Everyone has to step up and make hard choices because they are the right ones. It’s a powerful standalone episode that shines through a light, entertaining season, adding the depth needed to move forward. In the end, Supergirl’s light can only shine so bright if the shadows around here are big enough.

Grade: A

A.K.A everyone’s origin story. Coming after such a big episode as “Falling”, it’s hard to make a good follow up story. “Manhunter” keeps on with the lingering elements left by “Falling”, adds some interesting ingredients, but failed to keep my attention on the long term. I swear that by minute 14, I started tidying my room because I felt it was particularly unremarkable.

That’s not to say the episode is bad (it’s not), I just felt it was rather… forgettable. A transition episode of sort in which the people are still getting used to the fact that Supergirl may not be the hero they believed she was and in which J’onn has to face the consequences of being exposed. On paper, those are actually very engaging themes to built an episode on, but the reality is that those plots weren’t really executed well enough. Actually, I felt it fell flat here and there.

Honestly, everything regarding James Harper at the D.E.O… ugh. Supergirl is just the worst at military antagonist: they have good intentions at heart, but the way the actors portray them and the dialogue they are given makes them just really unlikeable, to the point where I would just rather change channels because they are being so unreasonable and petty that you just don’t want to watch anymore. Lucy is the only one involved in this kind of plot that resembles an actual human being, doing what she think is right while not looking cartoonish on the process.

The flashback to J’onn J’onzz meeting with Jeremiah Danvers is far from engaging: it’s pretty much what we have heard already, we just get to see him meet J’onn for a second, then save him from Hank and dying asking him to protect Alex. That’s it, nothing we haven’t heard before, with very uninspiring dialogue. This should have been a moving flashback, but it just rehashes everything that we already know, making it fairly unspectacular when it should highlight the strong bond between a human and a martian. It was pretty much a miss for me.

Slightly more interesting (though a bit stereotypical) is Alex’s meeting with Hank (J’onn) for the first time: her recruitment story is pretty much by the book: potential warrior on a bad track recruited for secret organization. The interesting part comes from seeing Alex’s past being something we didn’t know. She was pretty much a hot mess, with no life direction and no place to go from there, which retrospectively makes her mother’s strictness around her all the more sound. We get to know a bit more about Alex and I like that, and I like J’onn’s line I need you to be the person I know you can be as it is her path to her black widow-esque path.

And really important, we get to see why Cat Co is so important to Kara: it has been mentioned that the job is the link to her normal life, but her interview with Cat actually makes it clear how important is for Kara to have a place where she can be just a regular human being, no one who stands out. Her father taught her to be discreet (especially after that incident on the beach), but Cat Co is not just laying low to keep eyes away from her, it’s to actually relate to what is like to be a normal person.

On the more interesting reveals of the episode “Project Cadmus” is revealed to be the reason why Clark Kent doesn’t work with the government: they experiment on aliens, trying to weaponize them, doing god’s know what to them. That reveal is linked to another reveal which is that Alex’s father is alive. Jeremiah Danvers is just waiting to be rescued and that could lead to very interesting stories.

Also, long overdue: Lucy finally knows who Supergirl is! This gives her a much better place at the show than just being there for the sake of love triangles. Broken up with James and on team Supergirl, she becomes the perfect liaison between the government activity and Supergirl’s team. She is way more interesting when she has to decide to trust Kara and help them out than when she is just there to interfere with Kara’s chances to be with James.

This episode has some severe issues that kept it from maintaining the momentum from “Falling”, but it’s far from bad. I’d say there were good ideas executed poorly. Supergirl can do better, and that’s why I decided to be a bit more rough with this review.

Grade: B-

On a quick footnote: I wasn’t much of a fan of how the show revealed Siobhan to be a super powered villain, but I’m more than looking forward to see how she will be dealt with on tonight’s crossover with The Flash. Stay tune! This week there will be a crossover of our own on SpoilerTV with a roundtable that will involve the reviewers of Supergirl and The Flash to discuss the episode!
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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