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Supergirl - Myriad & Better Angels - Review: "Hope"

31 May 2016

Supergirl, as a show, was something completely different to what you can find in most television. Sweet and endearing, energetic and optimistic, it offered a refreshing change of pace from the rising of dark themed shows on TV. From The Walking Dead, to Game of Thrones, to The 100, shows with high level stakes and gritty set ups, are dominating the TV landscape. They can all be regarded as good, mature and even necessary, but among those it is good to have a show as light and delightful as Supergirl to offer some variety and to end up with a smile.

That’s not to say Supergirl is flawless. In fact, this season finale was terribly flawed with cheesy writing, easy solutions, low engagement and overall it gave the show an underwhelming wrap to what has been an otherwise solid (albeit somewhat uneven) season. But I surely didn’t want to wrap my reviews (for good) with a negative sentiment. I want to remind people the good that this show has to offer.

Myriad and Better Angels are essentially thought as a two hours season finale, so I’ll treat it as such. Things kick off interestingly enough with a problem Kara doesn’t know how to approach: Myriad has taken over everyone, their individuality is lost and people everywhere is working to fix the world’s biggest problems at the expense of their free will. The only ones safe are Kara, Cat and Maxwell Lord, so it’s the 3 of them against the world. Everyone else on National City (James, Winn and everyone else) is completely out of it.

It’s an interesting development: this is the Myriad that was being worked for Krypton, technology that could potentially enslave worlds, but could also save them. With everyone working towards fixing world hunger and climate change, could it be worth giving up our freedom just a bit to make sure we make a better world? The show quickly sets its footing on no and I think they could have teased with the dilemma a bit longer, but Kara is pretty adamant about how free will is not to be sacrificed and the show does not even consider this a problem of choosing between hive mentality or individuality, it pretty much says right out of the bat that freedom is not to be sacrificed. The real question is how we get it back.

Maxwell Lord can destroy the source of Myriad, but the cost would be thousands of lives. And there’s our dilemma: how far do you go to save the world? Do you continue to look for the answer to save everyone or do you come to terms with the fact that you must sacrifice some to save the most? At one point Kara really considers doing it out of despair, having watched everyone she loves falling into the control of Myriad, including her all mighty cousin Superman. It is a powerful moment and her exchange with Cat is probably the highlight of both episodes, as she reminds her that she is a symbol of hope and that she has to stand for what she is and what she has given to people and thus she can’t fall into despair.

One of the most satisfying things about the finale overall is the evolution of Cat Grant: I hated her at the beginning of the show, but as episodes went by, I started to open up to her character as the writers wrote more layers to her and started to treat her like a human being rather than a monster. She is still a bitchy boss, but she is not so much harassing as she is just being strict and outside of work she showed personal growth as she reconnected with her lost son and as she advocates for hope now, which shows how far she has come and it is really satisfying seeing her like this.

On the sidelines, J’onn and Alex (who skipped the mostly great “World’s Finnest”) are back and as they get to Eliza Danver’s place for cover they learn about what’s going on in National City and Alex has the really bad idea of going back alongside J’onn: didn’t she realize how much of a liability she could be if J’onn couldn’t protect her mind? I understand where she came from, Alex had an arc of her own of rising from agent to full fledged person and she allowed her emotions to take over her, which is something that happens to humans, but in the narrative it means taking a huge risk, the kind in which the payoff is little compared to the potential loss and I’d think Alex would have tried to help from the outside rather than risk being controlled, which is what ends up happening. The show didn’t even let our Black Widow-esque character pull punches! Not until she fights Kara, but I’m getting there.

Now, something we need to talk about. The speech: my god. Cheesiness alert, overload. That’s it? The solution to the whole Myriad crisis is Supergirl speaking to the cameras and asking people to believe again? The speech trope is beating a dead horse and whenever I see it I feel like puking from a sugar rush. These speeches can work when it’s rooted in character development and it is shared in between two characters, in an intimate way. Think, for instance, of “Human for a Day” when Kara called for the better angels of a local mugger; even though we didn’t know the mugger, the speech was calling out individually to him and it worked because there was a direct connection and the guy felt that he was directly being called out for his better angels. However, doing this on a massive scale feels like a cop out.

There’s also a huge difference between “Human for a Day” and this. Kara called out for decency when the mugger had control of all his faculties. Here the trope is used to deal with a narrative conflict, to get out of a plot point, and honestly it is an extremely underwhelming solution, and that comes after an episode in which Supergirl and The Flash were saved by firefighters showering the supervillain with water. That’s saying a lot.

And this is all started in midst of the Kara and Alex fight. An awesome sequence given Alex’s boss kryptonite suit (can she keep it for S2, please?), but it goes quickly undermine after an injured J’onn gets Eliza in the midst of the fight to call out Alex so she can overcome the mind controlling Myriad. My problem with this is that the narratives reasons for “hope” as a solution are very weak. Thematically, they fit right in with Supergirl’s tone, but the execution is not there as the story just kinda reveals “hope!” as a solution instead of having built towards it, and so it becomes cheesier and lamer.

In the end, Supergirl’s breaking news speech breaks everyone free from Myriad’s control and Non is not happy about it. And since we have 30 minutes to fill, the writers went in a completely new direction, “let’s weaponize this!”. So the world has about 4 hours before everyone’s heads explode… ok, this could’ve work. Honestly, I felt that Kara’s chat with Cat as she believes she is either going to die or everyone else will, is heartfelt and another highlight of the episode. But the one she had with James… she just dumped him as the world may end!

On paper, I get it, Kara thinks she may die trying to save everyone. We know it won’t happen, but even if it was to happen, how could she be so inconsiderate to James? Why not tell him what’s going on? It’s not like he could stop her besides telling her “don’t do this” and if she was in fact going to die it would have made it easier on him to accept it than having their last moments together be him being rejected. Bad writing.

The battle with Non and Indigo was cool, but how is it that splitting Indigo in half is the key to defeat her? Like, seriously, the character was presented as someone who could disassemble and rearrange, so why in the world would that work? I honestly have no idea.

Then there’s the whole Supergirl thing on space. I have to wonder: what kind of interpretation is this? Superman and Supergirl have been shown to be able to be on utter space with no problems. So, has issues with that in this universe? I guess we’ll have to wait and see to get a clearer idea. I did like Alex coming to her rescue in the pod, because Alex is the kind of character that would do something like that and pull it off, though I have to wonder if the timing for it to happen is right (maybe Kara was floating on space longer than we got to know).

The ending is pretty much flowers and butterflies. Everyone is happy as the crisis has been averted and it’s the way a season of Supergirl should end: laughs and optimism shining through with great characters interactions. And the writers finally let James and Kara be! (Now, please don’t turn it into Olicity 2.0 or I’ll be extremely mad). But it couldn’t just be all laughs, they had to set up season 2, so we got the cliffhanger of the pod to wonder what was in there.

Overall, the season finale of Supergirl was one of its weakest showings, portraying some of the best qualities of the show (strong character dynamics, optimism, energy) along side the worst (convenient, lazy writing, no care for details, cheesy). The bad takes over the positive, but that doesn’t mean that Supergirl is a bad show: it got off to a rocky start that loomed over people’s perception of Supergirl, but the show’s true strength lies in later episodes. It is delightful, it is fun, it is all we need it to be. It is the superhero show we need and deserve, though it can certainly use up some tweaking.

Now that it’s flying over to The CW, I hope it lives a good life, but I also hope it doesn’t face the struggles shows like Arrow (and to some extent The Flash) are having. This is a chance for rebirth, to come back stronger and louder than ever, embracing more of the comic books fun while also improving all the weak areas of the writing.

Supergirl can be a stellar show on its own way when the writers want it to be. The cast is powerful (Melissa is the perfect Supergirl), and the seeds have be planted for what can be an amazing show. Now it just have to embarce it.

Finale grade: C
Season Grade: B

Important Announcement
Going into season 2 I won’t be reviewing Supergirl anymore. That honor will fall to Donna Chidley. Just like the show passed from CBS to CW, the reviews will pass from me to Donna. That’s not because I don’t love the show (I do), but rather because schedule wise it works better for both of us. Just consider how late this review came in and how inconsistent I have been at the time of bringing them. That won’t happen anymore, because I know Donna will do a far better job than me at bringing them in time.

I’m in middle of a big shake up on my status as a reviewer on SpoilerTV. This season I have been utterly irresponsible due to both personal life situations (death of my grandfather, working on my thesis, major changes around the house) and also because of lack of motivation. That’s also why my upcoming Once Upon a Time review will be my last and coming this fall Ashley will continue on with writing them. Also, I have decided to leave The 100 reviews completely to Jimmy Ryan as Daniel has stepped down from them and I realized that I need to take things easy as my life needs retooling.

Next season I’ll be reviewing just one show: The Flash. Donna has kindly offered me to take over The Flash reviews so she can work with Supergirl (which fits her schedule better) and I know that having to review a sole show I’ll be able to bring reviews in time. Also, The Flash is one of my favorites shows on TV (despite a weaker season) and I’m eager to talk about it.

Anyway, I wanted to thank everyone for your continued support: you have all come and read and discuss despite of my tardiness, and you share your enthusiasm with me and you have let me know that you like reading my point of view on the series. That kind of validation you can’t find everywhere, and I’ll be forever grateful for it. I hope to see many of you on my reviews for The Flash next season.

Soar to the skies Supergirl. Thank for giving me weekly smiles in the midst of a dark time in my life.
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 Supergirl
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