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Supergirl - Crime and Punishment - Review - Facing Hard Truths

28 Apr 2019

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*NOTE – The following review may contain spoilers.

I'll be designated Supergirl reviewer for the latest episode of Supergirl this week for my SpoilerTV colleague and regular Supergirl reviewer, Zandarl who is a little under the weather. I am thankful for the opportunity to again look at the progress this show has made during its fourth season. While some would say the show has barely escaped the dreaded Season Four curse in terms of quality and storytelling, I say it's been just the opposite. By taking major risks with some of their storylines, specifically the Alex mind-wipe, and remaining uncompromising in tackling difficult issues Supergirl has grown into the diamond star of quality of the CW superhero shows. From the season premiere to the latest episode, Crime and Punishment, each successive episode has excelled in storytelling, acting and reminding us just how good this show is. There hasn't been a so-called "filler" episode all season.

If there were to be a theme from Crime and Punishment, it could very well be that the time has come for several characters to face some hard truths. No one faced more harsher truths than Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) herself. Right now, after the President has declared her Public Enemy #1 and declared martial law, Supergirl is feeling frustrated and alone. Thankfully, Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Lena (Katie McGrath) have her back and as they are brainstorming their next moves to find the person they know is responsible, Lex, Supergirl rushes to save an accident victim only to come face to face with angry citizens trying to arrest and subdue her with a handgun. A stray bullet only serves to bounce off her and cause the wrecked vehicle to explode, putting everyone at risk. After rushing the victim to safety, she is stunned to find the even he has lost faith in her.

Later, a lead on Lex's whereabouts takes Supergirl and Lena to Lex's cell at the prison. There Lena faces a hard truth that no matter how hard she tries to do good and help people, she too is keeping dark secrets Lex has left her a message reminding her that there is blood on her hands as well by leaving her a photo of her first Harun-El test subject marked with the date of his death. She lies to Supergirl about the date and then goes to discover a few other hard truths about herself and her relationship with her brother through the diaries Lex has left for them to find.

As Lena examines the diaries, Supergirl questions a "peeping Tom" from the cell next to Lex. There she discovers inmate Steve Lomeli, wonderfully played by guest star Willie Garson, in prison for divulging state secrets about a drone project. And it's Lomeli who makes Supergirl start thinking when he challenges her with the fact that sometimes being super isn't enough, and in her misguided attempts to help she does more harm than good. He tells her that everything she touches she ruins. While his words are effective in getting her to see the truth in this episode, his words may resonate and haunt her regarding other storylines, like seeing the harm she's done to her sister by being Supergirl. There is so much potential from her facing the consequences of her actions. Later as Otis Graves (Robert Graves) arrives and starts a prison riot by telling the inmates that the first one to capture Supergirl earns a get out of jail free card. After locking Lena safely locked in Lex's cell, Supergirl goes to quell the riot but is forced to hide in plain sight as reporter Kara Danvers when the Kryptonite shield Lena gives her fails. It is in that persona she encounters Lomeli again, who it turns out is a big fan and fellow journalist and is more eager to help her.

This sequence of scenes at the prison features some of the most creative and neatly choreographed action moments of the episode. First, as Supergirl runs the gauntlet of escaped prisoners, you can see her frustration as the men try to physically subdue her. To stop them from hurting themselves and further delaying her getting to Otis, she employs a super-slide, then her heat vision to seal them in the cell block. But it is the second action set that features the return of one of Supergirl's coolest powers, the thunderclap. When the National Guard arrive to get Supergirl and announce they'll arrest anyone standing, even her pleas for the rioting prisoners to get down for their protection fail. So, she employs the thunderclap to knock them all from their feet. This was a great call-back to the first use of the power in the Crisis on Earth X crossover and a reminder of some of the many unique gifts the Girl of Steel possesses.

After the riot and she and Lena have escaped the prison, she faced that hard truth that Lomeli that it was time for Supergirl to lay low, and that maybe she can do more good as Kara Danvers. She returns to the prison to interview Lomeli as reporter Kara Danvers. He gives her a flash drive from Lex's computer from the secret lab that she and Lena found that was connected to the DEO desert facility. The lab was destroyed in an explosion and at first, finding out more about Lex's plans and his location seemed doomed. Now she has what Supergirl values highly, hope.

Among the others who faced hard truths, were Col. Haley (April Parker Jones) and Alex. She and Alex face off with the power-mad Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer) who arrives demanding weapons he can use to ambush Supergirl then demands they summon the superhero. Alex smartly uses the book that Haley is so fond of following to temporarily thwart him, but after Haley demands her signal watch and orders the agents to begin collecting the weapons, Alex comes to the realization that it's imperative she get Haley to change her mind about blindly following orders.

She tries to delay Haley by misleading her on how the watch works and then seeks counsel on ways to reach her CO from psychologist Kelly Olsen (Azie Tesfai). If, as many suspect, Kelly ends up becoming Alex's new love interest later this season or next, they are wisely allowing them to become good friends first. Leigh and Tesfai are developing a nice, easy chemistry now that is essential to their characters future relationship. Later Alex appeals to Haley that sometimes following orders is wrong by asking her to think how her decisions are going to impact her daughter. At first Haley is angry, but eventually, when Lockwood returns, she chooses a side and comes down on Team Supergirl because she knows what Lockwood and the president are doing is wrong.

Also facing a hard truth this week is Brainy (Jesse Rath), who comes to understand that sometimes actions can't be quantified by odds. His intellect is telling him to destroy the Alien Registry because he knows Lockwood will come for that next to target aliens. Yet, following a humorous Mission: Impossible style mission to access the registry he is genuinely torn because the odds of him doing more harm than good is 50/50. He seeks counsel as well from Nia Nal (Nicole Maines), who at first tells him not to destroy the registry then seeing him in danger from one of her dreams, changes her mind and tells him he must destroy the registry. By that time Brainy had already made the decision to destroy the registry but not before downloading a copy to his brain, an action that is sure to bring consequences. It was a nice human moment for him. And while Brainy has been a stellar addition to the cast this season, one aspect of his character is growing tiresome. Every time he is tasked with a covert mission by Alex at the DEO, he makes a production of announcing he's being "clandestine" to Alex's chagrin. If, as he is quick to point out, he is a twelfth level intellect, wouldn't he have learned by now after as many times as Alex has asked him to do so this season that this bumbling attempt to convey he understands is both dangerous and blatant. It's a tired joke that's quickly growing long in the tooth.

Finally, the last character that comes to face a hard truth is James Olsen. Putting aside his male pride and ego, he admits to his sister that he has PTSD and needs help. She convinces him to seek therapy during which he faces the truth that even though he is Guardian and shouldn't need help, he can't help everyone if he can't help himself. However, the hardest truth he faces is the fact that his problems are far greater than PTSD and that he is exhibiting superpowers. The show should be applauded for trying to take on a PTSD storyline, however, by pushing it aside to give James superpowers does a disservice to the storyline. This may be one of the rare instances of the season where the writers have dropped the ball with an important topic. It is understandable why they have, but it does not make dropping the relevancy of this issue any less misguided.

Supergirl is building toward a multi-layered and powerful season finale. Crime and Punishment serves as the perfect set-up leading into these final episodes. What did you think of the episode? Share your thoughts in the comments below.