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Supergirl- Looking back at Season 4 - Review

For this article, I asked my fellow Spoilertv reviewer and Supergirl fan DJRiter for her thoughts as well.

Zandarl Supergirl returned season 4 with a bang, as previously reviewed I wasn’t a fan of how lackluster season 3 was it made promises but never delivered. Season 4 had to give me something more and it certainly delivered. The first half giving us a taste of what was to come and some iconic characters appearing.
The writers in season 4 managed to reflect the problems we all face today and weave it into the storylines that were often hard to watch but showed how fear can divide us. It gave us likable new regulars in Brainiac( Jesse Rath) and Nia Nial ( Nicole Maines). It also gave us Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor played superbly by Jon Cryer, who gave the right mix between humour and fanatical villain to the role.

We had Ben Lockwood a normal guy who became Agent liberty his fear becomes anger and soon he is given a platform that others follow calling themselves Children of Liberty, their goal is to get Aliens all the Aliens off the Earth.

It also gave us Red Daughter, from the split, an identical version of Supergirl raised in Kaznia who hates the Americans. It became nature verse nurture as her mentor became Lex Luthor, What could possibly go wrong there. It certainly gave us another side to Benoist's acting talents as the venerable version of Supergirl to harden killer.
With Lex Luthor it is revealed that the sweet' Miss Teschmacher' isn’t as sweet in fact she seems to be playing for more than just one side.

Supergirl is also at odds with the DEO and the American government which leads to heartbreak for both her and Alex when Alex's memories of her sister being Supergirl were removed. When Supergirl appears to get killed by Red daughter Alex remembers and the episode 'Red Dawn' has to be my personal favourite episode of the season. The Danvers sisters are always the heart and when the show forgets that it suffers.

Kara's journey is revisited which is something I adored this season, in season 3 she seemed like she had forgotten she was a reporter. Kara in season 4 proves the pen can be mighter relying more on her reporting skills when Supergirl is benched. Kara has come from assistant to a fledgling reporter to now mentor to new character Nia Nial who starts at Catco it is like watching Kara in season 1. Nia also has her own superhero journey and becomes Dreamer.
Brainy who stayed after the legion left becomes a more regular character after the departure of Winn at the end of season three, Brainy going all Brainiac was chilling in the finale we can only hope he is back to his usual self but I wonder can his malfunction have stirred up a darker side. One thing fans did love was the building romance between Nia and Brainy.
Another new character was James' sister, Kelly. When James is shot by Eve Teschmacher, we later learn in an attempt for Lena to use the Black kryptonite serum she has developing on James. Kelly arrives and had fans wondering why James would never mention a sister , it did seem thrown in there but in the end, did little to harm the narrative. Kelly’s friendship with Alex blossomed and in the finale turns into more when they kiss.

The final episode of this season gave us some stunning work with it being revealed Lex was behind everything even playing Lockwood and the new president in his megalomaniac way of trying to save the world by destroying and rebuilding it. Lex kills Red daughter, but she manages to give Supergirl the power she needs to defeat Lex who's trickery got him the Black Kyrotnite serum which gave him superpowers.
Lena who seems to have gone through the gamut of emotions this season ultimately being the one who kills Lex but not before he can twist the knife. Lex's reveal that Kara is Supergirl is the final blow but later on, when Lena meets with the gang Lena appears like everything is fine.
Monitor revives Lex which is all part of his plan which I am sure will become apparent as the new season progresses and connects to the crossover event.
Eve Teschmacher seems to have escaped as well, on the run she meets with someone who warns Leviathan is coming.

The other storyline for this season took place in the crossover and although Supergirl seemed to take a back seat to her cousin in Else worlds it did introduce 'The Monitor' and leads us to the big cross over event in the arrow verse with multiple Superman version’s on multiple Earths.

Season 5 looks like being about the upcoming battle for the multiverse and a personal one of friendship for Kara and Lena as it will be revealed, she feels betrayed. It also shines a light on how technology is taking over our lives being described as Supergirl does Black Mirror. We also have new characters arriving ( more will be revealed as the enter the series) and old ones leaving as actor Mechad Brooks who plays James Olsen announced his departure earlier this year at SDCC
My love for Supergirl returned in Season 4 and I can’t wait to see what season 5 has to offer

DJ Riter In my Supergirl Season 4a overview back in January, I mentioned the show has returned to the things that made fans fall in love with the show from the beginning: the charm of Season 1, the heart of Season 2, the action of Season 3 and strong character growth. Beginning with Suspicious Minds (4x10) the show kicked off Season 4b with a powerful episode that challenged the dynamics of the show's foundation relationship, the Danvers sisters and proceeded to reel off a succession of outstanding, award-worthy episodes leading to a stellar climax and conclusion with the one-two punch of Red Dawn and The Quest for Peace. As a result, Supergirl has its strongest Season in Season 4, not falling victim to the decline in quality or pacing that often plagues other shows that have lasted as long.
One of the biggest factors to the show's strong season was that the producers/writers had a clear story planned out and for the first time was able to see that story through from the beginning of the season to the end, without interruptions or problems that necessitated rewrites. They wisely put the back half of Season Four on the shoulders of two powerful storylines and both delivered. The first storyline was the controversial mind-wipe in which Alex had her mind wiped of any knowledge of her little sister's secret identity of Supergirl in order to protect her.
While some felt the storyline unnecessary, my take on it is that it was one of the riskiest storylines the show has undertaken in years and it paid off royally. They basically turned the core relationship and foundation of the show, the Danvers sisters, and rebooted it in a creative and heart-rending fashion, making them stronger than ever.
Red Dawn will go down as my favorite episode of this season and likely one of my top five favorites of the entire series. The hour clearly belongs to Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh. Supergirl’s first face to face encounter with Red Daughter ultimately leads to Alex regaining memories of her sister. Kara’s first encounter at the beginning of the episode leads to some creative Matrix-style stunt work that is topped later by outstanding fight choreography during their hand-to-hand battle in Midvale. After that first encounter, a wounded Kara goes to J’onn for help. Kara’s genuine fear for her sister’s safety and impassioned pleas to J’onn that she must tell Alex the truth about Supergirl bring the hour’s first moments that reduce the audience to tears. Benoist has had a stellar season and some of her best work has been as Red Daughter yet, and the mind-wipe storyline has also allowed her some shining moments as Kara Danvers.
Later when Supergirl is followed to Red Daughter’s National City lair by Alex, Benoist and Leigh share a beautiful scene as a confused Alex tries to understand why Red Daughter’s hideout looks suspiciously like her sister’s loft. Her fear for her sister’s safety rattles the normally stoic agent as Supergirl looks on helpless to tell her why her fears are unfounded and that her sister is safe. This is one of the show’s powerhouse acting team’s finest scenes opposite one another. Watching Benoist as Supergirl, struggle for a way to reach her sister is near painful as you see her mind working trying to find a way to jog Alex’s memory that won’t drive her insane. You feel every ounce of her frustration and desperation. Then the two share a short moment of bonding when Supergirl manages to connect with Alex by confessing she had a sister. Leigh’s work as the mind-wiped Alex has been some of her finest work, her mastery at taking her character right up to that emotional edge is phenomenal and her every emotion plays out so subtly through her expressive features. They make a short-lived connection when Alex sits next to Supergirl and the Girl of Steel takes her hand. It is a pivotal moment that begins the reconnection of the sisters, not unlike the moment in the pilot when Kara reaches out for Alex’s hand as the latter starts to leave after giving Kara the hologram from her mother. That moment defined the power of the sisterhood for the show and this one reaffirmed that connection, although the moment is shattered by the news that “Kara” is in Midvale and Eliza is in danger.
Later in Midvale as a lifeless Supergirl, lay on the ground in the woods following her battle with Red Daughter, a tearful Alex Danvers, her memories restored, pleads with her sister not to die, to not leave her alone. This was easily one of the most gut-wrenching scenes of this season. Leigh has always been one of the show’s greatest acting strengths, but in this emotional performance she takes that strength to an entirely level of excellence, tapping into her character’s despair and desperation with a guttural, raw emotion not seen from her since the powerful end of Season 2’s ‘Changing’. It is the type of performance that should be praised for its depth and garner all the acting awards for the actress. Leigh has been a standout performer all season tackling the risky mind-wipe storyline, but in this scene, she is something extraordinary and special.

Scenes between Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh have always been the gold standard of the show but with this storyline, particularly in Red Dawn, where Alex regains her memories and fights to saving a dying Supergirl, they elevated that to the next, Emmy award-worthy level. There simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe how incredible these two actresses were in this storyline. They got incredible support in the storyline from David Harewood as J'onn and Jesse Rath as Brainy.
Both Alex and Kara/Supergirl grew tremendously during this time while cementing the fact that they were truly El Mayarah, "stronger together" despite the mind wipe. Alex, the protector, got the opportunity to put her needs first allowing her to still be close to her sister while pursuing her dreams of motherhood, and a new slow burn, mature relationship with Kelly Olsen, Azie Tesfai- a wonderful cast addition who has an easy, growing chemistry with Leigh, without worrying about protecting Supergirl. And she did this all while being true to her protective nature and being the bad-ass director of the DEO. She still protected her sister, J'onn, the agency, Brainy, James, Kelly and even Supergirl. The Alex Danvers at the end of Season 4 was perhaps the strongest she's been -physically, mentally and emotionally since the series began.
The person the mindwipe was hardest on was Kara/Supergirl. Watching and being around a sister who didn't know she had superpowers taught her just how much her sister had sacrificed for her. She also learned that Supergirl could survive without being dependent on her big sister when it came time to for the big decisions. She struggled each time they interacted as Director Danvers and Supergirl but ultimately that bond came through and the superhero earned the unconditional respect and support of the most important person in her life.
Alex, Kara and even Supergirl grew as strong, independent women, and regardless of the mind-wipe, the bond between them was as powerful as ever, eventually being more powerful than the mind-wipe itself. It will be interesting to watch their dynamic moving forward in Season 5, as they deal with the ramifications and revelations their semi-separation brought to light.
The second smartest thing the show did this season was to tie the existing storylines: Red Daughter, Agent Liberty, Children of Liberty, and Lena's work with the Harun-El to one man, Lex Luthor and make him the mastermind that drove each of them to the thrilling season finale. Casting Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor was a masterstroke. The actor took the part and ran with it creating an iconic interpretation all his own that will go down as one of the greatest if not greater than Gene Hackman's original take in the Superman movies. His scenes as Lex with Katie's McGrath's Lena were fun and masterful. The two traded quips and blows as the Luthor siblings, two genius, damaged individuals from comic book lore's most evil family. In those scenes with Cryer, McGrath brought some of her best work since joining the show. And comic book fans will be forever grateful for the moment when he first betrayed Lena during this run as he bellowed the iconic name, "MISS TESCHMACHER!". Perhaps of all the evil things, Lex did none was more evil than that last heart-breaking blow to Lena's fragile ego by revealing everyone had been lying to her and that her best friend, Kara Danvers, was indeed Supergirl. McGrath's pained reaction was palpable and next season will afford her some delicious opportunities as viewers wonder if Lena will go full-on evil or just be angry and vindictive towards those she feels betrayed her.
Kudos to Andrea Brooks for hiding Eve Teschmacher's duplicity so well and being such a devilish cohort to Lex. Didn't I read somewhere that it was time the show made Andrea Brooks' Miss Tessmacher a recurring character? Oh, yes, I did in my Season 4a overview, but the writers did even one better with two delicious turns, first making her Lex's seeming paramour and assistant, and then making her somewhat sympathetic with that ominous scene in the finale where she was revealed to be a pawn of Leviathan.
Brooks' was just one of the superb supporting cast performances this season. There was outstanding work as well from Rath's Brainy especially during his rebooting scenes and sweet romance with Dreamer; Nicole Maines who continued to grow and impress as Nia Nal/Dreamer, National City's transgender superhero; Sam Witmer managed to have fans hate his Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty character but love his layered performance; and David Ajala, whose great work as Manchester Black and fabulous scenes with David Harewood will be missed.
What didn't work in the second half of the season were the results of a few dangling threads and a continued problem of not know what to do with one character.
Col. Haley's intrusion at the DEO caused numerous issues but none so significant as blindly following orders on learning Supergirl's secret identity. Though her actions led to the shows previously mentioned powerful mind-wipe storyline, it did diminish it a little when Haley drops the desire as actions escalated. Perhaps it can be attributed to her disillusionment with her higher-ups. But the way the character was written, totally dislikable one moment, is she or isn't she the next, to supporting Supergirl in the end, was confusing for viewers as her opinions were changing fast enough to give viewers whiplash. Ultimately Haley comes down on the side of Team Supergirl and ends up as Acting Secretary of the Department of Alien Affairs. Should the producers keep April Carter Jones next season even as recurring as the permanent new Secretary, that could serve as a way for Haley to make up for her shoddy treatment of DEO Director Alex Danvers and perhaps facilitate the adoption of an orphaned alien child by Alex?
On another note, one reason for me that her presence or shall we say behavior didn't ring true at any time is that the DEO is NOT a military organization. In looking back on previous seasons, at no time did Alex or any other DEO agent salute Director J'onn J'onnz. Nor did they when Major Lucy Lane was temporarily in charge. Why not? My belief is because the DEO is a clandestine organization a la the CIA and as such NOT subject to military rules or the military code of conduct and Haley's repeated threats to court-martial Alex or demand Alex salute her did not ring true. Alex Danvers is NOT in the military! My cats learned new four-letter words every time that happened during the season.
I was disappointed too in the failure of the writers to not follow up on the relationship between Red Daughter and the little boy, Mikail. Why have Otis save the child when Eve bombed his village if there were no plans to use him again?
Perhaps the biggest misstep this season, as it has been in others is that the show doesn't really know what to do with James Olsen. Just when the most solid storyline he's had in the series gets started, James dealing with PTSD after being shot, giving us some of Mehcad Brook's best work on the show, it gets mysteriously dropped by having him gain superpowers from Lena's doctored version of the Harun-El. Doing that, in my opinion, was a disservice to both the storyline and the actor. It was a serious topic and he was the perfect character to explore the issue with yet, it's dropped to give James powers so he could make a relevant contribution to the fighting in the season finale.
Again, those issues aside, Supergirl capped a very strong season 4 with a second-half run of exceptional episodes with award-worthy performances. And the disgrace of the lack of serious recognition of shows like Supergirl and other worthy CW series during Emmy and other awards seasons would take an entire article unto itself. It's long past time for performers like Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, and other genre show actors to have their work taken seriously.
Supergirl was the far superior Arrowverse show on the CW this season and did a superb job of setting up intriguing questions going into Season 5.

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