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Supergirl - The Bodyguard - Reality Bytes - Alex in Wonderland - Reviews: Roundtable Roundup

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*NOTE - I'm filling in for regular SpoilerTV Supergirl reviewer Zandarl in preparing and posting this article for publication. I thank her for asking me to participate in this special review roundtable for a show we both love watching and writing about. - DJRiter

After the high of the 100th episode, It's a Super Life, Supergirl aired the episodes listed below before lockdown. These three gave us a mixed bag with the underwhelming Bodyguard episode, to tackling the sensitive topic of hate crimes in Reality Bytes, onto the SuperAlex episode, Alex in Wonderland with Alex feeling lost after the death of her father Jeremiah. Tonight marks Supergirl’s return with Melissa Benoist’s directorial debut and gives us only three episodes left to go this season. Production was called to a halt in March and we are aware the finale has been re-edited. This leaves you wondering where everything is going with this season which has been non-sensical and messy at times. Will it be possible to tie up all the loose ends or will certain storylines continue into next season? In a new approach, fellow SpoilerTV writer DJRiter and I are doing each episode in a roundtable question format to give our opinions on the episodes.

The Bodyguard

Andrea (Julie Gonzalo) appears to be in over her head with Leviathan, however, she isn't as aware this time with her powers not being revealed until the end of the episode. Do you think she will side with the Heroes this time around?

Donna (DJRiter) - If memory serves, I don't think that it has been established that Andrea knows she is involved with Leviathan on Earth-Prime despite Gemma (Cara Buono) being her mentor. She told Lena that Leviathan didn't activate her. I think she was just as surprised as anyone when her powers appeared. Regardless, just as she eventually did on Earth 38, she will turn out to be an ally to Supergirl, and her friends and her powers being tied to the ancient token could be an asset in gain knowledge about Leviathan.

Zandarl - With Andrea using her powers, I do not think it will be long before we see Arcata. And while Leviathan has put her in a certain position, I do not believe she understands the true nature of their evil intent with the Obsidian platinum VR. She proved a valuable ally previously to Supergirl in The Wrath of Rama Khan and I feel Andrea Rojas is not a villain just someone who will do anything to protect her family.

Alex (Chyler Leigh)'s departure from the DEO and Brainy (Jesse Rath) siding with Lex (Jon Cryer) do you feel this was the best move?

Donna (DJRiter) - Alex leaving the DEO is the best thing they have done for this character in four seasons. It opens a great storyline and character growth opportunity for her. Before her departure, everything that Alex did or was in the show was tied to protecting Supergirl and the DEO, it was how she was defined. Now free of that, she has and is involved on a journey of self-discovery. Having her work with J'onn (David Harewood) was the perfect choice to help guide her on that journey. She is finding out just who Alex Danvers is, and that she is and can be a hero without the big agency behind her or focusing her entire life using that agency to protect her sister who has also grown. She is free to explore what Alex wants and needs, like working with J'onn or being a mother, her relationship with Kelly, etc., instead of having to make all those decisions around her job. As far as departing from Brainy, wasn't that by design, he thanked her for her offer to come with him but rightfully deduced that he could be more helpful by staying and sharing information on Lex from the inside. I think this journey, if possible, will bring the sisters even closer as more layers to her character are peeled back. It is a great reboot, if you will, for the character and is going to be interesting to go on this journey with her. It gives Chyler Leigh an abundance of new material and motivations to work with to make her character even stronger than she already was but didn't realize. Pairing her again with David Harewood is a bonus to this storyline as their scenes together are always exceptional and are almost as impactful as her scenes with Melissa Benoist. This is a great opportunity for a character that I believe we've just scratched the surface on and is just now coming into her own.

Zandarl - I do feel that Alex’s character, despite taking over the DEO in Season 4, has never been in charge. Putting Lex into the mix was once again bound to cause a conflict of interest so it seemed only natural for Alex to leave and join J’onn at his detective agency. As for Brainy, each week you see the guilt is getting to him that he has to help Lex to save everyone from Leviathan, but he still finds time to help his friends when he can. In the upcoming episodes, as we have seen, J’onn will offer his usual “Space Dad” advice to Alex in some wonderful scenes.

Supergirl talking down the villain who was just in pain over losing someone she loved for me was the best scene of the episode? Do you feel Supergirl's ability to see the good in people even those she has called 'villain' might be the key to defeating the Luthors?

Donna (DJRiter) - While "Hope, Help, and Compassion," is Supergirl's greatest power I don't think that alone will be all it takes to defeat this season's big bad. I think it's going to take Supergirl and her friends working together to defeat both the Luthors and Leviathan this season.

Zandarl - Kara’s talking down of Amy is remarkably similar to the Season 1 episode Human for a day when Kara has no powers and has to talk down an armed robber in a liquor store. Though we have seen Kara repeatedly trying to talk down Lena, have some of her words penetrated through to prevent Lena from going even further down the dark path she is on with her brother Lex. Lena seems eager to disprove that Non-Nocere is not like Myriad and is not about mind control. In this episode, we saw Lena human testing on prisoners at first without success until she and Lex worked together to find a viable solution. For Kara to get through to Lena she needs to break her tie from her manipulative brother.

Reality Bytes

Nia (Nicole Maines) has taken a bit of a back seat this season, this episode was mainly focused on her character and how did you feel the story was handled?

Donna (DJRiter) - I don't think the character has taken a bit of a back seat at all, as she is technically a secondary character and the show is called Supergirl. With a cast as large as this one it is difficult to give everyone prominent screen time every episode. Other supporting characters, Alex, J'onn, Brainy, and this week, the Luthors have all been given their due in episodes centering on them and this episode was Nia's spotlight this season. That said, Maines herself has stated in repeated interviews how pleased she was how the story was handled and praised the producers and writers for telling the story and how much input she had in its creation. It was a difficult story that needed to be told and the show did it very well given the constraints and limited time they had. Maines gave an exceptional and heartfelt performance, one of her best of the series.

Zandarl - I have seen that the character of Nia has not received a lot of screen time this season, last season the character brought a lot of fresh energy to the show. Whilst the show is called Supergirl if the creators introduce new characters, they should give them consistent storylines even if it’s only 1 or 2 scenes per episode. This is something the CW has been guilty of in the majority of its “Arrowverse” shows and certain character storylines and plots tend to be forgotten. I applaud the handling of a storyline, however, I feel for it to have more impact what Dreamer saw in her vision might have become a reality as sadly this is an all too common truth and the trans community is being beaten and at times murdered and their voices lost in the news.

One scene that has annoyed a lot of fans and I feel needs addressing in a mansplaining scene between Kara and William (Staz Nair), while an attempt to convey the facts it left most viewers feeling cold, detracting away from the important message of the episode. What are your thoughts regarding this?

Donna (DJRiter) Personally I think this has been blown out of proportion due to some fans' innate dislike of the William character. For some there seems to be an intensely negative reaction to him anytime he appears on the screen. I saw no mansplaining, quite the contrary. If you look at the scene carefully, Kara was in the dominant position standing over William and instructing him on the structure of his story. He was sharing information he had learned on the topic with her, much like goes on in newsrooms every day when reporters are working on a story together or asking advice from colleagues. It appeared to me William was asking Kara, a fellow reporter whose opinion he valued and respected, for her thoughts on an important story that needed to be handled with care and respect.

Zandarl - Where I feel the problem occurred is that Kara is a very intelligent investigative reporter, we have had 5 seasons of her looking into the facts on everything herself so to put this scene in there seemed misplaced. We have seen before her discussing things with Jimmy Olsen and Kat Grant, but Kara has always had the facts at hand and not had them told to her. While it is important to convey the statistic as this is what the episode wished to highlight, perhaps Kara saying them to William would have been the better option. I have nothing against William as a character but I feel the writing for his character has caused issues at times.

Nia's reaction given the circumstances seemed a little extreme. Do you feel the episode could have gone darker, when in truth what happened to her friend is mild in comparison to abuse physical and verbal faced by the LGBTQ community?

Donna (DJRiter) - While the sad truth is that the abuse both physical and verbal faced by the LGBTQ community is far uglier than what was portrayed in the episode, I think for an episode of Supergirl the show went about as far dark as it could. Given the enormity of the situation, they did an exceptional job of bringing the matter to light within the confines of one 45-minute episode of television. It was a lot of information to share in a very short amount of time and they had to tie it in with their storylines. I think Nia's reactions were real and raw with an amazing performance from Maines, given that she was purposely choosing to relive on-screen abuse and hatred faced by the trans-community she has experienced first-hand.

Zandarl - As stated previously I do feel that the episode could have gone darker, however, I appreciate that Supergirl has not got the same dark tone as Batwoman. Perhaps if the same storyline had been portrayed in Batwoman it would have played out differently. Nicole Maines gave an outstanding performance from what we know is a very raw and personal topic for her and as such her reactions came from the heart and only someone who has been in that situation can truly comprehend how it feels.

Alex in Wonderland

Alex lashed out at Kara and Kelly, pushing them and J'onn away. Was she acting out of character or was she just processing her grief and anger? Was the episode an accurate depiction of the grieving process?

Donna (DJRiter) Aside from being an overdue spotlight showcase for Chyler Leigh this season, this episode portrayed a perfect depiction of the grieving process. Uniquely and creatively, they had Alex process her grief perfectly, touching briefly on each of the commonly recognized seven stages of grief. When you are in pain like that you lash out at those you love and can help you the most. Given that they are sending Alex on this new journey of self-discovery, they needed to bring other aspects of her life to a close, hence having Jeremiah die and removing that dangling storyline. She couldn't move forward until she faced the past and her feelings.

Zandarl - Shutting down and pushing those away who are closest to us is a perfectly natural part of the grieving process. I do feel the writers have not given a definite direction for Alex’s character this season and in turn that is why she seems so lost. By killing off Jeremiah this brought one storyline to a close and gave Alex’s character a prominent storyline to unleash all her anger and frustrations over the past few weeks.

How was this episode true to Alex's development over the years, and what was the impact of bringing young Alex (Olivia Nikkanen) back to save her older self?

Donna (DJRiter) Throughout the series, time and again we've been shown that the person hardest on Alex has always been herself, so it was only fitting that the best person to get her to the point where she could forgive herself was young Alex. I think this episode was a big step in this next, new chapter of Alex's development. Far too often Alex chooses to put others before her own feelings, her mother has told her that. This character has grown so much since the beginning and especially in the last two seasons. With a new career and relationship in front of her, we are seeing Alex realize and put into practice that it is ok to put herself first at times.

Zandarl - Alex got to play out being the superhero with powers in the VR which is what we always felt Alex wanted to be. However, Alex’s true strength is being a hero but without powers and that makes her identifiable with the audience. It took her younger self to remind her of who she truly was and in turn, she was able to escape the VR and return to reality.

The people trapped inside Obsidian Platinum VR were represented by Bonnie/Tilly (Anne Hollister). What are your thoughts on how her presence contributed to the episode?

Donna (DJRiter) - Much like Alex needs J'onn as a sort of guide in her new role in the Tower, Bonnie/Tilly was a sort of guide for her in the VR world and helped her realize what was real and what was not. She was a symbol of what can go wrong if you let things overwhelm you much as Bonnie did with the news of her sister's illness. She served a dual purpose as well, in not only pointing that out to Alex but was also a way to nicely interweave the Obsidian plotline into the story.

Zandarl - Bonnie is representative of all of us who likes to escape the real world and this is what she does in the VR, not being able to deal with the loss of her sister. Alex is there hiding from her own loss. Its almost as if they are two kindred spirits trying to find a way out of the dark.

Summary questions

What do you feel was the best scene in the last few episodes?

Donna (DJRiter) - While there are so many great moments to choose from in the episodes we've discussed in this article, for me, hands down it was a Danvers sisters moments that stands out as the best. For the best-acted scene with the greatest emotional gut-punch Alex and Kara's argument about Jeremiah's funeral was a standout moment. As I wrote in the March Scenes of the Month article, dhows should be as blessed as Supergirl to have as talented a pair of performers as the show has in Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist. Just when you think they can't get any better they give you a scene where the Danvers sisters, both in pain and grieving for their dead father, argue as to why Alex has decided not to attend his funeral. In this deeply intense, emotionally charged scene neither actress holds back which is why they are one of the finest acting duos on television on any show. While Benoist's role in the episode was limited (due to her involvement in prep time to direct the next episode) aside from this and one other standout moment, Leigh goes on to give perhaps her finest performance of the series, taking Alex on an unusual journey through her grief.

Zandarl - My favorite scene was Alex turning up at Jeremiah’s funeral and apologizing for the harsh words spoken. The emotion on both Alex and Kara’s face is real when they hug and this shows the Danvers sisters bond despite everything is always there. The wonderful chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh is showcased in this scene where very little words were spoken.

Moving forward where can you see Lex and Lena heading?

Donna (DJRiter) Probably not where the show originally intended prior to the production shutdown due to the COVID19 crisis. As with any villains I want to see them both pay for their wrong-doings. With Lex, all that he has done is obvious and he needs to be stopped, he is providing the show with one of its greatest foes. Casting Jon Cryer in this part was a stroke of genius and he's taken a character that was only supposed to appear in a few episodes and put his iconic touch on it. Another great move was pairing him and giving him multiple scenes with Katie McGrath's Lena, it's giving her some of her best material of the series and she is rising to the occasion. There has always been a darker, shadier side to her character, and watching her matching wits with Cryer as they move Lena closer and closer to full-on villain has elevated her work. I just think they have perhaps taken Lena too far down a dark path that I see little hope for redemption of the character or her friendship with Kara. She's done too many misguided things in the name of saving humanity to be forgiven easily.

Zandarl - Lex is spinning his intricate little web and Lena is currently caught up in it. However, despite recent events, we still see that Lena has a conscience and even though she may have crossed a line there may still be time for her to pull back. Lena is also extremely intelligent, and I hope the writers remember this and that she has very little trust for her brother. Lex might think he has her fooled but has he? Lex, in turn, thinks he has the upper hand with Leviathan but with future Brainy’s ominous warning that Lex needs to be helped to defeat Leviathan it does make you wonder to defeat a master manipulating evil you need a master manipulator like Lex.

Is Leviathan finally going to show its teeth this season or simply lurk in the shadows?

Donna (DJRiter) - The release of the synopsis of the next few episodes and behind the scenes pictures that have been leaked tell us Leviathan is not the type to lurk in the shadows much longer. The bigger question is, will we see an end to them in this shortened, re-edited season finale, or will their carnage carry over into Season 6 when the show can resume production? I think with the current production limitations as they are we will be seeing more of Leviathan in Season 6.

Zandarl - Leviathan with the whole VR takeover and bodies in the warehouse echoes scarily like the movie Coma and like most true evils they always lurk in the shadows. However, after the almost easy defeat of Rama Khan, you do wonder exactly where the writers are going with this.

What were your thoughts on the episodes we have discussed here? Share them in the comments below.

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