“Exodus.” Supergirl, Season 2, Episode 15. Directed by Michael A. Allowitz. Written by Paula Yoo and Eric Carrasco.
“The Wrath of Savitar.” The Flash, Season 3, Episode 15. Directed by Alexandra La Roche. Written by Written by Andrew Kreisberg and Andrew Wilder.
“Land of the Lost.” Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2, Episode 13. Directed by Ralph Hemecker. Written by Keto Shimizu and Ray Utarnachitt.
Supergirl leaves everyone feeling betrayed, Barry and Wally are the Elric brothers, and I accept Rip back to Legends.
Oh, and here’s HR being giddy.
What happened in this episode?
- The betrayal of Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) trust in Jeremiah (Dean Cain)
- The betrayal of J’onn (David Harewood) trust in Alex, and vice versa
- The betrayal of Snapper’s (Ian Gomez) trust, however much he had, in Kara (Melissa Benoist)
- Potentially the betrayal of extraterrestrials’ trust in humans and the United States government
And in terms of meta-narrative, it is the betrayal of the viewers’ trust in the writers to do something decent with James (Mehcad Brooks) and Mon-El (Chris Wood).
When Kara approaches Snapper, my repeated statement was, “Where’s James?” It’s been three episodes without his appearance, and this would’ve been the fourth without his arrival as Guardian to try to stop Cadmus agents, and his bonding with Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and Lyra (Tamzin Merchant) on their date. It is depressing how well Winn and James’s scenes are compared to what is being done with Mon-El and Kara: the former are quick moments of camaraderie, the latter are drawn-out tedium. I can’t tell whether Winn and Lyra’s relationship is well written, or if it looks better compared to Bro-El and Kara’s circuitous interactions. Plus, anything getting in the way of the Maggie (Floriana Lima) and Alex relationship–which is more loving, more supportive, and has better banter (for example, gambling weapons over billiards)–is earning my scorn weekly.
And with Kara getting canned, the last remnant of CatCo is erased from this series. Sure, this can be deflection: The Flash did so by having Barry (Grant Gustin) temporarily resign from the Central City Police, not that I noticed because the show is hardly at the police station any more and Singh hasn’t appeared all season. But when Cat Grant is gone, when James Olson’s office is used just for Snapper to talk to Supergirl, when James is not at the office when he could be the one guiding the Snapper/Supergirl meeting, something is wrong. I don’t want James to overshadow Kara, but imagine if it was him who said, “Well, Snapper, I agree that this lead is tenuous–so let’s get it from the source. Let’s have Supergirl talk to you.” Cue Kara’s “oh shit” face, and we at least get some humor and see how Kara and James interact post-relationship. But nope, we got to have two corny scenes of Mon-El walking into Kara’s apartment, because that was super-necessary.
And in one of those scenes, Mon-El walks into the middle of Kara’s crisis about mass kidnappings of hidden alien immigrants–quoting a Ricky Ricardo line? I can’t tell what to make of that, whether it is appropriation of an immigrant’s life for a poorly included gag, whether Mon-El’s own role as an immigrant is somehow appropriating this line to address larger problems, or it’s just a silly allusion that I’m overanalyzing.
When Kara ends the episode saying that she thought her job would be enough for her, and now her identity as Supergirl and her relationship as Mon-El may be enough instead right now, she suggests her job is substituted by her new boyfriend–when she began this season making a false choice between a relationship with James and her job. The choice she made at the beginning of the season was not necessary but was what she decided and what could benefit her: she was focusing on the longevity of employment, a routine schedule, and structure rather than a relationship that may not go anywhere and, if worth it, would last beyond her initial entry into work as a reporter, however long that initial entry would take. Then Mon-El comes in, tells her to publish her story, and boom, she’s out of a job because she listened to him. Granted, Kara would likely have made that decision on her own, just as Cadmus would have persisted with their mass deportation whether or not Kara, Snapper, or anyone else published on their actions. But if Kara would have published the story anyway, why have Mon-El enter? I remember Justice League Unlimited where Superman asks J’onn why he should not destroy Cadmus immediately–and J’onn replies that Superman would not have asked had he not already known the answer. I get that Kara needs a sounding-board–but could it be someone who doesn’t sound so boring?
The Flash: Equivalent Exchange
The parallels between Barry and Wally’s (Keiynan Lonsdale) deaths–or, rather, consumption by the Speed Force–have been noted already. And this episode finally clarified why we have the Alchemist of the non-fullmetal variety: Savitar (Tobin Bell) intended for the Philosopher’s Stone to be tossed into the Speed Force, where, as he was contained in that one piece, he could draw in Wally to take his place, an equivalent exchange as horrifying as something out of another story, and aptly Barry watching the body of his younger brother get ripped apart (trigger warning in the video link). Retroactively, that detail makes the Flashpoint season opening more relevant, albeit still an underwhelming opening that didn’t let us see more of that alternate timeline.
And there is also the equivalent exchange involved in a marriage–give and take, albeit probably not quibbling over percentages. And since Barry went to the Mon-El School of Dumbassery, he proposed to Iris (Candice Patton) as a way to swerve the timeline since she didn’t have an engagement or wedding ring on in Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) vision. Really, I would rather Wally get upset, make that accusation, and Barry repeatedly deny it, if only to retain that hope that, no, he really isn’t that awful.
Since “The Runaway Dinosaur,” Barry’s journey as a hero has been disappointing. As the show continues to position him as some bringer of hope, his selfishness hardly makes him seem more realistic and makes everyone else seem like they are excusing him for poor behavior so that he remains the idealized, celebrated hero. Barry is like Scott Pilgrim, in the film adaptation: his actions are awful, but they cast some white dude with boyish charm to make the awfulness go down more easily–or just infuriate me more. If Barry denied Wally’s accusation and insisted, no, he is marrying Iris because he values what time they have left, great. If, however, Wally is right, as this episode shows, then Barry’s proposal is empty. It’s like Jonathan and the “grand gesture” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: you can’t make up for prior mistakes with one action–it is about the persistence of everyday work to move on from a mistake. If this show was more self-aware of how it interrogated the “nice guy” archetype as just another form of toxic masculinity, great–but the show keeps excusing Barry to make him our hero. This is getting as bad as excusing all of Tony Stark’s misdeeds because Robert Downey Jr is just too charming. I would hope the next episode’s comeuppance, courtesy of the ghosts of Eddie and Snart, will wake Barry up–but if “The Runaway Dinosaur” didn’t, then Barry’s just going to keep spinning in a circle for a long time to come.
Legends of Tomorrow: Acceptance
Acceptance is like Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) guiding the snake away, or pacifying Gertrude the T-Rex: accept the reality in front of you, work within it towards the best solution possible. With this episode, even operating within horrible circumstances like being stranded in dinosaur times or un-brainwashing your former leader, there is something about a mainstream network show that prevents things from getting too dark, so the best solution possible is still an awfully good one with little loss involved. Granted, I did just cover The Flash losing Wally, but it’s more likely Wally will be brought back.
In Legends, the characters try to move on so that we can get towards a final battle against the Three Guys Thinking They’re Legion. First, Ray tries to get Nate (Nick Zano) to accept that a relationship with Amaya will not work–but Nate is our Mon-El, so of course he postpones ending their relationship even if it screws up the future, prevents Mari from existing, and wipes out two seasons of animated goodness. Second, Sara (Caity Lotz) and Jax (Franz Drameh) retrieve Rip (Arthur Darvill), who accepts his teammates again–and we lose a version of Rip that was actually interesting and made better use of Darvill’s talents. Third, Stein (Victor Garber) has to accept his mortality and give Jax his agency, before Mick (Dominic Purcell) keeps him around as a beer lackey.
What I can’t accept, though, is forcing the Amaya and Nate relationship. The pace has been awkward, putting the two together so quickly with such limited interactions between them. There is something more realistic in Amaya’s interest in a friends-with-benefits structure, especially given the constraints of her own time with regard to sexual availability and interracial relationships. But the chemistry is not there. Putting Richardson-Sellers next to Zano seems to sap both of them of charisma, and if the goal of adding Vixen to the show was to give her space to be interesting, positioning her in relationships with Rex and Nick is as lazy as Season 1 defining Kendra by her relationships with Carter, Ray (Brandon Routh), and, from only his side, Savage.
- A big round of applause to Jesse Schedeen at IGN for tackling how Supergirl addresses our current politics–and a big middle finger to the trolls in their comments thread who keep whining about politics in their pop culture. Look at the phrase, folks: “popular culture,” that which reflects the populace, what we are going through as a minority of voters installed a fascist who re-tweets Neo-Nazis, brags about molesting women, is going to make sure people die without health care–and you’re complaining that Supergirl reminds you how foolish you were with your vote. Cry me a river.
- Speaking of which, our fascist in the White House imposed Muslim Ban 2.0. It’s as shitty as the first one, and with the reports daily about the violence committed in raids to deport allegedly undocumented immigrants, shows like Supergirl serve well as a reminder, however out-of-this-world they are, that our actions have repercussions. It is the failure of white men like I, to speak more loudly and to vote better, that let, as Snapper said, a fascist into the White House. It is the shame of white men for this happening–and it is best if white men go stand in the corner, shut their mouths, and learn from their mistakes, while smarter people fix the mess they have created. So good on Snapper, good on the show translating real-life violence into an allegory, but let’s not lose focus on the actual harm being committed and our refusal to use all peaceful means possible to protest and stop these immoral, unethical, violent actions by our government.
- Kara was really foolish in posting her incendiary content on a web site with her own name on it. Only an idiot looking to get fired would do that.
- Am I so petty that, even though Kara made the blog, and even though it was Lena’s (Katie McGrath) suggestion, I’m still going to somehow blame Mon-El for all of this? Yes, yes I am.
- McGrath’s accent was slipping. Kind of disappointed in my long-lost cousin.
- Oh, and Mon-El is a prince, because Ellak Roach already figured that out months ago. I can’t tell whether that is a decent use of foreshadowing or bad writing. Kara says in the teaser how this changes everything–and I don’t care. So he’s royal–but still a royal pain in the tuckus. So he’s a king–and still a schmuck. Mon-El is not a well-written, entertaining, or appealing character: there is no reason for his inclusion for the plot, for character development in Kara, Winn, or anyone else, and his crassness is infuriating rather than charming. Dude stands there saying, “Can’t anyone do anything?!” with his hands on his hips in such a needless Superman pose–while the real hero, Kara, actually does something. Go away, Mon-El. Send him back in his rocket to his mom and dad (Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo–and if I didn’t want to see Dean “God’s Not Dead” Cain in my Supergirl, I sure as hell don’t want to see either of these two, especially Kevin “Professor Killjoy” Sorbo).
- So, Savitar is a Buffy viewer, right? “The Big Bad”?
- At least HR (Tom Cavanagh) was a better parent to Jesse (Violett Beane), if just hugging her. But man, drop the sticks already.
- Hey, Mick? That “women” line? No. Same goes for creepy guy creeping on Maggie and Alex’s kiss.
- Sara, Jax, and Rip all have the hots for GIDEON (Amy Pemberton). Futurama already tackled that storyline.
- Less Nate, more Ray, please. Dr. Palmer was a delightful ball of adorable goofiness, such as stealing dinosaur eggs, frying iguanas, even when discussing how he used T-rex urine to protect his domicile from Gertrude. Plus, Ray evidently makes his own stone-age Funkos, so he can’t be that bad.
- One last extended remark: my point from last week, about the limitations of the CGI budget regarding Grodd, still stand here with all three shows this week. The limitations on CGI for making J’onn appear all the time are at least offset by an impressive spaceship sequence in Supergirl, benefiting from Benoist and Leigh’s acting and especially the music. Likewise, The Flash makes its limited use of Savitar effective. And Legends cheated a bit by having Rip’s mind just look like the WaveRider, especially as one would think the mind, in its capacity, could be less constrained by realities–but again, style, even when borrowed from The Matrix, offsets CGI limitations. What did not work, however, were the flames this week on Firestorm, which looked really off given the lighting and background colors of the set.
- Oh, and I just this post got me fired from my job. Something about being so hostile online about Mon-El. I knew I should’ve written under a pseudonym. Like, how did I get fired for this post before I even clicked “Post”?!