Superhero Weekly: Welcome to the ultimate team-up. Who’s that Supergirl?

I swear, at some point I’m just going to come up with a spoilers sticker so you know what’s coming up.

(Source: CBS)

(Source: CBS)

It’s officially been 2016 for two weeks and I’m kinda dreading the start of next week. We have new episodes of Supergirl on January 18, The Flash on January 19, Arrow on January 20 and Legends of Tomorrow premieres on January 21. Come next week, we’re officially going to be up to our necks with Greg Berlanti productions. I don’t really want to saturate this blog with all those series without remembering the rest of shows that I keep tabs on. So, starting now I guess, I will be grouping all of them in one blog entry of a review.

To start us off, I did wanted to address January 4’s Supergirl: Blood Bonds. I can’t believe how much mixed feelings I have about this series. I can’t get enough of certain characters. Others just make me cringe. Kara survives the confrontation with Non (Chris Vance), who’s the most aptly named character so far. He’s literally nothing to remember. The problem however started with Astra, who’s supposed to be the major bad in the series. Both Astra Zor-El and Alura are played by Laura Benanti. Both characters make me cringe when they appear. Astra is supposed to be turning into a more complex character than just a super-villain. She’s a long way to becoming as ambiguously charismatic as The Flash’s Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) though.

I’m not quite sure if it’s overacting or just poor direction, but both of Laura Benanti’s characters in this show seem to be bipolar at their best and coasting through the scene at their very worst. Are Kryptonians supposed to have this over-the-top rage moments to daytime-soap-opera-sentimental-level speeches? Neither Astra nor Alura (who we only see in flashbacks) are working for me. Yet the edgiest scene that Supergirl has had came in this episode as Astra was tortured by General Lane.

General Lane is played by Glenn Morshower and it’s another cringe-worthy character. He’s not over the top. He’s just dull. Dull, dull, dull. There’s absolutely no emotion or conviction or passion or anything conveyed by this character. He’s another lukewarm semi-hated antagonist. You can hate him as much as you hate sand (insert favorite Hayden Christensen pun here) but it’s pointless. His threat is always a folder with some authorization via the president (Who’s the president? Lex Luthor?). Since Hank is Non’s hostage, he’s taken over the DEO and tortures Astra with some Kryptonite thing (DC-inspired show Rule #36: Anything that glows green is Kryptonite). His speech to Astra about how he’s been scared of aliens since he was a kid and Astra’s very convenient reply of how Kryptonians respect an enemy that admits his flaws is supposed to be a moment. Unfortunately it’s a moment between two of the dullest characters this show has. The actual Kryptonite injection scene has slightly more passion.

On the other hand, James Olsen as played by Mecah Brooks, has possibly the most charisma than anybody else in the show. The very extroverted James goes against Maxwell Lord as he tries to discover what he’s hiding in a room marked – wait for it – 52. Peter Facinelli plays Maxwell Lord, a mediocre character that is supposed to be this Steve Jobs level genius. Fortunately, he’s still a step above Laura Benanti’s Astra (barely). Let’s say he’s not the first head that I would lead to the chopping block, but he’s still in the line. We’re also supposed to hate Maxwell Lord but he comes across as mildly annoying. At least he elicits some reaction. James manages to escape with a warning, but it’s obvious this is not over.

Calista Flockhart has improved on Cat Grant, a character within a character who is supposed to be this self-absorbed socialite boss but it’s this quite smart super-observant icon. When she first strolled into her office, you were expecting a biotch right out of The Devil Wears Prada. She’s become a mentor to Kara with observational remarks and sassy advice that might seem backhanded but conveniently deliver wise insight to whatever situation Kara, and often Supergirl, are facing. She’s also figured out that Kara is Supergirl, which makes for some fun scenes. With the inspiring Cat and the charming James at CatCo, it’s one of my favorite haunts in this series. Well, almost.

Jeremy Jordan’s Winn Schott is not altogether bad. However, if you’re expecting the adorkable levels of Arrow’s Felicity Smoak or The Flash’s Cisco Ramon, you’re asking too much. I’m willing to give him something of a chance if he stops being Mister Friend Zone and starts pulling up his pants. He doesn’t quite have much punch to deliver wisecracks or puns as much as Carlos Valdes or Emily Bett Rickards, but he should be able to find his own comfort zone soon enough. He’s up against a massive cast, so his lines and screen time are really limited.

In fact, the other movie set where Supergirl hangs out is probably better equipped to provide her with better intel. The DEO, with Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) and sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) take the lead whenever extraterrestrial threats are involved. As acting director, Alex might find little joy with General Lane showing up, but after the General’s troops fall into the Kryptonian’s trap, things change. Alex and Kara decide to make the exchange and recover Henshaw, overriding the General. The cool thing about Alex is that she gives us the human perspective as well as the older sister’s perspective for Kara. During this episode, Kara is supposed to start trusting the good side of Astra, although nothing really convinces me about her. When the exchange happens, Non brings about a handful of flying Kryptonians but Astra has second thoughts and orders a withdraw.

Of course, during the apparent stand off, Alex can’t help but whisper a suggestion for Hank to transform that Kara’s super-hearing picks up. Finally the cards are on the table and Hank Henshaw is revealed as J’onn J’onnz (so far nobody has called him the Martian Manhunter). Right on cue as Cat has decided to fire Kara so that she can be Supergirl 24/7, Hank adopts Supergirl’s form so that Kara can convince Cat she’s not Supergirl. This also reveals that J’onn J’onnz is capable of flight. Hank Henshaw is another reason I can’t stop watching this show.

The main reason for watching Supergirl is of course, Kara herself. Melissa Benoist plays a most convincing Kara. She’s actually more Kara Danvers, the goofy assistant, than Kara Zor-El, the Kryptonian Supergirl. I find it charming that Kara is not pretending to be a Clark-Kent clumsy introvert, but rather being herself. Supergirl, instead, is a new thing she’s trying to explore – but it’s a role she’s slowly growing into. In other words, she’s not a repressed personality in the guise of a timid reporter. We’re always seeing the true Kara in either role.

Highs/Lows/52sEverywhere:

  • Supergirl remains a contender. It has a solid lead in Melissa Benoist. It has great performances with Calista Flockhart, Mecah Brooks, David Harewood and Chyler Leigh.
  • The show is still finding its bearings, but some characters lack personality, specially in the antagonists department. The characters of Astra Zor-El, General Lane, Maxwell Lord and Winn Schott need some reimagining or they just need to drop from the face of the Earth.
  • Are Kryptonians supposed to be overactors by nature? They seem to be prone to fits of rage. Then they mellow out for a bit. Bipolar by nature then?
  • I’ll bite. Why didn’t Hank Henshaw transform into J’onn J’onnz and escape Non? Because it would reveal who he is, something he’s desperately trying to keep quiet. How desperately though?
  • The whole Clark-on-instant-messaging thing. Supergirl was supposed to be Kara trying not to live under Superman’s cape. However, from time to time it seems we turn around to remind us that Superman would be there if Kara really really need him, but for now he’s texting. I’d rather that was not a thing. Then again, how many Kryptonian criminals are lose? This does look like a job for both of them to team up and mop up.
  • Starting next week, this becomes one mega blog entry. I might just only focus on the best of the week, do a quick like/dislike or just pick and drop whatever is appealing. So, it’s Supergirl/The Flash/Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow. I’m not sure of Legends. We shall see.

That will do for now.

 

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