Supergirl: Changing
November 15, 2016 6:03 PM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The Guardian arrives to lend a hand when an alien parasite drains Supergirl of her power. Mon-El contemplates his motives when he considers a new career. Alex faces a new reality. Vulture: Supergirl is telling a hell of a coming-out story.
posted by pjsky (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hm. Mixed feelings about this one. Stuff:

* Okay, I loved the coming out story. One of my favorite things to do in a story is try to create chemistry between two characters and then have it not work out. I felt like everything there was masterful: Alex's vulnerability. Kara's confusion and apology. Maggie's sage advice and well-meaning rejection. I think Alex's storyline has been the best thing Supergirl has pulled off, and if they were going to do one thing really well, I'm glad that was it.

* Man, they're setting up J'onn to be miserable. Poor him. Also poor M'gann.

* Mon-El, kneebreaker for hire was pretty funny, but they're still pushing him too far into selfish idiot territory. Also, the DEO just letting someone of his power run around unsupervised continues to feel like plothole territory. (I'm not much for fanfic, but if I were, I'd be writing that Miss Tessmacher/Mon-El romcom. There's nothing wrong with his story that couldn't be fixed by uprooting it and starting a different and unrelated story.)

* Turning Parasite into a murderous climatologist was a really weird choice. I was very put off watching Kara and J'onn beat the crap out of him. I was shocked Kara chose to destroy him rather than find a clever way to contain him. I couldn't figure out why they went hand to hand when they knew he had some sort of draining touch, especially in round two. The whole thing was just... heaps of not good.

* Bringing Winn into James' story is the only way to make it click, I think. If nothing else, Winn's the only person with the position and skills to keep everyone from immediately figuring out James is Guardian. So... I am neutral about this, presently, with a side of 'why doesn't Winn use his 1337 inventor skills to help the DEO? Surely Alex could use non-Kryptonite power armor.'

* The little girl poised to catch the car Parasite threw cracked me up. That would so happen in a city with Supergirl.
posted by mordax at 1:50 AM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, besides Alex's storyline this episode was kind of meh.
posted by Pendragon at 3:15 AM on November 16, 2016

I was baffled when J'onn let the doctor go off on his own in the beginning. As the only survivor of an unknown assailant or disease, in what reality would he not have been placed in quarantine or custody (protective or as suspect) while the investigation proceeded? I know they needed him out & about for the plot to move forward, but they should have had him break out of the DEO or something, this way made our heroes look like idiots.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:38 AM on November 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

So much to love and so much to ponder with this episode. Once again we have proof that Alex and Kara's relationship is the beating heart of this show. Chyler Leigh's acting was exceptional. I loved that Kara's immediate reaction to Alex telling her she is gay wasn't "Let's go buy matching Rainbow Flags!" Not that I ever suspected Kara wouldn't be anything but loving and supportive. But that's some pretty big news to hear about your big sister. And Kara apparently hadn't a clue Alex had been hiding her true identity. Well, to be fair, Alex didn't realize she was hiding her true identity either ....

I am not on board with James becoming CEO of CatCo AND secret superhero Guardian. No James, no Winn, you guys are NOT superheroes the same way Kara and Clark are. My god, why did they turn him into a whiny man-baby? "I wanna be a superhero toooooo! Bwaaaaa! Kara gets all the fun!" Oh dear god please just stop! Every superhero story needs the guy who's not a conventional hero to remind us that, even without superpowers, we all have a responsibility to do the right thing and fight the good fight. James becoming the Guardian seemed more about James wanting some glory, rather than James wanting to help Kara. More superheros with super abilities just takes away from Kara's story and I am vehemently opposed to that. Also, I really liked Season 1 James. He was kind, thoughtful, brave, supportive -- sexy AF, and yes, it is a thankless role that women historically are saddled with, but the show is SUPERGIRL. GrrrArrrgghhh

Does CBS know that the CW has come out against Climate Change Deniers? Or do you think that slipped under the radar? It was so refreshing to see Climate Change Deniers be portrayed as the evil, nasty, corrupt, dangerous villains they really are. (I may fired up on this issue because I may have gone to a #NoDAPL rally yesterday.....)

And, finally. I am calling it. The Award for BEST LINE OF DIALOGUE ON SCRIPTED TV GOES TO SUPERGIRL

I'll go get the alien. You go get the girl.

Oh Kara, I love you so. (heart eyes)
posted by pjsky at 6:11 AM on November 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ah, the return of the first season's inconsistencies. I was hoping they had moved beyond that.

Alex's coming out was handled well and drunk Kara was fun, but much of the rest of the episode was terrible.

Supergirl doesn't need to be gritty or hyper-realistic but it would help if the non-relationship parts of the show had some grounding in reality. Climate scientist doing an autopsy, same guy not upset after watching his colleagues die a gruesome death, the DEO not the least bit suspicious of him and letting him walk around their top secret facility without an escort, etc. are all ridiculous and that's just in the first couple of scenes.

I love the Hank/J'onn character but given that the DEO is way more incompetent than UNIT he really needs to be fired as its director. Who decides to send two superpowered aliens into hand-to-hand combat with a parasite that grows stronger by draining organisms of their energy?

Winn's "DEO Speedwagon" aside was pretty funny, but did he just borrow that truck to use on his personal time? Will anyone at the DEO notice that the Guardian shows up whenever Winn borrows the truck?
posted by plastic_animals at 7:28 AM on November 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where's Lucy Lane? Isn't she supposed to be the head of the DEO?
posted by amtho at 9:05 AM on November 16, 2016

I really liked how Winn stood up to Olsen in the early part of the episode. His character really seems to have found its groove at the DEO.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:18 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

IIRC, Lucy teamed up with J'onn to find Cadmus at the end of last season, and then she went on to take her dad's post in the military and J'onn "came out" as Martian and went back as head of the DEO.
posted by numaner at 8:20 AM on November 17, 2016

I adored this episode so much, guys. They should just do shows about superheroes and their relationship with their families and I would watch the hell out of that, without any heroics and fighting at all.
posted by numaner at 8:21 AM on November 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

More superheros with super abilities just takes away from Kara's story and I am vehemently opposed to that. Also, I really liked Season 1 James. He was kind, thoughtful, brave, supportive -- sexy AF, and yes, it is a thankless role that women historically are saddled with, but the show is SUPERGIRL. GrrrArrrgghhh

I'm not sure how my favorite didn't stick on your comment before. I blame the interminable politics threads in our horrid cyberpunk dystopian present.

I really like what you had to say, even the spots where we're not in perfect agreement. I wanted to address the above two things specifically:

* I think more superheroes may actually be a good thing for Kara's story, if they do it properly.

Some superheroes work alone, or with a few sidekicks at best. That's less in vogue in modern stories, but in the CWDCverse, Superman looks to be a solo act.

Most superheroes are just the biggest gun on a team, who answer to people less powerful, but wiser and smarter than they are - see Barry Allen, any meta on SHIELD, etc. Barry Allen needs his support because he's too dumb to live, but powerful enough to destroy entire worlds.

Kara's something else: she's not just physically powerful, she has a lot of emotional and conventional intelligence. I think part of her arc is to be more than a solo champion, or the heaviest hitter on the DEO. I think her story should be about growing into someone more like a super version of Cat Grant: more powerful than the people around her, but also able to tease out what's best in them and empower them. We're seeing that with Mon-El, and I *want* to see that with Guardian, (even though it's a bad wrong plot thread), J'onn and M'gann.

tl;dr, I think she's already a match for Superman in this particular story, and I think she's poised to become more than he is, and I like it.

This is why I'm on the fence about Guardian, even though I agree with most of what you said. (I disagree that Winn is much different than Kara, in terms of destiny/capability and heroics: he's clearly got his dad's gift with technology, and could easily put on a costume if he wanted to. James is just a normal guy though.)

* The point about James being support guy in S1 is well taken, and you're right, it's a shame that's gone. I personally want to see more men in that role, one that's traditionally given to a team's token girl: being emotionally supportive, less physically powerful, but still heroic. We see characters like that from time to time, but not often enough.

(My personal favorite is probably Daniel Jackson from the Stargate franchise. The team has Samantha Carter, but Jackson fulfills the traditional 'feminine' stuff: moral compass, empathy, while Carter's more the classic Smart Guy trope. I loved that about the show. I think it's important for guys to have role models who aren't macho, to see that it's possible to be a good guy without physical combat.)

Also, you're right that he's being a whiny glory hound, and it's definitely detracting from the story. I do like Winn in all this though - I agree with sevenyearlurk about him finding his groove, here.
posted by mordax at 12:51 PM on November 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

plus one on the whining glory hound.

It's like they didn't know how to have a male character in that role and decided he had to be a hero too.
The bit of the end where he's all "We can't help it, we're heroes, just like Kara" just made him come off as a bit pathetic and self absorbed. Maybe that was intentional? I hope so.
Also, a lead lined suit? That must be heavy! Unnecessarily heavy, just to protect his identity.

I love Stargate, and Daniel Jackson is possibly my favourite TV character of all the TV characters.
How did I not notice this?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:46 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I kind of like the Guardian storyline, but truthfully that's probably because I hated James' whole ... thing ... last season, and I think this is an improvement, and I really like Winn. It would probably play better if we were a little later in the season. There were like four separate plotlines in just this episode:

Alex's sad gay heart
Mon-el & Kara
J'onn & M'gann
Winn, James, and Guardian

James' Guardian thing makes sense for his character, but it hasn't been justified and built up, in large part because he's been starved for screentime, but also because it's moving too fast. And the last episode in particular criminally mishandled him. I guarantee you the whiteboard in the writers room said something like "PINCH POINT: Losing his camera triggers an emotional journey that leads to his hero decision." But there was no emotional journey, which is why it felt forced. It was like screenwriting malpractice.

If it had been a few episodes later, there'd be more time for his frustration to build up and become evident, to lay the groundwork to make this "surprising yet inevitable." And they could calm Mon-el's storyline down to give James more screentime.

I still think Mon-el is just a bad storytelling choice. I found him slightly less grating in this episode, but I'm pretty sure that's because Kara was more grating. ugh.

The Kara & Alex thing delivered SO GOOD THO. i agree with everything said here. i have all the feels.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 9:33 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This was a complicated episode for a parent of a second grade boy. I really wanted him to absorb some positive lessons from Alex's well-handled coming out story. On the other hand, the main/villain/action plot for this episode was crap, and the pacing was so uneven that whatever good things he might have learned from seeing Alex's storyline were overshadowed by the tremendous boredom of watching adults talk about dating and their feelings.

In the end, his reaction could basically be summed up as: "Cool. Fine. Date who you want. Love who you want. But why are we spending time on this junk when there are villains Kara could be zapping with heat vision?"

It is a major source of frustration for my son that Kara doesn't use her heat vision more.

"If he whomps her every time she is within arm's reach, why doesn't she just zap him with heat vision or throw a giant hunk of concrete at him from like fifty feet away?"

This seems like a fair question.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

"If he whomps her every time she is within arm's reach, why doesn't she just zap him with heat vision or throw a giant hunk of concrete at him from like fifty feet away?"

The classic answer? Heat vision takes it out of her more than punching. The TV show seems to buy this premise: see when she destroyed Red Tornado and lost her powers briefly.

(I have to remind myself this about Kryptonian *super speed* all the time - same frustration, same rationale.)
posted by mordax at 3:54 PM on November 21, 2016

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