Saturday, 5 November 2016

Review - 'Supergirl', S02E04 - 'Survivors'





On paper, the basic premise of the fourth episode's main plot-line does actually sound pretty great. Not only does the whole idea of an underground alien fight club suggest the strong possibility of some great action sequences – but, the whole idea of one being run by opportunistic humans, who are clearly taking advantage of aliens from other worlds, feels like a great way to play on this season's themes. There is plenty of great potential, here, for a very interesting story about the abuse of power, the struggle of an oppressed minority, and the overall theme of racial tension – all of which could have been wrapped up in some entertaining action.

It's really just a bit of a shame, then, that such an interesting idea should prove to be so underwhelming, on paper. While it was a plot-line which, naturally, allowed for a some very entertaining action sequences, there was still a very notable lack of any real sense of tension to the episode's central conflict. I think that the main reason for this is the simple fact that the stakes are never really made clear. We learn, for example, that some participants are forced to fight – but, beyond the encounter which leads Alex and Maggie to the illegal operation, we never really learn much about this aspect of the underground fight club. Instead, upon learning that M'gann M'orzz (Sharon Leal) is also a frequent fighter, the focus seems to shift more toward J'onn J'onzz's sense of moral outrage toward the actions of his fellow martian – who, it should be remembered, is an entirely willing participant.

Honestly, it just felt as though the writer's chose to approach this plot-line from the wrong direction, when the decision was made to have it centre around M'gann M'orzz. That early scene, in which armed men came to kidnap an alien just as Alex and Maggie are conducting their investigation, gave the impression that we would be seeing an interesting, if rather bleak, analogy for themes of 'people smuggling' and modern-day slavery – but, with the focus shifted to M'gann, it felt as though that idea was brushed aside. Also, it didn't really help that the villain at the centre of it all, 'Roulette' (Dichen Lachman), came across as somewhat bland and underdeveloped.

Fortunately, while the episode's central plot-line might have been an unfortunately weak-point, there were still some stronger elements, here. For the first time this season, Wynn was given something genuinely interesting to do, as he was put in charge of testing the extent of Mon-el's abilities – which, in turn, gave the two a chance to become acquainted with each other. Honestly, up until this point, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of Mon-el – but, here, he managed to come across as a genuinely likable, and very entertaining, presence. It was definitely a lot of fun to see the way in which the two of them played off of each other, during their scenes together – up to, and including, the point at which Mon-el is able to goad Wynn into sneaking him out for a night on the town. On a similar note, the scenes shared by Alex and Maggie were also strong points for the episode, as the two continue to develop the strong rapport established previously.

On the other hand, though, scenes between Kara and her new boss, Snapper Carr, continue to be somewhat disappointing. Honestly, at this point, I'm still not entirely convinced that Snapper was a worthwhile addition to the cast – since, he still feels very 'one-dimensional', to me. Although, that being said, it is very notable that the reason he is so hard on Kara has absolutely nothing to do with her being a woman, and everything to do with her being truly terrible at her new job – so, he does have that going for him, at least.

Overall, though, the season's fourth episode still represents something of an unfortunate low point for Supergirl – which is especially disappointing, considering the strong sense of momentum established be the season's first episodes. Still, though, the season does still have plenty of interesting plot-lines already set in motion, with both M'gann M'orzz and Mon-el already having very interesting character-arcs set in motion. Hopefully, the next few episode will be able to get things back on track.

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