Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Review - 'Supergirl', S02E15 - 'Exodus'

It may have taken much longer than it really should have but, with the season's fifteenth episode, Supergirl has finally managed to turn Cadmus into something resembling a legitimate threat. It's really just a shame that this is something which doesn't seem likely to last beyond this single episode.

With Jeremiah's betrayal, in the previous episode, Cadmus now finds itself in possession of the DEO's complete list of registered alien immigrants – and, the sinister organisation has wasted no time in enacting a plan that seems clearly intended to provide some form of commentary on the current political climate in the United States of America. Setting out to round up each and every name on the DEO's list, Cadmus's current is to, essentially, forcibly deport the entire population – placing them on an alien ship and sending them far from Earth. It may not seem to be as overtly villainous a plan as simply rounding the entire population up and executing all of them (as Lillian Luthor had, apparently, originally intended) – but, that just makes it the whole thing feel a little more plausible.

Of course, the fact that Cadmus's plan for mass deportation is being presented as an act of villainy, in the first place, is a large part of what makes this episode feel so topical. Cadmus is an illegal orginisation, who are clearly working against the general amnesty offered by President Olivia Marsdin back at the beginning of the season, but the left-leaning jabs that this episode takes at what seems to be the current American government's positions are fairly clear. Of course, whether this aspect of the episode proves to be a strength, or a weakness, for you would have to be entirely a personal matter.

Somewhat heavy-handed political commentary wouldn't be enough to carry the entire episode, of course – so, it is probably for the best that the episode quickly turns its attention to more personal matters. Alex is still clearly struggling to come to terms with her father's betrayal, and is adamant that there must be more to the matter than their appears to be. Winn, meanwhile, finds himself directly drawn into the conflict when Lyra turns out to be among those snatched by Cadmus.

In both cases, though, while there are definitely elements of a strong performance from both Chyler Leigh and Jeremy Jordan, there are still some slightly problematic elements in each character arc. For Winn, for example, there is the simple fact that Lyra just hasn't had enough screen-time, or enough meaningful material to work with, for the audience to form any sort of a connection with her – which leaves us with the somewhat irritating impression that her kidnapping really was more about Winn than her. It is only a minor point, certainly – but, I think I really would like to see the series take the time to develop Lyra into something more than just a love interest.

Alex, on the other hand, continues with a trend of somewhat frustrating behaviour that began in the previous episode. It makes sense that she would have conflicted feelings over her father, of course – and, it might even make sense that she would have somewhat conflicted loyalties as she finds herself caught in the middle. The problem, though, is that the writer's of this episode, and the previous one, clearly seem to want us to take Alex's side, even though we are given little reason to do so. J'onn's test of Alex's resolve (in which he took on the form of Jeremiah Danvers and tricked her into compromising herself) was treated as something 'cruel' and 'wrong', and which J'onn ultimately felt obliged to apologise for – despite the fact that, at least as far as I was concerned, J'onn was entirely justified to have concerns about her. Also, Alex's absurd one-woman mission to infiltrate Cadmus's current base of operations, without any form of back-up, was similarly justified when everything miraculously turned out in her favour. As strange as it may seem to have to say this, I actually found myself a little disappointed when Jeremiah took Alex's side against Cadmus, toward the end of the episode – since, that just felt like too simple a resolution to what should have been a much more complex situation.

Kara's sub-plot, in which she attempted to convince Snapper Carr to publish a story revealing Cadmus's plans to the general public, did manage to take a somewhat unexpected turn, at least. With Snapper, ultimately, refusing to trust Kara's unverified sources, even to the extent of not being will to take Supergirl at her word, Kara feels compelled to go ahead and publish the story as a blog-post – and, this has the result of Kara being fired.

Now, I suppose I should admit that I have never cared much for the manner in which Kara found herself as a journalist on such a high-profile publication. Based on everything that we have seen, over the course of the season, Kara simply hasn't seemed well-suited to the role. She has often seemed to have very little respect for the concept of journalistic integrity, and has often displayed a worrying tendency to view the publication she writes for as a resource that she can use as it suits her. She had previously, for example, allowed her own personal bias to show in an article she has written about Lena Luthor – and, here, she was insistent that the Cadmus article needed to be written, despite the fact that she refused to divulge any reliable sources.

Obviously, the writer's of the episode managed to contrive a scenario where Kara was, undoubtedly, morally in the right to go against Snapper in the way that she did – but, professionally, he was also completely in the right to fire her for it. In the end, I think that's what made this whole sub-plot interesting, rather than problematic, for me. There are genuine consequences here which will, hopefully, lead to some interesting character development (unless, of course, the next episode has James Olsen forcing Snapper to give Kara her job back).

Of course, despite my nitpicking about the behaviour of various members of the cast, there was still quite a bit to like about this episode. The entire scenario, regarding Cadmus's kidnapping of various alien immigrants, was developed very well – with sequences such as the kidnapping of an entirely harmless alien family, and Cadmus's attack on the alien bar, both standing out as genuinely strong moments. Also, the episode's final moments, as Supergirl was forced to try to stop an alien ship from entering orbit, provided some great moments of tension.

In the end, though, I still found myself feeling a little disappointed by how comparatively simple this latest victory over Cadmus seemed to be. Throughout the episode, and especially in its final moments, I actually found myself wondering how much more interesting the remainder of the season might have been had either Supergirl, or Alex, failed in their respective goals – but, unfortunately, that simply wasn't to be. On the plus side, though, the final moment of the episode does suggest that we are able to move on to an entirely new threat, as well as a revelation concerning Mon-El's true role. Hopefully, that should prove to be enough to carry the rest of the season.

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