Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review - 'Supergirl', S02E18 - 'Ace Reporter'

When Kara's decision to go against Snapper Carr's orders, a couple of episodes ago, had resulted in her being fired, I had thought that it was inevitable that she would eventually get her job back. Even if the idea of the series abandoning CatCo, and focusing entirely on Kara's exploits as Supergirl, had held a certain appeal to me, it had just felt like too drastic a change to the basic format of the series.

So, with Kara's eventual return to CatCo seeming inevitable, the only real question concerned how it would come about – and, I do have to admit that this was a source of some concern, for me. Kara's transition from personal assistant to investigative journalist had just seemed much too simple, back at the beginning of the season. The entire sequence of events that lead to her becoming a journalist had seemed to consist primarily of her decided that it was what she wanted to do, and being handed a position by Cat Grant – and, nothing that had happened since than had done anything to convince me that she was actually suited to the position.

At the same time, though, the season had never really shied away from drawing attention to how poorly prepared Kara actually was for her new role, despite whatever raw potential she might have had. So, while it was depressingly easy to imagine a worst-cast scenario where James Olsen overruled Snapper's decision and simply gave Kara her job back, there was at least some cause to have faith that she would actually have to earn it. It was definitely a relief to see that take place by the end of this episode.

Of course, it isn't just Kara's journalistic career that is brought into the spot-light, here – as the episode's primary plot-line also puts quite a bit of focus on Lena Luthor.

With Kara growing increasingly bored with her period of unemployment, it makes sense that she would jump at the chance to attend a press conference with Lena – just as it makes sense that Lena would want a little friendly support, considering that the press conference is being held by an ex-boyfriend. Jack Spheer (Rahul Kohli), a brilliant scientist who Lena once worked closely with, has arrived to announce the success of his latest creation – a form of nano-technology capable of treating any injuries, and even potentially curing any disease.

It's obviously an extremely important discovery – but, of course, things aren't quite as straight-forward as they appear to be. Soon enough, both Kara and Snapper find themselves drawn into an investigation which leads them to realise that this new technology may be both untested, and potentially dangerous. When their contacts are murdered in front of them, each also comes to realise that there is clearly something much more sinister behind it all.

There was quite a bit to enjoy about this episode's primary plot-line. The antagonistic relationship between Snapper and Kara continues to provide quite a bit of fun – even if it does finally seem to grow into something mutually respectful, by the end. Scenes between Lena and Jack were also strong – with Katie McGrath and Rahul Kohli quickly able to establish a very genuine on-screen chemistry which sold the idea that they had, previously, been romantically involved. The nano-technology which served as the heart of this episode also provided some great moments of visually impressive and creative action, as Kara found herself confronted by a swarm of tiny flying robots.

Unfortunately, as entertaining as this episode's primary plot-line was, the episode was also somewhat let-down by a very underwhelming sub-plot concerning James Olsen's continuing exploits as the vigilante, Guardian. Over the course of the season, I have tried my best to be open-minded with regard to this plot-thread, if only because it is the only worthwhile thing James Olsen has been permitted to do in his time on the show – but, more and more, it just feels out-of-place. Here, for example, we had an entirely unrelated plot-thread concerning Winn's desire to bring his alien girl-friend, Lyra (Tamzin Merchant), into their crime-fighting endeavours – and, the complications that result when Lyra's volatile personality gets in the way. It was a little tedious.

Honestly, I do think that it's great that the writers finally seem devoted to giving such an important character as James Olsen something worthwhile to do with his time on-screen – but, at the same time, I can't really say that it has been a good use of either the character, or the actor. I do think that it's important to remember that none of this is really the fault of Mehcad Brooks, though – since he is clearly doing the best he can with some very mediocre material. After all, to be fair, the sub-plot in this episode doesn't really do Winn or Lyra any favours, either – with each of them coming across as more than a little foolish. Also, the whole idea of Lyra suddenly deciding become a crime-fighter, for no apparent reason, struck me as a little ridiculous.

So, overall, the season's eighteenth episode is one that managed to cover the best and worst of what the second season of Supergirl has to offer. With the episode's primary plot-line, we had some great moments of character drama, some great moments of comedy, and some genuinely exciting and creative action sequences – all wrapped up in a plot-line which seems to provide a potentially very interesting turning point for Lena Luthor. But, with the episode's secondary plot-line, we had a somewhat tedious and unnecessary continuation of an underwhelming plot-line which seems like a waste of the talents of everyone involved.

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