Thursday, 18 May 2017

Review - 'Supergirl', S02E21 - 'Resist'

Over the past couple of episodes, Supergirl has managed to do a very impressive job of addressing many of the lingering issues I have had with the season. It had even managed to do so while, at the same time, significantly raising the stakes for the season's final act – setting up a conflict that promised to end things on a high note. It's really just a shame that, in the end, the season's penultimate episode seems to have squandered some of that potential.

It all got off to a pretty great start, of course. That opening image of Rhea's Daxamite fleet hovering over National City, firing down onto the streets below, was definitely an effective way of establishing just how high the stakes of this conflict truly are. Also, those early scenes of Daxamite forces working swiftly to impose martial law on the city, while dealing with any Resistance, were also very effective.

In particular, a definitely appreciate the moment in which Rhea sent some of her forces to attack the DEO headquarters, directly. Not only was it the sort of sensible strategic decision which allows her to appear as a genuinely competent, and effective, villain – but, it also created a genuinely fantastic 'hero moment' for Alex, when she made her escape by leaping from the balcony, confident that her sister would catch her. While it is a bit disappointing that the series just doesn't have the budget with which to truly create the sense of scale required for a convincing large-scale invasion such as this, there was still a lot to enjoy, here.

I also appreciated the fact that the episode managed to give much of the supporting cast their own great moments, despite the high stakes – with Maggie and James each having their own entertaining moments while Winn, as expected, provides some of the episode's best moments of levity. I wasn't really a fan of the way that J'onn J'onnz was written out – but, at least, David Harewood was still given a role to play, when Lillian Luthor and Hank Henshaw made their unexpected reappearance. This brings us directly to the classic 'enemy of my enemy' style team-up – which is something that I also enjoyed.

Unfortunately, though, there were other aspects of the season's penultimate episode which just didn't work so well, for me. After the series had done such a good job of developing Rhea into a character that felt a little more rounded (with the surrogate mother/daughter relationship that had developed between her and Lena Luthor having been a strong point of the past couple of episodes), it was a bit of a shame to see her revert to one-dimensional villainy so quickly. Also, her efforts to force Mon-el and Lena into a political marriage, as a way of giving her planned conquest of Earth some sort of legitimacy, felt like an incredibly odd direction to take things – given that it was a sub-plot which took attention away from the much more interesting conflict taken place below. Although, that being said, it seems fairly obvious that Teri Hatcher is having quite a bit of fun in the role – so Rhea does, at least, make for an entertaining one-dimensional villain.

Similarly, while it was great to see both President Marsdin and Cat Grant return to the series, I can't help but feel that both characters were mishandled by the writers, to some extent. For one thing, it just struck me as incredibly foolish that the President's response to an alien invasion would be to board Air Force One and head directly toward National City, while making threatening demands of Rhea (given the circumstances, it shouldn't have come as a surprise, to anyone, that Air Force One would be shot down). Also, I can't say that I was really a fan of the way the whole 'the President is really an alien' sub-plot was resolved. It just felt like too much of an afterthought, to me – as though the writer's had actually forgotten this particular plot-point, or they had changed their minds about what to do with it, and were forced to come up with something at the last minute.

Cat, at least, was able to justify her own presence, later in the episode, with a couple of genuinely strong scenes – but, her first scene, appearing aboard Air Force One along with President Marsdin, would have to be one of the most frustrating of the series, so far. While I have always been a fan of the extent to which Supergirl has been able to develop its female characters into genuinely well-rounded, compelling, and strong figures (and, I do believe that the series deserves whatever praise it has received for that), the fact that Cat's opening monologue seemed primarily intended to draw attention to this just struck me as incredibly heavy-handed. Also, the fact that the self-styled 'Queen of All Media' seemed to believe that she could get away with passive-aggressively insulting the leader of an invading alien fleet struck me as every bit as idiotic as the President's decision to fly directly toward that same fleet.

I can understand that the writer's wanted to make Calista Flockhart's first appearance on the series, since the beginning of the season, something truly memorable – but, I was left feeling as though they went overboard. Although, as I said, Cat Grant's scenes throughout the rest of the episode were a much better reminder of what the character brought to Supergirl, during its first season – so, I suppose can bring myself to just accept that her part in that frustrating 'Air Force One' scene was just a bit of a misstep.

In the end, the second season's penultimate episode truly did feel like a somewhat odd mix of great moments and wasted potential. Despite whatever issues I had with the episode, though, it did still manage to be entertaining enough, overall. More importantly, though, the final moments of this episode managed to set up what should, hopefully, be a very entertaining conflict to end the season on. Keeping in mind that this is exactly how I felt about the final moments of the previous episode, I suppose that there is still reason enough to remain optimistic about the season finale, next week.

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