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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Class Series 1


Class
Series 1.



My response to Class' announcement was one of lukewarm interest, it's probably fair to say. I saw the trailers, it looked interesting, I could see which characters I'd probably like, but I wasn't counting down the days until it started. When it did start, I actually didn't begin watching until five episodes into the eight episode series, because I just didn't have the time or inclination to do so.

Now that it's finished, I think I can honestly say that my reaction to it hasn't changed. It's still lukewarm interest, because while I certainly enjoyed the show well enough, I didn't enjoy it to the extent that I find myself eagerly awaiting the second series.

Set in Coal Hill School, an old standby of Doctor Who, Class focuses on five students -- alien prince Charlie, his boyfriend Matteusz, child prodigy Tanya, social outsider April, and popular football player Ram -- and one teacher, Ms. Quill, the last of a warlike species, who has been enslaved and forced to protect Charlie. Coal Hill School is the site of innumerable fissures in space and time, through which come a range of alien creatures -- most dangerous among them being the Shadow Kin, whose king April is permanently linked with by virtue of sharing a heart. As the six fend off alien attacks, the mysterious Governors set their own plans in motion.

Charlie has such a weirdly shaped head. Very concerning.

Let's kick off with my biggest problem with this series: There is a vein of odd hipsterism that often seems to overtake the entire story. That might seem like an odd thing to say, but it's the best way I can think to put it. The very first episode has April, in the middle of an invasion by murderous shadows, stopping to yell a borderline incoherent rant about how everyone loves Instagram -- and the show's intent in making her do so comes across as an attempt to softly reassure everyone watching that they're different and better than everyone around them.

That trend continues for the rest of the series, and becomes overpowering that, in a lot of cases, it's all there is to the characters and their interactions. Once you strip away the veneer of 'she's different from everyone around her, just like you, audience member,' April doesn't actually have a personality or a character. Every aspect of her character seems aimed to fulfill a singular purpose: To provide someone that audience members can project themselves onto, who will remain as much of a blank slate as possible while also pushing the idea that they're different, and special, and better than everyone around them.

Nor is it just April that gets hit by this. Ram and Tanya have the same vein running through them, and while they both have a little bit more personality once you take that away -- Ram is angry and on-edge, Tanya is smart and bitter at the world around her -- they're not exactly going to be winning any awards for well-written characters.

Ram, in an oddly shower scene heavy episode. There were, like, four.

It seems very often that Charlie, Matteusz, and Ms. Quill are the only members of the main cast with actual character arcs and personalities, and even then I think you could make a pretty strong argument that Matteusz only exists to be a stepping stone in Charlie's character arc. Ms. Quill easily steals every scene that she's in, and her one big focus episode is by far the most interesting of the bunch, with the exploration of her psychology and morality being legitimately engaging.

Its supporting characters tend to fare a little better, with successive headteachers Francis Armitage and Dorothea Ames managing to brighten up just about any scene they're in.

If the show is saved by anything, then, it's its plotlines, which are consistently good at creating a sense of menace and danger. There is a genuine sense of insurmountable odds with every monster of the week, and the stories often work better as self-contained stories than Doctor Who's do. Highlights include an episode set entirely within a single classroom, where the five students engage in a battle of wills with an imprisoned alien murderers; and an episode where a massive plant creates lures based on people's dead loved ones, to try to lure them into joining it.

The overarching plot of the Shadow Kin and Charlie's Cabinet of Souls -- the afterlife of his destroyed people, which also serves as a weapon -- also manages to actually be pretty interesting. It's only really woven into about four episodes of the eight episode series, but that's more than enough, and it feels like it even comes to an almost satisfactory conclusion.

Dorothea, who serves as a sort of sub-antagonist for the series as a whole.

The one big problem with the storylines of these episodes is that they're burning through all their material pretty rapidly. April and Tanya both have personal arcs (albeit not much of one in April's case) that are dealt with in their entirety in the first series, and the final episode of the series goes so far as to kill off both Tanya and Ram's parents, thus dramatically reducing supporting cast members who could provide interesting conflicts for them.

The result is that the storyline feels very cut-and-burn, as if the writers don't really expect this to be a sustainable series and thus aren't writing it as if it is. 

No word yet on if the show has been renewed for a second series, but it's been critically well-received and hasn't had terrible ratings, so I imagine it might well be. The final scene seems to set up the Weeping Angels as the villains of the second series, which -- ugh, honestly, I'm so sick of the Angels.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E10.


Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 10
Awakening Calamity.



So, a lot of people in fandom have been all abuzz about the appearance of a Mobile Armour in-series (specifically, the Hashmal, which while barely seen factors heavily into this episode), and I admit, I've not been that hyped over it. Possibly because Mobile Armours are apparently longtime series standbys, but the only other Gundam series I've seen is Gundam Wing, which didn't have any, so there isn't that nostalgic element of a recurring thing returning in a new form for me.

Still, if I wasn't hyped before, this episode actually does a fairly good job of getting me hyped, albeit more to see how the main cast beat Hashmal than anything else.

In this week's episode, Orga informs McGillis of the massive machine they're excavating from the Tekkadan half-metal mine, only for McGillis to urge him to stop excavating immediately. Traveling to Mars, McGillis explains that the device is a Mobile Armour, an unmanned and semi-intelligent weapon that the Gundams were created to fight, which devastated entire civilisations during the Calamity War. However, matters are complicated when Iok, working on information given to him by Jasley Donomikols, arrives in his Reginlaze, with the Mobile Armour detecting the presence of a Mobile Suit and becoming active once again.

The Flauros, in shadow.

Someone made a pretty good point elsewhere that if Gundams are knights in this universe -- and they are definitely presented as being knight-like in their design and armaments -- then Mobile Armours are dragons, and given that we know that Hashmal is big, winged, and equipped with some kind of beam weapon that makes for a pretty functional stand-in for fiery breath, that seems very apt. Interestingly, this episode also establishes, implicitly at least, why the Gundams are named after demons -- since Mobile Armours are named after angels, the Gundams are presumably named specifically to be antithetical to that.

Anyway, while we don't see much of Hashmal in this episode, we do hear plenty about how dangerous it is, how the tiny Mobile Worker like things found near it are Plumias, sort of slave units that cause havoc around it, and how destroying a Mobile Armour results in the Seven Stars family in question essentially getting bumped up in rank, by receiving an Order of the Seven Stars -- and that if McGillis were to destroy one, he'd functionally be the most powerful member of the Seven Stars, since the Issue family's seat currently isn't filled.

Up until the very end, though, this is quite a slow burn episode, as we cover things like the Flauros' repairs (it now has Shino's trademark pink paint job, and you can just about see his shark eye decals on it), how Mika lets Kudelia manage his finances, Kudelia's free school, and Jasley Donomikols' machinations.

The Arianrhod Gang.

In an amusingly hypocritical note, Jasley goes straight from ranting about how it's terrible that a Teiwaz-owned organisation would be in bed with Gjallarhorn, only to reveal moments later that he also has contacts within Gjallarhorn. That 'one rule for me, one for everyone else' mentality fits perfectly with his character, though, especially as he's not really meant to be a reasonable, calm sort, so much as he's meant to be someone who absolutely hates Naze and is seemingly convinced that Naze is scheming against him.

Things are also increasingly not looking very positive for Mika. More and more, we're getting storyline beats that suggest that he doesn't really have a possibility for a life after war -- and that's only compounded by the fact that the war Tekkadan is entering has no real end in sight, and that even if they come out victorious, they'll have carved out a position for themselves that Mika isn't really interested in.

Our one brief look at Hashmal.

This episode clarifies that Mika has no idea how to handle money, and no interest in doing so, and on its own, that would just be a slightly sad 'the Tekkadan boys don't really know how to live in the real world, but they can learn' moment. But we're getting it hammered in every single episode now that, for Mika at least, there's nothing after the fighting -- the one big thing he had was the farm, and he's no longer involved in that. The fact that he has an apprentice also makes that kind of more pronounced, since he's now passing his knowledge down to someone who actually does have a life outside of fighting.

Anyway, that was episode ten. We're very nearly at the end of the first cour for this series, with just a few more episodes to go, most of which are probably going to involve dealing with Hashmal and Iok -- although I'd be surprised of Vidar doesn't at least put in an appearance as well. So far, this has been a solidly good series, and I'm actually really looking forward to seeing Mika, Akihiro, Shino, and Iok facing off against Hashmal. Well, I assume it'll be those four anyway. Akihiro's not much in evidence this episode, so maybe he won't be joining them.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Teen Wolf S6E3: Sundowning


Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 3
Sundowning.



You know, despite the fact that I think we can all rightly agree that Teen Wolf is a trash-tier garbage series, I will miss it when it's gone. It's bad, but it has always been a fun kind of bad, and it's really only in the opening gasps of this series that I've ever felt it was beginning to grow stale, or that it was outstaying its welcome. There's always been a lot about the series to enjoy, and I do think I probably would have had a lot more fun with the past two series if I hadn't been reviewing them.

In this week's episode, it is revealed to the audience that Beacon Hills' new physics teacher is in actuality the Nazi Alpha who the Dread Doctors had imprisoned. Meanwhile, Scott, Lydia, and Malia figure out that 'Stiles' is the nickname of the Sheriff's father and, against the Sheriff's wishes, visit him in his nursing home to try to find out who it is that they're forgetting. As this is going on, Liam, Cory, Hayden, and Mason attempt to protect a young woman whose sister was taken by the Wild Hunt, and who was unfortunate enough to see one of them -- meaning that she'll be the next victim. Meanwhile, Melissa and Chris investigate several murder victims, and discover that somebody is removing their pineal glands.

As I saw somebody else pointing out this week, the whole 'erasure' dealio of the Wild Hunt isn't very well thought out. Do they erase only memories, or do they remove that person from the timeline altogether? If it's the former, why do that person's belongings vanish, and why is Sheriff Stilinski now married? If it's the latter, then surely Scott wouldn't be a werewolf anymore, since he becomes one because of Stiles.

-- Wait, do you have a monobrow?

Also, the existence of a young woman who remembers her sister even after she disappeared seems to indicate that if you see the Wild Hunt, then you don't lose your memories of the people they take. If that's the case, then why did Cory and Mason forget that one guy who the Hunt took from the school before? They should have remembered him.

The whole 'protect this woman from the Wild Hunt' plotline meshes with Teen Wolf cliches in a really weird way, as well. For starters, this is not the first time the show has had its protagonists inexplicably decide that the best place to protect someone -- or do anything -- is at a crowded, dimly lit party, despite the fact that that makes no sense. It is, however, the first time that they've taken as read that a girl who's distraught over her sister vanishing will definitely come to a keg party, and bizarrely been right about that.

Predictably, it goes horribly wrong, with the entire party seeing the Wild Hunt, meaning that they're all going to get captured -- but while Liam vaguely acknowledges that he screwed up, nobody ever addresses that this was a stupid plan from the outset. For god's sake, just take her to the animal clinic. Or take her to the McCall house without a party involved.

Parrish, you have fire powers. Use your fire powers. Put the gun down.

The plotline with Scott, Lydia, and Malia meanwhile, revolves around them breaking into the nursing home and talking to Stiles Senior, who begins sundowning partway through the conversation. In keeping with Teen Wolf's tendency to take and misuse real world concepts, sundowning is an actual thing, where dementia patients' symptoms worsen as the sun goes down, due to a disruption in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the part of your brain that responds to light-dark cues and maintains your circadian rhythm.

It is decidedly not five minutes of confusion followed by the patient becoming abruptly and completely lucid, which is how it's used here, leading to the rather predictable revelation that Stiles Senior is an awful person -- oh, and that he remembers Stiles, for some reason. It's never explained why, but I guess dementia is magic now.

Worse, that plotline doesn't really lead us anywhere. By the end, everyone's sort of figured out that Stiles is the Sheriff's son, but honestly, they should have figured that out as soon as they heard that 'Stiles' is a family nickname, since they already have reason to believe that the missing Stiles is around the same age as them.

Scott, confused as ever.

Meanwhile, the Melissa and Chris part leads us to the revelation that the Nazi Alpha is eating pineal glands as a substitute for eating souls. For some reason. It's an odd plot turn, and given that the Nazi Alpha isn't a hugely interesting villain (the group has seen and faced off against Alpha werewolves before, after all -- a whole pack of 'em, even), it doesn't really have much impact. So he eats pineal glands. So what. So he has a really bad cough. So what. Give me a reason to care about what this guy does, show.

So, that was Sundowning. A rather slow, rather odd episode, but next week looks like we'll have a much faster-paced fare, with the Wild Hunt hunting down everyone who was at the party.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Invasion! Part Four.


Invasion!
Part Four.



So we're here at the final part of this year's big DCTV crossover event, the Legends of Tomorrow episode that is meant to cap the whole thing off. With all the hype the CW has been trying to build for this, and with eighty-five minutes of buildup to this grand finale, the pressure is certainly on to make this a memorable and dramatic finale.

So, does it succeed? Not -- really, to be honest. We'll talk about that in a moment.

In this week's episode, Nate, Amaya, Mick, Cisco and Felicity go back in time to the 50s, intending to capture a Dominator and interrogate it as to the reasons behind their invasion of Earth. However, in the process, they found themselves running afoul of the US government, who capture both them and the Dominator. Meanwhile, in the present, the team discover that the US had a peace treaty with the Dominators, which was broken when Barry created Flashpoint, and that the Dominators wish to exterminate all metahumans, seeing them as a threat. As the Dominators drop a bomb that will wipe out all metahumans, the team faces them in battle in Central City.

I'm actually struggling to think of much to say about this episode, because to be honest, it's just kind of -- blah. In a way, the element that was such a strong point in the past two episodes -- the push to have each episode tie into the themes and storylines of The Flash and Arrow -- is this episode's biggest weakness. 

Also, Nate's costume is ridiculous.

Legends of Tomorrow is easily the weakest show of the bunch, with the least going for it in terms of both running themes and interesting subplots, and in lieu of interesting ongoing conflicts to work with, the writers instead try to shoehorn most of the episode into a standard Legends plot structure. Thus, rather than devoting valuable screen time to establishing the Dominators as a threat and building up to a battle with them, we waste most of the episode on time travel shenanigans. 

But to be honest, none of the time travel stuff is interesting, and it doesn't lead us onto any interesting conclusions. The revelation that the Dominators hate metahumans and want to eliminate them is weak, and just feels like kind of a limp and lifeless explanation for their actions, and its only purpose seems to be to make Barry inclined to give himself up to them so that everyone can have an emotional moment.

But the result, both of that weak motivation and the fact that we've encountered the Dominators very little during this crossover, is that the final battle doesn't really feel like it has any kind of dramatic weight. The Dominators haven't been established as a real threat, so seeing the heroes clash against them in battle doesn't feel like it has much going for it in the way of stakes. They're just random CGI mooks, and you could replace them with literally anything and have much the same effect.

The gang's all here.

We would have been much better off if the Dominators had had much of a presence thus far, or even if they'd been built up as ominous, shadowy manipulators in the background, but we've had basically nothing.

This is especially galling because the Dominators are actually a pretty interesting threat in comics, with the ability to functionally imbue members of their species with metahuman powers. So, wouldn't it have been more interesting if the first episode had actually culminated in a battle between the team and footsoldier Dominators, with Barry and Ollie arriving late to help save the day -- only for this episode to then see the team facing off against augmented meta-Dominators, who would all exhibit the powersets of one of the superpowered members of the team?

This episode also critically under-uses one of its main assets: Kara. Her addition to the cast is one of the big new draws of this crossover, and in both this episode and the last one she has barely shown up. The moments where she does appear are all very nice, but she has a very limited presence in both this episode and yesterday's episode, and that seems like a big miscalculation on the writers' parts. Ollie, Barry, and Kara are the big three of this shared multiverse, so the emphasis should always be on the three of them.

Yes, Nate, stay at the back where I do not have to look at you.

So, while this was certainly not a terrible episode, it was definitely a very disappointing end to what had, up to this point, been a pretty excellent crossover. It looks like next week we actually don't have a Supergirl episode, and it might even be going on hiatus until after Christmas, while on The Flash we have Jay Garrick returning for a battle with Savitar, with, one presumes, it going on hiatus immediately afterwards.

So that's a thing. Man, I'm going to see a sharp drop in how many ongoings I have, aren't I.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Invasion! Part 3.


Invasion!
Part 3.



I admit, there were points where I was only half watching part three (or two, depending on how you're counting it, but officially part three) of this crossover, largely due to also gaming at the same time. In spite of that, I think I managed to soak up most of it, largely because it was actually a pretty good episode that did a fairly good job of keeping hold of my attention, especially during its major emotional beats.

In this week's episode, Barry, Kara, and Cisco join Felicity and Ollie's apprentices in Star City as they attempt to figure out where Ollie, Sara, Thea, Ray, and Diggle were taken. Meanwhile, on the Dominator ship, Olllie and the others are trapped in a shared hallucination in which most of their lives are seemingly perfect, and where Ollie is preparing to marry Laurel. As they begin to realise that the world they live in is false, they are faced with the choice of whether to give up their perfect lives, or dwell in the fantasy forever.

So, I've seen sites describing this episode as the best one in series five, and honestly, they're not wrong -- and I say that even while believing that series five is the best series of Arrow we've had since the second series. The 'everyone is trapped in a hallucination of their perfect lives' plotline is a very far cry from a new and original story, and in fact I'd go so far as to say it is a cliche by now, but it's handled here with a certain amount of weight and deftness, especially towards the end, that works in its favour.

A charming moment between a daughter and her hallucinated mother.

It is, of course, at least partly a vehicle to get back old actors, as part of this crossover's remit is 'let's get as many of our cast members back as possible.' So we get to see Susanna Thompson back as Moira Queen, John Barrowman back as Malcolm Merlyn, Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk, and, of course, Katie Cassidy back as Laurel, giving us what might be the most heartwrenching performance of the episode.

In a way, I think the biggest problem with this episode is that it kind of holds itself back from going as far as it could. The characters figure out that they're in a hallucination with, to be honest, a minimum of hassle, and when it's time to make the big decision to leave, Thea refuses, only to then change her mind and leave with them. Why not make the process of realising more harrowing, and have the characters themselves push back against it because they don't want to realise? And if you're going to have Thea refuse to leave, have her refuse to leave, without a sudden take-backsie two minutes later.

Still, the episode makes for a solid tear jerker, and its final stroke, where Oliver sees the ghosts of the people he's lost, encouraging him and accepting him, is, once again, staggeringly cliche but deftly handled. I've said before that I'm not against the use of cliches so long as they're well-handled, and this episode makes for a pretty good example of why I take that stance.

Man, Brandon Routh is really tall.

(Wait, hang on, why was Roy among the dead people? Roy's alive. This is effectively the 'sometimes I can still hear his voice' meme in televisual format.)

The subplot we have while that's going on involves Barry, Kara, and the Green Arrow ducklings going after a cyborg doctor to get some tech-y gadget to do something else with a tech-y gadget and locate the kidnapped people. We also get clarification that only the non-metahumans(/aliens) were abducted, so why on Earth aren't Jax and Stein helping out here? Not to mention, why wasn't Mick abducted?

Awkward. That is a nice wedding dress, though. Not the style I would pick, but you know.

Anyway, that subplot doesn't get a lot of time devoted to it, and its big character development thread is Rene not liking metahumans or aliens, but learning to like metahumans and aliens because they can punch things real good. It's rushed, and it doesn't really pan out in a way that makes sense, and given that Rory is right there while he's talking about this, it's weird that Rory doesn't point out that he has superpowers as well and Rene has never had a problem with him. What, does Rene's hatred of superpowers not extend to those granted by magic?

Incidentally, Felicity and Cisco's interactions are still a joy to watch.

Anyway, the episode ends with the Dominator ship heading for the Earth, and the crossover will be concluding tonight, in a Legends of Tomorrow episode that will apparently be working Nate and Amaya in to the story, so that's always nice. Maybe Rip will even show up! But probably not, he's probably not going to make his triumphant reappearance for a few episodes yet.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Flash S2E8: Invasion! (Invasion! Part 2)


The Flash
Series 2, Episode 8
Invasion!
(Invasion! Part 2)



So, we're onto the first proper part of the crossover now, since despite it being billed as a four episode crossover event, it really is only three episodes (and a tiny scene at the end of another one). In my opinion, it would have been better to just go the whole hog and stretch it over all four episodes, but then, in my opinion it would have been better to use Flashpoint to merge the worlds of Supergirl and the other shows. What do I know.

Still, crossovers! Those are always fun. Well, apart from last year's big crossover, that was actually pretty terrible.

Anyway, in this week's episode of The Flash, with Iris urging the group to discourage Wally from using his powers, and Cisco still furious with Barry for Flashpoint, the STAR Labs team faces a crisis when an alien race called the Dominators land on Earth. Seeking to stop them, Barry gathers Ollie, Thea, Diggle, Felicity, Jax, Stein, Mick, Sara, Ray, and Kara to join him, Cisco, and Caitlin in taking them down. When the Dominators kidnap the president of the US, however, and the team fractures as a result of learning about Flashpoint, Barry and Ollie end up facing off against seven mind-controlled heroes.

Wait, so if Ollie is Batman and Kara is Superman, does that mean Barry is Wonder Woman?

Okay, so firstly, we're set up for the Dominators kidnapping the president of the US by their leader remarking that they must go after 'the leader of the humans,' but that makes negative amounts of sense. The president of the US isn't, no matter how you look at it, the leader of the humans, or anything else. He's not the political figure with the most influence over economics and politics, that's the president of Russia and the chancellor of Germany. He's not the head of government with the most people, that's the premier of China, or the head of government with the most countries and territories, that's the Prime Minister of the UK. He's not the head of state with the most people or the most countries, that's the Queen. He's not the political figure who commands the largest military, that's again the premier of China.

The president of the US is not a tremendously important person, so it's a bizarre little nugget of jingoism and American exceptionalism for him to be singled out as the leader of humanity, and for the episode to throw this in as if it doesn't even warrant being questioned.

Anyway.

One nice thing about this episode is that it actually does  somewhat continue the storylines from last week. We get a nice moment with Caitlin discussing her new ice powers with Stein, and him giving her some advice; Cisco continues to be furious at Barry; everyone else finds out about Flashpoint; and HR offers to train Wally as a speedster, paralleling how Thawne!Wells trained Barry.

The big three.

Everyone finding out about Flashpoint is especially interesting since, while it might not have an effect on Arrow, it will certainly have an effect on Legends of Tomorrow, since that show has been directly affected by Flashpoint, since it freed up Thawne to go speeding around the timeline. 

All of which raises the question of whether this pattern will continue in other episodes of the crossover: Will we get a continuation of Arrow's plotlines in the Arrow part? A continuation of the Legends of Tomorrow plotlines in the Legends part? Where exactly are Amaya and Nate, anyway, and will they be eventually joining this crossover?

As far as the actual episode goes, the element that makes it stand out is definitely Kara's inclusion. Since Kara is such a charismatic, bubbly character, and since Melissa Benoist is so good at playing off other people, every interaction that Kara has with someone else is a highlight, and she easily steals the spotlight away from the rest of the admittedly massive cast. The show even seems to acknowledge this by giving Kara a front and centre role in the story, having her be the member of the team with the most knowledge about the Dominators, and having her be the most immediate and dangerous threat when the team is mind-controlled.

Barry's no good terrible day.

In fact, it's actually difficult to think of much else that truly stands out about this episode. Felicity and Cisco are certainly fun, and we get some nice interactions between other characters (Barry and Ollie have some great interactions, and Caitlin and Stein's conversation was lovely), but none of that is really new or special to the crossover. The Dominators themselves barely factor into the episode, either, appearing in maybe three scenes in the whole thing.

So, that was the first/second/whatevs part of the crossover. Fun, but not exactly amazing -- but then, the whole thing does have another eighty-four minutes or so to redeem itself, and way more characters it needs to work in (since we already know Ollie's apprentices and Slade are going to show up), so we'll see how that pans out.

Actually, quick question, why did Barry not go and get the Hawks to help out as well? I realise that Mari McCabe's actress is busy currently, but surely getting the Hawks seems like a no-brainer. Also, going and nabbing Jesse and Harry from Earth-2. Why didn't Kara suggest grabbing Clark, Hank, Alex, Mon-El, and Winn? Like, if this is an all hands on deck situation, why are not all hands on deck? 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Supergirl S2E8: Medusa (Invasion! Part 1)


Supergirl
Series 2, Episode 8
Medusa.
(Invasion! Part 1)



You have no idea how glad I was when that breach appeared in the opening scene of this episode. I was actually deeply concerned that I'd gotten the schedule mixed up again, and that the big DCTV crossover wasn't this week, either, so the moment that breach showed up, I breathed a sigh of relief.

In truth, though, despite it being billed as the first part of the crossover, this episode barely ties into the crossover -- apart from the final scene, where Barry and Cisco arrive to pick up Kara, and a few quick moments where breaches appear only to immediately shut again, it basically doesn't factor into this episode at all, which is really there to cap off the Cadmus storyline.

(Well, to seemingly cap it off. There's always the possibility that Lillian Luthor will escape imprisonment, somehow, and Hank Henshaw is still at large by the end of the episode.)

Anyway, in this week's episode, after Cadmus infects a bar full of aliens with a virus that kills only aliens, the DEO goes into overdrive to try and fix the problem -- especially when it turns out that Mon-El is infected. As J'onn struggles with his slow transformation into a White Martian, Kara attempts to enlist Lena Luthor's help, believing her to truly know nothing about her mother's activities. Things go from bad to worse, however, when it's revealed that the Medusa virus is of Kryptonian design, created by Kara's father as a weapon of war.

Also, Barry appears.

So, we'll start with the elephant in the room: Kara's burgeoning romance with Mon-El. I'm not going to say they don't have any chemistry, because if this episode sold me on anything it's that they do have at least a little bit of a spark, but there's also at least three characters who have more chemistry with Kara, and who would be more believable in a relationship with her: Namely Jimmy, Lena, and Barry.

The result of the romance subplot is that it rather feels like Mon-El is in the show solely to be a love interest, which isn't exactly an interesting elevator pitch for a character, especially when he doesn't really have much else going for him, apart from occasional comic relief moments of him not understanding human culture.

The main plot of this episode, however, is actually pretty interesting. Admittedly, we've been on the 'Kara's parents aren't who she thought they were' train before, but 'Kara's father created a biological weapon' is a pretty new low for them, and it'll be interesting to see if learning that actually impacts Kara at all in coming episodes.

(Some of) The Danvers-Jonzz-El family.

Meanwhile, the episode manages to raise and keep tension by keeping the viewer in suspense as to whether Lena will remain on the good guys' side, or join her mother. We are, after all, invested in her and Kara's friendship now, so the idea of her going full villain makes for a pretty good stakes raiser, when used in moderation.

In this instance, it works in part because Lena's development up to this point has left things deliberately ambiguous. We know that she takes a stand against what she sees as injustices, but we also know that she's suspicious of aliens; we know that she's often critical of her family, but we also know she has fond memories of them and at least somewhat wants her mother's approval. The episode builds on that by having Lena be unhelpful towards Kara, but confrontational with her mother, and later by having Lena get upset over finding out that her mother runs Cadmus -- but also equally upset by the idea that Supergirl might one day turn on her, like Superman turned on Lex.

The result is that we're not well positioned to figure out exactly what Lena's driving motivations are, or exactly which side of the conflict she'll fall on, so we're kept guessing right up until the point where Lena reveals that her plan all along was to render the virus inert and have her mother arrested.

Kara and Mon.

Along the way, we get some pretty good action scenes as well, with Mon-El, Kara, and J'onn all facing off against Hank (as Cyborg Superman) at various points, and a surprisingly engaging battle between Kara and Kal-X, the Fortress of Solitude's guard robot. This certainly wasn't an episode lacking for action sequences.

We also got a few nice moments involving Alex coming out to her mother, and even an Alex/Maggie kiss -- which I don't think surprised anyone, given that we've been building to it for several episodes now. If anything, the biggest surprise is that it happened this early.

So, that's Medusa, leading in to a big blowout multi-episode crossover that we'll be spending this entire week covering. It doesn't look like we have a promo for the next episode, titled Supergirl Lives, yet, but it'll probably involve those mysterious alien women who are searching for Mon-El.