SUMMARY: The Danvers family has Thanksgiving dinner, Livewire seeks revenge against Cat Grant – who is now a full character with motivations, and lousy dialogue is had by all.
Superman References: Only 2!
Margaret: Welcome to week 4 of Tales from the Krypton where we watched what was technically Episode 5, but they switched episodes because of current events. So instead of getting the conclusion to the horrible love triangle that I was not looking forward to, we get the Thanksgiving episode, which brings about hilarity in unexpected ways.
Syd: And this episode let you know for sure that the episode we missed did not have a conclusion to the love triangle.
Margaret: Well, the immediate “end” of the love triangle.
Syd: I don’t understand what you mean. There is no end – they definitely intend to drag this out for weeks.
Margaret: Well, of course, but the immediate end is that James is now with Lana? Leia?
Margaret: It’s clear that he’s going to end up with Kara, so this is entirely useless plot development.
Syd: I don’t think it is useless, because even if you know how a story is going to end, you still want to know how it gets there. If it’s an interesting story, you should be interested in the path it takes, not just its destination.
Margaret: Love triangles, to me, aren’t interesting. I love shipping – we talked about this last episode. I love putting pairs together and I love seeing who will end up with whom, but when you automatically set up a love triangle where you obviously already know where it’s going to end and you already know how it’s going to work out just makes it tropey, soapy fodder.
Syd: Obviously this is far from the best way to do a romance, but I like a love triangle better than just knowing that two people are destined to be together without any external conflict because there are no other characters that they could possibly be with. In this case, we know that Jimmy is going to end up with Kara, but this gives the sense that he has to choose to be with her, which is a step up from where the show had been up to this point.
Margaret: There’s a clear difference in my head between setting up a love triangle and setting up other relationships in the characters’ paths. Love triangle has such negative connotations to me – especially when it’s two girls and one guy – because you have the one true pairing that will inevitably happen, that you’re going to paint the other person in a negative light.
Syd: It’s just Lucy Lane!
Margaret: The best way this could end is that I don’t hate her and I don’t really care about a character when the best I can hope for is not hating her.
Syd: For me, that’s not the best outcome. The best outcome for me is that I totally hate her, that I enjoy hating her, and I revel in my hatred for her. That’s not what we’ve been shown so far, but I’m still hopeful.
Margaret: She’s only been in two scenes. I’ve already seen the harpy character who makes you wonder why this man is with her when he should be with the protagonist enough times.
Syd: Fair enough.
Margaret: Love triangles just seem kind of boring to me. It’s such a well-trod path and it could go in a more interesting direction, especially since they already have the stupid Win/James/Kara thing and everybody already hates Win, so we’re going to have two detestable characters who will probably end up together as the ridiculous B-pairing.
Syd: Wanting something more compelling and original than that is asking too much of this series’ writing.
Margaret: So when this episode starts, they immediately move into action.
Syd: They have Sabretooth wrecking the D.E.O. while wearing a coat with a capelet.
Margaret: It’s kind of adorable. This was the most credible fight scene I have seen so far on this show, which isn’t saying much. It wasn’t even that good, but they actually used some of her powers. She flies and then smashes him on the ground, which we haven’t seen yet.
Syd: That’s the wrong pronoun. I know it’s Sabretooth, but they do make a point of saying she’s female.
Margaret: You’re right. I am misgendering her. I apologize.
Syd: They have a dumb line where they correct Supergirl for assuming Sabretooth was male and Supergirl says, “Respect.” I know Sabretooth is strong, but she’s still a rampaging monster.
Margaret: So that’s weird.
Syd: But Girl Power! Doesn’t that make you feel as empowered as it did for me?
Margaret: Not really. It made me feel pandered to, so that’s nice. The other thing that was weird was the conversation between Kara and Alex when she is in the D.E.O. saving the D.E.O. and Alex is like, “Why are you not here helping me with Thanksgiving dinner?” It’s a complete role reversal. Alex’s entire life has kind of been about the D.E.O. You’d think that if Kara said, “I’m at the D.E.O. getting an alien prisoner under control,” Alex would say, “Oh, my b. I’ll call back in a sec.”
Syd: And that is how she would phrase it on this show.
Margaret: I am down with my fellow kids. So after they deal with that stuff, Kara says that she’s been to twelve different planets. Where are these twelve different planets she’s been to and why and when?
Syd: I think this is playing off of the idea that Kryptonians were a space-faring race. They made this explicit in Man of Steel to explain how they knew where Earth was, even though it contradicts the idea that when their planet was destroyed, their only way off was a prototype rocket that wasn’t big enough to hold an adult. It was their way of finding answers to questions that there were already better answers to and just creating bigger problems along the way – like in the movie where they say that Krypton had failed colonies on other planets including Earth, but don’t sufficiently explain how a colony fails when the colonists are indestructible. So going with the worse but more current explanation, it would make sense that Kryptonians go to other planets on vacation or something.
Margaret: But that makes absolutely no sense.
Syd: Yes, it does make no sense.
Margaret: One of the things I really didn’t like about this episode is how much they emphasize FOSTER mother. You can just say that she’s your mother. It’s super weird that in an episode that focused so much on family, how hesitant they were to call Kara part of the family on both sides.
Syd: It was jarring when she referred to her mother as Eliza, especially since that name was made up for this series, so it took me a second to realize whom she was talking about, but also because she doesn’t call her mother “Mom.” After the scene in the second episode, where she asks the AI hologram for a hug, it’s like they’re making a point that Kara doesn’t care about Mrs. Danvers, which doesn’t make sense after the scene in the same episode about her accepting her adopted family as family. They’re backpedalling and for no reason.
Margaret: It really upsets me. Then later in the episode, the conversation between Eliza and Alex really pissed me off. The mom’s reasoning for being hard on Alex was because to her, Kara wasn’t really her daughter. That is fucked up in so many different ways.
Syd: Maybe this is a consequence of Supergirl’s new backstory for this series where she was just dropped on the Danvers’ doorstep rather than the Danvers wanting a child and choosing to take Kara as their own. They really haven’t given us enough context and I don’t know what they’re going for and I’m not sure they do either.
Margaret: The other problem I have with that is the other main crux of the argument between Alex and Eliza was about how Alex doesn’t protect her sister enough. They have two completely discordant things happening right now. There’s: “You need to protect your younger sister because you two are sisters!” And, “But the reason I was harder on you is because you are my actual daughter and Kara is this alien that lives in our house and is your roommate. But remember you’re sisters, so you have to love each other. We’re just parents; we don’t really do that.” You can’t have those points in the same episode. It’s either, “This is our family and you have to look out for family,” or it’s, “We’re just being nice and taking in this poor orphan alien, but she’s not actually our daughter.” You can’t have both. It really weirded me out that they were trying to make such a nice moment – they had the stupid music playing, they build it all up and then she says, “You were my actual daughter.” That’s not a nice moment.
Syd: Then after the opening family moment, they introduce Leslie Willis, who is a shock jock. Is a shock jock even a thing any more?
Margaret: Howard Stern is still on the air. He’s still shocking and jocking.
Syd: I know when Livewire was introduced on the Superman cartoon in the 90’s, it was this hot button issue that radio DJs were pushing boundaries and upsetting squares, but I wasn’t sure if shock jocks were still around.
Margaret: It’s a little outdated, but it’s still kind of a thing. Hilariously, I didn’t even put it together that she was a “shock jock” until you just said it.
Syd: So, Livewire -voiced by Lori Petty – has faced off against Supergirl in Batman the Animated Series. It was an episode called, “Girls’ Night Out,” where Batgirl and Supergirl had to thwart Livewire along with Harley and Ivy. It was an adorable episode and I would recommend people watch that instead of this episode.
Margaret: So Livewire is saying that because Supergirl is so naïve or something that someone needs to screw her and then they cut to James.
Syd: They cut to Jimmy when Leslie is talking about how her S shield is a sapphic thing, because S’s are so butch, apparently.
Margaret: Whenever I see an S, the only thing I can think of is penis.
Syd: Also when you see anything else.
Margaret: The interesting thing after that was having Cat and Lesie’s back-and-forth. Where Cat lays out, “You’re doing all this greasiness to a young girl; you’re sexualizing her; you’re commenting on her body; you’re making raunchy comments,” and she’s coming to Supergirl’s defense, but in a way that says, “Look, you can’t do that because I tied my name to her. I’m protecting her because I’m protecting myself. This is how it’s going to go. You’re now a traffic DJ.” I think this episode was Cat’s stand out episode.
Syd: I agree. They did a lot of character development and it made me feel bad for Calista Flockhart. She needs better material than this. She can handle better material than this. She is better than this show.
Margaret: This episode made me more hopeful for the rest of the series. Everything before this has been fake character development and fake, stupid telling us they’re doing character development instead of actually doing character development. The way they were dealing with Cat before was by giving her writer’s block. “She’s quirky. See how she’s a different character because she’s quirky.” This one actually had her having actual dimensions to her character in a way that was actually her.
Syd: She did react to things as a real character. You could see her motivations. This might be the first time in the series with a non-Jimmy character where that didn’t feel put upon. Of course, this was just for Cat. There was no other character in this episode who was being genuine in the same way, but as far as Cat goes, I agree.
Margaret: In this episode there were, for sure, two scenes that I really liked. So that’s an improvement. And, crazily, there were none involving James, because James was not even in this episode. They both involved the development of Cat’s character. Developing a character is the most interesting thing to me. Now I’m in it for the shipping and to see where Cat goes.
Syd: Next Kara invites Win to her Thanksgiving. Win doesn’t have any family. His father is in prison for being Toyman. I haven’t abandoned the idea that Win is also Toyman.
Margaret: They kind of did that in The Flash. Mark Hammill came back to the new Flash series and played the Trickster – it was amazing – and he has a son who is pretending not to have anything to do with his father but is actually helping him. So they have the Trickster and the younger Trickster.
Syd: So what you’re saying is that Win is definitely Toyman.
Margaret: That is what I’m saying.
Syd: So Kara asks Win if he has any friends he can spend Thanksgiving with. He says he has no friends and this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
Margaret: Everybody in-universe hates Win as much as everyone in real life. Then Kara invites James to Friendsgiving.
Syd: She calls it Friendsgiving, even though there’s only one friend who’s going to be there and he’s the worst.
Margaret: Then we have the helicopter scene.
Syd: Leslie’s helicopter is spinning out of control and Supergirl goes to save her. Supergirl grabs Leslie’s hand. Lightning strikes Supergirl and the electricity flows through Supergirl into Leslie. Kryptonian DNA, when struck by lightning, transfers electric superpowers into humans.
Margaret: To me this is all dumb comic book science.
Syd: It’s fine. Whatever. I mean, it’s not actually fine. I’m not actually ok with this, but I feel like I don’t want to argue because we all know what they’re doing and it’s dumb and I hate it but nobody cares and everyone is sick of arguing about it. Then in the hospital, Leslie’s hair has turned white and Cat says it’s very Katy Perry and that’s a terrible line, but it is the least bad terrible line in the episode.
Margaret: Past that line, this was one of the scenes that I liked. After Cat says that she hates hospitals and she hates sick people and she’s germophobic and blah blah blah, she berates Leslie into trying to get up. I liked that, because it was a show of growth on Cat’s part where she actually cares about somebody, but she’s showing that she cares in her own way, which is not being nurturing, but being like, “Fuck you. You’re better than this. Get up!” I like that. I think that was a good show of Cat’s actual character, so that was part one of the scene that I liked. I thought that was interesting because it was like, oh, okay, she was a mentor to Leslie and we got that in the first scene that they had together, but in this one she actually liked Leslie and I liked that.
Syd: In the next scene, Helen Slater acts SO HARD! She is acting with her hands in a way that I don’t know how to convey in a text blog.
Then Livewire breaks out of the hospital and this guy starts hitting on Livewire and this scene has no reason to exist.
Margaret: The only reason they had this scene was the greater thing they were doing in the pilot episode with Vartox, where they’re showing a sexist character, here she can go nuts on him with her powers to learn how to use them and we don’t feel bad for him. The funny thing is that she’s a bad guy – we should have just had someone come up to her and say, “Oh my gosh! Are you ok?” We don’t need her victim to be a bad guy.
Syd: He does serve his purpose in giving the best line of the episode: “Halloween was last month, but with a body like that, all I can say is, ‘Happy Turkey Day to me!’” So, to explain, he usually says, “Happy Turkey Day to me” on Halloween, but he finds Livewire attractive enough to say it a month later. How can someone say that with a straight face?
Margaret: It’s the weirdest thing. It’s completely unnecessary. She’s a villain. You don’t need a guy catcalling her to make her go full villain. She’s already there.
Syd: So, then, we’re at the dinner scene. Kara uses her flame eyes to heat up the turkey. And we get a little bit of science in this in that they’re talking about radioactive turkey. In this incarnation, are they saying her flame eyes are actually X-rays? There’s a precedent for this. Is that what they were implying?
Margaret: They’re saying they are of the same as microwaves.
Syd: They were saying they were like microwaves in that they’re radioactive. They didn’t fully explain it, but it was enough to weird me out.
Margaret: So, they talk about weird science for no reason.
Syd: One thing that was brought up in this scene that I’m sure most people thought was established, but wasn’t, is that Alex says she’s working for the government, so the D.E.O. is part of the government, by which she means the U.S. Government. Of course, we are supposed to recognize the Government Alien Catching Agency from conspiracy theories and hacky sci fi movies. It’s a pet peeve of mine the way people writing sci fi stories assume that paranoid delusions are the most compelling way to portray government operations to the point that it is so readily identifiable, but in this specific case, it shows how the writers of this series will jump to cliches at the expense of coherent world building. People know aliens exist – Superman and Supergirl are known as are any aliens they have publicly fought. I would think that people would be comforted to know that their only method for handling space monsters wasn’t completely unregulated vigilantes. I’m not saying that the U.S. Government is necessarily trustworthy – in fact, I would think that they would create a phony agency to nominally defend the planet even if they had no strategy for dealing with aliens. But if they have people actually working to defend the Earth from aliens, there is absolutely no reason for that to be secret, except that it’s the way you’ve seen it done in other bad television.
Margaret: Then, we go to the past. I liked the flying sisters. That was cute. They’re finally character building and I like that. I connected to it as a bonding moment of doing something you’re not supposed to do with a family member. It showed more about these two characters that love each in a different dynamic and I liked seeing some of their past.
Syd: So, then we skip to their parents telling them they’re in so much trouble and then the doorbell rings and they open the door and it was the evil cyborg delivery!
Margaret: I loved that part. I like flashbacks.
Syd: He may not have been an evil cyborg at that point. Maybe he was just an evil government agent.
Margaret: Maybe he was part of the plane crash that killed Dean Cain! And so then he became a cyborg.
Syd: It’s astounding how little I care if that’s true or not.
Margaret: I care, I think that part’s interesting. I like seeing where stories go, even if they’re silly.
Syd: I love silly! This is just boring. After that is when Cat’s power goes out. So, Supergirl has to save her.
Margaret: This part I liked because they show Cat protecting Kara. The entire time she actually is physically putting arms around Kara and putting herself between Kara and danger.
Syd: And then Cat sends her downstairs to get help, which is entirely the right thing to do in that situation. I really liked that. But, we’re skipping over all of Leslie Willis’ lines. “Leslie is dead. D.E.A.D. Dead. This is Leslie 2.0.”
Margaret: Because that’s tech speak, right?
Syd: That’s how kids of our generation talk. Remember how I say that all the time? Anyway, Livewire shoots lightning at Supergirl and Supergirl shoots fire eyes at her and they stop each other? You’d think they’d go right through each other and both of them would hit, but apparently flame vision stops lightning.
Margaret: I don’t know how that works. That’s another crazy science thing.
Syd: So, Hank Henshaw shows up to investigate and Cat calls him Agent Mulder to remind me of a show I would rather be watching. Don’t remind me of better shows!
Margaret: I think we’re going to start disagreeing more. Three episodes in I wasn’t liking a lot of it. But, we’re reaching the point where I’ll find what I’ll keep watching for, despite the fact that the dialogue is terrible. And I think you’re reaching downward returns.
Syd: So, back to the horrible story. Hank Henshaw knows how to capture energy beings because he reads Starlin comics. Then, they have the line that had me burst out laughing which was, “Leslie turning into Livewire started a long time ago.” No. She wouldn’t have turned into a supervillain without electricity powers. We saw her turning into Livewire. That was entirely a lightning based thing.
Margaret: I understand what she was saying, that because of the way she interacted with Leslie as being her mentor, she didn’t help her properly. The scene before that line was actually my other favorite scene. When Cat is having a heart to heart with Kara. A lot of it landed for me because she’s learning all of these things about Kara and then at the end when Kara says, “I think I will go home to my family.” And Cat still says, “Yeah yeah yeah, whatever.” It is a heart to heart, but it’s still Cat. You also get backstory on her mother, which was nice. And it came about in a way that made sense. She’s been through a trauma and she’s drinking, so you’re going to get a bit of something she wouldn’t normally say to anyone else. So, I liked that.
Syd: We already touched on this, but this is where Eliza says to Alex, “You’ve always been my Supergirl” and it’s fucked up. “You’re my biological daughter, so you mean more to me.”
Margaret: It was also a weird juxtaposition between the two different mother talks. First there’s the one with Cat and her always pushing mother and then you had kind of the same talk, but with the Mother apologizing to Alex. It was supposed to be a parallel, but it didn’t work at all.
Syd: Another horrible line I wanted to bring up makes more sense if you know that Livewire was a character from the 90s. Supergirl says to her, “Are we going to talk or not?” and her reply was, “NOT!”
Margaret: The one thing I actually appreciated was Cat’s response to her horrible line of, “There’s more than one way to skin a—” “–Cat, yes, I get it, you have the wit of a YouTube comment.”
Syd: That wasn’t a good enough line to forgive “NOT!” If the writers don’t have the wit of YouTube commenters, they don’t have the right to criticize.
Margaret: That’s fair.
Syd: Then, Supergirl pulled up the water line and sprayed Livewire. Water type beats lightning type, as impossible as that may seem.
Margaret: Shouldn’t the electricity just carry everywhere the water is?
Syd: No, because this is the end of the episode, so this is how it had to work.
Margaret: Physics doesn’t work the same way in National City. Helicopters fall slower and water isn’t a conductor of lightning.
Syd: I’m fine with it. I was ready for the episode to end. Except, now they are imprisoning an American citizen without due process. She still has Constitutional Rights. Is she going to have a trial?
Margaret: It’s like the Metahumans on the Flash. They take all the evil metahumans and put them all in cells with no discernable bathrooms in the STAR Labs. They’ve retrofitted the particle accelerator into a metahuman jail and no one really talks about that, either.
Syd: So these shows are dumber than any other incarnation. They’re dumber than the cartoons and they’re dumber than the comics. There is not even lip service given to the fact that this is an American citizen with rights. Even the aliens should have at least had a trial if any of them had lived. We don’t know if Sabretooth had one. But this is the first time they’ve apprehended a person alive and there’s no thought to this being a human being with rights.
Margaret: They give it lip service in the Flash, because one of the main characters is a police officer. They play it off as, “You know the regular jail can’t hold these people. We have to.”
Syd: That is the evilest thing I have ever heard. So, basically there are no good guys on that show? I’m not down with this, “We make our own rules for basic human rights.”
Margaret: Actually, the way it may be handled the best is in Arrow. In the first season, the Arrow actually kills people. And one of the main characters there is a police officer who makes it his mission to stop the Arrow and he’s not really framed as a bad guy. He tells everyone, “This guy kills people, that’s not okay.”
Syd: So Oliver Queen is a criminal who has never been brought to justice.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Margaret: I was going to give it a C+ because the Cat scenes made it for me. I’m in it for the characters.
Syd: Fucking D-. Cat’s character development was fine, but I’m not giving them credit even for basic storytelling when they can’t treat more than one character at a time as a human. This show is breaking me.