SUMMARY: Kara watches Cat’s son Carter while Lucy tries to rekindle her romance with James. Then it turns out that Maxwell Lord was really Lex Luthor the whole time.
Superman Counter: 6
Lois Lane Counter: 5
Syd: Welcome to week 5 of Tales from the Krypton, where I haven’t given up on this Supergirl series, but it sure as hell has given up on me.
Margaret: Maybe it’s because they switched the episodes? I’ve got nothing. At least the Superman references seem to be exponentially decreasing.
Syd: But our readers will notice that we’ve added a Lois Lane reference counter for this episode. This is important because the Superman references, while annoying, usually had some relevance to the show’s story or its setting. Lois Lane has fuck all to do with this episode, but they repeatedly go out of their way to introduce Lucy Lane as Lois’ sister. The first time, maybe it’s a cute Easter egg for the fans but after that, you’re obligated to let the people who are new to D.C. know who Lois is and what she has to do with the story we are watching right now.
Margaret: That’s true. I did like the line when Cat wins the writing award and says, “And as much as I would like to rub it in her adorably freckled button nose, I don’t have anyone to watch Carter.” That was kind of funny. But it was mostly just because I was sick of hearing about Lois Lane.
Syd: The show starts hitting us with pseudo-feminist clichés right in the opening scene.
Margaret: I forgot what the opening scene was.
Syd: “I can finally have it all!”
Margaret: Yeah. I was so annoyed by that. I hate it how this show framed the idea of ‘how can she have it all’ only in the context that a woman can’t have it all. Other superhero shows often have the whole ‘a superhero can’t have a regular life’ but it’s rarely framed in the way that this show felt it necessary to bring up Supergirl’s issues. This didn’t feel like it was Supergirl having to deal with the dangers of being both a crime fighter, which can put her friends in danger. It seemed like it was about her issues with managing her time.
Syd: I feel like you can do a story where it’s inspirational that a hero can do so much – like Batman – or you can have the drama come from a hero being in over his head – like Spider-Man. Either way, you should be showing this happening instead of talking about it. Just because you have a female lead, that doesn’t require you to address the idea that a woman has to have “it all” – meaning a career and a family and punching supervillains. We’ve heard this before. You aren’t actually making a point.
Margaret: There was one thing I really did like. While I was watching, I was thinking, maybe this was all just a sendup of that idea to set up Cat Grant’s line, where she says, “Oh, Kara, you’ve stumbled on the most annoying question of the century and you are so young that you do not even realize it., ‘How do you juggle it all?’ You learn. That’s how.” Then she goes through her whole talk about how she has it all is by learning how to juggle – starting with two balls and then adding more. She says you can have it all, but not all at once and not immediately. I thought that made sense. That’s true – that’s how you’re supposed to do it. I thought maybe the whole episode might have been just to talk sense into people about the “How can she have it all?” thing. But I can’t give them that much credit for that.
Syd: I feel like if they wanted to make that point, they should have only one scene about it.
Margaret: From a theory standpoint, it makes sense to me to have scenes showing things and then tying it up in a bow at the end, but they can’t have it both ways. They either should not have said anything in the beginning and showed her being frazzled and then at the very end say, “I don’t know how I can do this,” and then have Cat’s speech. Or, you have her say at the beginning, “How does she do it?” and then be subtle about the answer. But since they’re trying to throw both of them in, it just kind of bobbled the whole thing. So it was frustrating, because I am sick of forced feminism in this show.
Syd: It’s interesting, because they had that scene with Cat Grant at the end, which I think had a good message for the young people watching at home, but it’s offset by the horrific relationship advice throughout this episode.
Margaret: They actually use the word “friendzone.”
Syd: So in the first scene, Supergirl is flying around and a drone is following her. She beats it up and takes it into the D.E.O. and we have the first moment this episode where the show assumes that people aren’t paying attention from week to week. It’s been established that the D.E.O. deals with aliens and not human criminals. This is not their department. There is no reason they should take this case. There is no reason they should have fake FBI badges.
Margaret: Why are they using bad Psychic Paper? When they changed the ID cards, I just thought, “You stole this from Doctor Who.”
Syd: It was weird, because it was in no way better than just having fake badges. It was just more suspicious and more likely to go wrong. Instead of having fake IDs, why not call the real FBI to investigate?
Margaret: Aren’t they supposed to be part of the same government?
Syd: Yes! This is why we have different agencies and not just one “The Government.”
Margaret: Hank Henshaw says that the drone is obviously some kind of espionage, so they should have their contacts at the FBI take care of it. If they have contacts at the FBI, why are they masquerading as FBI agents? I guess it’s because they’re supposed to be secret?
Syd: As we talked about last week, there is no reason for them to be secret. Everyone knows there are aliens. There’s no reason the government’s alien response should be secret.
Margaret: But there’s also the funny part in the pilot with Win being an idiot and suspecting that aliens are real, when there is an alien in the newspaper every day.
Syd: You’re not supposed to remember last week, so you’re definitely not supposed to remember four weeks ago.
Margaret: I forgot to be hit in the head between episodes.
Syd: So Cat has to go to Metropolis to receive an award and Kara has to look after her son, Carter. Kara picks Carter up at school and talks about how much she loved going to school and learning about this planet, then she paused and added, “that I’m also from.” If you say, “It was fun learning about this planet,” that’s awkwardly phrased, but that’s what you do at school – people would let that slide – but she went out of her way to add, “this planet that I’m also from,” which there is no reason to say unless you’re secretly an alien. Once again, Supergirl in this show is worse than Superman at everything. They just keep hammering in how awful she is at keeping a secret identity. There’s no way Carter doesn’t know she’s Supergirl now, right?
Margaret: The one thing I did like about the kid was that it did show Cat’s maternal side, but at the same time she’s still Cat. Most of the time when you’re trying to humanize a character, you turn her into a mother. It’s like in Skyfall.
Syd: They gave James Bond a kid?
Margaret: No, they gave James Bond a mother, who is M, and then they killed her. They tried to humanize M by making her the mother of the superspies and then killed her. I was so mad at that movie. I am so attuned to the trope of making the audience feel something for someone by giving them a child or making them a mother figure, so I was so wary of this child who was coming in and showing Cat Grant as a mother, but that was the one thing they really did well. She is still Cat Grant. She doesn’t suddenly become gooey. Even to her son, she is still always at work, like when she says, “Tell me about Supergirl,” because she wants to know things to print them to a certain extent. But she also tells her son there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. She’s obviously a caring, nurturing mother, but it doesn’t interfere with her being a total bitch. I like the continual growth of Cat. I would have been interested to see this episode before the last episode, because that is actually a nice character arc, as opposed to James, who is just falling all over the place. One trajectory goes up and the other goes down.
Syd: When Kara takes Carter to work, Win – noticing Carter has a crush on Supergirl – says, “You’ve got good taste,” because Win is a creep.
Margaret: Yes! Win is such a creep!
Syd: If he said that just as a joke as a way of bonding with the kid, that might have been kind of cute, but he makes a point of saying it in front of Kara. Dude, not cool! You have to work with her!
Margaret: He also tries to score points with Carter by kind of calling out Supergirl.
Syd: He says, “I know Supergirl.” If Kara hadn’t already given away that she’s Supergirl, then Win surely would have. Win is such a liability. So after two cringes in a single scene Kara runs off to deal with a mad bomber and I can’t really blame Kara, but you NEVER leave a child alone with Toyman.
Margaret: They actually really blatantly showed his toys, which he didn’t want to admit were toys.
Syd: Because *wink* we know that you know he’s Toyman.
Margaret: Maybe that’s why they’re showing him as a creep – because later he’s going to be a villain. So they’re showing that there’s no way Kara would ever be with him. But I wish they would show him better as a friend, because they are not doing that well. Despite everything that happens, Kara is like, “I don’t know what I would do without you!” All I can think is, you would thrive! You would do so much better without this Friendzoned Nice Guy douchebag as your friend.
Syd: This is a good time to bring up Lucy Lane.
Margaret: Lucy Lane? Is she related to somebody?
Syd: I think she has a sister in Metropolis. I think someone mentioned something about that.
Margaret: I would not have made that connection – this is what we need you here for, Syd.
Syd: That first scene she’s in, I felt so bad for her. She is trying so hard and Jimmy is giving her nothing.
Margaret: I was weirded out that they just kind of throw out the fact that she’s a JAG. That was something I was actually interested in. She’s a Navy lawyer? That’s really cool! What is she doing in National City?
Syd: That was explained. Her entire reason for being there was to see Jimmy.
Syd: So Kara talks to Jimmy about their conversation that she overheard and it took me right out of the plot when she said, “I just used my regular hearing.” They haven’t really set up how her powers work and they are just crazy inconsistent about it. I always thought of super senses as being like regular senses but more powerful – not like something that you had to turn on and off. But if her superpowers are something additional that she consciously turns on, then how come later she accidentally breaks a stapler with her super strength? Is her super strength involuntary but not her super hearing?
Margaret: Maybe it’s like selective hearing. She can always hear very far, but she’s trying to keep normal human range.
Syd: If that’s the case, then she doesn’t have regular hearing and that was a dumb way to phrase it.
Margaret: I think you’re putting too much thought into just terrible dialogue.
Syd: It’s all this show is giving me to work with!
Margaret: I know.
Syd: So, Alex reprimands Kara for talking to Jimmy about his ex-girlfriend because she’ll get friendzoned.
Margaret: Ughhh. The Friendzone. I hate it. As a concept, as a term, as an everything.
Syd: This show is a creep. Now I’m second guessing whether we’re supposed to read Win as a creep because this show seems to be buying into this life philosophy.
Margaret: At the same time, that advice is clearly terrible and doesn’t work because the time when she cuts him off, he’s clearly hurt by it. And the one time in the episode they do get close is when they’re talking about Lucy.
Syd: But are we supposed to notice that? I don’t know if the show is doing that intentionally.
Margaret: That’s the problem! I don’t know. The show is terrible about practicing what it preaches as well as showing what they preach. For the first two episodes they kept saying this show isn’t about Superman, when it’s clear that all they cared about is Superman. It’s hard to tell what I can credit this show for and what is despite them. I can’t tell if this is spaghetti being thrown at a wall to see what sticks.
Syd: That’s clearly what that is. They aren’t consistent about anything. Characterizations, plot points, the basics of this world go out the window on a whim.
Margaret: I also wanted to say about the conversation with James and Lucy: what is this show and the worst music choices?
Syd: You’re not a fan of Cyndi Lauper?
Margaret: That wasn’t even Cyndi Lauper! It was a cover of Cyndi Lauper! And all their covers have been terrible and so tonally different from what is actually going on in the scene.
Syd: This is the second Cyndi Lauper cover they’ve done, too.
Margaret: I know! What is happening?!
Syd: I think they know two female musicians – Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper.
Margaret: And that’s it. They said, “This says girl power enough, right?”
Syd: I think I have a good idea of when the people picking the music were teenagers. Back to the episode, Kara stops Jimmy from talking about Lucy, but she can’t avoid Lucy talking to her about Jimmy. Right off the bat, that’s kind of weird, because Lucy hardly knows Kara at all. You don’t corner someone you just met to start asking about your ex-boyfriend.
Margaret: In my mind, it is her trying to win. This is, again, maybe giving the show too much credit. They’re clearly trying to show Lucy as a nice person, but in my head the only reason why you would do that is because you recognize James and Kara clearly have an attraction to each other and the way you screw that up is to get Kara to feel bad for you and be friendly about it. If you’re used to winning and are a lawyer so you can read people, that’s the way you would go about getting what you want. It’s a good way in.
Syd: This show is just going to break your heart if you keep giving them credit for thinking things through. But, then Lucy stops just short of saying that Jimmy has a crush on Superman.
Margaret: I would have loved it if James had a crush on Superman.
Syd: I don’t know that he doesn’t, but Lucy clearly thinks that he does because she’s saying, “I can’t compete with Supergirl because she’s just like Superman but with a skirt.” So you’re saying he’s sublimating his homosexual attraction to Superman onto Supergirl. That is directly what you’re saying here. And we’re supposed to take this as normal.
Margaret: Yeah, I don’t know. They never bring it up again.
Syd: So then Kara goes back to Jimmy and starts saying that he should give Lucy another chance.
Margaret: Which, why would you do that? It makes no sense to encourage a guy you’re interested in to get back together with someone else.
Syd: Not only that, she ignores Jimmy when he says, “I can’t go back to that.” He says those words and that should be her out to say, “Okay, you have to do what is right for you.” And she doesn’t back down. She says, “No, you have to give Lucy another chance because you owe it to” – and I wrote down her wording – “whoever comes next.” That is the most cold hearted thing I have ever heard Supergirl say.
Margaret: I remember watching that thinking, “What?”
Syd: That is not only the worst relationship advice, that is just mean spirited. You can’t be in a relationship with someone for the sake of someone you’re going to date later.
Margaret: They screwed that up pretty hard. I think what she was trying to say is that he’s not over Lucy. In order to get over Lucy, you need to talk to her and figure your feelings out. That way you’re not going to screw up your next relationship because you’re still hung up on an ex. I think she was telling him to rebound with Lucy to a certain extent.
Syd: That just shows a profound lack of understanding about relationships. First of all, the concept of rebounding and whether it’s a thing is kind of sketchy. But, also, the reason you’re in a relationship with someone is because you want to be with that person, not because you think there might be someone else that you want to do right by. This is just the most basic stuff. I know that in any story, it’s assumed that the protagonist deserves to get the guy, but this doesn’t look like someone who’s ready for a relationship. Until further notice, I’m on Team Lucy.
Margaret: It made no sense and they’re trying to play it off as if it’s a meaningful conversation. Speaking of things that make no sense and are kind of creepy, is Maxwell Lord hitting on Alex? What is happening there?
Syd: I think you hit the nail on the head. It made no sense and was kind of creepy. I have nothing to say about that except that his type is smart, no-nonsense women.
Margaret: How many more love triangles are we going to get? There’s the James/Kara/Win, there’s the James/Kara/Lucy, now Lord/Cat/Alex?
Syd: I don’t know if that’s their intent. I hope not, but maybe?
Margaret: They have so many love triangles right now I think they’re going to love triangle the shit out of everyone. It’s like the showrunner said, hey this is a show about a woman and we want women to watch. You know what they love? Relationships. You know the way to make that interesting? Love triangles. Let’s just put everyone in a differently configured love triangle and see what sticks.
Syd: Yeah, we’ll just look on the message boards, see what people are shipping and that will be the relationships that come out of this. Because if everyone is with everyone…
Margaret: Well, maybe we will get your Supergirl harem, the way this seems to be going.
Syd: Anyway, I’m shipping Granvers.
Margaret: Granvers? What is that?
Syd: Grant and Danvers. Alex and Cat are going to get together. They haven’t explored it yet. You know, Alex’s sexuality hasn’t been touched on at all – I half expect a coming out scene down the line.
Margaret: Wait, I have to think this through for a second, because I may be really behind this.
Syd: We’re putting it on the internet. They’ll see it. It could happen!
Margaret: I like shipping, I dislike triangles. It drove me crazy to see them add a possible other one to the mix. Well done triangles I will tolerate, but I don’t like. I understand that there’s such a thing as a good love triangle, but I still don’t like it.
Syd: The best terrible line of the episode was in the Lucy/Jimmy scene, when Lucy says, “You have so many great friends here, like Kara – who I really like.” And then she stops as if she could only think of the one person.
Margaret: Yes! He has so many! One!
Syd: Kara, who I really like; Win, the creepy man-child…
Margaret: Cat, your boss who you don’t really like. And then her child who you just met.
Syd: So many great friends! Then, we get into the climax of the episode where there is a mad bomber who has planted one bomb in an airport where Lucy is boarding the plane back to Metropolis and one bomb on a train where Carter has run off to meet Supergirl, even though Supergirl has not ever said she was going there. Someone on the news speculated that this is somewhere Supergirl might go and that was good enough for Carter.
Margaret: Then again, if you’re talking extreme fanbases, that’s not too out of the ordinary. But, at the same time, kid, get your things in order.
Syd: And then we had the one scene that I liked. It was really short. Jimmy comes to the airport and runs into Hank Henshaw. He asks, “Where’s Supergirl?” Henshaw says, “Supergirl’s not coming.” Jimmy runs into the airport and finds Lucy. Lucy says, “Why would you run towards a bomb?” And he says, “Because you’re here.” They hug, end of scene. I liked that scene because it wasn’t trying to be clever. I am so sick of this show’s attempt at clever dialogue. I loved that they just had one scene that was a touching human moment that didn’t have a message and didn’t have a joke. It was just people who like each other.
Margaret: I didn’t really have a scene that I really liked in this episode. The closest I came was the Cat scene where she talked about having it all. But that had an agenda. I liked hearing it said on a TV show. You’re right, despite the fact that this episode was supposed to be dealing with the love triangle, there was nothing in this episode that felt personal. There was no dealing with relationships that felt true in any way.
Syd: Then we have the scene where Win says, “Easy peasy fresh and squeezy,” then pauses and adds under his breath, “… is not a thing a man would say.” No, Win, you’re wrong. A man would own “easy peasy fresh and squeezy.” I have a message for all the Winslows Schott of the world: The reason people hate you is not because you say weird, eccentric things; we hate you because you second guess everything you say. Don’t be ashamed of your collectible action figures. Have some confidence. Be a Toyman, not a Toyboy.
Margaret: I have nothing to add to that.
Syd: In that case, we’ve reached the final scene, where we find out that the bombing plot was orchestrated by Maxwell Lord to test Supergirl’s powers. For those of you who haven’t seen Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, that is exactly what Lex Luthor did to Superman in that show. And they had the scene where Supergirl says to the evil businessman, “I can’t prove you’re behind this, but I know you’re up to no good,” just like we’ve seen between Superman and Lex Luthor in comics and cartoons and television shows and everywhere those characters appear. Maxwell Lord simply is Lex Luthor now. In the blog post for the second episode, I said that if you flatten Maxwell Lord out into a supervillain, you lose the interesting character he could potentially be. This is the show’s unequivocal response: They are not interested in having interesting characters. That is why they can do a whole episode introducing their version of Lucy Lane and at the end of it I can’t really identify a single character trait of hers other than being Lois’ sister. That is why I can’t give this show credit for Cat Grant’s character development – because in these last two episodes where they were developing Cat’s character, they were also backtracking the character development they had done for Alex and Jimmy and they are inevitably going to do the same thing to Cat. This show is telling me what kind of show it wants to be and I don’t like it.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Margaret: C- or D. There was nothing. I think you’re right that they don’t seem to have any consistent characterization or plot. They wanted a Super show about a Girl, but they didn’t think anything through past that, so now they’re trying to find their footing. I would like them to do better because I’ve liked the other shows that they’ve done, but I’m not sure they’ve got it.
Syd: C-. It was a step up from last week because there was one scene I liked.