SUMMARY: Cat Grant’s career is in crisis when her email account gets hacked by someone within her own company. Meanwhile, Supergirl decides that punching Astra is more important than finding out what she wants and nobody in the D.E.O. questions this decision.
SUPERMAN COUNT: 3
Syd: Welcome to Episode 8, where Jimmy can stop trying. He’s the best thing on this show by such a wide margin that it’s embarrassing to the rest of the show.
Margaret: I know! Despite the fact that I still really love Melissa Benoist’s acting.
Syd: Look, Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart are doing great, but all of the likability that the writers can muster is going into Jimmy.
Margaret: I’m going to disagree with you about Cat Grant’s character, at least. I love Cat Grant’s character, but it feels like since she is semi-antagonistic, they keep on rebooting her every episode, which they don’t do with James’ character.
Syd: I enjoy Cat’s character for what it is, but it isn’t likeable. Part of her function is to be antagonistic and hard to like. Unfortunately, that can be limiting at times.
Margaret: I kind of like that despite the fact that they are giving her depth, she is still always going to be the J. Jonah Jameson character. She is always going to be the bossy, bitchy character who is always on people’s cases. She is not losing her hard-edged core. She’s still going to come in and roll over everybody. I like that that’s something that they do. It makes the softer moments where she’s with Kara feel more earned to a certain extent. But at the same time, I wish they would have more bridging between episodes. You can have her be bitchy without resetting her every episode.
Syd: They’re starting to show in this episode that she defaults to being hard and stern in the office because that’s her comfort zone, but they also have Kara, Jimmy, and Win react to her in a way that shows they understand how she is and like working with her. It’s just a shame that they have to start from square one every episode and then spend so much time trying to humanize her again – like with her son in this episode.
Margaret: That was the part that I was slightly missing in my own interpretation of her. They’re setting her back to square one when they could have had her only be mean in the office, then when she’s behind closed doors say, “Thank you so much, Kara,” because she understands after everything that happened in the last eight episodes that Kara and Jimmy and Win (or Wick) are there for her.
Syd: So the opening scene is a fight between Kara and Aunt General Astra, where Aunt General Astra reveals that they have made kryptonite-proof vests.
Margaret: That’s so dumb.
Syd: I’m fine with Supergirl occasionally encasing herself in lead or something when she needs to shield herself from kryptonite, but a little chip that can be installed on her clothing is a bit too convenient. Either have kryptonite in your world or don’t. This work around seems like even more of a contrivance than kryptonite itself.
Margaret: It’s just cheating. Later in the episode, J’onn pulls that chip off of somebody when he goes to kryptonite him, so they should have this capability now, because they’ve retrieved the technology. But then again, just like everything else that we’ve seen so far, I doubt we will ever see this again.
Syd: We should really talk more often about all of the technology that should be fundamentally reshaping society but isn’t – like the A.I. holograms. They made one of General Lane, so the U.S. Army now knows about and has access to this technology. This should radically change the reality of this show, but it hasn’t. This happens all of the time.
Margaret: Now we have the kryptonite shielding technology, which Kara should be using all the time and we may never see again.
Syd: Moving on, in this episode, we find out that Alex still has a job after pulling a gun on a commanding officer. The only reason I can think of for this is because her commanding officer is a shapeshifting imposter with no training who may not understand protocol and is completely unqualified for his job. In the last episode he admitted that the only reason he hired her was because he made a promise to her father, which is a shitty thing to tell someone, but even if she got her job through nepotism, she at least had to go through job training, unlike J’onn.
Margaret: He had training as a manhunter on Mars, right? It’s in his title!
Syd: We still don’t know how much he really knows about how things work on Earth. We meet him after he spent only two years pretending to be human. Some of us have been doing that for decades and still haven’t gotten it right.
Margaret: It’s weird that he was able to just show up after Henshaw’s death and become the head of the D.E.O. without anyone noticing.
Syd: Well, Kara notes that Alex and Hank have been “pretty chummy” lately. Alex doesn’t tell Kara that Hank is a martian, which is weird, because you would think she would trust her sister with the secret. You’ll also notice that Alex has no suspicions about J’onn, despite the fact that J’onn was definitely the last person to see her father alive and Alex only has J’onn’s word that he didn’t kill Jeremiah and isn’t one of the Phantom Zone prisoners. By his own admission, he killed a man and assumed his identity, then took over an alien hunting organization, and has been lying to everyone in his life for two years. It makes no sense for Alex to trust him, nor for her not to tell Kara, until later in the episode, when it is revealed that J’onn is telepathic. Obviously, J’onn is mentally controlling Alex.
Margaret: That was what I was thinking, too. It’s either that or Alex has horrible daddy issues. She will believe someone who tells her, “Your father died a hero protecting me, so therefore you and I are best buddies now.” This is either severe emotional manipulation or severe mental manipulation. Either way, he is not a good guy.
Syd: And look, I like the character from the comics, but I know Manhunter from Mars as a good guy from the same series that assured me Maxwell Lord was a good guy. If Maxwell Lord can be Lex Luthor on this show, J’onn J’onzz can be a manipulative con artist.
Margaret: Basically, what we have established from watching the series is that despite the fact that they keep showing you characters from the comics and expect you to be like, “Yay! Look at these characters from the comics!” they’re not going to be the characters from the comics.
Syd: If they actually deal with how dishonest and untrustworthy J’onn is, fans will cry that they’re defiling his character, but if they try to sell him as an unambiguous good guy, then they’re derailing and degrading Alex’s character to do it. Alex should be smarter than this.
Margaret: Maybe they’re going to have the twist be that he really is a villain and they’re trying to gain the audience’s trust by having Alex trust him, but she’s being mentally manipulated, so it isn’t an actual detriment to her character. In my mind, if he is the bad guy, she only trusts him because he has mental telepathy, which works on her, but not on Kara.
Syd: So the twist will come when Alex reveals to Kara that he is a martian, and Kara tells Alex that he’s been controlling her and they need to take him down.
Margaret: Why do I keep on doing this for all the characters? I try to find some rationale that they’re not just shittily written characters. It is a compulsion.
Syd: Anyway, back in the story, Cat has been hacked and her personal emails have been revealed to the world. Then we’re treated to a series of jokes about the contents of those emails.
Margaret: The one that was my favorite was when she talked about asking Idris Elba on a date and he turned her down. I would ask Idris Elba on a date at any point if I had that chance.
Syd: Right, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. That is not damaging to her reputation. If anything people are going to be envious that she met Idris Elba. It’s a humblebrag.
Margaret: That’s what I was thinking! If only I had his email address, please!
Syd: Kara tells Cat that she has to fight this, because she has never heard of the Streisand Effect.
Margaret: Well, her lawyers tell her there’s nothing she can do, and when Kara says, “You have to fight!” Cat is like, “Whatever, person who doesn’t know anything about the real world.”
Then we get creepster jealous Win. We go into something that James doesn’t know, but Win does and he shoves it directly in James’ face, because being a friend to Kara isn’t something he’s actually interested in. It’s more important to shove something that is personal between him and Kara in James’ face, because God damn him for ever being in the realm of romantic interest for Win’s one true love. It is so creepy.
Syd: I’d actually be interested if they did get together at some point. It could be an opportunity for Kara to learn that you can’t just be with someone because he seems safe. That ultimately won’t make either of you happy.
Margaret: Speaking of relationships, Astra suddenly has a husband out of nowhere. We didn’t know about him before.
Syd: They mentioned in passing that her husband is Non, who was one of the Phantom Zone prisoners from Superman II. In that movie, he couldn’t speak and it was implied he was mentally handicapped in some way, but the exact nature of his deficiency wasn’t fully explored. In the show we find out that he must not have spoken in that movie because he was embarrassed about his accent.
Margaret: He’s seemingly randomly married to Astra in a way that they tried to make a big point of, but it really doesn’t mean anything. They do the “If they kill you, I will kill her” thing, and why was that necessary? This is a scene that would have been cut by a competent editor.
Syd: Then we have the fight training, with some more of the forearm punching fight choreography, then Alex gave Kara a piggyback ride and then flipped her, which made me crack up.
Margaret: For part of those fight scenes, they were the traditional fight training montages I have seen on Arrow and The Flash. It’s interesting and dynamic in the way the camera moves, but nobody’s going to get hurt, which is fun to a certain extent. The problem is, why are they focusing on fighting when the episode right before this is all about hope and the need to rise above violence?
Syd: In the second episode, we talked about how Kara never stopped to talk to Aunt General Astra to ask what her goals were and how she hoped to accomplish them. I came to the conclusion then that she was just trying to open a puppy shelter, and if someone who wasn’t a violent criminal would help her, then nobody would have to be hurt. Amazingly, this episode does nothing to refute that.
Margaret: There are stray puppies out there and Kara is doing nothing to help them!
Syd: Kara still hasn’t talked to her aunt, and her aunt has given her every opportunity to. Every time they have fought, they start with Aunt General Astra asking for Kara’s help and warning her that the world is in danger and every time, Kara jumps straight to violence. She doesn’t even consider that maybe Astra’s cause is worthwhile and there might even be a peaceful way to accomplish it. Maybe Astra is right or maybe her methods are only wrong because she hasn’t considered all of her options. Maybe her aunt doesn’t have to be her enemy. Kara doesn’t know.
Margaret: This is what we literally just covered the last episode. When you feel like you are cornered and there is no other way to go, sometimes you resort to violence and the right way to respond to that is not with violence, but by talking to them. She gives a random robber who is holding up a convenience store more understanding than she gives an aunt whom she has a past with. She refuses to stop and listen to what her aunt has to say because she has her powers back and can punch her.
Syd: As soon as violence is an option, all other options melt away. She doesn’t consider what the right course of action is morally, nor what the smart move would be. She goes with an immediate emotional response every time. They try to establish that she hates Astra because Astra disagreed with her mother, but I think she’s a bit too old to think her mother is infallible.
Margaret: I can definitely understand unresolved issues that she has with her mother and her father being killed on Krypton and not coming to grips with that. She’s thinking her mother is exactly perfect, the way Kara remembered her as a twelve year-old. When you’re that young, your parents are infallible and there’s a certain aura of sainthood around people who died when you’re a certain age.
Syd: But even if she’s so far gone that she thinks someone is evil for disagreeing with her mother, she’s not the only one trying to deal with this situation. Alex never even knew Kara’s mother, so she should have a clearer, less biased perspective and J’onn should be the last person in the world to judge someone based on surface appearances. And yet nobody in the D.E.O. wants to look more deeply into the situation than how to punch aliens more effectively. Alex’s advice to Kara isn’t “Try to find out what she wants,” it’s “You have to be willing to kill her.” The whole organization is grossly incompetent and J’onn is the worst, because he knows what it’s like to be an alien on Earth and have humans assume he’s evil.
Margaret: But he’s trying to be Hank Henshaw.
Syd: When he started playing Henshaw, he could have played it like he had a learning experience in Peru when he was tracking the completely innocent alien and it taught him that they should be more understanding and less quick to violence with aliens. He chose not to do that.
Margaret: At this point in the series, with what they have set up, we’re never going to get clear character arcs. There are so many characterizations that I like that have just been ignored in the episodes afterwards, which makes me upset. It seemed like the entire point of the last episode was Kara learning through losing her powers that sometimes people are acting out of desperation, not out of evil, and now she’s completely and utterly forgotten that this episode.
Syd: And the episode before that, she was supposed to have learned to look for the underlying causes of her anger rather than lashing out at what is immediately bothering her and we see no evidence that she took that lesson to heart, either.
Margaret: This is her aunt! We have an entire flashback showing how much she loves her aunt and how sweet her aunt was because she loved her and came back for her when she shouldn’t have and it cost her freedom. So maybe she should (A) figure out what her mother was actually doing and (B) have more of a conversation with Astra than, “No, you’re not as good as my mother.”
Syd: In Superman/Batman, when Kara first arrived on New Earth, Batman didn’t trust her, but Superman gave her the benefit of the doubt because she was family. Why now is Kara being an intractable asshole to her family?
Margaret: Not to mention, why is Alex, who just learned about J’onn J’onzz, saying that Kara has to kill her? There is no reason this has to end in somebody’s death. Why don’t you just plan to capture her? It seems ridiculous to me that everything has to end in death, as opposed to putting the prisoners into custody.
Syd: Then, in the next scene, it is implied that Cat called Lois Lane a cunt.
Margaret: I didn’t know if it was the C-word or the B-word. Usually when they have an expletive that they usually have them say “bi–” or “cu–” and then cut them off, but they did neither of those, so I don’t know. They’ve never called anyone either of those words.
Syd: I think that “bitch” is a common enough word that they could get away with just saying it on primetime television, or at least cutting the word off. To me the fact that they didn’t say it at all implies it was definitely cunt.
Margaret: I don’t really like the word bitch, because you could just say somebody is an asshole and it has the same effect. That’s why I’m kind of glad they didn’t use either word.
Syd: This is so unimportant to this episode, but I will include it on the blog, because it is more interesting than the episode. Next, we meet our Monster of the Week, Dirk Armstrong, who was a Daily Planet columnist and conservative straw man in the 90’s Superman comics.
Margaret: So when Cat said that he was the embodiment of white male privilege, we were supposed to know who he was?
Syd: That was when people who read Superman comics in the 90’s said, “Hey! I remember him!”
Margaret: I actually like that more. I was wondering why they were talking about this dude that way when there was nothing in the episode that made him seem like a typical white male privilege guy other than his board position. I could kind of understand where they were trying to go with it, but all I had to go on was that Cat told me that he was typical white male privilege dude, and he wants to take over Catco. Since this is a legitimately huge media empire, I can see anyone wanting to do that. Whether they are black or female or anyone, they would try this by whatever means necessary. The only way I knew the subplot was about her gender was because Cat is female and she says, “white male privilege.” It didn’t make any sense to me why she thought that, but now that you’ve told me that, this makes way more sense.
Syd: I’m glad that for once, comics had some bearing on a character in the show.
Margaret: Now in the next scene, we’re back on, “Why won’t anyone just talk to each other?”
Syd: It’s because if they did, we couldn’t have a Man of Steel-esque punching-people-through-buildings battle. I wasn’t as angry at Man of Steel as a lot of people were – don’t get me wrong, it was a shit movie – but the fight scenes weren’t so bad if you viewed it as a big, silly cartoon. That being said, Supergirl punching Astra through a building and then catching the rubble as it’s falling is unbelievably a step up from Man of Steel.
Margaret: It’s so ridiculous. You’re trying to show that she cares about these people and yet she cares so little about them that she punches through a building. There are people in there! Just the fact that you are catching debris over the five people that are in this shot doesn’t mean that there are no casualties.
Syd: Compare the number of people killed in that fight to the number of people who would have been killed if Supergirl had actually fucking talked to Astra about her puppy shelter.
Margaret: So, we move on to the only person who seems able to solve things legitimately: James.
Syd: Well, he is the real hero of the Cat Grant subplot. They come up with this scheme to hack Dirk’s files and Jimmy bravely throws himself head first into danger. He confronts the bad guy and pretends he is his best friend. This is the one scene I liked in this episode. I don’t think that this redeems this episode, but this reinforces that Jimmy is the only actual hero in this show.
Margaret: He wasn’t for two episodes.
Syd: I disagree. I feel like Jimmy acquitted himself well as being both Kara’s ally and in a relationship with Lucy. He was perfectly loyal to Lucy in this episode as he was previously. I am still on Team Lucy. I know in my mind that this show doesn’t want Jimmy to end up with Lucy, but in my heart, I want them together because Lucy fights for this relationship. Lucy has done everything right and Jimmy has not betrayed their relationship.
Margaret: He hasn’t, but there are still those cut-aways all the time of him being like, “Oh Kara.”
Syd: Oh come on, that’s nothing substantial. I won’t count that against the only likeable character in this show until he betrays her – which he inevitably will.
Margaret: I’m not counting it against his character. I’m just saying that it is so heavy handed of the show because without those longing looks that are two to three seconds after every scene they have, there is a lovely subplot of being attracted to each other but having other things in their lives. Kara being Supergirl and realizing that she may not have enough time in her life to pursue a boyfriend. James really likes this girl who is “seeing me as me and I really like that, but there is also this girl who is literally a superhero.” You could do this incredibly well in subtle hints. My entire problem with the series is that they have no respect for the subtleties.
Syd: I think it’s more that they don’t know what subtlety is.
Margaret: Also that.
Syd: And by the way, Kara is the worst at keeping secrets. As terrible as she is at keeping the secret of her being Supergirl, she is just as bad at keeping her secret of being in love with Jimmy. When Jimmy actually confronts her head on, she just says, “You’re with Lucy.” And the problem is that she could have said, “No I’m not interested,” or “No, that’s not the kind of relationship we have.” When you say, “You’re with Lucy,” that means that is the only thing standing between you two being together and that you’re jealous.
Margaret: I’d like to see mature relationships on Supergirl. Where they started with Win and James saying, “We both like Kara, but I’m with someone else, you’re not so you should talk to her about it.” They have yet to tackle it in an adult way. It does things in a teenage way.
Syd: Are we sure this show is aimed at adults? I’ve read reviews of this show written by adults and I haven’t been able to figure out whether they actually like the show or they think it’s fine for kids. Because I don’t know if I should be pulling my punches when I think this show is immature.
Margaret: I’m pretty sure this isn’t a teenager show. Teenagers aren’t watching TV on Monday at 8PM.
Syd: So, I’m okay disliking this because of my adult perspective?
Margaret: Yeah. I feel like you’re allowed to like or dislike anything due to your adult perspective.
Syd: I like plenty of things that are aimed at kids. I will stand up for Justice League Unlimited and even more so Young Justice. Those cartoons are definitely aimed at a younger audience than me and this is not as smart as them.
Margaret: That, I think, answers your question. You can have a show that’s meant for kids that is still smart. This is just not that show.
Syd: Then General Aunt Astra pulls a Joker/Loki/Khan/everything after Dark Knight.
Margaret: Right, just like Skyfall. It makes absolutely no sense for you to be captured as a distraction.
Syd: If she wasn’t captured it wouldn’t stop the assault on Lord Industries from going off without a hitch and they would actually have another person along with them. There is no reason her being captured helps her cause at all. Speaking of the Lord Industries fight, why isn’t Alex dead? I get that Alex is supposed to be a trained fighter, but the aliens she was fighting are supposed to be punching-people-through-buildings strong and flying-across-the-city-in-seconds fast. Any humans fighting them should immediately be killed.
Margaret: But she was protecting Maxwell Lord. She was protected by the Power of Love, Syd.
Syd: But he should be dead, too. Non had his hand around Lexwell’s throat. If he wanted him dead, he would be.
Margaret: We were rooting for his death, but he’s a named character, so obviously he can’t be killed.
Syd: So, getting back to the D.E.O., after a flashback, Kara talks to the AI hologram. And then she yells at the AI hologram and shoots fire eyes at it. And even before they get to that point, I’m yelling at the screen, “That’s not a real person!”
Margaret: That, I actually understood.
Syd: Fuck that.
Margaret: Even then, Alex says, “This isn’t your mom.”
Syd: That doesn’t forgive Kara’s behavior.
Margaret: It explains it a bit, though, because in every other episode she’s kind of treating the AI like her mother.
Syd: Yes she has, but that’s crazy, too. She’s yelling at a machine. This is just as bad as General Lane barking orders at Red Tornado. It is the exact same thing. “Dishwasher, you didn’t get these stains out! Drop and give me forty!”
Margaret: It’s a little different. General Lane has no actual emotional connection to Red Tornado. Red Tornado to him is a washing machine. It’s a piece of equipment. To Kara, AI Mom is kind of Mom.
Syd: Isn’t Eliza Kara’s mom?
Margaret: Apparently not! We’ve seen multiple times that she doesn’t see it that way.
Syd: And that’s fucked up!
Margaret: I’m not saying that part isn’t fucked up. In the world of the show where Eliza is not mom to Kara and AI Mom is more Mom to Kara, her actions make sense. She’s putting her betrayed feelings onto this AI. I mean, she asked the AI for a hug the first time they met.
Syd: “Beep boop, I am a robot” “Can I have a hug?”
Margaret: She doesn’t really understand what an AI is, or is just unable to separate her emotions about her Mom from it.
Syd: What a horrible mother Eliza must be that someone who she lived with for years doesn’t process her as an authority figure. Instead, she takes a machine with her mother’s face projected onto it to be her authority figure.
Margaret: I’m not saying that part makes sense, but in the way they’ve set up the world, her actions make sense. She’s gone to this AI for both emotional support and information. This is the one time the AI has failed to give it to her and it’s for something incredibly important to her. It makes sense to me character-wise.
Syd: It makes sense to me why she blows up, but it doesn’t make sense to me why she doesn’t go talk to Aunt Astra for more information.
Margaret: That I don’t understand, either.
Syd: I feel like, when your robot malfunctions, most people would then talk to the actual human being.
Margaret: Right, because I can understand being an eleven year old being sent away from your planet and having major issues. You think your mom is infallible, so you trust robo-Mom before Aunt Astra. That I understand. But, when Robo-Mom doesn’t work, you should talk to Astra. Her doing that makes no sense.
Syd: Then, in the progression of revelations, she finds out about Adam Foster. Adam is the name of the child who was killed by Toyman in Superman comics, but in this show, he’s living in Opal City with Starman, which you all could be reading instead of watching this show. What I’m confused about is that it’s assumed that the press doesn’t know she had a first son. So, how do you have a child secretly?
Margaret: I think what they were saying is that she wasn’t under media scrutiny at the time.
Syd: Your family life will become public under media scrutiny – including if you gave birth to a child.
Margaret: If she did it under another name, that could make sense. Adam has a different name, so maybe she had a child under that name and it was never connected.
Syd: The show never says this! You’re making justifications that the show didn’t make. Surely, there would be paperwork. I can’t change my address without being hassled. She was trying to make a relationship with Adam Foster at some point in time. This is not something that was kept secret. It would be in the public record.
Margaret: So, whether it’s this kid or the other one, we’re pretty sure one of them is going to die. Unless this is all just for comic reference.
Syd: I’m not sure that it matters. Next, Jimmy tells Win that he should tell Kara how he feels for her. Normally, it would be very good advice because this could give Win a reality check that he has been a total creep to her and he needs to update his courting rituals. Worst case scenario, she actually pursues a relationship with him and she realizes he’s not the kind of guy she wants to date.
Margaret: If they do actually do that plotline, I would be interested in her realizing that he’s just a friend. But, I don’t think they have the nuance. So, that means I don’t want to seem them pursue that.
Syd: So, in the next scene, J’onn reveals that Superman is aware of his existence because he says his telepathy doesn’t work on Kryptonians and that is something that Superman finds hilarious. They’re trying to exhibit that J’onn is a trustworthy fellow because he knows Superman and I am calling bullshit. If Superman knew about the D.E.O. he would have said, “Great guns! This organization is bad news. I should warn my cousin that this organization might be trying to kill her.” For me, this is a red flag that Superman is irresponsible and untrustworthy.
Margaret: So, then, Kara meets with Cat and Cat finally figures out who Kara is, which I liked.
Syd: The scene was really cute. Cat says to Kara: you’re my secret weapon, my guardian angel. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, I have some really great comics to recommend to you.
This is a dog whistle to the comic readers. The writers for this show read the same comics that I have. That’s endearing to me, but at the same time, I am still enraged at this episode. So many people in the office already know her secret identity, it doesn’t make enough difference to me if Cat knows who Kara actually is. Tony Stark revealing his identity at the end of Iron Man had weight, because he announced it to the world in a press conference. This didn’t feel big enough to me.
Margaret: I feel very differently. Because you’re talking about macro and micro. Iron Man announcing the fact that he’s Iron Man in a press conference is a very different thing from Kara, who has very specifically tried to keep her double life away from Cat. Personally revealing your own identity to the world is a very different thing from someone you respect seeing your secret superhero identity. This is Cat finally seeing Kara as she actually is for the first time. That moment is very important for these two characters. It’s something very small, but in that way very big for them. This is a definitive moment.
GRADING THE EPISODE
Margaret: I’m at a D.
Syd: You’re giving this a passing grade? This is an F. This was worse than the last episode.
Margaret: This is the worst I’ve graded a Supergirl episode ever.
Syd: That’s why I’m surprised you’re not joining me. I gave Supergirl an F last time after a lot of tribulation and this was easily worse than that.
Margaret: This was worse than that, but I feel like the last episode actually had some character development I liked.
Syd: This episode actually had one scene I liked in it and it’s still an F.
Margaret: The other episode I liked had two scenes I liked in it, so it was better to me.
Syd: On one hand, I hope that this series picks up after this, but on the other, I’m really glad we’re getting a two-week break.