Supergirl – Season 1 Winter Finale “Hostile Takeover”

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It’s been a bit since I’ve talked about Supergirl. But it’s a great time to check in on the show, which (spoilers) I’ve been enjoying to pieces, still. For a more in-depth look at the show (with actual spoilers) keep reading…

What is perhaps the most remarkable about the winter finale of Supergirl is that it really highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the show. The show is definitely still growing and evolving, and I’m hoping in the back half of the season we’ll see some of the rougher spots evened out.

The Good Stuff:

– Melissa Benoist as Supergirl. Probably the number one asset that the show has is the casting of it’s lead, something that really all the Berlanti-produced DC shows have really benefited from. Stephen Amell kept Ollie interesting even in his most stick-in-the-mud moments, and Grant Gustin has brought SO much life to The Flash he’s practically re-writing people’s brains about who The Flash as a character is. Benoist brings a clarity to Supergirl as a character that the comic book version has sometimes lacked in her many versions. And the scene in which she confronts the detached hologram of her mother was incredibly well done.

– Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. I’ve raved about her before, but she really is fantastic here. Cat is a character that could be a nightmare with a less-skilled actor. But she’s magnificent, and the relationship between her and Kara/Supergirl is really the beating heart of the series, although I like Kara’s dynamic with her sister, too. Having Cat figure out that Kara is Supergirl is perfect. And perfectly timed. Too much longer, and it’d undermine Cat as a character. The fact that Cat figured it out on her own purely using reason is even better. I am wondering if this change is permanent or not, however. I mean, they’ve never shied away from having pretty much everyone but the general public figuring out a hero’s identity (a trope that, frankly, has become less relevant in modern superhero storytelling) but we’ll see.

– The fight scenes! Oh, how Supergirl strained its budget with this episode. Look, some stuff looks goofy. Sure. But it’s COOL. I’d rather a show try to show a whole bunch of Kryptonians walloping on each other and not look 100% convincing versus not trying at all. There’s a real thrill to the action scenes in the series in general.

The Not-So-Good Stuff

The Kryptonians. Admittedly, this is a pretty big one. The thing is, the rest of the show is so good that it’s easy to overlook just how weak and boring a main villain Supergirl is satisfied with. Part of it is casting… but it feels like the Kryptonians just got out of a bored meeting on another planet versus being credible, dangerous enemies. At the center of it is Astra. Laura Benanti is fine as the I-can-not-use-contractions Alura. She’s sort of cold and distant whether as a hologram or not. She has a slightly otherworldly air to her that makes you almost buy the story that Astra is selling. But her Astra is pretty cartoonish, down to her silly white hair strand. I’m just not sold on her as a character at all. This wouldn’t be so bad if Astra’s motivation was clear or interesting, though. But this episode only muddied the waters. What are we supposed to believe is real, here? I’m not sure I’m interested enough to know. Non is even worse, though. He exudes no menace. The sooner Supergirl drops this subplot the better.

James/Lucy/Winn/Kara dynamic. The funny thing is I like James and Winn as characters. But it just doesn’t feel like any of this subplot is working. It feels like maybe Lucy was introduced too soon. Or Kara started liking James too soon. Or… something. James can be a problematic character, to me, in his interactions with Supergirl. I don’t really care for the moments when he tries to mentor her as a sort of proxy Superman. It just doesn’t really sit well alongside being her love interest. I prefer Hank Henshaw (now that we know who he really is!) fill that role. Thankfully, they’ve played that down quite a bit now and had James and Lucy get together. Winn, I like, but him jockeying with James for Kara’s affections is not that interesting. I’m hopeful this episode will actually help with that, as that seems to be resolved, with James even encouraging Winn’s feelings? Maybe? Lucy… well, right now she’s pretty much just a plot obstacle. But she could grow into a more interesting character at some point.

That weird non-ending. It felt like the show stopped mid-scene versus ending on a cliffhanger. That was really weird.

The I’m-Undecided-About-This Stuff

The DEO. Funnily enough, before the last episode this would have been very much in the Not-So-Good Stuff category. I was really ready for the DEO to go away. But, now that we know how Henshaw really is, I’m more interested in seeing what he could mean for Supergirl. Even if I think the apparatus surrounding him a Kara’s sister is probably just taking time from other things, I suppose it is a convenient way to get info about (and store, when they need to be jailed) supervillains.

So, that’s it for now. Overall I’m still loving the show and really looking forward to seeing it return. It’s back January 4th, so not too long of a wait!

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