Former Superman Dean Cain guests on two wildly inconsistent episodes of ‘Supergirl’
Season Two, Episode Fourteen and Fifteen — “Homecoming”, “Exodus”
By Molly Jane Kremer. Okay, Supergirl. You and I need to have a chat. Now, you know I love you (I really do) but your writing inconsistencies can really drive me batty sometimes. You teeter back from the brink of abject foolishness in “Homecoming” to the much more stable, dramatically rich, and politically relevant “Exodus”, and I can’t help but wonder: what the heck is going on in that writers’ room of yours? I’m obviously in for the long haul anyway, but two episodes in a row where I’m not baffled at characters’ incongruous idiocy would be greatly appreciated.
When Mon-El is suddenly the most wryly observant member of the cast, you know something’s up. And while “Homecoming” at least had a sharper narrative focus, the lengths gone to to dumb down everyone in order to achieve that contrast made for one muddy hour of television. Significant (and uncharacteristic) silliness abounded when we watched Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) bounce back all too easily from his fourteen-year (!) stint as a prisoner at Cadmus, and everyone at the DEO (except for Chris Wood’s Mon-El) immediately accepted every word and explanation Dr. Danvers had, despite fourteen years of torture.
Jeremiah’s eventual reveal as a Cadmus double agent (this isn’t really a spoiler; it’s telegraphed like crazy in all the promos) left us with plotholes, most of which were painfully evident: Why didn’t J’onn (David Harewood) do a cursory psych eval once Jeremiah returned? Why didn’t anyone in medical notice Jeremiah had a freaking Winter Soldier arm? Why was doofy Mon-El the only person with thoughtful and well-considered doubts about Jeremiah’s allegiances?
When DEO agents — spies, for all intents and purposes — can’t exhibit a healthy suspicion towards an extracted, decades-held prisoner, the naivete often afoot in Supergirl was exchanged for molar-grinding inanity. As usual, stellar performances and character work (notably from Chyler Leigh’s Alex) gave the hour a much-needed anchor, saving it from being a complete bust.
Though not perfect, “Exodus” was more tightly written and executed (and certainly didn’t leave me wondering if the DEO had a hallucinogenic gas leak for the entire episode). Supergirl‘s powerful and oh-so-timely political allegories returned with a vengeance, as Cadmus rounded up aliens listed on a stolen registry in order to forcibly deport them from the planet (to the prison world of Takron-Galtos), while Kara addressed her responsibilities as a member of the fourth estate. (Snapper Carr even made a wondrously snide remark about a fascist in the White House, imagine that — though I’d rather imagine Madame President Lynda Carter, she wistfully sighs.)
I did appreciate that Kara’s workplace actions in “Exodus” had repercussions, especially since — no matter how hard Supergirl has tried to convince us — her journalism talents never quite seemed to equal her passion for the profession. In fact, both Kara and Alex go off their occupations’ respective books this episode: when Snapper refuses to publish an uncorroborated story about the stolen alien registry, Kara self-publishes it… on a blog? Or on a “competing social media platform?” (The vagaries of how she pulled this off are real annoying and super lazy.)
Meanwhile Alex, suspended from the DEO for compromising its secrets, teamed up with Maggie Sawyer to save Cadmus’ kidnapped aliens while also attempting to rescue her dear, compromised dad. Strangely of the two, only Kara is punished for her transgressions. Mostly because her boss Snapper Carr is decidedly not an ol’ green softie like J’onn J’onzz. But it’s weird that Kara’s lack of ethics in journalism won out over Alex’s police brutality.
Like I said. Inconsistency.
“Unfortunately, as your supervisor, I have to ask you to report to HR.” – J’onn, to Kara, upon learning of her inter-office romance.
“Holy Cadmus cream egg!” – Winn, using long-established sidekick lingo.
Mon-El: “What happens if you blob it?” Kara: “Blog.” Mon-El: “That’s what I said. Blop.”
“One misattributed quote from a candidate and you put a fascist in the White House.” – Snapper Carr with the mic drop.
“Supergirl is what I can do. Kara is who I am.” – Kara.
BEST MOMENT: The best action sequences in Supergirl are imbued with emotional resonance, and Kara’s silent and hard-fought rescue of the ship at the end of “Exodus” certainly was. Thrilling and heartrending and gorgeous.
EPISODES’ MVP: Yet again, the definitive MVP of both episodes is Chyler Leigh’s Alex. Though given some truly silly shit to do and say in “Homecoming,” she sells the absolute hell out of it, making those implausible decisions feel like the irrational actions of a distressed human and not just, well, bad writing. Her raw emotions are palpable in “Exodus” too, when she confronts her father about his divided loyalties before straightening up to help rescue a couple hundred kidnapped aliens. Alex Danvers: the hero we deserve.
– Kara and Mon-El: I appreciate that Supergirl kept its opening scene very tasteful. There are other CW shows that wouldn’t have been so restrained. *coughARROWcough*
– As much as I absolutely hate Mon-El immediately blurting out to all their friends and coworkers that he and Kara are dating, I’m relieved as heck that their budding relationship isn’t now the new big-super-duper-confidential-secret to be kept from everyone. But also, this again illustrates that sometimes Mon-El is… just kind of a shit.
– On that same note, if Kara has to go to HR for fraternization with a coworker, does that mean she’s an employee literally on the payroll at the DEO?
– I can’t really imagine doughy Dean Cain even slightly outrunning literal ass-kicker Chyler Leigh.
– So, Alex, he “won’t be taken alive”? Just go for the kneecaps, you know the drill.
– I very much appreciate the Dune references, and the Bene Gesserit love, but am saddened and disappointed that Lyra didn’t mention how got-dang dreamy Kyle MacLachlan was in that movie.
– Man, I don’t think we’ve ever seen J’onn be so duplicitous as to impersonate someone as a test for someone else. I do think Alex did deserve to be suspended, because she was incredibly compromised, but I truly didn’t expect such a sneaky play from J’onn. Or from the show, for that matter. It’s not often Supergirl can give me a legitimate surprise.
– Does no one at the DEO realize that in sending all these immigrant aliens to Takron-Galtos, Cadmus isn’t just forcibly sending them home; they’re sending them to a prison planet?
– I love Lena Luthor and I want Kara to save her and carry her around in midair all the time and they can soar around and be perfect and gorgeous together.
– There was a subtle visual nod to the climax of Wrath of Khan towards the end of “Exodus”: outstretched hand against hand over a pane of glass.
– Ok, so this caused much consternation over here at DoomRocket HQ: what blog did Kara publish on exactly? Does she have her own blog that she’s never mentioned before? Was it literally “Danvers.com”? But then Snapper also says she used a “competing social media platform.” So was it… MySpace? LiveJournal? And how did Cadmus see it so quickly in the first place? Did it ping their Google alert for “stolen alien registry warning”? Le sigh.
– I am so, so here for Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo as (what we can only assume are) Mon-El’s Daxamite-royalty parents. That teaser for the next episode had me clapping my hands in utter glee.
7 out of 10
Next: “Star-Crossed”, in one week.
Before: “Luthors”, “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk”, here.