‘Supergirl’: Jimmy Olsen’s blues and Calista Flockhart rules
Season Two, Episodes Twenty & Twenty-One — “City of Lost Children”, “Resist”
By Jarrod Jones. If the second season of Supergirl has largely flown by like a passive breeze, that’s because these Arrowverse shows perfected their formula well before Kara Zor-El flew over to The CW.
Supergirl‘s latest batch of episodes, “City of Lost Children” and “Resist”, are perfect examples of how loyal to that formula this show has become. They’re reasonably entertaining, generally basic examples of the current state of superhero television, sure. But even when Supergirl falls into tropes (which happens a lot) it’s still leagues ahead of whatever the heck is going on over in Marvel TV Land.
The interesting bit about “City of Lost Children” is that it finally addressed the tall, strapping gentleman in the room, just under the wire before the show’s season finale. Jimmy — er, James — Olsen got his moment to shine in Season Two, after nineteen episodes of watching his Guardian/CatCo CEO subplots get shuffled around to make room for the bigger, showier stuff.
Thing is, Jimmy — dammit, James, I’m sorry — is one of the stronger supporting characters on the show. (Season One found Mehcad Brooks at his most dashing, and crucial.) It was only when Supergirl expanded its cast with the likes of Chris Wood’s Mon-El and Floriana Lima’s Maggie Sawyer that Season One’s characters got shoved into the periphery. Jeremy Jordan found a comfortable nook inside the confines of the DEO, but Mr. Brooks? His embarrassment of riches as a character — getting a killer promotion as CEO of CatCo, and becoming a vigilante of the night — was wholly indicative of how little this show knew what to do with him.
“City of Lost Children” dug into that doubt, somewhat, by allowing James to stare briefly into the abyss. (With falafel in hand, naturally.) James’ self-doubt reflected how little he — and his laughably extraneous Guardian persona — has registered this season. It took an abandoned cherub with big eyes and an adorable affect to bring James down from his pedestal as a Bruce Wayne analogue. This kid — Marcus was his name, left behind after his mother suffered a telekinetic panic attack downtown — struck James to his core, giving him (and us) a perspective on his character that needed to be addressed.
“So, you’re not only a masked vigilante and a photographer, you’re also a licensed child psychologist now?” J’onn put to James. The Martian Manhunter raised a good point: James has long been whatever the show needed him to be. Luckily, it remembered to let James be a person before the season forgot about him entirely.
Meanwhile, Lena Luthor has been keeping her new silent partner a secret from Kara. It’s Rhea, Mon-El’s mother, who’s been traipsing about National City like she doesn’t have a forlorn first born wandering the streets when he isn’t making time with his Kryptonian girlfriend. So it was only inevitable that Mon would end up spotting his mother on the street just before she triggered a portal alongside Lena.
And just to show how quickly these narrative threads tighten on this show, it wasn’t long before we realized that Lena, Mon, and James’ disparate subplots were connected: Lena and Rhea’s portal caused an atmospheric disruption, which in turn caused a mental disruption in Marcus and his mother, and since they’re both telekinetic, well. There’s your episode.
In “Resist”, Lena’s relationship with Rhea was complicated further by the sudden appearance of her own mother, Lillian. Cadmus made a bewildering appearance in this penultimate episode, just as Rhea’s Daxamite horde came hurtling towards National City. It’s not where I thought Cadmus would end up by the end of this season, which appears to be ending on the same “epic” scale as the first season — swap out the Daxamites with the Kryptonians and it’s practically the same outcome. If you were expecting some cloning shenanigans to pop up, temper your expectations for the next season. (Power Girl, it seems, will have to wait.)
Season One’s finale wasn’t the only thing that “Resist” borrowed from. It was very obviously modeled after Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, right down to its destructive street sequences and its derivative shots of the Daxamites running about National City like an armada of Chitauri. (Once we spotted Alex’s “twist in the air just to pop off a shot” move like she was a bonafide Clint Barton, there was nowhere for the allusions to hide.)
Of course, the best parts of “Resist” featured Calista Flockhart’s return as media mogul Cat Grant, who provided a boffo pep talk to our self-doubting Maid of Might. Kara’s needed Cat in a very substantive way this season — and all it took was two consecutive seconds of Cat being Cat for us to realize it. Ms. Grant gave Kara the shot in the arm she — and this dreary second season — desperately needed.
“If somebody had given me action figures when they interrogated me about my dad, when I was 10? I would’ve sung like a canary, I’m just sayin’.” – Winn, talking about his pops.
President Marsdin: “I suppose I owe you an explanation.” Cat: “At least tell me you’re still a Democrat.”
Kara: “I’ve really missed your advice, Ms. Grant.” Cat: “And I’ve really missed giving it. Now shoo, up, up and away, no time to lose.”
BEST MOMENT: Cat addresses National City. If you needed a reminder of how vital Cat Grant is to the show, let the sequence where she rallies the city’s beleaguered populace to stand against its invaders. (And you can totally embrace her meta allusions towards the Trump Administration. I did.)
EPISODE’S MVP: Cat Grant. Supergirl needs 100% more Calista Flockhart. She’s a 5-Hour Energy Drink, three hours of sunshine, and a Listerine rinse all rolled into one.
– Apologies, Super-fans! MJ took this week off to recover from the wanton abandon that was this year’s TCAF.
– Well, Winn’s little finger next to the head finally gave it away. There’s no hiding behind it anymore: Batman is a part of the Arrowverse. It’s likely he’s centrally located on Earth-36 like his World’s Finest part-time super friend, so expect a Gotham City-centric episode of Supergirl next season.
– Of course Mon-El gets his ice cream cone with sprinkles.
– Lex Luthor is cooped up on Stryker’s Island, though I think I heard Lena call it “Stryker Island”.
– “I feel like this is a full circle thing for us,” Maggie said to Alex, so of course one of them is going to die.
– Did you see that twinkle in Teri Hatcher’s eye when she addressed Calista Flockhart as “Cat Grant”? Ah, I’ve gotta recap Lois & Clark.
– You’d think that Air Force One would have a helluva lot more destroyed fuselage than that.
– So President Marsdin is a Durlan. Durlans are a race of aliens that come from the 30th Century, when flies the Legion of Super-Heroes.
– I find it interesting that Henshaw’s eyes turn red only when he’s doing the DEO a solid.
– Dear Supergirl costume department — Guardian and the Daxamites look exactly the same. Let’s get some gold and blue into Guardian’s costume next season, yes?
– Oh snap, Superman’s back! Hopefully the Superman/Supergirl fight lasts all of a minute, because superhero in-fighting is beneath everybody at this point. (I hope.)
6.5 out of 10
Next: “Nevertheless, She Persisted”, in one week.
Before: “Ace Reporter”, “Alex”, here.