Season Two, Episode Six — “Changing”
By Molly Jane Kremer. After a grueling week, I think we were all ready to dive right into an hour of superhero escapism. Though last night’s episode of Supergirl wasn’t all sweetness and sunshine, enough heartwarming moments were found scattered amidst the pathos — enough to make it feel like a proper roller coaster of an installment.
Yes, emotions did indeed run high, as multiple characters took a major plunge to varying degrees of severity this week: Alex came out to Kara and Maggie; Jimmy and Winn took their new Guardian suit out for a spin; and Mon-El took a tiny (but much-needed) step towards superherodom. It was a lot to cram into a single episode, but Supergirl‘s second season has so far been a surprisingly well-balanced exercise in “how much can we cram into an hour?” and hey, an excess of compelling story is infinitely better than a lack thereof.
It was glorious to see Alex finally come out to both her sister and her crush this week, and the scenes between her and Kara were beautifully written and exceptionally performed. Alex’s interaction with Maggie had more disappointing results, though understandably so: That’s a lot of expectation to overcome, to be the person someone came out for, and Maggie’s reasons for her kind rejection was a fine way to keep both Maggie and Alex emotionally responsible for one another. (Even if Alex is devastated at the moment.) It makes absolute sense (even if it breaks my heart) for Maggie to see it as being an imbalanced and unfair place to start a relationship.
Plus you know how the CW likes to prolong the will-they-won’t-they shit for maximum drama (see first two seasons of The Flash, Arrow, literally everything else…), so I’m certain this relationship has merely been put on the back-burner. But still… sigh.
As for The Parasite, well, for most of the episode the Parasite runs around looking like Dr. Rudy Jones, and in moments like this — when the villain is just some dude wreaking havoc in a flannel shirt — I miss the budget CBS used to throw around. When Jones finally mutates into his more well-known globulous purple form, they do a good job of making him look freaky as heck, with rows of teeth wrapped around a xenomorphic “mouths-within-mouths” orifice of despair.
Though the show has done a surprisingly good job of incorporating timely political messages in the past few weeks, this week had Dr. Jones (no, not that Dr. Jones) making some painfully on-the-nose speeches about global warming, the only points in the episode to fall flat.
Suppose Supergirl‘s writing team were still wiped out after their sleepover, where they stayed up all night watching John Carpenter’s The Thing — everything about this week’s introductory sequence, from the isolation of the (ant)arctic research station, to the presence of a lone wolf, to the bit of creeptastic body horror they managed to squeak in, was an homage so obvious you could see it from space. But then, deadlines do have a way of getting in the way of innovation.
“Parasitis alienis, if we’re going by the Wile E. Coyote classification system.” – Winn.
“I’ll go get the alien. You get the girl.” – Kara.
Alex: “She thinks you have potential to make a difference, like she does. To be a hero.” Mon-El: “I don’t know how.” Alex: “You can start by standing up. Like the rest of us.”
Jimmy: “Man in the van, are you there?” Winn: “I am here, baby, I’m here. Your 7 o’clock in the DEO Speedwagon.”
“Take that, Grimace.” – Winn.
BEST MOMENT: In the second of three amazing scenes featuring cast members acting their asses off at each other, Winn and Jimmy have a painfully heartfelt argument. Jimmy wants to get out there and find the creep who hurt Kara as soon as possible, finished suit or no, and Winn’s worried about his friend’s safety. The growth of Jimmy and Winn’s relationship is another addition to the show that I didn’t expect, and love more and more with each passing week. (Although, guys, next time you wanna argue about your super-secret extracurriculars, maybe go for a smaller, less public, less incredibly echo-y room… that’s maybe not inside the DEO. Just a suggestion.)
EPISODE’S MVP: It’s Alex again, since Chyler Leigh is still flourishing underneath this season’s heftier material, pushing the most compelling plotline of the show to very true and meaningful places. Hopefully we’ll get to see her more deeply explore this newly discovered aspect of her life. Alex deserves to have a little dating fun and cuteness on the show, seeing as every other main character but J’onn already has.
– The research station in the opening is called the Thorul Arctic Research Station, Thorul being what the pre-Crisis Luthor family changed their last name to, to disassociate themselves with good ol’ Lex.
– Even though I know it couldn’t hurt her Kryptonian self, I’m annoyed at Mon-El for making Kara take that freaky shot — right after he shattered a glass maybe ten inches away from it. And all over the pretzels too. Guh.
– Wait, Alex isn’t even thirty yet? WELL I FEEL OLD.
– That training sequence between Mon-El and Kara was pretty rad. More of that please.
– Rand O’Reilly…? Here’s hoping the next bad guy’s name is Mitch Ailes. Or Newt Hannity. Or Bannon Priebus. Or…
– The version of the Parasite used — the post-Crisis Rudy Jones version — is the most commonly translated incarnation, though making him a doctor is a new thing.
– Kind of a bummer that the show went with the more generic “good doctor turns bad because science” route with The Parasite, instead of taking an opportunity to explore the character in the same vein as Superman: The Animated Series, where Rudy Jones was a social sponge who turns into a literal… well, you know. Instead, ol’ Rudy got the “done-in-one” end of the stick.
– I gotta mention, because it’s weird and it made me giggle, that Parasite’s appearance on Smallville was played by an actor named Brendan Fletcher — almost the same name as one of my favorite current comic writers, Brenden Fletcher.
– That voice effect on Jimmy as the Guardian is… something, eh? I mostly didn’t mind it, except I had a hard time hearing his lines. They need to mix him louder, methinks.
– Kara sincerely apologizing to the Parasite as she ‘splodes him with Plutonium-239 is why I love this show.
– “Let’s just keep our vigilante-ing a secret from our superpowered best friend.” Yeah, because that won’t have horrible repercussions.
– I have a feeling that thar blood transfusion of White Martian blood may have some side effects on poor J’onn. (and, having later seen the “Next Week” clips, that’s looking likely.)
8.5 out of 10
Next: “The Darkest Place,” soon.
Before: “Crossfire,” here.