Season One, Episode Seventeen — “Manhunter”
By Molly Jane Kremer. This, my friends. This is an episode that made me happy. Despite a whopping four separate flashbacks spiraling out from two (decidedly tame) interrogations — and a delightful lack of an actual villain — we saw some of the best character development on the show so far, spurring events that will have major repercussions for the rest of the season, if not for the series as a whole. And, most importantly, J’onn J’onzz finally ate some ding-dang Oreos. (My month = made.)
WHAT WORKED: This has been two very strong episodes in a row. Can I cautiously surmise the show could be hitting its stride? All my fingers and toes are decidedly crossed. (Thus making typing dofficukt/.) While it was only a matter of time before Lucy found out that Kara was Supergirl, the way she found out was, well, pretty got-dang optimal… unlike that whole weird thing where Jimmy was going to reveal the secret to Lucy himself to save his ebbing relationship. Instead, Kara was the one to tell Lucy, of her own choice and volition, and it was done to save Alex and J’onn, not to help out a boy she thinks is pretty.
Supergirl’s writers, in a complete one-eighty from “Red Faced” (and the more recent “Solitude”), have turned Kara and Lucy’s relationship into something not just palatable, but… enjoyable? While they may not be eating-ice-cream-on-the-couch-together besties just yet, they now have a healthy respect for each other, and apparently make a smashing team, any and all boys be damned. I’m very interested to see their relationship develop, and I’m crossing my fingers that this level positivity is retained, and previous stereotypical pratfalls are avoided.
WHAT DIDN’T: Dean Cain’s Jeremiah Danvers has a very “Kevin Costner in Man of Steel” moment with Kara in one of the flashbacks (and not in a good way). He gently chides her for saving the life a woman and baby, saying, “The world already has a Superman. All you need to be is Kara Danvers.” I mean, I don’t have kids, but I’m pretty sure good parenting is telling your kids to never be anything less than extraordinary. Especially with girls, already taught to dampen their lights by society in general. Later, when Kara bumblingly tells Cat how particularly unspecial she is, it made me so mad. Women are already conditioned to be self-deprecative to downplay their achievements and talents, so seeing Supergirl — a character meant to be a strong and positive role model for young women — reinforcing that bullshit by emphatically stammering how normal and average she is, truly sucks.
“Only thing I want to know is the color of its blood. So check your bleeding heart at the armory and man up, Agent Danvers.” – The real Hank Henshaw, to Jeremiah Danvers. Yup, totes sounds like something Cyborg Superman would say.
“You’re not a danger, you’re a refugee. Like my daughter.” – Jeremiah Danvers. Yasss, CBS, you’re sexy when you attempt political allegory.
“You don’t have to thank me for the shower gift, Kate, but you might want to ask your grandmother-in-law to reconsider her rule about Americans not receiving damehoods.” – Cat, apparently (and hilariously) talking to Kate Middleton on her mobile.
“You feel like you could never measure up, like there’s nothing special about you. But you are special, Alex, and you can’t afford to throw your life down the drain. You owe that to yourself. And your father.” – J’onn, to Alex.
Kara: “I just want to be useful to somebody. I want to be worthwhile.” Cat: “And you’re not worthwhile?” Kara: “I haven’t done anything to prove it. Yet.”
BEST MOMENT: During the flashback to Kara and Alex’s childhood, the sequence in which Kara saves a woman and her child was one of the most thrilling in the series so far. After seeing her troubles with new school/new family/new planet, the adrenaline rush of leaping onto a totalled car and tearing off its doors to save its passengers was catharsis of the best kind. The effects were top-notch, and there’s something truly wonderful in realizing Kara was compelled to do good even when she was a tiny kiddo, still missing her family and home and everything she’d ever known.
EPISODE’S MVP(s): J’onn J’onzz and Lucy Lane, aside from having the best, most wonderfully alliterative names on the show, kicked all the ass this week. After munching on his canon-favorite cookies, more of J’onn’s history with the Danvers family is revealed, and it only makes the audience love him more. He’s a good dude, even if he’s not a human dude. And Lucy, after finally dumping the internalized misogyny bullshit, becomes a motorcycle-riding bad-ass (and the head of the DEO!) while working alongside Supergirl to rescue Alex and J’onn.
– Alex brings J’onn Choco cookies for him to munch on while languishing in his glass prison. I wish they’d call ‘em Oreos, but since DC decided to switch over to calling them Chocos way back in 2000, I guess it’s acceptable to my nerd brain. Maybe they’ll all start drinking Sundollar coffee too…
– Another fact to glean from the first flashback: even ten years ago, the DEO still inexplicably had its headquarters in a cave.
– Alex and Kara and J’onn have covert, audible conversations at the DEO waaay more than they should. But then again, even civilian-nerd Winn knows more about tech than the DEO, so maybe there’s truly no reason to worry about bugs or cameras.
– The main difference between now and ten years ago? J’onn’s uh-mazing sideburns, of course.
– In Alex’s flashback to three years ago, she’s getting bombed in some club before getting a DUI; this show seems to share the Flash and Arrow’s penchant for depicting women as either intensely career-driven, or as broken addicts.
– Awesome DC easter eggs: Colonel James Harper, aka the Golden Guardian/the Guardian (and Roy Harper’s uncle); and Project Cadmus, both creations of Mr. Jack “the King” Kirby. Maybe Dubbilex is next?
– Rad motorcycle vigilantism adventures with Supergirl and Lucy Lane? Nothing about that sounds bad. But their shared lack of helmet hair might be the most unbelievable thing this show has ever done.
– Seeing Lucy and Kara be sorta friends (at the very least, definitely dedicated and supportive allies) is exactly, and I mean exactly, the sort of thing I want to see in this show. What would be even awesomer would be if Lucy and Kara ended up *more than friends* (after this episode, hell yeah I ship that!), but neither CBS nor DC would ever in a million years allow it. Le sigh.
– J’onn’s mind-wiping/mind-control is a little… unsettling. (Not to mention a very easy out for the writers in certain instances.) I hope this is used very infrequently.
– And we finally see Silver Banshee at the end of the episode, when Siobhan angry-drunk-falls off the roof and saves herself by screaming a hole into the pavement. I wonder if we’re going to find out she was in Central City when the particle accelerator went kablooey WHEN THE FLASH COMES IN NEXT WEEK. Oops, something seems to happen to my caps lock when I mention NEXT WEEK’S ‘WORLD’S FINEST’ CROSSOVER EPISODE WITH ‘THE FLASH’. Hmm. I wonder why that would be?
Next: “World’s Finest”, soon.
Before: “Falling”, here.