Season One, Episode Nine – “Blood Bonds”
By Molly Jane Kremer. Does that episode title get Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” stuck in your head? Yeah, me too. Which isn’t to say this episode of Supergirl was ‘bad’, per se… but it has problems, and I don’t think it can solve them. (Sorry, sorry, I had to.) Coming off a two-week hiatus after December’s wild midseason finale, I was expecting more out of this week’s episode, but got a few fun minutes swallowed up in mediocre murk instead. We know you’re better than this episode, Supergirl: we’ve seen it. And, well, we’re gonna keep on watching to see more of it.
WHAT WORKED: Again, there are stupendous visuals tossed our way, beginning at the start of the episode. Supergirl regularly puts money into an action sequence within the first five minutes or so, and this week was no exception. Kara and Non rocket into the sky for mid-air fisticuffs, broken apart only when realizing they’re in a jetliner’s direct flightpath. The skyline of Krypton looks suitably amazing—and hey! nary a dragon-riding Russell Crowe in sight!—and the performances of both Alura and Astra (both played by Laura Benanti) have improved by leaps and bound since their first appearances. Especially Astra, who has become a legitimately sympathetic family-member gone bad.
General Lane’s (Glenn Morshower) interrogation of her, with whatever sort of Kryptonite juice he injects her with, is sufficiently upsetting (with sufficiently freaky green-veined effects) and he continues as a formidable, but as yet untouchable, antagonist to Kara. Melissa Benoist gets to keep on stretching those acting chops, and she makes Kara just as compelling (if not moreso) when angry and frustrated as when she’s the compassionate hero.
WHAT DIDN’T: There were some cheesy-ass lines in this episode. I mean, this show closely toes the line of sentimentality every week, but there were a couple nigh-unforgivable quotes: “I have all these powers but I’ve never felt so… powerless.” Oof. But then Jimmy replies with: “Kara, it’s gonna be ok. Even when things look their bleakest, heroes find a way.” Typically I can turn a blind eye to a couple such sillinesses per week, but those are platitudes of the worse sort and I would like my slightly-saccharine entertainments to have at least a hint of artful construction, thankyouverymuch.
Cat Grant, though she’d been getting more and more interesting and multi-faceted, had much of that depth ignored this week to forward the b-plot of her discovery of Kara’s secret identity. All the connections she had made with Kara over the last eight episodes were dropped, at least from Cat’s perspective; she was flatly reverted to judgmental and ridiculous for most of this episode, though her ‘ultimatum moment’ with Kara was interestingly motivated by guilt: the thought that being in her employ had been daily preventing this superhuman force from saving lives was too much for her to bear. (Not to mention it had supposedly given her “bags under her eyes”—though Calista Flockhart wore not a hint of them.)
“You are the true heir to the house of El.” – Astra, even though one should probably be of the house of El herself to be making those kindsa calls.
“You may go, Kira. I’m sure there’s a phone in need of answering. Or a plane in need of catching.” – Cat Grant.
Kara: “Hey, I know you forget to eat when you’re stressed, so I stopped by that food truck you like.” Alex: “The one in Chicago? You are my favorite person.” – I bet it was The Tamale Spaceship.
“The media doesn’t exist to make people like you comfortable, Max.” – James. Well, Jimmy, that’s… certainly an idealistic thought.
“When I get out of here, I’ll remind you about our policy against negotiating with terrorists. Until then, I’ll just say thanks.” – Director Hank. Post-Martian-Manhunter-reveal Henshaw is so lovably soft and squishy.
General Lane: “Their idealism will doom this planet.” Director Hank: “No, that’s what will save it.” – See? I can enjoy a cheesy line of dialogue or two.
BEST MOMENT: No one can resist a good superhero team-up. And while no one teamed up to punch anyone (even though Maxwell Lord’s smug, smarmy face is beggin’ for it, we tells ya), we got something even better: Supergirl finds out Hank Henshaw’s true identity, before a true bonding moment is shared between Kara Zor-El, last daughter of Krypton (well… sorta) and J’onn J’onzz, last son of Mars. He shapeshifts into Supergirl so Cat can see Kara and her suspected alter-ego in the same room together, effectively saving Kara’s job and cementing what looks to be the start of a beautiful friendship.
EPISODE’S MVP: Kara Danvers. Melissa Benoist as Supergirl is never not compulsively watchable. Even in a mediocre episode like this one, she is able to fill it with emotion and make us care—really care—about what happens. The wavering of Kara’s faith in her friends and family and the resultant bolstering of that faith is at first wrenching and then reassuring, solely because of Benoist’s nuanced performance.
– Someone in costuming needs to pay more attention to poor Astra’s wig. It’s half-ratty, half-curling ironed at the beginning, but looks more evenly done in her next scene. Then it goes back to being half-curled the next time she’s onscreen. Maybe she kept on getting interrupted mid-coif? At least she always gets that white streak curled.
– While Krypton looks surprisingly pretty, what’s up with all them lens flares in that council room? That’s waaaay more distracting than anything JJ’s ever done, and it goes on for like five minutes.
– When Jimmy tells Winn to close the door so Kara can’t hear him furtively say something in secret… you guys do know Kara has superhearing, right? She can definitely hear (and should have, but didn’t, because plothole) anything you’re gonna say through that little bit of glass. You guys are goofs.
– Maybe, once Kara and Astra have put all this messy business behind them, Kara can take her aunt to wherever she gets her hair did. Because seriously, when she’s Supergirl, her hair is never not on fleek. (Her hair this week as Kara was very elegantly coiffed too, come to think of it.)
– I only just realized, after almost twenty years of superhero-comics reading, that Kryptonian women use their father’s hyphenated first name as their last name; until they marry, and take their new husband’s hyphenated first name as their last name instead. THAT’S WEIRD AND UNSETTLING, KRYPTON. Rao would be ashamed of your uber-patriarchal ways.
– “I never realized how absurd you look in that ridiculous outfit. Blue yellow and red, it’s like a color wheel threw up.” I like that, after Cat makes a point to make fun of Supergirl’s costume, Martian-Manhunter-as-Supergirl compliments Kara’s glasses, before she compliments the costume right back. Yay for supportive friendships over toxic critical ones!
– Room 52…? Oh, DC, you’re so damn cute in your continued obsession with the name of a weekly comic from 2006 that was arbitrarily named after its amount of issues. (And 52 was a great goddamn comic. I will fight you over this, Jarrod Jones.)
– Who could Maxwell Lord be turning that black-eyed Jane Doe into, with Red Tornado’s arm so close by? Tons of possibilities (one being a Bizarro, according to our esteemed EIC), but I have a farfetched theory/hope that she could be my favorite wind-witch JSA-er. Time will tell. (Fingers crossed.)
6.5 out of 10