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Homecoming Highlights This Season’s Pacing Issues

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 14, “Homecoming”

Get ready for complicated Danvers family dynamics, because the appropriately titled “Homecoming” has plenty. So many feels. This might be our favorite Danvers family dinner scene, up to Mon El’s terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease of course. Just give us a happy Danvers family! So get ready, you might need some tissue.

Quick Recap

J’onn’s face when he learns Kara and Mon El are dating.

Mon El wakes up alone in Kara’s bed. She flies in with coffee, which Mon El drinks, and flowers, which he discards in a lampshade. He tries to get her to play hooky from her 3 jobs helping people. She asks him not to tell anyone at the DEO they’re dating because she doesn’t want them in her personal life right now. Mon El decides this means it’s okay to tell everyone they’re dating. J’onn tells them to go to HR to fill out paperwork because they’re now dating a coworker (We love him).

Winn learns of a DEO convoy that J’onn and Kara take out. They find Jeremiah inside. Mon El is suspicious about the timing and encourages caution. Jeremiah agrees and says Cadmus has a bomb created by the heat vision they ‘mined’ from Supergirl they plan on using to take out the alien population in National City.

Jeremiah advises Winn to track Kara’s heat vision signature to find the bomb. Eliza comes to the DEO; cue heartfelt Danvers family reunion! Mon El tells Kara not to trust Jeremiah because he lived with Cadmus for so long and may be a traitor. Kara chooses to see the best in Jeremiah. She invites Mon El to family dinner so he can get to know Jeremiah. Alex introduces Jeremiah to Maggie, and he’s super chill and sweet. J’onn and Mon El join them to make the circle (mostly) complete, but for James and Winn. Jeremiah asks to join the DEO to take out Cadmus. Mon El questions Jeremiah at dinner. Kara pulls him aside to confront him; he acts like a jerk, so Kara tells him to leave. Jeremiah gently threatens Mon El by telling him that he knows who Mon El is and Kara won’t like it.

Mon El invites Winn for a drink so get him on his side about Jeremiah. Winn agrees to help but only if Mon El is a decent person to Kara. Lyra joins them and gets all cuddly with Winn (it’s cute). J’onn gives Jeremiah a tour of the DEO and leaves him in the medical bay alone; Winn sees Jeremiah breaking into the DEO mainframe. He and Mon El tell Kara, who confronts him. Jeremiah explains he was looking at case files for the past 24 months to see what Kara and Alex had been doing. He apologizes, and Winn confirms that’s what he was doing. Alex gets mad at the trio. Kara tells Alex she wants to look at all sides. Alex blames Kara’s suspicion on Mon El and being in the ‘honeymoon phase’. Alex says Kara ought to trust Jeremiah if she’s one of the family.

WHY MUST YOU HURT US.

Mon El interrupts Lyra teaching Winn to play darts to ask him for relationship advice. Winn urges him to listen to and respect Kara. News that they’ve tracked the bomb interrupts them. The Danvers sisters lead the tactical team but find an empty warehouse. In the DEO, J’onn confronts Jeremiah, who attacks him after trying to hack the DEO. Suddenly Jeremiah has a bionic arm (?). He knocks J’onn out, shoots up the computer he stole files from, and leaves. Thankfully, Winn hid a tracker on Jeremiah and the Danvers sisters interrupt the villain meet up in the woods. Cyborg Superman blows up a bridge, to occupy Kara. Alex chooses to chase down Jeremiah. Kara saves the train. Alex confronts her dad, who says he did it for her. He says she’s going to have to shoot him. Instead of giving him a nonfatal injury she lets him go.

Winn goes to find out what Jeremiah stole. Everyone in the Danvers family is justifiably hurt and disappointed. Alex is drinking and Maggie comes by and consoles her. Kara has a blanket burrow when Mon El comes by to ‘not talk’, and he actually listens to her for once. Winn calls to tell Kara that Jeremiah stole the DEO’s alien registry (wait…when did this exist?). Lillian and Jeremiah stare at…something scary that is probably designed to wipe out aliens. Jeremiah tells Lillian they had a ‘deal’.

Best Quote: “I love you and I’ve missed you every day, but I don’t know you anymore. And you don’t know me. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere, but this is going to have to be something new. I think we’re just going to have to learn each other again.”—Eliza Danvers

Thoughts & Feelings

So, the Danvers family. We have so many feelings. This episode struck a good tonal balance for the reunion. The Danvers women exhibited a full range of emotions from shock, to joy, to caution, and all of them fit the context. Dean Cain, on the other hand, does not emote much at all. We’re underwhelmed by his performance this episode. The Danvers ladies dance circles around him pathos-wise.

We do like the father-daughter head turn. It’s cute.

We love how this episode handled the ‘long lost family member arc’, especially compared to others we’ve seen. It didn’t gloss over how hard it would be to integrate a family member back after a decade. Eliza flat out rejects the feasibility of Jeremiah’s desire to make up for lost time. She understands that mentality doesn’t work. Her desire to start something new with Jeremiah, to relearn each other and their relationship struck us with it’s honesty. It’s not the most optimistic or celebratory story, but it’s real. And that’s what we love about Supergirl: when the writing is good, it’s very, very good.

Like J’onn. Oh god, Space Dad. That level of anger from him at Jeremiah’s betrayal was fighting White Martian levels. Like…the one person to accept him for who he was, who also saved him from Real!Hank, betrayed him. And he’s not just angry for himself. J’onn went out of his way to explain to Jeremiah what Alex and Kara mean to him, how they helped him become a better person and fight for justice instead of hiding who he was. Jeremiah didn’t just betray J’onn, he betrayed Kara and Alex. No way Space Dad will stand for that. The hurt and anger in J’onn on his daughters’ behalf hurts so good.

Plus, that Danvers family dinner was probably the sweetest Danvers dinner we’ve ever seen. We would have liked to see Winn and James there, both characters who have been a part of other Danvers family dinners in the past. Jeremiah would probably love to meet two of Kara’s friends who have been with her and Alex through the worst parts of the past couple years. Still, the undercurrent of genuine happiness throughout that whole scene only made Jeremiah’s inevitable betrayal (admit it, there was no way it wasn’t coming) hurt that much more. We have bruises on our sternum from that kick to the chest.

Of course, Mon El sticking his foot in his mouth ruined the mood. Every Danvers family dinner has to have a dose of awkward and/or uncomfortable after all. It might have been marginally funny if it weren’t both rude to the whole family and disrespectful to Kara. She’d just finished reprimanding him, demanding he ‘say something nice’ (which she shouldn’t have to do). She flat out asked him not to bring it up at dinner, but to spend time instead getting to know Jeremiah. As has been his pattern this whole season, he ignored her wishes and spoke anyway. And did so in such a way that he sounded jealous of Jeremiah’s privilege instead of concerned for the DEO.

Like we keep saying, if this were the first instance of Mon El ignoring Kara’s wishes or disrespecting her, we might be content with an “I’m sorry” and “I’ll do better next time”. But this is a pattern, a pattern that stretches all the way back to “Crossfire”, 9 episodes ago. It’s a pattern within this episode! He’d been disrespecting her since they got up. We suppose him wanting to wake up next to Kara is cute, but she has three jobs. All of which are saving people. And he doesn’t so much as ask her as blurt an entitled expectation. Ought she to feel guilty that she’s out saving people instead of lying in bed? And what is this “as long as your superheroing is done for the day” business? All we got from this supposedly romantic scene was that he has zero respect for her desire to save people.

After dismissing her gesture of romance out of hand, he flat out ignored her reasonable and meticulously explained request to keep their relationship secret. No matter how ‘cute’ they try to frame his lack of respect or how ‘culturally conditioned’ he is to throw parties when people hook up, He. Still. Can’t. Listen. Mon El’s failure to respect her wishes at dinner is less of a surprise than an expectation at this point. It’s really not funny anymore, or healthy. We’re tired of the message, intentional or not, that women are responsible for coaching disrespectful and clueless males into becoming suitable romantic partners.

A big part of the problem is pacing, which has been atrocious. They’ve failed to show any significant character growth for Mon El over 9 episodes. Every time he seems to take a step forward, he takes another one (or two) backward. Him getting actual character development now feels like too little, too late. The damage has been done in terms of investment and believability. Even if he has a great arc moving forward, we will have a hard time buying or wanting it. And that won’t stop us from criticizing what we’ve seen on screen thus far. Mon El finally learning how to listen to Kara and respect her ought to have happened before they started dating, not after he insulted her to her face and in front of the DEO last episode. And then spent another entire day acting the same way.

What makes it worse is that Winn was the one to finally make it all click. Frustrated that Kara yelled at him and sent him away, Mon El makes a totally justifiable decision to get advice from Winn, one of Kara’s dearest friends. Winn proves why we love him now by telling Mon El to let Kara protect and show off herself; she does a mighty good job of it just being Kara. Mon El’s response—“then what’s left for me”—reflects the persistence of Mon El’s paternalistic and stereotypically gendered approach to dating Kara. He’s the man, he should be the one protecting her, showing her off, bringing flowers, and he resents when he cannot fill that role. It also solidifies Gretchen’s (and Kylie’s) impression that Mon El shares similar character traits with Mako from Legend of Korra.

Anyway, Winn once again gives Mon El good advice to ask Kara what she wants from him and then listen and follow through. Great job, Winn! You’re a decent guy and we like you a lot. We can tell Lyra is pleased with you, too (you lucky boy). What bothers us about this is that Winn tells Mon El all the things Kara has been telling Mon El to do. The writers most likely meant this as a “Mon El finally figures it out” moment, which isn’t bad in itself (apart from occurring way later than it should have). But if Winn basically repeats what Kara herself has said to Mon El (multiple times and in multiple episodes, we might add), what’s different this time? Winn. The implication, intentional or not, is that this time, the message sticks because a man tells Mon El how to act, not Kara herself, a woman.

And his ‘progress’ is still minimal. Mon El has a palpable need for reassurance at every tiny step forward in the final scene supposedly showcasing him ‘comforting’ Kara. She still needs to coach him, and he still make it about himself. It comes across as ‘look at me being nice and listening to you!’, especially given how it was preceded with Maggie’s instinctive and effortless consolation of Alex. We’re beginning to wonder if showing these two alongside each other is meant to make Mon El look worse somehow.

This is how you do comfort.

The situation with Mon El reflects oddly on Kara’s character development. She’s had the exact same argument with Mon El now that she had with him almost two months ago. Even if he makes a change for the better now, the fact that she put up with this behavior for so long reflects poorly on her. She continues to take back and believe in a person who repeatedly lies, disrespects her, and does not acknowledge her agency. It’s great she stands up for herself when he acts that way. Yes! Yay! Set those boundaries! Her dialogue is well-written, and we love it. And, she has continued to date him despite the persistence of issues she has been upset with him about most of the season. That he repeatedly apologize for, promises to change about, and then never does.

She ends up coming off as wishy-washy, precisely because she keeps taking him back. Every time she lets him treat her that way, even when he apologizes and promises to change, she looks a little bit weaker. Her arguments fall a little bit flatter the inevitable next time she has to have them. And what guarantee do we have that this time will stick when no other time will? The main basis for their relationship thus far has been the tension and chemistry derived from their disagreements. We’re not sure we have faith that the writers won’t fall back on more Mon El asshole behavior to ‘spice things up’. Though maybe the upcoming Mon El prince of Daxam reveal will take the place of that.

One other point, Mon El being right in the end underhandedly justifies him being an asshole to Kara and her family. It’s okay that he acted that way, because he was right. Kara should have listened to him. He has good instincts, but is not a healthy emotional support for his girlfriend (*cough* Makorra). Yet, he knows how to have a non-dickish conversation about it, just look at the scene with Winn. Mon El made sense, was calm, and didn’t devolve into insulting behavior or being disrespectful. Is it really just impossible for him to be gracious to Kara when they talk? Intentional or not, what we’re getting here is that he has more respect for Winn’s advice and intelligence than he has for Kara.

All of these factors combine to make the romance between Kara and Mon El deeply frustrating to watch. Kara repeatedly having to spell out boundaries only to have them ignored again and again is not enjoyable content. If Kara were our friend in real life, we’d sit her down for an intervention: spell it out for him, lay out the consequences, and stick to them. He isn’t going to learn anything without consequences, clearly.

Another reason to dislike all this drama with Mon El is that it’s throwing more weight on the already strained relationship between Alex and Kara. We’re still pretty damn irritated that the writers had Alex tell Kara to go for it with Mon El, especially since Alex has witnessed most of his less-than-stellar behavior or has surely heard it from Kara. But Kara and Alex’s friendship hasn’t exactly been seaworthy this season. They have a big ol’ wedge between them that has just been simmering in the background for 12 episodes, and precious little attention has been paid to it.

We are glad that this conflict took a backseat when Alex was figuring out her feelings for Maggie. That was lovely, and required. But we’re approaching the back-end of the season and we still haven’t even really started to address Kara’s abandonment issues, which are clearly clouding her better judgment when it comes to Mon El. This has been a huge undercurrent through the entire season, but they’ve yet to do something of real substance with it. Time’s a’wasting, Supergirl. You are running out of time to wrap up this arc, if you intend to address it at all.

Alex has some issues simmering on the backburner as well. We’ve mentioned it in passing a few times, but it’s getting to the point that Alex’s drinking habits are really worrisome. Hats off to Chyler Leigh for nailing the portrayal, especially considering her personal connections to the subject matter. It feels like Leigh has a specific reason she’s portraying Alex this way.

Last season we had an explicit flashback to when J’onn saved Alex from a DUI by recruiting her to the DEO. This season, we have had a lot of shots of Alex working her way through a bottle of hard liquor by herself. She was absolutely hammered at Thanksgiving, and eagle-eyed viewers will notice that she stole the whiskey out of Kara’s freezer when nobody but the camera was looking. That’s in addition to all the wine she coiffed at dinner. And the beer Kara took away. She’s almost always got some form of alcohol in her hand unless she’s at work, and this episode she jumped up real quick when Jeremiah offered to make drinks.

At the end of tonight’s episode, Alex is once again wobbling her way through a bottle of hard liquor, alone. We don’t really know if she invited Maggie over or if Maggie just stopped by (we do know the Danvers sisters need to lock their damn doors, please!). We loved Maggie’s reaction. Her stopping Alex felt like a subtle way of displaying that Maggie understands it’s a maladaptive coping mechanism. She tries to get her to talk instead of drinking, and when that fails, she goes for full-on soothing nicknames and hugs. We take full offense that this was juxtaposed the scene with Kara and Mon El. These two situations were not even remotely analogous because Maggie doesn’t need Winn to tell her to listen to her girlfriend. She gets it.

Anyway. Back to Alex’s drinking. It has us worried because this is a deliberate acting choice on Leigh’s behalf, and likely a directional choice as well. If they are building up to something with this, we’re finding ourselves checking our watches. Once again, time’s a’wasting, Supergirl. You can’t just leave this hanging around in the open and not do anything with it.

Not that we want a PSA about alcohol. Considering how badly Arrow managed to flub a Very Special Episode on the same subject matter, we can understand the writers’ hesitance to commit to this as a canon plot. But you can’t deny it’s all there. Alex checks off an alarming number of the warning signs for alcoholism, and we are really hoping that the writers aren’t just going to let this float around in the background like it’s no big deal. This is a very big deal. This is something that honestly should have been inching its way into the plot five or six episodes ago. We want to believe this is actually going to go somewhere, but with the pacing being so horrendous all-around this season, we would put even money on it never being addressed at all due to time constraints.

Alex’s scripting in season 2B is really just one more example of a larger problem. The show has way too many balls in the air, and it’s dropping them all over the place now. Whether or not you are interested in the Mon El plot/romance (we obviously are not), you must admit it is a tight fit in a season that was already bursting at the seams with plots. We have the Alien Amnesty Act (we’ll get to that one in a little bit), the Guardian plot, the Cadmus plot, the Luthors Legacy plot, the Sanvers coming out plot, etc. etc. etc.

We’ve wasted 9 episodes of the season on Mon El that could have gone to fleshing out any of the other plots we already have going with previously established characters. We got M’gann for what felt like 30 seconds at best, who would have been an infinitely better use of this time than Mon El’s undeserved redemption arc. James’ Guardian arc could also have been smoothed out with more screentime, a plot that we very much wanted to work better than it did.

Look, we don’t actually know who’s fault it is that Mon El is such an attention hog, or why he was written this way in the first place. It’s probably not the network, because to be perfectly blunt this kind of writing is pretty typical of the other DCTV shows. He’s not the devil, he’s just a douchebag. In fact, he’s not even that atrocious of a douchebag, it just stands out more because of the type of show Supergirl used to be. It’s not that Kara isn’t allowed to have a love interest, but… you know. She had one. One that was much better than this.

We’re tired of him because he’s flipping boring, to put it simply. He’s boring and he’s stealing screentime from the half-dozen other plots that are much more worth exploring. We’re trying to be as professional and diplomatic as possible about this, but it’s kinda hard because he’s just… nothing. He has the substance of whitebread and holds up about as well under pressure. Elizabeth is still holding out hope he’s going to die heroically, but she will accept a demotion to tertiary character. Just fix this awful narrative detour and don’t make the same mistake next season, Supergirl writers, alright?

Randomness

  • Two episodes in a row without James 🙁
  • Mon El’s “What a gentlemen” line was kind of weird. It almost felt like an underhanded insult.
  • Seeing J’onn J’onzz fight as a Green Martian is so badass. We love him phasing through things
  • I dig the fancy thumb drive they used, even if it I’m not sure it would work.
  • We kind of knew that Mon El’s dad, the king of Daxam, would be a bad dude since he’s played by Kevin Sorbo.
  • Why did Jeremiah’s bionic arm not show up on scans? Alex says something about nerve damage being extensive, but that begs the question of how they didn’t notice the big metal shafts in his arm while poking his nerves to assess the damage? We headcanon that it gives off fake X-rays.
  • We have so many feelings about the casual way that Eliza calls Maggie “sweetie”.
  • “There’s no man on earth good enough for Alex Danvers, so it would have to be someone like you.” Squeee! What a good dad.
  • We also love how Maggie flatters herself when she says “Alex deserves the best”.
  • I will never understand the “you’ll have to shoot me” false dilemma. Just shoot him in the kneecap, Kara will be back soon. That’s all you need to do. To be fair, Alex is still using that badass Noisy Cricket-esque gun she nabbed from the Slaver Planet, so a single shot would easily take off a limb. But she’s got to have a regular sidearm, right?
  • Props for Dean Cain threatening Mon El. And Winn. Geez, this many people telling Mon El to be decent to Kara ought to say something about how unhealthy that relationship is. Everyone sees you jerkface!
  • Whoever chooses Kara’s wardrobe keeps putting her in very…um…queer coded outfits.
  • That railroad scene…*swoon*. We love seeing Kara be strong. It had an Atlas-like feel to it with the railroad tie on her shoulder.
  • Oh, and we adore Winn/Lyra.

In Conclusion

Pacing issues galore. We’re a bit confused by the existence of the National Alien registry. The last time this came up on the show was in Episode 3, where one of the villains opposed alien amnesty on the grounds that it would result in registration. So now this registry actually exists. And zero waves or fuss has been made by any of our characters. Which is, quite frankly, bullshit. No way Kara, J’onn, M’gann, Alex, or James would not notice this being put into place, much less store that list in the DEO. And do so without argument. We’re scratching our heads at how we’re meant to swallow such a huge jump forward in a plot we haven’t seen mentioned since Episode 3.

There ought to have been multiple and heated discussions regarding the ethics of an alien registry. In our Episode 3 review, we were hoping to have a full fledged discussion about that, given its similarity to the plot of the Marvel film Captain America: Civil War and the comic event the film was based on. We expected Supergirl to tackle the concept of creating an alien registry with greater depth and sensitivity, not fast forward to it’s existence to be used as a minor detail in service to a greater plot point. It ought to have been the plot point for most of this season, not a footnote.

And that has us thinking: what actually have we gotten out of the intervening episodes? We’re not saying cut everything. We got some great emotional beats and some lovely character growth. We wouldn’t lose the Martian healing arc for the world, or Sanvers. But, much of the Mon El and Guardian arcs from the past 11 episodes could have been cut, which would have made greater space to explore the social implications and complexities of xenophobia and alien refugees as Kara and the DEO took on Cadmus. Kara’s work with the DEO could have dovetailed with her and James at CatCo leading the media charge for truth and defending alien amnesty. Although they might have been able to fit the Guardian in this season, it really should have been saved for S3 James, as a CatCo arc for both him and Kara would have fit much better.

It all comes down to pacing. The pacing of the main conflict with Cadmus is as uneven and inconsistent as Mon El’s ‘growth’ arc. We have 8 episodes left in the season to deal with an arc that ought to take at least 12-15 to handle well. They just might be able to squeeze it in with what we have left, but the Cadmus anti-alien story really ought to have more room to breathe given its socio-cultural relevance in American society.

The show had a very excellent opportunity to be topical with its themes this season, and even we must admit they couldn’t have possibly dropped the ball harder on this. We’re currently living in a terrifying dystopian reality where travel bans are real, ICE is going AWOL, and a registration list for Muslims is starting to seem like an inevitability instead of a nightmare. The 3A plot for Supergirl is filled with narrative analogs for immigration and the immigrant experience in the US. This is such a slow pitch, Supergirl, why aren’t you swinging at it?

Sophomore seasons for television shows are often a bumpy ride. In addition to being a season 2 show, Supergirl also had to adjust to a network shift. We understand the logic behind a lot of the missteps this season, but we really want to see some concentrated effort on fixing these missteps going forward. If we must be stuck with Mon El, stop telling us he’s going to get better and actually make him get better. Of his own volition, preferably, though we suppose that would be arguably out of character for him at this point. We also need to take some pruning shears to the B plots in the future. It’s okay to save things for later seasons, guys. We would prefer it, actually.

Tune in next week for Alex being a badass, more complicated Danvers family dynamics, and Cadmus kidnapping aliens!

This is the kind of content we live for.


Images Courtesy of The CW

When not working on her degree or at her actual job, Elizabeth pursues her true passion of complaining at great length about pop culture on the internet. She serves as a Managing Editor for The Fandomentals. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter and Steam @ohemgeelizabeth

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Television

Black Lightning Episode 1-5 In Review

Shahar

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Black Lightning, Anissa, and Jennifer with the phrase Get Lit

This week, Black Lightning is on a hiatus so here are some thoughts on the show so far. New episodes return next week.

As a whole, Black Lightning is one of my favorite shows on TV right now, and of the 381 (I have a list) shows I’ve watched in my 24 years. It does so many things well, and what I don’t like is situated in a very specific context. For example, I love how the show hammers home that there are consequences to everything.

Consequences and Bad Guys

Last week’s episode ended with Jefferson as Black Lightning knocked out in the water when his suit gave him problems in a fight with Joey Toledo, Tobias’ right hand man. It was a bleak moment, but highlights how everything feels grounded! From the fights between Jefferson and various baddies, the deaths we’ve seen, and to Tobias doing anything, nothing is cartoonish. There are consequences to actions.

Sure dropping a lackey into a tank of piranhas is a bit much…but Tobias is terrible and terrifying and his traumatic childhood is not used as an excuse for his current actions. Rather they situate Tobias and Tori as adults (whose ages we don’t actually know) trying to control their world. I wonder if Tori has her own crime syndicate in Miami? Oh hey, that would be a cool webseries…

The dedication to showing consequences of people’s actions does have me worried with the portrayal of Khalil’s future arc. I understand the impetus behind his arc. Unless the writers flip the script, it’ll highlight how easy it is for people like Tobias and his lackeys to prey on young men without other options.

And I do not mean to simplify the many reasons why a young man may choose to deal drugs or why there is violence across so many American cities. But Khalil’s existence now for Tobias is as a scapegoat to turn BL into the bad guy. Again, disability in DCTV is merely a plot point for villains or temporary.

On the flip side, Anissa as an out and proud activist lesbian is awesome!

Ladies Loving Ladies

Once the season ends, I’ll write a full length piece on Anissa, Chenoa, and Grace. Even with only three episodes to really pull from, the writers established a lot about Anissa and Freeland. We saw in week 2 how she had a key for Chenoa’s place, and her parents knew her name, but that’s as far as that one year relationship had gone. Their sex was mindblowing, sure (which how incredible to finally see two Black woman make love as an affirmative thing), but Anissa wasn’t committed to Chenoa. Understandably she was pissed at the Ruby Red Lipstick Bar (I love that Freeland has a lesbian bar) and said some hurtful things to Anissa.

I wish we had (or maybe we will) seen Chenoa one last time, but the moment Anissa laid eyes on Grace, it was pretty clear we were getting the slow-burn there. And this is what’s so great about the show, by five episodes both Anissa and Grace have been affirmatively labeled by the show as a lesbian and bisexual woman. No need to assume and no need for obnoxious fandom labeling conversations.

However, with Grace as a super recurring character, who knows when we’ll see Chantal Thuy next and how she’ll factor into the next portion of Anissa’s development into Thunder. And if she receives a series regular promotion, whether or not she joins the Pierce family+Gambi shenanigans.

Pierce Family Passion

I LOVE ONE FAMILY. Look, representation is not revolutionary and won’t meet any of our material needs on a global scale. Instead, representation is required and our media should look like us. But I’d be remiss to say that centering a show on a Black man who loves his family isn’t a huge freaking deal!!!

Specifically because of the racist sentiment that Black fathers aren’t around for their kids. This doesn’t consider that a) 1.5 million Black men are “missing” or b) the Black men that are fathers, they are the most involved with their children of any other group of dads!

So watching Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce, completely in love with his ex-wife and two daughters is stunning and I am so glad the show is about the Pierce family now instead of Jefferson years ago. Their passion for their home and each other is one of the bigger successes of the show.

(Though I’d love a flashback of him first realizing his powers since it would have been in response to a very emotional moment).

Grandpa Gambi

Who is he? We know he and Alvin Pierce were super close, he’s Jefferson’s surrogate father, and from an interview that the girls think of him as a grandpa. Yet we’ve only seen him interact with JefferLynn and Tobias! And he knows Tori? I want to know everything about him and really hope the next eight episodes reveal more. As the only white guy the writers invite us to care about, Gambi is important. He’s got this amazing boutique and clearly knows his technology. (Is he making Anissa’s outfit?)

But he’s hiding more than Tobias from Jefferson, like what I assume is his understanding that Anissa was on camera in episode 3. Likely more secrets related to Alvin Pierce too. Plus just how does he afford all his tech? The show is so good with details that it seems suspect we’ve yet to see more of that aspect…

Otherwise, Gambi is a really interesting lens into the show’s statements about so many issues.

Political Statements

The show has effectively made multiple statements not just about police brutality, drugs, or violence. Even the brief mention of the Tuskeegee experiments is significant with Greenlight and its entry into Freeland. I think its usage of Gambi as BL’s greatest champion as a hero pulled out of “retirement” as compared to Anissa and soon Jennifer’s journeys is really compelling.

I honestly don’t have the expertise to write a lengthy piece on the show’s usage of Malcolm X, MLK Jr, or others like Harriet Tubman but I think Anissa’s Malcolm vs. Jefferson’s MLK Jr. vs Black Lightning’s Malcolm is clear just from the show’s dialogue.

The scene between Anissa, her parents, and the Henderson’s is a great example. Is Black Lightning a vigilante who is hurting the police attempt’s to fight the 100 gang or everything else? (How is Henderson actually feeling about his inability to stop the 100 gang long-term?) Or is he stepping in where no one else will and making a difference? Does nonviolence actually work, or nah? How do we meet the material needs of oppressed groups, here black people?

The latter questions are debated at length and I don’t think Black Lightning is trying to conclusively answer them. Though the former two are definitely at the core of the show.

The same goes for the writers’ strong use of religious imagery in implicit and explicit ways.

Book of Black Lightning

Abrahamic religion and their prophets are explicitly referenced from the episode titles to the show dialogue. Abrahamic religion is a huge part of the show. The titles all tell a story, even the non “Book of” titles like “Resurrection” and “Black Jesus” have their own. We even saw a Methodist church for Lawanda’s funeral! It makes sense because the Akils are actually Muslim. I hope we get some Black Muslims too in the show.

Jefferson is Black Jesus (resurrection), then Black Lightning is Moses (the latter was reluctant at first to lead). Obviously Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have differences in their telling of Moses’ story but it’s pretty apparent what’s happening here. Lady Eve is Pharaoh and I’m not quite sure on who Tobias is yet, but I’ll figure it out by season’s end when I’ll write a long article about everything else we get this season.

Last Thoughts

  • When will Syonide get to talk extensively? One Syonide in the comics has a girlfriend and I would love to see the show’s take on that.
  • Someone find the scripts for me because each episode feels like it’s cramming a usual script and a half’s worth of stuff into one 45 minute episode.
  • I hope this show doesn’t get 22 episodes this fall. I find it works better as a short season show.

What do y’all want answers to or have thoughts on? Next week, the show returns to Jefferson looking for Alvin’s murderer and so much more.


Image courtesy of The CW

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Rise and Fall: The Chi’s “Penetrate a Fraud” Is Joy, Heartbreak, and Fear

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Welcome back to Lena Waithe’s The Chi, where this week we see some characters start to rise from pain while others fall all the way into it.

Ronnie, never able to escape this corner.

Let’s start with Brandon, who hit a low point last week when Jerrika showed up to the block party with another guy. Then Brandon confronted Ronnie, telling him he hopes Coogie’s murder haunts him for the rest of his life before walking alone into the darkness. This week, things are looking a little better for our tender-hearted guy. A big reason for that is Sarah, his boss’s wife/all-around manager of things at the restaurant. There is a serious mutual crush happening, and in this episode she gives him an opportunity to prove himself: he’s going to be in charge of the food for a very large and fancy wedding anniversary catering gig. He pulls it off without a hitch and Sarah thanks him, saying the restaurant isn’t doing as well as everyone thinks and they really needed a good night like this one.

Side note, my parents ran a restaurant for more than 10 years, and it is so true that even popular upscale places are in a constant struggle to keep their heads above water. It is a very unforgiving industry, and this little corner of the storyline hit home for me. Plus, my mom was the Sarah, basically doing every little thing and never stopping, so I appreciate her as a character.

Anyway, the other immediate event in Brandon’s world is the revelation that his mother and Greavy got married at the courthouse without telling him. They’re planning a backyard barbecue celebration that night and were hoping he could do some of the food. Brandon is angry, still resentful of Greavy, and storms off. But Greavy goes after him and is a little softer toward him, saying that it would mean a lot to his mother if he were there, and also that he’ll do right by her.

In the end, Brandon, high off of a successful night that will likely mean a lot to his career, takes Sarah and the leftover catering food to his mom’s house. The joy Laverne feels that her son shows up is such a perfect illustration of how much mothers love their children. Brandon ends up making a really nice speech about the new couple, and it’s nice to see everyone in that string-lights-and-Heineken-filled backyard so full of smiles. Oh and then Brandon and Sarah kiss, so, that will be interesting next week.

!!!! This won’t end well but in the meantime, I’m happy for them.

Meanwhile, some other mothers are having an unexpectedly great day of their own. Ethel takes Jada to get their nails done as a thank you for patching up Ronnie’s gunshot wound/saving his life. They end up bonding and we learn that Jada has not been prioritizing dating or her sexual needs, since she has approximately 100 million other things on her plate. But after her conversation with Ethel, Jada comes home to an empty house, lights candles along the edge of the bathtub, and masturbates with the shower head. I am so here for Jada taking care of herself. Also I will always associate showerhead masturbation with that scene in The Runaways where Joan Jett—aka a still-not-publicly-out Kristin Stewart—tells her bandmate to think of Farrah Fawcett in order to get off. Iconic.

HERE FOR IT.

The reason Jada came home to an empty house is that Emmett has been extremely busy with his and Amir’s burgeoning shoe business. Amir “borrows” $5,000 from his uncle Habib, and he and Emmett follow a tip Emmett got about some rich white person who wanted to unload a shoe collection. Turns out it’s a day-drinking divorcee who wants to sell her husband’s garage full of sneakers. The two jump on it, thinking they’ve scored the shoes for half, if not less, of what they’re worth.

Emmett gets to work putting the word out to his network of sneakerheads and sets up the van full of shoes in an underpass, where he sells almost all of them. Until one guy rolls up, looks at the shoes, and tells Emmett they’re knockoffs (something to do with SKU numbers). Then he accuses Emmett of “penetrating a crime” on him and pulls a gun on him and Emmett Jr., who is in his arms. Emmett Jr. basically never stops crying; is that what real babies are like? Anyway, luckily the guy doesn’t actually shoot but Emmett is sufficiently freaked out. It remains to be seen how this will unfold with the “business partnership.”

As we continue down our path of characters’ best days to worst days, Ronnie is still halfway dead, stumbling around town bleeding through his clothes. He goes back to Common’s mosque, where he is told he’ll be welcome to come in and talk, but despite looking tempted, he doesn’t do it—yet. Ronnie is also trying to find someone who will unlock Jason’s phone. He finds Jason’s girlfriend. Ronnie didn’t know he had a girlfriend, or that she is pregnant, or that Jason knew she was pregnant and so did Tracey. Or that Tracey didn’t want Jason to see her, or that Jason wanted to quit basketball. There was a lot Ronnie didn’t know, but Jason’s girlfriend unlocked the phone for him, so now he can look through pictures.

But guess who else wants to look at the phone: Detective Cruz. He brings Ronnie in for questioning, and backhandedly proposes they help each other: Cruz won’t push too hard to pin Coogie’s murder to Ronnie, and Ronnie will give Cruz Jason’s phone. I guess so he can figure out what happened and get back in the department’s good graces before anyone exposes the fact that he’s the reason Ronnie knew about Coogie having robbed Jason’s body. Cruz doesn’t seem to find much on the phone—mostly a lot of selfies—but he sees that the last call made was to 911. So that’s interesting.

Lastly, we have the boiling-point tensions between Trice, Reg, and their crew and Q and his. Q stole Trice’s dog (the same one Coogie used to feed) and has been taunting him with her for weeks. Now, he uses her as a distraction, taunting Trice into conversation while Q’s two guys sneak into the house to see what Reg, Trice, and co. have in there. Trice tells Q to go back to Cuba, so we now know where he was before coming back to Chicago. Q points out to Trice that he never got back to him about who might have killed Jason and why. He’s clearly hung up on something with Tracey; maybe he’s Jason’s real father? I don’t know.

Regardless, Q’s guys report back on the specific kinds of military guns Reg and co. stole a lot of last week. And at the end of the episode, the three of them straight-up kill everyone in the house and steal the guns. I don’t know if Trice or Reg were there, but I’m concerned for Jake?!?!

I-miss-my-dog face.

That’s it for this week, let’s hope next week we get to see the kids and the lesbians again, because I miss them and this episode ended on an extremely dark note.


Images from The Chi Courtesy of Showtime

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Legends of Tomorrow Gets Stuck in a Time Loop

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Starting off intensely, we see Zari racing against time to get Gideon to execute some simulation program that she wants to keep a secret from the team. Things don’t go as planned because the Legends come back from a mission that involved Napoleon Bonaparte and disco clothing. While Nate and Amaya leave the bridge to discuss the fact that they just had sex during a mission, Sara gets pissed at Zari when Gideon stops working and she finds out about Z’s secret simulation.

Taking the captain position hard, Sara argues with Zari about it, despite Ray’s concern about her mood given Constantine’s warning. Zari reveals that she wanted to find loopholes in history so she could exploit them to avoid the dark future she knows as 2042. As Zari goes to fix the ship, she is hit with some neon fluid from a tube. As she tries to see if Gideon is back online, the Waverider explodes…

…and we’re back to Zari arguing with Sara.

Zari tries to figure out what’s going on, first talking to Mick, then snooping on Nate and Amaya’s post intercourse conversation, and finally Ray to no avail. In the end, the ship explodes again and we’re back to Sara, who ends up twisting Zari’s arm by accident. She ends up being taken to the med bay where she gets sedated and thus back again with the day starting over. Her next move is to try to explain the whole thing to the crew, but it still doesn’t work for multiple attempts.

Until Nate believes her and tells Zari to talk to him again and quotes “Groundhog Day,” which leaves me wondering why pop culture can’t update its timeloop references. Say “Edge of Tomorrow” or even “Happy Death Day” if we want current. Nevertheless, as soon as she wakes up again, she goes to Nate. The two theorize that the explosion comes from within the ship instead of some outside force. Some other stuff happens, but in the end, the ship explodes.


Zari’s newest attempt starts with her teaming up with Nate to go after Rory. It takes a few other attempts, but they eventually figure out that, despite his initial suspicious behavior—doing his laundry—Mick’s was only hiding his novel. They go check on Ray, who ends up revealing, rather easily, that Constantine had told him to kill Sara when Mallus takes over. The duo decide to go after Sara now, fearing that she may be possessed and exploding the ship. Ray shrinks Zari and himself in order to spy on Sara.

What they find is rather the opposite: just a flirtatious facetime conversation with Ava — to quote the poet, “This is a gays only event, go home!”. The two talk about their own experiences being bossy and how Sara has faith in Zari, but she ends up dodging one of Ava’s attempts to go over to the ship and hang out. Sadly, Sara ends up crushing Ray and Zari, as she thought they were a fly.

Once again, Zari goes to Nate, but she’s feeling quite tired. Nate suggests they have fun with it given the lack of consequences, so cue the fun montage. Eventually, the fun runs out and Zari tries to kill herself, but fails. This time though, Sara manages to believe Zari’s story and enlists the whole team to look for bombs. The Legends try the trash compactor and find Gary, the Bureau agent. Mick takes a device from his hand and destroys it, thinking it was the bomb, but instead, it was what originated the time loop: Gary had boarded the Waverider because of an alert that the ship would explode so he had created the one-hour loop which would give enough time for the time to defuse the bomb. So now, the device is broken and the team has five minutes to find the bomb before they truly die.

Using the Chekhovian move, Sara finds the bomb inside a disc play. If I understant it correctly, Napoleon had gotten his hand on a CD player with ABBA’s “Waterloo” in it, which he had used to win the war? Something campy like that, for sure. Seeing as the bomb will explode, Zari locks herself with the bomb in a force field so she can say her last words to the team which, as expected, is mostly advice she picked up from her time during the time loop.

As the timer stops, Zari finds herself in the company of humanoid!Gideon, the same one that kissed Rip Hunter that one time (I’m glad they end up finding ways to bring Amy Pemberton on board!). Gideon tells her that, in real life, Zari is healing at the med bay, but her mind is with Gideon at her matrix. Turns out Zari’s simulator had not only worked but done all the job regarding the timeloops to show that Zari needs the Legends’ help in order to find the loophole to save 2042.

As she wakes up, Zari gets Ray to confess his secret to Sara so she can prove that she indeed was inside the matrix. As Sara and Zari have a chat, it circles between their will to save people and a nice little loophole that may just give Z a chance to spare her brother’s life.

Capping off the episode, we finally meet Firestorm’s replacement after the CW confirmed it a few weeks back: Rip Hunter tracks down Wally West in China to ask him for help to save the universe.


Images Courtesy of The CW.

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