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.
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.
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 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.
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?
- 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.
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!
Images Courtesy of The CW
Honest Conversations and Unfortunate Insensitivity on Cloak and Dagger
Content Warning: This review discusses suicidal ideation and attempted suicide, as depicted on the show.
Last week’s episode of Cloak and Dagger ended with Tyrone and Tandy together and finally ready to discuss why exactly they have new superpowers insistent on bringing the two of them together. Both their lives have been tossed upside down, and the only consistent thing in the tragedies of both their lives is each other. Maybe it’s time to sit down and talk about it? That’s exactly what “Call/Response” did this week. Unfortunately, to mixed results.
Time to Talk
“Call/Response” continued Cloak and Dagger’s attempts at interesting episode structure by weaving together forward plot momentum in and out of the previously mentioned conversation between its heroes. This conversation lasted through the entire episode as Tandy and Tyrone hashed out what their powers are, what they do, how they experience them, and what their dreams from last week meant for each of them. These two had a lot to talk about.
For a good 90% of this conversation, I liked the direction of it. The honest and open-ended nature was refreshing. For the first time since they acquired their new powers, they held nothing back regarding what had changed, what they were going through, and how it affected them.
It moved both characters appreciatively forward. Even better, you could see how the conversation positively affected both in the scenes from the next day, when both acted on everything they discussed. Cloak and Dagger thus did a good job timing subjects of conversation with next-day action. Like you’d expect, these scenes were not exactly subtle about it, but so long as the point is made what does that matter?
Through their conversation, Tyrone and Tandy finally started acting against their instincts. They challenged their perceptions of the world. Tandy made an honest effort to learn about her mother’s boyfriend Greg and found out he was genuinely interested in her mother and trying to help. She made an effort to embrace the hope she always rejected before. Her experiences have shaped her towards cynicism in everything. Life is a giant scam where everyone uses everyone else to get ahead, and you see this in her own method of making money. For her to open her mind to the possibility of Greg proving her wrong was a significant step forward.
Tyrone faced his own challenged perceptions, naturally based around his brother’s murder and murderer. He considered Tandy’s argument about his place in the world and where his privilege truly stands, as well as the destructive path his actions led him down. The failed trip to the police station was one important step, but the truly important moment was his field trip with his father to Otis’s old Mardi Gras Indians stomping ground.
(By the way, add another cool twist on New Orleans culture to Cloak and Dagger’s credit.)
Through this trip, Tyrone found new perspective on his father and brother, as well as his own anger. His father stressed the importance of finding a channel for his anger. And he might have found his way via the suits the Mardi Gras Indians create, and the taking on of his brother’s unfinished suit. Tyrone needs this outlet and focus for his anger. He struggled with it throughout the first three episodes, even to the point of trying to shoot Detective Connors.
Even better, all this character development provided the biggest plot movement yet. Tandy’s determination to get along with Greg led to direct involvement in the Roxxon lawsuit he represented her mother in. It also led to Roxxon killing Greg for presumably getting too close. There should be no escaping the consequences of Greg’s death. Tandy’s mother will suffer. Who knows whether her determination to take the corporation down will wax or wane. Tandy herself visited the burned office to retrieve documents from Greg’s safe, so she certainly won’t let this go.
Tyrone’s plot movement was not so direct, but still meant something. He learned of his brother’s training to be a “Spy Boy” for the Redhawks, a role in Mardi Gras parades involving moving ahead of the Big Chief but was described in this episode as someone responsible for scouting the unknown to seek oncoming trouble. The unfinished suit Tyrone adopted also largely resembles the signature look of Cloak in the comics.
And of course now you also have to wonder if Roxxon will involve themselves with the Redhawks.
There was definitely a lot of good content in this episode. At this point Cloak and Dagger is close to establishing a base quality that this episode certainly matched. Unfortunately, the end of the episode left a real sour taste in my mouth. One reason due to plot, and another for some poor handling of a very sensitive subject.
Insensitivity and Stalling
You saw the content warning, so let’s dive right in. The episode-long conversation between Tandy and Tyrone breaks down at the very end, when conversations about privilege turn into insults and eventually lead to Tandy admitting to suicidal thoughts. In his anger, Tyrone tells her that if she wants to die so badly, she should just do it.
The next day, in the aftermath of Greg’s murder, Tandy restrains her hands and feet and jumps into the ocean, clearly planning on killing herself. She eventually resurfaces when her powers trigger and she cuts the ropes binding her hands.
I will say this: my final judgment will depend on how this is handled moving forward. Right now it feels like a really cheap use of suicide. There are some things you must always take care to portray responsibly when telling your story, and this did not feel like a particularly responsible way to handle Tandy’s thoughts of ending her life. I worry this was nothing more than an attempt to end the episode with high drama, and that the distasteful implications are unrecognized.
Now, we do need to see where it goes from here. If Tyrone recognizes the terribleness of what he said and apologizes for it, and there’s a genuine effort to understand the mistake he made, this can pass by without issue. And it’s not like the idea that Tandy might have suicidal thoughts came from nowhere. Considering her immense survivor’s guilt and lack of connection, I can certainly understand how thoughts of suicide enter her mind. Thing is, I don’t think you can just throw it out there, have a main character yell at her to just go ahead and kill herself, have said character try, and then move on from it. It all happened so quick and dirty that I can’t help but feel like it may have just been there for drama.
I hope it’s needless to say that using suicide just for drama is an awful idea.
Cloak and Dagger needs to follow up respectfully on Tandy’s attempt. Suicidal tendencies are a serious concern that must be handled delicately and with a purpose. And unfortunately, this is an easy fallback too many shows rely on without the proper care needed. I hope Cloak and Dagger doesn’t.
My second, lesser, and plot-related concern is the argument that led to Tyrone’s insensitive words. Namely that, to me, it came completely out of nowhere. The two of them spent the entire episode having a calm, respectful discussion. Even sensitive subjects between the two caused little drama. Then all of a sudden a piece of genuine advice blows it all up and leads to an unnatural argument over privilege. Which leads to Tandy mentioning her suicidal thoughts and Tyrone’s comment.
This development renewed my worry from last week over these two being kept apart too long. It seems clear that the real, ground-shaking forward movement on Cloak and Dagger won’t take place until Tandy and Tyrone unite. “Call/Response” spent 90% of its runtime heading in this direction. Then it all fell apart.
I certainly understand how a conversation over privilege could lead to heated tensions, especially with backgrounds like Tandy and Tyrone have. Still, this felt so artificial. It almost felt like Cloak and Dagger attempting a superficial, ham-fisted discussion of privilege without any real meat. The main goal seems to be keeping the two main characters apart. It’s the absolute worst attempt the show has made regarding the privilege debate. Scenes like Tyrone walking into the police station and looking around, only to find a sea of white faces, speak volumes more than this conversation did.
While we’re certainly not back where we were at the end of the second episode, we’re a little too close for comfort. Both characters seem like they will tackle the plot alone. And you know they will tackle it ineffectively. The whole idea (at least to me) is that they won’t truly make progress until they team up. I’m also reaching a point where I will start to distrust the moments where they appear ready to team up if this goes on for too long.
In one moment, they undid a great deal of the work the 40 minutes before hand strove hard for.
I’m all for character development, but here’s hoping Cloak and Dagger avoids this mistake in the future. And here’s hoping Tandy’s suicide ends up as more than a way to create drama feeding this mistake.
- I was delighted when Greg turned out to be a good guy. Damn shame they killed him in the same episode he turned out as such.
- Tandy’s mother is seriously tragic. I worry we’re heading in a self-harm direction with her as well.
- I also loved learning more about Tyrone’s father, Otis. He seems to harbor a lot of the same barely repressed anger that his son does. I hope we get more of him and his history with the Redhawks.
- Roxxon is still paying for the rights to the plot of ocean with the collapsed rig. This suggests to me that whatever gave Tyrone and Tandy powers still slumbers beneath the water.
- Sometimes Tandy and Tyrone have some really good banter…and then sometimes I wonder how it can be so off.
Images Courtesy of Freeform
The Expanse Wanders Among The Wreckage
The Expanse is on its penultimate week, and with an episode called “Fallen World,” showed us the aftermath of a disaster.
When the episode starts, Holden is unconscious, so Bobbie picks him up and they head towards their shuttle. However, she realizes the speed limit might have decreased after her commanding officer threw the grenade last episode, and tests it. Turns out she is right. They get out and stabilize Holden. However, many Martians and Earthers are both dead on their ship, as the quick deceleration was a massive shock.
Naomi survived, but her skiff is no longer able to move, so she abandons it and steps into space. Drummer and her first officer are both pinned by heavy machinery, and have to cooperate to get out of the situation. Anna wakes up and goes through her ship, watching the scores of dead people. Those who are bleeding severely are lost as well, since in zero gravity, there is apparently no way for the blood to drain. One would expect they’d have some sort of vacuum pumps for that, being a space-faring civilization, but whatever. Anna is horrified and offers her help, being a trained nurse.
Holden’s brain scans show frenetic activity, but he’s not waking up. A MCRN soldiers feels like Bobbie is more loyal to him than to them, and suggests she kills him, because dying might be the best fate for him right now.
Drummer and her first have now gotten to the point of sharing life stories and singing together, since they are out of viable solutions for their situation.
When Clarissa wakes up, she think she successfully killed Tilly. But as Anna is helping fix her broken arm, Tilly contacts Anna on her hand terminal. Anna goes to find her, and Tilly tells her what happened before she dies. Clarissa, meanwhile, escapes the ship just as Anna catches up with her. She is left screaming that, “she cannot escape, only beg for mercy.”
Naomi arrives at the Roci and finds Alex, mostly all right, and Amos, who was hit in the head with a heavy tool and so is less alright. Drummer’s first starts coughing blood from his punctured lungs. For some mysterious reason, Drummer decides that means she should sacrifice herself, even though from what we have heard, doing so gives him a really low chances of survival. Still, she moves the machine back onto herself, freeing him, and he calls for help.
Clarissa reaches the Roci and manages to get inside. Naomi hears the impact and goes to check what is wrong. Clarissa tries to kill her—of course she does—but Anna, who apparently followed Clarissa, saves Naomi.
Drummer’s first, after hearing about the large number of wounded they have, gives the order to spin the drum of the ship, creating artificial gravity. They are unsure it will work, but they manage successfully. The first, who is not the captain, then opens a channel to other ships around them and invites everyone to transport their wounded to their ship.
MCRN seems to have more stupid ideas about how bad it is they are being saved by the “skinners,” apparently a name for the Belters. Bobbie effectively tells him he is an idiot and goes to see Holden, who woke up, and now tells her he had a vision of the end of everything.
Overall, this was another good episode with solid pacing and clear progress forward. But there were still plenty enough things left that bother me.
First and foremost among them would be the storyline happening aboard the Martian shuttle. For one, the MCRN marine was acting completely ridiculous. The Expanse has always had trouble with depicting the less open-minded military types with any nuance, but this might be a new low. In particular, I am talking about handing Bobbie the gun to shoot Holden.
It made no sense at all in context: their orders were to bring Holden in. I don’t expect MCRN tortures their prisoners, so the argument with “might be the best for him” hardly made sense. Most of all, it felt like a test for Bobbie, but if so, it was a test of a kind I’d expect to see in Star Trek Discovery‘s Mirror Universe, not among the Martians. The Expanse show adaptation has always depicted the Martians worse than the books do, and this continues in the same vein. Bobbie is gaining the very uncomfortable overtones of being the “one good apple.”
On the other hand, Bobbie’s own role here was scarcely better, particularly her strange obsession with Holden. She is acting like they became best friends in the first half of this season, which is definitely not something I noticed. No matter how ridiculous the marine’s desire to have Holden shot was, he was perfectly right that it looked like Holden was controlling the protomolecule. We know it was because Miller was controlling it for him, but Bobbie doesn’t.
At the same time, it doesn’t follow she would immediately jump to the conclusion that Holden is a villain. He could be controlled by the protomolecule. In fact, he was, to a degree. Or, he could have simply gone insane. Once again, he had in a way. There are many possible explanations that don’t lead to wanting to have Holden executed, but which at the same time don’t lead to Bobbie insisting to her marine crew that, “Holden wouldn’t do anything wrong.”
It is doubly irritating because this is Holden of all people, everyone’s personal favorite white boy. Of course she would be all up in arms about him. Meanwhile, women of color were in danger or outright killed left and right this episode.
Speaking of which, Drummer. On one hand, when we first saw the situation she was in, I was worried it would develop into a mutual attempt at killing the other and saving themselves. I am truly, deeply grateful it didn’t. And even the idea of her sacrifice could have been a brilliant one, really, in the right circumstances. The way it played out here, however? Just after it is implied her first has a low chances of survival, without any particular indication that she is in serious trouble herself? It just feels very much like, “all right, the brown chick was the captain for a bit too long, time to give it to a white guy.”
The scene between them was acted excellently though, I have to grant them that much. Naomi was very good this episode as well, and were her Rocinante boys.
The one character who continues to be a disappointment is Anna. Her very last intervention was badass to be sure, but it’s not the kind of strength I expect from Anna. She’s not there to beat people over their heads. And until that moment, she was as insufferable as before. The most ridiculous moment was shouting after Clarissa. I understand she was meant to be upset, but it just looked stupid. Tilly repeating Anna was “very good at this,” meaning her pastoral duties, only made me roll my eyes once more. Show, don’t tell, please. At this point, such assertions about Anna are about as convincing as all the characters telling Tyrion he was clever on Game of Thrones.
The season finale next week is a double episode. At this point, I feel like it can go in many different directions, and I am all impatience to see which one it goes for.
All images courtesy of SyFy
Reverie Sows the Seeds of Doubt
Last week’s episode of Reverie ended on a cliffhanger. Mara realized that she wasn’t actually at her late sister’s house, talking to her late niece (she was actually pretty sure on that last one). This leads to an obvious question: where was Mara, really. Unfortunately for her, she was in the middle of a road, with a car on its way. Before the car runs her over, Mara is saved by a mysterious man who knows her name. Turns out Mara’s savior is Oliver Hill, who claims to be suffering from de-realization as well. Hill has been following Mara, out of supposed worry. Before Oliver was a concerned stalker, he was a founding partner of Onira-Tech. He has something to explain to her, but he needs food first.
Oliver Hill V. Onira-Tech
Reverie spends about half of the episode providing two arguments for what’s really going on. Oliver argues that Reverie 2.0 is inherently flawed. He claims that he and Mara, being the two people who have spent the most time in Reverie 2.0, will be representative of the general population. In his version, Charlie is Onira-Tech’s unthinking bodyguard who hates Oliver. The medication that Mara has been given is supposedly useless (which is not a great message, especially when paired with Mara’s previous trashing of her meds). Oliver tells Mara not to tell Onira-Tech about their conversation, but that lasts for about 3 minutes. Mara is scared and she needs answers, and she tries to test Oliver’s claims against Onira-Tech’s personnel.
On the other hand, Onira-Tech claims that Oliver Hill was unstable. Charlie claims that Oliver is dangerous. Paul shows Mara Oliver’s brain activity, explaining that he had issues before Reverie 2.0. Alexis tells Mara that her partnership with Oliver was founded in a romantic relationship. That relationship went badly, and Alexis doesn’t want to be defined by that failure, hence his erasure from the company.
By the end of the episode, Mara agrees with the latter form of events. She seems to be finally persuaded by Alexis’ detailing of her and Oliver’s romantic partnership. However, it’s not clear that the narrative agrees with Mara. Mara doesn’t know where to turn, and Reverie loves drawing tension from that. It thrives off of Mara’s (and the viewer’s) disorientation.
It’s certainly clear that Oliver has other plans, since he offers to buy a Reverie system at the end of the episode.
This episode also included a client of the week. Part of the reason the Onira-Tech team started out the episode on edge was a theft within the building. Someone stole a copy of Reverie, and modified it into a form of “Dark Reverie.” The “Dark” version doesn’t have restrictions. Our client of the week, Glenn, is using it to plan a heist. Since last week’s episode involved a bank robber, it’s likely Glenn needed the jailbroken version for the detailed specifications.
Glenn is a man with a stereotypical form of OCD. He avoids daylight, and hates the color blue. In a twist that should not surprise the viewer, Glenn doesn’t want to commit the heist for himself. He’s been watching the single mother and son across the street. The son has a rare disease, and Glenn wants to save his life with a trial drug. Despite mostly living inside, Glenn’s motivation is that he feels like part of the pair’s family. This entire plot feels like a math problem. Sick kid + adult with stereotypical OCD + moral heist = episodic plot.
Glenn offers to sell out “Dark Reverie” sellers and give his system back on one condition: help him do the heist. Mara complies, but Charlie and Monica have other ideas. Instead of letting Glenn steal the medication, they make a deal with the medicine company CEO. The heist goes through, but is spinned as a test of the company’s security system. Glenn gets the meds for the kid, and doesn’t get a felony on his record. Smiles all around.
Reverie‘s season arc plot wildly outstrips its episodic plots. This week’s episodic plot was probably the worst so far. However, the arc’s plot twists easily, without feeling gimmicky.