Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Supergirl Shines Though the “Fallout”

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Okay, can we just say, Supergirl hasn’t been this cracking since season one? Two episodes in and the commentary in season four is absolutely not here to play around. We love it. Kori is back for another breakdown of what is looking to shape up to be Supergirl’s best season, and she can’t wait to talk about it.

Hot damn, Supergirl writer’s room. You weren’t joking about taking a turn for the real and topical this season. Between “Fallout” and Doctor Who‘s episode of “Rosa” I felt like I had a knockout combo delivered to my feelings yesterday. Well done.

The political fallout from President Marsden’s outing as an alien is frustrating, but in a good way. Marsden was a good leader at a good time, and politics and underhanded maneuvers completely brought her presidency to a grinding halt. Now we have… a white man as president again. Joy. The split between people is deftly handled, as yeah, she’s illegally president regardless of being not human because she wasn’t born in the United States (thank you, Constitution). Some of them are plain prejudiced, and then there are those who are sympathetic like Kara and were sad she had to hide herself.

Then there’s Lena who is in the “trust no bitch” category when it comes to politicians and, look. “Fallout” is making me live for Lena again in the best possible way. But I’ll get to her in a minute.

In a great nod to our current political climate, the writers have used the president’s ouster as a mirror, pointing out that anti-alien rhetoric that had previously been confined to the darkest corners of the internet or back rooms has now become emboldened and is being openly spoken of. If you can’t see the real-world parallels (and especially with the latest news that a certain someone’s presidency is trying to completely strip away transgender as a valid identity), I don’t know how to help you.

We’re treated to Supergirl trying her best to be a voice for peace, even flying between two groups of protesters and slamming down an American flag (pole and all, because Kara is incapable of being subtle sometimes), to tell them to actually talk with each other. She’s trying to help the newly minted President Baker, but this is… not going to be easy.

Especially since Mercy Graves and her group of bigots now smell blood in the water and are emboldened to attack LCorp.

“Fallout” gave me one of my favorite tropes with secret identity heroes that I haven’t seen in some time, and not on Supergirl. The one where Kara can’t get away to switch to her superhero alter identity when a bad guy attacks.

This is where we’re back to me living for Lena. Even if I call shenanigans that Lena doesn’t know Kara is Supergirl.

When Mercy attacks LCorp, Kara is there as Kara, along with Eve Tessmacher. Lena immediately springs into action, her hero cap being whipped on as naturally as breathing, and she’s hellbent on getting the two women she views as under her protection out of this safely. Kara tries to suggest splitting up so she can go cape up, but Lena—who has wisely learned from any horror movies she’s watched in the past—knows that splitting up is a TERRIBLE IDEA to keep her charges safe. (Again, she still doesn’t know that Kara is Supergirl.)

Yeah, sure, Supergirl could save them all in five minutes, but Kara made that secret identity bed, and now she has to lie in it. Also, watching Lena protect her employees is a thing of beauty. The staging of those scenes where she instinctively plants herself physically between them and every threat they come across is a nice touch.

But it’s also hilarious to watch Kara try and communicate with Alex during the whole ordeal, and it’s a relief when Supergirl can finally come out to play and wrap up that plot line.

Elsewhere, Brainy meets Nia, and it’s the purest thing to ever pure. Nia stands up for him after the technology that makes him look human fails in public, and he’s about to be attacked by a group of bigots. The parallels there to “trans panic violence” are ever present, but here Nia is the hero, defending another person from harm. She also confronts James on his “fair and balanced” view about Catco having to be objective. It’s long been a complaint on mainstream media that they try and treat both sides “as equal measures” when in reality, some issues are more obviously awful than others. (But her emails!). I’m a trained journalist; I went to school for journalism, and I had great professors who hammered home the responsibility journalists have to report the truth as best as they can determine it. It has LONG been a critique by other journalists against mainstream media. We say it’s akin to “One side: It’s raining. Other side: It’s not raining. Mainstream Media: Instead of sticking my head outside to see which statement is the truth, I’ll write up that they both have important viewpoints.”

Supergirl isn’t here for this bullshit. After saving Brainy, Nia tells James she’s a trans woman and says why she stood up at her own personal risk. James counters that people need to have a reliable source of information for people to turn to, but Nia easily pushes back that standing up for liberty, social justice, and basic human rights isn’t a bias. It’s the right thing to do. And now we have a James who might be a character I can get behind this season, a voice in the media to push back against the tide of ugly distractions and rhetoric. Also, his suit was amazing.

Elsewhere, J’onn is continuing his street-level investigation of Fiona’s disappearance and looking deeper into what “Agent Liberty” is up to. Taking J’onn out of the DEO was the best move the show could have made. Season two and especially season three had started to feel claustrophobic, and with some distance, I realize it was because the DEO had become the nexus of the show’s universe. Season four offers more breathing room, with J’onn’s story and the re-emergence of Catco as viable, important settings.

Bottom line: After two episodes, it’s becoming readily apparent that the soft reboot from the end of season three is the best dang thing to happen to this show. The writers are so far nailing the story beats, and the political commentary is so sharp it’s cutting. I can’t wait to see how this season unfolds.

Image courtesy of the CW

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