Saturday, May 18, 2024

Supergirl Goes Back to Argo City… Again

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Welcome back, Super-faithful! Kori is no longer battling an illness, so we’re back in business on recaps! Season three is almost at an end, so let’s jump in and talk about last night’s episode, “Not Kansas.”

What in the fresh hell was this episode? It’s like everything we didn’t like about last season’s third to last episode ramped up to level five. I gave last year’s “City of Lost Children” a pass because it wound up being a really good episode for James, but we’re right back with a filler episode that makes it obvious we’re stalling for time before the final two installments of the season. When Supergirl is good, it’s really, really good. When it’s not on its game, we get “Not Kansas” and a stellar argument that DCTV seasons should all be trimmed back to 18 episodes to tighten up the season plots.

It’s not that there weren’t good story threads in this episode to explore, the problem is that the ones that should matter feel hastily thrown together, and stories that should be told in the middle of the season have been inserted to pad for time. The result feels like someone boiled a pot of plot spaghetti and just threw it on the wall and went with what stuck.

I’ve been hoping we get to see this incarnation of Supergirl meet her mother and Argo City since the series began. There’s a somewhat similar story in comic canon that I’d hoped would be adapted, because there’s just a ton of material to mine from that. And I got my wish, but it’s not been executed well. From last week, where Kara and Alura’s meeting woefully underutilized both Melissa Benoist and Erica Durance’s acting talents, to the rushing through of paint by numbers plot points to get to the season finale, this shouldn’t have been a “surprise!” moment at the end of the season. There’s plenty here for a season-long arc, and it feels like it’s been crammed in to carry this Worldkiller plot to the finish line.

At the end of last season, you had to scrape me off the ceiling after I realized they were bringing in Reign and the Worldkillers. I raved about it to Elizabeth for hours, and would literally not shut up about it. The execution of this season? I’m not that excited anymore. All of the pathos of Reign and her sisters has been stripped away or killed, and the creepy Kryptonian sisterhood of Culty Robes is far too late in the season for me to give enough of a damn that I can forgive how Reign, Purity, and Pestilence wound up being turkeys. Which is heartbreaking, because the mid-season finale where Reign handed Kara’s ass to her on a silver platter? One of the high points of the series.

I know it feels harsh, but after watching last night, I came to the realization that this is what happens when you have a new creative team for an entire series take shape after a public and infamous exit. I don’t particularly blame Supergirl for this, but I can admit that I’ve not enjoyed the season as it has run its course. But more on that in a little bit.

Let’s go back to that black kryptonite stone. We seemingly split Reign from Sam at the beginning of the episode and with a display of “see, cape tricks do work” that makes no sense, but I digress. Lena creates a solution, and we seem to have solved our Reign problem. Sam reunites with Ruby, everyone is happy, and nothing is really touched on again until the end of the episode when we find out Reign isn’t as gone as everyone thinks. From a technical aspect, I understand why they shoved all of this at the beginning of the episode. No way would Kara leave Earth to go live on Argo City permanently while Reign was still a problem. Plotwise, it gets us from point A to point B. The problem is, again, Argo City is something that should have been saved for a new season, not in the last eighth of a season with already existing arcs.

Because now we get to move to Kara taking Mon-El to go live with her happily ever after on Argo City after saying goodbye to everyone on Earth. Again, this should have been a built up story with several episodes. Kara and Alex’s relationship alone deserved more. You know what else deserved more? Kara and Alura’s relationship. Bringing back Alura is, so far, the biggest bombshell of the series and yet it’s been rushed through two episodes with all the emotional weight of a sheet of dryer lint.

Anyways, Kara’s back on Argo City with Mon-El, and it’s more awkward than anything because Argo City only exists for us to get from point B to point C so Kara can find out about the threat of the sisterhood of the Culty Robes. She does, but by the end of the episode said sisters have stolen J’onn’s spaceship and headed for Earth. Whoops.

Speaking of Mon-El, did I miss him getting a speedy space divorce that in no way affects the future alliance of Earth and Saturn in the Legion’s time? Because right now, still married! No hanky panky for you two! I’m still hoping this is somehow their final resolution and Mon-El goes back to the space sunset in two episodes. I’m tired of their perpetual relationship limbo. Soap operas like General Hospital have resolved love stories quicker and better than this.

Back on Earth, after Kara is gone, we realize there are no bulletproof superheroes left besides Superman, and they can only contractually use him like a bottle of 1945 Jeroboam of Château Mouton-Rothschild wine. That is to say very, very rarely. Which means we get a subplot about gun violence shoved in on the third to last episode of the season and what? It’s by far the worst special issue the show has tried to tackle. Normally, Supergirl has been more on the hit side when they try to incorporate heavier themes into their show. Sure we’ve had a few occasions of “Very Special Episode,” but none like “Not Kansas.” When the DEO military grade weapons wind up in the wrong hands, it’s like instead of trying to pick an element of gun reform, Supergirl tries to paint a brush over everything and have J’onn pull a season one Kara and use empathy to talk the villain down… and then immediately move to eliminate guns from the DEO.

Season one’s moment worked because of the context—Kara being depowered—and the idea that we can and should be better than this. In “Not Kansas,” I’m not even sure what the writers are trying to say beyond “guns bad.” Normally, I don’t blame writers because as Alejandra mentioned in her recent article, the workings of a show are far more complex than can be addressed by simply deciding to Twitter attack a show writer. (Let’s not do this, mmmkay?) But the writing was not executed well on this particular point. Part of the problem is they’re trying to shove this topic in at the end of the season where there’s no room for it alongside the bigger problem of “I don’t think they have writers on staff who can appropriately tackle this.”

But it is what it is, J’onn and James save the day, so good for them.

Elsewhere, J’onn prepares to say goodbye to his father (I’m still not ready for this), and Alex is high key jonesing for a kid and looking at adoption in National City. Here’s hoping that with a clean slate in season four, we get to see more from her besides “Maggie sads” and “only thinking about kids.”

Only two episodes left, we can make it!

Image courtesy of the CW

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