Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 9, “Supergirl Lives”
The hiatus is over! Supergirl is back! You have no idea how ready we were for this. Elizabeth and Gretchen were practically vibrating from excitement all day yesterday. Our happy, hopeful space family is back, and we’re so freaking happy we’re not going to do a long introduction. They don’t need one anyway.
Silly jewel thieves in a black van think that a rocket launcher will stop Supergirl (they didn’t see the crossover, apparently), and The Guardian and Winn pick up a few stragglers. Winn is injured during the struggle, and is very shaken from the experience. Kara is in a funk because she’s not helping enough people. She invites Alex over to celebrate, but Alex can’t go because SHE HAS A GIRLFRIEND. MAGGIE IS WEARING ALEX’S T-SHIRT BECAUSE SHE SLEPT OVER AT ALEX’S APARTMENT. ALEX IS SUPER HAPPY AND ADORABLE. THEY JOKE ABOUT CALLING IN SICK. (Is this fanfic? Are we dreaming? Someone send help because we might not be breathing anymore). Kara and James bicker over who really saved the day while Snapper looks grumpy (We’re so glad he’s back. We missed CatCo). A woman comes in asking for help finding her missing teenage daughter Izzy. Mon El is a (bad) bartender who dishes out (bad) advice.
Maggie helps Kara with the missing person’s case (omg, we’re so on board with this). Menacing Lab Coat Dude takes an unsuspecting young man through a portal while Roulette oversees it all. Kara teases Alex about how happy she is. Kara and Mon El track down a lead; Mon El is super awkward (he should not be allowed to talk). Lab Coat turns out to be an alien, and Kara decides to go through the portal to track down Izzy and the other missing people. Mon El joins her on the other side of the portal, on a planet with a red sun, and the portal closes before they can leave. Sucks to be Kryptonian/Daxamite right about now.
Winn justifiably blows up at James since the latter seems more concerned with fighting baddies than that Winn got hurt and could have been killed on their last mission. Kara and Mon El are captured. Alex and the DEO discover the portal; Kara and Mon El’s captor turns out to be a friendly alien who tells them they’re on a slaving planet called Maldoria. Kara and Mon El turn themselves in to find the human prisoners only to come face to face with Roulette. Alex freaks out and blames herself for Kara being missing (like a good Martell); the Dominators buy Kara and her fellow slaves. Winn admits he’s scared to go out after being hurt helping the Guardian, and Alex gives him a pep talk. Mon El is annoyed by Kara being hopeful, but Kara gives him a dressing down about being a hero for others’ sake. She then shows him how it’s done by refusing to give ground before the guards.
The slaves revolt and lock Roulette and Lab Coat in the cell. Winn geeks out about being in space, while Alex and the DEO storm slaver’s moon city. Kara lead the way out and the Dominator protects Mon El from being harmed and bows to him. Winn beats up an alien and mans the portal while Kara blows up an alien ship and frees Izzy after Alex tosses a sun bomb. The friendly alien, Jo, comes along with them. Kara stands up to Snapper. Winn teams back up with James. Alex opens up to Maggie about feeling responsible and never being happy. MAGGIE KNOWS ABOUT SUPERGIRL BECAUSE SHE KNOWS ALEX WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW SHE ONLY GETS TORN UP ABOUT KARA. (Seriously, we’re dead.) Mon El decides he wants to be a superhero. Creepy ladies from “Medusa” show up looking for Mon El on slaver’s moon, and they shoot Lab Coat after he tells them Mon El is on Earth.
Alex: “And then Supergirl went missing and I just, I blew a gasket and…”
Maggie: “Because Supergirl’s your sister.”
Alex: “What are you talking about?”
Maggie: “Come on. Look, I know you. The only person you get that torn up over is Kara. Plus, the glasses don’t help.”
Alex: “I always said that too. It’s kind of ridiculous.”
Thoughts & Feelings
Our wonderful Kryptonian puppy is back to helping people, and it was 95% worth the wait (guess who the 5% is. We dare you.). Who else would have a mild existential crisis because they stopped too many bank robberies instead of helping actual people? We really appreciate that the writers chose to make her next story one about mothers and daughters. Her belief that there is nothing more important than a mother finding her daughter fits into her character arc and is significant given her history. She has a complicated relationship with her biological mother, which Season 1 intimately explored. In the wake of finding out her father’s involvement in bio weapons last episode, it is no small thing to have Kara grasping onto a mother/daughter bond. It’s a mark of how far she’s come since wrestling with Alura In-Ze’s mixed legacy in S1.
Plus, the theme fits more broadly into the importance of mother/daughter relationships on the show. Alura/Kara, Eliza/Alex, Cat/Katherine, Supergirl has never shied away from exploring mother/daughter bonds, both positive and negative. Putting one at the center of a human trafficking investigation fits within the broader focus on female relationships. It also highlights the tendency to undermine female concerns in our society, both in situations like these and in the medical field for example. Kara goes out of her way to emphasize the importance of a mother’s concern for her daughter in the face of Snapper’s grumpy indifference. They’re a dime a dozen to a media mogul, not a story. Only Kara forces him to see that it is a story worth exploring. She follows her heart, and he’s damn proud of her for it, though he’d never let her see.
It’s also great seeing Kara be such a supportive sister. (She’s honestly the biggest Sanvers shipper of us all, and it’s freaking adorable.) Alex has spent so much time supporting Kara’s life and choices in S1 and S2, that seeing Kara giggle over Alex having a girlfriend and Alex having post ‘sick morning’ glow makes us as giddy as Alex. It’s a huge step in her arc that you can only appreciate if you’ve seen all of S1. Side note, this is the first time sex has come up in a context where Kara is not only not horrified but actually happy. We have a feeling she’d probably not freak out if she walked in on Sanvers the way she did with Winn/Siobhan and Mon El/Miss Tessmacher, to be honest. Kara is so happy for Alex, you guys. Seriously.
Also, we really, really love it when normal humans stand up for Supergirl. It happened in Season 1 and it happened again tonight. It’s beautiful. If there is a superhero trope that will bring us to instant sobs, it’s this one. Ugh. So good.
Now onto the 5% we told you to guess about: Mon El. For all those out there tempted to talk about Mon El’s ‘learning how to be a hero arc’, we’re not all that into it. Specifically, we’re not super happy with the implication that Kara (a coded minority/refugee character) has to suffer so that Privileged McWhitebread Mon El can learn how to be a decent person. We’re glad Kara might finally get a chance to be the mentor she missed out on being with Kal. That’s awesome. Yay, Kara! But when too much focus is put on Mon El ‘learning how to be a hero’, we honestly can’t avoid the implication that Kara’s suffering was the immediate catalyst, and that makes us uncomfortable, especially when you consider what a banal, kind of awful person Mon El is.
Mon El spends the majority of his time being either useless, sexist, otherwise douchey, awkward, or all four. And he’s not awkward in a fun way either because it usually is connected to him being sexist or douchey. Are we really supposed to find it cute that Mon El doesn’t know how to take a hint and refuses to listen to Kara telling him to buzz off? It’s actually kind of stalker-y. She rightly points out that his refusal to listen to her cut them off from the DEO when she told him to go get help. And he blithely dismisses her frustration with a “Welp, too late now”. Are we supposed to be charmed by the fact that his contribution to Kara’s very interesting story about visiting other planets was a gross comment about how the magic crystal planet was a great place to take a girl and get in her pants? We can’t even with this.
Did we also mention he’s kind of useless? Sure, he knocks down an alien that was going to jump Supergirl. We’ll give him that. Then again, maybe we won’t because the only reason he was there in the first place was because he ignored Kara’s direct order to go get Alex and the DEO. What else did he contribute this episode? Nothing. The lazy ass took his second day off of work (who does that?). He refuses to listen to Kara more than once. He tells her to stay out of trouble (what?) and then shoves that in her face again when they end up in prison. When she tries to inspire the prisoners, he tells her to stop being hopeful because not helping people staying safe is better. He then stands by as she gets tasered and saved by the others. Mon El is one of the most useless characters on the show, and we might forgive him that if he weren’t such an entitled dillweed who doesn’t understand the words “no” and “get help”. That’s not ‘Goofus’, that’s ‘dickwad’.
Fine, we’ll say something nice about him. He’s the designated “I have a bad feeling about this” character this episode, which we liked. We appreciate when at least one characters says “yeah, maybe don’t go there”. It’s a nice trope. Not enough to justify having so much Mon El, but we want to prove we can appreciate a Mon El scene if he’s not being useless or douchey.
We also need to mention that Daxam had slaves, which Mon El acknowledges, so Krypton had at least some legitimate reason to feel snooty about them that’s not prejudice/culture clash. Based on other things Mon El has said about this home planet, the implication seems to be that slavery funded the partying ways of the upper classes on Daxam. Yes, Mon El also said he disagreed with it, but you can totally disagree with something verbally while doing precisely jack all to help fix the problem, or worse participate in it because ‘that’s just our culture’ or ‘that’s just how things are.’ Remember that this is also the guy who found it perfectly reasonable to allow a woman to do all his work for him because she “wanted to please him”. Which is to say, that he’s not a paragon of virtue for not believing people should be treated as chattel. In fact, everything else we know about him seems to imply the exact opposite.
Let’s take a few seconds to remind everyone that Mon El is the prince of Daxam (or, at least, all the clues point that way, and there were a lot of clues this episode). He is an authority figure with an incredible amount of power. Him saying ‘I don’t agree with slavery’ becomes even more of a hollow statement than at face value, because we know he would be one of the few people on his planet and in his culture who could do something about it. Obviously an abolition movement cannot be launched in a weekend, but a paltry denial of support for slavery just isn’t enough from this character for us to think of him as a remotely good person. As we stated above, his treatment of women on earth and his general demeanor doesn’t really support his assertion that he has a problem with servitude if it benefits him. He’s a lazy, dumb, directionless, self-centered, sexist pig. Elizabeth has a few more choice words for him but she’s trying to cut down on the swearing in the new year.
If it feels like we’re being a little unnecessarily harsh here, good. Elizabeth has previously been willing to give him a chance, especially in the first four episodes of the season where he was reasonably benign. If this mentorship arc had started five episodes ago when they had first seeded it, maybe we’d despise his character less. But he is, in every conceivable way, a terrible and selfish person. He doesn’t deserve to fetch Kara’s coffee, let alone work at her side along with real heroes like Alex, Maggie and J’onn.
Basically what we’re saying is we can’t wait for Mon El’s lead allergy to make a second appearance so they can lock him in the phantom zone far away from our darling Kara Danvers. He is storytelling dead weight hanging off the neck of this show and he needs a hail mary course correction or he needs to go.
On to the joyfest happy gaysplosion that was Sanvers. Happy. Sanvers. Times. Like, we can’t underscore enough just how important it is that we got so many of the things we got: 1) Alex says she has a girlfriend, (as does Kara) and the word ‘girlfriend’ is being used with wild abandon! 2) reference to sex/sleeping over, 3) Maggie in Alex’s shirt, 4) Alex and Maggie get to be happy, 5) they joke about calling in sick (and then call in sick), 6) Alex had an after-sex glow that Kara noticed and was happy for her about. It’s like every single m/f romcom trope come to life. Either that or we were transported into fanfic territory, which isn’t the first time we’ve felt this way about Sanvers. Ali Adler and the rest of the writing team really know how to cater to their wlw audience by giving them what they never thought they’d see on screen. Also, Gretchen needs to say that she and Kori totally called domestic Sanvers. *high five*
If we had to keep turning around in overwhelming joy before the hiatus, this week’s episode sent us hiding under blankets. We’re not quite sure what it is we’re feeling, but boy is there a lot of it. Joy? Validation? Hope? Comfort? Inspiration? We’re going with ‘all of the above.’ It’s overwhelming to watch because it’s all so natural, and it now exists in genre fiction, not just in media that is specifically made for us. It is also still a dominant arc within the show, commanding more screen time in half a season than most wlw romances get in the full run of a show.
We’ve talked before about how the scripting and acting of the Sanvers scenes is really exposing, and this week’s episode doubled down on that. It’s a good kind of exposing, a validating kind, but it is still really new and overwhelming to watch. Our hope is that this becomes normal enough that it is no longer quite so… ‘much’ to watch emotionally. It is, and always has been, a very true-to-life depiction of an adult wlw romance with a predominantly happy tone. We’re just not used to it, is all. We hope to get used to it going forward this year!
While the domestic bliss is wonderful, it’s short-lived. Alex completely shame spirals out of it once Kara goes missing, but that’s not all that surprising. She’s new to being a wlw, hasn’t been in a relationship in over two years, and has a shit ton of baggage about protecting Kara from her childhood. This isn’t a sign that they’re doomed or going to break up, it’s a normal hurdle for these two women, especially with Alex’s history. It felt very much like a normal (and inevitable) bump in the road for these two. Like several other factors of this relationship, we totally called it, and we’re glad it’s being handled so quickly rather than being obnoxiously dragged out.
We do love that Alex calls out the fear every wlw has that if they’re happy for a second, their world will fall apart. Real talk folks, the scene were Alex talks about how she’s always felt so responsible and that whenever she did something for herself, it blew up in her face? Gretchen feels this deeply in her soul. Up until this past year, that was exactly what life felt like. It’s too real, and such a normal feeling when you’ve had enormous responsibility and maturity thrust on you coupled with a need to focus on someone else’s well being. Yes, life happens and nothing stays happy forever, but when you’re not used to acknowledging yourself or your own happiness, that first Bad Thing™ that happens once you do so can feel like karma. And the easiest thing to do is call it inevitable and run away because you’re Doomed and Can Never Be Happy.
Elizabeth feels this deeply as well, especially with the feeling that the second you allow yourself to be happy, the rug is going to get yanked out from under you. When you are someone with this state of mind, it is incredibly difficult to just relax and feel safe. It burrows under your skin and quietly works to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading you to make exactly the same impulsive mistake that Alex made. It’s hard to watch in its realness, but wonderfully done. It’s probably also why watching the happy scenes was so difficult for both of us. It feels unreal (in a good way).
And all of this is incredibly difficult to emotionally navigate, even before you start adding in how fragile wlw relationships can feel, especially if you’re new to them. There’s an ephemerality to them, a fear that they’re going to end badly (gee I wonder why). We can’t fault Alex for her fear that Kara disappearing was the world punishing her for focusing on herself for once, especially given her family baggage. We also can’t fault her for the unspoken fear that Maggie might end the relationship because of the Kara situation and Alex’s lack of forthrightness about Kara being Supergirl.
We’d also like to take a minute to praise the DC gods that Maggie figured out Kara/Supergirl. She’s a motherfreaking detective. We would have been annoyed if she didn’t get it. Also? It saves Alex the struggle that James had in Season 1 about trying to forcibly out Kara to simplify his love life with Lucy.
That being said we are hoping for a quick scene where Maggie pulls Kara aside and lets her know, woman to woman, that she figured it out and that she will keep that secret safe. It’s a small thing, but we’d say it’s necessary to avoid ambiguity in the future.
Back to Sanvers. You know who else we can’t fault? Maggie. Since we first met her on the show, she has been broken up with and called all sorts of names. She’s also made it clear that she’s had other difficult relationships in the past. We honestly can’t fault her for being overly cautious about Alex, especially about Alex pushing her away for no specified reason. Maggie literally just got out of a relationship that ended with the other women calling her ‘borderline sociopathic.’ If your last girlfriend says she never wants to see you again, then your current girlfriend says “she can’t do this now”, thinking a breakup is imminent isn’t unreasonable. Especially if said current girlfriend is new to the wlw dating arena. Maggie, true to form, turtles up over it, and is very clearly bracing herself for the inevitable. Her tone of voice went from hot to cold real quick, and it sent Elizabeth into a shipping panic for the last third of the episode until the fight was resolved. Call us paranoid, but we have good reason to be.
All that to say, we’re willing to give Maggie the benefit of the doubt and understand that the situation she’s in is difficult. There’s no right or wrong here, and we’re glad the show didn’t try to paint it that way. These women have their own baggage they’re bringing to the relationship and they’re working through it like adults: talking about it and being honest. We hope we get more Maggie Sawyer backstory after this. It’s desperately needed.
Also, that hug after they make up? So intimate. Even more intimate than kissing, we would argue. The show does a very good job of teasing out the precise type of physical connection required for an emotional moment. Not just with Sanvers, either; Kara and Alex’s interactions are most notably wonderful in this way. But the hug between Alex and Maggie, once again, feels so real, and a part of that is probably helped by the fact that they’ve kissed onscreen a few times. The hug is used in addition to more ‘traditional’ romantic queues, not as a substitute. This is actually sort of new territory for genre fiction wlw couples; we can’t wait to see where it goes next.
The Guardian was a minor arc this episode, and mostly focused on Winn, which was nice for a change. We’re so glad he got a chance to call James out and express his fear of getting hurt. As the guy in the suit (and a large, muscular man), James doesn’t understand that being a superhero can be frightening because it’s dangerous. Winn experiences that danger first hand, calls out James, then gets a chance to face his fears with Alex and the DEO. And geek out on another planet. Like, J’onn’s “Martians can’t go to Maldoria because of air quality reasons” is an obvious plot device, but we don’t mind so long as it benefits nerdy Winn. He’s a precious dork. Also a terrible liar. No way anyone believed he was mugged.
James continues to disappoint with the execution of his arc. We get what the writers are going for, in theory, but in practice, it’s executed almost as poorly as Mon El’s. The elephant in the room is how he finds time to run CatCo and be a superhero when Cat Grant slept 3 hours and her day still left little room for going to parties, much less staying up late fighting crime. The unintended implication is that James is better at her job than she is, which is…both wrong and very frustrating. Anyway, James is using his position as head of CatCo not to help people or spread hope (like Cat did), but to shove The Guardian stories in Snapper Carr’s face. He’s using his position of authority to rep himself. This is gross. He seems to care more about the glory than about helping people, which is even more pronounced when Winn calls him out for coming to praise himself instead of check on Winn’s health.
Again, we get what they’re trying to do with James, but it feels off tonally. He’s too entitled about it, too vain. He’s too focused on himself instead of other people. But maybe that’s the point? He and Mon El acting as foils of each other’s ‘hero’s journey’ as they each learn how they’ve prioritized themselves? We don’t know. Maybe they’ll go that route. It could work. Only if the writers do, it would feel like James was being sacrificed to service Mon El’s arc, which we’re already leery of with Kara and Mon El. It’s unpleasant to feel like a white male character’s arc is being centralized over a woman and a black man, especially when some of the producers keep pushing Mon El as this big, important, meaningful character we should care about. You know who we already cared about? James and Kara.
Alex owns an orange shirt that says Hello Sunshine on it. This is a fantastic piece of information to have.
- Melissa Benoist has really started nailing the wirework, especially her landings. They look fantastic.
- Snapper has his own version of the ‘Pick Two’ Conundrum: Coffee, Danish, Five Minutes Peace and Quiet. We desperately need more of him in our lives.
- Roulette in that red dress. Damn. We haven’t seen the last of her maybe? (We sure as hell hope not).
- Alex said she has a girlfriend. ACK.
- Why did Mon El find it necessary to correct himself when he said ‘Gods?’ We feel like there is a piece of worldbuilding missing here.
- Do humans have powers on red sun planets? Like reverse Kryptonians? That would be cool.
- Winn is the king of sci-fi references this episode with both Stargate and Star Trek (the red shirts). He’s such a fucking nerd. It’s the best.
- Winn x Alex is brotp
- Fist bumps aren’t really romantic chemistry. Just saying.
- Elizabeth also has a ‘snitching crinkle’ between her eyes.
- A+ Zoolander reference (“I’ve got the black lung”). Alex is such a nerd.
- Can we all appreciate that Maggie’s “Always happy to help a Danvers” may have been a sex joke?
- The portable sun was f*cking amazing.
- “Now you’re thinking in portals!” See, this is how you do referential nerd humor. Make it plot relevant and have it delivered from a character who believably understands the joke. Don’t just mash together ‘nerd words’ into alphabet soup and put a laugh track over it.
- The Thanagarian Snare Beast joke is a nod to the infamous Superman Lives script editing fiasco that Kevin Smith was involved in a number of years ago. If you have never heard the story of the Superman movie starring Nic Cage that thankfully died on the vine and never saw the light of day, please treat yo’self to part one and part two.
We should probably mention that no one brought up the holes in reality from “Medusa”, nor did Kara talk at all about going to another dimension to fight Dominators, only to find them slaving in her own dimension. Kind of weird, but we’re not entirely surprised that such a massive crossover event caused some wonkiness in the plot. Elizabeth did not notice the plot holes, shockingly, as she is usually the obsessive frame-by-framer type, which is once again a testament to Supergirl’s level of audience immersion. Supergirl was The Fandomentals’ 2016 Show of the Year, and it is continuing to live up to that legacy in 2017. We eagerly anticipate where our favorite show takes us next.
Tune in next week for the return of Livewire!
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.