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
Black Lightning Episode 1-5 In Review
This week, Black Lightning is on a hiatus so here are some thoughts on the show so far. New episodes return next week.
As a whole, Black Lightning is one of my favorite shows on TV right now, and of the 381 (I have a list) shows I’ve watched in my 24 years. It does so many things well, and what I don’t like is situated in a very specific context. For example, I love how the show hammers home that there are consequences to everything.
Consequences and Bad Guys
Last week’s episode ended with Jefferson as Black Lightning knocked out in the water when his suit gave him problems in a fight with Joey Toledo, Tobias’ right hand man. It was a bleak moment, but highlights how everything feels grounded! From the fights between Jefferson and various baddies, the deaths we’ve seen, and to Tobias doing anything, nothing is cartoonish. There are consequences to actions.
Sure dropping a lackey into a tank of piranhas is a bit much…but Tobias is terrible and terrifying and his traumatic childhood is not used as an excuse for his current actions. Rather they situate Tobias and Tori as adults (whose ages we don’t actually know) trying to control their world. I wonder if Tori has her own crime syndicate in Miami? Oh hey, that would be a cool webseries…
The dedication to showing consequences of people’s actions does have me worried with the portrayal of Khalil’s future arc. I understand the impetus behind his arc. Unless the writers flip the script, it’ll highlight how easy it is for people like Tobias and his lackeys to prey on young men without other options.
And I do not mean to simplify the many reasons why a young man may choose to deal drugs or why there is violence across so many American cities. But Khalil’s existence now for Tobias is as a scapegoat to turn BL into the bad guy. Again, disability in DCTV is merely a plot point for villains or temporary.
On the flip side, Anissa as an out and proud activist lesbian is awesome!
Ladies Loving Ladies
Once the season ends, I’ll write a full length piece on Anissa, Chenoa, and Grace. Even with only three episodes to really pull from, the writers established a lot about Anissa and Freeland. We saw in week 2 how she had a key for Chenoa’s place, and her parents knew her name, but that’s as far as that one year relationship had gone. Their sex was mindblowing, sure (which how incredible to finally see two Black woman make love as an affirmative thing), but Anissa wasn’t committed to Chenoa. Understandably she was pissed at the Ruby Red Lipstick Bar (I love that Freeland has a lesbian bar) and said some hurtful things to Anissa.
I wish we had (or maybe we will) seen Chenoa one last time, but the moment Anissa laid eyes on Grace, it was pretty clear we were getting the slow-burn there. And this is what’s so great about the show, by five episodes both Anissa and Grace have been affirmatively labeled by the show as a lesbian and bisexual woman. No need to assume and no need for obnoxious fandom labeling conversations.
However, with Grace as a super recurring character, who knows when we’ll see Chantal Thuy next and how she’ll factor into the next portion of Anissa’s development into Thunder. And if she receives a series regular promotion, whether or not she joins the Pierce family+Gambi shenanigans.
Pierce Family Passion
I LOVE ONE FAMILY. Look, representation is not revolutionary and won’t meet any of our material needs on a global scale. Instead, representation is required and our media should look like us. But I’d be remiss to say that centering a show on a Black man who loves his family isn’t a huge freaking deal!!!
Specifically because of the racist sentiment that Black fathers aren’t around for their kids. This doesn’t consider that a) 1.5 million Black men are “missing” or b) the Black men that are fathers, they are the most involved with their children of any other group of dads!
So watching Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce, completely in love with his ex-wife and two daughters is stunning and I am so glad the show is about the Pierce family now instead of Jefferson years ago. Their passion for their home and each other is one of the bigger successes of the show.
(Though I’d love a flashback of him first realizing his powers since it would have been in response to a very emotional moment).
Who is he? We know he and Alvin Pierce were super close, he’s Jefferson’s surrogate father, and from an interview that the girls think of him as a grandpa. Yet we’ve only seen him interact with JefferLynn and Tobias! And he knows Tori? I want to know everything about him and really hope the next eight episodes reveal more. As the only white guy the writers invite us to care about, Gambi is important. He’s got this amazing boutique and clearly knows his technology. (Is he making Anissa’s outfit?)
But he’s hiding more than Tobias from Jefferson, like what I assume is his understanding that Anissa was on camera in episode 3. Likely more secrets related to Alvin Pierce too. Plus just how does he afford all his tech? The show is so good with details that it seems suspect we’ve yet to see more of that aspect…
Otherwise, Gambi is a really interesting lens into the show’s statements about so many issues.
The show has effectively made multiple statements not just about police brutality, drugs, or violence. Even the brief mention of the Tuskeegee experiments is significant with Greenlight and its entry into Freeland. I think its usage of Gambi as BL’s greatest champion as a hero pulled out of “retirement” as compared to Anissa and soon Jennifer’s journeys is really compelling.
I honestly don’t have the expertise to write a lengthy piece on the show’s usage of Malcolm X, MLK Jr, or others like Harriet Tubman but I think Anissa’s Malcolm vs. Jefferson’s MLK Jr. vs Black Lightning’s Malcolm is clear just from the show’s dialogue.
The scene between Anissa, her parents, and the Henderson’s is a great example. Is Black Lightning a vigilante who is hurting the police attempt’s to fight the 100 gang or everything else? (How is Henderson actually feeling about his inability to stop the 100 gang long-term?) Or is he stepping in where no one else will and making a difference? Does nonviolence actually work, or nah? How do we meet the material needs of oppressed groups, here black people?
The latter questions are debated at length and I don’t think Black Lightning is trying to conclusively answer them. Though the former two are definitely at the core of the show.
The same goes for the writers’ strong use of religious imagery in implicit and explicit ways.
Book of Black Lightning
Abrahamic religion and their prophets are explicitly referenced from the episode titles to the show dialogue. Abrahamic religion is a huge part of the show. The titles all tell a story, even the non “Book of” titles like “Resurrection” and “Black Jesus” have their own. We even saw a Methodist church for Lawanda’s funeral! It makes sense because the Akils are actually Muslim. I hope we get some Black Muslims too in the show.
Jefferson is Black Jesus (resurrection), then Black Lightning is Moses (the latter was reluctant at first to lead). Obviously Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have differences in their telling of Moses’ story but it’s pretty apparent what’s happening here. Lady Eve is Pharaoh and I’m not quite sure on who Tobias is yet, but I’ll figure it out by season’s end when I’ll write a long article about everything else we get this season.
- When will Syonide get to talk extensively? One Syonide in the comics has a girlfriend and I would love to see the show’s take on that.
- Someone find the scripts for me because each episode feels like it’s cramming a usual script and a half’s worth of stuff into one 45 minute episode.
- I hope this show doesn’t get 22 episodes this fall. I find it works better as a short season show.
What do y’all want answers to or have thoughts on? Next week, the show returns to Jefferson looking for Alvin’s murderer and so much more.
Image courtesy of The CW
Rise and Fall: The Chi’s “Penetrate a Fraud” Is Joy, Heartbreak, and Fear
Welcome back to Lena Waithe’s The Chi, where this week we see some characters start to rise from pain while others fall all the way into it.
Let’s start with Brandon, who hit a low point last week when Jerrika showed up to the block party with another guy. Then Brandon confronted Ronnie, telling him he hopes Coogie’s murder haunts him for the rest of his life before walking alone into the darkness. This week, things are looking a little better for our tender-hearted guy. A big reason for that is Sarah, his boss’s wife/all-around manager of things at the restaurant. There is a serious mutual crush happening, and in this episode she gives him an opportunity to prove himself: he’s going to be in charge of the food for a very large and fancy wedding anniversary catering gig. He pulls it off without a hitch and Sarah thanks him, saying the restaurant isn’t doing as well as everyone thinks and they really needed a good night like this one.
Side note, my parents ran a restaurant for more than 10 years, and it is so true that even popular upscale places are in a constant struggle to keep their heads above water. It is a very unforgiving industry, and this little corner of the storyline hit home for me. Plus, my mom was the Sarah, basically doing every little thing and never stopping, so I appreciate her as a character.
Anyway, the other immediate event in Brandon’s world is the revelation that his mother and Greavy got married at the courthouse without telling him. They’re planning a backyard barbecue celebration that night and were hoping he could do some of the food. Brandon is angry, still resentful of Greavy, and storms off. But Greavy goes after him and is a little softer toward him, saying that it would mean a lot to his mother if he were there, and also that he’ll do right by her.
In the end, Brandon, high off of a successful night that will likely mean a lot to his career, takes Sarah and the leftover catering food to his mom’s house. The joy Laverne feels that her son shows up is such a perfect illustration of how much mothers love their children. Brandon ends up making a really nice speech about the new couple, and it’s nice to see everyone in that string-lights-and-Heineken-filled backyard so full of smiles. Oh and then Brandon and Sarah kiss, so, that will be interesting next week.
Meanwhile, some other mothers are having an unexpectedly great day of their own. Ethel takes Jada to get their nails done as a thank you for patching up Ronnie’s gunshot wound/saving his life. They end up bonding and we learn that Jada has not been prioritizing dating or her sexual needs, since she has approximately 100 million other things on her plate. But after her conversation with Ethel, Jada comes home to an empty house, lights candles along the edge of the bathtub, and masturbates with the shower head. I am so here for Jada taking care of herself. Also I will always associate showerhead masturbation with that scene in The Runaways where Joan Jett—aka a still-not-publicly-out Kristin Stewart—tells her bandmate to think of Farrah Fawcett in order to get off. Iconic.
The reason Jada came home to an empty house is that Emmett has been extremely busy with his and Amir’s burgeoning shoe business. Amir “borrows” $5,000 from his uncle Habib, and he and Emmett follow a tip Emmett got about some rich white person who wanted to unload a shoe collection. Turns out it’s a day-drinking divorcee who wants to sell her husband’s garage full of sneakers. The two jump on it, thinking they’ve scored the shoes for half, if not less, of what they’re worth.
Emmett gets to work putting the word out to his network of sneakerheads and sets up the van full of shoes in an underpass, where he sells almost all of them. Until one guy rolls up, looks at the shoes, and tells Emmett they’re knockoffs (something to do with SKU numbers). Then he accuses Emmett of “penetrating a crime” on him and pulls a gun on him and Emmett Jr., who is in his arms. Emmett Jr. basically never stops crying; is that what real babies are like? Anyway, luckily the guy doesn’t actually shoot but Emmett is sufficiently freaked out. It remains to be seen how this will unfold with the “business partnership.”
As we continue down our path of characters’ best days to worst days, Ronnie is still halfway dead, stumbling around town bleeding through his clothes. He goes back to Common’s mosque, where he is told he’ll be welcome to come in and talk, but despite looking tempted, he doesn’t do it—yet. Ronnie is also trying to find someone who will unlock Jason’s phone. He finds Jason’s girlfriend. Ronnie didn’t know he had a girlfriend, or that she is pregnant, or that Jason knew she was pregnant and so did Tracey. Or that Tracey didn’t want Jason to see her, or that Jason wanted to quit basketball. There was a lot Ronnie didn’t know, but Jason’s girlfriend unlocked the phone for him, so now he can look through pictures.
But guess who else wants to look at the phone: Detective Cruz. He brings Ronnie in for questioning, and backhandedly proposes they help each other: Cruz won’t push too hard to pin Coogie’s murder to Ronnie, and Ronnie will give Cruz Jason’s phone. I guess so he can figure out what happened and get back in the department’s good graces before anyone exposes the fact that he’s the reason Ronnie knew about Coogie having robbed Jason’s body. Cruz doesn’t seem to find much on the phone—mostly a lot of selfies—but he sees that the last call made was to 911. So that’s interesting.
Lastly, we have the boiling-point tensions between Trice, Reg, and their crew and Q and his. Q stole Trice’s dog (the same one Coogie used to feed) and has been taunting him with her for weeks. Now, he uses her as a distraction, taunting Trice into conversation while Q’s two guys sneak into the house to see what Reg, Trice, and co. have in there. Trice tells Q to go back to Cuba, so we now know where he was before coming back to Chicago. Q points out to Trice that he never got back to him about who might have killed Jason and why. He’s clearly hung up on something with Tracey; maybe he’s Jason’s real father? I don’t know.
Regardless, Q’s guys report back on the specific kinds of military guns Reg and co. stole a lot of last week. And at the end of the episode, the three of them straight-up kill everyone in the house and steal the guns. I don’t know if Trice or Reg were there, but I’m concerned for Jake?!?!
That’s it for this week, let’s hope next week we get to see the kids and the lesbians again, because I miss them and this episode ended on an extremely dark note.
Images from The Chi Courtesy of Showtime
Legends of Tomorrow Gets Stuck in a Time Loop
Starting off intensely, we see Zari racing against time to get Gideon to execute some simulation program that she wants to keep a secret from the team. Things don’t go as planned because the Legends come back from a mission that involved Napoleon Bonaparte and disco clothing. While Nate and Amaya leave the bridge to discuss the fact that they just had sex during a mission, Sara gets pissed at Zari when Gideon stops working and she finds out about Z’s secret simulation.
Taking the captain position hard, Sara argues with Zari about it, despite Ray’s concern about her mood given Constantine’s warning. Zari reveals that she wanted to find loopholes in history so she could exploit them to avoid the dark future she knows as 2042. As Zari goes to fix the ship, she is hit with some neon fluid from a tube. As she tries to see if Gideon is back online, the Waverider explodes…
…and we’re back to Zari arguing with Sara.
Zari tries to figure out what’s going on, first talking to Mick, then snooping on Nate and Amaya’s post intercourse conversation, and finally Ray to no avail. In the end, the ship explodes again and we’re back to Sara, who ends up twisting Zari’s arm by accident. She ends up being taken to the med bay where she gets sedated and thus back again with the day starting over. Her next move is to try to explain the whole thing to the crew, but it still doesn’t work for multiple attempts.
Until Nate believes her and tells Zari to talk to him again and quotes “Groundhog Day,” which leaves me wondering why pop culture can’t update its timeloop references. Say “Edge of Tomorrow” or even “Happy Death Day” if we want current. Nevertheless, as soon as she wakes up again, she goes to Nate. The two theorize that the explosion comes from within the ship instead of some outside force. Some other stuff happens, but in the end, the ship explodes.
Zari’s newest attempt starts with her teaming up with Nate to go after Rory. It takes a few other attempts, but they eventually figure out that, despite his initial suspicious behavior—doing his laundry—Mick’s was only hiding his novel. They go check on Ray, who ends up revealing, rather easily, that Constantine had told him to kill Sara when Mallus takes over. The duo decide to go after Sara now, fearing that she may be possessed and exploding the ship. Ray shrinks Zari and himself in order to spy on Sara.
What they find is rather the opposite: just a flirtatious facetime conversation with Ava — to quote the poet, “This is a gays only event, go home!”. The two talk about their own experiences being bossy and how Sara has faith in Zari, but she ends up dodging one of Ava’s attempts to go over to the ship and hang out. Sadly, Sara ends up crushing Ray and Zari, as she thought they were a fly.
Once again, Zari goes to Nate, but she’s feeling quite tired. Nate suggests they have fun with it given the lack of consequences, so cue the fun montage. Eventually, the fun runs out and Zari tries to kill herself, but fails. This time though, Sara manages to believe Zari’s story and enlists the whole team to look for bombs. The Legends try the trash compactor and find Gary, the Bureau agent. Mick takes a device from his hand and destroys it, thinking it was the bomb, but instead, it was what originated the time loop: Gary had boarded the Waverider because of an alert that the ship would explode so he had created the one-hour loop which would give enough time for the time to defuse the bomb. So now, the device is broken and the team has five minutes to find the bomb before they truly die.
Using the Chekhovian move, Sara finds the bomb inside a disc play. If I understant it correctly, Napoleon had gotten his hand on a CD player with ABBA’s “Waterloo” in it, which he had used to win the war? Something campy like that, for sure. Seeing as the bomb will explode, Zari locks herself with the bomb in a force field so she can say her last words to the team which, as expected, is mostly advice she picked up from her time during the time loop.
As the timer stops, Zari finds herself in the company of humanoid!Gideon, the same one that kissed Rip Hunter that one time (I’m glad they end up finding ways to bring Amy Pemberton on board!). Gideon tells her that, in real life, Zari is healing at the med bay, but her mind is with Gideon at her matrix. Turns out Zari’s simulator had not only worked but done all the job regarding the timeloops to show that Zari needs the Legends’ help in order to find the loophole to save 2042.
As she wakes up, Zari gets Ray to confess his secret to Sara so she can prove that she indeed was inside the matrix. As Sara and Zari have a chat, it circles between their will to save people and a nice little loophole that may just give Z a chance to spare her brother’s life.
Capping off the episode, we finally meet Firestorm’s replacement after the CW confirmed it a few weeks back: Rip Hunter tracks down Wally West in China to ask him for help to save the universe.