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Ugly Sobbing (and a Bit of Griping) About The Martian Chronicles

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 11, “The Martian Chronicles”

Last week was the Martian forgiveness episode that gave us all the feels. This week, we get the climax to that arc when the White Martians come to Earth in search of M’gann. It’s a fast-paced thriller of an episode, one of the tightest this season, if not ever, and we had such a great time watching. Though we might need to go cry some more about our favorite Martians. At least we got some nerdy t-shirts and Kara x food fluff alongside the heavy-hitting emotional arc that is “The Martian Chronicles.”

Guess what? Tonight is also officially halfway through the season. *cue Bon Jovi*

Quick Recap

At the alien bar, Kara confronts Mon-El directly about their conversation and confirms they’re “not a good match.” She basically says, “It’s not you, no wait it is you.” Whew, now that’s over. Mon-El leaves and Alex joins her, at which point Kara gushes about what she wants to do for her “Earth Birthday” (the anniversary of her arrival on Earth). But, Maggie surprised Alex with concert tickets to Barenaked Ladies (?!), and she wants to go. Supportive Kara is supportive and tells Alex to go have fun. M’gann takes out the trash and calls out J’onn for following her around. J’onn warns against the White Martians (hereafter, WM) and just as M’gann says they’re NBD, one shows up. Kara joins the fight, but the WM gets away.

She’s so excited for this concert, guys. Like, really, really excited.

WM show up at M’gann’s work, and we learn it’s her former hubby that she thought she’d killed. Hubby threatens her friends unless she turns herself over. J’onn confronts her again in the alley to tell her to let him and Team Super protect her (*cue crying*). Maggie wants Alex to be honest about her feelings and tells her to talk to Kara before the concert. Alex and Kara both apologize to each other at the DEO. M’gann shows up to apologize to J’onn, then another M’gann shows up to apologize to J’onn. This means WM is in the DEO! He attacks J’onn and the lights go out, allowing WM to disappear. J’onn puts the DEO on lockdown to trap WM, but WM is a shape-shifter and can look like any of them. And he can read minds. Cue everyone shouting and pointing guns. (Yay! Vasquez is back!)

J’onn can’t find the WM through mind reading because there’s psychic interference. J’onn tells them that fire reveals the WM skin, so they take turns holding their hands up to a lit Bunsen burner. Turns out WM is Winn, and he attacks everyone. Also, WM sabotaged the reactor that powers the building; it’s gonna blow and take out a chunk of the city with it. They need to find the real Winn to shut it all down, so they split up. Alex and Kara have a heart to heart about communicating better and are more honest. J’onn tells M’gann how much he cares about her. They find Winn attached to the ceiling with webs. They also find another body on the far wall: Alex. Turns out there are two WMs! Kara and WM!Alex duke it out. J’onn takes Winn to shut it down the reactor while M’gann stays with Alex.

J’onn dukes it out with WM!Hubby until M’gann joins him. While Winn hacks them all to safety, Kara knocks out WM #2, and M’gann kills her former hubby, for good this time. When WM #2 wakes up, Alex shoots it with her snazzy gun from Maaldoria. Alex checks in with Maggie. M’gann tells J’onn she’s going back to Mars to find other WMs like herself who want to break the cycle. Alex shows up with a cupcake at Kara’s door, and they have a heart to heart for realsies this time. M’gann admits she cares for J’onn and they share a Martian moment of intimacy with the mind meld before she leaves for her former hubby’s ship to go back to Mars (NO!! DON’T GO!!). Kara runs into Mon-El at Catco heading out to lunch with Miss Tessmacher, and she seems disappointed that he’s moved on so quickly.

Best quote: “We’re the monsters Armek, this skin is beautiful.”—M’gann M’orzz

Thoughts & Feelings

Boy, this one didn’t sit well with a good chunk of the fandom, did it? We’d like to start off by making a small suggestion to the writing staff: if a significant chunk of your viewing audience could have an otherwise excellent episode ruined by the last five minutes, perhaps it’s time to abandon this course?

Now, obviously we run in the queer circles on social media, but we both saw almost nothing about the incredible rising tension of the episode, J’onn and M’gann’s amazeballs scenes, or even just the great fights between the White Martians and our heroes. Almost everyone from our Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook feedback sampling was talking about how awful Alex’s suggestion to Kara was, and how equally abysmal Kara’s reaction to it was. Elizabeth has been through the episode twice, and despite the fact that she consciously knows that 90% of it was good, she’s having trouble articulating that because fuck Mon-El.

Elizabeth is not doing so well on her “no swearing” resolution. Oops.

Alright, let’s start with some good, like Kara and Alex continuing to inch their way into some very necessary conversations. We’re also glad Alex is getting caught up in her relationship with Maggie because it shines a spotlight on how overly involved Kara and Alex are in each other’s lives sometimes. Alex blowing off Kara’s Earth Birthday is not a nice thing, but it’s not entirely surprising that this is something that would happen. We would like to emphasize that while Alex’s actions are hurtful and selfish, Alex is allowed to be an imperfect character. It should also be pointed out that Alex apologized later in the episode, and while Kara is clearly going through some… things… Alex is still there for her, if not necessarily on call 24/7. And this is a development that needs to happen because Kara really needs to start addressing her abandonment issues.

Though Alex reassures Kara that she’s not going anywhere, it’s pretty clear that Kara doesn’t entirely believe that. Considering how often this season Kara appears in a specifically framed shot all alone, this is building up to something big within the narrative. We despise that Mon-El might play an integral part in this development, however, we do like the potential directions it could take. The thing is, we can’t fairly make a judgment call on this plot until we actually see it.

Believe us; we’re just as frustrated as you. But the show does have a tendency to take a hard left when you expect it to go right. Alex and Kara’s relationship has always been the emotional center of the show, and we suggest that this relationship is being deliberately tested. We’re only halfway through the season; there’s still time for this to go in an epic direction. Patience is a virtue, after all. Especially with Supergirl.

A quick pause to take an aside to talk about how supportive Maggie is. For all the haters out there who have ragged on Maggie, we’re not here for that. At every step of Alex’s journey, she has listened, understood, and respected her. Last night, she proved once again that she understands Alex really well. Not only did she gently call Alex out for repressing her feelings, she knew Alex needed to talk to Kara to work it out and encouraged her to so. She also understood Alex’s situation with the DEO and the alien attack. It’s exactly what we would expect from two people in the police force/DEO. We’re glad they didn’t make this into drama. Plus, Maggie bought Alex concert tickets so they could go to a concert together. *cough* another fanfic trope *cough*

What a good girlfriend. No seriously. Where’s ours?

Now let’s talk about something not so good. We’re going to call BS on Kara’s “Every time I put myself out there it backfires.” Citation needed Supergirl. In the history of this show, Kara’s had exactly two official relationships, both of which ended with her doing the breaking up. Winn doesn’t count since it was one-sided. Girl, I get you’re frustrated with life right now, but if you’re the one telling the boy to pack up that’s not “it backfiring.”

Also, new love triangle, alert; this time, it’s whiter! Watch two blonde white girls in love/lust with an annoying jerkwad who fucked Miss Tessmacher and then never called her back until now! Yay! Sheesh, Mon-El does not deserve either one of these ladies, much less both. Neither of us is buying into Kara’s ‘pining’ when all their interactions have been either awkward, one-sided (on his side), or platonic.

We’ll admit he’s grown up a bit. We liked the moment where he commented on toxic masculinity and the limitations on men expressing their emotions. Moving on instead of pining was mature, especially after Kara’s foot-in-mouth “it’s you” at the beginning of the episode. And at least Kara didn’t find them in the supply room again. Still. There’s a huge gap between “he’s grown a bit” and “he’s established a pattern of being a decent human being rather than an entitled tool who treats women like servants.”

Anyway, we would be far less fussed about it if the show had bothered to truly establish any strong romantic feelings on Kara’s part for Mon-El. Her repeated and consistent reaction has been “I don’t like him that way.” She said it point blank earlier in the same freaking episode. For her to ‘suddenly’ feel that way now feels very unearned. We’re supposed to believe that one conversation with Alex turned “never you” into “pining”? When all she’s ever said is that she doesn’t like him that way? It smacks of lazy storytelling intent on ‘tricking’ the audience by revealing her feelings at an appropriately Dramatic moment (like when you want to start a love triangle). We admit that sometimes people don’t know the depth of their feelings for someone. Life gets complicated; we get overwhelmed by other things. It happens.

At the same time, the “she doesn’t know her feelings until she almost loses it” is such an over-used trope we’re sick of it. And all too frequently, it is used to reward entitled Nice Guys for being ‘persistent.’ Basically, Mon-El is being rewarded for being an entitled asshole to Kara, never accepting her ‘no,’ refusing to respect her agency and personhood, and valuing his feelings above hers. It sends the message that if a woman tells a man multiple times she’s not interested, all he has to do is wait around, and she will be. Because saying “I don’t like you” secretly means “I do like you.” And we’ve had our fair share of that bullshit growing up watching teenage romcoms in the 90s tyvm.

The show may not have intended this to be the message. Maybe it’s an accidental side effect of Benoist’s/Wood’s lack of on-screen chemistry and mishandled ‘growth’ arc for Mon-El. If he hadn’t been quite so entitled at the start or had been a bit less sexist and a bit more awkward. If he hadn’t treated Miss Tessmacher as if she existed for his pleasure and to make his life easier (so…a slave, given what we know of Daxam). Maybe if Mon-El had been goofier and less gross, we might not have resisted this so much. Maybe if they had bothered to have her verbally express some kind of ambivalence about him rather than relying entirely on subtextual clues that were clearly muddied since so many watchers were not invested in it.

We don’t know, Winn. We really don’t know.

Alright, we’ve said enough about it by now. We don’t want to spend the whole time talking about this maybe relationship because we’re not invested in it. But we are in other things! Like M’gann and J’onn. We loved the hints about White Martian culture – the arranged marriages, less tender home life – and wanted more (though we’ll probably have to wait to get it). And we got some pretty awesome fight scenes tonight; the choreography and cinematography for them were on point.

More than anything, J’onn’s and M’gann’s relationship drove this episode in an organic way after last week. J’onn’s forgiveness of M’gann was the most poignant moment last week, and we weren’t disappointed with where it led this episode. J’onn tailing M’gann to keep an eye on her is exactly what we would expect from our favorite grumpy Martian space dad. He may not open up quickly, but once he’s accepted someone entirely, he’s 100% loyal. Like, Kara, he holds on fiercely to what little family he has. It’s what tragedies like genocide and surviving a planetary explosion can do.

Don’t underestimate the importance of his willingness to admit he cares about her, has made a place in his heart for her. It isn’t just that he wants to protect her. He all but admitted he loves her. J’onn lost everything to the White Martians: his wife, his children, his culture, his entire race. He has every reason to hate them. The last episode he forgave her, this episode, he opened his heart to her. He hasn’t just found a woman to admire, respect, and care about; he chose to love a White Martian. (This is some epic Hatfields/McCoys type good shit here, folks.) And? He’s willing to let her make her own choices, even if it means losing her.

J’onn reached out to her when she was afraid and asked her to trust him. He knows what it felt like to live on the run and in hiding. He spent centuries not trusting anybody. It took Jeremiah Danvers protecting him for J’onn to regain his trust in others. But J’onn hasn’t fully needed to offer that trust to anyone since then. He hasn’t had to ask someone to trust him as Jeremiah asked him, someone, who could reject him. At that moment, he was asking M’gann to let him be for her the person that he needed for centuries and found in the Danvers. That’s huge growth for J’onn.

Speaking of growth, M’gann herself. When attacked by the WM, she instinctively chose Green Martian form, despite the WM form being both larger and probably more physically powerful. And she chose to do so in front of her people. It’s yet one more moment showcasing her breaking ranks and rejecting her culture’s history of violence. And also a giant ‘fuck you’ to the WMs.

As if she couldn’t get any more amazing, we learn she tried to (and believed she had) kill her husband Armek as part of her escape from Mars. She was willing not just to turn her back on her people, but on her mate. She’s willing to stand her ground and, when faced with the possibility, call her own people out for their violence, bigotry, and genocide. Doesn’t get much more badass than that, people.

It’s worth pointing out that her interactions with Armek were coded as a woman escaping from domestic violence. He doesn’t refer to her by name, but rather by her status as a possession: wife. He treats her as belonging to him and wayward for leaving. Then, he threatens her life and takes pleasure in telling her he’s going to hurt her, kill her, and then desecrate her body. When she doesn’t back down, he threatens her friends and demands she turn herself over to him.

These are all classic tactics of an abusive husband seeking to intimidate a spouse into returning home. And she responds in similarly coded ways. She stands her ground and shows her allegiance to her new way of life. Only when her loved ones are threatened does she show any sign of fear, but it is on their behalf. Rather than endanger them, she plans to draw him away, preferring to potentially bear his wrath alone than see people she cares about hurt. When we find out that she physically injured him in her escape, we can’t avoid the implication that he is one of the ones she was directly defying the order to kill the child.

He embodies everything she left behind. As she put it, “he’s the worst of her kind.” After being on the run for centuries and hiding from WM culture and history, she comes face to face with the worst possible reminder of it. And she doesn’t fucking flinch. She wholeheartedly chooses the Greens and never looks back. She stands by J’onn’s side and wholeheartedly supports him when he’s afraid of the fire knowing that her former husband is in the room watching and hating.

When she fought and killed Armek as a Green alongside J’onn, we were cheering. It stands for every step of her growth. It’s the climax of her choice to break ranks and the cycle of violence. We can’t help but see it as a symbol of her killing every single murderous, racist (species-ist?), bigoted thought and belief she was raised on. And then she makes the choices to go back and try to inspire others to have the courage the way J’onn inspired her to have courage. This is Supergirl “choose your better angels” at it’s finest.

There’s a reason we chose her comment on the Green Martian body as our favorite. She was raised to believe herself better than the Greens, but she chose to be one and calls them beautiful. And she’s a black coded character saying this, a black coded female character no less, which adds even more depth and meaning. Just…we have no words. It’s one of the most poignant arcs we’ve ever seen on this show.

We’ll miss her, but by god, we love her and can’t say enough good things about her presence on this show. We only wish we had more and that we get to see her again! Please let this not be the end of Miss Martian!

Randomness

  • Vasquez is back!! Her hair is freaking amazing.
  • Alex likes Barenaked Ladies. Girl, why? FINE. She’s a child of the 90s.
  • Maggie has a periodic table Barenaked Ladies shirt. OMG, what a nerd. We love her.
  • Why did Alex change into her DEO uniform just to apologize to Kara?
  • We’re so here for Kara sassing J’onn about lining the DEO with lead.
  • Heh, Winn complimenting himself. Dork.
  • Kara’s “Power to the Girls” shirt is adorbs. We want one. Apparently, they’re from H&M and already sold out online.
  • Kara eats her cupcake with a fork and knife. We love her.
  • How does Mon-El know about Tinder enough to make a “swipe right” joke? This is the guy who didn’t know what club soda was.
  • Would have been nice to know who the second WM was.
  • Jeremy Jordan killed it with his acting tonight.
  • OMG, did you all catch the shot of Lex Luthor’s war suit in the promo for next week??

In Conclusion

This was a roller coaster of an episode, mostly in a good way. We’d argue it is the most cohesive, tense, and thrilling episode this season regarding danger and plot tension. The WMs are a real, tangible threat even to the superpowered Kara, M’gann, and J’onn, so there is real dramatic tension. The villain motivations both made sense and created a compelling arc. The Winn as WM reveal was excellent, and the second WM being Alex was even better. M’gann finally actually killing her brutal former husband was also really satisfying. Her development over the season, especially after the last episode, heightened the catharsis of seeing her choose Green Martian form, call it beautiful, and eventually decide to go home and find other White Martians who want a new, different way of life.

Trouble had been brewing between the Danvers sisters or at least the need for a heart to heart, and we’re so glad they didn’t let it build even further. Setting aside the unfortunate derailing to talk about Mon-El, the conversation needed to be had. It touches on wounds and worries they’ve both needed to talk about. Alex’s desire to have something for herself and not feel guilty for being happy after spending much of her life focusing on Kara. Kara’s fear of abandonment and isolation after the destruction of her planet and uncovering her parents’ mixed legacy. Their honesty and vulnerability were very much in line with what we saw in S1, and we’re thankful.

This is the third episode in a row that we’ve gotten a shot of Kara on screen alone with no one else. There’s no way this is an accident. Something’s brewing on that score, and we’re not entirely sure what. Abandonment and isolation are themes this season thus far, especially for Kara. Alex touched on that wound in Episode 2 when she mentioned Kal abandoning Kara with the Danvers family. Kara has been increasingly isolated from all her closest friends and family, each of whom has something/one in their life they’re more focused on Alex/Maggie, James and Winn/Guardian, J’onn/M’gann. We sense some kind of crisis for Kara on the horizon and look forward to seeing it unfold. We’re hoping the end result isn’t a fresh, new take on Injustice. Just sayin’.

One more. For our favorite Martians.


Images Courtesy of The CW

When not working on her degree or at her actual job, Elizabeth pursues her true passion of complaining at great length about pop culture on the internet. She serves as a Managing Editor for The Fandomentals. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter and Steam @ohemgeelizabeth

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Crosspost: Supergirl's Martian Healing Arc – The RaconteurMy Favorite Martians And Their Healing Arc - The FandomentalsBoPatricia Daniela Manchisi DelgAkaNin Recent comment authors
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Bo
Member

There was so much good character stuff in this episode. The Martians, the Danvers, Sanvers, even the brief Kara/Winn moment towards the end. Whatever problems I have with the plot, it’s these characters that keep me around. That’s the nice thing about contained episodes like this where the majority of it takes place in one area; bountiful awesome character moments.

And really, Maggie? How the hell did anyone leave you when you’re so good at this girlfriend thing?

I choose to ignore the Mon El garbage for now, for as long as I can.

SuperYakGirl94
Guest
SuperYakGirl94

How fun must it have been for Jeremy Jordan and Chyler Leigh to play evil? Seems like it would have been a lot of fun, and WM!Winn and WM!Alex were entertaining as heck. I really enjoyed this episode. I always love “spot the impostor” plots and I did not at all see the second WM twist coming. (And right after a sister bonding moment, too. Harsh! But I loved it.) Also, learning about M’gann’s backstory and about the Martians in general is always welcome. I was briefly worried when I saw a sneak peek earlier yesterday showing the conversation where… Read more »

Bo
Member

Finding out that wasn’t actually Alex hurt. I was so happy for them after that, even though Kara was still hurting.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Probably not intentional given production schedule, but if J’onn is coded as a jewish, than the WM are coded as Nazis. Thus, this episode literally did #PunchTheNazis2k17. Supergirl’s writers totally have someone from the future in their team putting these small, but right on point implications.

Also, I had to watch that scene with Alex and Maggie twice because the first time I decided to sing along to One Week and totally missed the conversation.

Bo
Member

LOL, say what you want about Barenaked Ladies but that song is so easy to fall into.

Kylie
Admin

If you’re going to have a weak five minutes, don’t make it the last five minutes. Yikes, I just need the mouthwash next week promised.

Bo
Member

IT’S SO FRUSTRATING. You know Mon El, Kara, and you’re not stupid. You know he’s just some selfish asshole screwing another woman for his own ego after you turned him down. And what’s worse is that she’ll probably spend the rest of the damn season pining over him as he runs through woman after woman, until we’re supposed to feel “happy” when she finally nabs him at the end. So he’ll get to be this same jerk, never actually change (club soda is not a real change), and get rewarded for it. It’s weird how this show can get so… Read more »

AkaNin
Guest
AkaNin

This. So much this. This entire “romance”-thing has already been annoying enough and now they’re only making it worse by introducing some sort of love triangle. *Sigh* Why? Just why?! If Kara needs to end up with Mon-El for whatever reason, please just get it over with. I don’t remember being so annoyed by a “romance” story line since Makorra, I really disliked that pairing too. And it just kept coming back… Then again, if the end results are the same, I’ll gladly suffer through some more Mon-El 😉 Too bad we won’t know that in advance. Such a shame… Read more »

Drowmonk
Member
Drowmonk

Honestly I hope Kara figures out that she dodged a bullet when Mon El decided to start dating Tessmacher so quickly. It showcases that he’s still emotionally immature, moving on that fast from a crush is what high schoolers do (or people who’ve had their dating life stunted in some way). I really hope seeing Lena again will remind Kara about what she really looks for in a partner.

All the WM stuff was great, M’Gann needs to be in more episodes please!

Patricia Daniela Manchisi Delg
Guest
Patricia Daniela Manchisi Delg

Re: Kara alone. Gee, I wonder what other character on the show has verbally expressed loneliness and has strongly mixed feelings about morally ambiguous/powerful family members………. I just thirst for more Kara + Lena scenes tbh. I don’t even need it to be romantic at this point (what with there already being a whole ONE (1) f/f couple ALREADY, like what?? TWO??? like I’d ever get THAT lucky) I just want them to be actual friends. Especially now that Kara’s dealing with these abandonment issues and Lena’s basically the most alone she’s ever been. What a great time to air… Read more »

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[…] gushing over the recent Martian arc on Supergirl. I am one of those fans, if you can’t tell from my and Elizabeth’s reviews. I could talk about my Martian babies for hours, and since I happen to write for a living, I can […]

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Television

Honest Conversations and Unfortunate Insensitivity on Cloak and Dagger

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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.

cloak and dagger church

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.

Other Thoughts:

  • 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

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The Expanse Wanders Among The Wreckage

Barbara

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The Expanse is on its penultimate week, and with an episode called “Fallen World,” showed us the aftermath of a disaster.

Recap

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.

Review

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

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Reverie Sows the Seeds of Doubt

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From NBC

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.

From NBC/screenshot

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.

Episodic Woes

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.

Conclusion

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.


Images courtesy of NBC

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