Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.19 "Alex"

So, Mom-El (Rhea) is back in town, this time wooing Lena. She's proposing some sort of tech collaboration with L Corp on a "trans-matter portal" and/or is hitting on Lena. On Lena's part, she doesn't yet seem to know that Mom-El is an evil space alien, because they have a romantic candlelight dinner and bond over having attended MIT.

Lena acts flustered when Mom-El makes it known that she's newly-single.  Lena says, "Regardless of what happens with business, I have a feeling we're going to be friends." Mmm-hmmm.

I'm not here to judge, folks. I'm just here to report the facts.


Later, Lena is examining Mom-El's tech designs and realizes it includes a component not found on Earth. She gets suspicious and then tricks Mom-El into taking her alien detection test, which confirms that Mom-El is, in fact, an alien. Lena kicks her out of her office and refuses to collaborate. Oh, that crafty, virtuous Lena! But then, later, Lena changes her mind. For ... reasons?

In Danvers Sisters news, Maggie and Kara bicker about the pros and cons of vigilantism v. law and order, putting Alex in the awkward position of not wanting to take sides with either her girlfriend or her sister. But then, Alex gets kidnapped, forcing Maggie and Kara to Work Together. The kidnapper wants his dad released from prison or else he'll kill Alex. Hmm, I sense an impending lesson here.


The DEO's position is that they don't negotiate with terrorists. So, they won't release the prisoner just for the sake of freeing Alex. Uh-oh. But will everyone abide by that principle? We shall see.

Supergirl first wants to kick the kidnapper's ass, but Maggie keeps a cool head. Her suggestion is to have J'onn act like the prisoner, so they can pretend they've freed him. But, the kidnapper doesn't buy it. They try other assorted measures, none of which work.

For instance, in her cell, Alex uses her credit card to MacGyver the security camera with her tracking implant (wut, where did this come from?), which sends a signal to Winn that includes the IP address of her location.


Supergirl wants to immediately swoop in and rescue Alex, as is her style, but Maggie's thinks the kidnapper is acting a little too cocky for someone who just "lost." So, she urges restraint.

Annnd, Maggie's right, because when Supergirl does swoop in, it's a trick. The IP address had been "re-routed." I guess the kidnapper did that while in DEO custody, since the DEO is apparently letting him keep his computer handy. Seriously.

The upshot is that Alex's cell begins to fill up with water, which is one of my most anxiety-provoking "character in peril" scenarios.

Now it's up to Maggie to save the gay. Desperate, she ends up ditching the "we don't negotiate with terrorist" principles and breaks the kidnapper's dad out of prison. All of this seems to happen in a matter of minutes and it's not clear how far places are from one another in National City or whether Maggie has access to trans-matter portal or something. But, let's just roll with it.

Supergirl finds Maggie and the prisoner, trying to stop Maggie from letting him go. She then gives an Inspiring Monologue, which leads the prisoner to revealing where the kidnapper might be holding Alex. Why Supergirl didn't give this speech 12 hours ago isn't entirely clear, since this is also one of her apparent super powers.


Supergirl swoops in and rescues Alex just as her cell has filled up with water.

And, I get the reversal here in that Supergirl is the one who mostly remained calm and stuck to the DEO's "we don't negotiate with terrorist" principles, but it didn't ring especially true to her character to me. At least in the instance of protecting her sister, I feel fairly certain she'd be on board with Maggie in doing whatever it took to get her back, including "negotiating with terrorists."


Deep Thought of the Week: As I continue to watch superhero shows, how does every character not have PTSD from all of the killing, violence, and near-death situations? For instance, at the end of this episode, Alex "deals with" almost dying by punching her kidnapper in the nose while he's handcuffed, which the other characters kind of chuckle at in a "he got what was coming to him" sort of way. It's not clear if that's supposed to signify that Alex's trauma has now been resolved, or whether it's more that the tone of Supergirl doesn't really allow its heroic characters to go to dark places beyond more than these superficial outbursts.

Is there any show that has effectively acknowledged the psychological impact of trauma on its characters? Jessica Jones comes to mind. And, particular episodes of Buffy stand out to me as acknowledging the full humanity of their characters, particularly the aftermath of Tara, Joyce, and Buffy's deaths. While I retain critiques of Joss Whedon's work, I think one of his great strengths in Buffy was allowing shifts in tone, from lighthearted to serious and dark, that still rang true to the series as a whole.

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