“Supergirl” Season 1 – How Superman as a Character Can Work

supergirl

   “Supergirl” is one of the most underrated shows on television. After watching “Season 1” I can’t believe it took the CW to save the show given that the writing on this show runs laps around “Arrow” and is even comparable to the best of “The Flash” and “The Defenders.” This is a show that gets the Superman mythos and does some amazing things with it.

    The show was developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berltani and Andrew Kreisberg.

    The premise of the show is Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) was sent from Krypton to look after Superman but due to mishap she knocks Fort Rozz (an alien prison) out of the Phantom Zone and arrives after Superman has already grown up. She is adopted by the Danvers family but after having a normal life starts something more as new threats arise tied to her past on Krypton.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The DC Universe is a great world and this is coming from a guy who was only really a fan of Superman as he related to Bruce Timm’s Justice League and JLU or Batman: The Animated Series. This Universe goes in depth and makes it count and honestly made me want to seek out the best Supergirl and Superman comics.

The Action – The action is solid. There is a lot of stuntwork and for a show with a limited budget every death and hit counts. That is saying a lot given “Supernatural” and to some degree “Marvel” have been slinking away from this.

The Characters – The characters were the strongest part of thsi series and drove the action since a lot of the villians were very much “villain of the week” even if they directly related to the plot (with a few exceptions). I cared about the main cast and all of them grew on me.

Indigo – This is the “Supergirl” Brainiac and she is great for what she is. She revels in extinction and manages to be one of the greatest threats in the last half of the series.

Astra – Astra was fantastic and the actress Laura Benati does an amazing job in the role as both her and Supergirl’s biological mother. Astra is complex, she was right about the destruction of Krypton her approach of mind control is just wrong and even she realizes that at the end. I really wanted her to be the final boss, but Alex killing her complicates her and Supergirl’s relationship is a fascinating way.

Cat Grant – Cat is wonderful, she is quite narcissistic and she uses her podium to advocate for others while still trying to remain fair. She is someone using the pulpit of the talking head for better and I really like how she helps Supergirl grow. We also see her step out from under her mother’s foot and fully become empowered. She is a feminist, CEO, advocate and all around fantastic character who Calista Flockhart does wonderfully.

Maxwell Lord – This character is the Lex Luthor to Supergirl except rather than being a villain all the time he buys into her hope. He is portrayed as a self serving objectivst through most of the series but changes in the end when Cat Grant and Supergirl show him that people can be better. I really liked this character and hope he appears in “Season 2.”

James Olsen – I didn’t care about Jimmy Olsen until this series. He dies in “BvS” I heard but honestly…I don’t know the character. This series showed me what he means. He is Superman and Supergirl’s tie to the life of normal and what you can accomplish just by living. He is my favorite character at this point and Mechad Brooks is an actor I’d love to meet someday.

Winn – Winn is the brains that every series like this has. Sisko is it in on “The Flash,” Willow on “Buffy,” etc. He works and it great and I like that he is the Toymaker’s son…but his whole crush on Supergirl was awkward, though I’m still counting him a plus.

Martian Manhunter -J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter is my favorite character on the show. He’s a survivor who learns to trust a bit more and mercy over the course of the show from “Supergirl.” Can’t wait to see what they do with him in “Season 2.” He was one of my favorites in the original Bruce Timm “Justice League” along with that versions “Green Lantern” and obviously “Batman.” This one is more fleshed out though and more relateable which is only a plus. Seriosuly, watch the show to see his reveal.

Alex Danvers – Kara’s sister Alex is pretty fantastic. She’s a protector who can see the bigger picture and helps Kara grow through the show. She is truly both sister and mentor and I really love their relationship.

Supergirl – Kara Danvers is a wonderful character, she is the refugee trying to fit in and at the same protect her adopted world even though so much is out of her control. What she wants is what “Man of Steel” missed the point of. Superman is one of us both because he has to be and wants to be and their is even more responsiblity in that. Kara Danvers aka Supergirl captures that beautifully and watching “Season 2” now I hope for many more seasons. She shows us the dilemma of being different but a part of a community but also the power of hope. We can inspire in our actions and she does with mess ups and learning throughout the show.  Melissa Benoist rules in this role. She’s the first character of this type I’ve actually cared about…even Thor I could care less about as she captures the role of power and responsibility so much better.

Getting the Archetype of “Superman” Right – Superman should inspire us to be our better selves. As Clark Kent he is meant to be us and show us that the impossible can relate to the daily struggle and Kara in her job captures that so well. Even in classic “Superman” I didn’t feel this or animated Superman, but I got it with “Supergirl.” For once the narrative was captured perfectly on screen on my Superman is so iconic and it was in the amazing Supergirl who is everything in her own right using those archetypes.

Okay: Non – Non was an unformed idea. He wasn’t Zod but he wasn’t Astra. He should have been full Green Peace or full Dictator but instead we got the inbetween and that just hurt the narrative. He was okay and wasn’t bad but he wasn’t good.

The Final – Myriad controls Superman forcing Supergirl to work with her allies (Martian Manhunter and Alex her sister) to solve it. They do but I never got Non’s aim. He never felt wholly formed like Astra and that hurt the overall narrative.

Monster of the Week – There are a few “Monsters of the Week” like Red Tornado and Livewire that could have been more and they worked but it showed the show playing it safe. Which is why I only rated it as okay.

  This is a series that was severly unnderated. Kara Danvers in her arc is sympathetic and I got a lot of Buffy from “Buffy” vibes from her. She’s doing her best in the circumstances she’s in and at the end of the day want’s to succeed but also be more. She’s human but has all the abilities to accomplish more in the saving from disasters and there is power in that. That is the core of the Superman mythos. If you have the power to make a difference in another way, do so. That in and of itself is empowering and this show knows that way more than “The Flash” which in way embraces the alien part more so (Flash being a Meta-Human) than Supergirl. I highly recommend this series. It is well worth your time and CBS just gave up a gem to the CW.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Advertisements

“The Flash” Season 2 – Character Growth, A Great Villain and an Ending That Could Ruin All of That

The Flash Season 2

   I’m going to take a leap and voice that the writers of this show may actually know what they are doing. This season was one of the best experiences of television I’ve had this year that wasn’t “Better Call Saul” or “Game of Thrones,” though those are in a camp of their own and this is very much something enjoyable but not Classic the way those are. Part of why it was so enjoyable is it took so much of what worked last season and built on it, which I’ll get into further in the review.

    “The Flash” was created by Greg Berltani, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns.

     The story picks up with Flash’s closing of the Portal as it ends up leaving rifts behind to Earth-2 (a world in another Universe) that a new enemy Zoom sends Meta-Humans through to kill the Flash so he can be the fasted man in the Universe. All is not as it appears to be though as new allies and enemies arise.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Neely has created an amazing soundtrack! Everytime it plays I see this Universe the CW has created and it is beautiful. DC did something right.

The World – The World of “The Flash” is fascinating! Whether it Earth-1 and 2 and the meta-humans in both or the tie-ins to “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” This is a world I want to come back to.

Earth-2 – Earth-2 is fascinating! All the characters are in different roles…Iris is a detective, Joe is a lounge singer, Barry isn’t a meta-human, Snow is Killer Frost and Cisco is Reverb…some characters are outright villains like Killer Frost, while others are more complex like Dr. Wells who end up on good, but it is complicated.

The Meta-Humans – The meta-humans are part of what makes this show so interesting. Even the “Monster of the Week” metas manage to be fascinating in their own ways too. This is part of what makes Flash fun, they stick around and advance the plot.

The Weather Wizard Alliance – Weather Wizard teams up with The Trickster (Hamill’s back!) and Captain Cold. Captain Cold has a change of conscience and warns Flash while the others try to destroy the town on Christmas.

King Shark – King Shark is a giant man-shark Meta-human and has a great design! He’s got a Great White Shark’s head and is huge and strong enough to counter most of what Flash and his team throw at him. He’s also a running gag earlier in the show.

Gorilla Grodd – Grodd gets his own episode as we see him continue to grow and that his striving to understand while still have connections (he relates to Snow who was kind to him) and in the end finds an army/peace in a refuge on Earth-2. I hope he comes back. Seeing his plans in his episode were a lot of fun, as well as Wells from Earth-2 pretending to be Thawne-Wells and their interactions as Grodd figures out something isn’t right.

Killer Frost – Panabaker is a good actress! Her performance as the sociopathic meta-human Killer Frost was a lot of fun and I hope we see more versions of this character (or this character again as Zoom kills her at one point). She was an awesome villain and a good wild card.

Reverb – This character had such a short of time with us, which was a shame as he shows us Cisco’s power to warp reality and to jump to different Earths. This character needed more screentime.

Reverse-Flash – Flash goes back in time to learn how to travel faster to defeat Zoom and wants to learn from Reverse-Flash. He ends up being caught and we see how powerful the Reverse-Flash is as they blackmail one another into a deal but Thawne does eventually help the Flash. An earlier version of Thawne also travels to Flash’s future and Flash ends up having to send him back and learns that the Reverse-Flash is obsessed with Flash and wants to be him and destroy him completely because of his obsession. It is really well done.

The Heroes – The heroes are great in this and all of their flaws come to the surface. This is the beauty of the show, our characters aren’t perfect and because they aren’t they make choices that have consequences and change because of it.

Captain Cold – Captain Cold shows us he is more of a free agent than a villain as he warns Flash about the Trickster’s and Weather Wizard’s plan and logically we see where this follows when he is recruited in “Legends of Tomorrow.” This character has grown on me a lot and become a favorite, thanks to Wentworth Miller’s performance and some pretty good writing.

Mr. Allen – Barry’s dad is alright. Thawne confesses to everything in a video which frees him and Mr. Allen leaves. He later comes back only to be killed by Zoom, just as he is reintegrating himself into Barry’s life.

Cisco Ramon / Vibe – Cisco is comedic as usual and in this we see him deal with his darker side was he fears becoming like his Earth-2 counterpart in Reverb. He gets past it though thanks to his friends and Dr. Wells and he helps bring the team back together after their initial separation at the beginning of the season.

Dr. Caitlin Snow – Snow like Romon deals with her darkside as she learns about Killer Frost and the fact that Jay was really Zoom and serial killer. She doesn’t let this defeat her though. She helps save the city from Grodd and even becomes friends with him and is able to manipulate Zoom enough times for the team to get wins against him. Even when she’s trapped she’s never a victim and it is awesome.

Wally West – Wally is Joe’s son he never knew about and is obsessed with speed. His arc like Barry’s is learning his limits and learning that people care about him. He is hit by the energy force and may get the Speed Force or will have it in the future! He’s a great character and compliments everyone really well.

Joe West – Jesse L. Martin is one of the best parts of this show. In this we see him realize he had a son when his drug addict wife left and he deals with her death as well as integrating Barry and Mr. Allen into his growing family, and he does it well as we see him learn limits. He’s also kidnapped by Zoom at one point after his plan successful knocks Zoom into Earth-2 and the portal is closed. Joe is arguable the glue of the show. Without him it wouldn’t be the same.

Iris West – Iris also goes through a lot in this as we see her work through her grief over Eddie’s sacrifice and come to terms with her feelings for Barrie. We also see her rise in the paper and demonstrate that she is a leader and a full member of Team Speed for a reason.

Earth-2 Dr. Wells – Tom Cavanagh is one of my favorite actors on this show and it is great seeing him play a Wells that isn’t really Thawne and isn’t a villain. In this he is working to save his daughter from Zoom and in the end becomes part of the team on Earth-1 and finds the family he never had as we see how cruel and arrogant he was in his world and Zoom taking his daughter forced him to empathy.

Barry Allen – Barry goes through a lot in this. We see him reborn in the Speed Force and gain a new perspective and he realizes the endless possibilities, we see him accept his life without speed and we see him make the selfish choice he denied himself last season, even as he has a relationship with the one he loves (Iris). He goes through a lot and is forever changed. He fears losing everything and in the process does. At the end, Barry is probably a villain. He’s become like the Reverse-Flash using time travel for himself.

Zoom – Zoom is a great villain. The character is a serial killer who watched his father kill his mother and self and it broke him, and now he does the same to others. All he has is his speed and control over others. He is willing to kill past versions of himself he creates to becomes stronger…and in the end his darkness becomes a part of Barry as what he takes from Barry leads Barry to make the same choices. In the end his manipulating time gets the Speed Force’s attention and he is pulled away by the Time Wraiths. Though all that may be canceled out, now that Barry did what Zoom wanted and changed time.

Choices and Consequences – This is a story of consequences…we see everyone’s relationship to Jay change when they realize he’s Zoom (and their trust issues before come up from when the Thawne-Wells was around).

Okay/Con – Jessie Quick – Jessie is okay but she doesn’t really have a relationship outside of her relationship to Dr. Wells…though this could change as her and Wally are hit by another energy force (chat change Barry initially) so I think them being Speedsters is eventually in store.

The Cons: Ending Must Not Undo All the Growth – Flash goes back in time and saves his mother, defeating Reverse-Flash (though Thawne is still alive). What this means changes everything…though I want this to be another timeline or if it does change things for good that Flash is now the villain. He made a choice just for himself and did what Zoom and Reverse-Flash have wanted him to do. If that means nothing (or is resolved quickly), this fear will be a con.

  My biggest issue with this season was the possible reboot the series could take if the writers choose to go that way, which I would hate. Flash should not be the only one making choices and changing over the course of the show and this ending had me worried, even though I greatly enjoyed it because of how the characters grew and changed and the fact that Reverse-Flash and Zoom were proven right in the end…Barry acted like a villain in regards to taking what he wanted regardless of the consequences and that is beautiful and powerful. I hope that Season 3 doesn’t blow this because this show improved from last season and is a great show now. If you like comic book films you’ll probably like this series. Here is to this show building on it’s momentum and continuing to rise beyond the great show it has become.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Zoom