Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 5 "How Does She Do It?" - Recap and Review

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The fifth episode finds Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) struggling to maintain a healthy balance between her office work as Kara Danvers and the heroic responsibilities of being Supergirl.

Supergirl finds herself being followed by drones. After dismantling them, she initially suspects her DEO boss Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). Hank denies this and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) has a suspect on her mind: Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli). His company, Lord Technologies have been working on the materials that were used in making the drones.

These suspicions become stronger, when there is an explosion in yet another Lord Technologies' lab. Hank and Alex pose as FBI Agents to purportedly carry out their investigation to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Alex and Maxwell are attracted to each other. Despite this, Maxwell refuses to take her help.

Kara Danvers faces two issues: The first one is the return of Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum) to National City. Lucy wants to get back with her ex boyfriend James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Even though James believed that it was Lucy who had dumped him, Lucy informs Kara that James' obsession with Superman was the actual reason that caused the separation.

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Kara faces another challenge when she offers to babysit Carter Grant (Levi Miller). Carter is the son of her boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Cat's mother is busy with her career and her former babysitter is injured and unable to help out.

Kara's babysitting duties interfere with her superheroic ones. She takes the help of Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) to take care of Carter while she flies around saving lives.

As was shown in the previous episodes, Maxwell's company has been working on a fast train. He ignores the recent attacks and decides to go ahead the grand unveiling of the product.

All these threads come together in the climax, when Carter runs away to meet Supergirl at Maxwell's function and the venue happens to be target of the next attack.

This was a good episode. The action sequences were the highlights of the episode. Supergirl's flying effects have been executed very well. They are far superior to what we see in the terrible Man of Steel.

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Melissa Benoist is terrific as the Girl of Steel. She is the perfect counterpart to the late Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel. Right from the beginning, she has been great whenever she wears the cape.

Credit also to the producers and crew for making the flying and action sequences so much fun and enjoyable. This show is clearly being made by people who love DC Universe/Superman mythology very much and these scenes are ample proof of this.

This episode is also significant for another reason: We get our first (and recurring) human villain/antagonist in the form of Maxwell Lord. The show sets up Maxwell as National City's equivalent of Metropolis' Lex Luthor.

If Lex hates the presence of a God-like alien in his city, Maxwell is intrigued by Supergirl's powers. He is the one who masterminded the attacks on his company and forced his employee, Ethan Knox (Scott Michael Campbell) to make himself a suicide bomber on-board the train. Maxwell intends to study Supergirl's powers and all of his actions have been carried out with this single purpose in mind.

This episode shares some common elements with The Last Son of Krypton - the first episode of the critically acclaimed Superman: The Animated Series. In that episode, Lex Luthor deliberately lets his company property get stolen in order to strike an illegal arms deal. Supes prevents this from happening and warns Lex that he will be keeping an eye on him.

Supergirl also issues a similar warning to Maxwell at the end of the episode.

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Yet another of my favorite aspect of the show is the mystery surrounding the true identity of Hank Henshaw. As I have mentioned in my reviews of the previous episodes, I strongly believe that Hank is none other than the great Martian Manhunter (MM) himself in disguise.

More clues pop up in this episode. When Kara accuses him of following her, he retorts that if he had been following her, she would not even be aware of that fact. Martian Manhunter (MM) has shape shifting powers and the ability to become invisible as well as phase through objects. These would indeed make him a super spy and it would be nearly impossible to detect his presence. In a later scene, Hank's eyes glow red - another trademark physical characteristic of MM.

As good as the show is with regards to bringing the DC Universe to life, what makes the show so successful is the perfect casting choices. The actors/actresses are great in their parts and enjoy a genuine chemistry with each other.

As I mentioned earlier, Melissa makes a superb Supergirl. The scene abroad the train when she tries to convince Ethan Knox to change his plan shows the humanity and wisdom that is typical of a Girl/Man of Steel. Another great scene was her telephonic conversation with Cat as she flies to pick up Carter from his school.

Both Chyler Leigh and Peter Facinelli get adequate screen-time as their respective characters, Alex Danvers and Maxwell Lord get to know each other and develop a mutual attraction for each other. Maxwell reveals that his parents were killed due to negligence on the part of Government officials. This explains his lack of trust in authority figures. His line: We are orphans. We do not get over things easily reminded me of the Dark Knight himself.

But there are still a few chinks in the armor.  I am referring to Jenna Dewan Tatum as Lucy Lane and Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen. Though these two actors portray characters who are supposed to be past lovers, their lack of chemistry is quite palpable.

Nevertheless, this is a minor drawback that does not distract heavily from enjoying the show. Must watch for fans of Supergirl/Superman/DC Comics.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Supergirl Season 1 Episode 4 "Livewire" - Recap and Review

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This episode (“Livewire”) was originally intended to be the fifth episode as well as a Thanksgiving special. But due to the horrific attacks on Paris, the network/producers decided to swap this episode with the initially planned fourth episode (“How Does She Do It?”).

As the episode title indicates, the focus of the episode is on the supervillain of the same name. Leslie Willis (Brit Morgan) is a CatCo employee, who likes to spout venom against Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) on air. Her attacks get so personal that even Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) has had enough.

Cat reassigns Leslie to a field job. As luck would have it, bad weather strikes. Despite Supergirl's best efforts, Leslie is hit by a lightning and is transformed into Livewire.

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Livewire has the powers to transport herself through anything that runs on electricity. She can also manipulate electricity and fire electric blasts. Her one and only target remains her employer, Cat Grant.

Supergirl manages to save Cat from Livewire's first murderous attempt.

The other subplot involves the visit of Kara's foster mother, Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater). Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) is a bit nervous and Kara does her best to calm her sister down. Alex is apprehensive that Eliza might not like the fact that Kara has revealed her superpowers to the world.

The Danvers have a guest at the Thanksgiving dinnerWinn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). Winn becomes the unsuspecting witness to the family argument that erupts when Alex reveals herself to be working for the DEO.

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Cat Grant decides to take Supergirl's help in taking down Livewire. They lay a trap and even though, it looks like the supervillain might eventually prevail, Supergirl again resorts to using brain over brawn to defeat her opponent.

Eliza finally reveals the reason for her fears about both Kara and Alex working for Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). It seems  that years earlier, Hank approached the Danvers with the intention of studying Kara's biology, since the Man of Steel has refused to work with the DEO.

To protect his adopted daughter's privacy, Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) volunteers to share with the DEO, all the information he has collected about Superman as part of his research. Jeremiah ostensibly died in a plane crash, while working for Hank. But Eliza has her suspicions about the real causes of her husband's death and believes that Hank had a part in it.

In the closing scene, Kara and Alex decide to keep an eye on their DEO boss, Hank. Nice try: I still believe he is Martian Manhunter.

Not much to write on the acting front. Helen Slater and Chyler Leigh spend most of their time busy being at each other's throats. Jeremy Jordan's Winn does his usual unrequited pining for Kara. Only difference is: he does this at the Danvers' apartment. Interestingly, neither Eliza or Alex notice this.

Newcomer, Brit Morgan is adequate as the foul-mouthed Leslie and later the villainous Livewire.

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Only Calista Flockhart manages to breath some life into the episode as the irrepressible and witty Cat Grant.

Interestingly, there was a similar episode with the same name in the critically acclaimed Superman: The Animated Series. The plot was similar too: Leslie airs her rants against the Man of Steel and becomes Livewire, despite Superman's efforts to rescue her from a lightning strike.

Compared to the previous fun-filled episodes, this one was a bit downer. The emphasis on the Danvers family drama was a bit overwhelming. Hopefully, the next episode will be more light-hearted.

There was however one major drawback in the episode: Kara uses her heat vision to heat up the Turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner. As a firm believer in Animal Rights, this scene was an eyesore. Why would anyone want to express their thanks by eating a dead bird is beyond me.

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Image Sources: Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)

© 2015 - All rights reserved. No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.