Monday, January 23, 2017

"Supergirl Lives" And Kevin Smith Returns!

The Good: Decent performances, Good direction, Most of the character arcs
The Bad: Somewhat simple plot, Schott's arc is somewhat unsatisfying
The Basics: Supergirl returns with "Supergirl Lives," which further expands the DC television universe and introduces and revives menaces for all of the heroes!

While The CW doing is massive 4-episode crossover in November, Supergirl was put on hiatus and feels like the neglected step-child of the Berlanti DC Comics Television Universe. While the other three television shows set on Earth-1 were each given episodes after the crossover event, the last Supergirl was seen was on Legends Of Tomorrow's "Invasion!" (reviewed here!), leaving Earth-1. So, when the mid-season premiere of Supergirl was announced to be "Supergirl Lives," the natural assumption was that there was some form of time-lapse on Supergirl's Earth and that her time on our Earth was noticed. "Supergirl Lives" pretty much neglects that idea, though it does allow Supergirl to have some lingering psychological effects from stopping the Dominators.

"Medusa" (reviewed here!) preceded "Supergirl Lives" and it is tough not to discuss the new episode without some references to where the show was right before it. After all, "Medusa" brought Supergirl into the crossover event as something of an afterthought in that episode; the bulk of the time was spent with Cadmus's latest scheme, Guardian was starting to fight crime, Kara was training Mon-El, J'onn J'onzz dealing with the effects of getting a transfusion from a White Martian and Alex Danvers continuing her coming out process. In other words Supergirl had quite enough going on without a major crossover event.

Supergirl is flying after a van full of criminals when some of them escape. Guardian steps in to catch the fleeing jewel thieves and Winn helps him. Kara returns to the DEO where she is feeling underwhelmed by fighting street-level crimes. Alex is thrilled to have Maggie around in the morning, while James and Kara have a disagreement over the impact of Guardian with CatCo's editor, Snapper Carr. A woman comes in to CatCo looking for her daughter, Izzy, who has gone missing and missed her birthday. Kara pledges to help the distraught mother by getting her story out, but runs into resistance from Carr. Kara takes a break to get a drink at the alien bar and runs into Mon-El, who is now working as a bartender there. Maggie arrives at the bar with Izzy Williams's file and reveals that there have been a number of random people in National City who have gone missing recently.

Schott realizes that all of the missing people had bloodwork done right before they went missing and Mon-El and Kara visit the facility where the bloodwork was performed. There, they meet a doctor who has a portal that Supergirl travels through to try to find the missing people from National City. The doctor has a portal generator, which he activates and Kara leaps through to try to find the missing people. On an alien world, Supergirl finds herself under a red sun and powerless. Mon-El follows to rescue her from the lizard-man doctor. Meeting an indigenous person on the moon, Kara and Mon-El learn they are on the Slaver's Moon and the missing humans have been sold into slavery. To get to the slaves, Supergirl surrenders and she finds Izzy . . . and Roulette, behind the abductions. While a DEO team makes a trip through the portal, Mon-El and Kara stage a prison break.

"Supergirl Lives" is what happens, apparently, when Kevin Smith is given a budget to work with. The episode opens with a big special effects-driven, stunt scene which is pretty cool. And Smith and his team make their own Guardian Of Forever for "Supergirl Lives" and it is pretty cool. The episode looks good and while Smith was not credited with any part of writing "Supergirl Lives," there is a "Kevin Smith feel" to some of the dialogue as characters react to one another. "Supergirl Lives" might be one of Smith's most ambitious directing projects to date!

"Supergirl Lives" does a good job of bringing fans back to the characters of Supergirl following the hiatus. Alex and Maggie are a lot of fun together and the early parts of their relationship are filled with charm. "Supergirl Lives" accurately characterizes the beginning of their romantic relationship and Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima have great on-screen chemistry. When Alex pushes Maggie away, the reaction is horrible and realistic, which fits Alex's character perfectly! Danvers has been a pretty miserable character in Supergirl, so her arc in "Supergirl Lives" makes perfect sense and works out with a pleasant amount of realism in the episode.

The dialogue between Mon-El and Kara is a lot of fun. Despite their horrible situation - being trapped off-world without a way to get home - Mon-El and Kara have great back and forth lines that are often funny. The two are something of an odd couple and that is played out well in "Supergirl Lives." Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood continue to develop well their on-screen chemistry in "Supergirl Lives."

One of the real winners in "Supergirl Lives" is Winn Schott. Schott is in the field aiding the Guardian at the outset of the episode and he is wounded. Even getting a black eye has a fairly profound effect on Winn, who has been a technical support genius, but not a field agent. Scott tells off Olsen, telling the Guardian he does not want to go into the field again, before he is dragooned into going off-world with Alex and the DEO team. Schott's arc is delightfully realistic in an episode that treads toward the fantastic. In fact, arguably the most disappointing aspect of Schott's arc in the episode is that he gets punched in the face multiple times and becomes less scared about going out into the field!

The crossover event is not truly forgotten in "Supergirl Lives," either, which is nice given that it was pretty much neglected in Supergirl. Beyond the psychological effects for Kara being bored by having small crimes to thwart, "Supergirl Lives" features a Dominator and the reference is completely lost on viewers who skipped the crossover event.

Kevin Smith uses "Supergirl Lives" as an opportunity to cast his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, as Izzy and she is fine in her scenes. Smith rises to the occasion and her father makes sure to put her in frame for extra shots, doing a decent job of giving her exposure. But Izzy is a supporting character and despite the scenes that are seeding future plotlines for Supergirl, most of "Supergirl Lives" is very simple on the plot front. Kevin Smith does a decent job with "Supergirl Lives," but it is an insular, focused hour of television that oddly mixes realism and obvious comic book style heroism (for all of the characters) and villainy.

Fortunately, though, "Supergirl Lives" is enough to restore faith that Supergirl can be much more than just a supporting character in the DC Television Universe!

For other midseason premiere episodes, please visit my reviews of:
"Potential Energy" - The Flash
"Aftershocks" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Planet Of The Dead" - Doctor Who

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Supergirl - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season of the Kryptonian superheroine here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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