Monday, April 24, 2017

"Ace Reporter" Brings On Girl Power Reporting . . . And Murderous Nanotechnology!

The Good: Main plot is engaging, Generally good performances, Good special effects, Good idea
The Bad: B-plot feels forced, Very simple plot with some predictable elements
The Basics: "Ace Reporter" finds a good balance in its main plot to make Kara Danvers and Supergirl compelling when murderous nanobots are staged to be released upon National City under the guise of a health care breakthrough!

After every underwhelming episode of a series, I find it tough to get enthusiastic about writing about the episode(s) that follow. With Supergirl being generally good in its second season, that has not been much of a problem. And yet, before "Ace Reporter" began, I found myself contemplating just how little I enjoyed "Distant Sun." When I reviewed "Distant Sun," I found myself stretching to come up with aspects of the episode I actually enjoyed. And, as "Ace Reporter" began, after a hiatus of several weeks, I found myself instantly unenthusiastic. So, I was pleasantly surprised when "Ace Reporter" (mostly) pulled off a decent Kara Danvers story.

"Ace Reporter" follows on the events of "Distant Sun" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss the new episode without some references as to where the prior episode left off. After all, "Distant Sun" multiplied the villains for Supergirl and seemed to imply that Rhea would be the Big Bad of the season as it rushes towards its finale. With Rhea killing Mon-El's father and committing to getting Mon-El back, it seems like she is absolutely determined to kill Kara.

Kara arrives at the DEO where there is, much to her surprise, nothing for her to do. Out of work since losing her job as a reporter at Catco, Kara returns home where she is bored and spends her time baking. She is visited by Lena Luthor, who asks her to accompany her to a product unveiling being performed by Jack Spheer (Luthor's ex). At the press conference, Kara runs into her former editor, Snapper Carr and she is initially intimidated by him. Spheer reveals his Biomax medical program, which includes nanobots capable of healing wounds! On her way out of the press conference, Kara is approached by someone who claims to have information for her. That night, the whistleblower tells Kara he thinks the human trials of the nanobots were faked and that National City is being used as a testing ground by Spheer!

When the nanobots attempt to kill Kara (and do kill the whistleblower), she reaches out to James Olsen, but finds Carr blocking her access to Catco's resources. Carr follows a lead to a man who reveals to him that the "human trials" of Spheer's nanobots were limited to him signing a form! Moments later, the nanobots attack and Carr is barely rescued by Supergirl. Kara returns to her apartment and learns that Lena is out with Spheer. Danvers convinces Mon-El to help her crash the date and Kara uses the opportunity to interrogate Spheer about his human trials of the nanobots. Mon-El manages to steal Spheer's access badge and he and Kara break into the company. There they discover that not only were there no human trials of Spheer's nanobots, but that he is now made entirely of them! Kara works to expose the truth and prevent the nanobots from being deployed in National City where they have the potential to kill everyone!

Supergirl has neglected the professional-development story of Kara Danvers in its second season. "Ace Reporter" does a fair job of exploring that aspect of her character. Supergirl, from its very beginning, has had a whole "girl power" character aspect for Kara Danvers and "Ace Reporter" does a fine job of illustrating how effective the mundane identity of Supergirl can actually be. Kara Danvers acts like an investigative reporter in "Ace Reporter," working very hard to verify leads and find facts to reveal the truth. It is a refreshing return-to-form for Kara's character . . . even if this is the first time the show has truly given her a real reporting story of her own.

In "Ace Reporter," there is a Guardian and Winn Schott subplot. Schott is in the head-over-heels part of his romantic relationship with Lyra and that makes him careless in his guard duties for aiding Guardian. Lyra wants to make good on her family's crimes and she tries to help Guardian, but Olsen finds her methods more troubling than helpful. While it is good to see Guardian in action, there is something a little disappointing about the way the interludes with he rest of the cast distract from the Kara Danvers story. Supergirl seems so committed to being an ensemble cast piece that is seems unwilling to truly commit to a strong Kara Danvers story. In "Ace Reporter," the Guardian scenes feel very much like a dilution of a decent story.

Arguably, the reason the Guardian and Schott subplot is a part of "Ace Reporter" is that because from the very beginning, the viewer knows the nanobots are sinister and not the amazing health care breakthrough they appear. While trying to develop the friendship between Lena and Kara, "Ace Reporter" cannot drag that plotline out in a compelling way. Lena Luthor continues to be fairly convincing as a character committed to doing good things to make up for her horrible family's past in "Ace Reporter." Despite being emotionally entangled with Spheer, Luthor gives Danvers the benefit of the doubt when Kara brings her concerns about the ethics of Spheer's company. Lena Luthor is not a "sit back and wait" type character, so it is unsurprising when Luthor breaks her soft promise to Kara to confront Spheer, but it is refreshing to see Lena Luthor trying so hard to do right by National City.

"Ace Reporter" gives Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath a chance to shine, albeit in limited ways. Benoist is feisty and tenacious playing Kara Danvers as an eager reporter. McGrath reaches her peak near the end when Lena has to make a tough decision and she plays Luthor as genuinely and convincingly conflicted in a very short amount of time. But most of the content of "Ace Reporter" does not allow the stars of the show to show off a lot of range or new aspects of their characters.

But "Ace Reporter" speeds along and is fairly engaging in a very watchable way. Supergirl is back and despite neglecting the background threat for the bulk of the episode, it stands up as an entertaining and engaging Villain Of The Week story.

For other works with Jim Eliason, please check out my reviews of:
"Moonshot" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Attack On Central City" - The Flash
"Attack On Gorilla City" - The Flash

[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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