Monday, May 22, 2017

"Nevertheless, She Persisted" Ties The Second Season Of Supergirl Together Well!

The Good: Ties the season's plot and character arcs together well, Decent performances
The Bad: One absolutely terrible stunt/moment of direction, Initial plot is terribly stupid
The Basics: Supergirl ends its second season with the generally good "Nevertheless, She Persisted," which has the Daxamite threat being resolved . . . with a price.

The second season of Supergirl has, sadly, been a bit erratic. The season has had some truly impressive episodes of television, but is has also had some complete dogs. Sadly, going into the season finale, "Nevertheless, She Persisted," Supergirl is coming off one of the worst episodes the series has ever produced, killing the momentum going into the finale. Following the big stumble of "Resist," which essentially insulted the intelligence of every viewer watching, "Nevertheless, She Persisted" starts from a narrative disadvantage, despite the immediate action tone of the finale.

"Resist"(reviewed here!) leads directly into "Nevertheless, She Persisted" and it is impossible to discuss the new episode without some allusions as to where the prior episode ended. After all, "Resist" saw the return of Superman in its very last moment and the reunion between Kara and Clark Kent was not a joyful one. Controlled by an alien force, Superman is now a weapon poised to go off on Supergirl!

Rhea informs Supergirl that she is controlling Superman using Silver Kryptonite. Kal-El sees Supergirl as General Zod and attacks her appropriately. Supergirl fights Superman all around National City, desperately attempting to keep their battle from hurting civilians. Supergirl manages to defeat Kal-El and Alex takes the Kryptonians to the Fortress Of Solitude to heal them. While Superman and Supergirl recover, Lillian visits Lena Luthor, with a box developed by Lex Luthor to defeat Superman. Lillian informs Lena that, based upon her use of the portal technology, she might have the power to adapt Lex's box and defeat the Daxamites. In the Krypton data archives in the Fortress Of Solitude, Supergirl learns of a Daxamite ritual that allows her to act as champion of Earth to fight Rhea in single-person combat.

While Supergirl begins to evacuate civilians from the potential combat area, she is called to visit Cat Grant and then Lena. Lena has discovered a way to adapt Lex's weapon to send the Daxamites packing, but the device would make it impossible for Mon-El to remain on Earth. While Rhea and Supergirl fight, Rhea betrays the ritual combat by having the Daxamite forces attack National City. Lena completes work on the device and Lillian attempts to use it, but only Supergirl has the ability to activate the device. With the battle for National City going poorly - despite White Martians arriving unexpectedly to aid the human resistance - Supergirl is put in a position where she must make the most difficult decision of her life.

The opening battle of "Nevertheless, She Persisted" is well-directed and foreshadows the exact type of weapon any Kryptonian could be should Max Lord re-enter the Supergirl narrative with his predictable powers and arc. Within "Nevertheless, She Persisted," there is something disappointing to see Kara use brute force to put down Kal-El, though the whole "girl power" nature of Supergirl makes it feel like it works. Within the second season of Supergirl, one wherein Supergirl has had her powers drained entirely and has slowly worked to recharge her internal solar battery, her ability to defeat Kal-El seems utterly unrealistic.

"Nevertheless, She Persisted" sees the end to a number of plot threads from the second season of Supergirl, but the episode neglects even the moral dilemma posed by a plot thread that goes unmentioned in the episode. For an episode that relies upon information from earlier episodes - like the return of M'Gann in J'onn's mind - the fact that the Kryptonian Medusa virus is not even proposed as a potential way to eliminate the Daxamite invasion seems like a glaring oversight.

As well, for an episode entitled "Nevertheless, She Persisted" - after a reaction to Elizabeth Warren making an intellectual argument - it is tremendously disappointing to see the main invasion conflict come down to a brutish physical battle. Fortunately, the episode's coda provides more intellectual context for the battle and, especially, for the resolution of the battle. Alex's final scene of the season smartly ties her coming out earlier in the season to Kara's sense of doubt and that actually helps make her arc for the season feel more organic and not at all gratuitous.

On the character front, it is refreshing to see Lena Luthor maintain her integrity and intelligence, despite her mother's villainy. Similarly, "Nevertheless, She Persisted" features a grand act of sacrifice and actually allows Mon-El to complete his arc from misfit to hero. Kara proves herself to be a moral character who is willing to put the needs of her world above her personal desires

"Nevertheless, She Persisted" has a number of technical details that are unfortunately presented from a scientific perspective. Rhea being poisoned by Kryptonite makes a lot of sense; it pooling in her body and "manifesting" in concentrated bits once her skin is broken is utterly ridiculous. Similarly, while poisoning the Earth's atmosphere with minute quantities of lead is an interesting weapon against the Daxamites, the episode pays lip service to the idea that the concentration is not high enough to affect humans. Regardless of that, given that the lead comes from a source (Lex's box), it seems utterly unrealistic that Lena, Lillian, and Winn would have survived standing so close to it. Come to think of it, in one episode, Kara laments that the DEO building is lined with lead; how the hell has Mon-El been able to retain his Earthbound powers within its walls if lead is so toxic to Daxamites?!

Cat Grant is good in "Nevertheless, She Persisted," though Calista Flockhart is forced to deliver yet another ridiculously on-the-nose comment on the nature of women. The episode and even Grant's pep talk is going remarkably well until that moment. Fortunately, even that conversation recovers.

Ultimately, "Nevertheless, She Persisted" is a fairly good conclusion to a very rocky season and it gives the third season of Supergirl an excellent starting point.

For other DC Television Universe season finales, please check out my reviews of:
"Fast Enough" - The Flash
"Legendary"- Legends Of Tomorrow
"The Race Of His Life" - The Flash
"Aruba"- Legends Of Tomorrow

[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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