Friday, September 29, 2017

Supergirl Tests Into Average With The Erratic "Red Faced"

The Good: Interesting main plot, Moments of character, Good performances
The Bad: Terrible characterization of Cat Grant's mother, Very simple plot, Recycled plot elements
The Basics: "Red Faced" develops the Supergirl test story when Red Tornado enters the mix.

I recently did a convention at which Glenn Morshower was a guest. This was particularly exciting for me because Morshower is an actor who is in almost everything I enjoy, so I figured that I would have a lot to talk with him about if I had the chance. Alas, the convention was pretty busy for me and I did not actually have a chance to talk with Mr. Morshower, nor did I run into him randomly at the convention (for which I had the perfect ice breaking line!). So, when I sat down today to rewatch and review the Supergirl episode "Red Faced," I was pretty excited as this was Morshower's entrance into the DC Television Universe.

"Red Faced" picks up after the events of "How Does She Do It?" (reviewed here!) and it picks up the plotline from that episode that Supergirl is being tested. While the prior episode insinuated that Max Lord was behind testing Supergirl's abilities, "Red Faced" has the U.S. Military directly testing Supergirl. The episode introduces the Justice League character Red Tornado as a villain.

Supergirl is flying around relaxing when she hears two drivers getting into a scuffle. Supergirl rescues a soccer team from getting run over and the footage of the driver assualting Kara makes the National City news. Max Lord uses the opportunity to decry Supergirl and it is in a distracted state that Kara runs into Lucy Lane. Lucy Lane's father, General Sam Lane, is in National City and wants to have Supergirl fight his anti-alien android, the Red Tornado.

When Supergirl manages to defeat the Red Tornado, Alex Danvers takes the android's severed arm to Lord Industries. Alex wants Lord's help in finding the Red Tornado in its stealth mode after Dr. Morrow is fired by General Lane. When Olsen and the Lanes leave dinner, Red Tornado appears and Supergirl manages to protect National City, though the Tornado escapes.

"Red Faced" features a decent moment with Kara when she finally stands up to Cat Grant. Grant's mother visits and when she is emotionally aloof and outright mean, Grant punches down to Kara. Kara stands up for herself and it is refreshing to see and disappointing to see how quickly she backs up. Cat Grant takes Kara out for drinks and has a decent discussion with her. Grant makes some good points with Kara about expectations surrounding women in the workplace and the show manages to be not overly heavyhanded.

Unfortunately, Cat Grant's glimmer into insight is marred by her narcisism. Grant seems like she is developing - enough to recognize that she is angry at her own mother and taking it out on Kara - but then backsteps. Sadly, Cat Grant's horrible mother is similarly erratically characterized. The worst of cruel narcissists, Katherine Grant at one moment seems like a first wave feminist (calling out the "girl" part of "Supergirl"), the next seeming entirely old fashion (preferring a male doctor). The ridiculous split in her characterization is head-scratchingly distracting.

From the main characters, Kara spends "Red Faced" learning how to channel her anger effectively and the process is a generally good one. Kara gets reasonably upset and it turns out she has been carrying a lot of anger. Unfortunately for Supergirl, "Red Faced" is all about absolutes. Kara is treated like there can only be one true source for her anger, Lucy Lane makes a drastic character decision that needs not to be so exclusionary and Winn's father issues make him pliant to the Danvers girls desires and all these issues are problematic.

The primary villain in "Red Faced" is T.O. Morrow, the creator of Red Tornado. Morrow is a pretty generic mad scientist character in "Red Faced," though the idea that the military is developing an anti-Kryptonian defense is a good one.

Director Jesse Warn does an excellent job of choreographing and editing the fights between Alex and Morrow and Supergirl and the Red Tornado. Warn also gets some impressive performances out of Melissa Benoist as both Kara and Supergirl.

"Red Faced" is unfortunately derivative - do all Millennials have game night or just the ones in the DC Television Universe?! And the final shot of Hank Henshaw is pointless and insulting. The result is that "Red Faced" splits the good with the bad and ends up as perfectly average super hero television.

For other works with Glenn Morshower, please check out my reviews of:
Transformers: The Last Knight
“The Beginning Of The End” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“Ragtag” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Revolution - Season 1
After Earth
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
X-Men: First Class
The Men Who Stare At Goats
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
All The King’s Men
“North Star” - Star Trek: Enterprise
The West Wing
“Resistance” - Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Generations
“Starship Mine” - Star Trek: The Next Generation
“Peak Performance” - Star Trek: The Next Generation


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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