The Good: Acting, Special effects
The Bad: Entirely derivative plot, Glossed-over character conflicts and characterizations
The Basics: Supergirl presents an entirely familiar Metahuman Of The Week episode with "Triggers."
As is the trend with superhero television shows - both from the DC and Marvel Television Universes - the season might have lesser adversaries that endure for only a single episode, Supergirl tends to have a villain intended to ride out the bulk of the season. The third season of Supergirl is poised to feature Reign as its primary adversary and by the second episode, all that the viewer has seen of her is that she rescued her daughter from being crushed with what appears to be superhuman strength. Having read some Supergirl graphic novels, but not recalled at all Reign from them, I was eager to see how Supergirl would characterize and reveal Reign. All that viewers truly know is that Samantha Arias has super strength and that she is probably the Kryptonian alluded to in the final season of the second season finale.
"Girl Of Steel" (reviewed here!) led into "Triggers" and it almost instantly calls back to the events of the season premiere. Samantha Arias is confronted early on about her saving her daughter and she brushes it off and Lena Luthor arrives at CatCo, which she bought at the climax of the prior episode. The serialized elements in "Triggers" are minimized as the episode very quickly turns into a Metahuman Of The Week villain episode.
After the main characters wake up for the day, Samantha Arias goes to start her first day of work at a new job. Lena Luthor arrives at CatCo, much to the chagrin of James Olsen, to take over as the new CEO. Arriving at the DEO, where Detective Sawyer and Alex are arguing about wedding music, Supergirl learns that there is a thief in National City who has hit multiple banks by incapacitating the people in the banks. Supergirl attempts to intervene and stop the bank robber, Psi, but she is affected by Psi's power to manipulate emotions. When Kara is terrified by Psi and sees her mother and the crippling loneliness of being alone in the pod launched from Krypton, she turns to Winn for help in developing a psychic shield.
When Samantha's daughter shows rebellious tendencies because her mother is lying to her about her super powers, Samantha has to go looking for her. Kara, stressed over Lena actually keeping tabs on her at work, turns to Alex for emotional support. Psi continues to terrorize National City by robbing banks and stealing cash bags from armored car companies. When Psi attacks people near where Samantha's daughter has run, Samantha is called to rescue Ruby. Before Samantha can be outed, Ruby is rescued by Supergirl.
"Triggers" is an all right episode of Supergirl, but for anyone who is a fan of the DC Television Universe, it is entirely derivative. Psi is a metahuman and when Winn references the metahuman database, one has to assume that that was a gift from Cisco as a footnote in last season's crossover episode. Metahumans are not a typical problem on Supergirl, so the moment Psi pops up and is revealed to not be an alien it sits poorly with the viewer. Beyond that, Psi is essentially a recast of Roy G. Bivolo from The Flash episode "Flash Vs. Arrow" (reviewed here!). Roy altered emotions with a flash of his eyes and robbed banks . . . Psi does the same thing, without the flash of her eyes.
Somewhat disappointing in "Triggers" is that Kara is affected by Psi's powers the exact same way as humans. The episode does not offer a satisfactory explanation for why the metahuman's power has an effect on Kryptonian biology.
The acting in "Triggers" is solid, save that once again Katie McGrath's British accent makes an unexpected appearance. Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh have good on-screen chemistry and their scenes are well-executed. Regardless of how absurd it might feel that Psi is able to manipulate Supergirl using her psychic powers, Benoist plays shaken and horrified incredibly well. Jeremy Jordan does an excellent job in "Triggers" of providing a reasonable level of comic relief.
Unfortunately, "Triggers" does not leave much for the viewer to consider as it is almost entirely derivative. J'onn J'onzz is used for humor and then set up in an awkward way and Psi is a terribly generic villain of the week. The episode is forced to resolve the Psi conflict fast, as opposed to actually wrestling in a compelling way with the feelings and memories Psi's powers bring up in Supergirl.
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