Monday, November 20, 2017

Inevitable Return, Inevitable Villain, "Wake Up" Is Unfortunately Crowded Supergirl

The Good: Generally good acting, Moments of character
The Bad: J'onn J'onzz's character, Meandering plot, Too many plotlines to allow any of them to breathe
The Basics: "Wake Up" is a Supergirl episode that bites off more than it can chew to make any of its three major arcs feel satisfying.

As Supergirl has progressed into its third season, the show has been doing a good job of keeping the memory of Mon-El alive. Fresh in Kara's mind after six months of mourning the fact that Mon-El had to flee Earth after the Daxamite invasion is Kara's sense of loss. The fact that Kara's relationship with Mon-El was so short makes the period of her grieving seem disproportionate, but this has been enough to keep Mon-El fresh in the mind of viewers. It is also enough to make viewers anticipate a return for Mon-El and in that regard, Supergirl does not disappoint. The episode in which Mon-El returns is "Wake Up."

"Wake Up" continues after the events of "Midvale" (reviewed here!) and it plays off elements of several of the prior episodes. "Wake Up" is notable for continuing the stories of M'yrnn J'onzz, Samantha Arias, and Mon-El while introducing Imra (Saturn Girl). "Wake Up" also explicitly confirms that Arias is the Kryptonian from the last shot of the second season finale of Supergirl.

Samantha Arias begins to test her abilities, including placing her hand in boiling water and discovering she has no pain (or burn reaction to it). At the DEO, Schott is miffed when M'yrnn asks him to be able to go to the bathroom and he approaches J'onn to suggest J'onn take his father out of the DEO facility. When an expedition under water near National City is attacked, the DEO becomes aware of a massive, ancient space ship under the city. J'onn, Kara and Schott investigate and find Mon-El aboard the vessel. Samantha visits her adoptive mother to try to learn if she ever showed any abnormalities in her childhood, but Patricia is reticent to reveal anything about her childhood.

While J'onn is off-campus with his father, Mon-El regains consciousness and sneaks into the DEO armory. Kara incapacitates him, but when she has him back in custody, he refuses to answer her questions. When Winn Schott visits Mon-El, the Daxamite asks Schott for help and together, they return to the ship. Kara, however, intervenes while Mon-El is attempting to repower the ship and its stasis tubes. They are able to rescue Imra from drowning in her stasis tube and Mon-El confesses that he has lived seven years in the future, while Kara has lived the last seven months alone in the present. Samantha goes out into the desert where she inadvertently creates her own Fortress Of Sanctuary! And after a heart to heart with Kara, Mon-El reveals the true nature of his relationship with Imra.

"Wake Up" continues the trend of diluting Supergirl. Gone are the days when the super hero narrative has a single, strong protagonist. Kara is a support character in "Wake Up" and the episode desperately tries to incorporate James Olsen and Alex Danvers, while neglecting entirely Lena Luthor. "Wake Up" continues to crowd the cast of Supergirl and with so much focus on Samantha Arias, by the time the episode gets around to J'onn dealing with his father, it feels like an afterthought within the narrative.

J'onn J'onzz is severely weakened as a character in "Wake Up." J'onzz long-believed his father was dead and that he was the last Green Martian. When J'onn learned of the existence of M'gann in the second season, he began obsessively spending time with her. And yet, with his own father, he is neglectful and uncaring. That reads somewhere between false and cheap; like J'onn was just a sucker for a cute face and doesn't truly care about his actual family. Given how he has continued to pine over his dead wife and children, his neglect of his own father is disappointing.

The winner on the acting front for "Wake Up" is Chris Wood. Almost immediately, Wood leaps back into Supergirl portraying Mon-El with a reserved quality that is quite good. In fact, it pretty much telegraphs his big reveal at the climax of the episode.

Ultimately, "Wake Up" is a crowded episode, with one too many plots, so none of them get developed well-enough to truly be satisfying.

For other works with Chris Wood, please visit my reviews of:
Supergirl - Season 2
"Duet" - The Flash


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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