Monday, November 6, 2017

The Supergirl Episode "Damage" Burns Down The Second Season.

The Good: Decent performances, One or two moments of character
The Bad: Destroys most of the positive elements from the second season of Supergirl, Painfully obvious villain, A lot of details "read" as wrong
The Basics: "Damage" tears down many of the lingering elements from the second season of Supergirl.

One of the advantages the DC Television Universe has in the marketplace is that it has Kevin Smith as a recurring director. Say what you will about Kevin Smith, the man loves comic books and as a former comic book writer, he has the credibility to pull off sequences in Supergirl and The Flash in a way that both respects the scripts he is given and the fans of the comic book source material. The latest DC Television Universe episode Smith directed is the Supergirl episode "Damage." "Damage"

"Damage" picks up where "The Faithful" (reviewed here!) left off, with Alex and Maggie's relationship hanging by a thread. The episode picks up the lingering thread of Morgan Edge from the third season premiere, as Edge was a new industrialist in National City who wanted to buy CatCo. Lena Luthor bought CatCo out from under Edge so he could not use the media empire for his anti-alien agenda and, as one might expect, "Damage" creates repercussions for that move.

A prison bus is getting hijacked when Supergirl and Alex stop the criminals who tried to take it. At the Luthor Children's Hospital, Morgan Edge has a press conference revealing Lena Luthor's role in stopping the Daxamites with the lead bomb. Alex and Maggie break up over Alex's desire to have children and Luthor confronts Morgan Edge, who attempts to save the lives of the children who have led poisoning from the L Corp tech that Lena developed. Lena steps aside. But, at her press event, Lena Luthor is shot at and James Olsen is hit with a bullet.

When Kara visits Lena Luthor at Samantha Arias's home, Luthor gets drunk and Kara stays with her, researching the lead poisoning in National City while she's unconscious. When Arias returns home, the pair soon realizes that a food truck from National City's Octoberfest might well be the common element in the lead poisoning cases. Investigating a public pool near the Octoberfest site, Kara finds the source of the lead poisoning.

The first incident in "Damage" is an annoying headscratcher. Instead of the return of Guardian or anyone else who might have authority in a prison bus hostage situation, Alex Danvers is involved in the situation. The bus situation does not seem to have anything to do with the DEO, so why Danvers is giving Supergirl backup makes no real sense.

In many ways, "Damage" works to wrestle with the consequences of the second season finale and it makes rational sense that a lead-based device would poison humans as much as Daxamites. "Damage" tries to reconcile the basic science of a lead-based bomb with human biology and the explanation is not terribly satisfying.

Also unsatisfying is the sense of inevitability to the "burn it down" conclusion to Alex and Maggie's relationship. As lame as it might seem, Supergirl telegraphed the destruction of the relationship the moment the third season began when Floriana Lima was not added to the cast. So, the sudden "Alex wants desperately to have children and that's a dealbreaker" character aspect is disappointing, but plays out to its conclusion in "Damage."

The second season of Supergirl worked hard to establish Lena Luthor as an unlikely, but consistent, good character. In fact, most of the second season was spent with a "will she or won't she" go over to the Dark Side. It was immensely satisfying that Luthor did not live down to her family's worst characteristics. So, Lena Luthor's pity party in "Damage" and her drawing a gun on Morgan Edge is a huge character shift for Lena.

Morgan Edge begins "Damage" as smart and resourceful, but he quickly is turned into a generic villain. And Edge is not particularly smart as he is very quickly tied to the chemicals that are poisoning the children.

Kevin Smith and the episode's two writers make a bold move having a female shooter in "Damage." Thus far, while women can be anything, none have yet chosen to be shooters in mass public events. Smith's direction is generally fine, save that a key murder is shot in such a way that the gun angles make no sense in the real world.

"Damage" isn't bad, but it feels obvious in most of its big moments and troubling in many of its specifics. While the episode's final moment is a good revelation that feels like a decent comic book style reveal. But right before that, Kara comes up with a solution for Alex's broken heart . . . which makes no real sense for the character of Alex. While Kara loves her adoptive mother, Alex has a much more turbulent relationship with Eliza.

It is details like that, which make "Damage" less than it could have been.

For other DC Television Universe works directed by Kevin Smith, please visit my reviews of:
"Distant Sun" - Supergirl
"Supergirl Lives" - Supergirl
"Killer Frost" - The Flash
"The Runaway Dinosaur" - 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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