Monday, January 22, 2018

All The Women Return To "Fort Rozz!"

The Good: Good performances, Decent direction, Fun team-up plot
The Bad: Undermines all the main characters for the sake of plot convenience, Predictable
The Basics: "Fort Rozz" and Livewire return to Supergirl for a mediocre team-up storyline!

The DC Television Universe shows have one fundamental problem with their formula: all of them have a super-hero who is surrounded by an ensemble of strong supporting characters. All of the works in the DC Television Universe stand on the idea that no person is an island. The result is that all of the shows are team shows and in some ways Supergirl suffers the most. Unlike Arrow, The Flash, Legends Of Tomorrow or even Black Lightning, Supergirl is bloated with powerful characters and it makes it especially difficult to make compelling adversaries who are able to realistically threaten Supergirl or National City. Between Supergirl and the Martian Manhunter, though, there are few adversaries that the pair could not - realistically, based upon their abilities - take in a fight. Indeed, outside magical adversaries, a Kryptonian and a Martian are pretty much on par with every Earth-based DC Comics villain and with the additional support team of Superman in a neighboring city, allusions to Batman, and the full DEO team, Supergirl is unfortunately hero-heavy. In fact, it is so overloaded with heroes now that the Legion Of Super Heroes has arrived from the 31st Century, it is hard to suspend one's disbelief to believe that Reign - a Kryptonian who has a much greater charge of Earth's sun than Superman or Supergirl but is backed only by religious fanatics - could actually be such an effective adversary against so many heroes.

Despite the overpower aspect of the good guys on Supergirl, "Fort Rozz" begins with the idea that Reign is such an amazing threat that Kara has to enlist others to help her on a mission. "Fort Rozz" picks up after "Legion Of Super-Heroes" (reviewed here!) and the set-up is that Reign is such an inscrutable and powerful enemy that Kara has to make a new team to simply get intelligence on the Kryptonian. With Alex out of commission, Kara turns to Psi and Livewire for a team-up infiltration mission.

With DEO intelligence on Reign sorely lacking and Alex home with a broken leg (and taking care of Ruby), Kara learns that the only people who might have information on Reign are imprisoned in Fort Rozz. Fort Rozz has taken up orbit around a Blue Giant star, which leaves Supergirl without her powers and in a position that is fatal to anyone with a Y-chromosome. Kara assembles a team of women with powers she believes she can trust - Saturn Girl, Livewire, and Psi - to journey to Fort Rozz to find Jindah Kol Rozz, a Priestess imprisoned there who knows about Reign.

On Fort Rozz, the team discovers all of the cells open and all the imprisoned men there dead. When they are attacked by an inmate, Psi puts a whammy on Irma. After putting Psi and Irma in a safe place on the Legion ship to watch over their prisoner, Livewire and Supergirl head to find Jindah. Psychically attacked by Jindah Kol Rozz, Supergirl is entirely helpless and separated from her allies when Reign arrives to stop her!

"Fort Rozz" is a pretty familiar team-up episode which puts the heroine in a place where she is forced to rely upon her enemies. The episode adds predictable adversity, like a solar flare which will destroy Fort Rozz and puts a ticking clock on the mission in space, and Reign showing up on Fort Rozz. The whole episode has a fairly formulaic execution. Indeed, as Reign and Livewire square off, it is easier for viewers to recall that Supergirl was only able to defeat he with the aid of water and The Flash when reason failed. Reign's ability to harm Livewire is problematic given the precedent from past episodes.

Livewire has a decent arc in "Fort Rozz." She has gone underground because Reign has slaughtered many of her criminal friends. That makes for a sensible motivation for Livewire and her arc is well-executed in "Fort Rozz." Leslie Willis has grown and developed over the course of Supergirl and in "Fort Rozz" it shows. The way Kara reached Willis on her last appearance led her to make real changes and she is a surprisingly compelling character in this go-around.

The episode features a b-plot involving Alex and Ruby. Alex is contacted by Maggie, who wants her passport back. This is a fairly ridiculous conceit as Alex mentions that Maggie traveled a lot; she was not in a rush when she left the apartment she shared with Alex. As such, it is entirely unrealistic that Maggie would have left behind her passport . . . or that it would have taken months for her to ask for it back (whatwith her needing it to satisfy her penchant for travel). This leads Alex and Ruby to have a conversation and allows Alex to bond with Ruby over Ruby being bullied. As the two go off to confront Ruby's bully, the viewer has the sense that the show is moving inexorably in the direction of Alex ending up with custody of Ruby (thus giving her the child - having children being the issue that broke up her and Maggie - and making losing Maggie somehow "acceptable").

Unfortunately, "Fort Rozz" gives Supergirl a good new direction while undermining all the impact of the established villains. Jindah Kol Rozz alludes to Reign's potential allies who need to be found, which offers a good new direction for Supergirl. But Psi has the information about who Reign is and the means to transmit that information to Supergirl or J'onn J'onzz . . . who could put it together. Barring that, Alex now has key information that would allow her to recognize that Samantha Arias is Reign and given how smart and efficient Alex has been in the past, it is disappointing that "Fort Rozz" does not climax with her putting it together.

On the acting front, Sarah Douglas makes an awesome return to the Superman franchise - too briefly - in the role of Jindah Kol Rozz. She makes decent use out of her time on screen, but is given shockingly little to do in the episode. It is Brit Morgan who rules over "Fort Rozz." Morgan manages to be snarky as Livewire, but exhibit an emotional side that shows more range than she was previously allowed. Livewire is hurt by the loss of her friends and scared that she might be next and Morgan plays that emotional gamut well.

Ultimately, though, "Fort Rozz" is a very average episode of Supergirl that is supposed to feel like the stakes are being raised, but instead plods along making the viewer wonder just how inefficient Supergirl and her allies truly must be.

For other Supergirl episodes with Livewire, please visit my reviews of:
"We Can Be Heroes"
"Worlds Finest"


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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