Monday, January 15, 2018

The "Legion Of Super-Heroes" Make An Unremarkable Entrance On Supergirl!

The Good: Alex's one big character moment, Brainiac-5 is well-introduced
The Bad: Plot plods along, Predictable, Light on significant character moments, No amazing performance moments
The Basics: Supergirl introduces the "Legion Of Super-Heroes" in an unfortunately dull way.

A few years ago, I was opening DC Comics trading cards and I pulled multiple sketch cards of a character I did not recognize. The character, after a little research, turned out to be Saturn Girl from the Legion Of Super-Heroes, which was not a title I was familiar with. I spoke with a comic book shop owner, who described the series as a futuristic Justice League that never really was able to support its own title, though it had a strangely loyal and rabid fan base. I was pretty shocked at the price those sketch cards of Saturn Girl sold for, but I've never had any customers ask specifically for characters from the, apparently, oft-cancelled title. So, when Supergirl teased the Legion Of Super-Heroes back in the episode "Solitude" (reviewed here!), with a ring from that group in Kal-El's Fortress Of Solitude, it seemed like only a matter of time before The CW tried to make that heroic team mainstream by inserting them into the show. Their proper introduction comes in "Legion Of Super-Heroes."

"Legion Of Super-Heroes" follows the events of the midseason finale, "Reign" (reviewed here!), and it is tough to discuss without mentioning where that episode left off. After all, "Reign" left Supergirl badly beaten and National City was at the mercy of the next big Supergirl super-villain.

Kara awakens to a knock on the door. At the door is Querl Dox, Brainiac-5 from the Legion Of Super-Heroes, who reveals that Kara is in a coma and he has been awakened by Mon-El to stabilize her neural pathways bring her out of her coma. At the Legion ship, J'onn J'onzz worries that they will be unable to save National City without Supergirl. At her house, Samantha seems disturbed seeing the picture of Reign on the newspaper and she returns to her own Fortress. She comes back to National City where she kills a thief and declares war upon crime in National City. At the DEO, Mon-El reveals that most history was lost by the 31st Century and that the Legion Of Super-Heroes can have limited involvement in thwarting Reign.

After Mon-El proves to Alex Danvers that the Legion members cannot be killed in the past, J'onn makes a detour to try to keep Kara's cover with Luthor intact. Alex lays a trap for Reign and she and J'onn are shocked when Reign is able to shrug off the last supply of Kryptonite the DEO has. In Kara's mind, Brainiac discovers that Kara might have a reason to stay in her head when Kara remembers a pet she had as a child. While waiting for Kara to regain consciousness, the Legion comes together at the National City prison where Reign is cleaning house!

"Legion Of Super-Heroes" has Reign as the rising threat in National City and the idea that the DEO has prepared for a rogue Kryptonian threat. The idea that after Kal-El had the DEO eliminate the world's Kryptonite supply a new Kryptonian would have an edge on the DEO and National City is a cool one.

Finding a balance in "Legion Of Super-Heroes" between the threats posed by Reign and the process of getting Kara out of her coma takes a little while. Peppered in between the threat and the surreal medical issue is a romantic subplot involving the budding romance between Lena Luthor and James Olsen. The two kissed in "Reign" and in "Legion Of Super-Heroes," Olsen's concern about Kara's health creeps into his relationship with Luthor. Lena manages to maintain her smart, in-control persona when dealing with "Kara" while still seeking out her friend's advice, which is a nice twist.

The surreal elements within Kara's head are a little basic. Kara has been in comas a couple of times now - the Black Mercy parasite in season 1 comes instantly to mind - so the transition from Kara wounded to the real world hardly seems original now. Moreover, it is a trope that has been done on other DC Television Universe works. The real purpose of Kara's coma storyline seems to be to introduce Brainiac-5 in a compelling way. That aspect of the scenes where Kara is unconscious are the most successful.

The acting in "Legion Of Super-Heroes" is mostly-good. Melissa Benoist gets to play unconscious, mellow and as J'onn J'onzz impersonating Kara, which gives her a lot to do. Benoist plays all the roles well, but she is more of a supporting performer in "Legion Of Super-Heroes" than she is in most episodes. Chris Wood, Jesse Rath and , by contrast, managed to play off one another to make it seem entirely plausible that the three had had extensive time interacting with one another before this episode.

The Lena Luthor/James Olsen relationship starts to show off its potential in "Legion Of Super-Heroes." Luthor has been one of the more interesting Supergirl characters and James Olsen has been a character who the show has struggled to find an interesting direction for. Olsen has drifted from "will they or won't they" love interest in the first season to Guardian in the second season and with Kara virtually eliminating crime in National City by the beginning of the third season, Olsen has been pretty generically stuck in the role of a reporter and editor at CatCo Worldwide Media. The potential of the relationship between Luthor and Olsen is that the show might find a good stride for Olsen and give Lena a chance to move beyond the "I'm a different type of Luthor" characterization.

Ultimately, "Legion Of Super-Heroes" is an episode that is somewhat hoisted on its own petard; whenever the titular character is put in a coma, she has to come out of it. Super hero shows like Supergirl usually concoct a fight sequence that allows the hero to come out of their wounded state swinging and "Legion Of Super-Heroes" does nothing to defy that paradigm, it merely embraces and embodies it. The result is a lackluster return to Supergirl as opposed to a proper demonstration of what the Legion Of Super-Heroes can actually do.

For other midseason premieres, please visit my reviews of:
"Supergirl Lives" - Supergirl
"Despite Yourself" - Star Trek: Discovery
"Bouncing Back" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.


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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