Thursday, February 1, 2018

"Myriad" Arrives On Supergirl

The Good: Performances, Special effects, Decent initial concept
The Bad: No real character development, Light on plot resolution.
The Basics: "Myriad" makes for a mini-climax to the first season of Supergirl, but it poorly reconciles its own (and the season's) concepts.

Throughout the first season of Supergirl, the Kryptonians who have served as the primary antagonists to Supergirl and the DEO have alluded to their big project, "Myriad." As one might expect from an episode entitled "Myriad," the endgame of the Kryptonians has arrived. In fact, it arrived at the climax of "World's Finest" (reviewed here!) and that end was a bit baffling. The Kryptonians who have opposed Supergirl have mentioned Myriad in the context of saving the Earth from an environmental catastrophe. So, when James Olsen was kissed by Kara Danvers at the climax of "World's Finest" and then essentially became a zombie, it's tough to see how Myriad - which appeared to be a mind-control initiative - was an environment-saving scheme.

"Myriad" opens with James Olsen in a zombified state, Lucy Lane in control of the D.E.O. and Alex Danvers on the run.

The D.E.O. has fallen to the Myriad protocol, which allows Non to release all of the Fort Rozz prisoners that the D.E.O. had in custody. Lane releases Maxima, but before she can return to Non, Supergirl arrives to stop Maxima and lock down the D.E.O. Supergirl visits the Fortress Of Solitude where she learns Kal-El is off-world. She also learns that Myriad was designed to take control of the citizen's minds in order to avert disaster on Krypton but Astrid and Non's plan was thwarted by Alura and Kara's father. With National City quarantined, only Supergirl, Cat Grant and Max Lord are independent of Myriad inside the city.

At their headquarters, Non and Indigo discuss National City and Indigo advises Non to kill Kara Zor-El once and for all. Meanwhile, Alex and J'onn get to Midvale where Alex turns to her mother for help. Max Lord devises a plan: a Kryptonite bomb that will make National City inhospitable to Kryptonians, but risks killing 8% of the population. Supergirl is susceptible to the idea that his plan is the best when Non has three people attempt to kill themselves and Supergirl can only save two of the three. Determined to come to her aid, J'onn and Alex head back to National City, while Indigo goads Non into using the human race as his personal army to take control of the galaxy. Indigo incapacitates J'onn and takes Alex to Non's headquarters, where Alex attempts to reason with Non. Influenced by Indigo, Non sets Alex - in a Kryptonite-powered super-suit - to kill Kara.

There's a cute joke in "Myriad" by Calista Flockhart pertaining to Harrison Ford, which Flockhart delivers with a perfect tongue-in-cheek delivery. But the explanation of how Kal-El has fallen under the influence of Myriad is deeply unsatisfying. The viewer is supposed to believe that because Kal-El was raised as a human, he would be susceptible to something that seems to be targeting genetic humans is pretty ridiculous. In a similar fashion, as Kara is tested by Non by having three people take a flying leap, Kara seems to be the last person in the world to understand just what Non is having them do.

Calista Flockhart gets a decent role in "Myriad" as she begins to open up to Supergirl. Flockhart sells the idea that Cat Grant has made a transition and it is an interesting idea, considering that when first Grant is shown in "Myriad," she references her reign of terror. Being able to balance the two ideas in such a short period of time is an interesting performance challenge for Flockhart, but by the time Grant gives her impassioned speech to Supergirl, there have been enough scenes that have Grant simply absorbing information being presented to her to make the transition seem reasonable.

Max Lord is presented as a decent tactician in "Myriad" and it is unfortunate that Myriad is not presented in a way that plays more toward Lord's strengths. Lord came up with a quick solution that has the potential to both save most of National City and kill what is statistically considered "acceptable losses." "Myriad" is lacking a decent scene or two where Max Lord attempts to take on his mind-controlled employees, has a victory or two, but then finds himself outflanked by the hive mind. Myriad is essentially a hive mind and in "Myriad," the titular "character" is remarkably docile. The viewer sees a city worth of people plugged in and working in Kryptonian, but not actually accomplishing anything, save to extort Supergirl.

The result is a penultimate episode that seems remarkably simplistic. Supergirl does not make a truly difficult decision, the villains do not grow or develop, that nature of the problem is not redefined in any way that is particularly compelling. Instead, the characters move incrementally and in a painfully problematic way. Alex Danvers and J'onn J'onzz return to National City, which carries the inherent risk of taxing J'onzz's psychic abilities and leaving Alex in the hands of her enemies, which is an entirely foreseeable consequence. With Supergirl relying upon Max Lord in National City, the fact that three smart people neglect to even momentarily consider that there is a potential benefit of continuing their original mission is disappointing. Had Alex and J'onn found Project Cadmus and Jeremiah Danvers, they would have - potentially - had an ally to use in liberating National City, as opposed to risking exactly where "Myriad" takes the heroes!

"Myriad" is okay, but not a spectacular hour of television.

For other works with mind control, please visit my reviews of:
"Yes Men" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Attack On Gorilla City" - The Flash
Jessica Jones - Season 1
"Observer Effect" - Star Trek: Enterprise


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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