Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Supergirl: Identity Issues

Hi guys and gals! Today, let's talk about Supergirl, OK? OK!

The series has not missed a beat in its transition from CBS to the CW. After a bit of shaky start storywise last year, Supergirl was really beginning to find its voice near the end of the season. This has brought a level of confidence to the show to test its limits going into season 2.

Having established our characters over the course of a year, season 2 sees those characters heading in new directions that challenge their sense of identity.  

Kara Danvers, now cut off from the mentoring oversight of the gone on sabbatical Cat Grant, is pursuing a career as a reporter. Her editor Snapper Carr is not so enamored with young Kara and her naive enthusiasm to be a reporter. To be blunt, Snapper is a jerk towards Kara but he's also usually right. He demands she do the grunt work to actually learn how to be a reporter. He gives her grief that her work as a reporter needs to be objective, not biased. He refuses to accept her work without sources and research. It's not far off the constant abuse that Cat seemed to foist off on Kara all the time but with Cat, there was a glimmer of recognition that deep down she actually might care. There is no hint at all that Snapper is anything but an irascible grump with little or no regard for Kara. 

In her absence, Cat has trusted main oversight of her media empire to James Olsen. Not sure what a trained photographer knows about running a media empire but OK. Olsen is also working hard to find his way in a new position, tasked to keep things running as well as Cat did but with his own voice, his own style. It's not an easy journey for James who also has to contend with his relationship with Kara being friend-zoned. For all the power he has at CatCo, taking over for Cat Grant, James Olsen feels frustrated and sidelined. This as led Olsen to considering a path to a separate identity, as a super hero. 

The erstwhile Hank Henshaw, aka J'onn J'onzz, aka the Martian Manhunter, is dealing with identity issues of his own. With humans increasingly aware of aliens living among them, there is a pervading feeling of panic and paranoia, Hank is even more determined to keep his true nature hidden. It is a determination that is challenged when he meets another surviving Green Martian, a woman named M'gann. He is eager to reach out to someone he thought could not possibly exist, someone who could understand him only in the way another Green Martian could. M'gann has other ideas, however, as it turns out there is more to M'gann than she's let on. Turns out she's not a Green Martian but a White Martian and White Martians are notorious evil bastards... usually. Is there something different with this one?*

*If the comics are any indication, yes there is and it's a good thing.  

And M'gann is not the only unexpected super powered alien presence on Earth these days. The dude from the pod turns out be Mon-El from the planet Daxam which is from the same system as Krypton. And Daxamites and Kryptonians did not like each other. Kryptonians regarded the leaders of Daxam as a bunch of irresponsible thugs lording over a bunch of backward peasants and the Daxamites considered Krypton to be filled with a bunch of sanctimonious, arrogant jerks. Unfortunately, Krypton going BOOM! dumps a bunch of debris on Daxam, making the planet uninhabitable. Mon-El cannot go back home. So Mon-El has to figure out who he's going to be on this strange new world. And both Mon-El and Supergirl have to look past their respective planetary prejudices to give each other a chance to prove themselves. 

But the really big story relating to identity centers around Kara's human sister, Alex Danvers. Over the last year, we've seen that Alex is a super smart, super capable kicker of alien butt but who is Alex when there not alien butt to be kicked? Outside of her work with the DEO, Alex's only real role was Kara's sister. But is that all there is to her life? What about relationships and dating? Anything like that going on? 

Apparently not as she complains to Winn Schott (changing his own identity from CatCo computer guy to DEO science guy) that she hasn't been on a date in years. You know, this girl needs a man in her life. 

Or maybe not. A man, that is.  

While investigating an alien attack, Alex encounters National City police detective Maggie Sawyer and right off the bat there's the usual "oil and water" mix of a local cop finding her crime scene being taking over by the feds. But Maggie is not entirely new to the whole aliens on Earth thing and guides Alex to a bar where alien exiles in National City like to hang out. Maggie relates to these aliens, outsiders in a world that doesn't quite accept them. Maggie grew up a midwestern town that was mostly all white, all straight. As a Latina and a lesbian, Maggie was neither.*

*Maggie Sawyer in the comics was not Hispanic but she was shown as a gay in a Superman comic in the 1980's, not long after her debut.  

With Alex's high tech connections with the DEO and Maggie's street level knowledge of the alien community, the two make a very good team. Then Alex starts to take a personal interest in Maggie. Seems Maggie's girlfriend has dumped her and Alex is worried that Maggie is feeling low and really needs a friend. Which is true, of course, but Alex's attentions to Maggie's state of mind seems to be deeper, causing Maggie to wonder if Alex is gay. Alex denies it and makes a hasty and awkward exit. However, Alex later meets up with Maggie and confesses she's always felt there was something lacking in her previous relationships with men and that maybe Maggie might be right about Alex.

After spending much of her life in support of her parents, her sister and her work with the DEO, Alex Danvers is finally making a long delayed journey to discover who she really is and her eyes are opening up to possibilities she has never considered before.

Last night saw Alex come out to her sister Kara even as Alex still struggles with these feelings about her sexual identity. Then Alex rolls the dice and kisses Maggie. Maggie, however, is about to break Alex's heart. 


Of course this is television. True love is never easy on television.  Nonetheless, Alex's journey is being handled with care and sensitivity, thanks to the writers and the excellent work of actors Chyler Leigh as Alex and Floriana Lima as Maggie whose characters have a very strong spark of personal chemistry that really makes this story arc believable. Great Rao, I hope those two crazy kids can make this work. 

For a show about flashy super heroics, Supergirl continues to impress with solid character development with improving writing being brought to life by a core of actors who have found their groove. Melissa Benoist continues to enchant as Supergirl, buoyed by joyous enthusiasm, a yearning to help people and the power to punch people in the face when they seek to hurt others.  And Kara Danvers, much like her sister Alex, is on a journey of self-discovery for what gives her life meaning when she's not wearing the cape. 

But we still need our flashy super heroics and the show has continued to deliver on that front. I know there were concerns that the tight budget constraints of being on the CW might hinder the show but instead, the super stuff looks better than ever. 

And in a couple of weeks, we're going to see super stuff kick into high gear when the big epic crossover with the other CW DC super hero shows takes place. Arrow, Flash and the Legends of Tomorrow have to contend with a invasion by an alien race called the Dominators and the Flash gets some super help from an alternate Earth. (Or at least, I'm presuming that's how Supergirl gets involved.)  This is going to be so freakin' AWESOME! 

After the big epic crossover is done, Supergirl gets back to business in her world and we have a lot of questions to answer. 

  • What's the next move for Cadmus in its war to promote terror over aliens on Earth? 
  • What about Jeremiah Danvers who is being held by Cadmus? Has he been turned into a monster/weapon like they did when they turned John Corben into Metallo?
  • With the head of Cadmus being revealed as Lena Luthor's mom, what does the Cadmus mission mean for Lena?
  • Is Lena on the up and up, trying to redeem the family name of Luthor or is she working her own insidious schemes like her nefarious brother Lex? 
  • What does the future hold for Mon-El, the Daxamite refugee now hanging out on Earth with Supergirl?
  • What is James Olsen getting himself into by becoming a super hero? Is Winn going to get in trouble with the DEO for helping him?  
  • And what about Cat Grant. What is she up to? When will she return to National City? What will she do if she finds the guy she left in charge is moonlighting as super hero?
  • When will J'onn find out the truth about M'gann? And what will he do then? 
  • Will Alex and Maggie ever be at the same place at the same time emotionally? And in the middle of whatever cathartic moment the pair may have, what are the odds it will be interrupted by an alien attack of some kind? 

There's a lot to look forward. Supergirl is off to a great start on its new CW home; here's hoping it keeps going in that positive direction. 

That's the post for today. Tomorrow: comic books! 

Until then, remember to be good to one another. It's what Supergirl would want you to do.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

We went to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom  and let me settle something up front: Bryce Dallas Howard does wear high heels.  For a coup...