Monday, April 11, 2016

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Kara, Max and Cat Team Up to Save National City from Non and Indigo in 'Myriad'

CBS' Supergirl - Episode 1.19 "Myriad"

Kara must find a way to free her friends when Non and Indigo use mind control to turn National City's citizens into their own army.

Supergirl has struggled to maintain consistent momentum throughout its first season. So much of that was because Astra and Non's motivations were kept mysterious. They spoke of using a program called "Myriad" to help save Earth from destruction just like Krypton. And yet, those were just words without a whole lot of substance to back them up. The main threat that the duo posed against Supergirl and National City wasn't that great. So that led to many episodic adventures for Kara as she had to face off with whatever alien is attacking National City for the week. But now, the first season is reaching its conclusion. Non and a newly resurrected Indigo have put Myriad into action. So, some answers are finally coming to light. It's just a bit of too little too late to really have a whole lot of emotional impact in this penultimate episode.

Myriad is essentially mind control to force all humans in National City to work collectively towards a single goal. Non is trying to protect Earth from the damage humanity is doing to it. He wants to stop global warming and famine. That's his main motivation for his actions. And frankly, that's a little too generic and tacked on here to really work at all. He has been presented as the villain of this story. The show is trying to bring up humanity and a point of view in him that can easily be understood. And yet, two seconds later, Indigo is whispering in his ear that he could basically rule the entire universe with this program. And thus, both characters largely return to being one-note bad guys that Supergirl needs to stop as soon as possible. The show tries to make all of this more complicated than it is. It's suppose to be meaningful because Non and Astra have talked about it all season long. However, it only somewhat works when it comes to the moral dilemma that Kara faces over the course of this hour more than it does with Non.

Kara is trapped in National City with no one to help her. All season long she has relied on support and guidance from her friends at CatCo and the DEO in order to stop any alien threat that appears. She has finally won back public support. As she embraces that hopefulness and goodness again, Myriad is put into action and that threatens to destroy everything she has been trying to protect this season. The show makes sure everyone knows this is a bad thing too by starting the episode off with Lucy and the other DEO agents attempting to free all the alien prisoners. Kara stops them before they are successful in that venture. But it only shows just how chaotic this new world is and how she's all alone in this fight. Except not really. She soon learns that Maxwell Lord and Cat Grant are immune to the effects of Myriad because of technology Max has developed. It's an unlikely partnership throughout this episode. And one that the show has earned the right to explore as they face this alien threat together.

Max has devised a strategy to unleash a bomb that should kill all of the Kryptonians in National City. The only problem is that in doing so it will likely kill hundreds of innocent humans as well. Max gets the green light from the President of the United States to go forward with this plan. And yet, Kara and Cat have doubts about whether or not it is worth all the damage it will do to this city. Non isn't making it easy for them in this endeavor. He could easily take away every personal connection Kara has formed in this world. The stakes of this situation are high. That's apparent when Non gets Winn, James and a female co-worker at CatCo to jump off a ledge with Kara only being able to save two of them. It's not surprising which two she decides to save. But again, this story is suppose to be serious and a death early on of a glorified extra is enough to signify that. It forces many people to act out of fear to this situation. That motivation does introduce an interest debate within the characters.

Kara, Cat and Max have to decide if they want fear or hope to determine their actions. With fear, there's an easy solution that could have major consequences throughout the city. It's the tough choice but it could be very necessary as well. Max doesn't want to sit idly by and watch society crumble around him when he can make a difference. But Supergirl has to stand for something better than that. It all boils down to a fantastic heart-to-heart between Cat and Supergirl. It's still so very frustrating that Cat doesn't know that Kara is Supergirl. She has a compelling dynamic with both of them but it would be so much more rewarding if she knew the truth. But nevertheless, that doesn't take away from the effectiveness of the moment and Kara deciding she needs to be better than Max's plan. She needs to stand for hope. She needs to be the beacon of light in this situation that doesn't destroy society in order to protect the planet.

However, most of this episode is just set up for what promises to be a very dynamic and dramatic season finale next week. Even Alex and J'onn make their way back to National City to help fight against Myriad. That quickly doesn't go according to plan - with Indigo seemingly killing J'onn and kidnapping Alex. It's all just building to the moment of emotional devastation when Non forces Kara to fight against Alex under the control of Myriad and in a Kryptonite-laced suit. It's a pretty exciting tease for the finale. The bond between the two sisters has been the emotional backbone of the season. It's going to be so heartbreaking to watch them fight like this knowing that it can only end badly. That's because the show put in the work to define their relationship. When this episode gets to the personal moments, it works so well. But when it's too focused on the plot, it's just way too problematic just for the sake of being nefarious.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Myriad" was written by Yahlin Chang & Caitlin Parrish and directed by Adam Kane.
  • Over the last few episodes, it's seemed like Supergirl was introducing too much plot to resolve by the end of this season. So, it's not surprising at all that Alex and J'onn quickly drop their pursuit of Project Cadmus in order to help Kara in her time of need with Myriad.
  • However, Alex and J'onn's time on the road does lead to another nice visit with Alex's mom, Eliza. And yet, if they are fugitives, shouldn't law enforcement be expecting her to turn to her mother for help and supplies?
  • Also, Alex promises Eliza that she will try her very best to return home from this fight. That's basically all the foreshadowing necessary for her death in the finale.
  • It doesn't seem likely that J'onn is dead, right? If so, that was a very rushed and awkwardly paced death scene. It lacked the emotional impact that typically surrounds death on Greg Berlanti's brand of DC Comics shows.
  • The explanation for why Superman isn't helping Kara defeat Non after he begins Myriad is absolutely horrendous. The show still struggles with putting the world in constant danger and having Kara feel all alone in the fight - even though she constantly has support from her cousin.
  • The episode that introduced Indigo was pretty awful. That does carry over somewhat with her characterization here. She still seems too indestructible. Winn's virus that crippled her before doesn't seem to have any lasting complications.
  • Cat Grant has had a number of really meta lines over the course of the season. So, the Harrison Ford reference here isn't that surprising. It was perhaps just a little too unnecessary though.