Sunday, October 14, 2018

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Kara Finds Balance in Her Life While Also Exposing Anti-Alien Sentiment in 'American Alien'

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 4.01 "American Alien"

Diving back into reporting, Kara welcomes a new cub reporter to CatCo. James and Lena argue about James' impending indictment for acting as the vigilante Guardian. Alex and Brainy struggle to get in sync at the DEO. Supergirl is called into action when remnants of the anti-alien terrorist organization Cadmus try to assassinate pro-alien leaders, but their endgame turns out to be much more sinister than she expected. J'onn relishes his peaceful new life, but an outing with an old friend causes him concern.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of The CW's Supergirl.

"American Alien" was directed by Jesse Warn with story by Robert Rovner & Jessica Queller and teleplay by Gabriel Llanas & Aadrita Mukerji

The third season of Supergirl expanded its world in some extreme ways. It really embraced the science fiction and fantasy elements of this universe. Kara and friends explored different worlds. Their adventures took them to Mars, Argo City and even an alternate reality where Sam and Reign were fighting for control. At times, it was a lot. It also pushed a lot of the more grounded, personal elements to the sidelines. As such, it's very thrilling and freeing to watch "American Alien" return to the world of CatCo with Kara seemingly having complete acceptance over her identity. She has figured out how to juggle all of her personalities. She can be Supergirl and Kara Danvers. She is in her element as both a superhero and a journalist. Of course, the show really hasn't put in the effort to make the audience trust that Kara is competent and well-respected at her job at CatCo. It's mostly just assumed at this point that she is a journalist with experience who offers a great deal of wisdom to the newcomers. And yes, her dynamic with Nia is immediately compelling. Kara is tough but nurturing as well. She wishes to inspire greatness out of the newest journalist coming to the team. She wants her to pitch with passion. When she delivers it with confidence, it is truly breathtaking. Plus, Nicole Maines' casting is historic as a transgender women. However, all of this comes after an extremely laughable moment where Kara asks the President a serious question only to then talk with James throughout her entire answer. Her recording device won't pick up what was said. As such, it's still a stretch to see Kara as being this core asset at CatCo. But again, it's so wonderful to be back in that environment because it provides a separate voice for Kara to express herself in this world. And yes, that may be just as important as her work as Supergirl this season.

In fact, the overall themes and ambitions of this premiere are very intriguing so far. The show previously tackled anti-alien sentiment as an allegory for nationalism in its second season. That allows it to be a natural part of the conversation when it returns in a major way. Supergirl sees a changing world where it's easier to be accepted as an alien. The humanity of Earth is overwhelmingly accepting of those different throughout the universe. However, J'onn is wise to note that hatred towards refugees from other planets is still rampant throughout the world. Supergirl may just be an eternal optimist who sees the best in people. And now, this story presents a new challenge for her because she is battling a belief system instead of a villain who aims to destroy the world for nefarious purposes. That immediately sets a new template for the season. Sure, there are still those over-the-top villains who have the ability to cause destruction that only Supergirl can seemingly fight. And yet, they are motivated by these ideas. Mercy and Otis Graves are determined to expose alien corruption throughout the world. That starts with proving to the entire world that the President is secretly an alien. That could have huge political connotations as her administration will have to battle with these issues of misleading the public for so long. Moreover, there is a new threat being introduced in the form of the armored individual supporting the Graves siblings. That's in addition to the new version of Kara that was created when she traveled through the disruption to save her friends in the previous finale. The end of the third season proved that this creative team has a bunch of very interesting ideas that are worthy of being explored in this show. The execution and the desire to focus on a select few will determine the ultimate success of them though.