Sunday, March 22, 2020

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Alex Lives Out a Heroic Fantasy to Cope with Sudden Tragedy in 'Alex in Wonderland'

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 5.16 "Alex in Wonderland"

Alex uses a pair of Obsidian contact lenses to visit a virtual National City where she takes on a whole new persona. Meanwhile, Kelly helps William investigate Lex. Kara deals with difficult news.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Supergirl.

"Alex in Wonderland" was directed by Tawnia McKiernan with story by Rob Wright and teleplay by Jess Kardos & Mariko Tamaki

Jeremiah's disappearance was a core mystery at the start of the entire series. Over the course of the first two seasons, Kara and Alex got answers to what happened to their father. He was left alive during his final appearance onscreen. He was never really mentioned again after fleeing a Cadmus facility. No further updates were given until Alex got that call from her mother saying Jeremiah was found dead. It's a sudden and jarring plot development. One that spins this entire emotional journey for Alex. It's a necessary story because it continues to flesh out the horrors that come from Obsidian Platinum. The core emotions driving it all are a little lackluster though. It's based on the resentment and anger Alex has towards her father because he always needed her to step up to protect Eliza and Kara no matter what. She wasn't given the luxury of being a child who could rely on her parent. Instead, she had to grow up quickly and take on the responsibilities of this family. That's a somewhat forced narrative. It's awkward when Alex lashes out and pushes Kara, Kelly and J'onn away. She has overcome many personal obstacles because of the support she receives from her family and friends. Her life has been somewhat adrift over the last few episodes though. She no longer works for the DEO. She has teamed with J'onn as a private investigator. She is still just getting the hang of it. In this moment, she believes the wonders of virtual reality can offer her comfort. It's a way to act out her fantasy without disrupting her real world. However, she becomes the latest victim of whatever is currently corrupting the system. People are being trapped in this virtual world until they no longer remember it isn't real. Alex sees that as strange when it starts happening to the people around her in this fantasy. Everyone is on their own personal adventures but there are these wonderful moments of intersection. Of course, it is all based around the idea that Alex wants to be Supergirl. She wants to be the one flying around the city saving lives. She is a hero though. She is just as powerful as any other member of the team. She brings so much to the table even if it's not as flashy as the powers Kara has. This is apparently her fantasy. It's just one small thought in her brain that this technology can access. It becomes her reality. It is her story here. She is Supergirl. It is a good life too. It's one that doesn't have to face any of the hardships and obstacles that Kara routinely has to deal with. The Obsidian Platinum technology makes it so that an emergency is always created at the moment whenever a user wants to end their simulation. It makes it thrilling and enticing as a journey. It makes it so people never want the fantasy to end. It makes them question the nature of their reality. Even when Kelly succeeds in pulling Alex out, Alex has to wonder if she can trust what is presented to her. The reaction will be even more extreme once Supergirl and her friends save the people abducted and stored by Margot in the warehouse. William finds that location here. He believes that Lex is up to something nefarious with his recent partnership with Obsidian. No one trusts what he is doing. However, Leviathan is the true mastermind here. They are the ones working some mysterious agenda. It remains a little unclear how all of that escalates through keeping human lives in stasis in the real world. It's just important that it's shocking when either Eve or Hope is revealed to be working for Andrea. She may intercept the order to prognosticate the platform and bring the concern to her Leviathan handlers. That too is exciting. But it's building to a future that the show is still struggling to cement as crucial and exciting. It says that everything is connected in a way that showcases the brilliance of these characters. However, it's starting to feel as if the show has lost track of the emotionally grounded reality of the stories. It's a fun concept to see Alex as Supergirl. There is just no reason to mourn the sudden death of Jeremiah and the unresolved feelings that leaves for Kara, Alex and J'onn. The plot outgrew him a long time ago and never circled back until now. As such, Alex's story allows parts of the season-long narrative to development. But it remains confounding and too complicated without really creating an engaging antagonist that is difficult for the heroes to confront.