Saturday, May 1, 2021

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Nia and Brainy's Trip to the Past Quickly Goes Awry and Forces Them on a Fun Adventure in 'Prom Night!'

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 6.05 "Prom Night!"

Nia and Brainy attempt to save Supergirl from the Phantom Zone by time traveling back to Kara's home in 2009. While determined to secure the item needed to help Supergirl, Brainy is worried about keeping a low profile so as not to alter the future timeline. However, when their ship crashes upon arrival, a young Kara is the first on the scene. Meanwhile, a young reporter named Cat Grant sets her sights on Midvale as she suspects there is a big story in the small town.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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.

"Prom Night!" was written by Rob Wright & Jess Kardos and directed by Alexandra LaRoche

This episode is simply fun. That infectious quality is a delight to watch and a welcome change of pace. It refocuses the energy and tone of the season. The episodes up to this point have been overwhelmed by the grim and serious stakes of it all. The Super Friends can only focus on rescuing Kara from the Phantom Zone. That is not only their biggest concern; it's their only concern. As such, it's frustrating when not a lot of progress is made in that endeavor. That doesn't pair well with the similarly dour story happening with Kara. She is mostly kept in a holding pattern. It's all basically created a narrative with no spine to it. It remains entertaining because the audience is invested in these characters. It's just not building to something more rewarding to celebrate all that they've gone through in preparation for the looming end of the series. This episode doesn't particularly make much progress in the quest to rescue Kara. That is the entire reason why Nia and Brainy travel to 2009. However, it's a delightful and successful episode because it has fun mining the past of these characters while never losing sight of who they fundamentally are. Nia and Brainy are also given arcs that are compelling and interesting. The fifth season largely forgot why the two of them were engaging characters. And now, the show suddenly remembers why they were great additions to this ensemble. Sure, the romantic relationship between them is largely secondary. It's not really something they concern themselves with in a way that addresses the past and lean on each other during emotional turbulence. Instead, it comes across as powerful friendship helping each other succeed. But it's also part of the journey they are going on. They serve as heroes. However, they also look up to Kara as Supergirl as the moral standard for how to serve in these roles. They idolize her. That motives their desire to get her back. She isn't the only person who can provide guidance to them. She is a big influence though. They miss having that in their lives. They feel like they can only function when that certainty is secure. That isn't healthy. It helps explain why Brainy is so stressed out at the moment. The narrative basically positions the two of them as immature teenagers. They certainly have experience that helps them in the field when aliens attack. That disruption to their plans is noted. However, they don't have full command over their abilities. They make mistakes. All of their careful planning seemingly goes out the window immediately. That makes this episode exciting. It plants them directly into the past with Kara and Alex. Their sibling clashes have been well documented before. They have emerged stronger and better as sisters. It wasn't always easy. Alex has always felt the responsibility of protecting Kara's secret. Kara has always felt compelled to be a hero. They each have valid perspectives. They aspire to engage with the world fully. They have different ideas of how to do that. And yes, Nia and Brainy disrupt what is known to happen in this past. However, the past has already been changed because Kenny has been revived. Crisis made that alteration. It seems to be for the better as well. He presents as an incredible boyfriend to Kara. He seems like the most emotionally available and uplifting guy she has dated. She is destined to break his heart in wanting to move away for college to pursue her dreams. But so much can go wrong along the way in the hopes of arriving at the path that leads each of these characters to their destines. Nia feels compelled to reach out to her mother for support and guidance. Her presence offers reassurance. She doesn't know how to interpret all of her dreams. She is still learning. It's exciting when she and Kara show off their powers. They can't walk through life scared of what they can do. They have to live openly. Maturity comes from the experiences along the way. Nia and Brainy experience that while hoping for a simple journey into the past. Things don't work out. They never do as Legends of Tomorrow has explained for several years now. And yet, the journey is often more rewarding than the actual story of expected history. That translates here as well. Sure, it's unfortunate that this is only half the story. Plus, the timeline of Cat Grant's career trajectory doesn't seem to make much sense. But the audience is capable of ignoring those plot holes and contrivances because of the fun at the center of the episode. That quality needs to be applied more fully this season. That way the viewer can be grateful for the show finishing as its best self and setting these characters up for greatness instead of disappointing journeys in grim, familiar plot lines.