Tuesday, August 24, 2021

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Kara Shares Her Life as a Journalist and Hero in National City With Her Father in 'Welcome Back, Kara'

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 6.08 "Welcome Back, Kara"

As Supergirl and Zor-El make their return to National City, they are determined to keep the Phantom Zone behind them and enjoy being superheroes together. Unfortunately, their overzealous efforts backfire, creating a whole new threat to National City.

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.

"Welcome Back, Kara" was written by Dana Horgan & Jay Faerber and directed by Armen V. Kevorkian

It's definitely weird how the show uses the existential threat of climate change to Earth as an episode-of-the-week villain to ease Kara back into life as Supergirl in National City. The characters note the complexity of the issue while still recognizing the outsized and urgent threat to the planet. It's history repeating itself in a glaring way to some as well. However, the extent of the show's interest is neatly wrapped up in Kara sending the monster of trash hurtling towards the sun. That's the easy solution for this episodic interest as the show can then move on to mining the emotional depths of its characters. It's awkward and clumsy. It highlights Zor-El's eagerness to avoid making the same mistakes while helping the planet that became home for his daughter. But it also reveals that he is essentially in a holding pattern. He is simply doing things on Earth before he goes off for his final destination on Argo City to reunite with his fellow Kryptonians. He leaves for that journey at the end of this episode. It's the natural path for him. It sends him off in a way that doesn't require anything more to be done. But it also affirms how stiff and forced Kara's reunions with her biological parents have been over the course of the series. Those dynamics were primed to be dripping with emotion due to the shock of them happening at all. They never really evolved beyond those initial assessments. Kara's parents served unique plot functions at different points in the run of the series. However, they aren't meant to serve as meaningful ongoing characters in her world. That family connection is much more present with Alex and the rest of the Super Friends. That moniker has been used for awhile amongst the team. Only now is someone in the news media realizing that these other heroes who work alongside Supergirl also deserve some attention. Up to this point, it's just been an acceptable part of living in National City. Supergirl has some details about her known to the world at large. She has help on her various adventures. That's basically all the public knows. These heroes make mistakes though. The phantoms attacked National City because of the Super Friends wanting to rescue Kara as quickly as possible. The trash monster rises from the ocean because Zor-El is eager to combine alien technologies to save this existential problem. Nyxly escapes the Phantom Zone because the team saves Kara and Zor-El. This episode does showcase a willingness to reflect on the trauma that has happened as of late with these characters. Many of them are looking inward. They recognize the horrors that have been inflicted on them. Those can be paralyzing. They still want to serve as heroes. And yet, they can be compromised in the field if they refuse to address these underlying emotions. Alex can't support the repression of Kara's trauma. Kara needs to let her fears out. It's grueling and difficult to do so. It comes with the promise of being able to cope with it over time. The threat from Nyxly is still present though. Nia becomes aware of the imp's presence even though she doesn't know exactly what that means. This episode still knows how to tell these emotional and grounded stories. Alex also shares just how devastated she was at the thought of losing Kara for good. She couldn't accept that and still fears that when they go off battling threats. Everyone has some issue that they must address across the long-form storytelling. The show also wants to produce a relatively easy episode to mark Kara's return to normalcy. Awkwardness surrounds her at CatCo. The Super Friends celebrate her safe return. They encourage and support her every step of the way. They have their own journeys as well. That sends Lena off to explore her identity away from the Luthor family name. Meanwhile, Nia still yearns for her mother. These story ideas promise things of value and substance for the characters moving forward. This is just a transitional episode trying its best to set the stage for what's to come. Again, it's awkward in several instances. It treats some things too easily. And yet, the searing emotions are still present that remind the audience why these characters are so loving to watch. It's still worth celebrating having them all back together again.