Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Supergirl 3x05 Review: "Damage" (Within and Without) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: November 6, 2017 

This week’s episode of Supergirl doesn’t have a very strong central idea, as far as I can tell. A lack of concrete focus makes for an episode that’s a bit all over the place and characters who seem to be doing things just because the writers need them to do things. But “Damage” does have a lot of Lena Luthor, so that’s nice! What a pity that Morgan Edge, the least subtle villain ever to villain, also shows up to metaphorically twirl his moustache and irritate everyone around, the viewers included. Seriously, the guy straight-up poisons a bunch of kids just to get back at Lena for a business deal! That’s some petty psychopath stuff right there, and there’s nothing worse than a petty psychopath. Well... probably a couple things worse. But it’s definitely top five.


Like I said, this week sees a lot of National City children fall sick to what appears to be lead poisoning, and Morgan Edge is quick to blame Lena Luthor’s questionable lead dispersal device from last season’s finale. She said it would be harmless to humans, but of course there’s always room for error — or, you know, a frame job. Which this obviously is, because Morgan Edge is so transparently villainous that lightning should strike and thunder should clap every time anyone mentions his name.

When Lena and Kara confront Edge at the hospital where the sick kids are being treated, he feeds her some dramatic story about how the British government in Colonial India tried getting rid of snakes by putting a bounty on killing them and ended up with even more snakes because people were breeding them to kill for profit. What non-evil sort of person would have that kind of story handy to tell at a moment’s notice? Still, something about the story strikes Lena as a true sign of her good intentions leading to a terrible outcome and she starts to doubt herself, thinking Edge might be right about her endangering National City’s children.

Back at CatCo, James brings up the idea of Lena distancing herself from CatCo specifically and the investigation in general. James and Lena are back to being confrontational with each other for some reason, even though they pretty much made amends last season and were even openly supporting one another in the premiere of this season, so... what’s up with that? Either way, Lena agrees that stepping down from her businesses is the best plan, name-dropping the Flint, Michigan water crisis while she’s at it. So apparently the Supergirl universe has both the Flint water crisis and the Trump Mexico Wall even though the woman sitting in the White House is an anti-xenophobic, pro-humanitarian Super President who is also an alien. Okay, yeah, sure. Hey, Supergirl, maybe stop trying so hard to be topical? You’re breaking the structural integrity of your own universe and I’m learning that there’s a point of diminishing returns on your earnest do-gooder spirit when it’s not tempered by cheesy speeches about hope.

Things get a lot more serious during the press conference Lena calls to announce her stepping away from CatCo and L-Corp while other people handle things. An angry parent of one of the lead poisoning children tries taking Lena out, but James takes the bullet for her — still, Lena now has to find a safe place to stay, on top of feeling awful about possibly driving a grieving mother toward assassination. Sam offers up her apartment. And her alcohol. Lena appreciates both.

It’s up to Kara and Sam (and whatever DEO help Kara manages to get without blowing her cover) to find the truth behind the poisonings, and they find it in a swimming pool that all the sick kids visited at some point. Inside the pool water is a chemical that mimics lead poisoning when combined with water. A huge supply of that same chemical is found in the pool’s storage closet, and the company on the buckets o’ poison can be traced back to... Morgan Edge. *cue thunderclap*

After watching her friend endure a night of sad drinking and feeling like the villain everyone thought she was, Kara is eager to share the good, non-poisoning news with Lena. Sadly, Lena’s joy translates into being really, really stupid. She confronts Morgan Edge at his office and pulls a gun on him. What, exactly, was she hoping to accomplish? She clears her name of the poisoning and goes down for murder? This is a prime example of characters flying in the face of logic for the sake of the script. One of Edge’s goons knocks Lena out and straps her to a cargo plane loaded down with the poison, headed toward the city’s water supply. Poisoning the water supply, Edge? Really? Did you only get to chapter two of The Cliché Villain’s Handbook?

Supergirl swoops in to save Lena and the entire city, but — of course! — Morgan Edge basically gets away with everything because he sold off that poison company years ago and framed his sidekick for the Lena Luthor stunt. I hope you get thrown into a volcano, bro. Considering the dark turn this season might be taking and that lethal glare she was pointing at you, I think Supergirl might actually do it.


Alex and Maggie’s story was completely separate from the main plot, which I think fits really well. They break up at the beginning of the episode, sadly, but spend the rest of the hour in their own little world — packing their things, dancing, talking, and just enjoying each other for as long as they can before they have to go their separate ways. They make it clear that they’ve discussed their primary issue (Alex really wanting kids and Maggie really not wanting kids) ad nauseam off-screen, and we really just see the final confirmation of their breakup.

The thing this breakup has going for it is a lack of drama. That might seem a little weird, but it was refreshing to see a relationship come to an end in a normal, everyday sort of way. TV likes to make it seem like all relationships are forever, and the ones that aren’t forever explode spectacularly: one person cheats on the other, one person dies saving the other, one person decides to live in another dimension, or had a secret family, or is forced to marry someone else for political gain. Dramatic, ridiculous stuff ends relationships on television all the time, but this, the thing that ends Alex and Maggie’s relationship, is a genuine problem that real people have to deal with every day. They love each other, but the futures they envision together just don’t mesh. It happens.

When their last day together is done, Maggie tells Alex that she’ll make a wonderful mom someday. Their goodbye is on the more bitter side of bittersweet just because it’s happening at all, but the sweetness is still there and it’s clear that these two would have stuck together if the fates had aligned more in their favor.

Other Things:
  • I thought James hated being called Jimmy? Why does he tell Lena to call him Jimmy? Did the writers forget why I’ve been spending three years studiously calling him James Olsen even though “Jimmy Olsen” is, by far, a more recognizable name and the name I’ve known this character by my entire life? If so, here’s the answer: It’s because he was introduced in the first episode of this show and immediately told people not to freaking call him Jimmy. You utter dunces.
  • Points to Supergirl for not killing off a lesbian character in order to split a couple up. Negative infinity points to society and Hollywood for making killing off lesbian characters such a trope that I have to reward the subversion.
  • This show is still really weird about friendships and I can’t pinpoint what’s wrong, exactly, but I know that scene where Sam, Lena, and Kara all call each other sisters was off.
  • Oh yeah, Sam was shot during the assassination attempt but the bullet did nothing. We already know who she is so this isn’t actually compelling.


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