Thursday, January 25, 2018

Supergirl 3x11 Review: "Fort Rozz" (Ladies’ Night Done Right) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Fort Rozz"
Original Airdate: January 22, 2018 

Hey, remember when The Flash tried that all-female “girl power” episode and it was cringe-inducingly incompetent? Well, Supergirl is giving the idea a shot and what do you know, it’s actually good! Like, not the best episode they’ve ever done or anything (there are some flaws) but the success lies in the show’s ability to put a crew of female heroes — or, in this case, a crew with an even hero/villain split — in the limelight without constantly underlining that it’s a crew of female heroes in an explicit attempt to earn some Super Special Feminism Points. Even the B-story of the episode, revolving around Alex babysitting Ruby while Sam is away, is girl-centric and entertaining as it allows us to check up on how post-breakup Alex is doing and it gives us a chance to get to know Ruby a bit more.

WHO GETS A WHOLE PRISON NAMED AFTER THEM?


Jindah Kol Rozz was once a priestess on Krypton and — because she was a priestess for an evil, world-conquering theology — got tossed into Fort Rozz so hard they named it after her. Team Supergirl thinks ol’ Jindah could give them some answers for the questions inspired by Reign, so they plan on visiting the orbiting space prison to ask her. Problems: the blue star Fort Rozz is currently orbiting will render Kara powerless, and also anyone with a Y chromosome is allergic to its radiation? Okay... I’m going to pretend that makes any scientific sense because it’s just easier that way.

Low on female superhero types (Alex still has that broken leg from the previous episode, since the Legion of Super-Heroes evidently refused to let her use their fast-healing future pods), Kara turns to some past villains to help out. Livewire gets recruited from her job as a waitress in a diner and Psi gets recruited directly from her — I assume — DEO cell. Add in Imra as Saturn Girl, and you’ve got yourself a legit team!

They set out in the Legion’s spaceship and arrive at Fort Rozz in record time. What kind of warp drive you got on that thing, Imra? Flies pretty nice. Also, kudos for cutting off Mon-El’s attempt at mansplaining how to drive a spaceship you’ve clearly driven many times before. You’re less boring now.

Kara removes Psi’s power-dampening headgear (and we get a weird close-up of said headgear that I, as a person who has seen this episode in its entirety, cannot explain) and asks that everyone try and behave, since they’re about to enter a dangerous alien prison and they’re in outer space. So sticking together and not turning on each other is, really, in everyone’s best self-interest. Not that Kara would ever frame the request that way, since she’s more the “do the right thing because it’s the right thing” type.

After finding the body of a dead (male) guard affected by the blue star, the quest is a lot of cautiously going around industrial-looking corridors while Livewire snarks at everything she sees. This is only briefly interrupted when one of the prisoners recognizes the House of El symbol on Kara’s chest and attacks, sending the group into their first, subpar fight as a team. Psi gets bonked on the noggin and — accidentally? — uses her psychic mojo on Imra. They still win, though, and take the prisoner back to the ship to be questioned about Jindah’s location. The inmate isn’t terribly helpful. Psi gets her power-dampening headband back.

A jostling followed by a garbled DEO message tells our makeshift band of sisters some bad news: the prison’s been knocked out of orbit and is heading toward the blue star, where they’ll be burnt up. We’ve added a ticking clock to the mission, hurray!

What luck that Kara and Livewire find Jindah pretty quickly after that. Livewire’s motivation for helping Kara out at all, by the way, is purely selfish: Reign killed some of her friends (she has friends?) and would definitely kill her as well, so it’s best to put her down before that can happen. Kara, as mentioned, is more optimistic in turning Reign onto the side of good. This is all important for character arc reasons.

Jindah is an opponent for maybe five minutes. Then she gets killed by Reign, who shows up specifically to kill her before she can provide any information on Reign’s mission. Wouldn’t a better option have been to rescue Jindah and have another ally — one with experience in being a dark priestess and, presumably, Supergirl-level powers under the yellow sun?

Speaking of powers: Reign has them, even with the blue star. She says that her powers don’t come from a sun, which makes me wonder what they do come from. Again, this seems like something the show could have added background lore for prior to mentioning it, suddenly, eleven episodes after Reign’s whole introduction.

Although Imra was holding Psi back on the ship because of that brief moment where she got mind-whammied, it becomes very clear that Psi’s powers are the ones most likely to help against Reign. Especially when Livewire gets blasted in the chest while protecting Kara. Psi uses her psychic whoomph — I guess they’d be categorized as “anxiety powers” — abilities on Reign, and Reign briefly reverts to a confused, scared Sam before coming to her senses and fleeing back to Earth. Everyone goes home. Kara mourns Livewire/Leslie, since she was a hero in the end, and grants Psi a slightly nicer prison cell.


THE ADVENTURES OF ALEX & RUBY


I normally wouldn’t recap something as innocuous and arguably unimportant as this B-story, but Alex and Ruby’s scenes during the episode were probably my favorites. Alex is fantastic with Ruby, and when they’re together I can really buy that Alex would break up with Maggie because of wanting to have kids. I only wish that the previous two seasons had given us more opportunities to see how Alex interacts with children, so that this character trait was a little better established.

Alex and Ruby spend the day together playing Trivial Pursuit and eating tater tot casserole, then things get a little somber when Alex receives a text from Maggie asking for her to mail her forgotten passport. Are they going to re-introduce Maggie? Personally speaking, I’d rather not have that happen. Bringing in a new woman for Alex to date would be a far better option, since I seriously doubt Maggie could be believably written as having changed her mind regarding children.

Next up, Alex awesomely tells off a girl who had been cyber-bullying Ruby by threatening the little twerp with juvie. I’d say that Alex shouldn’t scare children, even mean ones, but it would be insincere. Scare all the mean children. All of them.

With that adventure over, Ruby helps Alex mail Maggie’s passport and then it’s time for Ruby to go. When Sam shows up to pick up her daughter, Alex casually asks about the business trip she was meant to go on and Sam realizes that she has no memory of a business trip. She has other blank spots in her memory, too, where she was meant to go somewhere but never did. Hey, at least we now know what’s happening when Sam turns into Reign.

Elsewhere: two women are walking along, chatting, when one of them pushes the other out of the path of a speeding car. The first gets hit, but brushes the impact off as nothing. Her eyes flicker. I think more Worldkillers are on the way.

Other Things:
  • Okay, Kara getting Psi a room with a window was really cute. I like Psi in general. She’s a bit kooky and the actress plays her in an interesting way, plus her superpower is unique.
  • “Wow, your advice actually makes sense now. I think I’d actually follow it.” Ha. But also: Kara, you dated that dolt, so...

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