Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Supergirl 3x18 Review: "Shelter from the Storm" (A Tiresome Tempest) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Shelter from the Storm”
Original Airdate: May 14, 2018 

I knew the run of non-annoying Supergirl episodes wasn’t going to last, but it was good while it did. This week, characters return to making idiotic choices at the plot’s behest and I wonder if I could sue the Supergirl writers for any sprains that might result from violent eye rolling.


The episode opens with James and Lena in Lena’s... office? Apartment? Anyway, Reign busts through Lena’s window searching for Ruby (because she thinks she needs to kill Ruby to kill Sam) but Lena sprays her in the face with some kryptonite pepper spray. The speed of Reign’s turn from threatening force of evil to wheezing and fleeing is so comical that I genuinely laughed out loud while watching.

At the DEO, everyone is ready to send the Legion members back to the future because they all think Pestilence is dead. Brainy gives Winn a little jar of dirt for Winn’s dirt collection (why am I not surprised that Winn collects dirt?) and is quite endearingly goofy. I would gladly trade Brainy for Mon-El, but alas — though Mon-El does indeed join his Legion teammates on the ship to the future, we all know he’ll return to blandly blandificate all over this show yet again. Perhaps forever! Is it possible to yawn yourself inside-out? Asking for future reference and insurance purposes.

Team Supergirl splits up when they learn Reign is targeting Ruby, so they can protect the locations Reign is most likely to visit. Supergirl and J’onn go to protect Patricia, Sam’s adoptive mother. Patricia is not surprised that Sam is Reign, since Sam used to draw the Reign symbol when she was a kid. Huh. So, why isn’t Kara going all self-righteous about that and lecturing Patricia the way she lectured Lena for keeping the same secret? Oh, right, it’s because Patricia must seem sympathetic in the end and Lena must be at odds with Kara/Supergirl to fulfill her role as a villain. I should have known. The quickest way to lay the groundwork for a character’s villainy is to have the hero openly disagree with them.

Reign shows up at Patricia’s and our heroes are unable to stop her. Patricia tries appealing to Sam’s forgiving, good nature, but Reign kills her. My closed captioning informs me that [flesh squelches] is what a Worldkiller murdering an old lady sounds like.

While the others failed to protect Patricia, Alex went directly to Ruby, hidden by Lena in Lex’s invisible mansion. There, Alex spends her time lying to Ruby about where her mother is and trying to distract her from what’s really going on. Since Ruby has no preservation instincts, Ruby swipes Alex’s phone, leaves the mansion, calls her mom, and gets overheard by Reign. Why did Ruby need to leave the mansion to call? It’s a giant mansion, she could have gone to a different room and no one would have heard her. Including Reign, which I suppose answers my own question.

The team finally realizes that the Worldkillers they thought were dead had just been absorbed by Reign, and the Legion learns this because the jar of dirt Brainy gave to Winn had a listening device in it. Much dithering occurs on the Legion ship while Imra and Mon-El debate turning around and I don’t know why, because their trip to the future is pointless now. Pestilence is not dead. If Supergirl fails to stop Reign, the Blight of the future will happen. Every single one of them should return to help and ensure Reign’s defeat, but instead it turns into a “if you love them, let them go” situation between Imra and Mon-El and only the latter goes back to help. This is ridiculous. You were wrong about your success against Pestilence! Stop making things dramatic and “romantic” and turn your stupid, wrong ship back around!

Back at the DEO, Lena lays her kryptonite knowledge out for Supergirl, who is upset about Lena knowing how to make the one thing that can kill her. Lena is defensive, saying that there is an astronomical number of things that can kill people, but humans don’t live in wrathful fear of all of them. I know that I’m supposed to be on Supergirl’s side because of narrative-delineated morality, but Lena’s argument is solid. Supergirl is a god in a world full of soft, flesh-squelching humans and gets mad at the prospect of one thing that could hurt her existing. She would rather eradicate all kryptonite everywhere than simply trust that Lena, a woman who has been on her side since they met, wouldn’t use kryptonite against her.

Kara doesn’t even soften it by saying that she trusts Lena, but Lena’s kryptonite could end up in the wrong hands. Instead, Supergirl is written with an air of paranoia as she makes the blanket assumption that anyone in possession of kryptonite must be out to get her. It’s an unflattering trait to give the hero of the show and only strengthens Lena’s argument that Supergirl wants guaranteed invulnerability. Do the writers want Kara to look like a coward who’s only brave when she knows nothing in the world can hurt her? Because that’s the picture this whole arc paints.

Back at Lex’s mansion, Reign takes a second to figure out that the building is invisible and the obvious metal box with a keypad in it is what’s making it that way, so she breaks the keypad. Side note: The security on that mansion really sucks if just breaking the keypad renders it all useless.

During the fight that occurs at the mansion, Ruby finally sees that her mother is Reign. Kara is only able to stop the Reign’s determination to kill Ruby when she mentions that Reign’s mission is to purge the Earth of sin, and Ruby is without sin (since stupidity is not a sin). The show should have leaned on the “Reign is a moral totalitarian” point a lot more in the episodes leading up to this, because what should have been an “A-ha!” moment sort of flatlines as an “Oh, right, that was a thing” moment instead.

Reign is distracted long enough for Mon-El to shoot her with kryptonite. Weakened, she’s transported back to Lena’s lab and freshly secured in the invisible-walled holding cell. Kara apologizes to Lena, saying that the kryptonite came in handy after all. Lena promises to keep working on a cure for Sam.

In an elevator on the way to visit Ruby, Lena runs into non-Supergirl Kara. Their conversation segues from talking about ice cream to Lena confessing her mistrust of Supergirl, and that latter bit is done with so much fervor that I can’t believe Lena still doesn't know that Kara and Supergirl are one in the same. It is exactly what someone would say if they were passive-aggressively trying to test whether their friend trusted them enough to be honest about their secret superhero identity. But no, it’s played straight because the writers still think Lena has a person-specific case of prosopagnosia.

Lena says that she can’t trust Supergirl because Supergirl sent James to determine whether she had kryptonite, and any trust they had was broken the moment she did. Which I think is perfectly reasonable. Lena doesn’t declare Supergirl her enemy or even imply that their working relationship is over, just that it was no longer a relationship of mutual respect and trust — and the cessation of that respectful, trustful relationship is Supergirl’s fault. Kara’s facial expressions flash between shock, dismay, and... worry? Guilt? It’s unclear, but I hope it’s guilt. Like the kryptonite situation earlier, I agree with Lena over Kara/Supergirl but I suspect the writers want me to think Lena is evil for her choices and Kara is in the right for hers. I certainly hope I’m wrong and all of this will turn into a lesson for Kara on her “no exceptions” approach to dealing with kryptonite, but the hope is a feeble one.

It’s far more likely that this is the first step in Lena’s descent into evil. See what happens when you keep secrets and lie to your friends, kids? They turn into supervillains out of resentment.

Other Things:
  • Next time: Putting the Worldkiller plot on pause for a James episode. Whatever.


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