Thursday, June 21, 2018

Supergirl 3x23 Review: "Battles Lost and Won" (The Word of the Day: Convenient) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Battles Lost and Won”
Original Airdate: June 18, 2018 

Previously on Supergirl: Sam has to drink from the Fountain of Lilith inside that creepy forest dimension, Reign will die if Sam gets stronger, M’yrnn is dying but wants to save his memories first, and some other stuff they probably should have cleared out of the storyline before the finale. But okay, I guess TV shows like ending all their season story threads in the big final episode — even if the result is a bloated mess of haphazard plot tie-offs, some of which are tying off plots that only started the previous week.

The good news is that it wasn’t a boring finale. It wasn’t a super exciting finale, either, but I didn’t almost fall asleep while watching it. Truly, though, the saving grace of “Battles Lost and Won” is that it ends on an overall optimistic note, perhaps indicating that the gloomy, plodding, angst-filled storylines of season three will be left behind in season four. What’s up with the third seasons of TV shows frequently being so dark, anyway? Has anyone figured that out? Is it a story structure thing or what?


Let’s start off with the most immediate threat to Earth: the terraforming that Reign instigates upon properly coming to life. According to the witchy Kryptonian trio of Selena and... the other two, earthquakes and such will transform Earth into a new Krypton. I’m not entirely sure why people with instantaneous terraforming capabilities decided to choose an inhabited planet. Just to be eeeevil, I suppose. The episode begins with the terraforming already underway and our heroes trying their best to minimize loss of life and property damage while J’onn and his father go to stop the actual terraforming.

Some important developments during the terraforming fight: James-as-Guardian unmasks to some scared lady who wants to go into a building and save her son. The Legion (or, because they seem to be the only team members, Imra and Brainy) shows up again to stop a tidal wave. We get a passing mention of Superman doing what he can wherever he is, but he doesn’t join the main battle.

I gotta be real honest: M’yrnn being able to sacrifice himself in order to stop Reign from tearing apart Earth’s molten core was one of those things abruptly introduced last episode, so I can’t really explain how it works. M’yrnn just shares one big, important memory with J’onn (about the first Green Martian to get scrolls of knowledge — I think — from a giant Martian head with flaming eyes) and then melts into magma, and the earthquakes stop. Why could he do this? Can all Martians melt into a planet and stop earthquakes? How convenient for Earth, that there was an earthquake-stopping Martian on the planet, ready to die for a good cause.

After the terraforming stops, everyone meets up to congratulate each other on a planet well saved. Oh, TV show characters. Blissfully ignorant of the running time and celebrating far too soon. So how did the Legion know to come back in time for battle? Well, the conveniently broken beacon that conveniently broke last episode conveniently un-broke just long enough to send out a signal for the future heroes to conveniently receive, allowing them to conveniently show up in the nick of time. It’s kind of hilarious how clumsily they explain it all in-universe, like I imagine the script just had a shrug emoji in place of all the dialogue and the actors just winged it.

Brainy has some bad news to rain on the parade: Although the future is saved from Pestilence, an evil Brainiac AI was also saved. Brainy can’t return to the future because if he does, Evil Brainiac will use a virus to kill all artificial intelligences to kill him. So, the future needs Mon-El to return, and also needs Winn. Apparently, some defensive technology Winn created last episode (again, slipping in huge plot point in the penultimate episode — great job, writers) is highly revered and Winn is a scientific hero.


Meanwhile, Sam is in that dark ooky-spooky forest dimension and has just found two pools. One of the pools is the Fountain of Lilith we learned about last episode, but — according to the Ghost of Patricia, who’s also hanging out in the spooky forest for some unexplained reason — the other pool will kill Sam. Sam has the choice of trusting this manifestation of her distant foster mother or trusting her own instincts. In the end, she chooses to trust Patricia, who serves the water from the Fountain to Sam while singing a lullaby.

This sequence is mostly a fulfilling end to Sam’s arc. Not only in terms of her gaining the strength from the Fountain and being able to defeat Reign, but also just Sam’s personal stuff: Sam finally trusting her foster mother and Patricia finally being a loving parent and genuinely caring for Sam without all the judgement over Sam’s choices in life. Overall, it’s a fine end; I just wish it hadn’t been crammed into an episode with half a dozen other storylines.

Hey, remember Thomas Coville from last episode? And how he got zapped with Kryptonian laser eyes for all his culty troubles? He’s conveniently not dead, so that he can conveniently send out a distress signal from J’onn’s stolen ship and alert the DEO to the witchy trio’s location. Everyone descends upon our villain’s lair. The witches get taken out by Mon-El, Alura, and J’onn while Supergir confronts Reign directly.

Sam wakes up after drinking from the fountain and she’s super! Like, Capital-S-Like-Supergirl super, not just “feelin’ super” kind of super. She’s just in time, too, because Reign has Kara pinned down and is boasting about no one on the planet being strong enough to fight her. Sam zips to Supergirl’s rescue, stabs Reign in the back, and Kara throws the season’s villain into the molten lava pit the Worldkiller priestesses birthed her from. In her death throes, Reign eye-blasts, like, everyone, and Kara’s left standing amongst the dead bodies of Mon-El, her mother, and Sam. Wow, bummer of an ending.

Just kidding! Kara grabs Mon-El’s Legion ring and, through technobabble, is able to turn back time to just before Sam arrived and stabbed Reign. Kara thinks everything went wrong because she agreed to kill Reign; I think everything went wrong because she failed to through Reign into the lava head-first. Either way, Kara decides that the best prison to use to keep Reign alive but harmless is the dark forest place, and since there’s a convenient weakening pool right next to the strengthening pool, Kara force-feeds Reign the weakening water and peaces out. Problem solved, without Supergirl having to resort to muuuurder.


J’onn resigns as Director of the DEO, leaving the position to Alex. Running the DEO means Alex would have less time in the field, which means less life risking and more time to spend with the kid she’ll eventually adopt.

Kara gives a tearful goodbye to her mother, who is heading back to Argo City with all the manufactured black Harun-el rock Lena made. Alura makes a pointed remark about how dangerous and mysterious the rock is, and how it’s good that none is on Earth. Yeah, Lena has some she’s experimenting with. Nice of you to set up that future fall from grace, Supergirl writers.

Kara also says goodbye to Mon-El and Winn, who are heading to the future. It’s less tearful and more proud, overall.

James channels his inner Tony Stark and outright tells a reporter: “I am Guardian.”

Somewhere in Siberia, a woman who looks like Kara walks up to an outpost wearing only a blanket.

See you guys next season!

Other Things:
  • Persephone is actually only confined to the realm of Hades for half the year, which is the entire point of the Persephone myth, Kara.
  • It’s cute that Ruby still has a Supergirl necklace.
  • I love when extras are in applauding crowd scenes because there’s always that one actor who goes over the top and nods his head enthusiastically, like absolutely no human being ever does.


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