Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Supergirl 1x10 "Childish Things" (Toying With Us) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Childish Things"
Original Airdate: January 18, 2016

There's this thing that the website TV Tropes calls an "Idiot Plot," and it describes a story in which the plot only exists because all the characters have suddenly turned into idiots. It's a convenient, lazy way for writers to get certain things done — make a villain seem more impressive, make an evil plan seem more threatening, stretch out plot threads to fill in time — at the low, low cost of a character's common sense. Unfortunately, I think Supergirl fell into an Idiot Plot this episode, much to my disappointment since (and I feel like I'm coming off as insincere when I say this, since the show's making me say it so much) I like this show and want it to be good. It was pretty good pre-hiatus, though, right? I'm not remembering wrong? It was a fairly solid, well-acted superhero show with some fun characters and an incredibly likable, intelligent, earnest heroine to lead it.

So what happened? Why does Kara decide to use sprinklers and freeze breath to stop ten bombs, rather than super-speeding around and retrieving each one? How come Winn doesn't alert his friend — Supergirl — of the presence of said bombs when his evil-crazy dad coerces him into assassinating a toy manufacturer? Why are members of the FBI always inexplicably hostile? Well, the answer to those questions is probably something along the lines of, "Because the script says so," and that's... not exactly good.


Winn's dad is evil! You all probably knew that, since the Internet informed us weeks (months?) ago that Winn Schott is not the Winslow Schott and that he wouldn't, as I expected, eventually go on a murderous rampage out of misaligned indignation over Kara refusing to date him. But, yeah — Winn Schott, Sr. is The Toyman, a villain whose whole schtick is that he kills people with ugly toys. He enters the episode in the midst of his prison escape and he's wielding a yo-yo with a blade on it, which seems like a terrible design that runs the risk of slicing the user's hand up just as much as it would kill his enemies. And, for the record, thoughts of "that toy design sucks" are not limited to the Yo-Yo of Doom. Toyman actually seems like he's a really awful toy designer. Sorry, fella. Maybe you could take up painting instead?

Toyman's escape is broadcasted on the news which, of course, is running in the offices of CatCo. Winn, being about as subtle as a dancing pink elephant carrying a banner that reads "MY DAD'S A MASS MURDERER AND HE'S ESCAPED FROM PRISON PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT IT", shuts off the television and sketchily sketches out of the room, all sketchy-like. In the least surprising surprise ever, the FBI show up and Winn reveals himself to be the Toyman's Toyman Jr. when they ask him into a private room for questioning about his dad's intentions and whereabouts.

Because I guess he has no sense of self-preservation, Winn is quite snippy with the FBI agent handling the case (played by Emma Caulfield of Buffy fame — hi!) and answers all her questions with the tone of someone who definitely has something to hide. What in the world, Winn? Why would you want to get on the FBI's bad side? Toyman did, in fact, contact Winn — through a creepy talking doll — so his attitude around the FBI agent is doubly stupid because it makes him look really suspicious and provides no reason for her to give him the benefit of the doubt. We can go ahead and count this as Idiot Plot Incident #1, although it's a lesser offense than those to come.

Winn decides to help the FBI apprehend his father and goes undercover while Kara and the feds look on. It almost works, until we find out that Winn's not meeting up his father, but with a... glass projection? I legitimately have no idea what the fake Toyman is supposed to be. It moves normally, isn't shiny, reflects light like a normal person, but shatters when the FBI come in and shoot it. I don't usually question comic book show technology, but this one has me baffled, especially since Toyman's not supposed to have super-tech. He'd just supposed to be a mechanical genius. He creates tin soldiers with real guns and wind-up dolls with bombs inside, not borderline-alien advanced technology.

Anyway, when the FBI plan fails, Winn decides that he's going to have to go after his dad alone, because he's a dumb character right now. (Fun fact: you never have to take down a mad, toy-themed villain on your own, kids. Use the buddy system.)

Winn falls into his father's clutches and Toyman uses the threat of bombs at a crowded toy convention to get Junior to do his bidding and kill the ex-boss who stole Schott Senior's toy design and sent him on his murderous spiral of villainy, making him miss out on Winn growing up. Rather than, I don't know, shoot a text to Supergirl or something, Winn goes with his father's plans and is only saved from mass destruction at the last second, when the FBI and Kara show up and she uses a combination of sprinklers and freeze-breath to dampen the force of the bombs. She could have located each one with x-ray vision and zipped around to retrieve them all without risking multiple civilians getting stabbed with shards of ice but, okay. Fine. The show wanted her to use some of her other powers and sacrificed more common sense to make it happen. A-plot's finished!


B-Plot! Continuing from the last couple episodes, Alex still thinks Maxwell Lord is up to something nefarious — which he is — and decides that she'll have to go into the lion's den herself and figure out what's what. She does this by... dating him? Well, they have dinner together. It doesn't really seem like a good idea, but it does work to distract Max Lord enough to allow J'onn/Hank to get into more secure areas of Lord Technologies and look into what Maxwell might be hiding.

I really like the bit of backstory/pathos we get with the Hank Henshaw character and his struggle with being J'onn J'onzz and I know we're meant to side with Alex on him using his powers, but Hank raises some really good points for why he shouldn't go around laser-blasting and mind-wiping people for the sake of Alex, Kara, or the DEO. Apparently he loses some control over his shapeshifting abilities the more people he shapeshifts into (which means that little stunt last week where he turns into Supergirl to trick Cat was actually harmful as well as just generally pointless from a show perspective) and the more he uses his other powers. He's of no use to the DEO or Earth if he's a green-skinned Martian creature, so he wants to keep the power usage to a minimum. It's all very logical, but we're supposed to want him to help Kara so we're supposed to want him to put aside that logic and use his powers whenever he can.

With his watch synchronized to Alex's phone, Hank knows that Alex is still on her spy-date and is able to sneak into Lord Technologies. He slips past Max Lord's securities by disguising himself as Max Lord (leading to a pretty hilarious moment when one of the Lord Tech workers runs into him in the hall) then ends up accidentally-intentionally wiping the memories of one of Lord's security guards. Poor dude. In the end, the DEO gets a bunch of photographs but doesn't learn a whole lot about Lord's plans, what he's hiding, who the black-eyed woman Max has hidden is, or what's coming up next. Still, nice of Hank to possibly sacrifice his future human disguise for all that wonderful, wonderful plot setup!


While Winn reacted to his father's prison break, Cat was interviewing Lucy Lane for a job. I thought Cat didn't like the Lanes? Ah, well. If Lucy's really that qualified, I could believe that Cat would overlook any personal biases and want her working for CatCo. This little job interview introduced us to the C-plot involving Lucy and James Olsen's relationship troubles. When Lucy tells James the news of Cat offering her a job, it seems like he's less than thrilled. We know that these two have a rocky past, so it's implied through James's body language that he doesn't want Lucy working so close to him — maybe because he's afraid he'll get annoyed by her being around all the time, maybe because he has some secret feelings for Kara, we don't really know for sure. He tells her later on that it's because she reminds him that he's unhappy about his job (first we've heard of it) but that's really dumb and doesn't actually fit the aforementioned body language, so we can probably assume he's lying.

(Side note: Pretty sure Cat is the smartest person in this episode. I mean, breaking it down you have Alex going on a date with a megalomaniacal villain, Kara using sprinklers and ice-breath to stop ten bombs (????), and Winn not understanding that a perk of being friends with Supergirl is not having to do your evil dad's evil bidding. James and Lucy are just going through Cliche TV Romance Drama Variant #2,187, so they don't count. Meanwhile, Cat's making smart hiring decisions and saying all the good lines and running a business like a champ so... yeah, Cat's the only one whose common sense hasn't gone on vacation this episode. Congrats, Cat!)

The James/Lucy drama is short-lived, thankfully, but — so unfortunately — it looks like some extra special, high school-levels of bleeeeeeh are going to be happening between Winn and Kara for a while. During all the father-son chaos with the Schott family, Winn got it in his stupid, stupid head that trying to kiss Kara would be a good idea. Have I mentioned that Winn is the worst yet? Because he's the worst. When he's not telling Kara she looks "really pretty without her glasses" (what a douche) he's whining and angsting over her not returning his feelings. I'm not exactly surprised by him finally trying to kiss her — and, at the very least, they give him a good reason behind doing it that's not entirely about him being a terrible, "gonna wait around until she releases me from the Friend Zone" friend — but I am awfully disappointed that they've added this romance nonsense to the show when it doesn't actually need it.

I was okay with Kara's crush on James and the twist of James getting back with Lucy because it didn't really affect the way the characters interacted or how the main plot progressed. The show didn't transform into something a la early-season Smallville, where at least once per episode the main character would pine over the love interest. Now, the show has allowed the pointless non-romance get in the way of the efficiency of the hero team, and I'm not happy about it.

At the end of the episode, Winn basically breaks up with Kara as a friend because he's too in love with her to be in her presence if she doesn't let him occasionally make out with her. What a hero. (What a bore.)

Less boring, more creepy, though: the episode ends with the reveal that Maxwell Lord has somehow gotten a camera into the Danvers Sisters home and now knows Kara is Supergirl. Well, that's... unexpected.

  • "I just moved here, I'm not looking for a position at the moment." Um... I've always been under the impression that finding a job is like, top priority when you get to a new place? You know, for... money reasons?
  • "I am not immune to the allure of James Olsen wearing a shirt unbuttoned one too many..." Hee. Cat seriously had some good lines this episode.
  • "She is so nice!" "Nobody has ever said that before."
  • "Why did you lie to the feds?" "I don't know!" Because the plot told him to!
  • "Your sister looks like a pretty blonde cheerleader. J'onn J'onzz looks like a monster." He ain't wrong.
  • Does anyone else feel like the first James/Lucy fight was... off? Lucy basically asks James his opinion and he gives it to her, but... wasn't enthusiastic enough? Wasn't jumping up and down with joy? Why was she so mad over his reaction, when it was basically, "I'll be happy if you're happy and I think you should take the job"?
  • "This is a place of work, not the bullpen at TMZ." Ha!
  • J'onn-as-Maxwell is the best.
  • Kara getting caught in quicksand and falling for the clearly fake child trapped in a box is some more stupidity that wasn't worth putting in the main body of the review, but, sigh.
  • Also: Superman hangs out in space but Kara might die from suffocation? Not buying it.
  • "I never should have let you go in there. If he would have hurt you…" Winn. She is SUPERGIRL. One: you can't do a thing to stop her if she makes a decision, and two: SHE'LL BE FINE.
  • "Winn, the day your father killed those six people was like, for me, the day my planet exploded." What a weird sentence.
  • "Max Lord is nothing more than a reformed nerd with a god complex." 
GIF credit: [1] [2] [3, 4]

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