Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Supergirl 2x08 Review: "Medusa" (The Plot Thinnens) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: November 28, 2016

This is it! The start of the big, four-part crossover event to end all crossover events! They’ve been delivering the epic promos, teasing the massive team-up of all our heroes, and now it begins: Heroes Vs. Aliens! It’s a plot so grand in scale that Earth-1’s heroes had to call on the might of Supergirl on Earth-3, so that the terrifying hostile alien takeover of the planet could be halted, and the day saved!

... but you have to get through almost a full hour of regular Supergirl plot, first, on account of the fact that the “crossover” doesn’t actually happen until the last seconds of the episode. And what a doozy of a plot for any poor, confused first-time Supergirl viewers, huh? J’onn J’onzz is changing alien species like I change t-shirts, Alex is still dealing with her recent coming out, Kara finds out her birth parents may have possibly been terrorists (?) and Mon-El is boring. And in love with Kara, which is boring. While probably entertaining for regular viewers, “Medusa” is a pretty convoluted episode for anyone who’s just trying to participate in the four-night crossover event that CW promised.

I have to wonder if, maybe, the folks at the network would have won over more new viewers over if they had used this episode to spotlight Supergirl’s fun cast of characters and hopeful tone in a one-off crossover episode, then saved the regular season plot for next week. Instead, the show probably alienated (ha!) potential newbies by promising the start of an epic crossover and only delivering a few moments of Barry and Cisco before the credits.


The episode opens with Thanksgiving at Kara’s apartment, where the whole team (and Mama Danvers) has gathered together to eat turkey and drink a lot of alcohol, if my family’s Thanksgiving is anything to go by. In addition to those traditional activities, James wants to confess that he’s Guardian against Alex’s wishes, and Alex wants to make her coming out official. The “Get Sloshed and Announce It at the Table” level of official. But before anyone can get their confessions in, a very Flash-y portal opens up over the eyebeam-roasted turkey. It only sticks around long enough to make viewers antsy about getting to the DC Week plot they were promised, then the portal is promptly forgotten about while “Medusa” proceeds to play out like any other episode of Supergirl.

Regular viewers who did not turn the channel to Supergirl just for the promoted crossover will remember the titular Medusa as that top-secret project Hank “Cyborg Superman” Henshaw used Kara’s blood to access information on in the previous episode, via the Fortress of Solitude A.I. Non-regular viewers are probably too confused by the events described in my previous sentence and have already tuned out. We shall sally forth without them, and I wish them well.

Our heroes take some time at the DEO to contemplate Cadmus’s unfurling plan, but when a mysterious virus kills all the aliens in that secret alien bar they introduced this season, the stakes are raised and the pressure is on. After all, a virus that attacks only aliens could mean very bad things for a couple of the members of the team. And I say “a couple” quite deliberately, because Mon-El? Meh. Of course, he is the one who eventually does get hit with the virus and knocked out of commission, but it’s only long enough for Kara to get sympathy-attracted to him. Then he wakes up and deliriously makes out with her. The less said about Mon-El’s role in this episode (and the series as a whole), the better.

Since Cadmus is run by Lillian Luthor. And since Lillian Luthor is the mother of Kara’s newest BFF, Kara goes to Lena to see if she knows anything about her mother’s nefarious schemes. Lena tells Kara that the Luthor ladies don’t exactly see eye to eye, and this is only reinforced when Lillian shows up at Lena’s office. And tells Lena that Lex was always her favorite. Oh, also, Lillian says all parents have a favorite. Try and figure out which of your siblings is your parents’ favorite during the next family get-together, kids! I swear it won’t end in heartache and bloodshed.

After some help from Eliza Danvers’ sciencing skills, Team Supergirl learns that the virus that killed all those aliens has Kryptonian origins. Kara puts two and two together to equal “Hank Henshaw broke into the Fortress of Solitude with my blood and stole information on a Kryptonion bioweapon.” Kara is good at plot math. One visit to the Fortress later and Kara has learned two things: red lights on Fortress-guarding robots are always bad, and her parents might have been involved in some shady stuff back on Krypton. Also, apparently Clark never freaking checks on his Fortress of Solitude because he had (and presumably still has) no idea any of this happened.

I probably missed something at some point, but I don’t know how Lillian Luthor knew about Medusa when even Kara had no idea what it was. It’s not clarified in the rest of the episode — it just seems like, through the sheer willpower of Evil, Lillian Luthor gained all the knowledge necessary to make Project Cadmus successful in its quest to destroy non-humans. Which she can do, once she uses Lena’s need for parental affection against her and convinces her to hand over an isotope that will allow Medusa to be launched on a city-wide scale.

A combination of expecting Lena to turn evil eventually and Lena just being clever worked together to convince me she really did choose her mother over Kara/Supergirl’s impassioned plea to do good instead of evil. Lena delivers the isotope to Lillian and even launches the rocket that would cause Medusa to cascade over National City, killing every alien resident in a suffocating shower of pretty doom flakes. But when the aliens fail to fall, Lillian realizes that her daughter changed the isotope out and that the Medusa rocket was harmless at launch. Also, Lena called the police on her and basically, Lena’s the best. I still have hope that she’ll stay a good person, because I don’t want the potential I see in Lena Luthor to go to waste for a one-off supervillain character we all know Supergirl will defeat eventually.

Anyway, the heroes save the day from Project Medusa. Does anyone else think it’s odd that both Myriad and Medusa are Kryptonian doomsday weapons named in Greek? Was that just translated from Classic Kryptonian for our benefit? Like, Cadmus at least has the excuse of being a terrestrial organization, so its highfalutin naming conventions could be expected. I’m very confused by the Greek names for the Kryptonian things.

In the end, “Medusa” cleared out some of the plots that had built up over this first half of the season while leaving opportunities for more to spring up later. J’onn no longer has to worry about turning into a White Martian, since Eliza Danvers cleared that up for him with Science! and Alex/Maggie is no longer full of angst. Although the Medusa threat is officially over, I don’t think Cadmus or Lillian Luthor are gone for good — but “Medusa” closes a chapter on them, at least. This was a decent episode, however confusing it might have been for DC Week first-timers, and it left the story at a good point for Kara to go gallivanting off to Barry Allen’s Earth and save it from extraterrestrial invaders.

Other Things:
  • I get that Kara’s heat vision might be a convenient way to roast a turkey, but I don’t believe for a second that bird is properly seasoned or evenly cooked.
  • Mon-El’s “I don’t get Earth culture, duh doy!” schtick is wearing so thin. It’s called Google, dude. Get acquainted.
  • Alex in the background sneaking out a bottle of whiskey might be my favorite part of the episode that isn’t Barry going “Heeeeey!”
  • Also cute: Alex clearly trying to give J’onn some Thanksgiving leftovers, but he’s too all-business to notice.
  • “You mean when I changed it from its ‘murdering, world domination’ direction?” Hee. Lena’s lovely.
  • Clark’s going to be super mad when he finds out Kara killed his robot.
  • “You were always gonna be different, Alex. Because you were always exceptional. And I love you, however you are.”
  • I appreciate the show paralleling Kara’s parents with the Luthors. Making sure that the audience knows that it’s the actions of heroes that make them heroes, not their parents or family or anything as simple as biology, is important.
  • “Your parents’ legacy is not death and destruction, Kara Zor-El. It’s you.” All the uplifting parent speeches, please.
  • I was really amused by the alien Instagramming the beautiful almost-doom flakes falling from the sky.
  • Speaking of the almost-doom flakes: those scenes were very well shot and nice to look at.
  • Is it just a weird coincidence that the Supergirl crossovers with other DC shows coincide with the advent of massively destructive Kryptonian superweapons? First it was Myriad and The Flash crossover, and now it’s Medusa and DC Week.


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