Friday, April 28, 2017

Supergirl 2x18 Review: "Ace Reporter" (Nano Trouble) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Ace Reporter"
Original Airdate: April 24, 2017

It’s been three weeks since we last checked in with our favorite alien superhero and her helpful pals, so I’m predicting that most of my time writing this review will be spent looking up all the stuff that happened in previous reviews because my memory? Not so great. I’ve got the basics down, though: Kara Danvers is Supergirl. She saves people and is kind of a reporter? Even though her identity isn’t tied up in being a reporter at all and that’s just the typical occupation writers like to give superheroes? Anyway, she lost that job as a reporter an eternity ago (“eternity” in this sentence means “a month”), but I’m going to take a hint from the episode title and assume she’s going to get her job back.

Hey, here’s an exciting aspect of this week’s episode: Lena Luthor is part of the A-plot!


Even though Kara was calling her unemployment “funemployment” before the hiatus, she’s grown bored of being jobless and it doesn’t help that National City appears to be completely without crime. Alex explains that “It’s like someone slipped law-abiding serum into the reservoir,” and no amount of offering to stop this law-breaking literal lawmaker gets Kara anything to do. And I know that the show is just trying to frame Kara’s life as moving rather slow so that she gets all pumped for the action of the episode, but hey, Kara? You have super speed and you can fly. Go help New York. Detroit. Chicago. Literally anywhere else. Hey, come to my city — we could probably use you. Get out of your National City bubble a bit more, is what I’m trying to say here.

Kara turns to baking to kill all her boring free time, and I do have to admit to being charmed by the fact that she doesn’t wear oven mitts to take her baked goods out of the oven. It’s the little things in life we have to find joy in, people. Anyway, Kara’s baking is interrupted by everyone’s favorite future probably-villain: Lena Luthor! She wants Kara as a sort of emotional bodyguard for meeting up with her ex-boyfriend, Jack Spheer (played by iZombie’s Rahul Kohli). Lena calls Jack her “kryptonite,” which I feel raises some questions about how that word entered the common lexicon in a universe with actual Superman and Supergirl. Wouldn’t literally anyone who wanted to keep the Kryptonians safe — or personally destroy them — want to keep that a secret?

Lena and Kara go to Jack’s presentation and, to my dismay, Kara runs into Snapper Carr. I can’t be the only one who abhors Snapper Carr, right? He basically just serves to belittle Kara at every opportunity, and in the same “tough love” way that Cat Grant utilized. I don’t know if it’s the way he’s written or the way he’s played, but Snapper genuinely seems to hate Kara whenever he has to talk to her. His cutting remarks have too much genuine dislike behind them for me to laugh them off as part of a grumpy, well-meaning character. He isn’t well-meaning. He’s just mean.

After the presentation — which is on Jack’s invention of nanobots that can heal people and how he’s launching the program in National City — Jack catches up with Lena and, by association, Kara outside the theater. Since Kara’s no fan of being the third wheel, she scampers away to let Lena and Jack make googly eyes at each other and discuss the past.

But what’s this? Intrigue! A bespectacled man claiming to “know Jack Spheer” asks to meet Kara in the parking lot later on. It’s like that man doesn’t know he’s in a TV show and planning secret meetings in parking lots is the number one cause of death for unknown, nervous characters. Poor fella. Anyway, he definitely dies and it’s nanobots that kill him, with the help of a big, fiery explosion. Later on, another source bites the dust due to nanobots and there is really no hiding the dots that are lining up for Kara to connect, here. The combination of cause of death and the fact that both sources had secrets to share about Jack’s company sets Jack up as the most likely villain.

Because this episode is trying to be about Kara getting back into being an investigative reporter, we get some sleuthing from Kara and Mon-El (“Mike”). They discover footage of Jack injecting himself with the nanobots during what should have been a legal testing phase of the project, which means that the only test subject for the project is Jack himself and there’s plenty in that fact worth killing people over. Kara saves the footage, which triggers some security breach in nanobot-Jack that causes him to walk out on his impromptu date with Lena, who is displeased and confused — and doubly displeased and confused when Kara shows her the footage, explaining that Jack very likely killed some people.

But turns out that Jack is not the villain of the week — he’s the weapon of the week. His business partner has been controlling him the entire time, though I’m not sure if it’s made clear that he had zero free will and getting close to Lena was part of the evil-doer’s plan or if the control only occurred occasionally, like when she was using him to murder. In the episode, Jack seems legitimately confused by the killer nanobots and doesn’t seem to think he’s suffering from blackouts or anything — so I guess everything about his life was controlled by his partner from the point when he injected himself with nanobots onward?

Jack’s fusion with the nanobots means that shutting them down equals shutting him down, and — because the show is very cruel to her — it’s Lena who has to press the button to kill her ex. An ex, by the way, she still had really strong feelings for. Jeez, Supergirl. Harsh. And the fact that we don’t really know if she actually reconnected with this guy she seriously cared about before being forced to kill him to save Supergirl, who was being threatened by the nanobots, doesn’t help matters.

After Jack is gone and the evil business partner is captured by Supergirl, Lena has to deal with the aftermath. In an incredibly well done scene, Kara tries her best to comfort Lena, who is starting to feel numb to the constant source of misery that is her life. I’m not certain if the scene is meant to sow the seeds of evil in Lena (I mean, she does say that the only thought that makes her feel anything is the thought of people who have wronged her rotting in jail, which is... morally questionable) or if it’s meant to make us think she’s going to be evil and it’s actually just adding character layers. Regardless, the scene is well acted by both Katie McGrath and Melissa Benoist and I like that the show took the time to have a quiet, emotional little scene toward the end of the episode.

It’s not the very last scene of the episode, though! Nope, that belongs to the sudden appearance of Mon-El’s mom, who will doubtlessly be doing evil very soon.

Other Things:
  • “I am here to kick some ass, take some names, and do it all with an endearing smile on my face.” Why isn’t that the tagline for this show?
  • So Kara lives in the “rent-controlled side of town”? Is that the show’s way of explaining why she could shrug off losing her job even though she lives in a beautiful, massive apartment?
  • I think Katie McGrath might have chemistry with most people. Her run on Merlin certainly reinforces this theory.
  • Katie McGrath’s accent slipped more frequently into her natural Irish throughout this episode than in previous episodes. I wonder if being around Rahul Kohli’s London accent tripped her up?
  • Speaking of Rahul Kohli: he was really great in this. He’s a terrific comedic actor, but between this and the drama he’s been given (and handled perfectly) on this season’s iZombie, I really wouldn’t mind seeing him in more serious stuff. I kinda wish they hadn’t killed his character off on Supergirl, because it would’ve been nice to have him pop up again in the future.


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