Supergirl: 210 “We Can Be Heroes” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
As I get going with each episode of Supergirl, I’m always nervously waiting for the bit when the episode swerves into stupidity. Sometimes it comes quickly, sometimes it takes a while. This week, with We Can Be Heroes, I was pleasantly surprised when it took most of the episode. And even when the moment came, I found it relatively easy to get past it. I think the adventure had built up enough good will that I was ready to forgive some faults.
For We Can Be Heroes is indeed one of my favorite episodes of the season so far…really, the best since Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman made his last appearance. There were still flaws, but overall they came in the midst of a solid, emotionally compelling episode.
A big part of the credit is due to the fact that all the narrative threads of the week felt relevant to the series’ overall direction. Last week we had big chunks of airtime taken up with Alex working out her relationship issues and Winn working out his panic issues—both subplots that existed primarily to “give the characters something to do.” This time, we are juggling between Mon-El being confronted with his motivations for training for heroics, Kara confronting James about the wisdom of him doing the same, and J’onn coming to terms with whether he can accept M’gann after her people’s atrocities. All of these storylines get at the core of what is going on with these characters and one feels the series is genuinely moving forward with them.
J’onn’s story is the most emotionally affecting, and that may be why it works so well despite being disconnected from the main action plot with Livewire. David Harewood gives a performance that pulls us into J’onn’s emotional journey, and the dreamscape he shares with M’gann helps us to understand her pain as well. His forgiveness is right and believable, and the whole sequence never looks for the quick way through the dilemma or descends into hokeyness.
Of course, it would have been far better if it hadn’t turned out that J’onn had been holding M’gann prisoner all this time for nothing aside from being from a species he hated, and if we hadn’t just forgotten her completely since a couple of episodes before the mid-season finale back in December. It would have made for more sense if we’d seen her released but rejected by J’onn before the Christmas break. That would have kept the storyline alive but avoided the awkward questions nobody on the show is acknowledging. There’s no reason that this week’s story had to start with her in prison: there are dozens of ways that we could have gotten her comatose body back to the DEO.
What was the scene when it got kind of stupid? Just when everyone went after Livewire without telling Kara, resulting in James and Mon-El captured and in the midst of a cliched exposition scene with the main villain. It’s a lazy writing contrived to make the exposition as simple as possible, but with the effect of straining plausibility and decreasing the tension. A more effective way of keeping the momentum going would have been to have Kara required to stay behind and help J’onn through his ordeal, thus making her “late to the party” in the final fight. That would have better integrated all the storylines and not made everyone else seem so stupid. Maybe Kara could have even had her “big talk” with James & Winn before this sequence, justifying why Winn alerts James before he does the DEO.
Now, I’m not saying that’s the perfect solution, but seriously that took me as long to think of it as it did to type it. A little extra editing of the scripts could go a long way.
But of course this is nit-picking. As I said, it’s a strong episode with a lot of good emotional moments. I’m not a huge fan of Livewire but it was interesting to watch Kara grow into the ability to carry the pressure of dealing with a nemesis, as they kept referring to her. The concept with James as the Guardian is as interesting as it has been since they introduced it. And Kara’s relationship with Mon-El has teen-drama angst written all over it, but is still enjoyable. I like the uncertainty of it – I neither am desperate to see them get together, nor am I dreading it. Instead, I’m just curious to see how it’s all going develop. Kind of like real life.