This week marks a return to our normally scheduled time line . . . and thank goodness! Even though I enjoyed the last two episodes, I’ll admit I was getting a bit confused. So where are we this week? Well, the Traumatic Thanksgiving Dinner of 2015 has now passed and Alex and Kara are questioning their loyalties to the DEO, Livewire has come and gone and we’ve tackled that sticky issue of what women are willing to give up in the name of success. It was an interesting lead in into this week’s episode titled “Red Faced.”
I’m sure you’ve picked up on this trend, but the creative genius ensconced in the “Supergirl” writer’s room tends toward the double (or triple) entendre. This week was no exception as we watched the show illustrate what “Red Faced” might mean. Other than a literal red face, are our characters red faced from anger? Or embarrassment? Maybe a bit of both, as it turns out. It is a curiosity to have each title convey multiple nuances about the episode’s theme.
Anger played a prominent role in this week’s show. We watched as Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) anger got the best of her early on as she tried to stop a nasty incident of road rage. She was protecting a group of school kids in a crosswalk but one of the drivers didn’t welcome her interference. He took a swing at our heroine and she hit back. All of this was captured by the kids on their cell phones and later turned into a media maelstrom of misinformation. An angry hero, an angry driver and, dare I admit, an angry viewer too. The injustice of a misleading news story is so timely that I found myself yelling at my television.
Kara is not alone in having anger management issues. All the characters have to confront problems that rile up their emotions and cause unintended consequences. The relationship between James (Mehcad Brooks) and Lucy (Jenna Dewan Tatum) is explored in greater detail in this episode. We discover that Lucy’s father, General Lane (Glenn Morshower), is in town and Lucy wants to organize a dinner for the three of them. The General and James have a discordant past and neither seems interested in playing nicely. At the dinner table, Lucy leaves briefly and General Lane tells James in no uncertain terms that he does not approve of their relationship. He denigrates James’ profession and his opinion never waivers the entire episode.
Unfortunately for the General, he ends up losing his daughter and pushing her toward James. James, on the other hand, never once lost his cool and gets Lucy to commit to moving to National City, but at what cost? She is at odds with her father and that rift may cause future issues between the couple. The General also finds himself in hot water with DEO Director Hank Henshaw (David Brooks) over his mistreatment and misuse of Supergirl. He came to town and all but forced Supergirl to fight his android Red Tornado. When she overpowers the android and triggers some kind of safety response, the General blames Supergirl and fires his engineer. The man can’t seem to help himself but be nasty.
Remember that touchy-feely scene from “Livewire” when Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) and Kara have a bonding moment? That’s all undone by Cat’s less than loveable mother Katherine Grant (Joan Juliet Buck) who pushes Cat into an unmerciful outpouring of irritation with Kara. Cat vents her frustrations toward Kara and ridicules her for her crush on James. Later, in my favorite scene of the night Cat is screeching for Kara and the two launch into an incredible repartee:
Cat Grant: “One second of my time is 90 times more valuable than your pointless, sad, pathetic …”
Kara Danvers: “Don’t talk to me like that! Please! I work so hard for you! I don’t ask questions, I don’t complain and all you do is yell at me and tell me I’m not good enough. And it’s mean! Why are you so mean?”
Kara immediately tries to apologize but Cat stops her and tells her to forward the phones; that they are going out. Kara asks where and Cat responds by saying, “Chop chop.” It’s so good I had to watch it twice. For everyone who cringed at Cat’s treatment of Kara these last six episodes, this one scene felt like a victory; a triumph for those who feel belittled everywhere. After everything that happens to Kara, from the initial road rage incident to her mistreatment by General Lane, this was her moment to express her anger and vent her frustrations. Cat’s response, however, was unexpected.
Instead of hurtling more insults, Cat takes Kara out for a drink. Over martinis Cat sagely advises Kara that women can never get angry at work. She says that for a woman, having a tantrum in public is professional and cultural suicide. It’s a double standard, but life isn’t always fair. Instead of dropping the subject, Cat continues by encouraging Kara to search out the anger behind the anger and figure out what’s really making her mad. The scene has motherly overtones that you might not have thought Cat capable of offering.
Kara delves into her personal issues and discovers that her underlying anger is directed towards her perceived loss of a “normal” life. We see flashbacks to her childhood as her parents and planet are torn away and she’s launched into space. Having super natural powers may be convenient during rush hour traffic, but Kara is overwhelmed by the problems that being Supergirl introduce into dating and her professional career. Once she identifies the issues behind her anger, Kara approaches the rest of the episode with renewed purpose and greater focus.
I appreciate that the writers explored the complex issue of anger in this episode. So often serialized superheroes are characterized by a singular emotion, like Batman and his fury, or are devoid of emotions that run very deep, like Wonder Woman. In this case, Supergirl has been reinterpreted into a compelling character that the audience connects with on a visceral level. She’s exhibited anger, frustration, lack of confidence, bravado and fear; emotions we all experience regardless of our human or superhuman abilities. They’ve really transformed her from the two dimensional pages of her comic book into a three dimensional personality with realistic attributes.
Now that we’ve talked about our feelings, let’s discuss Red Tornado (Iddo Goldberg). Christmas is coming and while it’s unfortunate we can’t add him to our wish list for Santa, Red Tornado is still one cool android. He’s introduced by General Lane and inventor Dr. Morrow (Iddo Goldberg – yes he plays both characters) as the soldier of the future. It’s later revealed that he was designed to defeat Kryptonians which we watched him try with Supergirl multiple times.
While Red Tornado looked formidable, I was left confused about who was actually the villain. Red Tornado is supposed to be an android but requires a neural connection to his inventor Dr. Morrow. It appears he adapts with each battle against Supergirl but it’s unclear if he ever acts independently. When Alex confronts Dr. Morrow about his role in Red Tornado’s actions, he claims that he released the android in retribution for General Lane canceling his research program. So who is the perpetrator? And, in an episode so focused on anger issues, who is really compelled to take out their vengeance upon National City? I would liked to have seen either a more independent android or a more troubled relationship between Morrow and Lane.
Winn (Jeremy Jordan) had more screen time and we saw that he was recruited to help Alex and Kara break into the DEO mainframe. The sisters are looking for more information about Jeremiah Danvers’ (Dean Cain) death and what role Hank Henshaw played in the coverup. Winn discovers that both Jeremiah and Hank were sent to South America to apprehend an alien but the mission didn’t go well. Both were assumed dead until Hank mysteriously reappeared a month later with no recollection of where he’d been. This seems to make Alex and Kara more suspicious of their boss and left me wondering if Jeremiah was actually dead? Or will his character be found alive and in need of rescue? I’m certainly hoping for the later.
Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) has a small but poignant role in this week’s episode. Alex approaches him for help identifying where Red Tornado might be hiding. Lord turns her down in his typically arrogant fashion but his lingering look as Alex departs left me wondering if he wouldn’t come around. Later, Maxwell invites Alex back to his office where he has set up an elaborate table for two. Wine is consumed, Alex reveals details about her father’s death and Maxwell offers a plausible way for finding the missing android. These two characters have been circling one another the last few episodes and the tension between them is palpable.
The show ends with Kara cutting her hand on a piece of glass . . . and she bleeds. Her Kryptonian body should have healed the wound but it doesn’t. What has happened to our heroine and how will this mystery unfold next week? There’s also the issue of Lucy being included in after work activities but not knowing Kara’s alternate identity. How will she react when she discovers that Supergirl works beside her beau James? Winn alluded to his issues with his father and I can’t wait to see the entrance of Mr. Schott, aka Toyman. We’ll have to wait a few more weeks before he makes his appearance, but with each passing episode we are given more clues about Winn and his father’s strained relationship. Lastly, I find I’m greatly wrapped up in the idea of Alex and Maxwell Lord having a romantic relationship. At the moment, Alex believes she and Maxwell are on opposing sides, but if her sense of righteousness at work degrades because of Hank’s coverup, she might discover that she and Maxwell have more in common than she initially thought.
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