Supergirl: Red Faced

"Whatever you do, you cannot get angry at work. Especially when you're a girl."

When this first season initially aired last fall, "Red Faced" was the first episode that I remember liking a lot. I still think it's excellent. "Red Faced" added a significant emotional facet to Kara's personality, and showed what a terrific lead actress Melissa Benoist could be.

Unsurprisingly, some people in the Supergirl-verse are afraid of the powers of two god-like aliens on Earth. Some of the best episodes of Smallville were about Clark out of control for some reason or another. Supergirl and her cousin actually could kill millions of people with ease if they wanted, which was nicely illustrated when she came close to breaking a man's hand in the opening scenes. General Lane's extreme antipathy for Kryptonians makes sense, although it was a bit much, trying to take Supergirl out with a killer android. (Or, okay, an "anthropomorphic pseudo entity with combat capabilities.")

But where this episode succeeds is that there is nothing artificial about Kara's anger; it wasn't caused by yet another flavor of Kryptonite. After so many years of keeping her secret hidden, Kara thought all her problems would evaporate when she came out as Supergirl, that she could finally be her true self. But now she has realized that she can never be normal, that she will always be an outcast, an alien. Even worse, unlike her cousin Clark, Kara is also burdened by the memories of her parents. The way Kara destroyed Red Tornado with her heat vision while she was screaming with anger made me feel her rage at her devastating loss as well as her grief, especially since it was accompanied by flashbacks to Kara leaving her family and Krypton exploding. It was quite powerful.


While I honestly don't care about this show's now obvious attempts to make Cat Grant more sympathetic, I really liked how Cat put a feminist slant on Kara's problem. Kara finally blowing up at Cat and crying "Why are you so mean?" was absolutely wonderful; gold acting stars for Melissa Benoist. So was the martini scene where Cat told Kara that professional women were not allowed to lose their tempers like their male counterparts, and that Kara needed to find out what was making her angry and fix it.

The Kara/James scene with the car and the heavy bag was also terrific, especially when James pointed out that black men can't get angry in public, either. I thought there was an undercurrent of racism behind the disparaging way General Lane treated James; it felt a lot like Lane's xenophobic treatment of Supergirl. Cat's mother and Lucy's father were the ultimate stereotypical supernasty parents with no redeeming qualities, weren't they? They're perfect for each other. Maybe they should start dating.

At least Lucy Lane turned out to be better than her father. Even though she started out ruining Game Night for Kara and verbally trashing Supergirl, Lucy ultimately chose to resign her commission and stay in National City with James. Which means that there will be more of Kara being jealous of Lucy, I suppose. Although I did notice the obvious, that James keeps looking at Kara, almost as if he can't help being attracted.

This episode left us with a double cliffhanger. Hank Henshaw and Jeremiah Danvers both disappeared at the same time, and Hank came back awhile later, alone. Gee, that looks suspicious. Plus, Kara appears to have lost her powers. That's sort of big.

Bits:

-- Maxwell Lord was mildly helpful with Dr. Morrow while continuing to flirt with Alex.

-- Lucy Lane is super cute in uniform.

-- The president of the United States is a woman! Let life imitate art, please.

-- Cat worked for Perry White. We knew that, though. Didn't we?

-- General Lane called Supergirl "the lady in red," and Maxwell Lord called her the "maiden of might." Comics reference?

-- Also, I'm told that in the comics, Red Tornado is a good guy and part of the Justice League.

Quotes:

News anchor: "Supergirl scares young children at a local school."

Kara: "So apparently I'm fighting a robot tomorrow."
Winn: "Robot? So what kind of a robot we talking? Like a C-3PO, Terminator, Roomba?"

(While looking up the correct spelling of the word 'Roomba,' the top hit was this news story from a couple of days ago. My cat never has accidents, but he occasionally misjudges the location of the edge of the litter box. So I guess Roombas are not for me.)

Kara: "Game Night is the last shred of normalcy that remains in our crime-stopping, alien-hunting, DEO-hacking lives. Game Night survives. It has to."

Kara: "Girls are taught to smile and keep it on the inside."
James: "It's not like black men are encouraged to be angry in public."

This probably isn't a four star episode, but it's very good. Three and a half out of four anthropomorphic pseudo entities with combat capabilities,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

5 comments:

Mallena said...

Lucy Lane isn't a fully drawn character yet, but my sympathy for her has sky rocketed after meeting her dad. What an ass. Can you imagine growing up with that? Cat's mother probably had a bad mother too. For all her meanness, she did seem hurt at the end at Cat's attitude. My mother isn't the most stable emotionally, though I love her to pieces. Her mother was emotionally abusive and I can really see it in the way that my mother acted when I was growing up. My mom turned her pain inward instead of outward, mostly, which is bad for her, but easier on those around her sometimes. I have a magnet on my fridge that has a picture of a woman who is holding her daughter up in the air and they are smiling, and the caption reads: "Parenting, when messing up your own life just isn't enough." It's a good reminder to watch how I act with my own kids.

Billie Doux said...

You're so right, Mallena. Parenting is the hardest job in the world, and probably the most important.

I don't remember Sam Lane being this awful in Smallville. Although he *was* played by Michael Ironside, wasn't he?

Anonymous said...

Extremely powerful scene with Supergirl at the end releasing her anger.
I was close to quitting this series when i saw this episode.
Kara's deepening Character and her growing relationship with Cat, both as Kara and as Supergirl kept me watching and for me becomes the most successful part of the entire season. Rewatching this episode just reminded me just how much this show slowly improves from episode to episode (Just like Arrow and Flash's first seasons) until some quite epic episodes in the latter half...Cannot wait to see the CW improvements and connectivity with Flash, Arrow and Legends.

''While I honestly don't care about this show's now obvious attempts to make Cat Grant more sympathetic''

Please name me one show that does not have the 'evil, bitchy' character aquire some heart and depth at some point:)
Cat's has been evident since episode one, just subtle and well hidden. The talk she had with Kara in this episode reveals so much of her character..Especially in regards to how she treats people.

J.D. Balthazar said...

This was probably the episode that hooked me for the season. It had the emotional depth, character beats, and comic book cookies to make a fan of the comics actually interested in this incarnation of Supergirl.

The Maiden of Might is definitely one of Supergirl's nicknames, not so sure about the Lady in Red.

General Lane tends to be a dick in every incarnation of his character to one degree or another, and he is occasionally even a villain.

I'm a touch disappointed by the Red Tornado being a one off adversary, since in comic continuity he is... complicated, but generally a superhero and a member of both the Justice Society of America and the Justice League. Although, there is a bit of a running joke about him getting destroyed again and again so maybe he'll come back as a hero later on.

sunbunny said...

I forgot how much I liked this one! Lane drove me INSANE with his constant deflection of blame and irrational hatred of two people who've done nothing but help the world. I also REALLY hated the guy in the beginning who a) almost killed a bunch of kids with his car and then b) tried to punch Supergirl in the face before c) claiming to be the victim in all of this isn't Kara just such an awful bully? Like she was defending herself!! She could've easily ripped his entire arm off but she didn't. I think the show is doing a good job of portraying how women's actions are consistently examined with a microscope but (white) men can get away with murder.

I wonder if Perry White is still Laurence Fishburne.