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Supergirl: Ahimsa

Alex: “Being a leader means doing what needs to get done – and taking the consequences.”

Episode description: "Alex asks Lena and Brainiac to team up and help Supergirl; J'onn discovers new ways to help his fellow aliens after running into Manchester Black."

This was a very scattered episode. Several threads had plenty of potential, but most didn’t do as well as they should have. Supergirl, still suffering from Kryptonite poisoning, is barely on screen but locked in a "clean" suit until the air can be emptied of kryptonite. She has a few lines, but most of them are delivered in a sort of high-tech bubble – kind of neat, visually, but designed to keep Melissa Benoist’s shooting time to a bare minimum. Supergirl’s panic attack at the beginning was rather interesting; her decision to fight when ordered not to was predictable but really stupid of her. Not a good episode for Supergirl the character. At the end of the episode, we learn why the actor was not around; we see a Russian version of her; I expect this means we’ll get extra helpings of Supergirl in Supergirl soon as the actor does double duty.

Alex Danvers had a much more important role in this episode, dealing with what it means to be in charge when everything seems to be going wrong. There’s a great moment where she sits alone, steeling herself to go out and encourage the people under her. When stuff goes wrong, however, she doesn't get any warm fuzzy encouragement; no, she gets chewed out by President Baker. She does grow during the episode, as she realizes she’s not going to control everything, and that a large part of her job will be mentoring those below her as she receives the ire from those above. That is part of the job of being a director.

J’onn J’onzz is also facing the fact that he can’t control everything. He’s trying to practice nonviolence, but he’s angry and wants to hit someone, and feeling guilty because he let Supergirl down. This is an excellent idea but something about the execution doesn’t work for me. J’onn also spends time trying to find Fiona, a psychic alien now being used by Agent Liberty and Mercy Graves to influence other aliens. This leads him to Manchester Black, Fiona’s fiancé.

I have the sense that Manchester Black is going to be around a lot. We probably need a character in his position, fighting when J’onn won’t fight, so J’onn can go around being nonviolent. The problem is that, despite – or because of – Manchester Black’s swagger, he’s really dull and his dialogue is disappointingly cliché. He reaches Fiona before she dies – and after a "please-be-good" speech, she dies. Unfortunately, I didn’t care.

The real bright spot of the episode was Brainy, who had some wonderful scenes with Lena and some delightfully off-beat lines in other scenes too.

The threats by the bad guys were a bit messy, but perhaps they were trying to sow chaos. Chaos is an effective means of screwing up society, so even if their tactics were a little off, they had some successes.

James was warned in a prior episode not to do any Guardian stuff, and Nia Nal tells James that he shouldn't take the risk. This attitude is completely out-of-character for her - which they acknowledge, but the actor needed some lines and the lines needed to be said by someone. This gives James the chance to say and do some hero stuff, and to have it be interpreted incorrectly. But out-of-character stuff is often a bad idea (especially as Nia Nal keeps swinging on the take-risks and take-no-risks pendulum) and risks that are only felt to be risks because of some exposition are not felt deeply either.

Title musings:
“Ahimsa” is a word derived from Sanskrit meaning to do no harm toward living (and often non-living) things. According to Wikipedia (I am no expert), Ahimsa is a tenet of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Manchester Black, Fiona’s fiancé, talks about Ahimsa, and J’onn J’onzz is struggling with trying to control his rage throughout the episode. But Ahimsa doesn’t seem to apply anywhere else, and so the title doesn’t work for me. The episode seemed to be dealing with the themes of being out of control (as well as the whole episode sort of being out of control), so I think “Out of Control” would have made a much better title.

Bits and pieces

So many episodes have prisoners with their hands chained above their heads. That must be really annoying for the actors.

Kara Danvers is in a better position with Catco now, as James knows that she is Supergirl. Easier to lead a double life when you’re not trying to explain to your boss that you can’t come to work because breathing the air will literally kill you.

How convenient is it that the mark is almost always drinking alone at the bar (speaking of the scene where Manchester Black approaches Officer Petrocelli).

When Chyler Leigh fights as Alex Danvers I often have flashbacks to Nana Visitor as Major Kira of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; there's some resemblance.


Supergirl: I’m a refugee on this planet. (This is part of the opener, but a good reminder.)

J’onn J’onzz: Maybe I’ve just spent too many years steeped in rage to ever change.

Otis Graves: He wasn’t human. He was loose ends.

Alex Danvers: As you may have heard by now, two of our agents have turned against us.

Manchester Black: Americans, man. No idea how to drink. (I have included this line as an example of exhausted cliché.)

President Baker: On top of that Sunday of incompetence… (This was a great opening for a tirade.)

Brainy: I’m not a robot. I’m techno-organic; I have feelings.

Brainy: These are tears of logic.

Brainy: None of the nanites have ever eaten kryptonite before and they’re understandably very nervous.

James Olsen: Heroes go out there. Even when they know something bad is gonna happen.

J’onn: How do reconcile who we are with who we want to be, Alex?
Alex: We forgive ourselves.

Overall Rating

The episode had some good bits, but it never really came together. Two out of four kryptonite-eating nanites.

Victoria Grossack loves birds, math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

1 comment:

  1. This was definitely an uneven episode, and like you, Victoria, I think that the lack of Supergirl for two episodes in a row felt weird. Although I did like the Iron Man/RoboCop interface thingy, as well as her claustrophobia in the beginning. Wearing a helmet like that would be so claustrophobic. I kept wondering why they couldn't completely clean out a good-sized room at the DEO so that Kara could walk around without it.

    I had a different reaction to Manchester Black. I really liked him. Maybe the actor just appealed to me.


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