Supergirl: Stand and Deliver

Alex: "How can I, with a clear conscience, protect a man who is causing so much pain in the world?"

An episode in which many of our favorite characters stand up for their consciences, and in which the writers find a way out of the apparent impasse.

Ben Lockwood, as the president's new director of the Bureau of Alien Affairs, gets attacked by the Elite very early on in the episode. Because of the attack, Lockwood is assigned a new security detail, with Alex Danvers in charge – another move made by the president. As Alex loathes the man, this does not please her, but both her boss, Colonel Haley, and her adopted sister, Kara, give her the same advice: that by doing her job she will protect lives. (Supergirl, of course, has rescued many humans who she dislikes. I bet Colonel Haley has as well.)

As soon as Lockwood can speak without getting attacked, he announces his intention to repeal the Alien Amnesty Act, which, fortunately he cannot do by fiat, as this was apparently an act approved by Congress and Lockwood, a director in the executive branch, cannot unmake a law. However, Lockwood is in a position of influence, and by lobbying could get the act repealed. The announcement sends a chill through aliens and their friends, and they have to do something about it.

And the core of the show is when several of the characters take stands and deliver. The first to take a stand is Brainy, who, despite working at the DEO decides to organize a counter rally to the one being done by Lockwood (we all knew Brainy was behind it). The second is when James decides to go out – not as Guardian – but as a photographer to help the press show to the people what is really going on. The third is when Kara, originally hovering over the rally as Supergirl in order to protect everyone, staying above the fray, drapes herself in a Kryptonian robe (or perhaps just a blue blanket) and joins the pro-alien rally. The fourth is my favorite. Lockwood is getting the humans to shout, “Us or Them! Us or Them!” He’s egging on an attack. And then we have the wonderful:

Alex: You need to get off the stage now.
Lockwood: Where’s the threat?
Alex: You are the threat.

She hustles him off the stage. Pandemonium still breaks out, but the conflict would have been much worse if he had remained, and because she took him away, the brawling dies down, and people start helping one another (and her action even wins praise from Colonel Haley).

Olsen proves he deserves the position of photographer by taking a great shot of a human helping an alien, and that becomes the moment, the picture worth a thousand words, which defuses the anger being felt by so many. I was very impressed by this turn in the series, because I have been wondering how the writers could get them out of this jam – and they found a way that was fairly credible. Lockwood (pressured by President Baker, who we know cares a lot about the polls) says that they will hold Congressional hearings, which is a huge step forward.

Of course, the factions are not vanquished. Lockwood’s celebrity is based on hating aliens, so he’s got reason to try to come back. Some of the Elite are locked up. The writers can choose to return to this arc or not, but I am happy where it is for the moment.

For what I assume is a future part of the story: James is worried about the black budget at L-Corp and because he and Lena are on the outs, he can't really ask her. Instead he pumps Eve Tessmacher, his former employee, for information. Tessmacher actually has scenes that Lena would usually have more of a say in. Lena’s scenes are short and she appears overworked, which make me wonder if the actress was tired and overworked during the filming.

The episode ends with a great teaser: Who shot J.O.? (For those who are too young to know the phrase, “Who shot JR?” was the CBS hook for the show Dallas in the 1980s. Even though I never watched Dallas, I recall the phrase.) James Olsen, fresh from delivering the hearts-and-minds-changing photograph, is working late at CatCo, just the way a good boss should. Just as he is finally leaving the office, a gun is seen and a shot is fired. The last shot (camera shot) is of James Olsen lying on the floor, bleeding out. Will Olsen die? I hope not, even when they don’t give Mehcad Brooks enough to do, he is so easy on the eyes – besides, they cannot kill James Olsen, who is such a big part of the Supercousin world. So, who shot him? One of the Children of Liberty, out of resentment for that photograph? Or someone who doesn’t want him doing an expose on L-Corp finances?

Title musings: “Stand and Deliver” is the title of a 1988 documentary about a high school teacher who inspired his drop-out-prone students to master calculus. The word stand also evokes the “stand your ground” laws in various states, which have been used for the shoot first ask questions later and let Trayvon Martin’s murderer go unpunished. But it also serves the actions of at least four characters in this episode, and so I think the title works really well. All four of them made a difference by standing up when needed, and their actions together – even though not by design – had a great impact.

Bits and pieces

The Elite has a group of four, but as one of them is invisible most of the time, that’s good for the budget.

Some actual conversation for Eve Tessmacher!

Finally giving Nia Nal a more individualistic personality, and she seems to be into the meta awareness of the series, saying that’s a superhero speech or a classic bad guy move. Maybe this is a characteristic of a Dreamer. Or perhaps it is a characteristic of a superhero in training (which is rather cute).

I don’t recall Manchester Black having purple hair before this, but that’s in line with the comics. Very nice.

Loved the scrimmage between Brainy and Hat. Very artistic; they must have worked hard on the choreography.

Loved the super-heavy key for getting into the Fortress of Solitude and how the Elite looked under the mat for it.

Quotes

Lockwood: I know you think I’m a monster. But half of England said the same thing about Winston Churchill before World War II.

Nia Nal: Returning to the scene of the crime is a classic bad guy move.

Brainy: Well, whoever this American Alien is, their website superbly protected. He or she must be a highly intelligent cryptophile. Translating. This may take some time. Editor translation: You’re asking me to research myself.
Haley: Just do it, Dox.

Hat: We’re supposed to be changing the world. Not acting suicidal to settle old scores.

James: You fight injustice with your fists, you can help one, maybe a dozen people. But good journalism – that can impact millions.

Brainy: Supergirl may be a symbol, but more importantly, she’s a citizen of Earth. Just like the rest of us.

Nia Nal: It always amazes me how much one photo can change the conversation.

Haley: Lockwood is a bureaucrat with power he doesn’t understand. Not only does that make things dangerous it makes our job difficult. Note that I disagree; I think Lockwood understands the power very well. Still, it's an interesting perspective.

Overall Rating

I can tell that I really enjoyed this episode, as I am still writing about it something like 1300+ words later (the word count may shrink when I edit). Three and a half out of four superheavy Fortress of Solitude keys.

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

3 comments:

Nick said...

I noticed his purple hair last episode, but I'm not sure if that was the first time.

Victoria Grossack said...

Probably it was the lighting and the many copies of Manchester Black that made me see what has been around for a while.

Billie Doux said...

What a terrific episode. The scene where James was taking photos of people and aliens helping each other actually got to me. I don't expect them to write out James Olsen, but if they have, it was done beautifully.

I also really liked Nia unwilling to take off her costume because she loved it so much. Very cute. :)