Supergirl: Will the Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up?

Brainy: I urge you, follow your heart. Not your orders.

This episode had some very good bits, but it also had a storyline that dragged.

Someone getting stood up at the altar is a standard trope in TV shows. What I’ve never seen before is abandoning your child at a funeral! After last week’s episode, which ended with an alien murdering George Lockwood’s mother, I wondered how the Supergirl writers would keep the young man pro-alien. Well, they found a way. Ben Lockwood’s behavior was so outrageous that even his son accused him of being the catalyst for his mother’s murder, which was absolutely true. If you start beating people (or aliens) up, at some point some of them will defend themselves. And I didn’t think Ben Lockwood’s behavior was out of character. He is, as his son said, a bitter, angry old man.

Lena and Kara working together was fun. The plane that could fly itself dispensed with the need for additional characters, which I suppose is easier on the budget, and meant that Kara could go be Supergirl during the inevitable disaster, in this case a purple lightning storm, which nearly crashes the airplane.

They make their way to Lex’s lair, which has conveniently been left with only Eve Tessmacher to guard it. Except it’s many copies of Miss Tessmacher, thanks to Lex’s siphoning off the powers of the alien Kopy. Miss Tessmacher makes many copies of herself, but the more copies she makes, the stupider they become. As she looks exactly like the stereotypical dumb blonde (despite her character being an accomplished scientist in this series), it’s fun to watch her sputter and splutter. The blue-tipped pain sticks were also fun, as was the time that Lena broke off her heel and pulled out a knife.

The other sequence with lots of action involved Ben Lockwood chasing aliens. He goes to the DEO to get assistance, and with Colonel Haley and Director Danvers both away, no one can stand up to him (although Brainy tries). Ben Lockwood ends up taking the Harun-El to give himself superpowers – which makes him sort of alien, too.

There are some good fight scenes in the action-oriented storylines, with lots of blue-tipped pain sticks, cars being tossed about, Dreamer doing some swirling blue waves, many copies of Miss Tessmacher, James and Brainy, and finally J’onn J’onzz showing up. Cutting between multiple fights is visually interesting, so I thought that was entertaining. However, the only bit of dialogue that resonated was Brainy’s, when he urged the people following Ben Lockwood’s orders to stop.

The visit to the lair in Kaznia is fruitful. Kara and Lena discover plenty, from the torturing being done to aliens to the complicity of someone in the White House. Kara also discovers that Red Daughter may have some good in her. There’s also the great dilemma of whether or not Kara should tell Lena that she’s Supergirl (given that Lex already knows, there’s no practical reason not to tell her).

After the last week’s episode, I was expecting some bonding between Alex Danvers and Kelly Olsen. However, the story for them in this episode felt forced. True, Alex did apply to an adoption agency a while back, but this storyline of “baby coming within the next twenty-four hours” to “baby not coming but being kept by the biological mother” felt unearned – especially as Alex says at the end that she’s so “wounded that she doesn't think she'll ever recover” by its not happening. That’s too much wounding for a baby she didn’t know about two days earlier, especially as she spent the whole time eating chocolate and hyperventilating about how she didn’t know if she was ready to be a mother (all stuff that has been repeated ad nauseam on a million different sitcoms). If she wants more than anything to be a mother, how come she didn’t make any more investment in the process than browsing online for a pram? And given the crisis at the DEO, how come no one from there called her? (That would have shown the work/mother dilemma, which ought to be big for Alex.) Also, Alex gushes how wonderful her mother was; why didn’t she call her when she was about to get a baby? The only consequence of this storyline was that we discovered that Kelly Olsen is also a lesbian, which makes her a potential partner for Alex. I don’t mind Alex and Kelly together, but I did not like this storyline.

Another problem with this episode is that there was nothing between Alex and Kara. The Alex-and-Kara relationship used to be the heart of the show. In this episode Kelly asks Alex what advice Kara would give, and Alex knows Kara well enough to say exactly what she would say – but that’s all we get, and that is not enough. Ever since Alex’s memories of Kara = Supergirl had to be wiped, their relationship has gone missing. Before Kara goes to the White House to get herself captured we see her in a conversation with James. She can confide in James, but not in Alex.

There’s a great tag at the end with Kara/Supergirl getting captured, and our discovering that President Baker is apparently aware of what has been going on in Kaznia. The rot goes all the way to the top.

Title musings: “Will the Real Miss Tessmacher Please Stand Up?” This phrase was the line (well, without "Tessmacher") in a show called To Tell the Truth, in which three people would all claim to be the same person, and where the question was what led to the reveal. (Thanks to Billie Doux for remembering this.) The obvious reference is to all the clones of Eve Tessmacher. But it is also a less obvious reference to Kara/Supergirl, who is not being her real self with respect to Lena and to Alex.

Bits and pieces

Historically Eve’s last name has been Teschmacher, but Amazon has spelled it Tessmacher and IMDb (owned by Amazon) has spelled it both ways. Sigh.

Since they used a similar technique with many copies of Manchester Black a few episodes back, I guess this is something that the special effects team has mastered. Or can do at less expense,

After Lena turned one of her heels into a knife, wouldn’t she be fighting funny? Having one foot in a high heel and the other not makes for an awkward gait.

I liked George Lockwood's story about his mother painting her tooth black.

Quotes

Alex: Must be strange to have a sibling with superpowers.

Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty: Let’s start with James Olsen because I would like to know how the hell he got superpowers.

Lena: Cut the crap, Eva Braun. You’re a backstabber and a liar.

Kelly: You care too much to fail, Alex.

Alex: What did your scars teach you?

George: I saw you today. Just another bitter, angry man.

Overall Rating

Much of this episode was quite good. I liked the Ben/George Lockwood storylines and the Kara/Lena stuff. Some of the dialogue was a little flat, but the directions of those stories were good. The Alex/Kelly thread, however, was forced and cliché and dragged down the episode. Two and a half out of four blue-tipped pain sticks.

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

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Yes, so agree, I am very much missing the Alex/Kara relationship.

It also feels odd that James has acquired superpowers, even though the story has been slowly and carefully introduced. I seem to enjoy superhero stories more when it's one superpowered person surrounded by regular people -- like early in this series, like early Buffy or Smallville. When it gets to the point where half the cast has superpowers... I can retain my fondness for the series, but I don't engage as much as I did.

Phyllis Strickland said...

I agree 1005 on the Kara baby story. It is the first time I fast forwarded through a plot line of any Arrow-verse show! It was total bunk and a waste of time. I really don’t like the kara character very much since she is not close to Kara. Not that I ever was a huge fan, they make her too neurotic for no good reason.

Also agree about James with super powers. why?? It doesn’t make sense.

Brainy often is the one with the best ideas and outlook.