Supergirl: The Wrath of Rama Khan

Gamemnae: “Earthquakes with no death counts, floods with the ferocity of a leaky faucet.”

Supergirl's struggle against Leviathan reaches a boiling point as she faces off against Rama Khan. Meanwhile, as Lena and Hope work to launch Project Non Nocere (do no harm), Hope proves to be an invaluable asset to Lena.

Two relationships are central to this episode: Kara/Lena and Kara/Alex. Lena has fairly good reason to be angry with Kara, who said she would never lie to Lena. Kara goes to the hideout but cannot get inside. Then she goes to the DEO and asks Brainy to send a hologram of her into the hideout so that she can speak to Lena. Lena doesn’t want to listen, but Alex has used the hologram to insert a virus into the hideout, so that they can take down the defenses.

This makes Kara feel as if she has betrayed Lena again, and at first she’s upset with Alex. A strength of this episode was having some real time with Kara and Alex, where Kara is begging Alex to spare Lena’s life (don’t use the Claymore!) and Alex pointing out her job is to save all people, and not just Lena. She also points out several things that Lena has done that have been a betrayal of Kara (or, at least, of Supergirl). I was glad to see this. Lena, too, has not always been completely trustworthy.

Rama Khan is mad at all of humanity and wants to hit the reset button, in this case, a supervolcano. He insists he’s a god and he does cause some earthquakes, although he seems to have some trouble due to the fact that Acrata has usurped the power of the medallion. The Rama Khan gives something for Supergirl to fight against, and some good campy comic book fun. It is not, however, very deep.

This is happening at the same time as Lena is also planning to use Myriad to alter humanity, by making them nicer to each other. What is nice is that these crises really have very little to do with each other. Yes, the same heroes have to fight both crises, but they're not really tied to each other.

Alex, after a heart-to-heart with J’onn, cannot go against her sister, and finally decides to trust Kara and J’onn and even Malefic (who mind-controlled her for a while) and try to fight Lena in a manner that won’t kill her. Malefic can use his abilities to fight Lena’s use of the Myriad weapon – but for him to be strong enough, the people at the DEO need to remove their psychic inhibitors. This is a huge act of trust on Alex’s part, but she gives the order.

Hope is ready to sacrifice herself for Lena, first by going outside to straighten out the arrays (I liked how the earthquakes messed them up) and then by letting herself be blamed for all that happened. Lena’s instigation of this makes me wonder just how “good” Lena really is. Of course, Hope recently reminded Lena that Hope is not her friend, but a thing that Lena built.

The episode dances around several questions, which I’d like to explore more, but perhaps going too deep into them is being too obvious. For example, friendship. We are all imperfect beings. Should real friendship involve forgiveness, or does friendship mean never doing something that would seriously offend a friend? But the thing that’s bothering me more, and not receiving any attention, is the interference with humanity. We can all cry out that Rama Khan should be stopped, as killing off 95% of the planet is really drastic. But should Lena be stopped? Wouldn’t getting rid of the ability to harm others be a good thing? Or is it taking away free will? There are many arguments that our will is a lot less free than we care to believe – and we all know that we're subject to advertising and lots of other campaigns to make us think/feel/do one thing instead of another. How is Non Nocere any different? I hope we get to see it in action at some point, but for now, she’s been stymied.

I thought the end included a beautiful segue: Lena, looking at a photo of her and Kara, to Kara, looking at the same photo. Their friendship, even if it is over, had Lena fighting to turn off the kryptonite, and had Kara arguing with Alex to spare Lena. They both still care.

And with the tag at the end: somehow Lex Luthor has been brought back from the dead, just in time to create the crisis of infinite earths. Always a treat to see Jon Cryer! And he’s rather pissed at his sister, as she killed him the last time they were together. I look forward to watching, but not reviewing, the crossover episodes. (J.D. will be reviewing next week's Supergirl "Crisis" episode.)

Title musings. Supergirl often uses the title of another literary or artistic endeavor as the title for its episode. I have not seen that “The Wrath of Rama Khan” is used anywhere else; however, a close variant, The Wrath of Khan, is one of the better Star Trek films. How well does the title work for this episode? Well, we had a guy called Rama Khan and he was certainly pretty wrathful. However, it was the weakest storyline of the episode and didn’t really relate to the other parts.

Bits and pieces

In this episode they addressed the question that went both unasked and unanswered last time: how did Malefic get out of the Phantom Zone? They ask it, and we learn the answer too: He was never there!

How like Lex to set all sorts of booby-traps in his hideout. It reminds me of a recent incident in Maine.

Brainy refers to the Cenozoic Era. By the way, we’re in the Cenozoic Era, also known as the age of mammals. It started 66 million years ago.

The largest eruption in history (that means when humans were writing things down) was not Pompeii, but Mount Tambora, which exploded in Indonesia in 1815, killing about 71,000. The eruption caused 1816 to be known as the year without a summer in Europe. It also led to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as she and her friends were spending the “summer” in Geneva and as they ended up having to spend so much time indoors, telling, and then later inventing, ghost stories.

One could argue that the largest extinction event on our planet was caused by photosynthesis, which "poisoned" the atmosphere by releasing lots of O2. Before that everything was anaerobic. Some anaerobic life went into hiding, while the rest of life evolved into forms that need oxygen. But oxygen is responsible for lots of not-so-good chemical reactions, such as causing iron to rust, and in German the word is "Sauerstoff" – or material that makes other things go sour.

Acrata realizes she has not made great choices. At least we got to see the CatCo building.

I’ve remarked on this before, but it’s still true: I love the car that J’onn uses for space travel – like him, it’s a shapeshifter. Alas, the car is gone, but I hope this is the last of the Malefic thread.

Quotes

Alex: Where are you going?
Kara: To fix this.

Lena: We don’t kill people. No matter how much they’ve hurt us.

Supergirl: I’m not going to give up on you.

Rama Khan: Extinction level events have been happening since the dawn of time.

Alex: She doesn’t understand how hard this is for me. I mean, Lena is my friend, too, and now all of a sudden I’m supposed to decide where I should risk everybody’s lives just to save hers?

Hope: But, Ms. Luthor, I’m not your friend. I’m something you created to serve a purpose.

Brainy: It’s basic math.

Lena: This is a life lesson to learn. Sometimes the good guys don’t win.

J’onn: You were never meant to be the pariah, Malefic. You were meant to be the promise.

Overall Rating

An enjoyable episode, but they’re still avoiding some of the big questions. Three out of four copies of Paradise Lost.

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

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

I enjoyed watching Mitch Pileggi chew the furniture and J'onn and Malefic working together, but I'm still frustrated with the Lena plot.

Victoria, I loved your bit about Pompeii, Mount Tambora and the Byron-Shelley 1816 house party, a really delightful historical event which was the setting of my favorite episode of Highlander. :)