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Supergirl: Season 6

Kara: “You're right. I can't beat it. But I am going to do everything I can to escape it. Even if it means I just get an inch further every day. And I'm sorry for everything you went through. But I would rather live through torture and do something than just exist for the sake of it. The House of El is meant for more than that.”

Twenty episodes in which Supergirl – postponed due to pandemic and pregnancy – finally winds up its last season.

I couldn’t watch most of the episodes when they came out. They were not available in my part of the world, and the pandemic kept me from traveling for many months. I did manage to catch a few episodes, but when watched out of order, they are confusing and boring.

However, when watched in order, the episodes make much more sense and I enjoyed the binge. And, as I’m so late, I’ll assume others have already seen most of these episodes and won’t concern myself with possible spoilers. And, as I'm reviewing 20 episodes all at once, this review will be longer than usual.

Although I enjoyed Season 6 once I got going properly, some of the approaches did not entirely work for me. Nevertheless, I could see what they were doing artistically and respect their choices. Also, on occasion the dialogue is stilted and they give us platitudes – yet those platitudes are truths we need to take to heart. Besides, Supergirl is based on comic books; platitudes are part of the package.

Bits and Pieces, or Random Remarks

Missing Melissa Benoist. Now, the actor carries many episodes, and in the episodes when she wasn’t around we often did have a young version of Supergirl. I expect there were both personal and personnel reasons for this: Melissa Benoist was a new mother when this was filming, and perhaps they want to groom the younger versions of Kara and Alex for a future show. Furthermore, despite the title Supergirl, the creators have chosen to make this into an ensemble show, and eventually we are expected to learn to take care of ourselves and not wait for a blonde Kryptonian to swoop in and save us. Still, I always miss Benoist when she’s not in an episode.

Mothers and motherhood! Nia Nal and Lena Luthor go off in search of their mothers, trying to glean wisdom and reassurance. These quests are challenging because both mothers seem to be dead, but, hey, this is television, when dead often only means "mostly dead," and many options are available. On the other side, the side of responsibility, Alex and Kelly adopt a little female alien and so get to explore motherhood from learning to be mothers themselves, which is so nice.

We met Kara’s mother in a previous season (as well as the evil twin aunt). This season we meet Kara’s father. However, Kara, at least at the end of the season, will get excellent advice from another mother figure, one who sets her on the right path. That would be Cat Grant, who finally returns and gets Kara to do the thing she really needs to do.

Echoes of Harry Potter. There were the phantoms from the Phantom Zone – which, of course, predates the Harry Potter books – but they were fleshed out in a dementor-like way and even had the effect of Boggarts. Then, the latter part of the season had our heroes and our villains searching for horcruxes, parts of the AllStone, while Nxyly did the same. But there were differences, too, so I have no accusations of plagiarism.

Wielding power. How many decisions should a person with power make for others? The officials in the government are quite angry when the Super Friends make choices that seriously inconvenience a large portion of the populace. Of course, the Super Friends are trying to save the planet, but it’s still annoying and a reduction of freedom. And rude, too, to do it without any warning.

Empowerment. We see characters learning to be superheroes, especially as Kelly, who has no alien superpowers, takes her steps to increase her strength and to train to use it. And then, near the end, Supergirl encourages everyone else to do the same.

Escapism v. wokeness. Supergirl is not just feminist but also liberal in its approach to what is just. After all, truth and justice are part of the super family mottos (American way was dropped last fall for a Better Tomorrow, so now Superman is for “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow”). The creators are certainly liberal in their approaches to racial issues, homeless issues, and the environment.

However, a number of user reviewers at imdb – and I suspect there are some deliberately swarming the site just to bring down the ratings – expressed discontent with this. I don’t object to the liberal direction in the show, but it was sometimes uncomfortable – which may have been the point.

Lex Luthor falls in love! And he writes really bad poetry. That was fun. I always enjoy Jon Cryer.

Spelling. I have chosen to spell Nxyly Nxyly. However, the internet has many variants.

Melissa Benoist sings! She sang in an earlier episode, but she performed poorly deliberately, which was such a waste, given that she was in Glee.

Some humans die. As this was the last season for the series, we had a few deaths of “unimproved” humans, so in this strand of the multiverse, they’ll actually stay dead.

Cameos of previous stars. In the last two episodes, many characters from previous seasons come back to help in the fight. Winn comes back (and sings with Kara). Mon-El (played by Melissa Benoist’s real-life husband). James Olsen (of course Kelly is his sister, so he sticks around for the wedding). Cat Grant also shows up, although not to fight the imps.

Arcs for most of the characters. Kelly tries to get everyone to understand racism (while telling us that most of us will never completely understand it, which is annoying but probably true). Brainy and Nia both grow and commit to each other on numerous levels. Alex and Kelly marry and start a family. And although we don’t see J’onn J’ones and M’gann commit to each other, we’re informed by some visitors from the future that they have descendants, so they must have mated or at least adopted someone. There’s an arc, too, for every person living on the planet, as they are also empowered.

The last means that Kara no longer has to be responsible for keeping humanity safe every minute of every day. The fact that her nearest and dearest are all fierce fighters also relieves her of certain burdens. So, at the end, she can take the step she needs to take to live her own life to the fullest – in order to hold a job, perhaps to have a relationship – she needs to stop lying. She needs to be just one person. At the end, she removes her glasses, and in a televised interview, Cat Grant introduces Kara as Supergirl to the world. This would not work if the series were to continue, but as it’s the last moment of the last episode of the series, it’s both OK in terms of the story as well as deeply satisfying emotionally.

Title musings and a remark or two for most of the episodes.

Episode 1: Rebirth. There are a couple of movies with this title, but I am not familiar with them. Who gets reborn? Alex gets the name and symbol “Sentinel” (after one of J’onn’s colleagues); Brainy returns to the light side (well, he always meant to be); Lex Luthor becomes mortal again; and half of humanity is freed from the mind control of Lex Luthor. We also have the rebirth also of the Lena/Kara friendship. But Supergirl is sent to the Phantom Zone, where she was trapped before.

Supergirl: I’ll give you what you always wanted.
Lex: What’s that? And don’t say hair. That’s low-hanging fruit.
(You’d think anyone, especially Lex, could have hair if he wanted it in this universe.)

Episode 2: A Few Good Women. A play on the title of the 1992 film, A Few Good Men, about a fictional navy trial. We have the trial of Lex Luthor, with many females taking part.

Lillian Luthor: Our family has always achieved selfish aims by appearing selfless.

Lex Luthor: I wasted so much time trying to buy, threaten or brainwash people into doing what I wanted. But apparently, people love a guy who tells it like it is. The key is, if you can get them to buy it long enough, they stop being able to discern whether you're telling it like it really is, or how you want them to believe it is.

Episode 3: Phantom Menaces. Obviously a play on the title of the Star Wars movie, although Nia and Brainy are much more into Star Trek. This title works as they’re dealing with phantoms from the Phantom Zone. Kara, who is actually in the Phantom Zone, inspires Nxyly, who gets back her magic.

Episode 4: Lost Souls. There was a movie called Lost Souls, starring Winona Ryder, but I have never seen it. This Supergirl episode contains many lost souls, as their bodies are possessed by phantoms. However, Lena is also lost, figuratively, as are Nxyly and Kara, literally.

Alex: All that really matters is that you did the right thing today.

Episode 5: Prom Night. I remember an old driver’s ed movie in black and white where high school students drink, drive and die after the prom; I believe it had this name. However, there’s another Prom Night movie, 2008, which I never saw. Anyway, this episode uses some talented young actors – who do Cat Grant, Kara Danvers, and Alex Danvers very well – and Nia and Brainy go back in time. Nicole Maines (Nia Nal) does a great job singing 9 to 5. Still, I miss our Melissa Benoist.

Episode 6: Prom Again. I don’t think there’s anything with this specific title, but we’re still back in Midvale, and within the episode, Nia and Brainy (and young Kara) travel back in time again. They put the timeline back into order (after messing it up) and get the sample of Kara’s blood (the McGuffin for the travel back in time).

Episode 7: Fear Knot. This is a play on the phrase "fear not," which is part of a Bible verse. An interesting ensemble episode (all but Kara, pretty much) where we see their worst fears played out (the Boggart reference); only J’onn and Brainy have any natural resistance.

Episode 8: Welcome Back, Kara. This title is a play on the title of a 1970s tv show Welcome Back, Kotter. Kara may be back on Earth but she's dealing with PTSD from her time in the phantom zone. I loved how they named the garbage clean up tech after Oscar from Sesame Street.

Zor-El: Once you can see the tipping point, it’s too late.

Hmm, I thought Krypton exploded, and I don’t see how dying oceans would lead to that. However, it's true that dying oceans are really bad.

Episode 9: Dream Weaver. This is also the title of a song by Gary Wright. Problems with housing for an alien.

Episode 10: Still I Rise. This is also title of a magnificent, completely relevant-to-the-episode poem by Maya Angelou.

I loved the healthy eating PSA.

Brainy: The fight for systemic change often feels never-ending. All we can do is keep showing up.

Episode 11: Mxy in the Middle. This title is play on the the of the TV series Malcolm in the Middle. The imp Mxy is literally in middle as both Supergirl and Nxyly summon him at same time. And it's relief to get away from the problems that we actually face; sometimes we need escapism.

Episode 12: Blind Spots. A very mixed episode, with its own blind spots. Kelly is angry at the super friends for not doing more to help those in the hospital, while the super friends are working to catch Nxyly. As the imp is threatening to end all of earth or something like that it kind of should take their priority, especially as what Kelly is working on doesn’t require superpowers, but we can understand Kelly’s point of view. Or maybe we can’t, because she tells us we can’t.

Episode 13: The Gauntlet. This is also the title of a Clint Eastwood film from 1977. This is all about the courage fragment of the Allstone. It feels a bit like the search for a horcrux, especially with a connection between the imp and the Kryptonian. The episode has lots of Easter eggs with respect to the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. Nxyly wins the competition with Kara; only at the end of the series do we learn where Kara’s courage was lacking.

Episode 14: Magical Thinking. I’m not aware of this being used as a title anywhere else, but in psychology, magical thinking refers to a person’s connecting different events even when there is no evidence for a connection. The title works in that Lena, who has learned her mother was a witch (and so is she) needs to think magically to take on the magical imps. The phrase is being used literally instead of pejoratively.

Episode 15: Hope for Tomorrow. Apparently this phrase serves as the name of several charities, but I did not find anything artistic with this as a title. This episode has Nxyly and Supergirl both working to find the hope totem part of the Allstone, and everyone feels that Supergirl has the advantage.

Episode 16: Nightmare in National City. The title is a play on titles such as Nightmare on Elm Street. With a title like this, of course we feature Dreamer. Kara realizes she cannot be Supergirl and a reporter at CatCo. She quits her position as a journalist.

Episode 17: I Believe in a Thing Called Love. This title evokes the title of the song, A Little Thing Called Love. Lex is back – and he’s in love! Our Lex! Alex and Kelly take the next step.

Episode 18: Truth or Consequences. When I was little, a very long time ago, Bob Barker had a show called Truth or Consequences. The characters are looking for the Truth part of the Allstone. Note that Andrea publishes some truths (but lies about the provenances) and the consequences are severe.

Episode 19: The Last Gauntlet. I couldn’t find another movie/song/piece of literature with this in the title. I guess someone in the writers room liked the word gauntlet.

Episode 20: Kara. Again, no title references. In this last episode, we say farewell to many characters, so we get slow emotions instead of a lot of action, and many romantic commitments are made. However, instead of giving Supergirl a romantic ending – thank goodness they did not! – Kara is made whole by taking off her glasses and revealing her identity to the world, allowing her to be true to herself. And that was where she needed courage: to be herself instead of maintaining two identities.

Overall rating

It’s hard to score a season with so many good and bad pieces. I’d say the episodes range between a 2 and a 3.5, with the season overall ranging from 2.5 to 3 red capes. I enjoyed it, and, when I'm in the mood, I may watch it again.

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

3 comments:

  1. Victoria, thank you so much for finishing Supergirl! We round-robined the first couple of seasons, but you've been diligently reviewing this show since season three and I so appreciate it.

    I had mixed feelings about this final season. I also missed Melissa Benoist when she was away. I really liked that Lena was finally a functioning, full member of the team, but was uninterested in the witch plot. I also liked that Kelly finally came into her own.

    It was nice to see Kara get to know her father in the Phantom Zone, but Nxyly did absolutely nothing for me, and I found the Lex-in-love-with-Nxyly genuinely annoying. Way to dilute an outstanding villain, guys. And I'm deeply liberal, but a lot of the social justice stuff this season went overboard, I totally agree.

    The last episode was terrific. Way to go out, show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The conflicted message of "You must understand" and "You can never understand" is rather difficult to keep receiving.

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  2. So I'll admit I enjoyed the finale and some of the season, I thought both the Phantom Plot and the Nxyly plot dragged on too long. Lex in love with Nxyly was just weird and slightly off putting, they had no chemistry and I kept hoping for some kind of redemption arc for Nxyly but never got it.

    It was nice to see Esme with Kelly and Alex, but Alex got very possessive very quickly and some of the motivations and dialogue choices made little sense.

    Williams death also left me ambivalent, which is a shame because he wasn't a bad character. He was just yet another aborted romance for Kara, because the writers didn't want to go with the best and most obvious choice... I'll stop with my ship rant.

    Overall I do agree with your rating, thank you for the review Victoria and congratulations on finishing the series!

    ReplyDelete

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