Sunday, 7 May 2017

COMICS TO SCREEN: Supergirl 2-19 & The Flash 3-20


Last week's episode, "Ace Reporter," wasn't the greatest in Supergirl's run. We had a great guest spot from Rahul Kohli (aka Ravi in iZombie), and some good moments between Kara and Lena Luthor, but the episode on a whole was pretty procedural and uninventive. Things picked up a lot this week with an episode that, as the title suggests, revolved entirely around Alex and her relationships. It must have been a hell of an episode to film as well; Chyler Leigh is put through the ringer here, spending half of the episode submerged in water. No wonder she was barely in last week's episode; she probably needed a holiday.
While this is a series about Kara, so far this season it's been Alex who's had the most interesting storylines. Her relationship with Maggie, her difficult position at the DEO, split between personal and professional concerns, and her ongoing responsibility for Kara's wellbeing have seen her being pulled in every direction. Maggie is the most interesting of these relationships, though, a genuinely well portrayed romantic relationship between two women with serious, high pressure occupations. Maggie clearly isn't an easy person to be in a relationship with, but it's easy to see why Alex wants to be with her. The final moments of the episodes, when they declare their love for each other, is just beautiful. Chyler Leigh and Florian Lima have wonderful chemistry.
The plot of the episode wasn't anything complex. Some pissed-off loser who lusted after Alex at school wants to hurt her because she rebuked him, or is more successful than him, or is gay, or whatever other issue he has, but he's worked out that Kara is Supergirl and wants to use that to get his murdering dad out of jail. He abducts Alex to use as a bargaining chip. It's all fairly predictable (although at one point I did wonder if they'd actually surprise us and kill Alex off), but it's all extremely well-played. It's not about the plot, but the relationships between the characters. Maggie and Kara don't see eye-to-eye because Supergirl's strong-arm tactics clash with the police's more careful approach (OK, maybe that's harder to believe). Kara doesn't cope without Alex to support her, and there are some nice moments between her and J'onn. On the periphery, Lena's story develops in an unexpected direction. It's forty-five minutes of television drama that's primarily about relationships and features all female characters for much of its runtime, and still is an action-packed and gripping story.
Oh, and apparently James wasn't in this episode. I hadn't noticed he was missing.


Meanwhile, The Flash barrels on to its finale, and things are getting interesting now. The Savitar storyline has not been gripping me; it's a third year with an evil speedster as the Big Bad and it feels like there's little more they can do with the concept. Even having him from the future isn't especially interesting, because Thawne/Reverse-Flash was also from the future. The mythological aspects to the character are different, though, indicating a real ego trip for the villain, but, until now, Savitar has been a monster, not a character. That changed with the big reveal at the end of this episode, which finally revealed the villain's true identity. I won't spoil it here, because not everyone will have seen it yet and the reveal is very well played. Suffice to say, of all the possibilities, it is the most satisfying, and it was also the popular opinion in Suz and Dan's Flat of Awesome. Actually, Suz guessed it ages ago, although we then second and third-guessed ourselves until we convinced ourselves we were wrong.
Last week we had a very effective trip to the future as part of Barry's quest to prevent Iris's death, in "The Once and Future Flash." "I Know Who You Are" follows on from that episode's revelation that one Tracy Brand will invent a way to trap Savitar, albeit too late to save Iris. Team Flash track down failing physicist Tracy, played delightfully quirkily by Anne Dudek. HR immediately falls for her, and they share some fine chemistry, which this version of Wells ahs been lacking with the main team. I think it's pretty clear that Caitlyn is not coming back, and will either remain as the villainous Killer Frost or be killed off at the end of the season. Tracy is obviously being set up as replacement lady scientist, and frankly I think this is a fine plan. She's a far more likeable presence on the team after only one episode.
The other main strand of the episode is Joe's relationship with Cecille. The couple finally admit their love for each other (Joe somewhat reluctantly), and while it doesn't hold a candle to the similar developments in Supergirl, it's still a strong element for the story. Joe really has been through the emotional wringer this season, arguably as much as Barry, and it's clear that it's taking its toll on him. We know that someone major is going to die by the time the season's done, and I fear that all signs point to Joe, who is being pushed to try to protect Iris, Cecille and Barry and who has never been afraid of stepping into the line of fire.
Three episodes left, and things can only get harder for Team Flash.

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