[WARNING: This is a review of Supergirl Season 1, Episode 12. There will be SPOILERS.]
After spending a week off of the lager storylines surrounding its leading lady, Supergirl returns with a villain torn right from the comic book pages. The character may be best known as an enemy of Supergirl's Kryptonian cousin, but no matter the details, a 'Bizarro' showdown is almost always must-see TV for comic book fans.
In "Bizarro", directed by John Showalter and written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Rachel Shukert, Kara (Melissa Benoist) finds that building a romance with Adam (Blake Jenner) isn't meant to be, once Maxwell Lord's (Peter Facinelli) master plan is put into motion, sending National City's Supergirl up against a strange doppelganger. And, as always, heartbreak of forlorn men are left floundering in the show's wake.
To a skeptic, the injection of a 'Bizarro Supergirl' seems like another case of the show's writers taking a well known part of Superman mythology and shamelessly copying it for their own purposes. It's hard to dispute that claim (since it is absolutely the case), especially since the creature is once again the creation of Lex Luth-- excuse us, Maxwell Lord. The writers do make an effort to turn Bizarro into something more than a mindless Frankenstein monster, but easily fits in alongside the other 'monster of the week' villains to date.
The good news, though, is that viewers hoping to see a superpowered showdown won't leave disappointed. Although seeing a battle between fire breath and ice breath probably still falls short of the CG-fueled knock down, drag outs of the comic book page, the finished scenes are more entertaining than mindless (a difference that almost every comic TV show struggles to define). Add in the Kryptonite twist turning Bizarro from a perfect clone to the zombified villain most fans know, and the action - if not the drama or comedy - seems locked into place series wide.
For those who enjoy seeing a female hero in the center of the action, that's a relief. But those hoping to see the direction/scale/budget change will have to accept that it's working for the showrunners.
Unfortunately, the same level of adequate-to-impressive results can't be applied to the presumed 'big bad' of the first season, Maxwell Lord. By first spending time with Maxwell in his corporate world, it seemed like the show's writers were out out to prove that he wasn't really just a Lex Luthor under a different name. But this week, that theory took a beating. There may be some who enjoy seeing Lord uttering "it's alive!" or using the thinnest (yet somehow completely devout) justification that "Supergirl is bad," but we're not among them.
Seeing a superpowered Frankenstein taking on the show's hero with no real reason other than "Supergirl bad, kill Supergirl" is one thing, but when a touted, intelligent, inventive nemesis is using just as simple a motive, it's hard to hate, or even love to hate them.
Too Many Roosters in The Hen House
It's no secret that audiences have taken issue with the use of romance, or more specifically, unrequited love in the series so far. With the Kara/Winn/James love triangle failing to not just progress for most of the season, but do anything of actual interest, the writers instead decided to double down. Not only would Winn, one of the most easygoing, humorous cast members be left moping, with James and Lucy now sharing intimate moments so Kara can intrude on them, but Cat's (Calista Flockhart) son Adam would add even more complications.
Or he could have, if the oversaturation of angst hadn't reached new limits, as Kara realized she couldn't pursue a relationship with him because... well, the only real reason she gives is that her superheroics are getting in the way. Aside from being overkill, since Kara actually having a healthy relationship with a man would be refreshing, it shines a strangely belittling light on a heroine claimed to be a feminist icon.
The love triangles aren't a crime in themselves; it's their meager results that are the problem. Kara can't be with Winn because she doesn't 'like him like that.' She can't be with James because James is with Lucy (presumably a happy relationship, though we see none of it). Winn informs us this week that Kara could be with James if James would just allow her, which raises even stranger problems. And finally, Kara can't be with Adam because clearly, she can't be with anybody.
No hero needs to be powerful in every context, since vulnerability and indecision can make a character seem relatable. But with so much of the emotional side of the show planted in these stalled bonds, the show can and will only gain steam once they do.
Supergirl will return with "For The Girl Who Has Everything" next Monday @8pm. Check out a preview below: