April 11, 2016

Thoughts on Supergirl 1x19 “Myriad”

This was an incredibly clunky script.

I’m actually very disappointed by this, considering the fairly solid block of episodes prior to this one, with engaging character moments, improved pacing, and an overall sense of solidity. “Myriad” didn’t have a whole lot of that for me, but I’ll start with the good.

The opening between Kara and Lucy at the DEO was awesome, I could really feel the pain Kara felt of having to go up against Lucy and losing her. More fuel for my otp definitely! That fight between Kara and Maxima was sweet, and that takedown move was fucking brilliant! Great use of slow-mo here! Not sure what the opening act of this was for however, as Kara solves the problem and defeats Maxima fairly easily and then locks up all the prisoners anyway. This could’ve easily been cut and we could’ve started with Kara going to the Fortress of Solitude and we would’ve lost very little. I still liked the opening for all that it didn’t flow into the rest of the episode.

I have to say I also really liked the scene on the terrace between Cat and Kara. Sure, Kara’s half of the dialogue is all messed up (I’ll get to that), but Cat’s speech to her about not being afraid, of finding strength not through reacting in fear, but through an intelligent deployment of faith in the human spirit. That is something that this show has had running through it for most of the season, and it was nice to have that summed up here, especially before an inevitable battle. It’s a good speech and it weaves together some nice themes of hope and believing in the betterment of humankind. It also ties in with the main Kara-related thread for this episode and presumably the finale: she won’t be able to stop this threat through punching things. She’ll need to think her way out this time, and that’s awesome, because so many superhero films have big action climaxes, and I’m sure we’ll have one here too, but if they do it right, we could end up with not only that but also a firm grounding of the action in a more thought-based and consequently heroic ideology.

In principle, I liked the moral debate that Max, Non, and Kara all have with one another at various points in the episode, how the betterment of humankind can only come about through fear, through enslavement. It reminded me a lot of the ending of Allen Moore’s Watchmen. Not nearly as complex, obviously, but the spirit of that I felt was here. I also love the side-eye this is throwing at the DCEU, how Lord’s plan is essentially the same thing as Zack Snyder’s in that movie. And Kara’s and Cat’s objections to this seem to me to be exactly the words of the fans: what good will all this destruction do? How will this help the human race if we destroy everything? We’re not heroes if we do this. Again, it played nicely into the above thread of Kara needing to come up with an alternative to Max’s plan, to the DCEU formula of “hit it and punch everything into oblivion to solve the problem.”

In practice, though, the whole moral dilemma thing doesn’t pan out very well, and I guess this is a good time to bring in the problems of the episode that I had, and as always, this is just my opinion, I’m not trying to antagonize anyone… just thought I’d clear that up.

With “Myriad,” we have a script that treats its characters, especially Max and Cat, as mouthpieces for speeches instead of imbuing them with heart. I have to say too that the acting for this is tonally off from what should be a fairly dark moment in the show. Granted, no one wants depressing Batman V. Superman stuff here, but the way Flockhart and Facinelli say their lines, you’d think they were in a completely different point in the show, substituting emotion in for a snark-like tone that takes the punch out of almost every line. This drags down the potentially poignant conversations that these characters have with one another about the bomb plan and hope and all that… I don’t know, I feel like there should’ve been more weight behind all of this.

The problematic pacing that this series has struggled with is made especially prevalent here too because this is essentially the first half of a two-hour episode, so the tightness is all but lost. I also didn’t find the Alex/J’onn scenes to work very well either. Don’t get me wrong, these two are great on screen and I like watching them, but their story feels so tangential to what’s going on, it just didn’t flow as strongly as it could’ve. It’s made worse I think by the fact that the Cadmus thing came out of nowhere two episodes ago and now Alex is back…with nothing happening to her in the interim; they were “on [their] way” to Cadmus when they heard what was going on, so what the hell? This could’ve set up for another story down the road, but oh well. I’m sure we’ll get back to this eventually.

Overall, this is an odd episode. It doesn’t have the weight that I feel it should, and being that it’s basically only one half of a larger episode makes it feel very set-up like, piecemeal in its presentation. However, there were some good moments, and as always a nice beating heart of hope running through this. I am looking forward to the finale and am interested to see how they resolve this seeminigly unbeatable threat.

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