This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Episode 12
Bizarro stories are tough. On the one hand, they’re all Frankenstein riffs, and there’s only so many ways you can do that dance, and most Frankenstein stories don’t end up being all that faithful to the actual intent of the story anyway.
You can go too far towards the shambling sympathetic monster thing, or you can get completely ridiculous with it. And the first Bizarro story pretty much always has to be the same thing. “Why does this creature look like Superman? Oh, it means well. Now they have to fight. Poor thing.” etc.
But “Bizarro” walks the line nicely. We get about as plausible an origin story as you can ever hope to get in one of these. We get some convincing/cool Bizarro make-up. We get some genuinely thrilling fight sequences that mix impressive choreography with even more impressive wire-work. It ain’t perfect, but once again, I have to swish my cape at a show that has made high-powered Kryptonian storytelling look better than it ever has on the small screen, and that’s by a considerable margin.
Most importantly, though, and this is the thing that Supergirl most often gets right, is that there is a warm, sympathetic heart to the story. Kara’s steadfast refusal to see Bizarro as purely a monster is perfectly in keeping with her character (and Superman’s when he’s being done right, too). But it’s Jimmy’s willingness to be almost defiantly sympathetic in the face of impending death that I think really gets the prize this week. You’re damn right this guy would be Superman’s best pal and the guy that Supergirl develops a crush on. After that, even the “I’ll hold your hand until you fall asleep” bit doesn’t quite compare…and that was still plenty effective!
So what’s the problem? What stops it? Well, pretty much the same thing that stops every other episode of Supergirl just short of greatness. It’s the pacing.
Throughout this season there have been so many bits that have either felt thoroughly rushed or are so completely tedious that you never quite know what they’re building to in the first place. Kara’s “romance” with Adam (not to mention his reconciliation with his mother) is a particularly egregious example of the former. While the Kara/Jimmy/Wynn angle is the latter. You’d think that having Melissa Benoist’s actual husband (Blake Jenner) on screen with her would generate some actual romantic chemistry. Perhaps it would have worked if we ever had time to give a damn about Adam, or actually believe in their little romance. Here, in the midst of “Bizarro” antics, it felt woefully out of place.
The upside of Kara’s improbable little whatever with Adam was that it gave Cat Grant some time to shine. “I guess I’ll go roam the hallways of my building,” should go down as a classic when this season ends. On the other hand, I still haven’t quite forgiven this show for turning her into an idiot after figuring out Kara’s secret in the first place.
As a quick side note: did we miss an episode somewhere? Is something airing out of sequence? This is now the second week in a row with Jimmy seemingly being awfully cool on his feelings towards Lucy Lane, as if something isn’t right between the two, but I don’t remember it ever being addressed. Considering how little I’m invested in that relationship, though, I shouldn’t complain. To young Mr. Schott’s credit, though, I felt he redeemed himself this week. I was especially hard on him in “Childish Things,” which I maintain is the only genuinely bad episode of the season so far (although there have been a handful of other forgettable ones).
There is no longer any escaping or dressing up the fact that Maxwell Lord is a tremendous drag. My worst fears keep getting reinforced, that he’s simply here as a half-assed Lex Luthor stand-in. This isn’t a question of me taking issue with a not terribly faithful translation of a comic book character, this is me taking issue with a TV character meant to be a major villain on an important superhero TV show being little more than a collection of tropes and tired dialogue. Max Lord needs to become far more interesting, and fast, if Supergirl ever hopes to wow audiences like The Flash did in its best moments last year. On the other hand, he did a nice job of vocalizing my biggest ongoing problem with The Flash, which is that show’s complete willingness to just lock people up for life without a trial.
“Bizarro” might not quite be the breakout episode of Supergirl that I’ve been hoping for, the one that finally fulfills all of the show’s potential, and silences me at my crankiest. It is, however, a solid piece of superhero TV, and one of the best episodes of the series so far. If they can just smoothe out a couple of little things…
Kryptonian Memory Crystals
– Bizarro was originally a Superboy villain, and first appeared in Superboy #68 in 1958. That’s right, Bizarro is old enough to be your grandbizarro. We have an entire history of Bizarro right here.
– Raise your hand if you want me to write an article just about the excellent Bizarro episodes of the Superboy TV series that only I give a damn about.
– It’s said that there are potentially seven Bizarro clones in waiting. The gang just assumes that this means she was the seventh attempt. But she’s probably only the first. You know what that makes her? Bizarro #1.
– The “opposite Kryptonite” that they developed was blue in color. In the comics, Blue Kryptonite is the one that effects Bizarro. I also seem to remember some Super Friends cartoons where Blue Kryptonite could serve as an antidote if Supes was poisoned by Green K, or could reverse the weird, unpredictable effects of Red Kryptonite. You kids wanna talk about Kryptonite? I can do this all day.
– Also, the bit about Bizarro having “opposite” powers, like flame breath, is a fairly recent (if nonsensical) addition to Bizarro lore. Not that I’m complaining. It’s frakkin’ Bizarro.
– So, ummmm…did that one cannon hit Bizarro so hard that it turned her “S” backwards? Did I fall asleep and miss a scene or something?
– I dug the “horror movie” pipe organ style music it cut to at the commercial breaks. Cute touch.
– That was a pretty awesome looking Black Mercy at the end of the episode, but I have to keep my mouth shut until next week, but holy moley, I’m excited.
Mike Cecchini could very well just turn Den of Geek into a site full of obscure Superman trivia. Talk him out of it on Twitter.