Supergirl: Childish Things review

The Toyman finally makes his debut on Supergirl with "Childish Things." Here's Mike's review...

This Supergirl review contains spoilers.

Supergirl Episode 10

I’m going to give everyone here an escape hatch before you read the rest of this review. I genuinely look forward to watching Supergirl every week and the fact that I get to review it as part of my job is a bonus. I think that this show, pound for pound, is one of the best things to happen to the Superman legend since Superman: The Animated Series. I’m rooting for it.

I’m starting with that disclaimer so I’m not called a “hater” when I point out what a lousy episode “Childish Things” is. Supergirl has been a very good show, and I think the potential is here for it to become better than anyone expected, much like The Flash did around the middle of its season last year. The thing is, in order for that to happen, an expensive show that has yet to secure its second season order can’t afford to deliver another episode as stilted and dull as “Childish Things.” This episode peaked with the (genuinely wonderful) opening sequence of Kara and J’onn J’onzz flying together, but then it was a very steep downhill from there.

The Toyman (more on him below) is a generally dull but inoffensive Superman villain, and he would have been a dull but inoffensive villain of the week under ordinary circumstances. But his ties to a major member of the supporting cast, in this case perpetual nice guy and confidante Winn Schott, meant that we had to go through every tired “we’re the same” trope under the sun.

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Did anyone really buy for one second that Winn was going to break under his father’s influence? Of course you didn’t. You’re all smarter than that. Are any of you not completely exhausted and bored by his “nice guy/unrequited love” schtick? Because this was tired after week two, and adding…whatever it is they added to the mix at the end of this episode…didn’t do it any favors.

See, none of the romantic angles on this show work, even when everything else does. Kara’s unrequited crush on Jimmy is fine, because there’s at least a hint of chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Mehcad Brooks. But the ongoing Lucy/Jimmy romance is an impossible bore, and there’s only so many episodes of Kara gazing longingly at the two of them with Winn gazing at Kara from the shadows, lacking only a trilby to complete his picture, before this turns into Smallville. I’m still not sure what Lucy is doing at CatCo, and I’m not sure I care.

Yes, Cat Grant gets some wonderful lines this episode, and was one of the few who didn’t seem to be phoning it in. But then I remember the possibly irreperable damage the show did to her character with the secret identity double switch, something not even alluded to this week, and I’m brought down. Cat Grant, for all her quirks, needs to be the smartest person in the room in order to compete. She absolutely was this week (that’s good!), assuming you forgot about the events of the last couple of episodes (that’s not so good).

I’ll stop picking on a cast who I generally like, though, and instead try not to think about the hackneyed death traps (Quicksand? Really?), Kara’s sudden over reliance on super breath, and the fact that the FBI gleefully opened fire with automatic weapons at a crowded Toy Fair. Well, I guess it was supposed to be crowded. That sequence appeared to take place in a hastily dressed church gymnasium. 

And then, just when I thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, we were treated to my least favorite thing on broadcast television: the bland, indistinguishable, soulless Starbucks music used to underscore the emotional import of an episode’s final scene. Supergirl is far from the only show guilty of this, and there needs to be an indefinite moratorium on its deployment. Using it as part of a scene that essentially makes Alex Danvers look like a complete buffoon, plus Maxwell Lord doing all but twirling a mustache and wearing a top hat made it all the more indefensible.

“Childish Things” wasn’t the kind of aggressively terrible that, for example, I found some episodes of Gotham to be. Those would make me question my very sanity as I wondered whether the writers were deliberately crafting the show in such a way as to see how much they could get away with before the audience realizes that we’re being made fun of. No, it was nothing like that. But to say that “Childish Things” tried to stretch 30 minutes of story over its hour would be a generous appraisal. The end result was an episode that felt much longer than its actual run time, and for all the wrong reasons.

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Kryptonian Memory Crystals

– The Toyman has been around far longer than Supergirl, and almost as long as Superman himself. Winslow Schott first appeared in Action Comics #64 back in 1943, and was considered notable enough even then to make it onto the cover with Supes.

He’s always been a bit of a one-note villain, though, usually trotted out as an example of how poor Superman’s rogues gallery is (that’s nonsense, by the way, Luthor, Brainiac, and Mongul alone are better than at least half of Batman’s tired, flamboyant madmen). But yeah, ol’ Mr. Schott isn’t exactly the most distinguished. He is, however, less evil than former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.

But hey, they got the glasses right!

– Cameron Chase was a DEO Agent in the comics, created by Dan Curtis Johnson and the brilliant JH Williams III in 1998. She’s primarily known as a Batwoman supporting character these days, though.

– Chester Dunholtz played a role in the comic book Toyman’s origins, too. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Chester we got on the show is better than the one we got in the comics. You see, the comic book Chester was a neighbor who stole one of Winslow’s beloved toys, thus setting him on a life of…oh, for cryin’ out loud. You get the idea.

– You can also spot two other incarnations of Toyman in the episode. The talking doll in the jail cell looks quite a bit like the version of Toyman from Superman: The Animated Series, while the doll that is sent to CatCo looks like the Jack Nimball version of the character, who is probably most famous for his appearances as a member of the Legion of Doom on Challenge of the Super Friends.

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– When J’onn/Henshaw makes reference to having been hiding on Earth for about 50 years before he took Hank’s form, some crude math probably puts the death of Dad Danvers around 10 years ago (which is when J’onn took on Hank’s form). 50 years before that incident would be roughly 1955…the same year that the Martian Manhunter first appeared in Detective Comics #225. Cool, right?

– Kara makes reference to being “isolated and alone.” This has come up before, and every time, that choice of words isn’t accidental. That’s what Lara feared about how Kal-El would feel on Earth at the beginning of Superman: The Movie.

You may let me know what other DC Comics references I missed, or simply direct your hate mail to me on Twitter if you so choose.


1.5 out of 5