This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Episode 20
I’ve been just this side of a cheerleader for Supergirl all season long. I love the cast. I love the tone (mostly). And I love that it strikes exactly the right balance when telling a story about the House of El between optimism and selflessness with plenty of superpowered action. And for the record, no TV show has ever handled Kryptonian action as well as Supergirl has.
But I’m not blind to the show’s faults, either, and there have been plenty this season. It occasionally veers a little too far into the sentimental. This is a CBS show, so it has an irritating tendency to play it safe, and it never took the chances that The Flash did during its first season. We never really got a sense that the season’s big villains were really all that bad.
So, it pains me to say it, because I wanted this show to go out on the strongest possible note, especially since Supergirl Season 2 has yet to be confirmed. But “Better Angels” wasn’t one of the show’s stronger efforts. A handful of moments aside, it wasn’t really worthy of being the season finale, either.
I praised “Myriad” last week because it felt different and daring. It was a genuine attempt to raise the stakes in an off-kilter way, and while it didn’t always work, I felt like it was holding something in reserve for a spectacular final act. But “Better Angels” wasn’t that. It was, primarily, an afterthought. I false finish with an unnecessary countdown and some painfully overwritten dialogue. It managed to feel both ponderous and rushed.
The actual “Myriad” resolution was handled in the first act of this episode, and it would have been more effective as the conclusion to that episode. While Melissa Benoist was absolutely convincing, and this is exactly the kind of solution you would see deployed in Bronze Age Superman (or Supergirl) comics (and the vintage TV studio background was totally appropriate for that reason), it was too talky, and after a week away from the series, it didn’t have the dramatic weight it should have.
To move directly from that into a “now the stakes are even higher and the world will end in four hours” scenario was a miscalculation. At this point, it was just an excuse to let Kara and J’onn throw some punches, since they didn’t really get to do that the week before. It was an excuse to get Kara to voice her feelings to every core member of the cast, and for a show that has been so very in touch with its feelings all season long, that was completely unnecessary. Virtually all of the emotional moments were right on the money…there were just too many of them.
But despite all this, I can’t hate “Better Angels.” At its core, this is another perfect example of what that “S” is supposed to stand for. Supergirl’s willingness to make the ultimate self-sacrifice wasn’t taken lightly. The final moments with her flying Fort Rozz up into space looked tremendous, although I’m a little disappointed that her fight with Non (a baddie who never really made much of himself anyway) amounted to an angry staring contest.
It’s not that “Better Angels” was even an especially bad hour of television. It just felt like it was padding its run time a little. It’s not even purely the episode’s fault. We spent an entire season without a truly convincing villain arc, and that makes it a lot harder to make a finale like this pop.
However, ending a season finale like this with whatever that hideous, sappy song was during the dinner party, and then to fake us out with that non-reveal…well…nah. Whatever sins that “Better Angels” was paying for from earlier in the season, those final five minutes were entirely its own fault.
But you know what? This flat finale only strengthens my absolute belief that Supergirl needs to come back for another season. I feel like this show was swimming upstream for much of its run, perhaps because it’s an expensive show to produce making it subject to greater scrutiny. There’s more of this story to be told, and there is absolutely a place for what is the most faithful representation of the wider Superman mythology ever brought to live action.
Who Was in the Rocket?
Just a few quick fun guesses…
– the Kara of Earth-2 (or somewhere similar), the far more brash Power Girl.
– A teenaged clone of Superman, sent into space and brought back down by Project Cadmus to fool people into thinking he’s something he isn’t.
– Krypto the Superdog. I am actually not kidding about this and I would cry tears of joy if this show decides to make me believe a dog can fly.
Kryptonian Memory Crystals
– If there were some purple highlights on that power armor Alex was wearing, it could have looked a little like a streamlined version of the exo-suit Lex Luthor wore in the ’80s.
– “I usually love a good countdown.” Was this Max Lord making a meta-commentary about what a mustache-twirling cliche he has been all season long? Incidentally, I have to wonder…is this the episode that means that Max won’t be a half-assed Lex Luthor if we come back next season? Did we witness a Max Lord face turn tonight, or was he just telling Kara what she wanted/needed to hear?
– Anyone want to place their bets on whether or not the next time we see Non he has lost the power of speech thanks to Kara winning their heat vision battle?
– Kara’s little party trick there is straight out of Superman II, when Supes did that to impress Lois in the Fortress before they went to hit the silver sheets together.
– So, the President is a woman. I guess Supergirl takes place in 2017.
– Kara and Cat are both right. Working Girl is a wonderful movie.
Everyone, thank you so much for joining me every week for these Supergirl reviews. I’m still around for The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow if you aren’t sick of me yet. I hope we get to do this again next year! If you want to talk Kryponian with me (well, I’m not actually fluent in Kryptonian…yet) hit me up on Twitter!