Monday, November 30, 2015

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 6 - Red Faced

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


As Cat Grant's mother comes to visit and Winn offers Alex his help in investigating her father's death, Kara loses control while helping test a military-grade cyborg commissioned by General Sam Lane.


The Supergirl comics of Sterling Gates (General Lane having a hatred of all aliens), The Flash comics of John Broome (T.O. Morrow) and  the Justice League of America comics of Gardner Fox (Red Tornado).


To be quite frank, the core idea of this episode - that Kara has suddenly developed anger-management issues - doesn't ring true given that she's been continually holding back for the better part of 12 years. Most of this episode's problems stem from that logical disconnect.

For instance, granting that there is a double-standard regarding women being allowed to express anger (as Cat Grant points out), one might expect the double-standard regarding men hitting women to work in Kara's favor in the road-rage case. Given that the target of Supergirl's anger is a road-raging jackass who was unconcerned about the fact that he nearly plowed through a crosswalk full of children and lacked the faculties to realize that taking a swing at Supergirl was an incredibly bad idea, it seems completely random that all of the media everywhere runs with the story that Supergirl put two men in the hospital because of her anger rather than the fact that she saved the lives of a dozen children from two complete idiots.

Cat Grant's mother - who pals around with the likes of Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood is enough of an old-school feminist to criticize Cat dubbing a heroine Supergirl instead of Superwoman yet still traditional enough to think only men should be doctors?

Why on Earth would the US Army ever allow an untested potentially independent drone like The Red Tornado to be tested close to a major city? Either General Lane was totally ignorant as to that capability (unlikely given his control freak nature) or he was actively hoping to force an incident that would embarrass and/or kill Supergirl.

Why did they allow Dr. Morrow into the top-secret DEO base when Lane was getting ready to fire him?

On that note, General Lane has got to be the biggest idiot in the world - firing the person who knows more about the RT project than anyone right after said project goes rogue. At least keep him around until after the situation is neutralized THEN throw him under the bus when the inevitable investigations start.

The CGI for the tornado effects is just awful.While I'm willing to allow that National City has highly advanced buildings capable of withstanding tornado-force winds with no obvious signs of strain, I refuse to believe that there's some technical property that prevents the carts on the street from being moved by the high winds.

Did it really take Maxwell Lord to point out to the DEO that maybe The Red Tornado was being controlled by the disenchanted inventor who just got fired by General Lane?

Where did Kara get an abandoned space to turn into a gym? Or a car to beat up on? (Maybe the DEO set it up?)

Morrow has amazing fighting skills for a scientist with no life outside of building robots, proving capable of holding his own against a highly-trained DEO field agent.

Winn is finally given a chance to do something besides be the comic relief... and it's all handled entirely off-camera!


Once again, the best parts of the episode are Mehcad Brooks and Melissa Benoist playing off of one-another. The two have a great chemistry together and it truly kills you that James and Kara aren't together.

Calista Flockhart gets to further humanize Cat Grant in this episode and show that there truly is a decent person somewhere under all the snark and cynicism. It's just a shame that humanization only comes in the face of an even more cartoonish caricature of an empowered woman...


The final fight between Red Tornado and Supergirl, inter-cut with the fight between Dr. Morrow and Alex Danvers, is efficiently edited and plays quite well.

Super Trivia

As in the comics, US Army General Sam Lane is a xenophobic military leader and the father of Lois and Lucy Lane. He disapproved of Lois marrying Clark Kent, who he thought was too weak-willed to be worthy of his daughter. He faked his death in order to take over a US Army covert operation called Project 7734, which was developing resources for use against alien invaders.

The DCTVU version of Sam Lane is exactly like his comic-book counterpart. His opinions regarding James Olsen's suitability for his daughter Lucy mirror those of the comics General Lane regarding Clark Kent and Lois Lane. He also hates aliens for no logical reason.

Dr. T.O. Morrow first appeared in comics as an enemy of The Flash. His full name was Thomas Oscar Morrow and he had developed a television set that allowed him to see 100 years into the future. He attempted to replicated the technology he saw there and used it to commit crimes to fund his own research into time travel. He was also a master of robotics.

After Crisis On Infinite Earths, a slight retcon changed Dr. T.O. Morrow's full name to Tomek Ovadaya Morah and made him of Polish/Jewish descent. This didn't change much of his background or motivations, apart from giving him an incentive once to help Wonder Woman in fighting a neo-Nazi villain.

There was an earlier Dr. T.O. Morrow during the Golden Age of Comics, who has a similar gimmick and fought the hero Shining Knight. This T.O. Morrow pretended to be an explorer from the future in order to scam rare materials from other scientists.

One of T.O. Morrow's schemes involved creating a mechanical superhero that he would use to infiltrate The Justice Society of America. He dubbed his creation The Red Tornado. But unbeknownst to Morrow, his creation was possessed by an alien nature spirit (aka The Tornado Champion), who developed amnesia shortly after taking over The Red Tornado's body while still maintaining the alien spirit's strict moral code.

Very little of this comes into play regarding the DCTVU versions of Dr. Morrow and The Red Tornado. Here, apart from a sudden unexplained bout of sentience after Morrow's death, The Red Tornado is an electronic proxy rather than a thinking being.

When Alex Danvers meets with Maxwell Lord for the second time, she suddenly tells him about her father's mysterious death and wonders out-loud why she told him about that. This could be a hint to the comics, where Maxwell Lord was a low-level telepath whose abilities manifested early on as an ability to plant simple suggestions and come off as trustworthy.


Morrow describes The Red Tornado (aka Project RT) as being, "not a robot" but a "anthropomorphic pseudo-entity with combat capabilities." It has an emergency self-preservation function which is triggered after it loses an arm. When it goes into stealth mode it becomes 100% undetectable, defying even Supergirl's super-senses. It took 11 years and one billion dollars to develop.

Supergirl's Super-Breath is capable of chilling an object to absolute zero.

The Red Tornado's dermal covering is made of a bio-synthetic polymer with traces of lead that make it impenetrable to a Kryptonian's X-Ray vision. Based on that, Henshaw deduces that The Red Tornado's purpose was to kill Superman and Supergirl.

Maxwell Lord notes that the arm for The Red Tornado that he saw seems to have come from a drone with an incredibly advanced GPS rather than an independent robot. In other words, Morrow has to be controlling it and sending it after General Lane.

The DEO has Kryptonian technology that enables it to project a thermally accurate three-dimensional hologram over a distance of at least 70 miles.

Morrow runs The Red Tornado's cerebral matrix through a telepathic relay interface. The only way to shut it down is to kill Morrow.  Even after Alex does this, The Red Tornado somehow achieves sentience and still tries to kill Supergirl.

Dialogue Triumphs

The way James says "Affirmative" when Lucy asks if she can tell her father 'yes' to the two of them having dinner with him. The tone is subtly mocking, as James knows General Lane is the sort of military tight-ass who would want to hear Affirmative rather than Yes.

(After General Lane describes all the monsters the DEO has captured)
General Lane: Do you know the difference between them and her? She's blonde.
Director Henshaw: She saved you and your daughter tonight! You don't owe her fear and contempt! You owe her a thank you!

(Kara has set up a gym of sorts for herself and James so they can vent their rage together)
Ok. (James begins unloading on the punching bag) I can't stand Lucy's dad.
Kara: (Kara begins punching a car) I can't stand him either.
James: I hate how he gets involved in our relationship. And I am NOT holding Lucy back!
Kara: I can't stand the way Cat treats me!
James: And I really cannot stand how he talks about your cousin!
Kara: I hate how my emotions get the best of me. And I hate how my sister doesn't know what happened to her father.! And I hate that I am never gonna get to have a normal life!
(Kara sends part of the car innards flying)

Dialogue Disasters

Director Henshaw:  I am not mad. I am... controlling my anger. (Which you wouldn't need to do if you weren't mad...)

Director Henshaw: I suggest you get into the habit. You know, I once told you there are people out there who fear your cousin. It's not because he has god-like powers. It's because of what he might do with them if he ever lost his temper. (Because they're afraid of his powers...)

Quite honestly, about 90% of the script.


Alex and Kara tell Winn what they discovered about Jeremiah Danvers' death in 104.

The President in the reality of Supergirl is a woman.

Supergirl has apparently learned how to control her Super-Breath since 102.

Maxwell Lord refers to the death of his parents, as he did in 105.

Winn discovers that Jeremiah Danvers disappeared and was presumed dead while on a mission with another agent in South America. The other agent was also presumed dead, until he reappeared a month later with no memory of what had happened.  The other agent was Hank Henshaw.

At the end of the episode, Kara cuts herself on a broken piece of glass.

The Fridge Factor

Kara is attacked on all fronts throughout the episode and isn't really allowed to defend herself, purely so that her two harshest critics - Director Henshaw and Cat Grant - can come to her defense in the face of the just plain evil General Lane and Cat Grant's mother. The worst part is that Kara's sudden anger-management issues seemingly came about because James Olsen is back together with his ex-girlfriend.

The Kryptonite Factor

The entire episode is entirely dependent upon the public suddenly being afraid of Supergirl after she breaks the hand of one idiot who tried taking a swing at her, the media running with the idea of her being out of control and General Sam Lane being completely untouchable from any sort of scandal while still being blisteringly incompetent at his job.

The Bottom Line

The first truly disappointing episode of Supergirl to date. Ignoring the waste of introducing T.O. Morrow and The Red Tornado only to kill them off (yes, I know there's a few ways they can bring Red Tornado back but I'm ignoring those for the moment), the whole episode is mean-spirited and ill-conceived given that everything is built around the concept of Kara having trouble repressing her anger when everything about her character to date has been built around how repressed she is. The one saving grace of the episode is that Cat Grant is allowed to move beyond being a cartoon character for a moment, albeit it entirely as a reaction against her even more cartoonish mother.

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