Monday, February 8, 2016

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 13 - For The Girl Who Has Everything

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





Plot

Alex, J'onn and the DEO must fend off an attack by the hostile Kryptonians alone when Kara falls victim to a psychic attack by an alien parasite. Meanwhile, Kara dreams of a perfect life on a Krypton that was never destroyed
.

Influences

Alan Moore's "For the Man Who Has Everything" (title and basic plot), J.M. Dematteis' adaptation of For The Man Who Has Everything for Justice League Unlimited (Alex's speech to wake Kara up mirrors one Batman gives to Superman, Krypton experiencing earthquakes as Kara begins to doubt the vision) and John Byrne's Man of Steel.


Goofs

Nobody seems at all concerned about stopping the alien parasite as it crawls off of Kara's body and heads for the lab exit...


Performances

Melissa Benoist gives two great performances here - one as Kara fighting her perfect world and another as J'onn trying to pass himself off as Kara.

Laura Benanti also has a nice double role as Allura and Astra. It is her turn as Astra, however, which bares the most attention, as we see a different side of the Kryptonian general and how despite everything she still cares more for her family than her plans for Earth.

Mehcad Brooks doesn't get a lot to do in this episode, but his speech standing up to Hank Henshaw is well played and shows James' natural sense of compassion, that he can see through Henshaw's mask to see how he has come to view Kara and Alex as his own daughters.

Chyler Leigh has had perhaps the most thankless role on the show as Alex Danvers. That changed with this episode, which seems to have given her more heavy-lifting to do as an actor than all of her scenes in every episode up until this point. Alex has always been defined by her relationship to Kara but this was the first time that was used to develop Alex as something beyond being the dutiful big sister.


Artistry

The special effects used to bring Kelex to life are good.

The direction on the final segment, switching as it does between the two fight scenes, is effectively handled.

The script for this episode is a wonderful one finding just the right line between the comedic and dramatic moments. And it manages to pay tribute to "For The Man Who Has Everything" without ripping it off wholesale.


Super Trivia


The title and basic plot of this episode come from a Superman story - originally told in Superman Annual #11 - titled "For The Man Who Has Everything." Written by the legendary Alan Moore, it is widely considered to be one of the greatest Superman stories of all time and was adapted into an episode of the Justice League Unlimited animated series by writer J.M. Dematteis. This adaptation stayed fairly close to the original text, though it did add a few novel touches - such as Krypton experiencing earthquakes whenever Superman began to doubt the reality around him.

The Black Mercy is a telepathic parasitic plant that establishes a connection with a host and feeds them visions of a perfect life as it saps their life force. It cannot be forcibly removed without killing the host. The only way to safely remove the Black Mercy is for the host to reject their hallucinations. This does not happen often and rarely without outside intervention.

The DCTVU verison of The Black Mercy appears to be unable to instantly create a connection with its host, as opposed to the comic version which immediately absorbs the host into a fantasy. Here, we see Kara resisting the vision of a perfect Krypton before accepting it.

Superman, Batman the Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Green Arrow have all fallen victim to a Black Mercy at some point in the comics.

The robot tending to Kara when she "wakes up" on Krypton is named Kelex. This was the name of a service droid who served Jor-El in John Byrne';s Man of Steel comic. In later comics, a different robot with the same design - also called Kelex - acted as chief caretaker of The Fortress of Solitude.

The dream Allura claims that Kara has been suffering from Argo Fever.  Although no disease called Argo Fever was rbrt mentioned in the comics, Argo is a frequent prefix added onto various things to make them sound Kryptonian.


Technobabble


The Black Mercy grips the victim's torso with a force of 100 pounds. As in the comics, it cannot be forcibly removed from the victim without killing them.

The DEO uses a special Titanium alloy claw to remove The Black Mercy from Kara.

The DEO can modify their virtual reality technology to allow Alex to enter into Kara's dream and help her to reject the Black Mercy.

Winn discovers a hidden Kryptonian broadcast in the C-band spectrum. This is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum which includes microwaves used for long-distance radio communication.


Dialogue Triumphs


(J'onn enters the lab where Kara is being examined and sees Winn and James standing there.)
J'onn:
What the hell are these guys doing here?
James: Where Supergirl goes, we go.
J'onn: This is a top secret facility, Mr. Olsen! You think I'm gonna let the media waltz right through here?
Winn: (holding hands up) Act-actually I'm in I.T. so.... definitely not worth shooting.

J'onn: (on dealing with Cat Grant) That woman makes me miss my alien prison.

Alex: (To the Allura hologram) Damn it, Kara is relying on me! She has always relied on me! Ever since you sent her here.  I'm sure you had hoped that she would find people that would take care of her. Who would love her like she was their own. I... I only wish I had been a better sister to her when she first got here. I can't... I can't even imagine it now.  I used to resent her. For coming into my home. For following me around ar  school. Some strange girl who didn't know how to fit in. For embarrassing me in front of my friends. But all Kara waned was a family. And that's what she is to me. She is my sister!  And she needs me now more than ever!

(Alex sees Astra and start firing at her. Astra steps forward and grabs Alex by the throat.)
Astra:
I came here to help Kara. Not fight.
(Astra releases Alex who gasps for breath but still stands as if ready for a fight.)
Alex: You tried to kill her before. Why should I trust you now?
Astra: Kara saved me from a death without honor. As a fellow soldier, I expect you understand the meaning of that.
(Alex says nothing but seems to regard Astra as if to say 'get to the point.')
Astra: Kara has been attacked by a telepathic parasite known as The Black Mercy.
Alex: It has her in some kind of coma. Her brain waves are still active. It's like as if she's awake.
Astra: The Black Mercy has her trapped in lifelike hallucinations. Her perfect fantasy life.  One that grows more and more real with each passing moment.
Alex: How do I wake her out of it?
Astra: Kara must reject the fantasy herself.
Alex: But if she doesn't know that it isn't real, how can she reject it?
Astra: I can tell you how to help her. But you have to trust me.
Alex: The last time I trusted you, six soldiers died.
(Astra looks over Alex's shoulder and sees a picture of teenage Kara and Alex together)
Astra: I knew there was more to you and my niece.
Alex: She's my sister.
Astra: If she is your sister and I am her aunt, what does that make us?
Alex: (cooly) Nothing.
Astra: Do not allow your hatred for me to blind you now.  Are you ready to listen or not?

(As J'onn moves to unplug Alex from Kara) 
James: She asked me to stop you!
J'onn: What?
James: She knew that you would react this way if things went bad. So she came to me because she wants to save Kara.
J'onn: You think I don't want that?! I want them both back! More than anything...
James: I know you do. And I can also see that Alex is more than one of your agents. She's family. And you want to protect her at all costs. I get that! But if you pull her out before she has a chance to save her sister, she will never look at you the same way again. You know that!
J'onn: I can't lose her.
James: And you won't. Because Alex is a lot like Supergirl. She always finds a way. And you just have to trust her.

Kara: I want so much for all of this to be true. To stay here with you. But this isn't real! (to Allura) You taught me to be so strong. And I am. Thank you. Krypton will be in my heart forever. But Alex is right... my sister... is right. I have to go. I love you!

Kara: (as she punches the ever loving snot out of Non) Do you have any idea what you did to me?! You made me lose them again! My parents! My whole world! And you think that I'm going to let you take this world away from me too?! You think I'm going to let you hurt them like you hurt me?! Never!

Alex: I don't want to fight you, Astra.
Astra: I helped save my niece out of a sense of duty. Which does not extend to you.
Alex: That's not why you helped her. You love her. That's how I know your heart isn't in this war anymore.
(Astra rushes forward and bends Alex backward over a guard rail.)
Astra: You know nothing of me!
Alex: I know that you've had plenty of chances to kill me. Or to kill Kara. But you haven't. Because you don't want to (panting) Give it up, Astra. Help us.
(A figure flies by at superspeed, knocking Astra away from Alex. Astra picks herself up and looks up.)
Astra: Kara?
(We see J'onn, in his true form, standing on the roof, regarding Astra.)
Astra: I thought all of your kind were dead.
J'onn: I am the last. Earth is my home now! And I will not let you take it from me!

Astra: (gasping) Hello little one. I'm so happy to see your sister was able to bring you back.
Kara: Astra, I have to tell you... when I was under the Black Mercy, you were there.
Astra: As your enemy?
Kara: (sobbing) As my family.

J'onn: This isn't your fault, Alex. Astra was a righteous kill.
Alex: That doesn't make this any easier.
J'onn: You made the hard choice. It's what soldiers do. How's your sister holding up?
Alex: Astra may have been Kara's enemy on the battlefield but she was also family. She's taking it hard.
J'onn: I knew she would. She never stopped believing Astra could be saved. That's the difference between soldiers and heroes.
Alex: Sir? Why did you lie to Kara?
J'onn: Because you're Supergirl's hero. And I didn't want her to see you as anything other than that.


Dialogue Disasters

Alex: Oh my God. I'm on Krypton.

Non: Humanity is a disease. Myriad is the cure!


Continuity


Cat refers to the events of 112 and Kara dumping her son.

The Kryptonian criminals plans are based around something called Myriad, which requires hacking Earth's satellite grid using Maxwell Lord's servers.

The Black Mercy was not a Fort Rozz prisoner.

The DEO does not have any records on what a Black Mercy is or how to fight it.

James and Winn now know (or at least suspect) that Hank Henshaw is a shape-shifter, though they do not know exactly what he is.

Winn is allowed to work with the DEO's tech team to investigate the possibility that Non's men are making use of a solar storm to mask their turning Earth's technology against it's people.

J'onn lies about being the one to kill Astra.


Location

Kara's dream takes place on Krypton.


The Bottom Line

The first 40 minutes or so are a serviceable adaption of a classic Superman story into a decent Supergirl story. The final 10 minutes are some of the best this series has ever seen. Oddly enough, we see very little of Krypton beyond the Zor-El family living room and most of this episode is focused on Alex. And yet, it works wonderfully because Alex - more than any character except perhaps Winn - has not received much development as a character. While that's still a problem here to some degree (doesn't Alex have any interests besides protecting her sister and her work?), at least Alex is turned into an engaging protagonist in her own right rather than being someone for Kara to save.

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