Monday, November 28, 2016

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 8 - Medusa

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


Eliza Danvers is in town for Thanksgiving and Alex struggles with how to come out to her. Kara's foster mom thinks Mon-El might be sweet on Kara, but Supergirl has bigger problems than finding romance when Cadmus releases an alien-killing virus on National City! Kara thinks she can turn to Lena Luthor for help, but can Lena be trusted to work against her own mother? And how will Kara respond when Barry Allen arrives looking for help with a crisis on his Earth?


Various works of medical science-fiction dealing with pandemics (i.e. Outbreak), the New 52 Supergirl comics (Zor-El being a maker of biological weapons) and the many Crisis comics of Gardner Fox, where the heroes of multiple parallel Earths (usually the JSA & JLA) joined together to deal with threats to both their worlds.


Why is The Medusa Virus known by that name? Does the word Medusa mean something different in Kryptonese than it does in Greek? It just seems like the name would be used for a virus that caused petrification rather than a suffocating death.

How the heck did Cyborg Superman and Lillian Luthor learn about the existence of The Medusa Project in the first place if the only place that had records of it was The Fortress of Solitude computer?

Given the ease with which Hank Henshaw escapes from L-Corp, it's clear The NCPD Science Police suck at establishing cordons.

Lena's speech to Supergirl about thinking she was different than her cousin flies in the face of everything we know about Lena's relationship with her mother based on the scene earlier in the episode and serves only to add artificial drama when it seems Lena is helping her mother later.

If Lena switched the Isotope 454 with a fake formula, why does Winn's radioscopic scanner detect it being moved?


The script does a fantastic job of establishing a common theme through all its subplots regarding parents, children and their mutual expectations (i.e. Alex feeling like she's letting her mom down somehow, Kara being disappointed in her father's creating biological weapons, Lena's issues with her adoptive mother). Shame the episode was already crowded, because we could have done with James talking about living up to the legacy of his soldier father and Winn rebelling against his criminal father's legacy as well.

Super Trivia

This episode was the first part of a four-part crossover between all of The CW Network's DC Comics superhero shows.

A disoriented Mon-El asks Kara if she developed the power to create duplicates of herself when he starts experiencing double-vision. This is an ability belonging to the people of the alien world of Cargg. One of them - Luornu Durgo - was the fourth hero to join The Legion of Superheroes and the first non-founding member of the team. She used the names Triplicate Girl, Triad, Una, Duo Damsel, Duplicate Damsel and Duplicate Girl.


Alex says she's never encountered any biological weapon that can target only alien physiology while leaving humans unharmed.

The Medusa Virus isn't transmittable through physical contact or from organism to organism. One has to come in contact with a weaponized aerosol.

Eliza Danvers determines The Medusa Virus is Kryptonian based on one protein strand she isolates from Mon-El's blood.

Project Medusa was a weaponized virus created by Zor-El in order to defend Krypton from alien invaders. It was engineered to attack the physiology of alien combatants while sparring Kryptonian civilians and soldiers.

Kryptonians and Daxamites share similar DNA.

The Medusa Virus requires a dispersal agent not available on Earth. There is an analogous element - Isotope 454 - which is incredibly rare and manufactured only by L-Corp.

Winn uses a radiological alarm to track the unique radiation signature of Isotope 454 and warn him if the stockpile at L-Corp is being moved.

Dialogue Triumphs

Mon-El: (To Eliza Danvers) Kara tells me that you are a brilliant scientist. That must be riveting. I have to hear about this science. What is science?

(Lillian Luthor walks into Lena's office. Lena is sitting at her desk, with a half-empty glass of wine and a plate that appears to hold all the trappings of a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner..)
Lillian Luthor: This is quite a depressing sight.
Lena Luthor: I'm used to celebrating holiday weekends alone at my desk.
Lillian Luthor: Overworking does run in the family.
Lena Luthor: And now I know you're in the holiday spirit. Usually that kind of thought is followed by the back-stabbing jibe about how I'm not really a Luthor. (pauses)You never let me forget that I'm adopted. When it comes to your children, Lex was always your favorite.
Lillian Luthor: And you were always your father's.
Lena Luthor: You sound almost jealous.
Lillian Luthor: You shouldn't take it all so personally. No parent truly loves their children equally and... though maybe I loved Lex more, I do love you, Lena. In my own way.
Lena Luthor: Well... now that we've got the pleasantries out of the way, let me ask...what the hell are you up to? 
Lillian Luthor: We've hardly spoken since Lex's trial. I thought maybe you called me here to make amends. It's Thanksgiving, after all. But I see I was mistaken.
(Lillian Luthor turns around to leave.)
Lena Luthor: There's a reporter sniffing about.
(Lillian Luthor stops.)
Lena Luthor: She's smart. She knows something about you. What is it?
Lillian Luthor: I couldn't possibly imagine!
Lena Luthor: See, I know you're lying...
Lillian Luthor: And how would you know that?
Lena Luthor: Because you told me you love me. And we both know that's not true. Thanks for stopping by, Mom.

Kara: Hey, you don't uh... you don't, like me, do you?
Mon-El: Of course I like you.
Kara: No, I mean like, you don't "like me" like me?
Mon-El: "Like you like you?" Sorry... English is my second language...
Kara: My mom, Eliza, she... she thought you were being extra nice to her on Thanksgiving. That's like a thing that boys on this planet do. They're nice to the moms of girls they have crushes on sometimes.
Mon-El: "Crush?" Sorry... I'm not following.
Kara: (annoyed) You don't want to mate with me, do you?!
(Mon-El just laughs.)

(Eliza asks Alex what it is she was wanting to tell her earlier.)
... how?
Eliza: Keeping a secret disagrees with you, sweetie.
Alex: This isn't like that, Mom...
Eliza: Does it have anything to do with Maggie? You mentioned her a lot.
(Alex looks dumbfounded.)
Eliza: Oh my beautiful Alexandra... why, why is it so hard for you to tell me?
Alex: ...I feel like I'm... I'm letting you down... somehow.
Eliza: Why would your being gay ever let me down?
Alex:  You always wanted me to have a regular life.
Eliza: Alex... look at the life our family has led. Look at me! Look at your sister! I don't think you believe I ever expected you to have a regular life. You were always going to be different Alex, because you've were always exceptional and I love you however you are. Come here.
(The two hug.) 

(Kara looks out on National City from the DEO rooftop. J'onn comes up behind her.)
J'onn: I like this view much better than the stalactites in our last office. Here, the lives we've been charged to protect are always in view.
Kara: Kinda reminds me of the view from my room on Krypton. I could see the whole city from that window. All the lights... pods zooming by...
(Kara sighs and steps away from the railing.)
Kara: But then again, I guess I didn't truly see anything... All my life, I thought my parents were the good guys. And now the more I learn, the more I see things... how they really are. And the more I'm ashamed to be their daughter.
J'onn: Kara. your parents tried to protect a planet. They tried to save lives!
Kara: I'm sure Lex and Lillian Luthor thought their intentions were good, too. Is this their legacy? Death and destruction across the universe?
J'onn: Your parents legacy is not death and destruction, Kara Zor-El. It's you.

Dialogue Disasters

(James announces his intent to reveal that he is The Guardian to Kara.)
Alex: No. No, you're not. No. Because I have something to say. Something very important. And I'm not going to have you two hijacking the night with your vigilante... hijinks!
Winn: I'm sorry. Um - I couldn't sleep a wink last night. No, I can't wait.
Kara: (entering the room) Can't wait for what?
Winn: (weakly)... Eliza's glazed carrots?

Every damned line Cyborg Superman says.

(Cyborg Superman knocks down J'onn)
Cyborg Superman: You may be an alien, but I am Cyborg Superman!
(Supergirl flies down and punches out Cyborg Superman)
Supergirl: You may be a cyborg, but you are no Superman!


Kara refers to Lena's statement from 201 regarding turning L-Corp into a force for good.

Lena Luthor and Lillian Luthor are not emotionally close.

Dr. Eliza Danvers is an expert on alien biology.

There is a hologram of Kara's father Zor-El in the Fortress of Solitude computer.

Project Medusa was a joint venture between the Science Guild and Military Guild of Krypton.

The Cyborg Superman has heat-vision on par with Supergirl's in one eye.

Mon-El kisses Kara for the first time, albeit it while in the grips of a hallucination. Mon-El has no memory of it later, much to Kara's disappointment.

Lillian Luthor is apparently arrested at the episode's end.

Cyborg Superman apparently escapes before the police arrive.

In a call back to 201 - where it is revealed that Mon-El's rocket passed through a place called The Well Of Stars, where time does not pass - we see an alien ship full of hooded figures arrive at The Well of Stars in search of Mon-El.

Eliza Danvers is able to use The Medusa Virus to cure J'onn's conversion into a White Martian.

Alex and Maggie begin dating.

Barry Allen arrives from Earth Prime along with Cisco "Vibe" Ramon. Barry introduces Cisco as a friend but Cisco says "friend is a loose term" and that he and Barry work together. This is a nod to recent events in The Flash (F307) where the friendship between the two became strained after Cisco discovered that Barry's alteration of the timeline was indirectly responsible for the death of his brother.

Barry refers to the events of 118 and how Kara promised him her help if he ever needed it.


The Fortress of Solitude

The Fridge Factor

Kara looks like kind of an idiot, running into Mon-El's quarantine cell when he starts coughing.

The Kryptonite Factor

What they're doing with Hank Henshaw as Cyborg Superman is a thrice-damned shame. There's a lot of drama in the idea of an alien-hating bigot being turned into a machine and fighting against the alien who took over his identity. Unfortunately, any pathos that might be examined here or any exploration of the moral ramifications of J'onn's choices is abandoned in favor of David Harewood growling his lines and spouting dialogue that would be too corny for a Power Rangers villain.

The Bottom Line

A bit of a mixed bag, all in all. The script is well-balanced thematically yet undercuts its own drama. The excellent scene between Lena and Lillian early on, for instance, completely kills any idea that Lena would ever help her mother later on.

Cyborg Superman is easily the worst villain in the show's history.  The show's take on Hank Henshaw is so bland and one-note that I actively groaned when he escaped so that he could plague later episodes with his presence. Throw in the fact that this episode doesn't really have anything to do with Invasion, apart from the last minute cameo by Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes and one could see the whole thing as a bit disappointing.

And yet... it largely works due to the charisma of the cast and all the good parts of the script. Alex coming out to her mother, the flirting between Mon-El and Kara, J'onn reassuring Kara that her parents are not the monsters she's afraid they might have been and Maggie and Alex continuing to bond more than make up for the other short-comings of the episode's action sequences.

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