Monday, May 1, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 19 - Alex

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



Plot

Alex is abducted by an unknown villai, who has somehow figured out that Kara Danvers is Supergirl! Unless Supergirl releases a notorious criminal from prison, Alex will die! In order to save her, Kara and Maggie will have to put aside their differences on how to handle crime-fighting. Meanwhile, Queen Rhea - in the guise of a business woman - approaches Lena Luthor with an interesting offer.


Influences

Various Superman and Supergirl stories where a terrorist takes one of their loved one's hostage to try and force them to do their bidding. Kara's speech to J'onn about feeling powerless mirrors a Clark Kent speech from Superman The Movie after Pa Kent dies of a heart attack.


Goofs

While Kara presumably is acknowledged as a DEO agent, the DEO is a covert organization whose agents disguise themselves as the agents of other organizations when in the field. Granting that acting against Supergirl would be a logistical public relations nightmare, why doesn't the NCPD act to deputize Supergirl in an official capacity if her interference is causing so many cases to be thrown out that it's spawned "The Supergirl Defense"?

The amount of wine in Mon-El's glass and whether or not he is holding the glass changes between shots as he is giving his "As a superhero myself..." defense of Kara.

Rick talks about growing up poor and abused and his father having to scrimp and save to send him to college. How then does he have the resources to construct the underground cell where he keeps Alex?

On that note, while it is possible that a childhood friend might be able to make the connection between Kara Danvers and Supergirl, it strains all credibility that this same person could find out about the head of the DEO being a telepathic Martian shapeshifter and finding ways to plan against that on one-year's notice without any resources?

The message about Maggie and Kara both being right but different is sort of undercut when it is Winn's unorthodox digital detective work that leads them to Alex's kidnapper, Kara's idealism wins the day and Maggie is ready to throw everything she said about the law and procedures out the window to save Alex.


Artistry

The underwater scenes of Alex trying to escape from the tank are well-shot and all the more effective for being without music.


Super Trivia


When Supergirl arrives on the scene of the hostage situation, someone in the crowd says "Look! Up in the sky!" This exclamation was also said in the introduction to the 1950's Adventures of Superman TV series.

"The Supergirl Defense" - as Maggie calls it in this episode - is a frequent concern for law enforcement in fictional realities with superheroes.The excellent blog Law and the Multiverse examines these issues in depth.

Generally, in the DC Universe comic books, most superheroes do not have official police powers and they are only empowered to make citizens' arrests until a police officer can step in. Most major city police departments have a metahuman liaison who works with local superheroes to make sure that they operate in a lawful manner. In some cases - such as Batman in Gotham City - a hero may work directly with the police department in an unofficial capacity. In rarer cases, such as Superman in post-Crisis Metropolis, a superhero may be officially deputized by a local government with the full authority that office grants.

Rick Malverne is based on the DC Comics character of Richard "Dick" Malverne a.k.a. Dick Wilson.

In the Pre-Crisis Supergirl comics, Dick Wilson was raised in the same orphanage as Kara Zor-El (then using the alias Linda Lee). He harassed her in a manner similar to how Lana Lang teased Clark Kent in the classic Superboy comics, continually insisting that Linda was Supergirl, prompting Kara to have to humiliate him to cover her secret identity.

The two eventually got adopted - he by The Malvernes and her by The Danvers - but the two met again in college and dated for a time. They drifted out of touch, however, meeting once more as adults when Kara learned that Richard was dying of cancer. Before he died, he admitted to knowing her secret identity and having always loved her.

In the Post-Crisis Supergirl comics, Richard Malverne was an appliance store owner who dated Linda Danvers. Their relationship ended tragically when she found out he had been demonically possessed. The demon was the only thing holding Richard's cancer in check and he died once it left his body.


Technobabble

Rhea's proposal to Lena involves a device for matter transformation and reconfiguration. Lena says the technology could revolutionize virtually everything including travel, energy and security.

Lena gave a TED talk on quantum technology.

L-Corp has done work in zero-size intelligence.

All DEO agents have sub-dermal trackers. Alex's kidnapper found a way of depowering her's so she couldn't be found.

According to Winn, he can't triangulate the signal of the kidnapper's phone call due to his using four different arrays to scramble the signal.

Rhea complements Lena's Black Body Field Generator from 205.

Rick Malverne has some means of blocking J'onn's telepathy.

Lena confirms Rhea is an alien using her skin-testing device from 203.

Earth's Periodic Table of Elements stops at 118 elements.  The element Rhea's device requires would be classified as Element 260.

Alex removes her own tracker implant with a broken credit card and then hooks it up to the camera in her cell. This causes it to send out a signal asking for a software update, which is picked up at the DEO when it is coming in from outside their network. From there, Winn just has to track the IP address of the camera to a physical location to find her.

L-Corp has a large-scale generator ring which Rhea wants to adapt to create a transmatter portal.

Maggie has access to some kind of holographic and digital lockpick technology (presumably borrowed from the DEO along with Alex's gun) that allows her to spring Peter Thompson from his cell unnoticed.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Alex, Maggie, Kara and Mon-El are sitting down to dinner.)
Mon-El:
So - how's my girlfriend, guys? Huh?
Kara: (embaraased) What?
Mon-El: Bank Robbers: Zero. Supergirl: Two. What do you even need cops for in this city?!
(Mon-El laughs as Maggie's eyes narrow.)
Alex:
He's from a different planet. He doesn't even know what he's saying.
Maggie: (mock cheerful) No! He's right! Why bother trying to talk a guy down when Supergirl can just swoop right in and force him down? 17 hours of "what do you want?", "how can I help you?" good old-fashioned hostage negotiation wasted.
Kara: You're not upset that I caught the bad guys and got everyone out safely, are you?
Maggie: I would have gotten them to free the hostages.
Kara: Maybe. But they're in jail now where they can't hurt anyone.
Maggie: As long as they don't use The Supergirl Defense.
Kara: The what?
Maggie: It's a thing some criminals use to get their charges dropped. It's a perfect storm for a defense attorney. Excessive force. Evidence contaminated by debris. Vigilante justice....
Kara: Vigilante justice? I stand for Hope and Help and Compassion! I did what I had to do to get those people out of there!
Alex: I think that what Maggie is trying to say is what you do is... amazing when we're up against -
Maggie: - a giant purple monster or a half-cyborg murderer? Sure. But most of the time? Police work  requires a more... delicate touch.
Kara: Delicate?
Maggie: Yeah! You broke a guy's arm and gave another one a concussion. And that was - after- you knocked in the roof of a National City landmark. And... (chuckles) And -now- it just has a big Supergirl-sized hole in it!
Kara: A thousand things could have happened from the time of your call to the hostages walking out! Maybe... yeah, sure... I broke some walls. But... I got everyone out of there safely and that is a win!
Maggie: Well you should have asked! But you never look before you leap.
Kara: (smugly) Because I can fly.

Rhea: I wish I had a daughter like you. Your mother must be proud.
Lena: Well, that's not how I'd describe her.
Rhea: Mothers and daughters - not always the easiest relationship.
Lena: It's more like apocalyptic, but - you know.
Rhea: We don't have to talk about it...
Lena: No, no. It's fine. She never really cared about me and only came back in to my life to steal from me and frame me for a felony. So, you know - usual mother/daughter stuff.

J'onn: A life sentence can't be all that easy. Being in here all by yourself... you ever keep in contact with anyone on the outside?
Peter Thompson: Just last week. A Mr. J.C. Penny sent me a letter. He said there was a sale on galoshes. It's just that I don't have anywhere to wear them.

Lena: I was looking through your designs and there's a small problem. It requires an element that doesn't exist on Earth. You see, we have 118 and this would be categorized as 260.
Rhea: I don't know what you mean.
Lena: I think you do.
Rhea: (rolling her eyes) It was when I thanked the gods at dinner, wasn't it?

(J'onn walks out onto the DEO balcony to find Kara standing there with her eyes closed.)
J'onn:
What are you doing?
Kara: Listening for her. but I can't hear anything. I can do all these incredible things but I can't...punch my way out of this. Or fly fast enough and turn back time. And now I'm afraid I'm going to lose the person that is the most important to me.
J'onn: To us, Kara.
Kara: Maggie was right. I shouldn't have rushed in! I made things worse!
J'onn: Maggie was upset and frustrated and she lashed out at you. You only did what you thought was best to protect your sister. No one can blame you for that.
Kara: I'm scared.
J'onn: Hey, come on
(J'onn pulls Kara into a tight hug.)
J'onn:
So am I.


Dialogue Disasters


Rick Malverne's whole Narm-ridden speech that ends in his screaming "FREE MY DAD!"

Maggie's suddenly tearful refusal to have Alex say her goodbyes just in case.


Continuity


Kara and Mon-El both like Hawaiian pizza.

Maggie refers to both the battles the NCPD had with Parasite (206) and Cyborg Superman (208).

Alex's kidnapper refers to a convict named Peter Thompson who is serving a life sentence in Albatross Bay Supermax.

Alex recognizes her kidnapper.

Peter Thompson was convicted on three charges of home invasion, two counts of driving under the influence and two counts of felony murder.

Using facial recognition sofrware, Winn is able to identify Peter Thompson's one visitor as Rick Malverne, who used to live in Midvale... Kara and Alex's hometown.

Rick Malverne says that he spent a year planning to abduct Alex.

Rick Malverne claims that he figured there was something strange about Kara after she saved a baby from a fiery car crash without being hurt shortly after her arrival in Midvale. Years later, knowing Kara was in National City at the same time as Supergirl's first appearance, he put two and two together.

Rick Malverne was abused by his mother, who hid is father's existence from him. Sometime after he was 14, Rick was saved from her by his father who took care of him and was reportedly a good father who worked hard to get the money to send him to college.

Maggie refers to the events of 213 and her and Alex celebrating Valentine's Day together.

J'onn mindwipes Rick Malverne, removing all his knowledge of Kara Danvers being Supergirl and the DEO.

Kara does not like kale.

Lena decides to help Rhea after all.


Location

Rick Malverne's house an hour outside of National City.

The flashbacks take place in Midvale.


The Kryptonite Factor


The DEO agents all have their collective IQ's lowered 40 points so that Maggie can show Kara the value of old-fashioned police-work. Granting that J'onn has a different background in the DCTVU than he does in the comics, I can't believe that the Martian Freaking MANHUNTER is having to be told to check the people around the convict the kidnapper asked to be released! Or that he'd bring Kara, in her secret identity as a reporter, to interview the convict in question when he's sidelined her over far less in the past.


The Bottom Line

A phenomenally stupid episode whose unimaginative name tells you everything about just how much effort they put into it. It seems they worked backwards from the concept of needing something to distract Kara away from Lena so that Rhea could manipulate her and that resulted in this Very Special Episode where Maggie and Kara suddenly have issues with each other and learn that both of them have valid views on how to go about protecting people.

Well, except that Maggie is a total hypocrite, Winn does all the detective work and Kara's idealism is what wins in the end. Throw in a villain who has magically thought of everything the heroes might try to do to stop him - even things he shouldn't have been able to have known through simple stalking - and you have the weakest episode of Supergirl's second season.

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