Monday, June 18, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 23 - Battles Lost and Won

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




Plot

With Reign reborn and free of Samantha's body, Supergirl and her allies must face their greatest challenge ever in a battle to save the Earth!


Influences

Superman: The Movie (Supergirl turning back time to saved a loved one), Star Wars (Kara quotes Han Solo to Brainiac-5 as they are beating down a tsunami wave.), Man of Steel (The Kryptonian witches plot to terraform Earth mirrors Zod's plan from this movie.), the film Ghost (the scene of the Kryptonian demons dragging Reign away resembles the shadowy things that come for bad people when they die in this film) and the Superman: New Krypton arc from the Superman comics. (Kryptonians who survived the destruction of their world attempt to conquer/destroy Earth.)


Goofs

How exactly does Thomas Coville know how to activate the distress signal on a Martian spaceship?

So... stabbing Reign with a sword violates Kara's "no killing" rule but dragging her into a mindscape and force-feeding her poisonous water that leaves her helpless as demons drag her away doesn't?


Performances

Honestly, the entire cast is on fire here and it's hard to single anyone out as especially great.


Artistry

You can tell they saved the special effects budget for this episode. There's some truly amazing visuals in the first part of the episode, particularly the sequence with Saturn Girl stopping a tsunami wave from hitting National City.  It is topped, however, between the final fight between Supergirl and Reign.

The sequence in which Reign loses control of her powers and dies is magnificently shot.


Super Trivia

When J'onn slaps a pair of Kryptonite-empowered handcuffs on one of the Daughters of Juru, he describes it as "a little piece of home."  A Little Piece Of Home was also the name of the episode of Superman: The Animated Series which introduced Kryptonite into the DC Animated Universe.

Kara's traveling back in time to redo her fight with Reign is a nod to Superman: The Movie, where Superman does the same thing in order to save Lois Lane.

Mon-El seems to mix up the Ancient Greek myths of Persephone, Orpheus and Hercules when trying to complement Kara. He talks about entering the underworld, slaying the three-headed monster and rescuing Persephone. As Kara points out, Persephone was the one who ate the pomegranate seeds and became trapped in Hades' realm. Hercules fought the three-headed dog Cerberus, but did not slay it. Orpheus went into the underworld to save his true love, but he ultimately failed because he looked back to make sure she was behind him.

Mon-El gives Kara a Legion ring of her own before returning to the future. In the comics, depending on the reality, Kara traveled to the future and worked with The Legion for a time, was declared an honorary Legion member and/or permanently settled in the 31st Century.


Technobabble

Alex's new body armor is revealed to have the capacity to generate an electric blue force-field that can disintegrate small boulders before they can hit her.

The Legion Flight Rings allow the wearer to breathe in space.

Kara says she can use the electricity contained in the Harun-El to take her to the Fountain of Lillith if she can find a disruption in space-time.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Supergirl and Alura have just finished wearing down a wave that Saturn Girl was holding in check. Brainiac-5 is flying behind them in The Legion ship.)
Supergirl: You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!
Brainiac-5: (testily) I assume that's some sort of film reference?
Supergirl (aghast): We never showed you Star Wars? Not a single Star War?

M'yrnn: I am sorry I could not give you the rest.
J'onn: (tearing up) Don't apologize... don't...
M'yrnn: (smiles) I had a good life.
J'onn: I'm not ready.
M'yrnn: You are. You looked into the flame and you had no fear!
J'onn: (sighs) That's because you were with me.
(M'yrnn places a hand on J'onn's shoulder.)
M'yrnn: That will never change, J'onn. Never.

(J'onn slaps a pair of Kryptonian power-dampening cuffs on one of the Daughters of Juru.)
Witch: What is this devilry?!
J'onn: A little piece of home.

(Reign is strangling Supergirl.)
Reign: You cannot win. There is no prison you can build that can contain me. There is no one on this planet of equal power that can kill me!
(We pan over to see Samantha, now holding The Sword of Juru.)
Samantha: What's what you think.
(Samantha stabs Reign in the back.)

Kara: Before we went to Argo, I just had this thought. I... could be Kara Zor-El, Ordinary Citizen. (laughs) That I would feel like I was home. But when we were fighting Reign and the witches, I...had this moment... this realization that ...Argo City isn't my home anymore. National City is. Earth is. And my mission is to protect it. I mean, my whole life is here.
Mon-El: Yeah.
Kara: Messy. Complex. Balancing Kara and being a hero... (sighs) That's who I am.


Continuity

A TV report briefly mentions that Superman is dealing with the damage in Madagascar, which was mentioned in passing in 322.

J'onn receives one final memory from his father - an image of the first Martian priestess to receive the sacred scrolls at the dawn of The Martian Race. They were given to her by a being with glowing eyes whose face erupted from the Martian soil.

James reveals his face to a woman whose son he saves from a burning building.

Brainiac-5 has not seen Star Wars.

M'yrnn merges himself with the Earth to counter the destruction wrought by The Daughters of Juru.

Saturn Girl claims to have gotten a message from Mon-El's time beacon. Mon-El said, in 322. that the Time Beacon broke but was later revealed to have been lying. When confronted about this, he says that it must have had a fail-safe so that it would send a message even if it powered down.

Thomas Coville - presumed dead in the last episode - is revealed to be barely alive in The Fortress of Sanctuary.

Saturn Girl says that she realized - during her separation from Mon-El - that their marriage was never what it should have been and she should have realized that when she lied about the real reason they traveled back to the past.

Samantha has visions of her adoptive mother apologizing to her for abandoning her.  Sam does not believe she is real at first, but the figure is later revealed to be "all that remains of Patricia Arias and her lover for Samantha."

Brainiac-5 reveals that millions of people were saved by The Blight never coming into existence, thanks to the death of Pestilence in the 21st century... including a distant relative of his, who has developed a viral plague to wipe out all other artificial intelligences. This means that Brainiac-5 must remain in the past until someone else cures the plague.

Brainiac-5 reveals that Winn's design for his force-field belt goes on to lay the foundation for some of the most advanced technology of the 31st century. To that end, he asks for Winn to go to the future to replace him on The Legion of Superheroes and combat the AI Plague. He claims that the piece of paper on which Winn scribbled his design while trying to explain it to Demos is now a treasured historical artifact in the National Archives in the future.

Brainiac-5 also says that the future needs heroes and leaders and pleads for Mon-El to return to the future.

Thomas Coville activates a distress beacon in J'onn's ship to signal the DEO as to the location of The Fortress of Sanctuary.

James refers to 320 and how Lena figured out she could kill Reign with a lethal dose of Kryptonite. Kara refuses to consider this as an option at first, but finally relents after Alura and J'onn say there may be no other option.

When Samantha awakens, she has full Kryptonian powers.

Samantha stabs Reign and Kara throws her into The Daughters of Juru's cauldron. This leads to Samantha and Alura being killed by Reign's heat vision. Mon-El also dies taking a heat-vision blast trying to save J'onn.

As Kara flies back in time she remembers things that were said to her in the past about Alex thinking Kara Danvers saved her more than Supergirl and J'onn saying that Kara saved his life and her mother saying that she would go on to do great things. (301)

In the new timeline, Kara stops Sam from stabbing Reign and instead uses the Harun-El to shock herself, Samantha and Reign into The Valley of Juru. From there, they force-feed Reign the weakening waters of the Fountain of Lillith and she is dragged away by Kryptonian demons.

Mon-El decides that he has to go back to the future because he is needed there.

Mon-El gives Kara a Legion ring of her own.

Samantha is 100% human following the latest round of tests by Lena.

Winn decides to return to the future with Mon-El.

James reveals himself to the world as The Guardian.

Alex tries to resign from the DEO so she can start a family.

J'onn refuses, saying he wants to promote Alex, placing her in charge of the DEO.

J'onn steps down as DEO director so he can  go out and focus on helping others directly in the Martian tradition rather than hiding behind walls.

Alura plans to return to Argo City, taking Selena and the other Daughters of Juru with her so they can stand trial for their crimes.

Lena gives Alura a case full of Harun-El that she synthesized as well as the recipe to make more.

Winn leaves Braniac-5 his original sketch of his design for the force-field belt, along with a note saying it is guaranteed to appreciate in value more than a jar of dirt, in reference to his gift of future dirt from 318.

There is no pizza on Argo.

Lena is revealed to have kept some of the Harun-El and is experimenting on it with Eve Teschmacher.

Kara's use of the Harun-El to stop Reign seems to have created a clone of Kara in Russia.


Location

Wherever J'onn and M'yrrn go so M'yrnn can merge with the Earth.

The Fortress of Sanctuary

The Siberian Border.


Untelevised Adventures

Superman is said to be dealing with the natural disasters threatening to rip the world apart in Madagascar.


The Bottom Line


Far more than the sum of its parts. Part of me wants to scream bloody murder about the sheer insanity of the Valley of the Juru, the mixing of science and fantasy and the logistics of human ghosts going to a quasi-Kryptonian after-life/dreamscape. The other part of me says "Screw it. We give Sam closure and Betty Buckley gets another paycheck."

Lots of big changes in this episode, yet the pace is quite leisurely and the epic battle is almost an after thought. We already have Jeremy Jordan and Chris Wood confirmed as leaving the series and only coming back as guest stars, if at all. I hope the same isn't true of David Harewood, who is one of the rocks of this show. James revealing himself to the world as Guardian is... well, as muted as everything else relating to Guardian this season.

Still, the low-key conclusion seems oddly appropriate and after the breakneck conclusions of Arrow and The Flash that failed to be thrilling, it's kind of nice that this episode ends with Kara and Alex having a sisters' night in. Can't wait for Season Four!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Batman: Prelude To The Wedding, Part Three - Batgirl Vs. The Riddler - A Review

Having not been reading Tim King's Batman on a regular basis, I had been planning on giving the whole Prelude To A Wedding storyline a miss. Then I found out there was going to be an issue pitting Batgirl against my favorite Batman villain and... well, I had to see how it played out, having the real greatest detective in the Bat Family (by Bruce's own admission) go against Edward Nygma.


Naturally, the plot involves The Riddler setting up a test for Batgirl which involves murder and mayhem if she fails to answer his questions. The twist Tim Seeley sets up for why he is doing this is rather brilliant and I shan't say another word about it. Suffice it to say it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to The Riddler and this issue did not disappoint. While the endgame is obvious the execution is masterful.

Better than the story, though, is the art. This is the second special I've seen Minkyu Jung work on (the last one being Titans Annual #1) and the second time I wished he was working regularly on a series I read. Jung's grasp of composition and framing is fantastic and the action of the story flows smoothly throughout. Would that we could see Jung paired with Jose Marzan Jr. on Batgirl, as they prove to have a real flair for working with the character and each other here. The colors of Jordie Bellaire are sweet icing on a very rich cake and Dave Sharpe's letter-work is as astounding as ever.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A one-shot special that lives up to its name.

Detective Comics #982 - A Review

Trapped in the darkest tunnels under Gotham City, Batman seeks a missing homeless man. What he finds is a conspiracy organized by a frightening new cult and an old enemy... older than Gotham itself.
Detective Comics #982 seems less like a Batman comic and more like a Hellboy story that was hurriedly adapted into something Batman-themed. Doubtlessly this may be because of the artwork by Sebastian Fiumara, best known for his work on Lobster Johnson and Abe Sapien. Yet with a supernatural villain at its heart, this story still seems atypical for the sort of serious, mystery-based tales we usually see in Detective Comics.

That being said, this is far from a bad book. Indeed, this is perhaps the most noteworthy use of Deacon Blackfire I've ever seen in any story, though that is damning with faint praise as I've always found the character less than compelling. Yet Michael Moreci's script makes him compelling and the artwork by Sebaastian Fiumara and Dave Stewart drives the story at full tilt into the deepest, darkest parts of Gotham. There's also some great font work by Clem Robins, who crafts text that seems to cut at the balloons that contain it.

The Final Analysis: 10/10. All in all this is a solid one-shot Batman story. 

X-Men: Red #5 - A Belated Review

Unbeknownst to Jean Grey, an old enemy of the X-Men is twisting the minds of various world leaders to hasten the anti-Mutant initiatives that are gaining popularity, at the same time a new breed of Sentinel is using social media to turn ordinary people into the puppets of hate groups and mutants into self-loathing suicide bombers. Thankfully, Jean and her new team of X-Men are not without resources or allies, but they still have a long battle ahead of them - one that will start with an effort to save mutant refugees from an advancing army.


I missed out on the fireworks when this issue originally came out and various forces held it up as a prime example of how the social justice warrior agenda is ruining Marvel Comics. Ignoring that Marvel Comics has a long history of doing this sort of thing (and indeed was build upon the work of several Veterans who specifically used their art to make political points) to say that an X-Men comic is not meant to be political seems incredibly ignorant.

For the sake of argument, let's consider this story as an action epic, free from Tom Taylor's drawing parallels between the social-media Sentinels that reprogram people's brains to turn them into anti-Mutant activists and the use of fake news in modern society. Does this comic still hold up?  Yes. Taylor writes a fantastic action sequence and the battle in which we see the X-Men placing themselves between an army and a group of refugees is a thrilling one.

All of this is ably illustrated by Mahmud Asrar, whose shadowy, heavily-outlined style is a good fit for the grim world that Taylor's script reveals. The colors are largely dull, save for the colors of the X-Men in their costumes - a brilliant conceit by colorist Rain Beredo that makes our heroes stand out like the beacons of hope they should be in a dark world. The letters by Cory Petit are well done, with a wide variety of texts in the caption boxes, the news scrolls and the action balloons.

Let the broflakes cry. This is X-Men done right, modernized for the 21st century - as political and powerful as it should be.

The Final Analysis: 9/10. The best X-Men book in years!

Red Sonja/Tarzan #2 - A Belated Review

United across time and space by an enemy who seems to have the power to breach those same boundaries, The Lord of The Jungle and The She-Devil With A Sword form an uneasy alliance... though this is not the first time the two have crossed paths, though neither remembers the first time they met and came to blows...


Again, real life had gotten in the way of my reviewing this wonderful little mini-series, sure to appeal to fans of both Red Sonja and Tarzan. Gail Simone's script captures the essence of both characters perfectly. This is unsurprising, given Simone's long association with Sonja after 18 issues of the monthly comic and the Swords of Sorrow event, which gave her ample opportunity to indulge her obvious love of pulp fiction. Hopefully we'll get to see Jane in action by this series' end as well.

Walter Geovani proves the perfect partner in this. Again, this is unsurprising, given Geovani's long history of drawing Red Sonja and other pulp works for Dynamite Entertainment. Attention must also be paid to the colors of Adriano Augusto and the letters of Simon Bowland, which are equally amazing. Again, I say it - this is a wonderful series, sure to appeal to fans of both Red Sonja and Tarzan as well as anyone who enjoys a ripping yarn.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that is their loss.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Injustice 2 #60-62 - A Belated Review

The Red Lanterns have recruited Starro The Conqueror and have lain siege to Oa - home of The Green Lantern Corps and The Guardians of The Universe. The New God Metron has recruited Jaime Reyes - The Blue Beetle - to stand against Starro, having foreseen that only the wielder of The Scarab can stand against the rage-empowered Starro.

Blue Beetle does not stand alone, however, with his friends in the New Titans and Booster Gold having joined in the fight. Even the bounty hunter Lobo, who was hired by Metron to bring Blue Beetle to him, has joined in the fighting on the simple grounds that it'll be hard for him to get paid in a universe run by a crazy hive-mind. And before the day is over, even more unlikely allies may be found to aid Oa in its blackest night...


Due to life being life and my schedule of late leaving me busy on Tuesdays when this book is released on-line, I haven't had the opportunity to review Injustice 2 for nearly three weeks. Indeed, I've barely had the time to read it!

Today, however, I made the time and I am glad I did. For Injustice 2 #62 contained no less than three jaw-dropping moments. I am not certain that my jaw literally did drop physically as I was reading the issue. Mentally, however, I was gobsmacked.

I know Tom Taylor is a busy man but I dearly wish he were writing several series based on his work here. There are a number of characters in Injustice 2 - no longer in existence in the DC Rebirth reality - who I sorely miss and am glad to see being given their due here. Chief among these are Conner Kent and Cassie Sandsmark, who have become this reality's new Superman and Wonder Woman and one heck of a cute couple. I'd also love to see Taylor tackle the Green Lantern Corps on a regular basis or pen a new Blue and Gold series.

The artwork is equally fantastic. This book is blessed by a number of great creative teams and I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite if asked to do so. Xermanico, Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, J Nanjan, Rex Lokus and Wes Abbot all deliver their respective A-games to every aspect of this series' artwork and I cannot recall any issue where the art was anything but excellent.

If you haven't been reading Injustice 2, for whatever reason, you've been missing out. This is one of my favorite series and you would do well to check it out and find out why.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. Great issues, all of them. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 22 - Make It Reign

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



Plot

With Selena's plans for Earth revealed, Kara, Mon-El and Alura must find a way to escape Argo City. At the same time, J'onn prepares to say goodbye to his father, M'yrnn.


Influences

Supergirl: The Movie (Villain named Selena trying to take over Earth, while Supergirl is trapped elsewhere), Superman 2 (three evil Kryptonians menace the Earth) and the film Man of Steel (Kryptonian invasion of Earth meant to terraform the planet into a new Krypton)


Goofs

Why do the Daughters of Juru need to terraform Earth? Isn't Kara proof that Kryptonians can survive (and indeed thrive) in Earth's atmosphere? (You can't argue with religious fanatics and they're sort of committed to their prophecy demanding they conquer Earth and change it... even if they do have super powers as it is now.)

Kara and Mon-El are strangely unphased by the explosion in Selena's secret room and their white clothes are surprisingly unsullied by the fire and dust kicked up by the collapsing ceiling.

If Reign's whole purpose was to ultimately terraform Earth into a new Krypton, what was the point of her going around enforcing a more lethal form of justice when she first awoke?

The death of Agent Demos is played up as being far more significant than it should be. While the character is one of the few named DEO background agents, he's hardly had enough screen time for his death to have much resonance.

The heat-vision blasts in this episode act more like concussive beams than heat-rays, knocking people back rather than setting things on fire.

James Olsen has nothing to do in this episode but come in and try and give Winn a pep-talk.

Honestly, a lot of the emotional moments in this episode seem to misfire or are played off far faster than they should be, such as Alex and Alura meeting face to face for the first time.


Performances

Carl Lumbly has stolen virtually every episode he's appeared in this season. This episode is no exception, though the interactions between him and David Harewood are easily the high-point of this episode and - speaking as someone who is losing his father to Alzheimer's - all too realistically portrayed.

Chris Wood has prove far better at underplaying Mon-El this year than he was in overplaying the cocky frat-boy in Season Two.  The moment in which he says everything while saying nothing while talking to Winn is a quantum leap forward in what we've seen him do with the character.


Super Trivia

The base idea of this episode bears some slight resemblance to the plot of the 1984 Supergirl movie, which briefly saw Supergirl trapped in The Phantom Zone and helpless to do anything about the villain - a witch named Selena. This episode sees Kara briefly trapped on Argo City with no way back to Earth, as it is threatened by a Kryptonian priestess with dark magical powers named Selena.

There's also some superficial resemblance to Superman 2, with three evil black-clad Kryptonians menacing the Earth with the assistance of a human stooge. (Lex Luthor in the movie. Thomas Coville here.)

The ultimate goal of The Daughters of Juru is revealed to be that of General Zod in the movie Man of Steel - terraforming Earth into a New Krypton.

A new version of Selena was introduced into the reality of DC Comics Rebirth in Supergirl #10 (August 2017). This Selena was a powerful sorceress, described as Heir to Ataxia. She was convinced to join the villain team The Fatal Five, which was being led by Emerald Empress against Supergirl. She abandoned the team in mid-mission, however, wishing to avoid a losing battle and having no real grudge against Supergirl or loyalty to her new comrades.

One of the three Daughters of Juru besides Selena is named Vita. This may be in honor of writer Vita Ayala, who co-wrote part of the DC Rebirth Supergirl series with Steve Orlando.

At one point, Selena muses that Supergirl "actually cares for these humans." This line is a paraphrase of one of General Zod's lines from Superman 2 -  "He actually cares for these Earth people."

M'yrnn proposes merging himself with the planet Earth in order to stabilize it in the face of Reign's attacks. This is what J'onn J'onzz eventually did with the planet Mars in the reality of DC One Million.


Technobabble

Harun-El is made toxic to Kryptonians by Earth's atmosphere.

M'yrnn says that The Reach will allow him to live forever within his son's mind.

Lena determines that Sam's body cells are reverting back to their natural state (i.e. Kryptonian) but her blood cells are oxygen deprived and shrinking, with some of them having become dormant. At Ruby's suggestion, Alex decides to try exposing Sam to the intense yellow sun lamps the DEO used for speeding Supergirl's healing.

Winn develops an omni-directional self-maintaining sub-atomic personal shield - i.e. a belt-mounted force-field. It is based around a frequency conversion of some sort and is the cornerstone of the new non-lethal tech that Winn is building for the DEO. The dumbed-down explanation is that it is like a magnet for atoms.

Zor-El had been working on a transmat portral - a teleportation device that could work across interstellar distances to send the people of Krypton to another planet.

Lena uses her refractive scatterfield to test Sam's eyesight. Since Sam is able to see through the field and see Lena waving at her, we know that her body is not reacting like a Kryptonian's should. If Sam were a healthy Kryptonian, she would have hurt her eyes just trying to look at Lena through the field.

Lena says that environmental factors can influence gene expression, turning it on and off. She theorizes she can use Harun-El to rejuvenate Sam's blood cells.

Kara is able to use the cache crystals as a sort of impromptu radio, allowing her to talk through the hologram of Alura in the DEO headquarters.

A multi-phase descrambler which links to a power source is part of the transmat mechanics. The insulator or Zor-El's transmat is cracked, meaning it will only be good for one trip.

Alex's new gun fires ammunition that generates an electrical net capable of briefly restraining three Kryptonians. It works until the net is blasted by heat vision. She also has Kryptonite bullets and the glove of her costume can generate a Kryptonite energy field.

Winn's personal force-field is shown to be strong enough to protect him from a Kryptonian heat-vision blast. It also keeps him from being killed when he is thrown against the wall by a Dark Kryptonian, though the concussive force is enough to knock him unconscious. The focused energy of three Kryptonians' heat vision, however, is too much for it, as Agent Demos tragically discovers.

Eve Teschmacher reworks the Harun-El to try and jump-start Sam's blood cells. It does not work. Lena thinks perhaps she can make it work by adjusting the ratio of the solution she used before and reinject Sam with it.

Lena determines that Sam and Reign are still connected by a symbiotic non-local entanglement. This means that Sam is getting weaker as Reign is getting stronger, despite Reign no longer being contained within Sam.

M'yrnn and J'onn interrupt The Reach to help evacuate National City.

Mon-El speaks of a world called Zune, who terraformed their world by digging to the planet's core, creating a Genesis event. The process took hours.

M'yrnn says that is he uses his shape-shifting and phasing powers to merge with the nexus point of Reign's attack, he can help to stabilize the Earth by merging with it.


Dialogue Triumphs


M'yrnn: Home is not a place. It is living among those who love and honor you. I can depart this world with peace because I know my son is home.

M'yrnn: These are happy memories. They should make you happy.
J'onn: And they do, Father. But they also remind me how much I'm going to miss you. Every memory that passes between us brings us closer to that eventuality.
M'yrnn: By the end of this, you will not feel loss, J'onn. You will feel complete. I promise.
J'onn: How do you know?
M'yrnn: Because I know the hole that comes with not knowing this. The way I felt when your mother was taken from me. When you were taken from me. Be patient, my son. Let the memories fill you up as you have filled me up.

(Winn is asking Mon-El why he hasn't returned to the future.)
Mon-El: Uh-yeah. Yeah, I was but then the time beacon broke and... Kara ran into some trouble, so I uh, I decided to stay back to...
Winn: (unconvinced) Uh-huh. Always the hero.
Mon-El: Yeah.
(Mon-El pauses, before speaking in a more quiet tone.)
Mon-El: I lost her once, man. I'm not sure I can do it again.
(Comprehension dawns on Winn's face, as he glances to where Alex is working.)
Winn: Wow, really?  Dude.  Dude, forget Reign! You need to get back here fast so we can get a drink!
(Mon-El chuckles.)

Selena: Give me the blood.
Kara: You want the blood? You can have it.
(Kara throws the blood vials into the air toward Selena. Her heat vision catches it in mid-flight as Selena catches it, wincing as it begins to burn and melt in her hand.)

M'yrnn: This planet is my son's home. I intend to save it with him!


Dialogue Disasters


Eve: More bad news?
Lena: Yeah. Sam's no better. And now three people in National City with the same powers of Supergirl have just murdered somebody.
Eve: Oh. That is not good.


Continuity


The Daughters of Juru had a prophecy which foretold of three of them standing on Earth in order to bring about the rise of Reign.

The three members of The Daughters of Juru are revealed as Selena, Vita

Harun-El is made toxic to Kryptonians by Earth's atmosphere.

Selena had an atlas of Earth in her secret quarters.

Kara identifies some of the writings on the atlas as being identical to those in Coville's journal. She recognizes them as the instructions to create a Worldkiller from 319.

Sam is not feeling well but has not transformed into Reign again.

M'yrnn comes by the DEO to say goodbye to Alex.

The Reach ceremony requires a Martian artifact called The Staff of Kh'ollar.

Alex is left in charge of the DEO while J'onn is away performing The Reach.

Among the items on Selena's secret room, Kara finds a scabbard which has "Whoever wields this sword shall bathe in the blood of the old worlds and reign with might over the new." written upon it. Alura identifies this as The Scabbard of Juru and the line as a quote from an ancient Kryptonian religious text.

Selena leaves behind a hologram of herself that speaks to Alura along with a fire-bomb trap that wounds Thara.

Selena explains that she gave Kara the Harun-El because it was necessary for Sam and Reign to be separated in order to enact the final stage of her plan and helping Kara saved her the trouble of doing it herself.

Sam says that she was feeling totally normal but now feels so weak she can barely hold her head up and that her insides are melting away.

Agent Demos has some kind of grudge against Winn.

The gravity manipulator Mon-El purchased in 321 is destroyed by Selena's trap. This means he cannot use it to contact The Legion and have them come to help get him and Kara to Earth.

Kara spent many afternoons watching her father work in his lab. He often used her as a sounding board for his ideas. She remembers him always talking to her as if she were another scientist.

The ritual to bring back Reign fails because they do not have the blood of Purity and Pestilence. Luckily, Thomas Coville knows that blood samples can be found at the DEO.

Lena uses her refractive scatter field from 319 to test Sam's vision.

Selena was able to get Zor-El's transmat mostly-functional. The problem is that it would require another transmat portal at their destination in order to function.

The DEO has a transmat portal, which Winn recovered in 209.

The DEO also has Kryptonian cache crystals, like the ones in Zor-El's lab.

Kara is able to use the cache crystals as a sort of impromptu radio, allowing her to talk through the hologram of Alura in the DEO headquarters.

There are 500 million potential moves on an Ok'Rock'Tock board.

Alura comes to Earth with Mon-El and Kara.

Agent Demos dies after being hit by the heat vision of all three of the Daughters of Juru. This turns out to be too much for Winn's new force-field belt to cope with.

Eve Teschmacher is still working in Lena's lab, helping her with trying to save Sam.

Enough of the dried blood of Purity and Pestilence remains on Serena's hand after Kara's heat-vision blast for her to sprinkle the ashes of it into the fire being used to reform Reign.

The Fountains of Lillith are two fountains from ancient Kryptonian mythology said to be in The Valley of Juru. Alura learned of them from Jindah Kol Rozz, who ranted about them at her sentencing. One fountain gave infinite strength. The other gave weakness. Rozz spoke of a woman born of the fountain, who had the power of destruction - i.e. Reign. Kara theorizes that this may be the source of Reign's power rather than Earth's yellow sun.

Sam asks for Lena to help her return to The Valley of the Juru (where she went in 317) so she can use the fountain to indirectly weaken Reign.

Thomas Coville is apparently killed by The Daughter of Juru once his usefulness is ended.

Reign's awakening triggers an 8.0 earthquake in National City, super-storms and tornadoes in Madagascar and a tsunami warning.

M'yrnn declares his intention to merge with the nexus point of the disaster, allowing him to stabilize it.


Location


The new Fortress of Sanctuary


The Bottom Line


On the one hand, the plotting of this episode is utterly nonsensical, with the reasons for Reign's existence having completely changed amid a host of minor things that don't make sense like concussive heat vision and the expectation that we're supposed to be deeply moved by the death of Agent Demos while undercutting emotional moments that should be more powerful, like Alex and Alura meeting.

And yet... for everything this episode borrows from earlier Superman and Supergirl stories, the execution here is far stronger than in those earlier stories. By making the Kryptonians trying to destroy the Earth to create a New Krypton into religious fanatics rather than soldiers adhering to some elitist eugenics program, Supergirl Season 3 has corrected the biggest flaw with the plot of Man of Steel. For all its flaws, this episode largely works in spite of itself.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 21 - Not Kansas

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




Plot

With the threat of Reign seemingly resolved, Kara returns to Argo City with Mon-El as she considers where she truly belongs. Meanwhile, back on Earth, J'onn discovers that DEO weaponry is making its way into the streets of National City and seeks James Olsen's help in discovering how.


Influences

The Return To Krypton storyline from Superman (Clark restores the city of Kandor and its people to proper size, only to discover that he doesn't fit in there.) and the on-going real-world debate involving gun control in the United States.


Goofs

Kara describes Argo City as the city where she grew up and says that while a lot of it was destroyed, most of it has been rebuilt. This doesn't jibe with what we saw in the previous episode, where Kara didn't even realize she was in a Kryptonian city (much less her home town) until she saw the writing on the memorial.

Why do they throw going-away parties for Kara in both of her identities when she hasn't decided if she's returning to Argo City permanently or not?

J'onn's decision to disarm the DEO doesn't make a lot of sense on multiple levels while simultaneously seeming like a step that should have been taken years ago. While The DEO might require standard weaponry when posing as FBI agents (which they do most of the time when they are in the field), most of their targets tend to require more specialized weaponry and equipment to deal with in any case.

It also bears mentioning that Winn is not a weapons designer by training or inclination, so throwing the job of designing non-lethal weapons at him seems a bit strange but well in keeping with the "a genius can do anything" ethos of the show.


Performances

As usual, the chemistry between Melissa Bennoist and Chris Wood is fantastic.


Artistry

It's a subtle thing, but Winn playing with a NERF gun and nearly shooting himself by accident while talking to Guardian is a neat bit of foreshadowing for the theme of the episode.

The sequence of Kara and Mon-El in the garden perfectly mimics the scene that opened Season 3, right down to the music.


Super Trivia

The title is a reference to a line from the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz - "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Kannar-Onn is a Kryptonian rite of passage that is meant to be conducted every decade of a person's life. Superman once made reference to this ritual and teaching it to his daughter Cir-El in the comics.

The DCTVU version of Krypton on Earth 38 has a ritual called Kannar-On as well. Kara finds a certificate indicating that she passed it while sorting through various mementos in her mother's house. This version of Kannar-Onn sounds something like the Bat Mitzvah of Jewish culture, requiring hours and hours of study of Kryptonian history and heritage.

This episode introduces a new character - a woman named Thara Ak-Varr. We are told that Thara was one of Kara's closest friends during her childhood in Argo City. She is now the Chief Peace Officer of Argo. All of her family died during the destruction of Krypton. She is married to a man named Lir-Al and has two children.

The name of Thara is one of some significance to the Kryptonian saga in DC Comics. The first woman to bear that name was Thara Gem-Zee. A native of the city of Kandor, she was the niece of Van-Zee and the wife of Ak-Varr. Van-Zee and Ak-Varr were the secret identities of the Kryptonian vigilantes Nightwing and Flamebird during the Pre-Crisis Era.

In the Post Crisis Era, Thara was the name of Kara Zor-El's best friend in childhood - Thara Ak-Varr. This Thara was the daughter of Ak-Varr and a woman named Tes. She was also a resident of Kandor and was reunited Zor-El and Alura when Brainiac captured and shrunk Argo City as he had Kandor and combined the two populations. Kara's parents raised their daughter's friend as if she were their own daughter, due to the deaths of her family. She would later take up the vigilante identity of Flamebird for herself.

The boy whom Mon-El cured of his lung disease is revealed to be named Val. Val is a common name on Krypton, shared by two previous characters. One of Superman's ancestors in the Pre-Crisis Superman comics was an explorer named Val-El. A scientist named Val-El, who is now a character on the Syfy series Krypton, is depicted as one of Superman's ancestors. Val-Zod is also the name of the second Superman of Earth 2 in The New 52 reality of DC Comics.


Technobabble

Argo City has artificial gravity powered by some kind of synthetic gravity manipulator. Since gravity can be used to bend space-time, Mon-El can use that to send a message to the future.

Winn conducts a ballistics test that confirms that the gun which dented Guardian's shield is the same type of assault rifle used exclusively by The DEO.

The Heel 14 is a civilian version of the assault rifle exclusively produced for the DEO. It can be modified with a bump-stock to create a gun identical to a DEO assault rifle.

According to Lena, Harun-El is more than just a a biolistic delivery system. It could be revolutionary for reasons she does not explain.


Dialogue Triumphs

Kara:  (To Alex) When I first got here, I was alone and scared, having just lost everything. And I would walk around and feel this dull.. empty pit. A hollowness. And yeah, we got off to a rocky start, but once we got close, that hollowness just disappeared. That was you. You filled my heart. And no matter where I go, you will always be in it.

Alex: You have given all of us so much as Supergirl. Reign is gone. You have dedicated your whole life to taking care of others. It's time for Kara Zor-El to take care of herself. And no one deserves that more than you. But. Selfishly? I don't know what I'm going to do without you.

Mr. Preston: I wouldn't dream of standing in the way of your investigation.
James: No, you just dream of a world where everybody is armed to the teeth, right?
Mr. Preston: And you dream of a world where person reads CatCo Magazine. We're both businessmen, Mr. Olsen.

Alura: Kara, you've had to live your life as a warrior. Surviving on a foreign planet. Defending others. You have to take in the fact that you don't have to live that way anymore. You've spent so much time taking care of others. Maybe it's finally time that you take care of yourself?
Kara: It's funny.. my sister, Alex.. she almost said the exact same thing.
Alura: Well, I know why you love her so much.

Arthur: They never respected me!
J'onn: You think that gun gives you respect? It has no power. It's just a tool for spreading fear and fear is not respect.

Mon-El: I know you've moved on. From us. But I didn't just come back here to help you fight Reign. When I left Imra, she asked me to... sort out how I felt. And not just about her. (pauses and takes a breath) About you. And I've been trying to convince myself that friendship between us was the right thing... but I think I've been lying to myself.
(Kara bites her lip and looks down.)
Mon-El: I'm sorry to spring this on you in the midst of you trying to acclimate here...
Kara: Don't be sorry.
Mon-El: I just don't want to hide things. Pretend like they don't exist.
(Kara nods and sighs.)
Kara: After you left... I had a dream where I was walking down this path. A lot like this one. It was peaceful and serene and... you were there waiting for me. And all I wanted was for you to be in that field with me.
(She takes a step closer to him.)
Kara:
Now you are.
Mon-El: (nodding) Now I am.
(Kara reaches up and strokes Mon-El's beard.. as a beeping is heard in the distance.)
Mon-El: What's that?
(The two look away from each other to see a robot with red eyes flying toward them.)


Dialogue Disasters

James: I heard what you said about strength and peace, and I believe in that. That's why the only weapon anyone needs is a shield.
J'onn: That's something my father taught me a long time ago. Thank you for helping me remember that, James.


Continuity

Lena is able to use the Harun-El sample to make a cure for Sam, seemingly destroying Reign.

Supergirl asks Lena if she can synthesize more of the Harun-El and tells her about Argo City. Lena says she will try.

It is revealed that the box Alura gave Kara when she returned to Earth in 320 contained a Dar Essa flower.

Kara decides to return to Argo City. She invites Mon-El to come with her.

Officially, Kara Danvers goes on some kind of special assignment to explain Kara's absence from her job at CatCo.

Kara discovers her best friend from childhood - Thara Ak-Varr - is still alive. Thara is now married with two children and is the Chief Peace Officer for Argo City.

Kara hates Opera. Alex loves it, especially Puccini.

M'yrnn has built up a taste for opera. J'onn thinks the complex rhythms and orchestrations of the musicare helping him with his memory problems.

M'yrnn claims that a surge of clarity comes before a Martian with his dementia issues dies.

M'yrnn asks J'onn to perform a Martian ritual called "The Reach" with him. This ritual allows a Martian to telepathically pass all of his knowledge and memories on to his children.

J'onn is in denial about his father being close to death.

J'onn refers to the events of 205 and a gang that utilized alien weapons.

James identifies the weapon that the bank robber used as an assault rifle exclusively used by The DEO, which possessed enough power to dent his Guardian shield.

J'onn says that he had all of the DEO's weapons microchiped following the events of 314 and Winn's mother stealing a gun from the DEO Armory.

Val, the boy whom Mon-El helped in 320, is revealed to be entirely healed of his lung disease.

Kara learns about what Mon-El did to help heal Val.

An out-of-control girder nearly crushes Kara in the Argo City marketplace.Kara saw someone in hooded dark clothing running away from the scene after it happened.

Mon-El gives Kara his Legion Flight Ring to wear in case she needs it.

The manufacturer of the DEO assault rifle makes a civilian version, The Heel 14, which is legally classified as a hunting rifle, that can be modified with a bump-stock to be identical to an assault rifle.

Clark Kent was somehow able to track the private sale of an assault weapon despite the lack of a central gun registry. This confirms that Earth 38 USA has similar gun laws to the real world.

Lena is firmly pro-gun ownership, owning a personal gun that she claims to have used in self-defense before.

James is firmly pro-gun control, not seeing how a government gun registry can hurt non-criminals.

Eve Teschmacher - James Olsen's personal assistant - is revealed to have studied nuclear physics at Yale.

Ol-Irus is an electronics merchant in Argo City who is a bit of an oddball. He was apparently once a science teacher, who taught both Kara and Thara as children. He once assigned them to take insect samples home to study and they wound up reproducing in the hundreds.

Laura is the name of the landscape architect working on Thara's lawn. Thara complains that she built a stone gazebo so that it was facing  south so they could enjoy the view of the lake off their orchard. Instead, it is facing north towards the woods.

Kara spots another hooded figure watching her at dinner. This woman is later revealed to be Felra. Her husband owns a grocery store.

There is no digital trail or paper trail for the purchases of Heel 14 rifles. This leaves the DEO having to call every individual gun store in National City and hoping the owners kept accurate records of who purchased that gun recently. Even with all the DEO's resources, the are only able to identify 10% of the people who purchased the weapon.

Winn is, however, able to pull photographic records of every person who bought more than one weapon at once including a Heel 14.

The girder that almost hit Kara is blamed on a faulty part.

Felra was at work at the time of the construction accident.

James identifies the shooter as Arthur Willis. He passed his background check with no problems and had no history of mental illness. He bought four guns at the time he purchased his Heel 14. He is revealed to be a lawyer with Vang and Morales whose wife left him due to his workaholic habits trying to earn a partnership at his firm, only to be fired once they thought he was no longer useful.

Vang and Morales claim they offered Arthur Willis mental health counseling after several outbursts at work but he refused it.

Mon-El tells Kara that he still loves her.

Kara refers to her dream from 301 and how she saw herself in a meadow with Mon-El.

Mon-El and Kara are attacked by a robot in the garden. They escape thanks to the Legion Flight Ring and spy Felra watching them.

Felra says that she is a Daughter of the Night and a Child of Juru and that Selena is the high priestess of their order.

When Kara says that Selena helped her to defeat Reign, Felra says nothing is as it seems.

J'onn declares that The DEO will begin phasing out all lethal-force weapons and destroying all of their guns. This results in several DEO agents quitting, despite J'onn offering to let them transfero into another unit of federal law enforcement.

J'onn places Winn in charge of developing a line of non-lethal weapons for all DEO agents to use in place of standard handguns.

Lena brings Eve Teschmacher into her private lab to help her with studying The Harun-El.

Lena thinks she can use the Harun-El toward revolutionary ends.

J'onn begins preparing to undergo The Reach with M'yrnn.

Alex makes the decision to adopt a child and begins looking at agencies on her computer.

We see Sam and Ruby watching Singing In The Rain together, when Sam suddenly freezes up and drops a glass.

J'onn's spaceship is stolen from Argo City by the Children of Juru, including Selena. The burning symbol of Reign is left behind where it was parked.

Selena and the Children of Juru (two other women) use a crystal, provided by a waiting Thomas Coville, to create a new Fortress of Sanctuary.


Location

Argo City

The forest where the new Forest Of Sanctuary is erected.


Untelevised Adventures

Where Thomas Coville has been since 312 and where he acquired the crystal used to make a new Fortress of Sanctuary.


The Bottom Line

There's a lot about this episode that doesn't add up, but the performances - as with most of Season 3 so far - does a lot to sell it.

The chief oddity is that the fact that Supergirl's mother is alive isn't played up nearly as much as it should be and Alura has an amazingly small role in the events of this episode. The fact that Kara asks Mon-El to return to her with Argo City in a social capacity and not Alex is also odd, as you'd think Kara would want the two halves of her family to meet!

The gun control subplot doesn't quite work either. While I have no objection to a television superhero series like Supergirl trying to tackle social issues (my favorite comic is Green Arrow, for crying out loud), the lines drawn between the characters don't quite work. Naturally, Lena - as a strict individualist who has had her life threatened continually - is firmly behind people's right to arm themselves for self-defense... yet Lena is more than capable of creating defensive technologies to render guns obsolete!

Likewise James, as a black man who is used to being viewed with suspicion even when unarmed despite his relatively high-society position, has some fairly strong views about less guns being a good thing... but his position about the only weapon a person really needing being a shield doesn't quite work since not everyone has access to the technology and training he does.

What's really weird is that Alex isn't given a chance to weigh in on this question, when you think that she - as someone who depends upon using guns in her day job who is thinking of becoming a parent - would be the perfect point-of-view character for a story line involving guns and the pros and cons of owning one and how society responds to gun violence. It makes way more sense for Alex to be the one coping with this issue than J'onn, whose edict at the end seems remarkably short-sighted ignoring that Winn isn't a weapons specialist and ignores that The DEO is already using a variety of non-violent weaponry as regular bullets don't work on a lot of aliens.