I have to admit, the penultimate episode of Supergirl’s first season was definitely not my favorite. I’ve been a big booster for this show, even before it premiered, but last week’s culmination of the “Myriad” storyline was not nearly as satisfying as it could have been. Of course, there were some strong moments — as is the case with every Supergirl episode, Calista Flockhart is the MVP — but I really wasn’t feeling the villains’ evil plot this week, especially considering this was being alluded to all season-long.
Perhaps it was because this episode was following up the brilliant Flash crossover, or maybe it was too much to make the “Myriad” plotline pay off, but I felt like it stumbled to get to the finish line when it didn’t have to. But let’s dive in to the strong stuff first!
One of the things I’ve loved all season is how much the producers pay homage to Superman and Supergirl history on the show. From the casting of former TV Superman Dean Cain as Kara’s adoptive father to various subtle references to Smallville and not-so-subtle references to the comics, Supergirl is clearly respectful of the history that has come before. This was expressed in “Myriad” by looking at the cast list for the episode. In addition to star Melissa Benoist, it also featured Helen Slater and Laura Vandervoort, all in the same episode.
Speaking of allusions to the comic, we also got a nice look at another Fort Rozz prisoner, who also happens to be another character from the Superman comics: Maxima, played by former WWE wrestler Eve Torres. This isn’t the first time Maxima has been depicted in live action, however, since she was the main antagonist in a Season 8 episode of Smallville.
It was also cool to return to Alex and Hank’s adventures on the run — which were completely ignored in the crossover. Seeing these former DEO agents operating as fugitives could have been a whole-season unto itself. It was an especially nice touch to see Alex and J’onn traveling incognito. The scene when Highway Patrol inspect their bus, was genuinely tense, but I’m not exactly sure what the point of their subplot was supposed to be.
For example, why were they visiting Alex’s mom — other than to bring Helen Slater back tot he show? I mean, if the authorities are looking for them, I’m pretty sure the home of the fugitive’s sole surviving parent would be the first place they’d look, but I digress.
The last thing that really worked this episode, again, was the interaction between Kara and Cat. Asmentions in his Vulture piece about Flockhart’s role on the series, Cat is the “hardy soul who always gives me a reason to keep watching.”
Cat’s balcony speech to Kara about choosing hope over fear is another one of those reasons. And not just because it so succinctly makes the case for how Supergirl should be but it also directly speaks to how these superheroes are typically depicted in pop culture.
Despite these bright spots, the episode on balance fell flat for me. Maybe because the majority of it involved Kara, Cat, and Maxwell Lord just talking to each other at CatCo HQ, which led to a lot of scenes of telling and not showing. But I think it’s because the reveal of what Myriad actually is was less than exciting.
The final moments of the previous episode was actually chilling — James, after he and Kara finally kiss, becomes a mindless drone following hundreds of thousands of other people on the streets of National City, under the influence of an unseen manipulator. Turns out, Non and Indigo were just mind-controlling everyone to use all of their brainpower to solve the world’s problems. From racism to climate change, Non’s evil plot was to turn National City into a giant think tank, to paraphrase Max Lord.
Really? That’s the gist behind the word that makes Kryptonian A.I. freak the fuck out? Sure, the mind control aspect is pretty messed up, leading to a scene in which Winn and James (and one of their co-workers we’ve never seen before, so she might as well have been wearing a red shirt) all jump out of the window simultaneously.
This episode also gives us another glimpse of this universe’s Superman, and to be honest, this was probably the most maddening aspect of the show thus far. Of course, I’ve enjoyed the previous instances in which they’ve brought in Clark in the past — whether via instant message or a glimpse of his Fortress — but this felt the most shoehorned. Worse, his appearance didn’t make any sense!
Ever since they introduced a whole battalion of evil Kryptonians, one of the questions that has dogged the show has been ‘Where is Superman?’ This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I appreciate that the show doesn’t totally ignore the presence of Superman, and thus far, it has done a great job of separating itself from her cousin’s shadow, while still feeling authentically a part of the larger Super-universe. On the other hand, the writers have to always twist themselves into knots to explain why he doesn’t just fly over to National City to lend a hand.
So when Kelex tells Kara that Kal-El is off-world and unable to assist the crisis in her city, I thought the writers had figured out an acceptable answer to the season’s biggest question: Where is Superman to fight the Evil Kryptonians?! But then Clark sends Kara a text, and tells her he’s on his way. What? Why? You’ve already established why and how Superman isn’t able to help, so why bring him in? Especially if you’re just going to turn him into another drone? Which makes even less sense because, while he may have been raised on Earth, his physiology IS STILL ALIEN!
The shot of Superman as a speck in the sky was definitely not worth the narrative fail of bringing him on in the first place.
Still, Superman’s fifteen seconds of screentime on Supergirl was still more engaging than the entirety of his participation in Batman v Superman.