Friday, June 02, 2017

"Supergirl" - That Season 2 Ender

I'm not going to recap the final two episodes of "Supergirl", mostly because it's been well covered.  But I do want to talk about some things that were unusual.  I confess I was a bit of a half-watcher this season.  I didn't love the she wants to be a reporter but her mean boss hates her storyline.  But I did love her growing friendship with Lena Kane.  In fact it addressed the thing I had talked with a Twitter friend first season, she needed a friend who wasn't a love interest or a sister.  She needed a friend.  
One of the things that "Supergirl" has never shied away from was strong women.  So, having this year's big bad be Mon-El's mom, having this year's person of dubious loyalty be Lena's mom, having the president be a woman, having Cat come back, well, look at that there are so many women in this superhero show and I haven't even mentioned her sister or her sister's girlfriend.  It isn't just seeing women characters, for all my issues with this season, they had built why each of these characters felt they way they did.  Lillian being anti-alien, Cat being pro-good story, but also pro-Earth not being taken over by evil aliens, evil alien queen being thwarted by people who wouldn't go along with her plans, and Supergirl, who had taught an alien from a planet of mostly bad guys, that being a hero to humans was a worthy goal. 
So sure, they put J'onn in a coma an episode before, to take him out of the equation.  But Supergirl and Lillian beam up to save Lena and Mon-El from Rhea, except Lillian really only meant to use it for her daughter, because whatever aliens.  Except Supergirl expected that and had a second remote that she uses to send Mon-El back because she's going to try to change Rhea's mind. 
Supergirl has fallen into the traditional trap of expecting some people to be better than they are, but she also knows that the DEO has a cannon ready to fire at the ship, so she is doing this in a way that endangers the least amount of people while still hoping that her boyfriend's mom isn't the most evil.  And so when Mon-El kisses her and leaves, picture me cheering. He knew him still being on the ship would give his mom too much leverage. Instead he needs to get back to tell Alex not to fire the cannon yet, because Supergirl is still on board.  
Turns out Rhea had some other leverage, a silver kryptonited Superman.  So Superman and Supergirl have a showdown that ends with them flying out of the ship until Supergirl finally knocks him out long enough to fly both them and Alex the Fortress where everyone can de-kryptonite.  And for the slowpokes in the back, Supergirl tries to tell Superman that the kryptonite must have also slowed him down or she wouldn't have been able to get over on him, and he's like nope, I was at full strength, nice job cousin. 
They peak through Superman's files, find an ancient Daxamite ritual they can call on, and Supergirl challenges Rhea to a duel for the Earth.  In the end Rhea cheats and Supergirl has to make use of the lead device Lena made, which makes Earth toxic to all the Daxamites, including Mon-El.  
So here's the thing. Supergirl (and Kara) made the choice that countless superheroes make.  She sacrificed some of her personal happiness for the greater good.  She tried all the right ways to fight it, but had back up plans in case other people weren't playing by the same rules.  In that sense, the only difference is the gender of the characters.  (And yes, I'm aware the the end of season 2 of "Buffy" has our heroine making a similar choice.) 
But, I can literally count on one hand the number of shows I've watched where the dude kissed the girl, or agreed to be her second in battle and actually sat back and let her fight.  Even leaving her because he knew she could handle it.  This is kind of unusual.  Sure it shouldn't be.  But it is. 
Also, both episodes, in case the titles "Resist" and "Nevertheless She Persisted" didn't clue you in, looked at trying to be good and honorable when the folks you were fighting weren't.  How having people you care about isn't a weakness, it's a strength.  That being vulnerable, or emotional, didn't make you less strong, it made you more.  And that in many ways was what made these episodes not just episodes where the superhero happened to be a girl.  There's a lot of stuff out there in the world about how being successful as a woman requires you to suppress the things we encourage women to be.  Strong fictional heroines are often expected to be good fighters with limited emotions. Added to the season long look at how many aliens were also fleeing bad aliens, so humans needed to look critically before painting all aliens with the same brush, there's a crazy awesome theme of how being your best self is a choice, it's hard work, but it's a choice you can continue to make.  And that's the thing that made Supergirl's ongoing hope that Rhea would change a realistic wish, even as she still made backup plans.