23 November 2015

Supergirl S1E4 "Livewire" review

Kara's story continues into its 4th episode of Supergirl, with Kara facing a new threat while at the same time spending some time with her family for the holidays. Unfortunately the show is starting to show some cracks despite its good intentions and strong start to the series. It proves Supergirl can no longer rest on the goodwill earned by its willingness to fully embrace its comic book roots and needs to start setting the stage for the story that will play throughout the series. This episode is a disappointing indicator into what the show could lazily fall into yet also highlights the potential this series has for opening up to a new audience. 

This episode primarily brings a new villain for Supergirl to face, Livewire, who prior to this episode, I had no idea who she was or what her abilities were. However, after watching this episode the best I could describe her is a generic female version of Electro from Spider-Man. 

Aside from her 'costume' being a bad wig, over the top acting and pulling ridiculous expressions, the character that would become Livewire was quickly introduced with far too much exposition and promptly transformed into a person with super powers who then just as quickly decides that she wants to kill someone who has looked out for her for most of her professional career. It all feels very rushed, forced and suffers greatly because of it. This inability to explain or expand on even the most basic of character traits or motivation kills any sympathy the audience could potentially have for her and makes her just another generic villain.

Fortunately this episode focus on two story lines, alongside the fight between Kara and Livewire, Kara also has to deal with thanksgiving with her friends and family. In-between the moments of clunky, cheesy dialogue and obvious plot beats there are some entertaining moments spread throughout. Not only do we learn more regarding Kara's earth upbringing with her foster parents, the interactions between Kara, her sister Alex and her mother highlights a unique strength of the show. The ability to focus on plot lines such as these opens the superhero genre to an audience that would otherwise completely dismiss them. It's an opportunity that the show has shown potential for in its few episodes and one they should completely expand upon. Admittedly it's heavy handed with the delivery and it's obvious it's trying to pander to a specific audience, but on the whole, it's refreshing to see story lines aimed at certain demographics that often get overlooked.

Another great positive from this episode is the growth of the relationship between Kara and her boss, Cat. Revealing a part of their past to each other, allows them to see each other in a new light and give each other something to reflect and learn from. What works best about this turn of events is that it works neatly into the Livewire story. From moments like this to the genuinely amusing dialogue in certain scenes are when the show starts revealing what it could be in the future and gives me hope of what it could become.

The continuation of the great effects and action from the first few episodes are the main saving grace of Supergirl thus far. The action continues to be fast and powerful and display super strength in highly satisfying way. The electricity effects of Livewire in particular are a great example of what this show can provide. The actual final fight sequence between Supergirl and Livewire is uninspired though, resolving in the most predictable way possible. At this point in the story there's no development of her powers or any attempt to show her learning to control her abilities better. The great effects need some great moments to go alongside them.

Not only this but the lack of an overarching story throughout the episodes is starting to seriously harm the show, with a risk of it becoming a 'villain of the week' type series, which is made worse when this week's villain is a major misstep. Side characters such as her best friend Winn still have not developed any real charm or made much contribution to any major plot points. It's time the show went into a higher gear and started showing more. More heroic acts, more characters and more story. It needs to keep the earnest and optimistic tone it currently has while balancing it out with more serious moments and higher stakes.

I realise I'm being quite harsh on the show but it's only because of the potential of something special beneath the surface. Unfortunately as the episodes continue, it feels to be slipping further away. The positives and potential shown are still enough to keep viewers for the time being, but it is far overdue to start revealing more of the plot that will continue throughout the series.

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