7 December 2015

Supergirl S1E6 "Red Faced" review

Supergirl's latest outing is a great improvement over the last few episodes. It finally delivers on some of the potential the show has been promising from the start but hasn't been delivering on. A mixture of a strong story along with improvements in nearly every area of the show lead to an episode that this show has sorely been needing. While not perfect, it's a great stride that can hopefully be built upon into future entries.

The episode's title serves a dual purpose, referencing the entrance of DC character  robot/android Red Tornado who makes a rare live action TV appearance, while also referencing the main theme of the episode, anger. All the various aspects of Kara's life are finally starting to wear her down. Between her boss, friends, love life and family, her built up frustration starts to get the better of her, resulting in negative consequences for not only Kara but Supergirl as well. At the same time the Army is interested in testing their new android, designed for threats such as Supergirl, with obvious consequences.

While the plot is far more solid than compared to the last few episodes, it's true strength comes from its ability to make every area flow together and as a result feel more natural. The character interaction felt less like one dimensional characters throwing around clich├ęs to progress the story. Scenes between Kara and the majority of the supporting cast all had a meaning behind it. It not only progressed the plot but gave a better look into the characters themselves and not just through dialogue but through the character's actions as well. This was achieved by the clever treatment of the story of Kara's repressed anger.

The story integrated the other areas of the show that in other episodes felt disconnected, leading up to events that create a more interesting outcome. By combining the usual Jimmy, Work, DEO and family storylines into the main theme it allows events to flow more naturally. It delves into her character far more than any other storyline, resulting in making her more relatable. The story was well paced and well framed, with each character having enough space to react and develop from the actions they took. It even included the interesting viewpoint of her alien heritage and the mental repercussions of coming away from her home world at such an important age. We see this affect every area of her life, from her relationships to her super powers and thus the action scenes as well. Because of this we see the part of the character that makes superheroes so interesting, the cracks beneath the all perfect exterior they try to show. It's great how the writers are building on the strong foundations of Kara's character.

Images had already been released that revealed what Red Tornado would look like in the Supergirl universe. My reaction, like many people, was one of scepticism, but thankfully, the character looks far more believable in motion than he does in static images. While it is the most obvious casualty of the TV show budget that the series has shown so far, it's good enough to make the viewer forget that he primarily looks like a man in a red morph suit with red painted cardboard stuck to him. Thankfully the rest of the effects are far better, ranging from decent to very good as usual. Red tornado in particular has a lot of special effects in any scenes he is in due to the nature of his tornado abilities and, for the majority of the time, look pretty good.

Fights with Red Tornado show a good range of super powers resulting in entertaining action scenes. Not only this but as he introduced early on, the action is spread throughout the entire episode, giving it a good sense of pace. The fights show what a credible threat Red Tornado was to the city and characters and climaxes in a way that again ties to the theme of the episode.

Even the stereotypical Angry Army General who acts exactly as expected works here, as he moves the story towards a more interesting direction. The introduction of an opposing organisation gives the DEO and Henshaw someone to play off and gives them the chance to show some character and support for Supergirl, rather than just acting as a plot device by giving Kara orders and disapproving looks.

That's not to say it loses all of the light hearted charm that has been one of Supergirl's greatest strengths. There continues to be a sprinkling of humour in scenes that are starting to hit the mark more often than missing. Winn in general, is definitely growing more likeable because of this. All of this culminates in an episode that shakes off the 'cheesy' feeling that has been seeping through the majority of the episodes of Supergirl so far.

However it wasn't perfect and still retains the some of the general failings of a Supergirl episode. The show is pushing the mystery of Kara and Alex's father as the central plot line along with setting up Henshaw as someone who cannot be fully trusted. Neither of these plot lines are particularly interesting as we have had no real time to invest in either of Kara's foster father or Henshaw. Not only this but the show seems to now completely forgotten the plotline regarding the jail full of criminal aliens that crashed and escaped. There has been no other mention or tease of her Aunt or any other aliens from that prison. Obvious character actions and weak villains are still used and the dialogue quality struggles to maintain a high level across all characters, but the overall improvements of this episode more than make up for this. 

It is a great turn around to the fun and light hearted superhero show that was promised at the start of the season. Red Tornado gives Kara a great foe, allowing for action and a chance to dig into Kara's character more than ever. Along with an interesting tease for next week's episode, I'm hoping for these positive changes to continue and continue this upward trend.

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