written by Dayna Abel, Jason Froikin and Cara Russell
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
I was absolutely giddy at the prospect of seeing Cat Grant’s mother in this latest episode, because I’m a sucker for tense familial relationships. Not only did Ms. Grant not disappoint, but she was part of only one of any number of fantastic examples of coping with others’ expectations of yourself. “Red Faced” focuses on dwelling on the anger of failure, but also shows that more often than not, there is “anger behind the anger.” In Cat’s case, her anger at her mother’s constant denigration makes her take it out on Kara, which she not only admitted to, but gave Kara the closest thing she could to an apology for.
Kara has a lot of anger behind her anger. On the surface, she has obvious problems – dealing with Cat’s verbal put-downs, watching her crush be with another woman, and having to suppress her anger at General Lane’s xenophobia. We’ve seen throughout the show that Kara is hyper-sensitive to failure and constantly feels like she has something to prove, which is a great bit of character consistency. That’s very common in young twentysomethings, and especially in young women who are bombarded with pressure to repress any kind of anger to become a perfect smile dispenser. (Something that was addressed in a whoooooole other way over on Jessica Jones.) The real epiphany moment, however, came when Kara realized she has unexpressed anger over Zor-El and Alura putting her in that ship. Not only is there a great deal of rage over Krypton’s fate, it looks like for all the love she has for her parents, Kara is furious with them on some level for forcing her to make a new life on an alien world. Granted, the alternative was a kaboomy death, but considering the reason she was sent to Earth in the first place was rendered moot the moment she landed, it’s no wonder Kara has felt adrift and uncertain. I’m impressed with these regular looks into her psyche and the level of self-introspection we see on this show, something I don’t believe the comics have ever dealt with.
I’m kind of glad we didn’t get a teary mother-daughter reconciliation with the Grants. As important as family is supposed to be, the reality is that many people have relatives who only ever hurt them, and it’s perfectly okay not to care about those people. Plot-wise, the action sequences were pretty great and the shot of Kara screaming while firing her laz0rz was genuinely scary. Two incredibly shocking reveals were at the end of the episode, one about Alex’s father and one about Kara’s powers, and I’m quite eager to see how the former affects the Danvers sisters’ relationship with Hank Henshaw and the DEO. As for the latter, it puts me in mind of the consequences of the “super-flare” power Superman has developed in recent comics, and I suppose it will pose a challenge to Kara but honestly I thought that was a kind of stupid power to begin with. We’ll see if it’s handled better on Supergirl.
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A lot of people were added to the cast in Episode 6, some of whom didn’t make it to the end of the show. It was really several episodes in one, assembled artfully so every second of it was important. If you left the room for a few seconds, you probably missed something.
Red Tornado was more of a “fight of the week” than an essential character. At least he’ll have a little more of a lingering effect than the last fight-of-the-week, because Supergirl’s powers being muted were no doubt linked to his appearance. It was hinted that Red Tornado was designed to fight Kryptonians – perhaps by rendering them powerless? Or possibly Supergirl simply drained the last of her solar energy blasting him to bits, and needs time to recover. The latter sounds more likely due to a line Jimmy said during the “coming up next week” segment – “enjoy your time off.” As if he knew it was only temporary.
Cat Grant’s mother’s appearance had “that explains a lot” stamped all over it. Cat is a lot like her mom, but at the same time fights hard not to to be exactly like her. Cat appears to have found her humanity at some point, where her mom had none. And that’s at the root of why she took Kara out for lunch, rather than firing her – because her mom would never have done that. But it does raise the question again of why Cat sees Kara as so valuable, and hints again that she knows more than she’s letting on.
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Since last week’s episode of Supergirl, CBS announced that it has picked up an additional seven episodes to complete the season. This may seem like an odd choice to some viewers, as to date Supergirl has been very villain-of-the-week. Fortunately, tonight we see that the writers are capable of furthering subplots instead of just starting them.
This week’s life skill lesson involves handling rage, quite skillfully acknowledging that men and women, especially men of a certain skin tone, are encouraged to channel or deny negative feelings to fit into society at large. Once again, it’s Cat Grant who carries the wisdom, telling Kara to find the source of her anger so she can deal with it effectively, instead of just handling outbursts that are just symptoms. This ends up coming in handy, as Kara is tasked with showing that Kryptonians are not a threat to General Lane (Lucy and Lois’ father), while fighting a rogue robot designed to be a Kryptonian-stopper. The real plot bombs come in towards the end of the episode, where it is revealed that Jeremiah Danvers was last seen alive on a mission with Hank Henshaw, who conveniently has amnesia from the incident, and a weakened Kara cutting herself on a broken glass in Cat’s office.
I can understand why some viewers may be feeling a fatigue with the moral lessons each week, whereas arcing plots seem to be a footnote at best. I honestly hope that the security of a full season will allow the creators freedom to explore larger stories and start answering some of the questions raised. At the same time, I recognize the worth of these lessons even while I’m confused as to what the exact target demographic may be. In a world where anger and subsequent violence is glorified, when can you honestly remember seeing a character work through it to diminish their anger? These are skills that we should be teaching small children, it feels odd when played out between adults, even if the lesson itself is just as needed.
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