Monday, September 16, 2019

TV Show Review: Supergirl - Season 4

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Crossover, a few episodes at the end
Cons: Politics over entertainment
The Bottom Line:
Superhero show
Does not entertain, lectures
So it’s hard to watch

“I Used the Info You Got and Found a Location.  Would You Believe It’s an Abandoned Warehouse?”

While Arrow has always been the darkest of the Arrowverse shows, Supergirl has always been the most political.  However, they reached new lows in their politics with season 4.  Honestly, if it weren’t for the annual crossover, I probably would have stopped watching long before the season was over.

The season opens with an attack on pro-alien leaders by the remnants of Cadmus.  Naturally, Supergirl, aka Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), sets out to protect them, especially President Olivia Marsdin (one-time guest star Lynda Carter).  However, the attack was really a ruse to reveal President Marsdin as an alien.  Forced to step down, we are now dealing with President Baker (recurring guest star Bruce Boxleitner).  He seems nice at first, but his demands to know Supergirl’s real identity begin to create issues, especially for Kara’s human sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), who is now in charge of the DEO.  Meanwhile, J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) tries to honor his father by helping aliens in need.

And that effort has become more important than ever thanks to the rise of Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer), aka Agent Liberty.  He is demanding that the “alien threat” be handled, and other anti-alien types are joining his side.  He even has the ear of President Baker.

Meanwhile, there’s Nia Nal (Nicole Maines), the newest reporter at CatCo.  While Kara is trying to mentor her, Nia has some secrets and is about to undergo a super transformation of her own.

Okay, I admit that one of my issues with the season is petty.  I have loved Bruce Boxleitner for over 20 years since I first saw him on Babylon 5.  And he’s playing a character named Baker.  Yet it is obvious, despite my desire to love him, that we aren’t supposed to love him.  Petty, I agree.  But if that were my only issue with the season, I could have lived with it.

The show isn’t even subtle about their attempts to take on the current illegal immigrant issue in the United States.  And there is no attempt to show any shades of gray at all.  Oh, there is an episode where we get Ben’s backstory so we can at least partially understand why he is so anti-alien, but no one ever thinks to address his very real concerns.  Instead, they just dismiss him, which leads to his rise.  And his actions?  They are vial.  Don’t get me wrong, he is a villain.  But since he is supposed to stand in for the anti-illegal immigrant side, he fails since his actions and words are not what that side of the debate is saying.  Instead, he is a strawman to be knocked down each week in a way that makes people feel good about themselves for being better than him.

Then there’s Nia Nal.  Going into the season, I knew she was going to become the superhero Dreamer and become the first transgender superhero on TV.  The show was quite proud of themselves for this addition.  As expected, this gave the writers several chances over the course of the season to lecture us on transgender issues.  (Remember when TV entertained instead of lectured?  Me, too.)  However, it gets worse.  In creating Dreamer’s backstory, the writers created a giant plot hole.  And how did they cover it up?  When someone asked about it, Dreamer burst into tears over the hate speech that she had just had to endure.  Actually, that was a rather unintended comment on much in our culture today, which makes it kind of funny while also being lazy writing and infuriating.

I’m not blaming the actors for any of my frustration with the season.  They do a great job of bringing the words they have been given to life.  Likewise, the special effects are top notch.  No, the blame goes to the writers for the direction they took the season.

A word about the season 3 cliffhanger – yes, it does play a part in season 4.  That plot thread has a slow build up, and by the end of the season, it becomes very important.

So, what did I enjoy?  This season’s crossover with Arrow and The Flash was fun.  It included Tyler Hoechin’s Superman and introduced us to Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane, as well.  Plus, Smallville fans got a delightful Easter Egg.  The crossover also gave us an introduction to Ruby Roses’ Batwoman, coming this fall.  The final few episodes of the season actually built to a decent climax that was more about entertainment than lectures, which I enjoyed.

Yes, I will be back for season 5, at least the start.  The crossover this year is going to be huge, and I will be watching all the shows involved until at least the crossover.  How Supergirl has been fairing until that point will determine if I continue.

So, season 4 of Supergirl is only for the diehard fans.  If you haven’t been watching the show, definitely don’t start here.

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