Supergirl: “Red Faced” Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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For Superman fans, the ending of 2013’s Man of Steel was controversial. Why would this pillar of strength, this symbol for all that is good, have to resort to murder? Frankly, it’s the most humanizing moment of that otherwise lifeless film. The problem with the Superman mythos is that the character rarely feels all that challenged, or even killable. But that moment where Superman snaps Zod’s neck indicated that this was a hero who was not able to find his place as easily on Earth as his comic book counterpart. That’s compelling stuff. “Red Faced” puts Kara through a similar trial, and while it has the same general effect as it did her cousin in that film, the show itself still has the Superman hollowness to it that makes it far less engaging than The Flash or Arrow.

In place of a compelling narrative for Kara, Supergirl has taken steps to flesh out its supporting cast. For this episode, that means more excruciatingly boring scenes showcasing the James/Lucy/Kara love triangle, Alex searching for answers on a mystery the show hasn’t asked us to care about, and Cat Grant confronting her anger induced by her mother. In past entries, that last one would have been a positive, but the show has proved too quick to tear down Cat’s rough exterior. Her introduction in the pilot is one of the best scenes of that episode. But since then, the show has humanized her. That’s fine, but too much humanizing can do damage to the character’s original compelling image, which is starting to happen here. If we get too many more scenes of Cat playing nice with Kara, everything great about the character will have disappeared and the show will lose it one great supporting figure.

But what the fanboys and fangirls will be talking about is this episode’s villain: Red Tornado. What could have been a chance for the show to do again what they did so well with Livewire turns out to be another underdeveloped foe. This is a character a lot of people were excited about and the show really does nothing with him. He’s mostly just an android who throws spinning air at Supergirl. The show even seemed to kill him at the end (this is a comic book series though…).

However, the manner in which Red Tornado bit the dust was interesting. With Kara trying to find a way to let her anger out, she blows him to bits with her most powerful ability, heat vision, on full blast. This is what differentiates Supergirl from Superman. The show needed to make that distinction, and it did so relatively well. While I don’t necessarily buy that Kara is already upset about not living a normal life (it’s been six episodes of not a normal life), it’s inevitable that she would feel strong anger toward something. The show dealt with it well, even if getting there wasn’t justified.

But is it enough to save Supergirl? This freshman superhero series doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of direction. The one-off villains are getting tiresome. The show needs to get its plot moving in an exciting manner and soon. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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