‘SUPERGIRL’ POST-SHOW ANALYSIS: SEASON 1 EPISODE 10: ‘CHILDISH THINGS’
Welcome back to Supergirl Guys, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CBS’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and Flash recap veteran Dylan Todd.
This week, boys are being doofuses, toys are being deadly, and Cameron Chase gives chase. “Childish Things” was directed by Jamie Babbit and written by Yahlin Chang, Anna Musky-Goldwyn, and James DeWille.
Dylan: So this week’s episode starts off with Winn’s dad, Winslow Schott --- AKA The Toyman --- breaking out of jail using just his wits and also a yo-yo with knives in it. And a creepy doll, too, I guess. Yo-yo stabbing is definitely one way to start an episode off. I’m trying to decide if a yo-yo crammed full of knives is stupid or amazing, and I’m not really able to make a firm decision one way or the other. Thoughts, Chris?
Chris: I liked it the first time he used it, but the yo-yo being the only toy he used to escape with bothered me. I wasn’t mad, just disappointed. It felt like they couldn’t come up with any more toy weapons. Or maybe couldn’t be bothered to come up with any others. I’m starting off on a bad note here, but I liked this episode. I really appreciated all the “themes”. The “themes” are probably the best part of this episode. The “theme” is the central idea in a piece of writing or other work of art.
Dylan: I never pay attention to themes TBH. I just pay attention to if an episode is, you know, good or not. I’m old fashioned like that. What did you think of Toyman in this episode, Chris?
Chris: Dude was well creepy. He didn’t seem like a huge threat, to Supergirl obviously, but instead of trying to make him a threat to her, they made him a threat to those she cares about. And, you know, attendees of a toy convention. They played it pretty loose and fast with how he had access to all of these things and set all this stuff up after only being out of prison for a day or two, but I’ll allow it.
Dylan: Interesting, I didn’t find him particularly creepy, but that might have more to do with my familiarity with the actor from other stuff, notably ABC’s Revenge, than anything else. I felt like his motivation was clear: he wants his rival dead and his son to be with him, either in death or in prison, but I feel like the performance could have been a lot more unhinged.
I did like the more goofy, Silver Age-esque touches this episode. Toyman trapping Supergirl in not just quicksand, but exploding quicksand, was a real fun trap, as was Toyman’s “kill my rival or I will blow up these 10 hidden bombs” plan. I will say that the grim, po-faced way these were both presented sort of almost undid the sick fun that lies at the heart of both of those plots. Generally, I wish this show was a little less scared to be funny or goofy. So far, it’s played all this super-stuff pretty straight, which I think works against its overall enjoyability. But that’s probably just me.
Chris: Yeah, I get what you mean. I think it was really only in the scenes with Winn that he seemed creepy to me, but I think that was maybe due to the subtext of Winn being emotionally tortured by all of this. After this episode, I’m giving Winn a lot more leeway to be a dink, because damn. That he’s not a total mess after growing up with that means he is keeping his ish together like a champ.
Dylan: Call me cold-hearted, but I will brook no dinkness, Evil Dad or not. Did you notice the Toyman doll he used in prison and at the waterfront arcade looked a lot like the Toyman from the Superman animated series? (Also, “Meet me at our favorite place”? Did he mean like “our favorite place to get tetanus,” because that place was a dump.)
Chris: I’m assuming the old seaside boardwalk arcade has seen better days since Poppa Toyman has been in the slammer. I did notice that nod to the animated series design, and also, the doll Winn found on his desk was based on the Toyman design from the Superfriends, and noticing these things means I haven’t wasted my life.
Chris: Let’s all just be thankful that he wasn’t the truly unsettling Smallville version...
He’s got his review of Blade 2 printed out in that box for you.
Dylan: Oh man, that Harry Knowles Blade 2 review. Whatever you do, do not go read that under any circumstances. I know some of you will now seek it out because I said this, but don’t do it. It’s like the video from The Ring, only instead of winding up dead, you will wind up barfing forever and ever.
And speaking of things that begin with “B,” like “Blade” and “barfing,” our B-plot had to do with Alex and Kara trying to talk Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter/Mister Boombastic into using his powers more. In case you missed that this was the point of these scenes, don’t worry, they manage to bring it up whenever Hank is on screen. Later in the episode, we see the results of their cajoling and I bet they feel just terrible for suggesting it.
I can’t help but feel like this is a meta way for the writers to explain why this version of J’onn will stick to shape-shifting and phasing through things instead of them having to do those costly transformation/flying scenes, and again, I’m trying to figure out if that’s a bad thing. On one hand, Martian Manhunter is great, on the other, it’s Supergirl, not Supergirl and Her Amazing Friends. What did you think, Chris?
Chris: I’m torn because that scene of the two of them flying was an absolute delight. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It looked great, the characters didn’t feel silly, and that line of Kara’s about how fun flying is was a wonderful ray of sunshine among looming clouds of the dark and dour desaturation of the DC Cinematic Universe. But like you said, I don’t want Supergirl to be overshadowed or constantly bailed out by some other superhero.
Dylan: Yeah, we’ll see how it goes. I did like them using J’onn’s powers in a less-super way, but the payoff of that scene, with him totally jacking that guy’s brain up, was kind of unnecessarily mean. I get that you have to have consequences, but I got all sad when they said he didn’t even remember his family. Dude was just doing his job, you know? Messed up if true.
Chris: Yeah, you have to appreciate why the show is doing it (so they’re not just constantly using J’onn as a “get out of _____ free” card), but the idea that he couldn’t just erase the last few minutes is ridiculous.
Dylan: The Martian Mindwrecker.
Chris: The Martian Mindtaker!
Dylan: I can get behind this! I mean, they’re both green guys with brain-powers, right? Warner Brothers, call us. We have ideas. We also have a C-plot with Cat offering Lucy a job as her legal counsel, which leads to some friction --- but also ultimately smooching --- with James. How do you feel about seeing more of Lucy Lane/Jenna Dewan-Tatum?
Chris: I had like zero patience for this subplot. There was already too much going on in this episode without it. And more importantly, there were other, more interesting things going on.
Dylan: Wait, are you suggesting that maybe this show tries to do too many things and winds up giving all of them short shrift as a side-effect? (Because I am definitely suggesting that.)
Chris: I think it’s hit or miss in that regard. I’d like to have spent more time on some of the other plots this episode and saved this Lucy business for another episode, but I get that they most likely wanted to put it in to show that James and Winn are now both going to be less available to her (though for very different reasons).
But to answer your other question, I’d just as soon never see Lucy again. I’m not sure if that’s just the character or if that actress bothers me or a combination of the two. It’s probably that I like Kara/Supergirl so much that I’d rather not have yet another supporting character thrown into this cast to pull focus away from her.
Dylan: Well too bad, Chris, because it looks like Lucy Lane is here to stay. I actually don’t mind this development as it would be interesting to the love triangle stuff and also an interesting dynamic introduced to the Superteam. But yeah, the problem with this show isn’t that it doesn’t have enough going on. I did like that Cat was back in her lovable “completely over your drama” form this week. Her comment about James’ penchant for unbuttoning his shirt and calling B.S. on Kara pretending not to have a major crush on Mr. Olsen was A++.
Chris: When you’ve already got a pretty solid supporting cast, adding another character just seems like you’re weakening the whole by taking time from all the people we’re already familiar with. It’ll probably be fine though.
Dylan: We should probably talk about Chase, except all I know is that she was from that one DC Johnson/JH Williams III comic series that I’ve never read.
Chris: Cameron Chase!
Dylan: That’s the one. Not to be confused with Cameron Crowe, director of Say Anything. What’s her deal?
Chris: Now that the entire series (only 10 issues) is on Comixology, you should check it out! It’s good! So, ironically, in the comics, Cameron Chase --- played in this episode by Buffy alum Emma Caulfield --- works for the DEO dealing with the law enforcement side of a world with superpowers and aliens and magic etc.
Dylan: Oh cool! That sounds way better than the boilerplate acerbic government agent we got this episode.
Chris: This episode didn’t really do the character any justice, but the fact that they gave her a name and got a recognizable genre actress with a following to play her probably means we haven’t seen the last of her. I’m guessing they want Kara to have some kind of government related problem without always resorting to General Lane. And it adds another strong female character to the show.
Dylan: Yeah, I guess you’re right. Maybe she will develop some sort of personality before she shows up as a recurring character? Hopefully?
And speaking of recurring characters, Maxwell Lord really stepped up his creep game this episode. Just this week, we got a better look at that “Phoenix Level” (was that the phrase?) lady he has drugged up in his secret doctor closet, he went on a fake date with Alex and tried to charm the gun off her, and spoilers, he put up spy stuff in the Danvers girls’ apartment so now he knows that Kara is Supergirl! (Also these Danvers girls are pizza lightweights. A bite each and they put their slices down to talk about boys? Shameful.)
Chris: Creep game is right. Was it just me or did you think he was going to have put something like “truth serum” in her drink the way they kept showing him watching her drink?
Dylan: I was waiting for it. Turns out, dude just likes to watch a lady drink. Is that a crime, Chris? Stop drink-shaming.
Chris: I will never trust Peter Facinelli around my drinks, Dylan. Never.
Dylan: Fair enough. We should also talk about Winn and Kara’s conversation at the end of the episode. While I think it’s adorable that Winn thought that him telling Kara he was in love with her was some sort of shocking revelation, she’s also made it very clear over the last 10 episodes that she’s just not into him that way, but he keeps pushing the point, confessing his love after she politely shut him down after he kissed her earlier that same day. Dude needs to respect that she’s not into him and either find a way to deal with it or walk away.
I’m also aware that this could be them planting a seed for some eventual evil-happening with Winn, which also sends a bad message. Guys: women can say no to you and you have to accept that. The end. Also, if this show uses the phrase “friendzone,” I will lose my mind, and not just because it makes me think of this.
Chris? What did you think?
Chris: Yeah, I’d have to agree with all of that except for the fact that I think she was a little surprised. Kara has been naive to a fault so far. I mean, I think she could tell he might have a little crush on her, but my read on that scene was that she was genuinely shocked his feelings went that deep and that the whole kiss incident wasn’t just a weird moment of heightened emotions in the midst of all the crazy stuff that was happening.
Dylan: Well, and I guess James just figured it out a couple of episodes ago, so maybe everybody in this TV universe is just really dense?
Chris: Exactly. You gotta treat all of the romantic logic on this show like you’re operating under sitcom rules.
Dylan: I was gonna say maybe I need to treat it like I treat science on these shows, because Supergirl’s plan to freeze the bombs in ice would just mean ice shrapnel tearing through all those Toy Con attendees. Ain’t none of them leaving that place Mint On Card.
Chris: I think the idea they were going for was she used the sprinklers falling water to create an ice wall between the people and where the bombs were, but the way it all blew up, I think they’d still have the ice shrapnel problem you’ve outlined. I will give them points though for trying to come up with something besides her just finding them at super-speed. They’re trying to think a little more creatively with her powers, and I applaud that.
Dylan: Agreed. It was a fun solution, but not as fun as whenever Flash spins his arms around and makes super-fans to put out fires and stuff like that. When this show finally approaches that level of goofy, it will get my Dylan Todd Seal of Approval™.
Chris: This show has a Supergirl that says flying is fun, so it’s already got my Certificate of Raditude.
Dylan: You’re too easy of a mark, Haley.
Chris: Show’s got a 7 foot tall legit looking Martian Manhunter. I’m just the right amount of mark.
Dylan: Well, next week we get Kara and Hank teaming up to stop a White Martian, so it looks like they got your letters.
Chris: I’ve been a very good Supergirl fan this year.