‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 6: ‘Red Faced’
Welcome 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, Kara goes up against a big red robot that looks like it escaped from Starlight Express, the nerds have a game night, Lucy Lane's dad is horrible, and Cat Grant's mom is also horrible. “Red Faced" was directed by Jesse Warn and written by Michael Grassi and Rachel Shukert.
Dylan: First off, Chris, how’d you like the episode?
Chris: Well, as you know, a few minutes in I messaged you in a bit of a mild panic, as I was already yelling at the TV. Yelling in frustrated anger. I’m almost 100% certain none of the previous five episodes have made me swear, out loud, at the screen. So, yeah, we were off to a bad start. But I can say, thankfully, I think the episode balanced out enough by the end that I didn’t hate it. We can get into the whys and whats of how frustrating parts of this episode were in a minute, but how did you feel about it?
Dylan: I felt like there was enough good stuff happening to not make me swear or anything, but there was also a lot of this episode that sort of underlined a lot of the problems I’m having with the show. Namely, that there’s too dang much going on. We have the Catco stuff, the DEO stuff, the relationship stuff, plus a villain every week that invariably feels tacked on because we’re too busy dealing with all the drama created by the other stuff in the show. I know it’s still early in the season, and that things will eventually sort themselves out, but I definitely felt like this was not the strongest episode of the season so far.
Chris: Yeah, I’d agree with that completely, but I’ll try to remember to mention the things I enjoyed too.
Dylan: This episode introduced a lot of names that will be familiar to longtime DC Comics readers. First we have Lucy’s dad, General Sam Lane, who introduces us to Dr. T.O. Morrow and his awesome android, the Red Tornado. Before we launch into discussion of the other two, let’s talk about General Lane because he is Just the Worst. He’s bad at Army, he’s bad at being a dad, and he’s bad at being a decent human. I wish nothing but bad things for him. A pox upon him. Do you agree that General Sam Lane is the worst and deserves to be shot from a cannon into the sun, Chris?
Chris: Yes. Just absolutely infuriating. This is the kind of hacky, lazy writing I expect from Arrow, not Supergirl. It’s the J. Jonah Jameson thing of hating someone that’s better than you, but with none of the charm of a Hitler moustache. That’s right, General Lane is less likeable than a Hitler moustache.
I know there are lots of hateful, old white men in the world, and in places of power, but I just really don’t want to see it in my superhero shows/comics/movies/audiobooks unless they’re going to get humbled, proven wrong, and forced to apologize/begrudgingly respect our heroes by the end of the thing.
There’s an episode of Superman: The Animated Series where a hateful old general doesn’t like or trust Superman and tries to blame Superman for the appearance of a giant monster. Superman tries to help and the general just gives him a hard time and won’t heed Superman’s advice that the military’s weapons are only feeding the monster. But, of course, eventually Superman has to save the general’s bacon and stop the monster and the general has to admit he was wrong. Supergirl saves the day here (kinda), but we never get that closure of him going, “Shucks, I guess I was wrong”. He leaves still hating Kryptonians (and boyfriends) and learned nothing even though all the bad things that happened were his fault.
Dylan: I agree 100%. Though I’d bet this isn’t the last we see of the General before this show’s through. Plenty of time to have his Jim Gaffigan-looking face rubbed in his own wrongness.
I really didn’t understand his motivation beyond “we need him to be a pigheaded jerk to Supergirl and James because plot.” Like, the “you’re not good enough for my daughter,” thing is tired, but at least give us a reason to believe that? Like, all we know about Lucy is that she’s good at whatever game they were playing and also she’s standing between Kara and James and also I can’t remember her name to save my life. And the General being mad at Supergirl for beating up the robot that he wanted Supergirl to beat up is just… inexplicable. It’s one thing to be a mean jerk, but at least give us a mean jerk who has a good reason for being a mean jerk. Does that make sense?
Chris: Absolutely. He also hates other government agencies, other government agency officials, British scientists… Do you think he just goes through his entire day hating everyone and everything that isn’t a daughter or holding a gun that he’s directly in charge of?
His stupid robot flips out and leaves and he tries to blame it on Supergirl, when the real question he should be asking is, “Why did I let this British guy build a killer robot?!”
Dylan: Which brings us to Doctor T.O. Morrow and the Red Tornado. I’ll admit that I haven’t been looking forward to this episode for the main reason that I think Red Tornado is maybe the worst superhero ever created. Worse than Geo-Force. Worse than Skat-Man. Worse than Hal Jordan. I hate him so. He’s one of those, “Robots! Now with feelings!” characters, which means he’s The Vision for people who wish The Vision would cry more. Plus, his powers are just “makes wind,” which, I mean, big whoop. He’s a human-sized vacuum cleaner set to “blow” instead of “suck.” Just terrible.
Thankfully, this version of the character is just an Army robot who goes a bit nuts and gets blowed up real good by Kara’s Krypto-Rage.
Chris: Well, I mean, you’re dumb and wrong about Red Tornado (who is great), but yeah, this episode certainly made an android with wind powers and called it Red Tornado. Let me ask you a question though: As much as General Lane seems to hate everything, can you possibly imagine him going with the plan of making something as ridiculous and whimsical as a red and yellow wind robot? Even if you want to say that he’d go along with a plan to make something that could kill Kryptonians, doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy that would just try to make a super-bullet or missile that only tracks Kryptonians, or alien poison? I mean, almost anything seems more likely than a red and yellow robot. He’d at the very least insist it was black or camo or red, white, and blue, right?
Dylan: I don’t know. Dude is weird. He called Supergirl, “The Woman in Red” even though her costume is predominantly blue. Maybe he’s colorblind and thinks the thing is green.
Chris: He’s color-dyslexic.
Dylan: Shall we discuss the costume?
Chris: Never has a set of paintball “armor” been painted so, so red. It’s the kind of thing that’s so silly, I came back around to liking it. I mean, it’s just so cheap and schlocky looking that it’s kind of adorable.
Dylan: It looked like a Project Runway challenge that involved a catcher’s uniform and Velcro. I mean, they “made it work,” I guess, but now we know why they stick to people in dusters with Klingon foreheads, I guess.
Chris: I’m just excited you mentioned Project Runway so now my wife will have a reason to read this.
To be fair, they did a good job coming up with a live action representation of exactly how Red Tornado’s powers look in the comics… so, you know, good for them! (This is not sarcasm!)
Dylan: If only Comics Red Tornado didn’t also look dumb as heck. Also:
Chris: I think the real problem with the General Lane/Red Tornado plot is that it makes no sense for the two of them to be involved with each other, but the writers couldn’t make a full episode out of them individually so they just put them together.
Dylan: Yeah. And having three villains (Lane, Morrow and Tornado) in one episode means we only get the vaguest of outlines on the last two especially. Also: Red Tornado sucks.
Chris: Why bother introducing Morrow if you’re just going to kill him off? Just have the robot go crazy. But then I guess they wouldn’t have had anything for Super-sister to do. (I honestly cannot think of her name.)
Dylan: (It’s Alex BTW.)
Chris: I’d be willing to bet we haven’t seen the last of Morrow/Red Tornado though since he was wearing that Nintendo LaserScope when he died.
Dylan: We also got a heaping helping of the lovey stuff this episode, with Lucy inserting herself into the Winn/James/Kara triangle and crashing their weekly game night. And, judging by her resignation at the end of the episode, it sounds like she’s here for the foreseeable future. What did you think about her, Chris?
Chris: My question is, how was Team Supergirl going to play that game for Game Night with only three of them? Also, what are the odds that literally every one of Lucy’s game questions would be about something that she and James had some kind of relationship-based connection to? Okay, I guess The Godfather one wasn’t, but you could tell from how hard that one was for him, James was surprised it wasn’t relationship-centric too.
I guess I don’t really have strong feelings about her one way or the other, but I’m starting to wonder if she’s also got secret super-powers since she got blasted by Red Tornado and seemed fine the next day.
Dylan: Every time they said “game night,” I was hoping and praying they were going to play Dungeons & Dragons, but it was just… some other game. *sigh*
Chris: I didn’t think of that, but maaaan, I would have loved it if that’s what they’d been playing.
Dylan: We also got a lot of talkings-to about rage and anger and all that stuff. Which had some interesting things come out, with Cat talking about how angry women are perceived by society and James mentioning how not being able to be angry affects him as a black man in society. It’s an interesting theme for the episode, even if the execution is a bit muddled, with Kara saying that she’s not afraid of her anger before flying off to angrily confront the Red Tornado at the end of the episode. Which means that in the paper-rock-scissor game of emotions, fear beats anger, apparently.
What did you think about the anger management portion of the episode? Because it made no sense to me. Like, she was supposed to control her anger, but instead she had to get really angry to blow Red Tornado up? Like… what was the point here?
Chris: I think they were definitely trying to say something, but it was as though the script writing duties were split in half and given orders to make it about anger, but neither half knew what the other one was going to do. You said it, the message was very muddled.
I think a better question is where the hell did Kara get that car that she was using as a punching bag? Whose garage was that? Are they not going to notice a car suddenly having a giant hole in it?!
And speaking of cars, I cannot let that bit with the idiot drivers at the beginning go. There is no way that crowd of kids and school officials who had just been saved by Supergirl would have been doing anything besides cheering when she gave that [language redacted] a taste of his own medicine. That alone is way more unbelievable to me than robots and aliens and whatever else ridiculous business this show can come up with.
Dylan: Oh man, when the guy with the gigantic beard was ramming him and he yelled, “Hey! I just paid off this car!” like the beard-guy would have just said, “Oh sorry! Why didn't you say so sooner?!” And yeah, that the press would immediately jump to “Supergirl Menaces Motorists!” is some bullstuff when there are like a dozen witnesses who would say otherwise.
Chris: Those two idiots were literally seconds away from running over an entire crosswalk full of children and this show wants us to pretend people would be upset that Supergirl twisted his wrist a little?! I think those people who were happy to be alive would have been singing Supergirl’s praises even if she’d ripped that dude’s arm off and beaten him with it. I was disappointed that Supergirl didn’t just let him break his hand trying to punch her and then knock him out though.
Also, didn’t they start on the highway or something and then were suddenly in a school area?
Dylan: Zoning is weird in National City.
Also, we should talk about Cat’s mom, maybe as a counterpoint to the General? They’re both awful because the story need them to be, but at least Mama Grant gets humbled by Cat.
Chris: Equally horrible, but in a different way! She was even less necessary to the plot than General Lane. We’re not even halfway through with the first season and already we’re meeting everyone’s parents. Oh, and we’re meeting Winn’s dad, who’s going to be Toyman, in a few episodes! Did I mention already that in the comics Toyman kills Cat Grant’s son? Do you think they’ll do that on the show?
Dylan: Maybe Superman will show up and snap his neck.
Chris: Speaking of Winn, is this show seriously trying to tell me that Alex is a secret agent and the best hacker she knows is some IT guy at her sister’s work?
Dylan: Well, he is an IT guy. They can hack anything. The planet, even!
Chris: We haven’t really mentioned Hank Henshaw so far.
Dylan: Dude, I’m sick of mentioning him, to be honest, because it’s been the same thing for weeks now: eyes glow red when he’s walking somewhere and something mysterious gets revealed about him. The end.
Chris: But this week we had the twist of someone giving him orders for a change… until he decided to start giving orders again.
Dylan: Yeah, the chain of command between the Army and the DEO made zero sense. I also didn’t like that the two big victories for Kara this episode, standing up to Lane and defeating Morrow, were both handled by other people. Again, too much stuff going on in the periphery of the show for us to really be able to root for Kara. Her one victory, standing up to Cat, was immediately backtracked and apologized for.
Chris: Which she absolutely shouldn’t have apologized for, because she was 100% in the right.
Dylan: I was really hoping Cat would say something like, “Finally! I’ve been waiting for you to push back since your third day here!” Which would put an interesting wrinkle in their relationship and sort of explain why Cat’s kept her around for so long.
Chris: Yeah, that’s what I was expecting/hoping for too.
Dylan: Instead she just said, “Women shouldn't get mad because society is scared of that.” Which is absolutely a problem, but also is bad advice.
Chris: I brought Henshaw up because even though I’m betting we’re right and he’s obviously going to be Martian Manhunter (or some similar good guy alien in hiding), I bet people that have no connection to comics watching this must just think he’s evil and are going to be totally shocked when the truth is revealed.
Dylan: I just wish they’d drop a hint beyond, “Well, he’s walking and it’s almost the end of the episode, so cue the glowing red eyes.” Ripping open the bomb was a nice diversion last week.
Chris: You’d think if he was trying to stay hidden he’d stop making his eyes glow so much when he’s in a compound full of people who are watching for aliens. Maybe he can’t control it/has no idea it’s happening.
Dylan: Or maybe it’s all set-up for some clever product placement for Visine™, not unlike Cat specifically requesting an Advil™ for her hangover.
Chris: Haha, did you notice in the credits one of the road rage guys was listed as “Subaru Impreza Driver”?
Dylan: “Hey! I just paid off this family sedan that got the highest safety rating four years in a row! According to Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, Subaru is the Most Trusted and Best Performance Brand for 2015! Also, according to Kelley Blue Book, Subarus have the Best Resale Value of all Brands for 2015! Go see Greg at National City Subaru! Bad Credit? No credit? Let National CIty Subaru help you get into the car of your dreams! Tell him Road Rage Randy sent ya!”
Chris, anything else you want to say about this episode?
Chris: Nah, I think we’ve done a thorough job of being too hard on this show once again.
Dylan: It’s what we’re built for.