‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 12: ‘Bizarro’
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 brought us romance, mad science, and a double dose of Supergirl! Supergirls! 'Bizarro' was directed by John Showalter from a script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Rachel Shukert.
Chris: This was another big episode for Supergirl (the show) as well as Supergirl (the character) and Kara, so let’s get into it. First things first, what’d you think of this episode, Dylan?
Dylan: I liked specific scenes, which I can get into later, but overall, I thought the bad in this episode far outweighed the good. Which is not to say it was terrible, just… not very good. “Tedious,” is a word that comes to mind. What did you think, Chris?
Chris: Oh, that’s interesting. I think I know what you’re getting at though. I think this episode felt longer to me than any previous episode. I don’t think I ever got to the point where I thought things were bad, but I kept thinking, “Surely this is almost the end” and I’d check and the episode wasn’t even half over. I guess that’s not a good sign, but I didn’t dislike the episode if that helps.
Dylan: Let’s start with the main plot and work our way out from there and maybe we can find out where we part ways. This week, we’re introduced to Bizarro Supergirl, a sort-of clone of Kara created by Maxwell Lord via some Supergirl DNA and the data stored in Red Tornado’s arm. She’s the girl J’onn found in the secret room on Lord Tech property a few weeks back. We also saw Lord become more of a full-on villain, with him sending his new creation out to first discredit Supergirl and then to just punch her. Did I miss anything?
Chris: I like how his plan to discredit her was “Throw a truck at a mountain”. Oh wait, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think he wanted to discredit her, I think he said his plan was to replace her with a Supergirl he could control. This is a nice comic touch since that’s often Lex Luthor’s plan when creating the Bizarro version of Superman (depending on which version/continuity you’re looking at). Also, I guess in this universe there hasn’t been a Bizarro version of Superman, since Cat says she made the name up.
Dylan: Okay, a few things here: if that is his plan, it is a stupid plan, because the first thing she does is, as you say, throw a truck. So his plan of creating a pliable doppelganger is screwed from Step One because she immediately starts acting out of character. (And you’re probably right that this was his plan, but I was too distracted by his weird wig to put it all together between his overtly creepy Bizarro pep talks.)
Secondly, Peter Facinelli is so horribly miscast as a villain here that it tanks any menace that this iteration of Lord is supposed to have. Thirdly, this requires Melissa Benoist, who is basically a rainbow given human form, to try and play a menacing threat who speaks in Bizarro-speak, and brother, that dog does not hunt.
Chris: I’m just glad I’m not the only one that was bothered by his hair this episode.
Dylan: It was truly criminal.
I will say that the idea at the heart of this Bizarro is a good one, that there’s this human inside who’s fighting against Lord’s programming, but we’re too involved with all the accumulated side-plots to ever develop Bizarro (or Lord, for that matter) beyond the bare bones of villainy, so it’s just another paper-thin villain we have to punch a lot before somebody else can show up and put her down. (It’s Alex this time.)
Again, this is nothing new for this show. “Trying to do too much and not really doing anything,” is sort of the usual state of Supergirl, which is why I was probably just the regular amount of disappointed in this episode.
Chris: I think I was more bothered by the idea that the show’s idea of super-science is injecting a concentrated dose of someone’s DNA into someone in a coma can give them superpowers. Also, a robot arm was involved somehow.
Dylan: My theory is that it wasn’t Supergirl DNA; it was polyjuice potion. Max Lord is a wizard, dude.
Chris: Trying to court that Hogwarts audience, I feel you. I see your point about Maxwell Lord. I have to assume this kind of thing was the creative team’s plan all along, but if you follow his arc on the show, it definitely seems like his mantra of wanting to protect Earth from aliens has really given way to just generic supervillainy/mad scientistry. I’m into supervillainy and mad scientistry for sure, and am happy to have that kind of thing in a mainstream show like this, but it’s like you said, I don’t think Peter Facinelli is the guy that can pull it off.
Dylan: I just feel like his motivation --- protecting humanity from aliens --- is sort of everybody else’s motivation, too. There’s no difference between him and General Lane when it comes to why they’re doing what they do. Add in the fact that this very thing has been Lex Luthor’s agenda for decades, and it gets even more dull.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re living in an Golden Age of American Xenophobia, and it’s a very real problem, but it’s just so boring. And as long as I’m getting political, Alex’s plan to extralegally arrest Lord and indefinitely detain him in Alien Gitmo is just gross. I’ve said this in my Flash recaps, but Good Guys don’t need to have secret prisons. I get that there was room in the episode for this to be seen as A Bad Thing (J’onn didn’t seem to be into it at all), but the idea of taking away somebody’s civil rights in an effort to protect yourself just didn’t sit right with me. “Too real,” as the kids say.
Also, whenever I see Peter Facinelli, all I can think of is Can’t Hardly Wait.
Chris: Do you ever get the feeling that Alex is the real bad guy of this show? So much of her pushing and prodding people or just doing what she thinks is the right thing to do really seems to get other people in trouble or make things a lot worse. Remember when she handcuffed Hank to a pipe when there was a killer alien on the loose because all of a sudden she thought she couldn’t trust him? Remember how her thinking she could go and interrogate Lord on her own while Hank/J’onn snuck in the secret lab led to Lord finding out Kara was Supergirl (and to J’onn having to use his powers and mindwipe that guy which in turn brought out the White Martian)?
Dylan: Oh man, you’re right. This show should be called Alex Danvers: Bad Idea-Haver. I definitely think she’s got some bad impulses, but I doubt it’s intentional or that it would be followed up on by the writers. Lucky for her that this isn’t a real show where actions have real consequences, right?
Chris: Yeah, I can’t imagine it’s intentional, but maybe the writers should stop and say, “Hey, wait. Maybe someone else can have the bad idea that moves the plot along this week.”
Dylan: Speaking of moving things along, they sure got rid of Haircut quick, huh? Two episodes and he’s bailed back to Opal. I guess when your second date ends with your date getting snatched up by a superperson who looks kind of like her, you just have to cut your losses and leave town as quickly as possible. What did you think about the love stuff this episode, Chris?
Chris: Did they mention that he lived in Opal City in previous episodes, because that really jumped out at me this time. I’m assuming they’re setting him up to become Starman or something, right? (Somewhere, former CA editor and Starman superfan Andy Khouri just felt a cold shiver run up his spine.)
The two of them certainly look cute together, so I guess it’s not the worst idea to get your husband cast as your love interest for a few episodes. Honestly, it wouldn’t have bothered me if they’d kept him around for a bit and let her have a relationship that wasn’t tied into her being Supergirl. You could do the Clark Kent/Peter Parker always having to run off causes tensions and/or wacky mix-ups thing with it, or just let her have someone nice in her life that isn’t involved with the superhero stuff and it isn’t a problem. You know, just to do something different than pretty much every other one of these shows.
Dylan: I will say that I loved Cat’s talk with Kara after Haircut split for Opal. When Cat Grant is telling you your people skills suck, you done messed up. And I agree that doing something beyond the “superheros can’t have love because their life is too dangerous” thing that has been run into the ground by now.
Chris: Their B-plot didn’t bother me at all, and it was mostly cute, so I enjoyed it, but man, the sub-plot with James was just the worst part of this episode for me.
Dylan: Okay, I’m glad you brought that up, because that whole scene where James and Wynn pouted and got drunk while deciding who had dibs on Kara was just the grossest of the gross.
Chris: First let me just ask really quick, because I made a note to ask you about this: Did you throw anything at your TV when Winn said that line about how in the “friendzone” he was?
Dylan: I’m numb to it at this point, TBH. Apparently Alex and Kara said it a million times a few weeks back, but for some reason, it didn’t register as much to me as it did when Winn moaned about it this week.
Chris: I guess what bothered me most was how James felt like a bigger creepy dink than Winn at this point. Winn nailed it when he basically said, “I know what my sorrows are, but what have you got to be upset about? Your girlfriend is Channing Tatum’s wife.”
Dylan: I will agree with that. James still continuing to sigh at Kara when Lucy is right there like literally in the same room sometimes is somehow more gross than Winn thinking if he’s enough of a Nice Guy, Kara will notice him. Congrats, Supergirl Writing Team; you managed to out-dink Winn.
Chris: And that whole… I guess it was supposed to be an “emotional” speech James gave to Bizarro was just awful. I mean, what he was saying was nice and true, Kara is brave and kind and every other positive adjective, but I think we saw the limits of Mehcad Brook’s acting abilities coming up short in that scene. Is that unfair? Do you think it was just the script he was working with or was his acting really unconvincing in that scene?
Dylan: Why can’t it be both? I get what that scene was going for; James finally confessing his feelings for Supergirl/Kara while also working on the feelings of the human trapped inside Bizarro, but none of that really registers in the final product. Like, I’m not sure why a the romantic confessions of a handsome man duct taped to a forklift would even slow down a crazed Frankenstein-Supergirl?
Chris: Because having someone’s concentrated DNA injected into you makes you the same kind of person they are. That sounds disgusting now that I’m reading it. Come up with a better explanation for your pseudo-cloning, Supergirl writers.
Hey, speaking of things that don’t make sense about Bizarro Supergirl, I’m willing to buy that the Kryptonite has the opposite effect on her and makes her stronger/into Melissa Benoist’s stunt double, but how did it make the “S” on her costume backwards?
Dylan: Oh dude I was staring at the screen during that boss fight, trying to see if I saw correctly that her “S” got flipped. I have no idea how that happened. I did like that her suit got darkened to the color scheme of the Justice League cartoon Bizarro, though again, I have no idea how that happened, either. It just did. I also really liked the overall look of Bizarro here, with the cracked makeup and sunken eyes.
Chris: Yeah, I think this was the best looking live action take on Bizarro we’ve ever gotten. Not that that’s saying all that much considering the versions Superboy and Smallville gave us, but…
Dylan: (shudders) It’s a shame Bizarro got wasted on this episode, to be honest. After last week’s episode, I hoped we’d turned a corner and that the focus of the episodes would sharpen, but this is the same old overstuffed, predictably-plotted stuff we’ve gotten for most of the season so far. Which wouldn’t be so bad if this show felt fun more than it does.
Does the Power Rangers-esque plotting of this show (and on Flash) bother you at all? I feel like it’s three fights (first encounter, second encounter where our hero loses big time, third encounter where they win but just barely) broken up by subplot stuff. You can almost set your watch by it at this point. Is it bugging you at all?
Chris: It’s a little repetitive for sure, but this show is still so much better/more fun than Arrow and I like the stuff that they get right so much (after suffering through 10 seasons of Not Superman on Smallville) that I think I let a lot of things slide. Of course, we’re also only 12 episodes in. Ask me again at the end of the season if things keep going this way.
I think we’re definitely in for a change of pace with next week’s episode adapting one of Alan Moore’s greatest Superman stories, “For the Man Who Has Everything”.
Dylan: I like that story because it teaches the very important advice of “if you find or are gifted a weird, gooey plant, do not touch it.” Kids need to know that.
Chris: Supergirl is for the children.