‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 17: ‘Manhunter’
Welcome to Supergirl Guys, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CBS’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, andFlash recap veteran Dylan Todd.
This week, the secret history of the Martian Manhunter, the secret origin of Silver Banshee, and the return of Dean Cain, plus Supergirl versus the military: Dawn of Injustice. 'Manhunter' was directed by Chris Fisher, with a story by Derek Simon, and a teleplay by Cindy Lichtman & Rachel Shukert.
Dylan: Flashbacks! Military jerks! Daring escapes! While it’s nowhere near as strong as last week’s episode, it definitely managed to settle some hanging plot threads while setting up some stuff for down the line and cementing a new status quo as we close in on the last bit of the first season. What did you think, Chris?
Chris: This episode was really frustrating for me because it had parts I really liked, but then other aspects were the kinds of things I absolutely don't want to see on this show. Overall though, I'd say it was a win, even if it was a very close, buzzer-beater kind of win. Have we ever used sports analogies in these reviews before?
Dylan: We’re breaking new ground here. “A whole new wooorld…” Let’s get into what worked for you this episode, Chris? What did you like?
Chris: Well, I liked getting to see how J’onn became Hank, even if the episode was surprisingly less Hank-centric than I expected for an episode about Hank. I liked that they went through the trouble of introducing Chocos.
Dylan: Chocos™: when you can’t secure the rights for Oreos.
Chris: Hmm. I know there were other things I liked, but all that's coming to mind now are things I didn't care for. What about you? Maybe hearing about what worked for you will jog my memory.
Dylan: Just off the top of my head: Kara and Lucy on motorcycles, busting J’onn and Alex out of a semi truck bound for Project Cadmus?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. This week’s episode focused on a little more on J’onn’s backstory in the wake of him giving up his secret identity to stop a Red Kryptonite-crazed Supergirl last week. The framing for this is some dude who looks like he just walked off of CBS’ JAG, questioning J’onn, complete with flashbacks to the real Hank Henshaw and Puffy-faced Dean Cain, reprising his role as Jeremiah Danvers. Oh, and Lucy Lane is with him because apparently she got her job with the Army back like overnight.
Chris: Yeah, the army is real cool like that.
Dylan: Good to know!
Of all the flashbacks in this episode, this batch felt the most undercooked for me, mostly because it went down kind of exactly how you expected it to? What did you think of this flashback?
Chris: I think my favorite thing about it was them trying to pretend they were in South America.
I actually liked what they were trying to do with the flashbacks, but I think you’re right when you say that the J’onn/Hank and Jeremiah scenes were the weakest. You could say that since they’re not “about” Supergirl then they’re ultimately not as important, so they don’t have to be given as much attention, but that’s kind of a cop out for why they felt a little “high school production”-y. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it was all so quick and lacking in subtlety, that it just felt like it was for an audience that isn’t ready to think too hard about what they’re seeing. Is that too far? Am I way out of line?
Dylan: No, it definitely felt like not a lot of thought was given to the scene. I kept waiting for some sort of a wrinkle or complication to arise, but it was just… there. The other two flashbacks at least showed us something we hadn’t considered before.
Chris: Here, this is the actual shooting script for the scene with J’onn and Jeremiah:
Dylan: Yeah, it was not the best part, but at least now we know what happened to Jeremiah! Even though it’s exactly what we thought happened to Jeremiah! And even though apparently Jeremiah is also still alive and working at Project Cadmus! Or something!
From there, we dealt with some workplace drama, with Winn giving Siobhan maybe the most unfortunate pep talk ever. I literally Laughed Out Loud as he tried to pep talk Siobhan, knowing full well that when he said, “You need to follow your dreams,” or whatever, what she was hearing was, “The dream you had where you tried to make it look like Kara wrote a mean email to Cat Grant is a good dream and you should go do that right now.” Poor Winn. Dude just wants a girlfriend and maybe a dad who doesn’t murder everybody with insane toys. Will anything ever go right for this dude?
Chris: He said something like, “You just need a goal”, and, of course, she takes that and says, “New Goal: Destroy Kara Danvers.” Which will eventually become “Destroy Supergirl” who she also hates for some reason.
Dylan: I loved this part BTW. It’s so wonderfully dumb, the verbal gymnastics they had to go through to get that dialogue so it could easily be taken two ways. But of course, Siobhan’s plan to sully Kara’s good name fails. Big time. I’m so looking forward to her career as a supervillain.
What about the Alex flashback? I thought it was a big improvement over the Jeremiah one, showing Alex as a party girl who liked drinking and dancing to that “Party Rockers In the House Tonight” song until Hank/J’onn found her and set her on the righteous path of rounding up illegal aliens into a secret prison.
Chris: That’s how you know it was two years ago. I wonder if it’s actually feasibly possible for someone to go from “party person” to “supposedly super-competent secret government agent” in two years. I “liked” that they didn’t trust her to use her acting skills to look like she’s drunk, so they also had to move and shake the camera all around for that scene. I’m also curious if you can be arrested just for being drunk and standing near your own car.
Dylan: It was great. And by “great,” I mean, “not great.” But still, I liked that it played against Alex’s stern exterior and also sort of explained her propensity for making the worst possible decisions at any given moment?
Chris: Hahaha, oh man, yeah, this could actually play into her being the real bad guy all along thing maybe. Especially now that she’s on the run from the law? Is that the new status quo?
Dylan: I don’t know, but I’m into it. The final flashback of the episode was one that I‘m gonna guess was your favorite, with a glimpse into Alex and Kara’s relationship in small times. How’d you like that one, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, that one was the winner and the one it felt like they put the most effort into. Again, I can only assume that this is because it’s the only one that deals with Kara directly. The perks of being the star of the show: the writer(s) work on your parts a tiny bit harder. That scene with young Kara and Jeremiah was practically heartwarming, even if the point of it was another adoptive super-parent saying, “Please don’t use your powers. Even to help people.”... which is… kinda weird, right? Or is that just the new normal now?
Dylan: Yeah, as much as I liked that scene, the whole, “You must hide your specialness,” really bummed me out. Still, I liked the X-Men-ishness of Kara’s abilities sort of setting her apart from the rest of the kids, including her adopted sister. As much crap as we give it, it’s nice to see a family dynamic that sort of rings true, down to the jealousy and resentment that comes with siblings.
Chris: Oh, absolutely. We’ve said this before, but the only reason I think we’re hard on this show is because we can see all of its potential, and it’s frustrating when we see it get close to that potential and then stumble or do something dumb. We are like super-parents in this way.
Dylan: Speaking of precious little babies, your least favorite character is still hanging around, only now Lucy Lane is acting head of the DEO. How’d you like her whole deal this episode, with Kara revealing her identity and winning her over to Team Supergirl?
Chris: You know, if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. Right?
Dylan: I know you hate her, but I kind of… like her? I still wish she was a horrible as Comics Lucy, but if she’s going to be around --- and it definitely seems like she is never going anywhere --- I say invite her into the club, let Kara have a woman friend who isn’t her sister, and let her butt heads with her horrible, horrible, awful, no-good baby-head father.
Chris: I’ll probably like her more in this new role, so let’s hope she grows on me. You mentioned the part with Kara and Lucy on motorcycles.
Dylan: Well yeah, because motorcycles are cool, Chris. Only nerds don’t like motorcycles. Are you cool or are you a nerd?
Chris: I think we both know the answer to that. So, that part with Kara and Lucy on motorcycles. I can tell you were way into it, and I should have been too. They’re plan is so ridiculous that I should love it. Supergirl and Lucy Lane pulling off a daring, secret rescue on motorcycles is the kind of thing you can imagine seeing on an old Silver Age cover. “Supergirl and Lucy Lane: Biker Girl Gang?!” That should be totally up my alley, but it wasn’t.
Dylan: Chris Haley: confirmed nerd. But seriously, it was so stupid and we got the classic, “Here’s a motorcyle man taking off his helmet but what’s this! It’s a woman! She’s shaking her hair out! It’s Supergirl! My monocle!” Moment.
Chris: I’ve been thinking about it, and I think the silliness of that (and other things like it) doesn’t work (or isn’t as fun as it should be) for me because it’s right next to moments that are trying way too hard to seem way too serious. I'm not saying you can’t do a show that’s got silly and serious moments, but you’ve got to handle it really well. And you’ve got to decide what kind of tone you want this show to have. It’s a little difficult for me to care about military/government nonsense when you’ve also shown me a frozen clubhouse at the North Pole, you know?
Dylan: Chris, it’s okay to just say “I am dead inside.” That’s acceptable. I get what you’re saying, but as a guy who wants more of this goofy stuff, I’m willing to let them ease the CBS viewers into it by degrees.
Chris: It’d be easier if I was dead inside, because then I wouldn’t care, but I care so much! I love Supergirl and I want to love this show. You’re right though. I know I’m not the target audience for this show, and the general CBS viewer is probably less ready for Silver Age shenanigans than I am, so it’s okay. I guess I just have to figure out why things I should like don’t click, or I’ll go crazy. But, I mean, whatever it’s fine. Everything is fine.
Dylan: Speaking of crazy bonkers things, though, how about that bit at the end with Winn and Siobhan? It was maybe the most “comic book” thing they’ve done on this show, and we’ve already seen a giant gold key made from stars that unlocks Superman’s Arctic club house.
Chris: I loved it because there was no explanation for it whatsoever. I know they’ll probably have to come up with some kind of origin for these new powers before she shows up in a costume, but man, I’d sure love it if they didn’t. Nothing can go well for Winn.
Dylan: Poor, poor Winn.
Chris: The other important thread from this episode we haven’t even mentioned is the idea that National City is scared of/hates Supergirl now. Funny that Cat is shocked the people have turned on her, when the whole reason they did is because Cat ordered her video calling Supergirl a menace to be played on a loop 24 hours a day on a giant screen in the middle of downtown.
Dylan: She’s got a lot going on! Cat can’t remember everything she says. That’s Kara’s job and she called out sick for like, all day!
Chris: Do you think this whole “earn back the city’s trust” thing will carry forward, or will it be back to business as usual by next week’s crossover episode?!
Dylan: My gut says that the public will still not like her until she saves them all from Non and his gang of miscreant Kryptonians during the season finale, but we’ll see.
Chris: You mean to say you don’t think next week’s episode is going to involve a foot race around the world for charity?
Dylan: Anything is possible!