‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 5: ‘Crossfire’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of The CW’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your traveling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and intrepid reporter Katie Schenkel.
This week, alien weapons hit the streets, and hit Supergirl; Mon-El tries to figure out how to be an Earthling, Alex tries to figure out if she likes girls, and Jimmy tries to figure out how to not just be a sidekick. “Crossfire” was directed by Glen Winter from a script by Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn.
Chris: I can’t believe the fight club episode was just last week! What’d you think of this week’s subtle as a sledgehammer episode?
Katie: Hoo boy, this episode. I'll say off the bat that this was not my favorite episode of the show, mostly for certain character actions and for things they look to be setting up (which I'm sure we will get to in detail). That being said, this show always manages to give me a few things every episode to hold onto and enjoy, even during episodes that make me shake my head.
So to start with some of the positives, I'm happy to see the Winn/James friendship back in the forefront.
Chris: Yeah, it was nice to see them palling around again, even if it was only to keep showing up at each other’s work for two minutes and then leave. How close are the DEO and CatCo offices anyway?
Katie: Also, is the DEO just okay with a major member of the media (who now runs a corporate media empire) waltzing into their super secret base? I know he is Supergirl’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, but come on. I think the DEO has the same security system as STAR Labs, which is amazing since they're in separate universes.
Chris: Maybe there’s no STAR Labs in this universe so all of those security guards got jobs in National City instead? Did they mention that on last season’s crossover?
Katie: I think we can “no prize” that... although, when has STAR Labs ever had security guards? It’s almost as if the CW superhero shows have some regularly unanswered plot holes or something!
Speaking of plot holes, Jimmy has martial arts training apparently, and wants to be a superhero in his own right. I don’t mind too much his role changing in the upcoming episodes, but I seriously do not remember him saying anything about being a black belt last season. It feels as out of nowhere, 100% for the plot’s sake, as Kara and him breaking up at the start of this season.
Chris: I can give this one a pass, because Jimmy did some action-y stuff last season, and I mean, he’s Jimmy Olsen. I know the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the character is that he's a photographer, but right after that it’s “turned into a giant turtle”, so I have no problem accepting that his life of adventures as Superman’s pal would have also led him to fight training.
And even if I think the guy they cast is taller than Superman, which makes it a little odd to think of him as Superman’s “little buddy”, I think he cuts a great impressive/imposing figure in action, so he’ll make a great… character name we won’t mention in case anyone reading this hasn’t already been spoiled.
Katie: So far I’m interested in seeing where they go with Jimmy’s storyline here. It could be good, it could be a mess. But at least they aren’t going to have him only sitting in the background of scenes in Cat’s office. That being said, it’s been a few episodes now since Cat Grant left the main cast and, man oh man, do I miss her. That’s not to put down how the show is handling it, but it does feel like they lost a spark from the first season.
Chris: The show certainly seems to be searching everywhere among its cast for who can be a voice of guidance from episode to episode, with no-one really having the definitive kind of authority to give it. It feels a little like everyone on this show is at different levels of childhood (including olds like J’onn/Hank) for one reason or another and there are no grown-ups anywhere to be found, so they’re all just wandering around trying their best. Which, you know, is admirable at least. They’re trying. But, Cat’s absence is definitely noticeable. It’s noticeably noticeable.
Katie: While we’re talking about less than mature characters, let’s talk about Mon-El. More like Manchild-El, amirite? For all the slack we cut Mon-El last week, he was kind of the worst in this episode.
Chris: No question. But also, the guy doesn’t even know what a telephone is, and you’re trying to just throw him into an office job? I think he needed several more weeks, if not months, in human interaction classes and with “How To Be An Earthling for Dummies From Daxam”. I know they want to hurry up and get him doing things, but good grief.
Katie: Same. I get why the DEO was seen in the wrong last episode for locking him away in general, but maybe some baby steps and actual classes on what a normal Earthling does? I mean I love a doofy makeover montage as much as the next person (especially when it’s for a guy instead of a girl), but new snappy clothes and a laser eye-created haircut can only do so much!
All that being said, Mon-El was also just kind of a jerk in general outside the social faux pas. Someone on my Twitter feed described him as the epitome of white dude privilege, and that feels apt.
Chris: Oh yeah, he was being a jerk in a situation he shouldn’t have been in, but he was still being a jerk. Or at the least, childish. Which, you know, goes back to what I was saying before. I also thought they were going to do a little more with the aftermath of how he tried to help stop the robbers at the party, but I guess we can only handle one burgeoning superhero metamorphosis at a time.
Speaking of those robbers, I try to give this show as much slack as I possibly can, but everything about them/their plan was just depressingly stupid.
Katie: Yeah, it’s another week where the bad guys are just... not really that interesting. Right up there with the fire shooter alien who shoots fire that doesn’t actually set things on fire from the Lynda Carter episode.
However, I have to admit that the good Doctor, played by Brenda Strong, is creepy as hell. Since it looks like we might not see Amanda Waller in this universe, it’s fun that we have another female antagonist who is sinister and ruthless and, as it turns out, has some ties to another character in the cast! I want to see "Doctor Luthor" get more focus so that it’s more than just menacing knowing stares and eerily calm threats, but at the very least there’s some meat to her character that the robbers in this episode just didn’t have.
Chris: I was thinking more that it’s lazy writing that even if the bad guys have mega-powerful ray guns, Supergirl still has super-speed, so it wouldn’t be hard for her to stop them, but I definitely hope we get a rich explanation for all of Cadmus Director Luthor’s plans and origins. She seemed like the only adult on the show this week.
Speaking of the Luthors, are you buying Lena’s “I’m not a bad guy” routine, or do you think she’s got more up her sleeve than it seems?
Katie: I wonder if the “Mom” reveal is a red herring, that she doesn’t realize what her mom is doing. I’m sort of holding out hope that she really does want to come out of her brother’s shadow and be one of the good guys. There was something fun seeing her use one of her own machines to stop the robbers here, and I genuinely thought her admitting to Kara that she’s her only friend in the city was sweet. It would be a shame (and rather predictable) for her to have a standard heel turn at this point. I know the last few recaps I’ve been guessing that’s where they’ll go with her, but I hope I was wrong, because her becoming one of the good guys is so much more interesting.
Chris: Couldn’t agree more. It might make some of her previous actions and remarks seem a little odd in retrospect if it turns out she was a good guy the whole time, but maybe that’s just an offshoot of growing up around a family of evil geniuses. I’d like to think that even if she knows what her mother is up to, she’s against it… or at the very least against how she’s going about it.
It was also nice for Winn to have another techno-whiz to talk to again and to get to help a little more actively. On the subject of actively helping, let’s jump back to Jimmy for a minute. What do you think of his logic on wanting to become a crime-fighter?
Katie: Honestly, it reminds me quite a bit of comic book Jimmy Olsen, who totally became a superhero over and over in the Silver Age and beyond. Granted, in those stories he got weird as heck superpowers, but the idea of Jimmy wanting to be a hero just like his pal (and in this case, pals) doesn’t seem out of character at all. I don’t know whether I like the fact that he didn’t bring up his dad’s camera this season yet, or if they could have used a reminder of it before it breaking became a plot point, but I didn’t mind him also looking toward his dad’s legacy as a brave person and wanting to be heroic, too.
Chris: Fair enough. This week, we also got some major movement forward on the Alex/Maggie relationship. How’d that play for you?
Katie: Okay, so I found Maggie’s questioning of Alex to be just a little cringey, mostly for her line about doubting Alex when she says she’s not into women because she knew other women who ended up being gay even after denying it. While that kind of denial does happen, it’s sort of crappy to dismiss what someone is saying about their sexuality. Maggie does apologize later for their talk, but that line still bothered me a tad.
However, I found Alex’s monologue later to be extremely well done. We saw her go on dates with a man last season, and they don’t ignore the fact that Alex has had a history with men. There are lots of adults who always assumed they were straight because our culture’s definition of not-straight is so rigid and narrow. Alex says she didn’t even realize this was a thing that could apply to her, and believe me, that hits me hard. There are queer people out there whose identities were not always so clear (and for gay people in particular, any past relationships with the opposite sex can be cruelly treated as delegitimizing their gay identity), and I’m happy to see Alex representing them in mainstream media. Major props to both the writers and Chyler Leigh for that scene.
I also like that while it was apparent Alex’s revelation came from her attraction to Maggie, they still didn’t get together this episode. That would have felt too easy, and this was really Alex’s moment on her own, beyond any relationship she could have with Maggie.
Chris: Yeah, for as obvious as them getting together has been, the show has shown remarkable restraint on not just jumping immediately to it, and I think that goes a long way to help the characters feel more real, even on a show with big green aliens in capes.
Katie: I know we talk about how unsubtle the show is (for instance, the random CatCo employee this episode talking about needing guns against the aliens and citing the 2nd Amendment --- yikes), when the show is subtle, it’s really lovely.
But while we’re talking about it, I sincerely hope that Alex is not the only character to come out this season, because between Lena and Kara’s chemistry and Winn and Mon-El’s chemistry, I will be very disappointed if the show suggests they’re all straight. Also, if they do set up Mon-El and Kara as romantic interests, I might throw a chair. Or at least throw my hands in the air, and tweet frustrated reaction gifs.
Chris: I’m still holding onto the hope that there’s no way Mon-El and Kara are ever romantic interests for each other, even with this week’s momentary dancing. Just… no, thank you.
Katie: His douchey, “slowly getting better maybe” behavior this week could somewhat work if they have a brother/sister dynamic, but if he ends up winning her heart, I will just... Kara Zor-El deserves better. Speaking of which, where is Lucy Lane? Let her come in and sweep the Maiden of Might off her feet already.
Chris: Wasn’t their relationship more of the “tolerate each other” variety? At least Kara and Lena seem to get along and like each other.
Katie: Oh, I could get out my comically long scroll about why I ship Lucy and Kara (to quote another show I recap on ComicsAlliance, “It’s subtext, Steven”), but we don’t have all night. But absolutely, Kara and Lena are also totally acceptable.
Chris: I hope they get as many queer characters on here as they can, but on all of these comic shows, I’m generally more interested in the superhero stuff than any of the romances. But I know it can’t just be wall-to-wall super-powers on a weekly, live action show. I’m happy when characters I like are happy, so however that shakes out among the cast of characters on this show is fine by me. I just want everyone to be happy and have a nice time, and the good guys win. Maybe, like the characters on the show, I too am still a child.
Katie: I guess we’ll see in the upcoming weeks how the characters will mature and change! At the very least, the whole cast of characters seems to be learning more and more about themselves.
Chris: Perhaps we will as well.
Katie: We get profound in our recaps. Come for the Superfam squeeing, stay for the wisdom!
Chris: Certainly more Super-squeeing to come next week, as Supergirl faces off against what I can only assume is The Parasite!