TV Review: Supergirl – “Red Faced”

Supergirl - "Red Faced"
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous Supergirl episode here.
Anger was the theme of the week in "Red Faced". Kara’s innate cheerfulness, fueled by Melissa Benoist’s likability, has been the biggest factor in Supergirl‘s success, but this week showed us a different, angrier side of our heroine. And Benoist was more than up to the task, adding more depth to Kara along the way.
SupergirlYet again, Supergirl lent a female perspective to a tried-and-true superhero trope. Dealing with rage is a common theme, but Supergirl took it a step further, exploring how women are expected to deal with anger differently from men. The opening scene was a good demonstration of that. An angry male driver took a swing at Supergirl, and nobody batted an eye. But when Supergirl fought back, everyone was shocked. And we see this happen in the real world, too. Men are expected to lash out, but women are called moody, hysterical, hormonal, or just plain crazy b****es. They are expected to put on a good face, and Supergirl was no different.
Just as in previous weeks, it was up to Cat Grant to dispense that nugget of wisdom. It was really satisfying to see Kara snap and stand up for herself in front of Cat. And it was even better when Cat recognized that anger in her and advised her on how to deal with it. Any episode that showcases Cat and her relationship with Kara is bound to be a good one.
As is often the case, the villain was not very well-developed. But he made up for that with some very fun action scenes. Supergirl fought a tornado-generating android—it doesn’t get much better than that. "Red Faced" handled those sequences with great effects and quite a bit of creativity (Supergirl burrowing underground, for instance). And it all came to a head in an emotionally satisfying climax, as Kara unleashed her pent-up anger to destroy Red Tornado. Benoist’s face may have been obscured by laser beams, but her performance stood out.
Red TornadoUnfortunately, the Red Tornado plot itself wasn’t that great. Why was Red Tornado’s self-defense mode to basically turn into a terror machine? Why did he enter that mode to begin with, considering it was just supposed to be a test? And couldn’t T. O. Morrow manually override it? Thankfully, it was actually revealed that Red Tornado was being controlled by Morrow all along, who was using him to get revenge for being fired. But the failure of the test is what got him fired to begin with, so if he could control Red Tornado, why didn’t he prevent him from escaping? Unless he intended the test to fail, but in that case, what’s his motivation? I’m not usually one to nitpick, but this plot strained credulity.
Another one of my usual complaints has been the James and Lucy subplot. This week saw improvement on that front. Not only was their story thematically relevant, but James’s confrontation with Lucy’s father was also a very good scene, and a strong character moment for him. Being accused of living in other people’s shadows when that’s the exact reason he left Metropolis must have stung. Still, I found Sam Lane’s dislike of James (and Kara, and Henshaw, and everyone) extreme to the point of being cartoonish. And even though the storyline itself was good, I still find myself disinterested, because the show still hasn’t given me enough reason to care for James and Lucy as a couple. It’s too early in the series to devote so much time to the romantic woes of secondary characters who’ve yet to be fully developed.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Notes and Observations

  • I appreciated that the episode not only dealt with the gender-related perspective on anger, but touched on race as well. It was one line, but it was great.
  • The Henshaw conspiracy continues. He’s a very confusing character, often standing up for Kara, yet clearly hiding secrets.
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