By Josh Melo
‘Supergirl’ Review – S1 Ep.6 (Red Faced)
From an emotional standpoint Red Faced is a home run. A number of key characters are introduced an in turn induce rage in almost every character they come into contact with (maybe even a couple of viewers as well). But when it comes to the action, Red Faced is perhaps the weakest of the half dozen episodes we’ve seen thus far. My god, Red Tornado is ugly.
Getting the negatives out of the way first, this week’s villain was not only poorly defined but also incredibly hard to look at without laughing. Iddo Goldberg plays both the cyborg Red Tornado and it’s creator Dr. T.O. Morrow and while his performance is nothing to call home about, it’s the look of his masterpiece that will draw the most disdain. Simply put, RT is a dude in poorly done make-up with some plastic plating covering his torso. It’s an unnecessarily massive departure from the comics (which is considerably less ambitious in its portrayal) and ultimately distracts from perhaps the most emotionally charged episode of the series to date.
Supergirl’s final showdown with the Red Tornado was meant to be a release of her pure and unadulterated anger. On Melissa Benoist’s end, it certainly was. But whenever the object of her outrage takes the screen you are instantly taken out of her story and can’t help but laugh at the costume or get just as upset as Kara (I guess it depends on how much of a comic purist you are).
Normally I’d be against making such an important character a one-off but having seen Red Tornado in action I can’t say I’ll be missing him. As for Dr. Morrow himself, he fared a bit better when it came to his conveyance but with little to no true motivation for terrorizing National City he won’t be missed either. His fight scene against Alex to cap off the episode was pretty cool though.
Speaking of characters other than RT and Morrow, the real emotional weight came from the drama surrounding the Danvers and Grant families. Recent episodes have begun to paint Cat Grant in a more sympathetic light, we met her son and now she has started showing signs of actual caring for Kara. Red Faced introduces us to Cat’s mother, Katherine (Joan Juliet Buck). I thought Cat was a bitch but her mother more than takes that title. Whether it be belittling her daughter’s career achievements or blatantly insulting her, Katherine Grant isn’t shy about letting her thoughts known. I don’t think she had one good thing to say about anything, definitely a bitch.
The dynamic between the two does a great job of shedding light on why Cat is the way she is and paves the way for much needed girl time between Kara and her boss. Kara’s short blurb of passion made quite the impression on Cat, who went on a martini binger and taught Kara how to handle her emotions. It’s awesome seeing these great actresses deal with material outside of the (now) usual female empowerment agenda (though that is still prevalent). Calista Flockhart has turned this unlikable character into someone who I know can’t see outside of Kara’s world. She ain’t no Harrison Wells but she pulls off the mentor role well.
During their girl’s night they raise the notion of hiding one’s emotions. It’s not something typically brought up in genre shows but, being a female led vehicle, Supergirl is in the rare position to broach this gender sensitive topic in an organic way. Watching Supergirl literally turn red from her bottled up rage was something straight out of a graphic novel, and something that I would never have thought of as anything other than “cool”. Red Faced has added real emotion to why Kara reacts the way she does and consequently made her action scenes all the more powerful. All while making it clear that women have every right to vent that men do (super powered or not).
The last of the new introductions this week comes in the form of General Sam Lane (Glenn Morshower), Lucy’s father. He is the “asshole” to Katherine’s “bitch”. Immediately setting himself up as an antagonist to Hank Henshaw, he manages to make every other character on the show loath him (including his daughter it seems). Morshower does a great job conveying this man’s inherent odious nature but am I glad he is gone (though he will undoubtedly be back).
Caught up in the glut of family drama are tidbits about Alex’s father and her (horrendous) blossoming relationship with Maxwell Lord. Leigh and Facinelli have never had the best chemistry and things don’t heat up any in Red Faced. Their exchanges remain sluggish and I hope they stop (please!). The news about her father is considerably more exciting. Henshaw seems more implicated in the death of her father than ever before (perhaps having directly killed him?) but the specifics of the story lead me to believe that we may see more than one red-eyed super person on the show soon.
How cool would that be? Having the actor who played Superman from Lois and Clark portray one of two Cyborg Supermen in the rebooted Supergirl franchise? Really cool! That being said, my storytelling genius mind is probably way off base (but if it isn’t you heard it here first!).
Red Faced gets a 7.5/10 (the emotional resonance kept it a solid episode but the poor villain and laughable portrayal of Red Tornado left their mark).
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