By Josh Melo
‘Supergirl’ Review – S1 Ep.9 (Blood Bonds)
As we make our way through a new year, so to must we wade through the back half of Supergirl’s inaugural season. Picking up exactly where last episode left off, Kara must contend with Non and his forces while simultaneously dealing with Cat and keeping her evil aunt Astra in check. Blood Bonds is a serviceable continuation but a lot of the potential of the situation is squandered through poor villain work and a bit of backtracking.
For an episode that picks up midway through what was a pretty intense fight, the action in Blood Bonds is surprisingly lackluster. Gone are the Man of Steel-esque aerial bouts from the mid-season finale, instead we get a quick tussle between Non and Kara and then a bunch of standoffs to cap the episode. For a show that has excelled in the action department (for the most part), it is a shame to see the second half of the season start on such a mediocre note.
With that being said, it was less the fighting that was poor and more of an issue with the people she was fighting. Last episode saw Non come from virtually nowhere, primed to take the title of lead villain alongside Astra. With no further development coming in Blood Bonds his conflict with Kara is meaningless. Sure, he looks and sounds like Zod, but that is hardly enough to make him a worthy/interesting antagonist.
Maxwell Lord, who I have already sounded complaints over, falls into the same bout. Providing a cookie cutter Lex Luthor, his nefarious deeds lack any punch to them do to his lack of any real motivation. Why does he hate Supergirl so much? What is he ultimately planning? Mystery on shows like this are the norm, it’s just that the mystery needs to be compelling enough for audiences to see them through. I’m not fed up to the point of quitting on the show (far from it), I just want to see better villains.
Evil Aunt Astra seems to finally be filling that role. There is still a lot of needed development but the glimpses we get of her time on Krypton go a long way in terms of endearing us to the character. I’m enjoying the family dynamic at work and interested in the potential stories they can draw from it, just make sure Laura Benanti doesn’t play double duty anymore. She has enough trouble drawing emotion from either Astra or Alura, let alone when she has to play both at the same time.
Shifting gears to the good guy front, Team Supergirl is excellent as usual. With no romantic drama to bog things down, we get a real look at how this team gels. The scenes with Winn and Olsen forced into cooperation were some of their best and contribute a lot to their evolving dynamic. I’m still pulling for my boy Winn to get the girl but the more I see of James outside of his relationship with Lucy the more I tend to like the character.
On the other hand, Kara’s Cat crisis doesn’t fare nearly as well. Last time these two characters got together Cat Grant learned the truth about Kara’s identity. Instead of running with the revelation, the writers decide to have Kara outright deny it. If you didn’t want Cat in on the secret yet, why let her find out? The backtracking here consumes around a third of the run time and leaves us awkwardly where we were before Cat “thought” she knew anything. The way the situation was handled reaks of missed opportunity. Why not explore the volatile relationship between Kara and a greedy media pundit? It would add yet another interesting layer to the Cat/Kara relationship while giving audiences one more thing to think over during the week between episodes.
And the way they resolved the issue was straight out of a comic book. Employing the aid of a freshly rescued Hank Henshaw, she get’s Hank to make a copy of Kara to prove to Cat she couldn’t possibly be Supergirl. It’s about as comic cliché as it gets and it is an underwhelming way of introducing Martian Manhunters abilities (instead of, perhaps, having him kick the crap out of Non back at Fort Roz?).
David Harewood seems to be having a lot more fun now that Henshaw’s secret is out of the bag, now let’s see him get to flex those alien muscles.
Blood Bonds was definitely not the best Supergirl has had to offer but it does seemingly put the family feud front and center. Supergirl has lacked a strong villain up to this point and if Astra and Non are to be it, this is a good way of making it clear. Hopefully we get less “freak of the week” episodes and see a shift into more long form storytelling (and more Martian Manhunter!).
Overall Blood Bonds gets a 6/10.