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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Supergirl, Why You Do This?

First of all, I actually enjoy CBS' Supergirl TV series.

Sure, the plots are lame (I'm not sure if they're more lame than the Flash and Arrow plots on CW, or if they only seem that way because Supergirl has a bigger budget on a bigger network) -- I mean, they took Alan Moore's amazing Black Mercy story and turned what should have been a 'Wow!' episode into 'Meh, was alright I guess' -- but I like it because the actors are convincing and overall the mood of the series is bright and cheerful and not the "oh god everything sucks i shall cut myself while listening to Nine Inch Nails" thing we have going on in the other two shows.

In other words, it's fun and it's cheerful even if it's a bit campy, and Melissa Benoist is very easy on my eyes.

But oh god, the writing. It baffles me how a series can have such good characterization and dialog between characters, but suck so badly at everything else. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

Monday's episode, "Manhunter", dealt with how J'onn J'onzz became Hank Henshaw.  And during a few flashbacks, we found out the following:

  • Henshaw calls the alien he is tracking through the South American jungle "the Manhunter" and "the Martian". Okay, how does he know this? It's not like J'onn was a prisoner on Fort Rozz...
  • Later, he says "This alien is over 300 years old!"  Again, how does he know this?
  • He also says something like "Superman says this Martian is one of the most powerful beings on the planet!"
I... I just...

Okay, let me break this down. 
  1. If Superman says J'onn is powerful, it's likely because they had an encounter. Either they fought each other, and they fought alongside each other. 
  2. If Henshaw knows J'onn is Martian it has to be because J'onn told Superman he's Martian. It's not like Krypton had diplomatic relations with Mars (because if so I'm pretty sure Kara would have heard about them during her education on Krypton). 
  3. From what we know of J'onn, it's really doubtful that he'd tell a total stranger that he's a Martian. So it's likely that Superman gained his trust or respect. 
  4. So of course it makes total sense for a government agency to track down someone that Superman respects instead of other threats. 
But let's assume that Henshaw is a total xenophobe nutcase  (BTW, I don't buy that he's dead -- I totally expect him to come back as either a certain cyborg or something else) and thinks "I hate aliens, and Superman is an alien, so if he likes another alien I'm gonna kill him."
  1. He still calls J'onn "the Manhunter". 
  2. Meaning that, logically, J'onn must have been hunting someone when Superman encountered him. This is probably how they met, fought, gained respect, etc.
  3. So if J'onn is hunting men (bad guys, we assume), then he isn't keeping a very low profile, is he? And didn't he want to keep a low profile to blend in and not let White Martians find him and etc?
  4. Furthermore, if he's hunting men, why is he hiding in a South American jungle?
I mean, you'd think that a shapeshifter who wanted to stay hidden could hide pretty damn easily in the Amazon. Of course, that would mean he's not out hunting men. And if he IS out hunting men, then why is he hiding in the Amazon?

None of this makes sense, because it's terrible exposition. The writers wanted us to know that J'onn J'onzz is from Mars -- but we already knew this when he told Kara several episodes ago. The writers wanted us to know that J'onn is Kryptonian-level powerful -- but we already knew this from how he took down Supergirl when she was under the effects of red kryptonite that made her evil. And the writers wanted us to know that J'onn is a manhunter -- but we already knew this because that's precisely what he does for the DEO in his guise as Hank Henshaw.

In other words, they really wanted us to know stuff we already knew. Except for the 300 years old part; that doesn't make any sense at all, unless you go comic book fan deep paranoid on it (see below). 

Now there are ways around this, of course. The easiest way is to simply say that the flashback was from J'onn's perspective and not what actually happened. He could have been lying about what was said, or otherwise be an unreliable narrator. 

The more interesting way to resolve this conundrum is to address these seeming contradictions head-on -- why yes, Hank Henshaw DID know these things, and he IS a raging xenophobe, and this all makes perfect sense because he is actually the Eradicator. Of course, this doesn't address the second set of problems (manhunter, jungle, etc) but that could be handled with option 1, above, or just ignored altogether if the dramatic reveal is good enough. 

The problem, though, is that I don't think either of these things are going to happen. I think everything's going to be as straightforward as it seems, because that's how Supergirl seems to roll. 

Sigh. Ah well. At least we're getting that sweet crossover with Flash next week, right?
By the way, this has always been my favorite Supergirl costume. The belly tee makes her look young (because she is), the white shirt makes her visually distinct from her cousin instead of "Superman with boobs and a skirt), and it's similar to alternate-universe Power Girl that you get the symbolism but without the needless boob window. 

I would love it if the TV show adopted this costume, but I'm so not holding my breath. 

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