Melissa Benoist

Supergirl (2015) s05e03 – Blurred Lines

Carl Lumbly shows up in this episode and you almost remember when you liked the stuff with J’onn (David Harewood). Barely. Lumbly’s voice brings back that warm feeling, so long missing on the show. And he’s got to be there because this episode’s all about Harewood finding out why he doesn’t remember his brother (Phil LaMarr doesn’t get a credit this episode, as his character—named Malefic, in the best proper noun usage since Geonosis, hops from person to person via mental telepathy or it’s just his transforming powers… doesn’t matter). Again, it’s unbelievable the Martian evil brother thing is a multi-arc—possibly full season—villain thread because the Martian CGI is so terrible. At one point, they just do the flashbacks with human children, explaining it’s because Nicole Maines (who’s helping Harewood with his memories while not breaking annoying Jesse Rath’s heart) is seeing things through a human perspective, which makes little sense since Maines is… an alien.

But whatever. Her being an alien was always a little weird anyway. Why not just forget it whenever it helps the budget.

Meanwhile Sean Astin shows up as the evil brother’s latest persona, except Astin’s an old friend of Azie Tesfai’s, which soon puts her in danger and ends with her and James (Mehcad Brooks—who’s got nothing to do on this show anymore, especially not since he quit his job) in exile. It’s like the whole episode is treading water until they can shoe out the Olsen siblings.

Rath’s really annoying. It’s not cute. He’s really annoying.

The show also figures out a way to bring back Andrea (Miss Teschmacher) Brooks, making her Katie McGrath’s sounding board again, which isn’t great because Brooks is more wooden than the CGI super-Alexa McGrath talked at the previous episodes.

Meanwhile Melissa Benoist is overworked at the newspaper, but every task she has to complete seems to be something she could do at super-speed but doesn’t. Why doesn’t she ever use her superpowers to get her work done? Has it ever been addressed? The idea Benoist could be overwhelmed with a backlog of civilian work is silly.

The show’s also doing questionably effective—ergo not—end song montage sequences now. If you can’t do a song montage, don’t. Don’t pretend you can sell it with some song you found out you could use for cheap (or exposure). It’s all very unsteady.

Supergirl (2015) s05e02 – Stranger Beside Me

This episode ought to be called “The One With All the Whining.” First, there’s still Lena (Katie McGrath) whining—entirely to her super-Echo—about how Kara never told her the Supergirl thing. McGrath’s new plan is to pretend everything’s cool and exploit Supergirl’s friendship. Of course the scenes with Melissa Benoist being earnest and caring about Lena and McGrath pretending the feeling is mutual are much better than the ones where McGrath’s whining and plotting. Musing about plotting. She doesn’t even get to really plot; plotting wouldn’t help, as the show seems to either not comprehend McGrath’s inherent likability as a Supergirl/Kara ally or just not want to do it for bad character development. Bad character development in two ways—it’s bad, and also McGrath is on a villain arc now.

But this episode also amps up the whining with Alex (Chyler Leigh) and her new girlfriend, Azie Tesfai. Tesfai’s character’s name is Kelly but basically she’s just Alex’s girlfriend and James’s sister. She’s got nothing else going for her character development-wise, though I suppose she could provide worse support when she’s using her lab’s future science to try to figure out why J’onn can’t remember his brother. See, Leigh is freaking out because she and Tesfai don’t know each other very well and Leigh made blueberry pancakes and Tesfai is allergic. If it were a show about obsessing over every item in your day, it might be all right… but it’s “Supergirl.” It’s supposed to be about something else… ostensibly super.

Tesfai and David Harewood (whose J’onn is on an even shakier character arc than last season, which is saying something) are fine together, but it’s a problematic subplot. Maybe because the Martian brother thing is so dumb. Like, is he really going to be the season villain? Because he’s a terrible villain. And the Martian CGI is way too iffy for 2019.

Harewood gives “Supergirl” some of its respectability cachet and the show rewards him with the worst plot lines.

Supergirl (2015) s05e01 – Event Horizon

Not much has happened since we last saw our heroes; Kara (Melissa Benoist) still hasn’t told Lena (Katie McGrath) about being Supergirl, even though she really, really wants to tell her, she really does… meanwhile Lena has created a talking AI to bitch at about how much she hates Kara for never sharing the secret. Chyler Leigh’s romance with Azie Tesfai is going full steam ahead, while Jesse Rath and Nicole Maines’s one is in a holding pattern (he won’t kiss her, just wants to shake).

Meanwhile Julie Gonzalo has bought CatCo and is making things miserable for the staff—she wants clicks, not hard-hitting journalism. So Mehcad Brooks is raring to quit.

But otherwise, not much has happened. More than most shows, this one feels like a direct follow-up to the previous season closer. Same show, slightly different supporting cast.

Leigh pushes Benoist all episode to tell McGrath the truth, McGrath’s super-Alexa pushes her to kill the human race (wait, no, maybe just Supergirl; the Alexa is a tad too obviously ready to Skynet). When the show finally gets to its big soapy showdown between Benoist and McGrath, full of tears and so on, it’s actually not bad. Benoist is really good. McGrath is good. They act the hell out of the soap opera. Unfortunately, whenever McGrath’s supposed to be Luthoring it up and plotting against her friends, she’s not good. Worse, the contrast between backstabber McGrath and plotting McGrath just reminds how much better “Supergirl” used to be at the friendship stuff. The histrionics at this point are way too over-the-top, so it’s impressive how well Benoist handles them, but they weren’t always turned so high.

And then there’s something about J’onn (David Harewood) having an evil brother (voiced by the “Justice League” cartoon’s Phil LaMarr, who doesn’t do a great job… the Martians are already goofy as hell, LaMarr just makes it worse). But mostly it’s McGrath being two-faced and Benoist being naive.

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