NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Supergirl” are present in this review
Supergirl felt rather uneven this week, since it delivered on the side of its heroine, namely with the introduction of another promising new recurring baddie, but it continually faceplanted in terms of the more grounded material that was supposed to be unfolding from Kara’s side of things. “Bizarro” may have at least realized its titular villain with reasonable aplomb and emotional impact, but beyond that, this episode definitely wasn’t one of the better offerings of Season One so far.
Things kick off immediately with the buildup that’s been in place since the start of midseason pretty much, the payoff to the secret Room 52 experiments of Maxwell Lord. Lord has indeed been building a clone of Supergirl, which he’s somehow done with some trace DNA and the discarded arm of Red Tornado, the android threat from “Red Faced”, though this seems like a stretch of an explanation, especially in terms of how he somehow made a corpse live again with some weird poprox-like goop. Yeah, that goop is still not explained, for some odd reason.
Regardless, the real problem with this re-tooled, Supergirl-themed version of Superman baddie, Bizarro (yes, there is an alternate, “Bizarro Girl” inspired by Supergirl in DC lore, but this show seems to be pretending that the Supergirl Bizarro is the only Bizarro in existence), despite the fact that the character herself is a solid villain with good emotional stakes behind her, is that Maxwell Lord’s motivations with creating her feel a little muddled. Is he trying to discredit Supergirl? Is he trying to make a more regulated version of Supergirl? Does he have some other agenda entirely? What happens if whatever his nebulous plans are become a success? Does he kill the clone? Does he let it live? None of this feels all that well explained, and it contributes to making Maxwell Lord one of the show’s weaker lead characters at present, now appearing to function all the more like simply a poor man’s alternative to Superman arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor.
Fortunately, the portrayal of Bizarro is at least well-done, as she’s portrayed by both Melissa Benoist herself, and by another actress, Hope Lauren whenever she’s not fully masquerading as Supergirl. Since Bizarro’s brain activity is so limited, she’s given a child-like disposition, much like the Superman-themed Bizarro from DC Comics, and is thus easily manipulated by Maxwell Lord to fight and discredit Supergirl, believing that she is saving National City from the ‘menace’ of its heroine. This is probably the best Bizarro to yet be realized in live-action, and when she’s scarred by a Kryptonite shot, which gives her the chalky white skin and cracked-looking face that characterizes Bizarro in DC lore, her lamenting about being ugly to James Olsen, the point where she realizes that she is a fake, is undeniably tragic. You really feel genuine pathos for this villain, and it’s bittersweet to have the episode end with Bizarro being loaded by alternate synthetic Blue Kryptonite by Alex, then having to be put back into a coma as Supergirl tries to comfort her at the DEO.
For all of the strengths of the Bizarro arc though, it was frustrating to see the episode’s other plots routinely fall short, including the resolution with Maxwell Lord. After Lord basically taunts Alex into arresting him, Alex plays right into his hands, then throws him in a cell at the DEO. Wait, seriously?! What happened to the interesting flirtation and mind games between these two? That’s just all over now? Hank is justifiably angry at Alex arresting Lord with no authority, and he has every right to be! Everyone on the planet is going to be looking for Lord, and the fact that Kara is going along with Lord’s capture feels equally preposterous. The whole point of this character, much like Lex Luthor, is that you can’t simply lock him up, and yet, that’s what Alex did. This is definitely going to bite her in the ass later, and could spell trouble for the entire DEO. Frankly, it just feels like a forced setup for the next level of Lord’s evil scheming, and the DEO will be entirely to blame for that, entirely because Alex is being an idiot, which is very out-of-character for her.
Even worse however is the relationship drama, which was way too on-the-nose this week. The relationship drama that served as the episode’s subplots got borderline unbearable at worst, especially where James and Winn were concerned. All of a sudden, Winn is just fine and talking to Kara again because he’s bored and has gone too long without a taste of the action (really?), and not only that, but he’s actively encouraging James to just screw over Lucy and run off with Kara? What?! Not that James was any better, since James spills his guts about being in love with Kara to Bizarro when he’s kidnapped for the climax, then basically undermines his own point by letting himself get seen trying to escape, like a dumbass, only to close out the episode by deciding that he’s going to pick up Lucy at the airport, and pretend none of this ever happened. Are you kidding me?! This entire sequence with James was completely pointless, and so was Winn’s input for that matter!
Speaking of pointless, the show already seems to be shuffling off Adam Foster, as Kara goes on a couple of dates with him, both of which are interrupted by Bizarro, and then she decides that she can’t be with anyone, because she doesn’t deserve anyone. Oh, not this bullshit again… I get that Adam is a brick of a character, and he was never all that interesting or likable, at least at this point, but the way that Kara just decides to dump him because it’s a little inconvenient to make a date with him, feels incredibly lazy, both from the perspective of the writers, and the character.
Also, Cat’s portrayal this week was extremely confusing. She all of a sudden became a pushover that was bending over backwards to please Kara, only to then turn around and claim, even at the end of the episode when Kara dumps Adam, that she doesn’t care, and that she and Kara need to go back to a purely professional relationship. Umm… Alright? Again, like with Maxwell Lord’s too-easy capture, this just felt like a lazy and contrived way to start setting up for the final Season One arcs, without any concern for whether or not these story developments actually flow or make sense.
Fortunately, this episode avoids being a total flop, thanks to the presence of Bizarro, and her effective portrayal. There’s a lot of unanswered questions about how Lord managed to duplicate and yet mirror Supergirl’s abilities on a corpse, though at least the character was good, and that’s what counts most. It’s a shame that the relationship drama failed so badly, and Alex losing it on Lord could have been a good character twist, if she didn’t blatantly compromise her entire organization in the process. Supergirl could still use more good villains, in fairness, and Bizarro is another well-realized one to join Toyman and Livewire, so hopefully we see her again at some point on the series (especially with the tease of Lord having more Supergirl-like corpses scuttled away), though I won’t be holding my breath for the return of Adam Foster, on the flip side.
Supergirl managed another good villain in its latest episode, though sadly, almost every other element of the episode seemed to fall short, thanks to lazy contrivances and frustrating character decisions, especially in their romances.
THE GOOD STUFF
Bizarro is an emotional, tragic villain
Kara's sympathy for Bizarro, especially at the end
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
Unbearably tedious relationship drama
Adam Foster is still a dull, unlikable character
Alex compromising the DEO to arrest Maxwell Lord is idiotic