Review: A Classic Superman Villain Debuted on This Week’s Episode of Supergirl

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 - 9:36AM
DC Comics
Supergirl
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 - 9:36AM
Review: A Classic Superman Villain Debuted on This Week’s Episode of Supergirl
Supergirl has had an interesting second season so far. More beloved DC characters have been introduced to the show, and it's obvious that the writers have been making a conscious effort to incorporate heavy doses of social commentary into the episodes. This week, a classic Superman villain made his first appearance in the DC TV universe, and another beloved Superman character became a superhero in his own right. Likewise, the plot with Cadmus has continued to develop, and Mon-El begins learning what it's like to live with superpowers in National City.  

This week's episode, entitled "Changing," begins by providing a backstory for the classic Superman villain, Parasite. This version of the character is created by a climate change scientist who comes in contact with a frozen wolf that is carrying an alien parasite in the arctic; the parasite infects the man, and he immediately goes on a murderous rampage, sucking the life out of everyone close to him. Throughout the episode, Parasite attempts to kill politicians/climate change deniers, and it's up to Supergirl and Martian Manhunter to stop him. Though they initially fail and Supergirl has to be put under yellow sun-laps to have her energy restored after being drained by the enemy, Supergirl finally succeeds in taking Parasite down with some help from Mon-El and the Guardian.

The Guardian is, of course, Jimmy Olsen; he's finally given his complete costume in "Changing." Interestingly enough, it's lead lined so Jimmy can hide his identity from Kara, who he believes would stop him from helping out if she knew. Likewise, Mon-El struggles with his identity, as he isn't initially attracted to the idea of being a superhero. By the end of the episode, he almost seems addicted to helping others - a virtue that gets him tasered and captured by Cadmus when he asks who he believes to be a homeless man if he needs help. Finally, Alex comes out to Kara, which is obviously a huge step forward for her character, but is then subsequently shot down by Maggie - a huge step back.  

There are definitely some really interesting moments in "Changing" - Kara getting drunk at an alien bar, getting drained by Parasite, and getting angry with Mon-El are undoubtedly stand-outs from this week's episode. However, the story itself fails to rise above these individual moments. There's no build up to the resolution; Kara essentially has a last minute idea for taking down Parasite, and that's that. Likewise, though Alex coming out definitely serves as character development for both she and Kara and promotes a worthy message of tolerance, at this point it's a little unclear how this subplot is supposed to tie-in with the rest of the narrative. And while the connection between Parasite studying how mankind is the parasite of the Earth is itself interesting, not enough is done with the idea to actually make it interesting to watch. Just as well, Guardian hiding his identity from Supergirl is a conflict-type that has been well overdone in the other DC TV shows, so asking the audience to invest in that particular subplot is somewhat unrealistic.   

Overall, "Changing" is a fun watch, but has a very muddled narrative structure. The writers try to juggle Alex's coming out, creating and then characterizing a weekly villain, adding to Mon-El's character development, introducing the Guardian, and fleshing out Miss Martian and Martian Manhunter's relationship all in the very same episode, and everything falls to the floor. Not enough time is spent on any one thing in particular, and the result is an episode full of half-fleshed out ideas and some fully-fleshed out ideas that don't immediately connect to the plot. Supergirl is almost always a fun watch, but if the writers really want it to excel, they need to start focusing on what they do best; it's midway through the second season and it still feels as if Supergirl has yet to figure out what exactly it wants to be.  

Supergirl returns next Monday at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.
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