Supergirl Reviews: Season 1 (Bizarro)

Hey, remember how Maxwell Lord had some comatose girl in his custody and no one knew why? Well, we’re about to find out.

About that person Kara and Alex saw on TV at the end of the last episode, the one who looks exactly like Supergirl but isn’t, and who is wreaking havoc in National City. She was created in Maxwell Lord’s labs, designed to look exactly like Supergirl and have powers opposite to her (fire breath, freeze vision, etc.). Oh, and he’s brainwashed her into thinking Supergirl is a bad person who must be killed, which Bizarro (a name Cat Grant coins) has been ordered to do.

Meanwhile at Catco, Cat is being weirdly nice to Kara, which Kara suspects has something to do with her date with Cat’s son Adam that night. Winn and Kara also seem to be on speaking terms again, at least he’s willing to help her out with Bizarro. Kara is pretty sure Maxwell Lord has something to do with her, so she asks Winn to look into hospital records to see if any comatose girls close to Kara’s age, height and weight have gone missing recently.

Kara’s first encounter with Bizarro unfortunately cuts short her date with Adam. She has to excuse herself from the date when she sees Bizarro on TV, endangering some people trapped in a tram car. Bizarro attacks Supergirl on sight, but then witnesses Supergirl rescuing the tram car. She becomes confused, and later asks Maxwell Lord how Supergirl can be bad if she saves people. Max just tells her that even heroes can be bad beneath the surface.

Winn discovers that seven Jane Does have been taken from hospitals over the past few months, transferred to a private facility called Prometheus Genetics. Seven Jane Does. Apparently, that’s how many tries it’s taken to for Maxwell Lord to create the perfect Bizarro.

Pretty disgusting, right?

But then Alex confronts Maxwell Lord about this, and…

Alex: I know about the girls, Max. Those women had lives.

Maxwell: They were brain dead. Zero chance of recovery.

Alex: You treated them like guinea pigs.

Maxwell: Or gave them a chance to live.

Sigh. You know what’s really terrible? I can see why Maxwell Lord would think he has a decent argument here. These girls had no family or friends, no connections at all. They had so little brain activity that they were about as close to being dead as they could be without actually being dead. I can see how Maxwell Lord would think that there would be nothing wrong with taking these girls, with using them as his experiments. I can see how he might even think he was doing these girls a favor. They’re either dead now, or they’ve managed to wake up, even if it’s not as who they were. Either of those options would be better than being comatose with no chance of recovery and no one even looking for you, right?

That being said… it’s still fucking gross, Max. You haven’t actually “given them a chance to live”, you’ve made them into your guinea pigs. Into your servants. Bizarro is nothing more than a tool for you, your own personal Supergirl that you can feel comfortable with because she’s entirely under your control. That’s not exactly what I’d call being given a chance to live. Not to mention what a huge violation this is, to both the Jane Does and to Supergirl. Just. Nothing about this is okay.

They decide that they’ll have to use Kryptonite to defeat Bizarro, but Kara doesn’t like the idea. Bizarro is a confused, brainwashed victim, not a villain. Maxwell Lord is the villain, shouldn’t he be the one they go after? Alex, ever the pragmatist, reminds Kara that brainwashed or not, they will need to stop Bizarro before she causes any more damage. Alex is thinking of Bizarro as a dangerous experiment, which is basically what she is now. Kara is thinking of Bizarro as a person, which is what she used to be. I like the grey morality here. I’m inclined to agree with Kara and see Bizarro as a sympathetic figure, but I also think Alex makes a good point. They can’t know if there’s any way to help Bizarro, all they know right now is that Bizarro is a threat, and I suppose they should treat her that way.  And yet… I just don’t feel good about this at all.

Kara is attacked by Bizarro during a second date with Adam. Those two just can’t catch a break. Bizarro carries her to a remote place, and though Kara tries to talk her out of fighting she’s given no choice but to defend herself. The DEO shows up and shoots Bizarro with Kryptonite bullets, but it’s discovered that Bizarro is different from Supergirl in one other way. Kryptonite makes her stronger, not weaker, but it also corrupts and mutates her, making her skin cracked and gray and turning her eyes black. Bizarro now despises Supergirl more than ever, and she flees the scene. Unfortunately Kara can’t follow her due to the presence of Kryptonite.

After assuring Cat Grant and Adam that she’s okay, Kara breaks up with Adam. “Break up” is maybe not the right way to put it, since they technically haven’t even had one complete date yet, but she tells him that she can’t see him anymore. So that subplot is already over. Good.

Alex arrests Maxwell Lord, even though she’s technically not supposed to. Not that he doesn’t deserve it (and not just because of Bizarro), but the DEO doesn’t have the authority to be arresting him, officially the DEO isn’t even supposed to exist, and people are going to ask questions when the head of a multibillion dollar organization goes missing. It wasn’t the best decision on Alex’s part, but for now let’s just enjoy that that scumbag is locked up. And that Alex slammed him against a desk while she was arresting him. Nice.

Bizarro is still out there, though, and thanks to some encouragement from Max she knows that the best way to get to Supergirl is to take someone Supergirl loves hostage. So she takes James hostage. Bizarro is still mutated from the Kryptonite and hiding her face from James.

James: Why don’t you come closer, so I can see you?

Bizarro: No.

James: Why not?

Bizarro: Ugly.

James: You know, we… We all feel ugly sometimes. We all feel like no one loves us. Like maybe they never will. And you may not look like her right now, but there is a part of you that still is Supergirl. I can feel it. And people don’t love her because of what she looks like on the outside. I love her because of who she is. Because she’s brave, because she’s kind, and she always tries to do the right thing. And you can be the same. You’re not a monster.

You know, I haven’t actually talked that much about Karolsen as a ship, and that’s mainly because throughout season 1 I didn’t have particularly strong feelings about it. I liked it, I thought it was cute and well-written and it was good for racial representation, but I wasn’t personally that invested in it. I was passive about it, like I was with other ships. Then season 2 came along and I now have strong feelings about multiple ships in the show and that has definitely retroactively affected how I view Karolsen in season 1. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but let’s just I went from “it’s an objectively good ship but I’m pretty passive about it” to “I love this ship with everything I have and it had better be endgame”. But we’ll get into why that happened later. For now, let me just say that the way James and Kara talk about each other is adorable. It’s clear that they both really respect and trust each other and it’s unfortunate that something as simple as that would be noteworthy but considering how m/f romances are often written, a relationship that’s founded on mutual respect and compassion is actually a pretty big deal.

Supergirl and the DEO finally show up, and they’re able to shoot Bizarro with a chemical they reverse engineered from Kyrptonite. It doesn’t kill her, but it does incapacitate her. When they take her back to the DEO, they agree that the best thing to do for now would be to put Bizarro under again. They want to help her, and they will, but they don’t yet know how. Bizarro is actually okay with this decision, and she even apologizes to Supergirl for everything. Supergirl comforts Bizarro as she falls asleep, and promises that she won’t be alone when she wakes up.

It’s funny how even though Bizarro is the antagonist of the episode, there’s really no triumph in her defeat. Everyone just feels sad, including me. There’s an understanding that Bizarro was a victim too, that she wasn’t really a villain (antagonist and villain do not necessarily mean the same thing). I just feel sorry for her, and I hope they do find a way to help her eventually.

Maxwell Lord is the real villain, and he’s being held in the DEO for now, but how long can they really keep him there? As J’onn pointed out, he’s the head of a multibillion dollar company and he seems to be in the public eye a lot. They know how far Max is willing to go to get his way, and he’s also told them that he knows Supergirl is Kara Danvers. He knows she and Alex are sisters, he knows their mother, he knows where they grew up, and he knows she works at Catco. That information is only going to make him more dangerous. They can’t risk letting him go but they may have to eventually, and then what?

Something this episode definitely could have done without was the drama with Adam. He leaves at the end of the episode and we don’t see him again, and Cat goes back to treating Kara the way she always did. So… why did we need Adam again? What did he bring to the show, really? I guess he was around to answer the question of whether or not it’s possible for Kara to have a romantic life while being Supergirl, which is a question that every story about a super hero attempts to answer at some point and the answer is basically always the same: no. But then yes, because it turns out love is worth the risk. But then no again when danger comes up. And then… maybe?

So the relationship drama, as usual, was the weakest part of the episode. But I really like the Bizarro story. I like the moral dilemma it presents when it comes to how an antagonist like Bizarro should be dealt with. She’s dangerous, but not evil. A victim, but still a threat. What are you supposed to do with that? Kara’s compassion proves to be her biggest strength yet again. The way she cares for Bizarro is really touching, and if you ask me it’s the saving grace of the episode.

Well, that and Alex slamming Maxwell Lord against a desk.

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