Truth, (Social) Justice, and a New American Way: Supergirl Season 3 on Blu-ray

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Supergirl Season 3 on Blu ray

Of all the so-called Arrowverse shows, CW's televised adaptation of DC Comics superheroes, SUPERGIRL has been the most problematic. Besides taking place on an entirely different Earth than the other three shows, necessitating a cosmic crisis for the annual uber-crossover to occur, the show has a distinctly different feel to it. Perhaps it's because it's adopted into the Arrowverse, having been taken up after cancellation on it's original network. Perhaps its because the scripts have an undertone of agenda-driven plotting that shoehorns its way into the plots rather than rising organically out of the stories.

Whatever it is, it makes SUPERGIRL more difficult to watch, especially in binge-doses.

This third season of the series finds Supergirl (MELISSA BENOIST) dealing with the breakup of her relationship with Mon-El (CHRIS WOOD), a Daxamite -- which basically makes him as powerful as a Kryptonian. But she soon finds herself distracted by another threat to National City in the form of yet another pseudo-Kryptonian named Reign (ODETTE ANNABLE). Reign's twist is that she's the alter-ego of a normal, human Earth woman named Samantha, who unconsciously swaps personalities -- and abilities -- with Reign, all as part of an ancient Kryptonian cult of supernatural witches. There are apparently sections of Krypton that survive -- one that can be entered if you dream at the right frequency, and another on a protected rock preserving Supergirl's home town of Argo, where her mother, Alura (ERICA DURANCE) is still alive. (Side note: I love that these guest appearances go to Superman Family Alumni, but isn't Erica a bit young to play Kara's mother? After all, Kara was sent to take care of baby Kal-el, who was already well into his twenties when Supergirl landed, not to mention the years she spent being raised by the Danvers family. But, comic book physics.)

James Olsen (MEHCAD BROOKS) continues his side job as the masked vigilante, Guardian, with assistance from techno-genius Winn Schott (JEREMY JORDAN). It's Olsen's arc that leads to one of the more heavy-handed morality plays of the season when he unmasks in front of police to show he's on their side, and is pursued anyway. Why? Because he's black and the police are white. And if that trope wasn't enough, the show delves into Olsen discovering that DEO weaponry is available in a slightly altered form on the open market. When he confronts DEO division leader J'onn J'onnz (DAVID HAREWOOD) about it, the show ends with J'onnz disarming the entire division, giving those under his command who disagree the option to transfer to another division. Inevitably members peel off to do just that, as the rest prepare to train with new, non-lethal tech -- because the only weapon a man needs is a shield...whatever that means.

The relationship between Supergirl and Lena Luthor (KATIE MCGRATH) is put through strains as well. As Kara Danvers, she is Lena's best friend. But as Supergirl, she asks Guardian to break into Lena's lab and ensure she's not making more kryptonite. But James Olsen is also dating Lena. He not only doesn't go through with the deal, he tells Lena about it. By the end of the season, we have serious doubts as to whether or not Lena is sincere in her contentions that she is the "good' Luthor of the family.

The highlight of this season was the introduction of the Legion of Super-Heroes, featuring the return of Mon-El and his friends Brainiac-5 (JESSE RATH) and Imra Ardeen (AMY JACKSON) aka Saturn Girl. They're here because Reign is going to be joined by two more worldkillers, and one of them causes a catastrophe that's so far reaching that it demolishes the future. They're here to kill that worldkiller if they can, but Supergirl insists that killing is something they cannot do, especially if they were formed because of her legacy as a hero.

The lowest point of the series -- no, it's not the preachy politics -- was the lazy writing trick that comes too easily to the Arrowverse writers: the use of time-travel to eliminate a mistake. When Kara makes a fatal error in the final battle against Reign, it results in the death of all those around her. This could have been a game changer, bringing the show back to a place where Supergirl is the rarity rather than one of many. (Too many Kryptonians is one of the things that necessitated John Byrne's MAN OF STEEL reboot of the 1980s.) Ah, but she has an out! Time-travel and a do-over. Sorry, but if you're not Barry Allen and you're not going to have consequences as a result of this decision, you just shouldn't do it.

There are other changes to the show as the characters are put through the wringer. Kara's adopted sister, Alex (CHYLER LEIGH), is preparing to marry her girlfriend, Maggie (FLORIANA LIMA), but that never happens -- which puts a crimp in Alex's life goals of becoming a mother. To nurture her maternal side, she finds herself doing a lot of bonding with Samantha's daughter, Ruby (EMMA TREMBLAY), while Samantha works at her job at L-Corp.

It's more soap opera than superhero adventure, but there's still potential there to become something more, if the writers can focus on, oh, I don't know...writing?

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0