Supergirl S1E20 'Better Angels' - Review: Season 1 finale doesn't quite stick the landing

Supergirl S1E20 'Better Angels' - Review: Season 1 finale doesn't quite stick the lan...

So it’s that time of year again. As we push into late April and May, all the conventional seasoned superhero TV shows (autumn to spring) reach their finales. It’s a time when the teased long-running story arcs come to fruition with dramatic bombshells dropped, epic battles fought and at least one big cliff-hanger left dangling until next season. Despite starting later than most shows, Supergirl becomes the first to reach that season finishing post this week with the fate of National City and the world on the line. It doesn’t all come together but makes for an entertaining conclusion

Better Angels – After Kara’s message of hope breaks Myriad’s control over the people of National City, Indigo persuades Non that if they can’t control humanity it must be destroyed. This sends Kara into final showdown against Non knowing she may have to sacrifice everything to save the people of the Earth.

What we have here is classic case of two-part finale syndrome in that while the first part builds things up well, and the second just can’t quite deliver on expectations. This is best demonstrated in the opening fight between Kara and a tech-laden brainwashed Alex as teased in the last episode’s cliff-hanger. The clash between the two is okay but nothing like it should have been for all the build-up. In fact, their early episodes sparing sessions were much more effective than what we receive here because too much emphasis placed on the stakes of Alex killing Kara, which is about as likely as Ron Jeremy being cast as the new Green Lantern. It does find some redemption though in the emotional angle of mama Danvers reaching out to Alex, which leads the narrative nicely into Kara, Cat & Max’s anti- Myriad message of hope. A sequence that could have completely bombed but instead becomes one of the episode's high points thanks to some great work by Melissa Benoist pouring her heart out and director Larry Teng’s use of flashback memory montages to show the principle characters snapping out of it.

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The transition from plan A Myriad of control to an all destroying plan B gives the episode a good cool down period rather than forcing it to continually amp itself up in dramatic stakes and provides good character moments as Kara says her possible good-byes all round. The resulting conflict and resolution do deliver some nice action as the main super-powered players gather for an ultimate smackdown. The inter-cutting city wide peril creates effective dramatic stakes with plenty of great visuals. In particular, one shot of Kara laying mid-air punches into Non with the sun glaring behind them, darting in between the blows, is an absolute stunner. In fact, there’s little to fault about how the immediate events play out, only the way the episode wraps up the season long events with a few frustrating plot holes. The worst case is the reveal of Non’s lair (which we’ve been seeing interior shots of all season). Once certain known information is revealed, some viewers will by throwing both hands skyward for a, “Seriously!.... nobody thought to look there?”. It feels very detrimental to character intelligence and should have been explained or revealed better. Also, while understandably plot essential, the show lets itself down with its convenient incapacitation of Superman (but hey, we get to enjoying seeing his feet... if that’s your thing). The prior episode did achieve this via competent means as the big guy’s human-raising and influence made him susceptible to Myriad but here, no explanation is given for keeping him down once Myriad is broken other than showing people bring a bit miffed that, “he’s still down”.

The wrapping up and season 2 setup elements are largely very enjoyable. The best relationship of the entire season, Kara and Cat Grant, gets a fitting and rewarding payoff with Kara’s “Working Girl moment”. As expected, Project Cadmus is teased to a few future adventure and despite leading us into a rope a dope this season with Alex & J’onn’s short-lived mission, it feels like waiting will ultimately be better so that it can be fully explored next season rather than rushed into this one. The dull note is Kara/James relationship, which constantly feels surplus to events throughout the episode rather than developed organically. Then of course, the mysterious new arrival cliff-hanger sets up for a summer of speculation.

So Supergirl concludes without quite showing herself at her best to end an impressive debut season that while it hasn’t won over everyone has earned its place among the current superhero TV show line up. With National City saved, our attention now turns to the upcoming climaxes in Star, Central and Gotham cities.

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