Supergirl, Season 1, Episode 12, “Bizarro”
Written by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa & Rachel Shukert
Directed by John F. Showalter
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
As Supergirl continues to mine from the Superman family history, and to build up its own mythology, there becomes a concern as to whether some of these elements can work on a broadcast TV show on a procedural budget. What we can commend the series for is that it’s willing to take risks with trying to adapt certain comic book concepts and incorporate them into the world they’re building – some of which work and others they still need to tinker with to get right. Last week’s episode “Strange Visitor from Another Planet” represented when the show took these aspects from the DC Comics source material and produced a solid hour of television. Unfortunately, “Bizarro” does not continue that trend, but (much like how Kara sees her doppelganger) there is still some value in it.
“Bizarro” speaks to an overall problem with how the series is handling the ongoing threat of Maxwell Lord. He’s clearly meant to be a villain who has endless resources and advanced technology at his disposal, but the show missteps in establishing the extent of his influence, other than stating that he is a wealthy socialite with significant powers of influence. He speaks hatred and fear-mongering towards Supergirl on television clips and behind closed doors, but the show never really shows him having any effect on the public to see Supergirl any differently, which makes it hard to take him seriously as a viable threat. In last week’s episode, Supergirl introduced a Senator who held an anti-alien propaganda rally which displayed that she had some sway over the public of National City, but seldom is Maxwell Lord shown to have as much sway with his anti-Supergirl rhetoric.
In “Bizarro,” Lord is shown to have no scruples in experimenting on unconscious life in order to create a clone of Supergirl that he can control in order to display her as a menace to society, but even this is not something that can tar the public view of Supergirl, as proven in the press room with CatCo spinning the media to consider that maybe that flying super powered female (that is the spitting image of Kara) isn’t really Supergirl. It’s a bit of a leap of faith that the show does very little to sell before just chugging the episode back along to the next plot point. The most disconcerting part of the Lord plot comes with how the episode opts to defuse him, which is surely for the short term, but it’s still ridiculous that Lord is imprisoned with no real evidence or due legal process of any kind. They just have him in a cell without any hard proof of his guilt to hold him on. This is not how you should deal with your enemies, Supergirl! It seems as though with Hank’s reaction (albeit way too minimal) to Lord’s incarceration, and Lord’s smugly making himself comfortable in his clear prison, that the writers intend to have this backfire on Supergirl in time.
Apart from the overall Maxwell Lord issue, the series continues to work on integrating its personal stories with its weekly threats. As far as an adaptation of Bizarro for the Supergirl television series, this one is actually quite strong. The straightforward, literal symbolism of Kara seeing herself in Bizarro works very well as it continues to play into how Kara is able to see the good in people, a well-established character trait of hers that actually kicks in more when Bizarro looks less like her and becomes Hope Lauren, who portrays the character decently. The programming of Bizarro, and her origin as a comatose captive of Lord’s that was experimented on with Kara’s DNA, is a bit vague, but it works to make the character more of a sympathetic figure rather than a clear-cut villain. The execution of Bizarro and Supergirl’s fights is strong at times, such as when they are using their superpowers against each other, but some of the fight and flight choreography still struggle with fluidity and weight to make a truly believable or striking impact with these sequences. Overall , though, the addition of Bizarro in the Supergirl roster of rivals is a welcome one that would be great to see return at some point.
Elsewhere, Winn starts to ease his way back into Kara’s orbit after his declaration-of-love fallout, and Jimmy Olsen begins to come to terms with having feelings for Kara himself. This is probably not the best path for the show to take, because there are too many romantic suitors in Kara’s life right now, which would not normally be a problem but most of them are in her superhero bubble and it may get too convoluted if the show doesn’t find better ways to refine these male-female relations other than having everyone fall in love with her. Speaking of love interests, this episode concluded the blooming romance between Kara and Adam (Cat’s estranged son). As expected, this romance added a little wrinkle to Kara’s relationship to Cat, but in a somewhat unsuspecting way: Cat is actually nice to Kara. Of course, as soon as the romance ends, it’s all back to status quo between them, but it was fun seeing Calista Flockhart play creepily nice for a bit. Having Blake Jenner’s Adam leave so soon is a bit disappointing as the two played well off each other, but in the end it’s just as well, because as Kara herself states, she’s got too much going on to let a guy like him into her life right now.
For the most part, “Bizarro” functions well as a standalone episode, but it’s still not reflective of the best that Supergirl has to offer. The best moment of the entire episode by far is the teaser that leads into the next episode which will feature a Supergirl adaptation of the outstanding Superman story by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, “For the Man Who Has Everything.” The music is particularly effctive in setting up the eerieness of Supergirl’s strange, secret package. Looking forward to seeing that story unfold.
Speeding Bullet Points
- “Supergirl Saves Heart Attack Victim” –One of the onscreen TV headlines
- “We’ve been worried sick about you, I ordered an Amber alert.” – Cat Grant
- The room where Bizarro is in Maxwell Lord’s compound is Room 52, which is a significant number in DCU.
- “The skirt was surprisingly comfortable, but no.” –Hank Henshaw on whether he had anything to share about shapeshifting into Kara as Supergirl.
- “She’s strong as me, she’s flies like me, she fights like me, except for the fact that she talks like cookie monster. She’s exactly like me.” –Kara on Bizarro
- Winn refers to the “Friend zone,” which for me always brings to mind the Phantom Zone….