Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 16, 2018)
We find the continuing adventures of Superman’s cousin via Season Three of Supergirl. This four-disc set includes 26 episodes, a run that also features crossover programs from other DC series. The plot synopses come from the package’s liner notes.
Girl of Steel: “Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) focuses all her energy on being Supergirl.”
That vague outline means that Supergirl neglects her alter ego, Kara Danvers. That adds an interesting theme to an otherwise semi-flat episode, one that launches the season acceptably well but not with great impact.
Triggers: “Psychic thief Psi (Yael Grobglas) attacks National City.”
With a more concrete villain on board, “Triggers” acts as an upgrade over the bland “Girl”, though not a huge one. Grobglas makes for a sexy nemesis but not a tremendously interesting one. Still, the show moves along some developments reasonably well.
Far From the Tree: “Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater) throws a wedding shower for her daughter Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima).”
Obviously, “Tree” doesn’t focus entirely on the shower, as that’d be a poor excuse for a superhero show. We also visit a mission Supergirl and J’onn (David Harewood) take to Mars. Neither side works especially well, so this ends up as a bland episode.
The Faithful: “Kara investigates a secretive new group whose leader, Thomas Coville (Chad Lowe), has a mysterious connection to Supergirl.”
That turns into a surprisingly engaging plot, one that brings an interesting tone to the episode. This manages to become a deeper than usual program.
Damage: “Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar) blames Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) for the fallout from the Daxamite bomb.”
Kevin Smith takes the director’s chair for this episode, but “Damage” doesn’t show any of his trademark style. “Damage” actually ends up as an abnormally dull show, one with too much melodrama and not enough real impact.
Midvale: “Kara and Alex take a trip down memory lane.”
Most of “Midvale” offers a flashback show that lets us see Kara and Alex as teens. It tends to be mawkish and not especially compelling.
Wake Up: “Samantha Arias (Odette Annable) looks to her estranged mother Patricia (Betty Buckley) for answers.”
“Wake Up” focuses on character revelations. In particular, the Samantha thread mentioned above becomes a big component, but we also get the return of another major role. Throw in some much-needed humor and “Wake Up” turns into a good show.
Crisis On Earth-X, Parts 1-4: “The gang comes together for Barry and Iris's wedding, but the ceremony is crashed by villains from Earth-X.”
“Crisis” spans four episodes, each from a different series. “Part 1” appears in this season of Supergirl, “Part 2” comes from Season 6 of Arrow, “Part 3” brings us to Season Four of Flash and “Part 4” stems from Season Three of Legends of Tomorrow.
That’s a pretty ambitious undertaking, and one that may bring minor spoilers for those of us who’ve not yet seen those other seasons, mainly via personal relationships. These don’t feel like egregious reveals, though.
In terms of story elements, “Crisis” tends toward the sloppy side of the street. It throws a ton at us and not all of it makes a bunch of sense.
Nonetheless, the “crossover event” manages a lot of good action, and it keeps us with it across the four episodes. While this doesn’t become a great package of shows, it offers pretty solid entertainment.
Reign: “Reign challenges Supergirl.”
S3 introduced Reign back in “Wake Up” but then had to put that story thread on ice while “Crisis” ran. The episode picks up where the season’s arc left off with a bang, as this turns into an especially good show. We get more action than usual along with character developments that add to the narrative.
Legion of Super Heroes: “The Department of Extranormal Operations allies with the Legion of Superheroes.”
S3 continues its prosperous swing with the exciting “Legion”. It mixes character information with lively action to turn into another solid episode.
Fort Rozz: “Supergirl teams up with Saturn Girl (Amy Jackson), Livewire (Brit Morgan) and Psi.”
After a slow start to the season, the last few shows have amped up the action, and “Rozz” continues that trend. It becomes a lively, exciting show with a nice mix of dramatic developments.
For Good: “Morgan threatens Lena.”
I can’t claim the Edge character does much for me, so an episode that focuses on him inevitably becomes less than enchanting. “For Good” musters some positive elements but it seems like a disappointment after the high quality of the last few episodes.
Both Sides Now: “The DEO captures a second Worldkiller, Purity (Krys Marshall).
S3 bounces back, as the new villain adds spark to the proceedings. Purity turns into a lively character, and she helps makes this a solid show.
Schott Through the Heart: “Winn Schott’s (Jeremy Jordan) estranged mother Mary McGowan (Laurie Metcalf) reappears.”
Essentially a comic relief character, an episode that focuses on Winn seems likely to lean toward laughs, and an opening that shows the gang as they sing Karaoke points in that direction. However, we get a more serious tone than anticipated, and the program veers toward melodrama. It’s fun to see Metcalf but “Heart” feels sappier than I’d like.
Inside joke: at one point, Mary refers to another character as “Buffalo Bill”. This doesn’t occur arbitrarily, as Brooke Smith – best-known as the final victim of Silence of the Lambs “Buffalo Bill” - plays the role in question.
In Search of Lost Time: “J’onn must face the truth about his father (Carl Lumbly).”
As I noted earlier, J’onn never did much for me, and a show that focuses on his dad’s senility seems unlikely to prosper. A few action scenes add spark to “Time” but the “Very Special Episode” side means this one sputters.
Of Two Minds: “Supergirl and Imra Ardeen team up against the third Worldkiller.”
At times, “Minds” devolves into a soap opera-style tale about the Kara/Mon-El/Imra love triangle. Despite that sudsy side, the show manages to move along the Worldkillers plot and give us intriguing material.
Trinity: “Supergirl takes on all three Worldkillers.”
That sounds like a show that would come as the season’s climax, not one that appears with so much time left in the year. Odd placement aside, “Trinity” manages to develop narrative points in a satisfying way that adds zing.
Shelter From the Storm: “Reign sets her sights on Ruby Arias (Emma Tremblay).”
I have to admit Reign doesn’t do a ton for me as a villain. Annable seems lacks the gravity needed to pull off such a vicious character, so the focus on her creates a drag – not a big one, but it’s there. Still, “Storm” manages to move along the action in a satisfactory manner.
The Fanatical: “James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) considers unmasking as Guardian.”
As someone who remembers Jimmy Olsen as the chipper young “cub reporter”, it’s weird enough to see him as a high-powered executive, much less as a superhero. This aspect of “Fanatical” seems strange given how little we’ve seen Guardian in S3, and the way the show detours toward an awkward social message makes it less than winning.
Dark Side of the Moon: “Supergirl learns of a stunning secret about Krypton.”
That “stunning secret” offers some intrigue, but mostly it feels like an excuse for goopy sentiment. The episode’s emphasis on mawkish emotion ensures that it never becomes especially engaging.
Not Kansas: “Kara considers a major life change.”
Though “Kansas” launches with action, it quickly devolves into more of the gooey character bits that seem to dominate S3. Throw in another hamfisted social message and “Kansas” disappoints.
Make It Reign: “Supergirl must stop Selena (Anjali Jay) before she gets to Earth.”
With little time left in S3, “Reign” ramps up the action – a little. It shows a more dynamic tone than the more melodramatic episodes that preceded it, but it still lacks the real excitement I’d like.
Battles Won and Lost: “Supergirl takes on Selena.”
S3 concludes on a mediocre note, though to be fair, the generally flat nature of the year as a whole makes it hard for the finale to really soar. “Lost” ties up S3’s arcs in a moderately satisfying manner, but it doesn’t act as a particularly thrilling conclusion.
After two good seasons, Year Three of Supergirl hits something of a wall. At no point does it become a bad collection of shows, but the emphasis on character melodrama leaves it as the weakest season to date.