Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 2, 2020)
Another year and here comes Season Five of Supergirl. This four-disc set includes 19 episodes, a run that also features crossover programs from other DC series. The plot synopses come from the package’s liner notes.
Event Horizon: “J’onn J’onnz (David Harewood) receives an unexpected visitor.”
Given that we find the aforementioned crossover about halfway through the season, I thought the “unexpected visitor” would relate to it. Instead, we meet Midnight (Jennifer Cheon Garcia), a superbaddie from J’onn’s past.
Season Six of The Flash used its first half to point toward “Crisis”, so I feel happy Supergirl doesn’t follow the same path. “Horizon” brings some good action and character notes to launch Season Five well.
Stranger Beside Me: “William Dey (Staz Nair) investigates Kara “Supergirl” Danvers (Melissa Benoist).”
Does CatCo employ anyone who isn’t gorgeous? Apparently not, as new reporter Dey and boss Andrea Rojas (Julie Gonzalo) are as beautiful as everyone else we already know from the series.
That improbability aside, “Stranger” turns into a decent show. It comes with some good character moments – and it certainly hints at romance between Kara and William – but I could live without the parts about J’onn, as he never does much for me.
Blurred Lines: “Kara tries to mend her relationship with Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath).”
Three episodes into S5 and I don’t find myself any more engaged in the J’onn plot thread. A few of the other areas fare better, but this feels like a mediocre episode overall. It’s fun to see Sean Astin in a guest spot, though.
In Plain Sight: “The conflict grows between J’onn and Malefic J’onzz (Phil LaMarr).”
Four episodes into S5 and you know what? My attitude toward the J’onn narrative shows no changes from “Lines”.
That means another semi-tedious episode, one whose other plots don’t help it move along all that well. Throw in some predictable developments and “Sight” seems less than enthralling.
Dangerous Liaisons: “Kara and William team up on an investigation.”
A fairly banal investigation at that, one that pursues easily foreseen leads. “Liaisons” comes with a bit of good action, but all the megalomaniacs on display bog down S5 so far.
Confidence Women: “Andrea Rojas and Lena think back on their tumultuous past.”
That means much of “Women” focuses on flashbacks to the prior interactions between Lena and Andrea. One major plot point depends too much on a character’s stupidity, but otherwise, the episode helps connect dots and push the narrative well.
Tremors: “Supergirl finally learns the truth about Lena.”
Speaking of stupidity, too much of it pervades “Tremors”. While we get some good moments, the show relies on character who do dumb things too often for it to become a winning program.
The Wrath of Rama Khan: “Supergirl’s struggle against Leviathan reaches a boiling point.”
As with Flash Season Six, S5 of Supergirl essentially splits in two, with “Wrath” as the resolution of the first half before we go to the “Crisis” crossover. While it suffers from some of the flaws seen in the last few shows, “Wrath” manages some good action and semi-completes the narrative fairly well.
Crisis on Infinite Earths: “The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) sends Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson) to gather the worlds' greatest heroes – Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash, Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Batwoman (Ruby Rose), White Canary (Caity Lotz), The Atom (Brandon Routh) and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) - in preparation for the impending Crisis. With their worlds in imminent danger, the superheroes suit up for battle while J'onn (David Harewood) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) recruit Lena to help them find a way to save the people of Earth-38.”
As mentioned at the start of the review, “Crisis” offers a five-episode “crossover” that spans Supergirl and four other DC series. Disc Two of this set presents “Hour 1”, the portion that ran in S5 of Supergirl.
As also noted, this 5-disc S1 set includes all five episodes of “Crisis” on the fifth disc. It makes sense that this package offers “Hour 2” on its own, since that’s how it appeared during the season, but I can’t imagine many will watch it isolated from the other four shows. That’s how I viewed it, as I skipped the isolated “Hour 2” and took in “Crisis” all in one fell swoop on Disc Five.
I’ve enjoyed prior crossovers, and this one comes with a decent level of excitement and fun, some of that sparked by clever cameos. However, “Crisis” also comes burdened with messy storytelling, a factor that means it can become tough to follow and semi-incoherent. “Crisis” still entertains, but I don’t dig it as much as I hoped.
The Bottle Episode: “Supergirl faces complications from the Crisis”.
Most of those relate to Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath), as he becomes the focal point of this first post-“Crisis” episode. S5’s second half launches well with an enjoyable, intriguing show.
Back From the Future Part One: “Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) returns from the future.”
As always, I’ll defer my thoughts about this multi-part episode until its conclusion.
Back From the Future Part Two: “Brainy must choose between Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and Lex Luther (Jon Cryer).”
So soon after the massive “Crisis” crossover, a double-length story seems ambitious, and I respect that. Too bad the Winn/Toyman plot feels so feeble and blah. Throw in some tedious character melodrama and this becomes a lackluster pair of episodes.
It’s A Super Life: “Mxyzptlk (Thomas Lennon) returns with a proposition for Kara.”
After the blah “Future”, “Life” gives S5 a total kick in the pants. Lennon delights as our favorite imp, and this becomes a highly enjoyable show. Honestly, I wish more of Supergirl followed this episode’s tone and it didn’t turn into a melodramatic dirge so much of the time.
The Bodyguard: “With Lex’s help, Lena moves forward with Project Non Nocere.”
After the delights of “Life”, “Bodyguard” inevitably represents a step down. Though it offers some decent action, the show suffers from the mopey dreariness that afflicts parts of S5.
Reality Bytes: “Dreamer (Nicole Maines) is targeted for being transgender.”
I like the fact Supergirl presents a trans superhero, especially because the series usually makes nothing out of that fact, as it doesn’t accentuate the status of Dreamer/Nia. Heck, I forgot that the character was trans at all.
“Bytes” reminds us, and it does so in a heavy-handed manner that gives it a “Very Special Episode” vibe at times. Other elements compensate somewhat, though.
Alex in Wonderland: “Alex takes on a whole new virtual persona.”
Much of “Wonderland” feels like a Holodeck episode of Star Trek. While the show advances some narrative elements, it feels gimmicky overall – and ham-fisted in its criticism of the virtual world.
Deus Lex Machina: “Lex lays out an intricate plan for Lena and Supergirl.”
Season Four improved when Cryer’s Lex became involved, and this Lex-centric show also gives S5 a boost. We get some useful narrative development as the season heads toward its finale.
The Missing Link: “Lena discovers the consequences of Project Non Nocere.”
With only a little time left in S5, “Link” manages to ramp up the action reasonably well. It pushes ahead the story beats and gives us decent momentum for the finale.
Immortal Combat: “Supergirl teams with Lena.”
S5 comes to an end with the mostly effective “Combat”. It provides the expected impact, though it doesn’t formally wrap up elements, as it concludes with a cliffhanger.
I’m not wild about that choice, but S5 still manages to become a largely effective year of shows. It’s not superhero action at its best, but it’s enjoyable most of the time.