Episode Title: Bizarro
Original Airdate: 2-1-2016
Who do you trust? Maxwell Lord’s plans to rid Earth of Supergirl take a twist this episode, as he unleashes a doppelgänger version of the Girl Of Steel into the skies of National City. Bizarro, a villain from the Superman comics, is a fractured, mirror-Superman in classic lore, and Supergirl’s take on it is pretty similar – albeit a Maxwell Lord creation this time out. Truthfully, I never really found Bizarro a villain I could “get” into, more of a cartoon character with limited appeal – every time Superman needed some comedy relief, the writer usually brought in Bizarro or (gulp) Mxyyzptlk, with Superman having to use his intellect to defeat them rather than his strength. So what of the new take on the classic character in Supergirl? The show has been building the reveal for a while now, with a comatose Jane Doe hidden in Maxwell Lord’s research facility being a feature of Hank Henshaw’s mission to get a smoking gun on Lord a few episodes ago, but now that she’s out in the open, what do the writers make of Bizarrogirl?
Um, not much, really.
While the episode is pitched as a low-fi “what makes a superhero” storyline, with the newly constructed alternate-Supergirl causing havoc for Kara, the big issue of the episode is the continuation on the revelation that Lord knows who Kara is, and how she’s related to Alex, and who her friends are. I admit I was gobsmacked the show would give the villain an “in” on Kara’s identity so early in its run (we’re still only twelve episodes in, aren’t we?) and the actions taken by Alex in “Bizarro” to halt Lord’s freedom smack a little of the US government’s rendition programme; short of a Martian Manhunter mindwipe I struggle to see how the series will move past Maxwell Lord being held prisoner simply because he knows Kara’s secret identity without a severe leap of the shark.
You’d think a guy like Maxwell Lord would be a little more concerned about antagonizing an alien who would crush his skull without pause, but as with the survivalist legend Lex Luthor, Lord seems to have an arrogance on his side that must surely take the shape of gigantic balls hidden in his pants. I mean, this guy kidnaps 7 Jane Does from local hospitals and does scientific experiments on them, unleashes one on National City in an effort to kill Supergirl, and he thinks he’ll just slink back to his skyscraper and plot another dastardly plan in a week or so? That, my friends, takes balls. In an effort to Luthor Maxwell Lord up, the show has succumbed to making him the toothy, cheesy villainous manipulator pulling various strings, it actually works against both the show, and actor Peter Facinelli, who doesn’t quite get the character nuance when forced to spout lines of gibberish with zero meaning. Lord has gone from being a character with interesting (if underdeveloped) motivations and a hedge-fund of charisma, to being a cheap, snarling cliche in about three weeks of story.
Still, the “Bizarro” storyline offers some smackdown action the show has needed since Astra flew off. Kara battles Bizarro no less than three times in this episode, and there’s some cool moments among the mediocre network-television budget; thankfully, they aren’t crucial to the plot any more than the really badly scripted Kara/Adam romantic angle is – dear God, how is it possible for a writing team to produce television magic last episode with J’onn J’onzz’s familial tragedy to one of the least romantic, least interesting, utterly-contrived-for-a-few-episodes arcs I’ve seen in the show to-date? I know the writers were trying to make a point about putting one’s life ahead of one’s career as a super-powered alien wearing sexy tights, but “Bizarro” saw that potential squandered with lame dialogue and even lamer performance by Blake Jenner, as Adam. Ugh. I threw up a little in mu mouth just thinking about it. Kara and Adam’s short-lived relationship was the pits, although if there is a silver lining to it, it did allow Calista Flockhart to produce some laugh-out-loud moments as Cat Grant, who was just beginning to see Kara as something more than an employee.
“Bizarro” was an uneven, couldn’t-quite-manage-it episode that will go down as one of the weaker in the show til now. Although offering some nice combat between Kara and Bizarro, the underpinnning narrative was clumsily handed and poorly written, a lack of balance between the superheorics and the character development; flat out, it was just okay. At least the makeup effects on Bizarro looked cool, right? And that Maxwell Lord guy is now imprisoned in the DEO? Oh, and comic book geek in me cannot wait for next episode, which for older readers of Superman, particularly the iconic “What Do You Get For The Man Who Has Everything” story, will tingle the nostalgia centers of your brain, that last-gasp cliffhanger will stir old memories and a frantic rush to the back-catalogue.