Monday, October 26, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Supergirl 1.1 and Scorpion 2.6

This week, I watched the CBS run, since I wanted to see Supergirl, and they put it on at the half hour, meaning it made me miss two shows instead of one on the other channel, and then when it switched to Scorpion, and it was a 90 minute episode, I was already resigned to missing Blindspot too. I'll catch them up later!

Supergirl aired at 8:30 on CBS Tuesday nights this week, but will move to the hour next week.

What a fun hour! It's very sweet, but in a cute and bubbly and "oh my gosh I'm a superhero, how cool is THAT??" sort of way that doesn't clash with the action and the seriousness of battle. We get her daily life, and we get her superhero life, and she's not a billionaire, not a cop (or cop-adjacent), she's just a girl with a difficult job who happens to have the power to make a difference in her city when she can.

It starts with a nice voice-over that sums up all the backstory: she was a preteen when Krypton exploded, and she was sent after Kal El to keep him safe because she was his cousin and he was a baby, but along the way, she got stuck in the Phantom Zone and lost twenty four years so that she landed still a kid and he was already an adult and a known, active hero. So he didn't need her to protect him. But he did take care of her, finding her a family (with a previous Superman and Supergirl) so that she could grow up human like he did. Now she's in her early twenties, working for Cat Grant, one of the leading newswomen in the world, trying to be a normal person.

Until her sister's plane almost goes down and she has to figure out how to fly so she can save her, because who cares about aliases and normal lives when your sister is about to crash, right? 

She's psyched that she could do it, and it's adorable, but said sister isn't pleased. Alex wants her to stay low-key so no one knows she's there. But she's already decided to be a hero. She confides in her friend at the office, and together they find and stop crimes...until someone sticks her with a Kryptonite dart and she finds out that there's a special task force for taking care of alien problems and that her sister is part of it. They clash a little, but they also realize that there's a bunch of really bad dudes from space loose on the planet, and she's the only one that can stop them (since Superman has his own villains, I guess).

And, she uses her cute-young-girl-ness to get the first of them to underestimate her so that she can beat him. Ha! Take that Mr Females-Bow-Before-Males! But he's not about to get caught, tells her this is just the beginning, and then he stabs himself in the heart with the shrapnel of his own destroyed weapon. That's hardcore, dude.

And then we find out that the big bad is her aunt, who is called General, and who was with the prisoners in the Phantom Zone, so she must be awful.

And it was cool!

Her bestie is adorably nerdy and this story's older and less dorky Jimmy Olsen (James, sorry) is very pretty. Cat is like a slightly less steely Devil Wears Prada, but doesn't take up enough screen time to make this into Devil Wears Prada With Superpowers. The faceless silhouette of Superman looks like it could be Henry Cavill if they decide to link up the worlds after all, and the casting of her adoptive parents is brilliant and just nostalgic enough to make it really neat. I hope we get more of them.

But best of all, we have women standing up for themselves and each other. We have women in power, both in the normal mortal world AND in the villainous baddie world, where women are usually henchmen or side characters. Her sister is a scientist and field agent, and she's good at her job. And despite all of this, there's no guy-bashing, and no real points made of "see, women can do this too"--they just do.

Her development as a hero is pretty fast, but this is a world where she grew up knowing Superman and what he can do, and knowing that she should be able to do it, too. Also, montages, so it's fast in the story but could be weeks on the show (though I think it's probably more like days). And the fact that she's not super concerned about hiding who she is and what she can do from the people she's closest to is a really nice change from the standard where people hide it forever and it gets more and more ridiculous. 

Also refreshing is that her tech doesn't hide that he's into her, but also doesn't hold it against her that she's not into him, he just does what she needs him to do to help her. Her sister, too, supports her, since her main reason for wanting her to keep low was to keep her safe from people like her coworkers and the villains they chase, who all now know she's there.

All in all, it was a fun first episode, a good set up for future episodes, and a nice set of interesting characters it will be fun to keep watching. From the Next Episode On, it looks like they're not holding back and she'll find out who her main enemy is pretty quickly, so yay! That's a trend we can all get behind, I think.

Scorpion usually airs at 9pm on CBS Monday nights, but this time aired at 9:30 and ran for 90 minutes.

Yay, I got to see Scorpion live! I usually watch other shows, but today was a special case.

We got 90 minutes, which seemed to have mostly been commercials, so the difference in the length maybe didn't make much difference. Oh well, such is TV these days. The second someone labels something as a "special event" everything goes to the ads and it winds up eating up all the time.*


Walter is supposed to be coding something for the grand opening of Elias's brand new super-smart office building, and the second he does, everything goes horribly wrong. See, Ray talked him into mingling in a mixer after a conference he was attending, and while he was there, a pretty lady slipped him a mickey and he lost the rest of the night.

Cabe and Paige go looking for the lady, but she says she doesn't know anything about any computer stuff. Paige is wonderfully defensive of Walter while also being crazy jealous AND super competent as an agent. She makes a good partner for Cabe, and it's something we haven't seen much of, just the two of them working a case together. Plus, his reaction-faces for all the times she's getting close to crossing lines in her defensiveness are golden. I hope they'll make millions of reaction gifs out of him over on Tumblr.

Meanwhile, the building is breaking down all over the place. The elevators go out, trapping Toby. The geothermal power goes out, and Happy can't do anything about it; Walter helps and they barely put out the fires that have started there, but they have to take a long way back to the computers because the steam pipes seem to be out to get them. Fires, meanwhile, have started all over the place, but most notably right under where Sly is with the kids of some of the important people in charge of the building.

And everyone wants Walter to fix all of it, but he's consumed by guilt, still on the wrong foot from his drug-hangover, and taking really crazy risks. When Toby gets out of the elevator but then gets trapped in another server room, he sucks out all the air to kill the fire and also almost kills Toby. When Sly needs an anchor to hold the rescue team's rope ladder for him, he jumps out a 17 story window to anchor it with his own body. It's insane.

But in the meantime, Sly is facing his fears of the situation to keep the kids he's in charge of safe and calm, and to teach them about what to do in a fire. Toby is trying to do everything himself to prove that he doesn't need Happy and when she has to revive him from his near suffocation, he even says he can do that himself. It almost gets him killed a few times, not least by her. She was frantic when Walter was willing to two-thirds kill his friend to get to the next stage of the mission--she still likes Toby, but he's so desperate to prove he's okay with her not being interested, he can't see it.

Paige and Cabe discover that it's not the girl; she was hired by someone, and she's just a callgirl. Paige breaks into the computer of the office while Cabe distracts them**, and figures out the password herself--go Paige!--and they find out who hired her. It was one of the other scientists, who had his funding cut and had the virus broadcasting from a chip implanted in his own body so that whenever they managed to get it out of the computers, it would just load back up. He says it was just meant to freeze things up, not cause all this meltdown, but it was very much "cool story, bro, still sabotage". Elias had almost believed that Walter did this on purpose, or that he was a fraud, and that might be a problem for their ongoing mentorship; we'll have to see.

It was great seeing everyone calling Walter out on his crazy behavior. He's been more and more off the rails as the episodes have added up, and now he's putting his own people at risk, and there has to be a line drawn. If he won't draw it himself, they're going to have to draw it for him, and they all, in different ways, hinted at that throughout the episode. It was hard to like Walter this week. He was snappy, rash, alarmingly cavalier, frantic, begging--he was in distress at exactly the wrong sort of time, and even though he managed to pull it out of the fire, literally in some cases, I hope there's real fallout next week.

Sly had a revelation as he was using solar panels to step down the side of the building that he'd just found the woman of his dreams and he was not ready to die--something of a big step for someone constantly afraid of living!

Similarly, it looked like Happy was having a revelation about her feelings for Toby at the time, but he's further away from the same than he's been the entire time we've known the two of them.

And Paige is aware that she was being driven nuts by the idea that Walter had this other side he never showed her--though that other side was the drugs, not him, and it's unclear whether that part sank in--and the idea that he would have just jumped in bed with some woman that he only just met at some bar. That also didn't happen, but she was feeling it, and she knows she was, but they still aren't really talking about feelings despite her plan to never hide things in the name of team communication.

At the very end of the episode, it was like it was all okay because no one died and they got their dude, but that doesn't sit well; Walter was being callous and driven by a bad set of emotions, and he needs to deal with that. He needs to be held accountable. Community service is being held accountable for the damage he did at the end of last season, but it doesn't hold him to the emotional and mental trauma he's causing his team because he can't handle his own feelings about things. Maybe he'll pick up a psychologist at some point. Maybe Gordon Gordon is available now that Bones and Booth are out of therapy; he's got experience with people who can't parse emotions.

Also, there were so many slow motion shattered windows this week. Like, damn.

What did you guys think of this week's episodes? Share in the comments, or let us know on Twitter!



Other Monday shows:

- I should make a header for this section, too...
*This is an ongoing struggle I have with TV, and if Netflix had TV as quickly as On Demand, I'd give up on cable all together, because damn.
**If we don't get a call later saying they've found just the right match for Cabe, I'll be disappointed in a perfectly good lost opportunity.
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