Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.21 "Resist"

This episode begins with Rhea gently waking Lena up in a very plush bed. Apparently, Rhea has been "taking care of" Lena while National City is being invaded by the Daxamite troops. Rhea says that she wants Lena by her side, presiding together over this new world. All in a completely heterosexual way, yep.


Oh. Mon-El is also with Rhea and Lena. Apparently, Rhea's master plan is to turn Earth into New Daxam and use the humans to build pyramids. She also clarifies that she wants Mon-El to marry Lena so they can produce "an heir," which can apparently be done using only their hair samples and, wow, all of this sounds so random even as a I type it, but hey. Let's go with it, I guess.

Meanwhile, the Supergirl gang meets up at Close Encounters to apprise the situation. Daddy J'onn is out of commission, Daxamite troops are roaming the streets, and Rhea's mothership is hovering over the city, just waiting to do something evil and lesbionic, I'm sure.

Lillian Luthor also pops into the picture, suggesting that she and Supergirl form an alliance to stop Rhea, but the Supergirl gang says no way. So much for stronger together, Kara.

President Wonder Woman then Skypes Rhea and demands that the Daxamites stand down. Rhea refuses and the situation begins to escalate when, prepare yourselves: *angel choir singing* CAT GRANT re-enters the picture. I repeat, Cat Grant is back in the house. Or, more specifically, she's on Air Force One with the President, because of course she is.  And the President was her "RA" at Radcliffe back in the day, because of course she was.

Winn has hacked into the Air Force One Skype session (because of course he has), so the Supergirl gang gets a front-row seat to this alpha-female showdown.


Cat begins by scolding Rhea and President Wonder Woman for acting like "testosterone-driven windbags" and says they should work together to find a harmonious solution. Rhea says no and then has her spaceships attack Air Force One. So, that's that. More importantly, however, the attack causes Cat to fall out of the plane, which causes this to happen:


Lena and Mon who? SuperCat is back, fans. Also, it has dawned on me that my revised sexual orientation is "Supergirl catching women."


*sigh*

Where was I? Oh yes. Air Force One then crashes. I guess it's a moot point that some might consider it  "weird" if it got out that Supergirl saved Cat Grant over the President, because it turns out that the President is actually an alien and was able to survive the crash. Cat's reaction: "Well at least tell me you're still a Democrat." Never change, Cat.

Later, at the resistance headquarters at Close Encounters, Cat's phone rings:

Text: "Madeline Albright"
These are some of the gems in the Supergirl script that I miss when Cat Grant isn't around. Snapper Carr's crotchety demeanor will never compare to Cat. What other TV show character unapologetically references current and former female politicians in non-contemptuous ways, without the "despite all her faults" statement that never have to be made about men? Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope comes to mind.

ANYway, the President orders the DEO, and Acting Director Agent Danvers, to destroy the Daxamite mother ship. Supergirl is not happy, of course, since her boyfriend and girlfriend are on that ship. So, Supergirl conspires with Lillian Luthor to teleport onto the mother ship and rescue Mon-El and Lena before Alex blows the mother ship out of the sky.

For her part, Rhea threatens to destroy the Luthor Children's Hospital if Lena won't marry Mon-El, so they agree marry each other. Here is their wedding photo, where they each look as happy as if they've just been ordered to marry Beetlejuice.


Before they can say their vows, Cat transmits an Uplifting Speech to National City about resistance and not being conned by these people promising to make the city great again.If the people stay strong and united they can defeat the Daxamines. El marayah.

Cat's transmission also plays in the mother ship  (how tho?) and it interrupts the big wedding. Supergirl and Lillian free Lena and Mon-El, but Supergirl stays behind to try to talk sense into Rhea. Oh that sweet summer child, never giving up on people. The lesson here is: whyyyyyy doesn't she ever learn that some people will never change.

Meanwhile, the President has ordered Alex to fire on the mothership. And then Superman appears. What will happen next? I guess we find out in the season finale!

Deep Thought of the Week: OMG somebody made an Imagine Me and You fan-video trailer with Kara and Lena. It's the little things in life that remind me that everything isn't hopeless bullshit.





Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Fun: That Sparring Session

My favorite Game of Thrones characters are as follows, in order:

1) Arya Stark
2) AshaYara Greyjoy
3) Brienne of Tarth

You can imagine my delight at the recent sparring sesh between Brienne and Arya:


Brienne can hold her own against The Hound and Jamie Lannister, but can barely keep up with a much-smaller, much-less-experienced teenager? I don't see it as that far-fetched, actually, and certainly not in the grand scheme of things in Westeros about which we're asked to suspend our disbelief.

In a Big v. Little fight, Arya shows that sometimes, counter-intuitively, it's safer to be in close. There, at least, she isn't at the wrong end of a large sword. It also puts her within striking distance with Needle.

Brienne, for her part, is slower, less flexible, and, at first, flustered. But, she aptly shows that a good way to deal with a smaller, quicker person is by not playing on the smaller person's terms. That is, don't let them inside in the first place. Get rid of the person in one fell swoop: a boot to the chest.

All things considered, I'm glad to see Arya somewhat has a mentor again. Now work together and do something about Littlefinger, yeah?

Also, Very Important Info:

One time, Gwendoline Christie* "liked" one of my Tweets.


*Or her social media person, but please don't ruin this for me.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday To When We Were Gaslit About Bigotry

Has it only been four months since Bernie Sanders said this at an Our Revolution rally:

"Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and just deplorable folks. I don't agree. I don't agree, 'cause I've been there. Let me tell you something else some of you may not agree with, and that is: It wasn't that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party lost the election!"
In light of the white supremacists decked out in Trump cosplay who marched in Charlottesville this past weekend, I'd like to revisit Sanders' claim.

Read the whole thing, over at Shakesville.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.20 "City of Lost Children"

Guardian re-enters the picture this episode, having a bout of superhero angst. And, I don't blame him. What is this show even doing with James/Guardian? Supergirl is reaching Arrow-levels of "make every character a hero."

Anyway, James apparently feels as though the people he saves are scared of him, while people are in awe of Superman and Supergirl. When an apparently evil telepathic alien comes into town, Guardian also seems to feel insecure about his lack of superpowers. Which, yeah, I suspect it is hard for humans to compete with flying, heat vision, ice breath, and super-strength.

However, James' human skills are needed when the evil telepathic alien's son, Marcus, needs to be interrogated. James takes the boy to his office at CatCo (ie, Cat Grant's old office, *cries*) and hangs out with him, hoping to get intel on the mom.


Meanwhile, Lena lets Kara know she's seeing another lady and I feel like Kara pretends to be okay with it but isn't, really. That is to say, things between Lena and Rhea (Mom-El) are going swimmingly, as they continue to have candlelight dinners and work together on developing the stargate thingy. I predict that Kara's going to flip her shit when she finds out that it's Rhea who has been cupping Lena's chin and giving her evil, motherly pep talks.


The Lena plot converges with the James plot when Lena finally gets the stargate up and running. When the stargate activates, something in Marcus also seems to activate, making him go all Carrie in CatCo.


When Lena powers down the stargate, the kid goes back to normal. After that, James doesn't want to interrogate the kid any longer, because Supergirl had to swoop in and save them all, once again. But, Daddy Hank gives James a pep talk, convincing him that connecting with Marcus and getting information from him can be just as heroic.

(I think a theme of this episode is positive v. negative role models)

Right on cue, Kara calls Lena, but Rhea sees Lena's cell phone ringing and answers it for her. Apparently, the CEO of L Corp doesn't password protect her phone, or she and Rhea are so U-hauled they're sharing passwords already. ANYway, Kara quickly figures out that Rhea and Lena have been working together on this secret project.

Marcus ends up opening up to James and says he can track down his mom. Simultaneously, the DEO pinpoints Lena and Rhea's location. So, the challenge is to keep Marcus and his mom from going Carrie if Rhea activates the stargate thingy.

James signs up for the mission, and Winn brings along some sort of force field generator that will keep the telepathic abilities at bay. However, when Marcus takes James and Winn to his mom, there are a bunch more telepaths there. Zoinks! Rhea, of course, activates the stargate, which causes all the telepaths to activate.

Winn's little force field generator isn't strong enough to protect all the telepaths, so James gives an Inspiring Speech to Marcus, which breaks the effect the stargate has on all the telepaths. While that is the good news, the bad news is that Rhea's little stargate endeavor was actually a plot to teleport the surviving Daxamites to Earth. Wheeee!

Those slave-holding monarchists from Daxam seem like real assholes, so I take it National City's in deep shit when Rhea starts calling it "New Daxam."
 



Deep Thought of the Week: For whatever reason (I think it's the stargate/wormhole concept), this episode reminded me of that Jodie Foster movie, Contact. Does watching a brilliant female scientist be gaslit for two and a half hours sound fun? Then you should definitely watch Contact!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Let's Not Downplay "Identity Politics"

As white supremacists continue to unabashedly rally in Trump's America, I remember the spate of liberal/left-authored articles scolding those of us with identities to ditch "identity politics."

Seven months into this current Republican administration, Democrat leadership under Chuck Schumer has been strategizing to downplay identity politics

Oddly (or not), the Politico article I link to says that "identity politics" are being downplayed to appeal to more center-right Democrats, yet in my experience, many so-called Bernie Democrats simultaneously see themselves as the far left and also want to downplay identity politics in favor of "universal' economic messaging. If the far left, the center, and the right want us to ditch "identity politics," I guess that leaves those of us with identities outside of the political spectrum altogether.

The current absurdity of today's political labels aside, I'd like to link to a previous piece I wrote about this demand to downplay identity politics, back in December 2016.  It's still relevant, and I still believe that it's a mistake to ditch identity politics, particularly when neo-nazis are emboldened enough to rally on our public streets, without hoods, because they know they have the support of the Republican Administration behind them.

Thus, my plea to our white male allies:
"....[P]lease do not ask marginalized people to endure the hostility of the Trump regime on your terms or on anyone's terms but their/our own. The white walkers are here and we are doing our best to hold the door. My question to you is, which side of it are you on?"




Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Tale of Two Memos

In his workplace, Donald Trump is reported to demand a twice-daily folder of content confirming his greatness. Via Vice:
"These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful."
In another workplace, a white man sent his colleagues a manifesto purportedly confirming the inherent superiority of white men in the industry in which he works, and lamenting reverse sexist hiring pratices. Example:
"Google's left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence."
That probably gives you a gist of the whole thing which, yes, is 10 pages of dullard, condescending MRA-ism and lay evo-psych "analysis" presented as the courageous truth-telling of a genius.

That is to say, we have two workplace memos converging into one image:

A mediocre white man perched on a throne of presumed objectivity. The throne is in a room full of mirrors, which are being held up by women and people of color - the hoi polloi in his self-indulgent, egotistical universe. As he contemplates his innate superiority and supreme station in life, it is beyond his grasp to fathom that this reality-distorting fun house has been built precisely per his delicate specifications, and not - as he whinges every chance he gets - everyone else's.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.19 "Alex"

So, Mom-El (Rhea) is back in town, this time wooing Lena. She's proposing some sort of tech collaboration with L Corp on a "trans-matter portal" and/or is hitting on Lena. On Lena's part, she doesn't yet seem to know that Mom-El is an evil space alien, because they have a romantic candlelight dinner and bond over having attended MIT.

Lena acts flustered when Mom-El makes it known that she's newly-single.  Lena says, "Regardless of what happens with business, I have a feeling we're going to be friends." Mmm-hmmm.

I'm not here to judge, folks. I'm just here to report the facts.


Later, Lena is examining Mom-El's tech designs and realizes it includes a component not found on Earth. She gets suspicious and then tricks Mom-El into taking her alien detection test, which confirms that Mom-El is, in fact, an alien. Lena kicks her out of her office and refuses to collaborate. Oh, that crafty, virtuous Lena! But then, later, Lena changes her mind. For ... reasons?

In Danvers Sisters news, Maggie and Kara bicker about the pros and cons of vigilantism v. law and order, putting Alex in the awkward position of not wanting to take sides with either her girlfriend or her sister. But then, Alex gets kidnapped, forcing Maggie and Kara to Work Together. The kidnapper wants his dad released from prison or else he'll kill Alex. Hmm, I sense an impending lesson here.


The DEO's position is that they don't negotiate with terrorists. So, they won't release the prisoner just for the sake of freeing Alex. Uh-oh. But will everyone abide by that principle? We shall see.

Supergirl first wants to kick the kidnapper's ass, but Maggie keeps a cool head. Her suggestion is to have J'onn act like the prisoner, so they can pretend they've freed him. But, the kidnapper doesn't buy it. They try other assorted measures, none of which work.

For instance, in her cell, Alex uses her credit card to MacGyver the security camera with her tracking implant (wut, where did this come from?), which sends a signal to Winn that includes the IP address of her location.


Supergirl wants to immediately swoop in and rescue Alex, as is her style, but Maggie's thinks the kidnapper is acting a little too cocky for someone who just "lost." So, she urges restraint.

Annnd, Maggie's right, because when Supergirl does swoop in, it's a trick. The IP address had been "re-routed." I guess the kidnapper did that while in DEO custody, since the DEO is apparently letting him keep his computer handy. Seriously.

The upshot is that Alex's cell begins to fill up with water, which is one of my most anxiety-provoking "character in peril" scenarios.

Now it's up to Maggie to save the gay. Desperate, she ends up ditching the "we don't negotiate with terrorist" principles and breaks the kidnapper's dad out of prison. All of this seems to happen in a matter of minutes and it's not clear how far places are from one another in National City or whether Maggie has access to trans-matter portal or something. But, let's just roll with it.

Supergirl finds Maggie and the prisoner, trying to stop Maggie from letting him go. She then gives an Inspiring Monologue, which leads the prisoner to revealing where the kidnapper might be holding Alex. Why Supergirl didn't give this speech 12 hours ago isn't entirely clear, since this is also one of her apparent super powers.


Supergirl swoops in and rescues Alex just as her cell has filled up with water.

And, I get the reversal here in that Supergirl is the one who mostly remained calm and stuck to the DEO's "we don't negotiate with terrorist" principles, but it didn't ring especially true to her character to me. At least in the instance of protecting her sister, I feel fairly certain she'd be on board with Maggie in doing whatever it took to get her back, including "negotiating with terrorists."


Deep Thought of the Week: As I continue to watch superhero shows, how does every character not have PTSD from all of the killing, violence, and near-death situations? For instance, at the end of this episode, Alex "deals with" almost dying by punching her kidnapper in the nose while he's handcuffed, which the other characters kind of chuckle at in a "he got what was coming to him" sort of way. It's not clear if that's supposed to signify that Alex's trauma has now been resolved, or whether it's more that the tone of Supergirl doesn't really allow its heroic characters to go to dark places beyond more than these superficial outbursts.

Is there any show that has effectively acknowledged the psychological impact of trauma on its characters? Jessica Jones comes to mind. And, particular episodes of Buffy stand out to me as acknowledging the full humanity of their characters, particularly the aftermath of Tara, Joyce, and Buffy's deaths. While I retain critiques of Joss Whedon's work, I think one of his great strengths in Buffy was allowing shifts in tone, from lighthearted to serious and dark, that still rang true to the series as a whole.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

America: The Broken

I have a new piece at Shakesville today, examining the degradation of our democracy:

A lesson from George W. Bush's presidency, then, is that a security crisis can confer legitimacy to a President who begins his term lacking it. And, the people will hunker down and rally behind an undeserving leader during a scary time, out of a sense of fear, loyalty, and nationalism. History shows that bad leaders will squander this trust, rather than accepting it with responsibility and grace.

For these reasons, my first point today is that we ought to be gravely concerned that the man who holds this office today is historically unpopular, obsessed with his popularity, and is widely seen as illegitimate.

My second point is that by virtue of his office, Donald Trump is now entrusted to preserve the legitimacy of the electoral system, something which, I argue, for him is an impossibility. His very ascension to that office reveals a fundamental brokenness of our democracy, the supreme rule of which his rise has confirmed to be not "the law of the land" but "win by any means."
 Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.18 "Ace Reporter"

This episode begins with it being a slow crime day, meaning the DEO gives Supergirl a gay off. I mean, a day off.  I mean, what I'm trying to say is that Kara's at home one day and Lena comes over for a visit.

Apparently, Lena's ex-boyfriend Jack is in town and he's invited her to his company's press conference. Lena doesn't want to go solo, so she asks Kara to accompany her. There's nothing like showing your ex that you've leveled up in the significant other department, I suppose.


Jack, it turns out is CEO of a fancy company called Spheerical that's just invented a medial nanobot thingy that helps people heal really quickly. Let me guess: there's a catch.

Yep. At the press conference, a whistleblower approaches Kara and says he has secret information about this technology. Kara later meets this person at an abandoned lot and learns that the nanobot clinical trials were faked, so the tech may be unsafe. On cue, a swarm of nanobots attack the car and kill the whistleblower.

Snapper makes a reappearance this episode and snarks at "Ponytail" about her blog whenever he sees her. Kara doesn't let it get to her. Instead, she uses her super hearing to find out he's meeting with a nanobot test subject and then, she uses her levitation and x-ray vision skills to eavesdrop on Snapper's interview. HA HA.

During the interview, a nanobot swarm comes to attack the test subject. Supergirl stops the swarm with her freezing breath:


Supergirl saves Snarky Snapper, but the swarm breaks free. Whatever Spheerical has unleashed upon the world doesn't look good. (This looks like a job for Alex and Eliza Danvers but they're not around I guess!)

Meanwhile, Jack is really persistent with Lena and they go to dinner together. Kara wants to interrogate Jack in light of recent events (and check on her girl), so she and Mon-El 100% non-creepily crash the dinner date.

*Interlude for a brief moment of appreciation for Lena Luthor's expressive eyebrows, which deserve their own panel at comic-con*


Jack and Lena then go back to Lena's place and kiss. Whyyyyyyy. But, Mon-El and Kara had snatched Jack's security badge, and later that night they break into his office. Kara sits down at the computer in his office and immediately guesses his password on the first try (LOL). Apparently, it was "Starling." I don't get it. What am I missing? Is it a reference to how Kara looks like computer-geek Felicity Smoak on Arrow, which is based in Starling City? (please say yes):

Felicity
It gets better because Kara then easily finds the folders for the clinical trial data because the folder was probably named Super Sekret Stuff and was sitting on the desktop. In the folder, she opens up a video of Jack transcribing his research notes. It turns out there were no human trials and he injected the nanobots into himself. So, Jack basically IS the nanobot swarm.

The next day, Kara shows Lena the video. Kara makes Lena promise she won't see Jack anymore, and Lena promises. Hmmmm. I have a bad feeling here. And true enough, Lena confronts Jack at his office. It turns out the real villain is Beth, Spheerical's CFO, and she's actually controlling Jack through the nanobots. In true DC Villain form, Beth then reveals her master plan of using the nanobots to take over the world. Now that she's revealed her plan, she's sure to die or land in prison, I'm sure. These narrative revelations serve the purpose of telling us how bad things would be if the villain were to get away with, replacing arcs where we're actually shown how bad things are at a later date.

Supergirl swoops in, because of course she does, but the nanobots attack her. While they're doing that, Lena gets into "the mainframe." I feel like whenever non-techy people write about computer stuff on TV shows, they always reference "the mainframe." It's basically become a synonym for "the thing that stops the villain." Thus, Lena uses "the mainframe" to shut down the nanobots, killing Jack in the process.

Kara also turns over her reporting notes to Snapper, I guess because she wants the story to go through a legit news source, rather than her blog. Snapper then writes a story and gives her a byline on it. She also gets her job back at CatCo.

Oh, the other notable event of this episode is that James, Winn, and Lyra seem to be in a poly relationship.


Deep Thought of the Week: The nanobot swarm in this episode reminds me of the swarm in Black Mirror episode "Hated In the Nation."  Hmm, a new TV series to recap, after Supergirl?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Today in the Low Bar For White Men

I was mostly struck by Dianne Feinstein's recent tweet because I realized when I saw it how rare it's been for politicians to stand up for 2016 popular vote winner Hillary Clinton:



White male Democrats especially have been throwing Clinton under the bus, repeating Trump/Republican talking points about how Clinton supposedly "was not a great candidate," that she should take sole responsibility for the electoral college loss, and that she was incorrect when she said some Trump voters were deplorable.

Meanwhile, on the day Republican John McCain, and Trump yes-man, returned from his taxpayer-funded surgery to vote to take healthcare away from millions of people, right after politicians across the political spectrum spent the previous week singing his praises and expressing well-wishes for his health: