This week’s Supergirl was all about AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH! Episode 6, “Red Faced,” examined what people do with their anger and all the ways in which they hold it in or let it out. Supergirl learns to deal with the “anger behind the anger,” Cat stands up to her mother, James manages the anger he feels for Lucy’s dad, and Alex takes on some new anger when she receives new information about her father. Oh, and there’s Red Tornado. Sort of.
**THIS IS A RECAP – SPOILERS ARE PART OF THE TERRITORY.**
S1, Episode 6 – The Basics
- Nothing harshes your buzz during a calming flight through the clouds like a couple of asshats being reckless on the road and endangering schoolchildren. Supergirl shoots down to Earth just in time to stop two speeding cars from hitting a group of kids, but when one of the guilty parties is angry because his nose got broken when she stopped his car (Maybe then, you know, DON’T SPEED LIKE AN IDIOT!), he throws a punch and she blocks it, hurting his widdle hand. Suddenly she’s the “bad guy” and gets told to manage her anger back at the DEO. Because that’s what women are always expected to do—control our anger even as men get to be assclowns. Because we’re supposed to be “above that” or some bullshit.
- Over in Relationship Dramaland, James and Lucy are meeting up at the Cafe in Which No Good Conversations Are Ever Had. Lucy’s dad, General Sam Lane (Glenn Morshower), is coming to dinner, which doesn’t make James terribly happy. He and the General don’t get along. Kara enters as Lucy leaves, and Lucy thanks her for the invite. What invite? Why an invite to Kara’s game night, of course. Because the love of her unrequited love’s life is totally who she wants in her apartment playing board games!
- At CatCo, a cloud has descended, and that cloud … is Cat’s mother, Katherine (Joan Juliet Buck). Katherine basically can’t stop herself from insulting “Kitty” in the most passive-aggressive ways imaginable, and is excruciatingly old-school and highbrow.
- Alex arrives at the office and she and Kara tag-team to convince Winn to hack into the DEO’s mainframe. He reluctantly agrees.
- Over at DEO base camp, General Lane (and Lucy!) show up and start throwing their weight around, forcing the DEO (and Supergirl) to test their latest weapon, an “anthropomorphic pseudo-entity with combat capabilities” called Red Tornado (Iddo Goldberg)
- Both her team at the DEO and #TeamSupergirl at the CatCo office tell Kara that she can say no to testing Red Tornado, but she’s determined to prove to
Lucythe government that she can be trusted, despite her powers. She is also very determined to have Game Night. Meanwhile, Winn is all:
- Later, Cat and Katherine are supposed to spend time together, but Katherine throws her over for dinner with Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, not inviting her along. Then, adding insult to injury, she basically calls her own daughter a moron by asking what she’d have to say to Nobel Prize winners. (Meanwhile, Morrison and Atwood probably LOVE Cat’s content and would love to meet her!). After her mother leaves, Cat begins to take her hurt feelings out on Kara, asking her to stay late at work, then rubbing it in her face that everyone knows that she’s throwing herself at James.
- However, GAME NIGHT TOTALLY HAPPENS, and James and Lucy are the Perfect Team. *barf* Kara and Winn, not so much. But the real highlight was Lucy talking about how unimpressed she was, having met Supergirl earlier that day. I’m surprised Kara didn’t punch a hole through her face. Who says she lacks restraint?
- DING-DING-DING! Supergirl vs. Red Tornado … FIGHT! At first, Red Tornado gets the better of Supergirl during the test, but then she outsmarts him, going underground and sneaking up on him from behind. It was a genius move, and she totally won! Except that when everyone told her that she won and that she should stand down, she just couldn’t stop punching. Her pent-up anger got the best of her, and she broke Red Tornado, setting off its self-preservation function and allowing it to fly off in stealth mode and get loose in National City.
- General Lane is a total douchenozzle about it, blaming Supergirl WHEN IT WAS HIS STUPID IDEA TO TEST IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. However, the General does realize that Red Tornado isn’t the safest weapon in the world, so he tells its creator, Morrow, that when they find it, he wants it destroyed.
- Back at CatCo, Cat is not having the best day. But neither is Kara, and when Cat belittles Kara for the umpteenth time, Kara snaps and calls Cat out. At first, she’s fearful for her job (and possibly her life), but Cat takes it better than she expected, simply saying, “We’re going.”
- Alex goes to Maxwell Lord with the mechanical arm that Red Tornado left behind at the DEO test site, and she asks him to “prove he’s the good guy” by helping them find Red Tornado. He declines.
- DING-DING-DING! General Lane vs. James “The Grown Man” Olsen … FIGHT! At the most awkward family dinner since “Livewire,” James goes to dinner with Lucy and her dad, but when Lucy goes to the bathroom, the General tells James that he’s not good enough for Lucy, and that he’s a “glorified paparazzo” who surrounds himself with special people, but isn’t actually special himself. Ouch. James sucks it up when Lucy returns to the table.
- So, as it turns out, Cat has taken Kara out drinking so they can both drown their sorrows, and Cat drunkenly gives Kara advice about anger. While some of it is bullshit (“You cannot get angry at work, especially when you’re a girl.”), she makes a great point about “the anger behind the anger.” Yes, Kara is mad at Cat for treating her like crap, but she’s this angry because of something else entirely …
- As Lucy, General Lane, and James are leaving dinner, Red Tornado appears, hurting Lucy and ready to come for General Lane. Supergirl arrives just in time, allowing the Lanes and James to escape. However, Supergirl doesn’t have it quite so easy, as Red Tornado seems to have learned a thing or two since his last encounter with Supergirl and has adapted to her fighting style. He creates a tornado and sends it down the street, forcing Supergirl to choose between coming after him, or saving people. Of course, she chooses innocent bystanders and Red Tornado gets away again.
- Even after Supergirl saved him and his daughter, General Lane continues being a douchebag and blaming Supergirl for “letting him go.” Hank comes to her defense. Meanwhile, Maxwell calls Alex asking to see her.
- CUE AWKWARD SORT-OF DINNER DATE? Maxwell has a pretty sweet set-up for Alex when she arrives, but soon they’re talking about their dead parents. Maxwell then tells Alex that after having watched the Supergirl/Red Tornado fight on the news, he can tell that RT isn’t acting alone. It’s under someone’s control. MORROW!
- Kara and James have a little letting off steam session during which James punches a punching bag, and Kara punches a hanging car. They take turns naming the things that upset them and punching it out. For Kara, the exercise proves extra cathartic, and she realizes through all her punching that the real reason why she’s carrying so much anger has nothing to do with Cat, or James, or Lucy. It has to do with the fact that her “normal life ended the second [her] parents put her on that ship,” and she fears that she’ll never have normal relationships or normal moments—ever—and that infuriates her.
- Back at the DEO, they come up with a new plan for capturing Red Tornado. They use a thermally accurate hologram (thank you, Kryptonian technology!) to lure RT, then Supergirl will keep him occupied until Alex can trace Morrow. As Supergirl fights RT, Alex is facing down Morrow, who’s mentally linked to RT. The only way for Alex to break the connection between Morrow and RT is to kill him, which she doesn’t want to do, but in the struggle she ends up doing just that.
- That stops Red Tornado! Yay! Except that it doesn’t. Now, without a mind guiding him, RT wakes up and is sentient. Kara channels every bit of anger she’s been feeling all day into her heat vision and uses it to destroy Red Tornado.
- Lucy decides to stay in National City with James and resigns her commission in the military, much to her father’s disappointment (and James’ pleasure).
- At Kara and Alex’s apartment, Winn tells Alex what he discovered while hacking the DEO: her father and another agent went to South America to track down an alien. Two men entered, but only one man left, and that man was Hank Henshaw, who ended up redacting most of the file on the incident. Dun-dun-DUUUUUUN!
- At CatCo the next day, Katherine is thankfully leaving. As soon as Kara enters Cat’s office, Katherine dresses her down for not reading her mind and calling her a car, insulting her to Cat. Cat not only defends Kara, calling her incredibly good at her job, but she defends herself. Her mother leaves the room not knowing how to respond. Meanwhile, Cat has been nursing a hangover from yesterday’s drinking. Kara gives her Advil and water, but drops a glass.
- And here’s the thing … when she attempts to clean up the glass, she gets cut. AND SHE BLEEDS. Whaaaaaaaat?!
The Review Bit, Wherein I Express OPINIONS:
The best thing about this episode is the character work. It was a wonderful exploration of anger, and the ways in which men and women are taught to deal with it. And juxtaposed with that “gender binary” way of looking at emotions, a third option is proposed. The answer isn’t in repressing your anger in “a feminine way” or letting your anger get the better of you in “a masculine way.” The answer lies in balance, in letting yourself feel the anger, but then channeling it into something useful—not just lashing out. I think that’s a great lesson for all of us.
My favorite bit with regard to the theme of anger was when Kara and James were having punch therapy, and as Kara explains to James that “girls are taught to smile and hold it in,” James commiserates by saying “It’s not like black men are encouraged to be angry in public.” I love that they are examining race through James in exactly the right way, having race not come up much … until it comes up, and you can see that there are double-standards along race lines as well as gender lines.
And it’s here that I need to talk about how amazing Melissa Benoist’s performance was in this episode. Both in that scene with James and in her final fight against Red Tornado, Benoist deftly navigated Kara’s deep-seated anger, and her performance felt so real and lived-in. As she confessed the real reason for her anger to James, she achieved the perfect balance between anger and exhaustion. She’s so angry she’s tired and frustrated by carrying it around all the time, and all that came through Benoist loud and clear. This was also a great episode for Jenna Dewan Tatum as Lucy. Her character, too, had a lot going on, and Tatum was definitely up for the challenge. Her Lucy is complex—as quick to talk shit about Supergirl as she is to be Kara’s friend. As quick to throw her military weight around as she is to take a chance on James. She’s pretty awesome.
And I love, love, LOVED Joan Juliet Buck as Katherine Grant! I hope we see more of her!
“Red Faced” was enjoyable for the most part. However, there are some story problems re: Red Tornado:
- I wish that they’d stop changing the villains/heroes so much in an attempt to “modernize them.” With the exception of Livewire, none of the people against whom Supergirl has faced-off has had very much to do with their comic origins. Red Tornado isn’t a “robot,” He’s an actual human character who’s associated with the Justice League. So, why not just have this weapon be a weapon without calling it Red Tornado?
- Another thing—if Alex killing Morrow severed the link between him and Red Tornado, that really should’ve been it. But what did she mean when she called RT “sentient?” Did she mean that RT was self aware? If so, Supergirl just killed someone, rather than talking, or outsmarting, or any number of other methods she’s used to apprehend criminals.
The parts of the episode surrounding Red Tornado weren’t great. Thankfully, the episode surrounding those was enjoyable to watch.
I’d love to hear what you thought of “Red Faced” in the comments below!
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