Supergirl: Blind Spots

“Make the least experienced one wear the brightest colors. It’s a trick I learned from Batman.”

You’d have thought that returning from the Phantom Zone would have been a high point for Supergirl and her team. Even though her PTSD was remarkably short-lived (just an episode, conveniently), there have been other problems, many of them from Dreamer’s horrendously selfish decision to help the 5th Dimensional Imp Nxylgsptinz get to Earth. Among other things, this has led to several battles, a good chunk of property destruction, and one of Supergirl’s attempts to do the right thing being utterly and maliciously undone with the destruction of the Ormfell (it certainly fell) building. Now, the fallout from that building’s destruction continues in unexpected ways and a new hero arises in “Blind Spots.” This episode was co-written by Azie Tesfai, who plays Kelly Olson, and directed by David Ramsey, best to know to Arrowverse fans as John Diggle/Spartan.

The episode starts with Nxylgsptinz trying to find the Totem of Courage and not being able to figure out where it is. Her sidekick Mitch looks worried and is generally useless as she ponders what might have gone wrong, which leads to us jumping back 24 hours. Kelly is talking to Joey, the younger of the two alien brothers who have been personifications/symbols for various social issues the last several episodes. Joey is very excited about moving in to his new place, but then the building comes down, and Kelly is just close enough to both see and hear it without actually being close enough to get hurt. She rushes there and helps rescue people from the rubble, including Joey, who somehow is lying on the ground with one single brick on his chest. At the nearest hospital, the ER is completely overwhelmed by the hundreds of casualties. They are particularly short on respirators, which sounds hauntingly familiar. Councilwoman Rankin is brought there briefly before insisting on being brought to a different facility. Kelly brings up her concerns about the place not having what it needs to treat everyone, and Rankin gives a political non-answer as she is wheeled out.

Desperate and worried, Kelly calls Alex to see if she can get some help for the victims. Kelly and the “Superfriends” (I still think they need a better name) are too busy trying to come up with ways to hunt down Nxylgsptinz, although Alex does make arrangements to get the hospital some help. Rankin continues to be an awful person, strong-arms her doctor into giving her some experimental medication, which has some side effects even the most conservative member of the FDA wouldn’t have seen coming. In Newfoundland, Lena is now doing what gamers call a class change, going from scientist to witch, and she’s having some problems. Her phone goes off, showing the news of the chaos in National City, and she runs off to help, leaving behind a singed teacher and her mother’s book of spells. How she’s going to help while being on the other side of the continent, I’m not sure.  

 After another unsuccessful sweep of the city, Supergirl returns to the Watchtower, frustrated at how easily Nxylgsptinz is evading her. Brainy starts sounding like about half the Star Trek episodes ever filmed when he talks about recalibrating the sensors. Alex and Supergirl go way out of town to a remote DEO facility to look for useful gadgets. Apparently, this powerful governmental agency, run by a paranoid genius like Lex Luthor, doesn’t revoke security clearances when someone quits. Meanwhile, the news is covering traffic problems related to the building collapse, which irritates Kelly. She calls Andrea, who says people care more about traffic than the displaced and injured from the destruction. Cold, but probably accurate. After this unsuccessful call, Kelly gets a surprise visitor- John Diggle, former right-hand man to Oliver Queen, the late Green Arrow. The scene is a bit clunky at the start, as she greets him with “John Diggle of Star City.” Do you call anyone you know by their name and city? Diggle is there at James Olsen’s request, since the former Super-sidekick is worried about his sister. Diggle and Kelly commiserate over the odd place they each have in life. After a pep talk from John, they go back to the building wreckage to try and find out what’s going on with the victims. The miraculously recovered Councilwoman Rankin arrives, and makes some discoveries about her new status.

Supergirl and Alex return from their errand without what they went for, but with a useful new set of toys. Their new, more sensitive gadgets start picking up 5th Dimensional energy as soon as they’re taken out of the case. Tracing the new source, they end up back at the building wreckage, and J’Onn, Supergirl, and Brainy run into Kelly and Diggle doing their own investigation. The two groups compare notes, Brainy comes up with a new theory, but Kelly doesn’t feel enough attention is being paid to the victims. Rankin starts using her new abilities to commit various crimes almost immediately. She really is reprehensible. We also see some of the side effects of our newest villain using her power, and it’s definitely not a fair price. The two groups prepare to go their separate ways on their investigations, and Supergirl isn’t really listening to Kelly’s concerns. As most of the others leave, Dreamer leaves one of the new scanners with Kelly.

Kelly and Diggle to check in on the victims, personified by little Joey. The scanner goes off, indicating something is wrong with Rankin. Orlando, Joey’s brother, goes to confront her. After some words are exchanged, Rankin sics her security detail on Orlando, and Kelly, cleverly disguised with a helmet and shield, intervenes, with help from Diggle. This is when Kelly gets her first proof that Rankin has powers now, and the fight doesn’t go well, although better than a novice non-powered hero versus a vastly powerful villain had any right to expect. Bring some evidence she managed to get, Kelly returns to the tower as the others continue their search for Nxylgsptinz. A very frustrated Kelly blows up at the heroes, going off on them about social inequities that are very real, and absolutely none of their faults. The only two in the group likely to be able to effect large-scale change are Lena with her vast fortune (if she still has it, that’s a bit unclear right now), and Brainy with his brilliance. But, since Brainy is from the future and aware of the timeline, he’s not going to make any big waves. I’m surprised he’s stayed in the present as long as he as and been as active as he’s been. After Kelly storms off, both Alex and Supergirl feel like they should go talk to her, but Dreamer cautions them to give her some time.

Down in the gym, Diggle has his own talk with Kelly, and she gives her big speech about the difficulties of being a woman in her position. Her concerns are real and valid, but the scene is done with a real “beat you over the head” message and it could have been smoothed out. Apparently ignoring Dreamer, Supergirl comes in and she and Kelly have a talk about being allies, and what that means, and Supergirl is remarkably tone-deaf for the early part of the conversation. I guess because it didn’t fit the narrative they were trying to tell this episode, neither character mentions the extreme lengths Supergirl was trying to go to about helping out people with affordable housing issues recently. While this goes on, J’Onn and Alex have a Balcony Conversation™ about what Alex can do and J’Onn’s experience wearing a black man’s skin on this world. He does offer her some good advice, which she seems to follow better than Supergirl did Dreamer’s.

Brainy has run some tests and come to some conclusions about Rankin. When most of the team takes off to implement some of Brainy’s ideas, Kelly hangs back and asks a favor. Brainy at least strongly implies Kelly will become well-known enough that he’s familiar with her story, and he helps her rework James’ Guardian armor. It’s a really odd scene that covers current problems and some issues that persist until the 31st century. Of course, she’s also asking someone who is not human, from a race that is ruled by computers, so he might not have been the best choice for this discussion.

After some preparation, the heroes go to confront Rankin, who really seems to have gone full-blown supervillain in a remarkably short period of time. While most of the team throws their power against hers, and Sentinel/Alex displays a weird new ability from her little alien gizmo, Guardian, in her new costume, asks for the wounded people from the collapse to help her help them. Orlando, somehow spokesman for the group, has some doubts, but she manages to persuade him. With teamwork and Brainy’s gadgets, the literal balance of power is restored. There’s a scene showing how inspirational Guardian is already, which seems to involve her teleporting. Weirdly, the idea is floated for Orlando to become a City Council member to replace Rankin. While the man certainly cares about his people, he’s an unemployed, homeless ex-con. In addition to that being a major hurdle with many voters, I don’t know how he’s going to have enough money to mount a campaign.

Back at the tower, the team talks about their victory and what to do next. Diggle quotes Jefferson Pierce, Black Lightning, which is a nice touch. Diggle leaves and has an odd exchange with Brainy that makes it sound like that ring so many fans have been speculating about might be in his future after all. Supergirl promises to do better with social issues, and she and Kelly swap comments and what sound like slogans. Kelly goes home to unwind and has a nice little wrap up scene with Alex. And, somehow, Lena’s new book has gotten home before her.

What I liked: It was great to see Diggle again. I’m disappointed he hasn’t become a Green Lantern yet, and maybe never will at this rate, but there’s still hope. While I’m not wild about a lot of what happened this episode, it was nice seeing Guardian closer to the comic book costume. There was a brief, amusing callback to Brainy and Supergirl’s recent PSA. Some of J’Onn’s comments were very insightful. While I get the actor likely isn’t coming back, aside from a glorified cameo near the end maybe, they did a good job evoking James Olsen’s off-screen presence.

What I didn’t: There are lots of little plot holes this season and, while I can come up with explanations for most, if not all, of them, I shouldn’t have to. That’s the writers’ job. Kelly’s frustrations are legitimate, but she seems to be aiming her ire at the wrong people. Yes, it’s important to help those who have no voice or are being unfairly held down. But if the ones that can do so don’t stop the rampaging monsters who keep trying to destroy the city, how fairly everyone is treated won’t matter. To quote Batman from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon: “Those monsters you don’t fight? They tend to step on the little guy.” Kelly’s secret identity should be the work of about five seconds on Google to figure out, since James went so public with his. The writers’ rooms on the different shows need to communicate better. The ones on Batwoman manage to address social issues while still telling a good story. On this show, the story seems to stop so everyone can talk about how bad some things are and make vague suggestions on how to make them better. Even the analogy of how Rankin’s power worked was a little over the top. How did Lena’s book travel across a continent and from one country to another faster than someone on a private jet?

If this show wasn’t on the way out, I don’t know that I’d watch another season. This episode was a mess. I’ll give this a low 2 out of 5. Much of that is because they brought back Diggle.

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