Supergirl: “Wake Up” Review

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By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

This week was the time of returns and awakenings on Supergirl. “Wake Up” premiered this week as the seventh episode of the show’s third season. With lots of complications emerging at once in National City, did the story juggling go well or did Supergirl drop the ball? Read on for a spoiler-filled review of this week’s episode of the show to find out!

In a major move, Sam (Odette Annable) finally took a trip home to inquire about the mysterious happenings that she has noticed this season, and surprise, surprise: she’s not human. It was hardly astonishing that she came from beyond the Earth, so that particular reveal wasn’t all that exciting. As she journeyed into the desert, it was hard not to feel impatient. The bulk of Sam’s story up until “Wake Up” has been largely unexplored, and it has felt like time was wasted in previous episodes in bringing the season’s supposed Big Bad to the forefront. Sam’s own Fortress of Sanctuary (much like Superman’s icy Fortress of Solitude) emerging from the earth, however, was what we’ve all been waiting for. Some plot lines benefit from the slow burn treatment, but the spark was dying without more fuel to feed the fire. This episode finally provided an opening to learn more about the character and possible future villainy. Will she finally evolve into a true world-killer?

Meanwhile, Winn (Jeremy Jordan) went on a short adventure under the sea with Kara (Melissa Benoist) and J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) and it was a nice reminder of the fun comedic relief the character used to provide to the show. As J’onn phased Kara and Winn through the Earth onto a alien ship underwater, Winn couldn’t help but exclaim, “Oh God. That was horrible. That was amazing! Can we do that all the time?” He continued with a few other fun quips during “Wake Up” that were the best of Winn. Despite being often pushed to the background as the seasons have progressed, Winn has consistently been one of the most relatable characters on the show, reacting to situations in much the same ways as the audience would in his place: with joy, wonder, and even concern and protectiveness. With superheroes, aliens, and incredible powers, we all need someone who feels normal to act as a conduit for our connection with the surreal. Winn fulfilled that role this week, after a long time missing the heart he brings to Supergirl. Let’s leave the brooding to Batman and Green Arrow and get some smiles!

Meanwhile, the other bomb to drop on Supergirl this week was the return of Mon-El (Chris Wood). The moment he appeared on screen, I couldn’t help to question what the catch might be. It wasn’t hard to figure out that a happy reunion between Kara and Mon-El was unlikely. The major reason no relationship would be resuming was not hard to predict. From the moment he tried to tell Kara something and she shushed him, it was obvious another lady was on his mind. (Seriously, in the history of television, when has shushing a returned character ever worked out for anyone?) Some time displacement and some mystery about slumbering passengers further complicated the situation, which will likely continue in later episodes.

With a Big Bad by the name of Reign on the horizon for Supergirl, “Wake Up” might not have been the best time to reintroduce Mon-El into the mix. It was accepted that the character was written off and mourned, and the season didn’t necessarily need a return. Writing off a character loses its value when the character is brought back prematurely. In the DC comic book world, Barry Allen was brought back 23 years after his sacrifice in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and there was still some trepidation about a resurrection. That same thoughtfulness seemed to be lacking in Supergirl this week. Kara’s feelings about the loss of Mon-El were lost as more complications were piled on with the return of Mon-El and the introduction of his wife, all from the future.

A major costuming flaw seemed to emerge during Supergirl this week. Kara has always been present at the DEO in her costume, answering only to her superheroine name. But “Wake Up” might be the first time she has been present at the DEO as Kara Danvers. Was the integrity of her secret identity compromised on purpose, or was the change of costume and location meant to convey something more personal to the audience when dealing with the emotional Mon-El situation? The change felt unintentional, as if someone directing didn’t realize the compartmentalization of Kara’s life was tied to the appropriate costume in the appropriate location. Was something deeper meant to be communicated, or was it a simple and obvious goof?

While Supergirl did not err in making an episode that was irrelevant to the season (such as the misstep made last week), there were some flaws along the way that might sabotage the season as a whole if not handled delicately. “Wake Up” was certainly true to its name this week, in more than one way, and we will have to wait to see if the things that have awoken will pay off later in the season. Overall, there might be some timing issues with the presentation of plotlines, and a little more superheroine action by Supergirl would always be welcome, but the story was more engaging this week than it has been for some time. Of course, I can’t help but wonder why no one was celebrating Thanksgiving. Seasonal episodes are the chance for natural character development in the emotional realm and we missed out on Turkey Day in National City. The drama, however, was on par with a family holiday, so Supergirl may still have hit the nail on the head there.

What did you think of the return of Mon-El and the awakening of Reign? Enough to keep you watching this season or more hassle than they’re worth?


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