Martin Carr reviews the seventeenth episode of Supergirl…
There are echoes of Alien Nation and Predator in this week’s episode, which effectively employs flashback to fill in back story for everyone. Unlike other shows the technique is employed correctly to broaden and deepen our bond with these characters, while showing the true nature of others. With a surprising yet welcome appearance from Dean Cain’s Jeremiah Danvers, as well as topical pops at film stars and royalty alike. Supergirl still proves to have something in reserve as we head towards the season finale. With Henshaw’s intervention and subsequent arrest, we open with an incarcerated Hank stuck in a DEO cell eating chocolate.
Following on from his reveal as a Martian shapeshifter, Supergirl subtlety addresses issues of victimisation first broached in ‘Human For a Day’. Giving everyone their moment in the sun through interrogation flashbacks, whilst keeping it interesting beyond those four walls without resorting to cliché. While Cat, James, Siobhan and Winn serve as light relief to counteract the military douche heading up this interrogation. Going by the name of Jim Harper his is a fear borne of ignorance and stupidity, whilst Lucy Lane is brought back in to counterbalance this blinkered viewpoint.
Beyond our numbskull and Harewood’s solid performance as Henshaw, it is Italia Ricci’s Siobhan who scene steals her way through ‘Manhunter’. Portraying Siobhan with such guile and cunning that she ends up being more engaging than any amount of super hero types. Turning her motives from pure retribution and abject failure, to something altogether more interesting in the closing minutes.
Another element which proves noteworthy is the mention of ‘Project Cadmus’, similar in some ways to ‘Gotham’s Indian Hill facility. Although there is an underlying focus on the treatment and public view of immigrants, ‘Cadmus’ implies the imminent arrival of something far darker than that. A direction this show has only gone in a few times and then only for the briefest moment. My only complaint about ‘Manhunter’ this week is that those neat solutions to tie up each episode are back and ring hollower than ever.
Yes the DEO are divided but everyone accepts it so readily. And yes there is a potential new threat on the horizon, but it all felt a touch unengaging. Kara and Lucy buddied up way too quickly and put their differences aside, in a ‘we have to do this together because everyone is the same ultimately’ sort of way. It was too tidy, felt too easily won and hence lacked authenticity.
Now I know this is a comic book show based upon a being from another planet, so my expectations should be in line with that. But following on from everything else thus far ‘Manhunter’ felt a step too far. Now I am not saying Supergirl lacks entertainment value, just that when a show is grounded in the fantastic things require realism to work. Something which this episode fails to achieve.