Supergirl – Season 5 Episode 5

Nov 6, 2019 | Posted by in TV

“Dangerous Liaisons”

Supergirl makes use of the newfound camaraderie found between Kara and William as the Leviathan plot gains some traction.

Clandestine -and often ancient- organisations are a dime a dozen within the Arrowverse. It’s getting to the stage where it’s difficult to imagine what can be brought to the table where they’re concerned at this point and Leviathan is no exception. At the moment it’s known that they have plans and not a lot else. What they’re looking to achieve remains a mystery and the actions they’re involved in seem to be counter intuitive.

Supergirl

Buy my stuff and escape the real world

Much of the episode deals with the fact that Andrea Rojas may be involved in a massive criminal conspiracy that we as the audience assume to be Leviathan. The assumption is that it has something to do with her VR contact lenses as a literal countdown plays out over the course of the episode to the point her social network is launched to the public. It seems like a nefarious thing based on what has been said about Andrea coupled with the way she interacts with Lena so it’s easy to see her as the villain throughout the episode and assume that nothing good will come once the countdown elapses. This proves to not be the case though Andrea’s connection to Leviathan is confirmed by a scene only meant for the viewer which means that our heroes are none the wiser by the time the credits roll.

Not that this is a bad thing. Seeing characters pursue dead ends and come away with nothing significant can be a good thing as long as what they’re doing is interesting in itself. Sadly that’s not the case here as there isn’t a lot of focus to the events of this episode. In general it feels as the writers are making things up as they go along which means that very little of it comes together coherently. Far too much time is spent pursuing a mysterious assassin by the name of Rip Roar (Nick Sagar); he’s a cross between the Winter Soldier and Doc Ock with a RoboCop helmet. There’s really nothing to him beyond him being a blunt instrument deployed to steal weaponry and start a disaster that could end up killing billions which does seem like a huge deal but it’s treated as if it’s a problem of the week that is quickly solved.

The Tsunami that threatens every coastal city coupled with a geyser spewing out massive volumes of water should be things that the characters are more concerned about considering the stakes but it’s something that is dealt with far too easily. Kara and J’Onn take care of the geyser with no apparent risk to them outside of what J’Onn suggests could happen to them and Nia is easily able to stop the Tsunami before it hits land using her dream energy. Powerful character are a hallmark of comic books and the TV shows/films that are adapted from them but it’s baffling to see that nobody seems all that concerned about the apocalyptic stakes. Nia being able to so easily deal with the waves marks another problem with the power levels on this show as this seems to be far beyond anything Nia was previously capable of. She didn’t seem all that concerned about what she was being asked to do either which made it seem even stranger.

Supergirl

The clandestine needs work

Rip Roar might simply be a henchman with a gimmick but he has a strong connection to William and Andrea. He was William’s best friend and was engaged to Andrea. One flashback scene showing William talking to his friend Russell Rogers/Rip Roar sets up how close they were and what set William down the path towards investigating Andrea. It’s very clumsily presented and shows William to be really bad at the job that has netted him Pulitzer prizes given that he never even suspects that Russell and Rip Roar are one in the same. There’s enough that doesn’t add up for him to at least suspect this considering there was no body and all he had to go on was Rip Roar telling him his friend was dead. Not enough effort went into hiding his face either so the execution of this is laughably terrible.

It’s good to see William moved away from being an abrasive obstacle for Kara and into a role where he can support her. Melissa Benoist and Staz Nair work really well together as actors though this episode has William acting less than competently throughout. It’s amusing to see Kara and William trying to talk within the walls of CatCo without people realising that they don’t hate each other which makes both of them look very suspicious as they roam the halls whispering to one another. Similarly their collective snooping in Andrea’s office is equally ridiculous. He also spends a lot of his time in the office staring at pictures of his -believed- dead best friend which isn’t exactly the best way to maintain your cover. Another amusing thing is that Kara managed to find out more in two days than William learned in 2 years of investigating this case. Granted she has access to resources that he doesn’t but it seems that he knows pretty much nothing about this case that he supposedly has dedicated his life to.

I’m definitely getting the love interest vibe from William. There are similarities to her early relationship with Mon’El in that he’s doggedly determined to pursue his own point of view while Kara tries to show him a path to being a better person. I get the idea that Kara/Supergirl encourages people to be better but it feels a little forced here and if the intention is to head them down a romantic route then I’m not convinced this will be a relationship worth investing in. Perhaps if things settle a bit and their interactions become less about their differing views on exposing a criminal conspiracy their back and forth will feel more natural but for now I can’t really see it working.

Supergirl

Living out your greatest desires in a virtual world

So far it’s clear that Andrea is involved with Leviathan but doesn’t have any authority within the organisation and the villains we’ve seen so far this season have also had a connection to them. It’s mentioned that the plan to drown a fair chunk of the planet wouldn’t have suited Andrea’s interests as her company’s manufacturing plant would have been destroyed not to mention the vast amount of existing and potential customers that would have lost their lives. It’s also noteworthy that she might have been among those casualties but the episode doesn’t really cover that in any detail. The episode ends with her being assigned a problem to deal with that has something to do with their master plan but at the moment nothing really adds up. It’s purposely confusing as the characters can’t figure it out either but I wonder if that’s the case because the writers haven’t got this all figured out either.

Kelly and Alex are about to celebrate an anniversary of their first date which seems random but any excuse for random expressions of affection and happiness is as good as another. This plot is focused around Kelly realising that Alex has a really dangerous job which reminds her of the fiancé she lost under similar circumstances. She has a breakdown in the bathroom when she realises just how much danger everyone was in and how close she came to losing Alex. This is one of the most real moments that have been depicted on this show and is long overdue considering the frequent mortal danger that every character finds themselves in. It’s surprising that there aren’t more examples of struggling to deal with the aftermath of a dangerous situation as every character more or less takes these events in their stride where any normal person might crumble after one of them. It’s the conceit that comes with a show like this but it’s good to see this perspective and I find myself warming to the idea of Nia and Kelly becoming friends who confide in one another.

Malefic learns not to trust a Luthor when she lies to him in order to get access to his brain. He only agrees to help Lena on the condition that she remove the mental block that prevents him from hurting J’Onn. At first she refuses and then quickly agrees after a few words from him which should have seemed suspicious right away but Malefic clearly assumed that he held all the cards at that point and made the mistake of underestimating his captor. He allows Lena access to his mind and then learns that she had no intention of doing what he wanted from her. Lena remains consistently committed to creating a world where nobody can hurt anyone else so what she’s basically looking for is the mental block that Malefic has to be applied to the entire Human race. Based on her work in this episode she has made a massive leap towards that as shown by her being able to stop Malefic.

I really like the Lena/Malefic dynamic. Malefic’s assumption that he can manipulate Lena while being unaware of the fact that she’s manipulating him makes for engaging viewing and it’s great to see Phil LaMarr embody the character after so many stand-ins in the previous episode. Katie McGrath and Phil LaMarr work brilliantly together as well so I look forward to more of these characters interacting especially with Lena descending further down an ethically dubious path. It’s a great story for her and adding Malefic to it has only enhanced it.

Supergirl

No big deal!


Verdict

A weak episode overall that fails to make proper use of the potential it has when delivering the various plot points. The most obvious problem is how large the stakes are being countered by the characters not being concerned about what they were dealing with. It’s treated as a typical problem of the week and casually escalates Nia’s power level to a point beyond anything we’ve seen before. Raising the stakes isn’t a problem but the characters have to acknowledge the gravity of the situation for it to work. Another weakness is in the villain who is little more than a henchman with an implied connection to William that the episode completely fails to make use of outside of a flashback that doesn’t resonate properly. Any attempt to hide his identity is laughably poor and it makes William look bad that he is unable to figure out the truth. It is good to move William away from antagonistic obstacle for Kara and have their interactions shift into something more positive as a result but their attempts to be discrete while at work are laughable and William shows himself to be really poor at the job he has won awards for in terms of how he goes about his investigation. It’s amusing that Kara learns more in two days than he has in two years though she does have greater access to resources than he does.

The Leviathan plot is really meandering at this point. So far all that’s known is that they have a plan of some sort but their actions don’t actually add up to anything that makes much sense. This episode is a great example of that following the reveal that Andrea is involved with them in some way as their plan succeeding would have significantly hampered Andrea’s company so it looks as if she’s a pawn in their plan rather than being a figurehead. It remains to be seen if it all comes together into something that makes sense when considering their actions throughout the season. Kelly and Alex celebrating an anniversary only to have it interrupted by the near apocalypse might seem dry on the surface but Kelly’s breakdown following the events because Alex being endangered in the line of duty was an uncomfortable reminder of her past relationship was excellently done. It’s a common conceit of a show like this that the characters have to take weekly dangerous situations in their stride because they move from one problem to another but seeing a proper emotional toll grounds it significantly. The Malefic/Lena plot was really well done as well with Lena managing to manipulate him by promising him what he wanted and then taking it away from him was a great move on her part and reinforces her goal of creating a world where doing harm is impossible. Malefic’s mental block is exactly what she wants and she’ll do anything it takes to get it. Their dynamic is a lot of fun and it’s great to see Phil LaMarr embody the character.

Overall
  • 6/10
    Dangerous Liaisons - 6/10
6/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • William changing from an antagonistic obstacle to ally of Kara
  • Kelly’s very real breakdown after seeing Alex placed in mortal danger
  • Lena manipulating Malefic to achieve her own goals
  • the Lena/Malefic dynamic

 

Rise Against…

  • the Leviathan plot feeling more random than calculated
  • William being laughably bad at the job he’s supposed to be good at
  • failing to make use of the William/Rip Roar connection
  • apocalyptic stakes not being met with the expected level of concern

 

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3.5/10 (1 vote)

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