“Red Faced” – aired 11/30/2015 – **** stars!
Written by Michael Grassi & Rachel Shukert
Directed by Jesse Warn
*Spoilers are contained within.
“Red Faced” opens with Supergirl enjoying a “peaceful and relaxing” flight through the clouds. Melissa Benoist exudes the charm and likability of Christopher Reeve’s performance as Superman and CBS commits to the theatrical level of effects, making the new DC Comics based series one easy to follow and fall in love with. She hears two car drivers arguing with one another and as the fight grows more heated, so does their road rage. This looks like a job for Supergirl! She flies in, just in the nick of time, and stops both cars from driving right into a crossing path of school children. “She’s amazing” one student utters as they immediately snap photo after photo of the hero. One of the drivers doesn’t agree and when he goes to take a swing at her, she catches his fist, and immediately causes a public incident. The scene channels every YouTube and self-shot video chronicling the idea and notion of power and of those that misuse their abilities. As a fan of Supergirl and a supporter of real-life heroes that are sometimes wrongly caught in a situation taken out of context, I felt angered by this. Apparently, Kara felt the same way.
The sixth episode of the CBS series Supergirl, “Red Faced”, explores the themes of power, anger, and recklessness. And quite well I might add. Writers Michael Grassi and Rachel Shukert start the episode with an event that echoes many of the stories we read and watch on the news featuring police officers, school teachers, and the like. Grassi and Shukert continue to follow through on those themes and successfully use T.O. Morrow, Lucy Lane, Cat Grant, and Red Tornado to help define the ideas of power and anger. Lucy Lane tells James and company “I wasn’t that impressed” with Supergirl, her father Gen. Lane perceives Supergirl just as much a threat as he views her cousin, and Cat Grant, never missing an opportunity, degrades “Kira” in the office. All of this only fuels more of “the anger behind the anger” that Kara has and leads to her nearly destroying the “anthropomorphic entity” known as Red Tornado during a training routine at the D.E.O.’s base camp. Her recklessness and refusal to listen to Hank Henshaw and her sister Alex’s commands leads to the firing of T.O. Morrow and a period to his 11 years of R&D on the Red Tornado.
It’s not one of Kara’s best days and while some might easily dismiss her problems because she is kryptonian, she still very much has identifiable issues that we all deal with. I loved the overall direction of “Red Faced” and it’s only keeping up this great tradition of well told super-hero stories filled with pathos. Director Jesse Warn also manages a great production of the sixth episode and helps maintain a balance of comic-book entertainment and real drama. “Red Faced”, while addressing ideas of feminism by featuring the conflict between Cat Grant and “mother”, along with Kara’s role as a public hero – Supergirl, perfectly balances itself in a way that never feels heavy handed or absurd.
While there were early critiques of Calista Flockheart’s Cat Grant being too scene chewing and a near caricature of the stereotypical media mogul akin to Meryl Streep’s role in The Devil Wears Prada, she’s actually very good. Flockheart’s performance has only gotten better with each episode and she’s very much a scene stealer. I watched Ally McBeal and while it was only season four because of Robert Downey Jr’s Larry Paul, I remember Calista Flockheart being very likable on the show. While Cat Grant is the kind of person Ally McBeal would most likely go up against, Flockheart creates both roles with such ultimately humanizing characteristics that you can’t help but fall for both. She has a terrific scene with Kara and she tells her, if a bit drunkenly, that “everybody gets angry.”
“Maiden of Might.”
Maxwell Lord calls Supergirl, if jokingly, the “maiden of might.” It’s a catchy reference and a nice spin on the “Man of Steel” nickname her cousin has. With heroes like the Man of Steel and the Maiden of Might must come overall messages to their fans/followers and those in reality watching the show/movie/reading the story. Supergirl is terrific each week in not just providing fun entertainment, but also providing a message to those more keenly in tune with the story. One of the biggest super heroes known for this quality is Superman so it should be no surprise that Supergirl exemplifies the same important quality. “Red Faced” explores our emotions and of the reality of the condemnation of others in public and private. Supergirl is condemned as a “road rage monster”, Cat’s accomplishments are disregarded by her mother, and James is uncomfortably dismissed by Gen. Sam Lane for being a “glorified paparazzo”. Ultimately we’re taught to be more understanding of our actions and their repercussions and to be more considerate of how we paint others.
Red Tornado was one of the most widely discussed of characters appearing on season one of Supergirl. His inclusion in the series was one we spoke about, especially as many were disregarding him as a Marvel’s Vision rip-off and for a poor costume design and appearance. I like the DC Comics character of Red Tornado, but I’ve never felt particularly protective of the character. Iddo Goldberg of Peaky Blinders portrayed both T.O. Morrow and Red Tornado and it’s hard to say why fans would be so upset with his presentation on the show. Much like The CW’s The Flash, the budget for special effects remains very impressive and so the Red Tornado is presented in a way that fully realizes many of his abilities. He creates tornadoes, fires missiles, and does pretty much what you’d expect him to do and more. The only issue I took with the character was that *SPOILER ALERT* he was killed off! We learn that Morrow was controlling Red Tornado and while he’s killed by Alex, Supergirl destroys Red Tornado. He’s a character that could have been utilized in a greater way, but instead was used as a villain of the week.
“Game Night Survives”
“Red Faced” was just as entertaining as the previous five episodes of Supergirl and a great indication as to what we can expect from the rest of this season. CBS recently committed to seven more episodes making Supergirl‘s first outing a full 20 episode season. Maybe this means will see Brit Morgan return as Livewire.
Until next week, please remember that no matter how bad things may seem, “game night survives!”
Supergirl airs 8 PM ET, Monday nights on CBS. Check your local listings.