“Blood Bonds” – aired 1/4/2016 – ***** stars
Written by Ted Sullivan & Derek Simon
Directed by Steve Shill
*Spoilers are contained within.
Some of the most memorable of animated series and television shows I watched growing up always taught a message or provided some sort of enriching experience beyond the actual content depicted. The context of the series would ultimately either be enjoyed for face value or would challenge us to think beyond ourselves. CBS’ Supergirl has maintained a certain level of excellence on a week to week basis and seeing the mid-season premiere air this week and a return of Supergirl to network television is something audiences and fans are certainly happy about. Even though Supergirl hasn’t been on hiatus for as long as, let’s say Gotham or Once Upon A Time, the nearly month wait was filled with much anticipation as “Hostile Takeover” concluded with a Kryptonian attack on Lord Technologies and Non (Chris Vance) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) charging at one another. “Blood Bonds”, the mid-season premiere, aired this week and with that we are back to our weekly discussion of Supergirl.
Non and Kara’s fight take to the skies of National City and while the fight isn’t as nearly as long as the Astra (Laura Benanti) vs Kara fight in “Hostile Takeover”, it’s still equally impressive. While the budget on Supergirl doesn’t come across as high as The CW’s The Flash, the production value is still very amazing for a television budget and the effects are nearly theatrical. Supergirl, at its best, comes off as a more Man of Steel-lite series with greater attention to what many love about Superman; at its worst, Supergirl comes off as a Man of Steel knock off which still needs some polish. The effects shown during the fight reminded me very much of a Dragon Ball fan-film that you could find on YouTube here. (I’d like to thank Tommy from Royal Collectibles in pointing this out.) The fight scenes in “Blood Bonds” work very well and and make it stand out from the likes of The CW’s The Flash and Arrow.
“Blood Bonds” follows Supergirl, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), and Gen. Sam Lane (Glenn Morshower) as they attempt to rescue Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) from the clutches of Non and the escaped Fort Razz Kryptonians. Unbeknownst to Non and Supergirl, Henshaw is really J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter. He’s able to withstand their torture and attempts at learning the secrets of the D.E.O. and of Astra’s whereabouts. He’s ultimately rescued and during a final standoff, Supergirl overhears Alex asking Henshaw if he’s going to transform. It’s a deliberate, but fun plot point that makes for a whimsical scene later on. Despite Henshaw being able to withstand Non’s punishment, we can’t say the same for “intrepid” James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). He’s hopeful that he’ll be able to learn more on why Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) decided to cover up the Kryptonian attack on Lord Technologies, but gets himself caught. While he does learn that Supergirl’s Lex Luthor of sorts, Maxwell Lord, is planning a counter move against Kryptonians, he’s given quite the beating. And by Maxwell Lord, no less! There have been several issues many have taken with Lex Luthor as too many times he becomes the wealthy tycoon with extreme xenophobia and consistent schemes that will hopefully destroy Superman. Sometimes he’s a threat (see Superman Birthright by Mark Waid), sometimes he’s borderline psychotic and obsessive (see Smallville), and other times he’s just a bit of a Bond villain (see Superman The Movie). Here in Supergirl, Maxwell Lord has become a very dimensional and intimidating threat. Facinelli has been a great addition to the cast and when we see him take out a wrench and James reacts in a frightened way? We immediately recognize that he’s very much a worthy villain. At one point he asks James “have you ever been the victim of one?” in regards to the collateral damage as a result of living in a world where Kryptonians and aliens exist, a world with Superman and Supergirl. We immediately recognize a relatability in the fear one would naturally have and while the show never gets political of heavy handed in this sense, it does provide the theme as a nice appetizer to what will truly be explored to dramatic proportions in the Chris Terrio script for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
A running side-story during “Blood Bonds” is the suspicion Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart) has in regards to “Kira” being Supergirl. It plays well as Calista Flockheart’s commitment to Cat Grant truly shines more and more with each episode, yet feels like a bit of a cop-out when ultimately it goes nowhere. Kara continually denies that she’s Supergirl and when faced with the prospect of losing her job as Ms. Grant feels that it’s keeping her from saving others, she has J’onn J’onzz impersonate her so they could appear in the same room together. It is whimsical and plays a bit like when Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent would impersonate one another to fool others, but feels like a way to avoiding a different direction and plot change for the series. It would have been interesting to see the writers commit to having Cat Grant learn that Kara is Supergirl and watch that play out in the way that the DCEU’s Lois Lane (Amy Adams) knows that Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is Superman.
“Blood bonds us all.”
The running theme and line throughout this episode of Supergirl is “blood bonds us all.” We have Astra tell that to Kara at the start of “Blood Bonds” and Clark message that to Kara at the end. The idea that Clark Kent has spent so much time on Earth that he’s practically a human, to J’onn J’onzz hiding among us, to practically every other relationship we see ties into the idea the we are all connected. Supergirl has consistently given us a message, week after week, reminding us that no matter who we are – boy or girl, no matter race, religion, or creed – blood bonds us all. We all have a duty as people on this Earth to look out for, help, and continually build one another up. It’s more than just “truth, justice, and the American way”, it’s the promise of a better tomorrow!
CBS’ Supergirl remains at the very top of my comic-book television list. It’s a series that, I hope, more will discover this year. Having the heroics of Supergirl depicted on television and a role model like Melissa Benoist’s Kara/Supergirl is something many need on t.v. right now. She’s the kind of hero that would have excited me growing up and inspired me to be better and to do more during those memorable animated shows that I grew up with. Fast forward to day, a lot older and hopefully a little wiser, the super heroics of Kara and Alex still inspire and excite. I suppose heroes bond us all!
Supergirl airs Monday nights on CBS at 8 PM ET. Check your local listings.
After credit/Easter Egg alert!!!
“My name is Maxwell Lord and I am going to help you.” – Max Lord tells a comatose female patient. With Red Tornado’s arm on display and an undisclosed patient, is this the start of Bizarro? Silver Banshee?