So, wasn't that political? Does anyone else find it mildly ironic one of the messages of "Stand and Deliver" is "Put your duty over your politics". And yet… does the creative team do that? Are they more concerned with pushing political views, or entertaining their audience? Is the latter their "duty"?
Deep thoughts, aren't they? Maybe it's just me, but I don't find Supergirl this season that entertaining. Watchable, barely. But entertaining? I'd be more entertained if I didn't feel the creative team was hitting me over the head with a message. Much less the same message: anti-immigrants are bad. Immigrants are good. Someone at the protest has a "No Borders! No Nations!" poster (see left). Got it, good. Now could we move on to something else? I'm not saying drop the message after one episode. But do we need most of a season dedicated to the message? Much less a message that isn't particularly nuanced.
Are there any shades of grey in any of this season's Supergirl episodes? Hat and Haley were the most nuanced characters we got this week. Hat is conflicted between helping Manchester and helping the aliens, and calls Manchester on it when Manchester seems to go off the rails. Haley seems to thrive on sending mixed messages. Or the creative team uses her to send deliberately mixed messages to try and convince us they're fair and balanced. But it makes Haley looks vague, in part because she's a relatively minor character. It's not like April Parker-Jones has been on the show for a season or two. She was shoehorned in to give Alex and Supergirl a nemesis of sorts.
But onto the episode itself. My local station dropped the first ten minutes or so of the episodes, so I'll have to review the last three-quarters first. Picking up the rest later, the Elite leave a bar and split up. Supergirl, Dreamer, and J'onn capture Menagerie as she goes off to feed, and J'onn gets really mad and red-eyed questioning her.
The next day, James calls Eve in and asks her about the L-Corp black budget. Eve gives some flimsy-sounding excuse, and James uh-huhs. Eve goes to the DEO where Lena is working. Haley wants results from Lena on the superpower serum, and Lena refuses to test it on human subjects until she's sure it's safe. The colonel accepts that for now but tells Lena she's been hired to do a job. Which seems a bit odd, since Lena has pretty much agreed to work for the government and is hardly an independent contractor who needs the work.
Supergirl drops off Menagerie at the DEO along with a "You're welcome" note. Brainiac-5 sees it, smiles smugly, and shows it to Haley and Alex. I picked up with Haley telling Alex to guard Ben. Why the DEO does that, I'm not quite sure. What the DEO does these days is one of those things the creative team seems to have lost track of. I guess they're protecting humans from aliens, but they don't seem to have any basis for determining the alien protesters pose a threat to Ben. And Ben apparently gets security before the "threat" of the protesters arise.
Supergirl, Dreamer, and J'onn are tracking the remaining Elite, who have somehow learned where the Fortress of Solitude is, and break in. There's a mildly confusing sequence where the heroes track them there when Dreamer and J'onn combine their powers. Hat teleports away, the Morae gets captured, and Manchester apparently vaporizes himself by going into a room where Superman keeps a baby sun-eater.
A computer-type using the hashtag AmericanAlien is organizing the protesters, and Haley tells Brainiac-5 to find the person. To no one's surprise, it turns out Brainiac-5 is AmericanAlien. He and J'onn march with the other aliens, and convince Kara and Nia to join them. Kara gives a brief hearts-and-minds speech to a Children of Liberty-like onlooker who is also Ben's bodyguard (Jonathan Bennett). Then they go in and find out Manchester is alive and using stolen Kryptonian technology from the Fortress to a) project multiple images of himself, and b) protect himself from J'onn's attacks with a belt forcefield unit. J'onn is mad at Manchester because Manchester pushes his buttons, but it's not clear why, other than Manchester seems to be able to provoke J'onn into rages by pointing out he's an alien and his family were wiped out. Why Manchester doesn't try that with Supergirl is because--I guess--she's better at controlling her temper than J'onn is. Because she's a woman, doncha know?
Ben is proposing to repeal the Alien Amnesty Act with the President's support. His rally to do so breaks into violence, mostly because his supporters are violent types and the aliens aren't at all. See what I mean about the lack of subtlety? it's all the Children of Lights' fault.
There's also a mild subplot about Brainiac-5 losing his Legion Ring to Hat (from last episode), and how he's learned to draw on the strengths of his beliefs since he lost the ring. Which would be convincing if we ever saw Brainiac-5 mention the ring in any way, shape, or form before he lost it. Brainiac-5 beats up Hat with some support from Supergirl, and takes the guy's hat.
Alex says Ben is the threat and strong-arms him off the stage.
James has gone to the rally and takes lots of photographs of aliens helping humans, a few humans helping aliens, and so on. This changes the mind (or at least the PR vision) of the President and Ben announces he's putting the Act revocation on hold. James is lauded for his heroic photo taking, because the media loves to say how great the media is.
Haley seems happy Alex did her duty despite her politics, and tells Brainiac-5 that AmericanAlien is a good guy after all. Both Alex and B5 are puzzled over Haley's changes in personality. That would make three of us.
The creative team reminds us Katie McGrath is one of the main stars by having Haley come to her DEO lab and tell her James is good at taking photographs. Lena worries they don't have enough time for her to complete her work on making humans superhumans.
In the end, James is leaving his office when someone shoots him.
Overall, "Stand and Deliver" had a lot of messages. But they're mostly the same old messages: aliens/immigrants good, anti-types bad. Nothing changes on that front.
I still like Nicole Amber Maines as Nia/Dreamer. She has the peppy junior superhero thing down pat, whether it's over-enthusiastically threatening first Menagerie and then the Morae, doing stretching exercises before going out on patrol, or complaining when James calls her Supergirl's "sidekick". Jesse Rath is also excellent even if he's not particularly subtle about hiding his identity as AmericanAlien. Then again, Brainiac-5 isn't supposed to be particular subtle.
April Parker-Jones and David Ajala do the best they can with what they're given. They seem to be the prerequisite "We're people with multiple points of view" characters on the show. Haley as a government type who might be sympathetic to the aliens, and Manchester as a guy who alternates between being anti-anti-alien and exercising his rage over the death of his girlfriend.
We get a little more backstory on Hat (Louis Ozawa Changchien), who is a longtime friend of Manchester that Manchester stood up for in the past. We still don’t find out where he got a fifth-dimensional hat like Mr. Mxyzptlk's. The Morae fades in and out of the episode, thanks in large part due to its camouflage powers. Which saves budget on the F/X: show an empty set and dub in a growl, and hey, one Morae!
The rest of the main cast is okay. Nothing great, nothing bad. It's hard to tell because the message often overwhelms their performances.
"Stand and Deliver" is okay, but it's nothing special. Which puts it in line with most of season 4 of Supergirl. I just wish it would get off the broken record of its "message" and throw some other stuff at us. Maybe next week's appearance by Lena's brother Lex (Jon Cryer) will do the trick. But they've already set up Lex as big on the anti-alien stuff so I'm not convinced they can pull that off. We'll see.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Mar 11, 2019