First came The Flash’s shortened season six, then there was She-Ra & The Princesses of Power full fifth season. Now it’s time to cover Batwoman’s & Supergirl’s abrupt season finales. If you’re not going by calendar cutoffs, that’s three articles I’ve run within a single week! (Will I be obligated to write up Stargirl too?) Double-length SPOILERS ahead for two series not not resuming until 2021!
Batwoman finally has another new foe in Nocturna in the aptly titled “Drink Me.” Sadly she just has porphyria instead of being a legitimutant vampiress. We were deprived of seeing Gotham’s longshoreman bar, The Catch! Kate trades insults with Alice without bothering to send her to Arkham. At least she’s quit the blandly earnest narration. (Please don’t jinx this.)
Mary figured out Batwoman’s identity all by herself! She politely told Kate this while stressing how helpful she is as a potential confidante & sidekick. Why won’t you let your stepsister in, Kate? She really wants to be Flamebird! (Golden Age Bette/Mary was a tennis player that blackmailed cousin into letting her be the original Bat-Girl. Mary doesn’t love blackmail or tennis enough.) Her looking for the trigger to activate the secret bookcase entry to the Batcave is adorable! She raided Jubilee’s wardrobe.
Gotham City deserves a better class of criminal than Boxcutter Girl. Alessandra Torresani finally got another gig after Caprica as Duela Dent. (Apparently Harvey is her uncle & never became Two-Face in this universe. Maybe it has Paul Sloane as Two-Face instead?) I thought Alice was going to use Duela as her proxy to get revenge on Mouse’s dad, but she just wears her face as a reversal of what comics Duela is most notable for. She removes the icky mask that shouldn’t have looked nearly as well almost immediately, so I don’t understand what briefly disguising herself accomplished. This show is more obsessed with slicing off faces than Birds of Prey, which shows that it probably didn’t need an R-rating.
All the villains who aren’t Alice suck. After the first few episodes, Alice hasn’t really been a threat to Gotham City. The Crows provide an extra layer of security along with the GCPD. So instead of feeling like a dangerous city that churns out unique supervillains the law can’t handle, Batman being missing for years doesn’t feel like a problem that needed solving.
August Cartwright has no rights save the right to remain dead! I, for one, think it’s commendable that Batwoman murdered the guy that drove her sister insane by keeping her as slave for years! (Beth Kane took out Mabel Cartwright in a way that’d make Brigit Pike proud.)
Airing the same night as “Alex in Wonderland,” “Through the Looking Glass” finally takes us inside Arkham Asylum! (The Flash could’ve also use that title this season.) Sadly it doesn’t have the same art deco charm of the sets built for Elseworlds. (Will it do something with Psycho-Pirate, Dr. Destiny, & Mrs. Freeze?) The concept of the episode had me worried. Because Alice manipulated Kate into killing August Cartwright, she cajoles/blackmails her into helping her spring Mouse from Arkham. There’s all sorts of issues with this reasoning! It turns out Kate was only helping her as a ruse to finally trap Alice in Arkham. Since Kate had avoided apprehending her sister so much, I was so pleasantly surprised they actually pulled this off! Jacob even moved Cartwright’s body so Alice can’t use her dad’s & sister’s DNA at the grave as leverage against them. With Alice & Mouse off the board for the time being, this feels like it could’ve been the season finale. Too bad Kate brought back her voice overs.
Kate struggles with PTSD after killing Cartwright, which is more than Supergirl has done after her occasional manslaughters. Regardless of whether you’re in the “Batman never kills” or “Batman murders crooks” camp, it shows how likely it is for even a skilled vigilante to accidentally un-alive someone in a fight. Kate probably only accidentally crippled that jewel thief for life, but the point stands. She gets her head back in the game when Mary tells her she knows her secret & gives her a stern pep talk. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne ran away just because he murdered the Joker?
Lucius Fox was killed as collateral damage to Tommy “THE WORST” Elliot stealing his journal… that he can’t decipher. At least Gabriel Mann of Josie & The Pussycats appears to be having fun, & he’s more entertaining in Arkham. It has the same lax security as ever, as Mouse is easily able to murder & impersonate the abusive head doctor. Now they can get their “The System of Doctor Tarr & Professor Fether” on.
Batwoman complains that crimester grabbing her wig threw her off. That’s the opposite of what it’s supposed to to do! It detaches as a distraction when enemies snatch it so it’s not a liability!
Batwoman went clubbing without doing The Batusi. Her punishment was being put into a bondage fantasy. After all the trouble she went to retrieving Fox’s journal, Regan stole it post-bootycall. (Regan is Magpie’s sister because executives thought it was somewhat less coincidental than her being Magpie. She was so close to being an exact Catwoman expy!) This seems like an embarrassing rookie mistake Kate should’ve avoided. Either send the book to the Batcave with Mary or visit Regan after it’s secure.
This version of Tommy Elliot doesn’t have his super-surgery skills that were his only selling point as a supervillain. It’s amusing to have it revealed how ineffective he is without them (Do these writers hate Hush more than me?), but it further makes him nonthreatening to Batwoman. Tommy is reminiscent of
Walter Warren White, the object lesson in why yuppies shouldn’t plead insanity in Gotham City. He has to rely on Alice & Jane Doe Mouse for facial surgery because none of the other villains are allowed to matter. You can’t solve all your problems by slicing off faces & wearing them as masks! Hush wears a red Arkham jumpsuit under his fur-collared trenchcoat, making him look even more like a Negative Man cosplayer.
Why does anyone need Lucius Fox’s journal to learn how to kill Batwoman? Just shoot her in the mouth where her mask doesn’t protect her. They don’t even need a rail gun for that. Since they know who she is, they can even kill Kate Kane before she puts on the suit!
So much of the “season finale” is wasted on a footballer turned vengeful machete murderer. “The Gridiron Made Him A Grindhouse Gonzo!” is what it would say on the episode’s cover if it was a Silver Age comic. (Batwoman agrees with me that football is wrong! Illegalize professional sports!) Even if his concussion-induced brain trauma allows him to ignore the pain of a batarang hurled directly into his shoulder, she shouldn’t need to come crawling to The Crows for aid. Doesn’t she have bat-bolo nets, bat-knock-out gas, or bat-tasers? Eventually The Crows realize this guy isn’t a team-up worthy threat & pump him full of bullets as Batwoman talks him down. The optics of this are terrible!
The Crows then double-cross Batwoman & try to ventilate her too. Commander Kane is somehow surprised her costume is bulletproof despite his dead wife commissioning a special anti-Batwoman weapon without even seeing her suit. (Wonder Woman’s & Batwoman’s parents got married in Sea Fever. Is third time the charm for Jacob Kane?) He’s on the warpath against Batwoman for spurring Alice’s escape. It seems like Julia & Luke could’ve deescalated that by explaining it was an accidental side effect of of rescuing them. Kate could also just tell her father her secret identity. (He knew from day one in the comics.) It’s much more aggravating than early Arrow where Detective Quentin Lance was on The Hood’s case for all those archery murders. At least Kate’s exes, Sophia & Julia, dating each other is a unique spin on the obligatory love triangle trope.
Mouse rightly tells Alice they should settle down somewhere outside of Gotham City. She covertly poisons her adoptive brother as a way of getting rid of old attachments keeping her from detrimentally fixating on other old attachments. To steal the world’s last Kryptonite fragment (Gothamites don’t watch National City’s news.) capable of penetrating Kate’s armor, she rips off Drury Walker by making Tommy Eliot a Bruce Wayne face. Alice made a perfect replica of Bruce Wayne’s face from dead tissue in a sewer with minimal equipment & grafted it onto someone with different bone structure! Since Batman was already established by the Kane twins’ bat mitzvah, this improbable Bruce mask is also too young & doesn’t look enough like Kevin Conroy. Kate & Tommy need to recreate this scene!
Season two’s Big Bad will be Safiyah Sohail. Kate had a fling with her during the Green Arrow portion of her origin. She doesn’t know Safiyah in this continuity, but Alice is afraid of her. I can understand changing it up to avoid Arrow & Deathstroke comparisons, but I bet they’ll develop an enemies to lovers romance. Does the CW have a budget for lesbian pirate ship battles? Give us Rose Leslie as Whisper A’Daire, & go full serpent or GTFO! I’m still waiting for badass Killer Moth!
This season was already shortened from twenty-two to twenty episodes due to Melissa Benoist’s pregnancy. Then the nineteenth episode was rewritten to act as Supergirl’s fifth season finale before production halted. So the ending is going to be messy! Even before then, it didn’t feel like this one was going to stick the landing. This still deserves credit for making a coherent finale without David Harrewood even having the whole penultimate episode filmed.
Leviathan is a bland Big Bad. Obsidian VR is likewise too generic. Non Nocere has potential, but there was too much stuff on the periphery distracting from it. The show kept Lena & Kara separated so much to boost drama when their friendship could’ve been fixed sooner if they just talked to each other.
Thank Beebo for Lex Luthor! You’d think that after eighty years Lex would be played out, but Supergirl found ways to keep him compelling. (The Legion of Lex Luthors (& Agent Liberty) didn’t wish Superman a happy anniversary.) He’s a thoroughly repugnant character but also extremely charismatic. His motives are simple but he’s got enough layers to stay intriguing. I would be disappointed by any other villain pulling focus as the hypercompetent mastermind pulling strings. Kudos to Jon Cryer for delivering a fantastic performance even without shaving his beard. No he’s got Bowie & Sinatra musical cues!
Lena’s Project Non Nocere feels like a big gesture akin to that time she filled Kara’s office with flowers. (“This is totally a thing that people who aren’t smitten with each other do all the time,” the writers. Ditto Kara flying in Lena’s favorite treats from Europe.) She has to prove to Supergirl she could’ve been trusted by doing an even better job saving the world. Instead of playing Whack-A-Mole with problems as they arise, she’ll unplug the machine of violence. Since this is such a powerful tool, it has to be applied to everyone otherwise it just becomes another weapon of exploitation. Refusing to surrender the capacity for violence is such privileged egotism if you’ve not had to be victimized by it. As demonstrated by Ma’alefa’ak & the inmates (who deserve reduced sentences for volunteering for the trial), Lena has achieved positive results without turning anyone into vegetables. As the Beeboverse is fueled by conflict, however, this lofty idea is destined to failure. Is this anti-pacifism propaganda?
Obsidian Platinum virtual reality has plenty of potential drawbacks, but Andrea Rojas declaring that the horror stories don’t have to be its only stories was a great beat. That said, the series is mainly showing us the horror stories. Rojas becomes criminally negligent. There’s no point in showing the program running smoothly, so the deck was always stacked against it. Even the moments that show why the VR world is an appealing therapy & relaxation tool feel bland. I did like the return of Hank Henshaw’s over the top growls. (The show totally forgot he existed.)
Post-Crisis William is … not bad? I don’t understand why they just couldn’t have introduced him like this from the start. He can do all the Super Friends’ baking.
“Lex Ex Machina” is Melissa Benoist’s directorial debut featuring a baby Sun-Eater . There were a bunch of bland Luddite foes this season, but re-contextualizing them as Lex’s pawns makes them better. They did the Lex flashback fill-in episode last year, but it still works since he’s such a captivating foe. Lex cannot let Lena play Pictionary with Kara! It’s intriguing watching Lillian warning him not to jeopardize his masterplan to screw over Supercorp some more, but he manages not to be hoisted by his own petard this time. Lex tricked Eve into poisoning Jeremiah Danvers then mocked her about how the Danvers sisters will destroy her if he releases this blackmail.
J’onn wears this weird girdle-vest around casually when his black detective trenchcoat is much sharper. Then he morphs into a redesigned costume as Martian Manhunter, which somehow looks the same as his original despite being completely different. (Did Martian Manhunter’s classic costume persist for so long just because he didn’t manifest nipples?)
Kara & Alex point out they never fought Rama Khan in Prime Earth continuity, yet Gamemnae & Rama (who don’t have Earth-38 memories) act as if they had? Instead of a golem or a Mesoamerican mecha, we get two nameless human-looking elementals in the finale. Rama Khan being chagrined by Martian Manhunter’s telepathic impertinence is their most entertaining moment.
It turns out Non Nocere only works until a subject feels their life is endangered. Then their aggression kicks into overdrive to override it. So Lena abandons her dream project & apologizes to Kara. Maybe Lena would’ve fought harder to fix it, but we’re out of episodes. (If it only works under danger-free environments, does this mean Ma’alefa’ak is due for a heel turn on Mars?)
Once Lena rejects his cynical megalomania, Lex ends his promise to her by blowing up the prison wing full of Non Nocere patients. He shrugs off the destruction of the privatized DEO HQ as a tax write-off. More & more it seems Lex is less a satire on billionaires than an honest depiction of one.
Sword of Protection Hand of the Soldier weapon J’onn gives Alex seems like it would’ve been really useful throughout the series. Kelly tells her to wear a mask for protection. Will she become the new Guardian or assume a unique identity? Alex just wears a fitted black & blue hoodie with raccoon eye makeup. This “mask” doesn’t protect her alter ego or her head! She doesn’t adopt a codename either. Is her supersuit at least anti-geese?
Kara & Lena get over their feud instantly just by talking it out. Who would’ve thunk it? It tries to evenhandedly point out that Lena did villainous things to Kara when hurt & Lena had always gone above & beyond to support Kara before that. I’m glad that’s over, but its perfunctory resolution was uncathartic.
COIE would be a great opportunity bring back Shadow Thief with some shadow-phasing powers. Then I realized Acrata has that covered. Lena further proves her heroism by talking her other ex-friend down instead of letting her assassinate a defenseless Supergirl.
Obsidian Worldwide Unity Festival is going to be digital Fyre Fest. It looks even more boring than usual, with nothing to make it look festival worthy. Rather than warn all users of the impending danger simultaneously, Lena has to make virtual duplicates of Supergirl to tell everyone not to talk to facsimiles of dead loved loved ones whilst Gamemnae plans to cull them.
After being scolded by Dreamer (All this time I mistook Dreamer’s Phone Cord of Justice for Slinkies of Justice like an utter knave!), Brainy decides to stop following Lex’s orders. This subplot sure made him look dumb! He shrinks & bottles Leviathan early rather than uploading the reverse-immorality code after they kill Supergirl. He dies of radiation poisoning in the process but will probably recover next season.
Lex absconds with bottled Leviathan to do something nefarious along with his mum. Was the original season finale going to be Supercorp vs. them or was this cliffhanger moved forward? Since he’s too fantastic a foe to kill off again, maybe Lex will end up on the receiving end of Non Nocere so he’ll be forced to be a real hero (at least temporarily)?
Melissa Benoist & Danielle Panabaker both became pregnant this season. The Flash found ways to work around Killer Frost, but you can’t have Supergirl without its star for an extended stretch. Is the virus hiatus actually helpful for giving Benoist extra maternity leave? Supergirl is going to start much later than its Beeboverse brethren next season to accommodate her. Superman & Lois will begin earlier in the 2021 season & crossover with Batwoman. So they’ll probably not include a pregnancy storyline as much as shippers would appreciate Kara telling Lena “You’re the daddy!”
I expected to be disappointed by Batwoman’s & Supergirl’s “season finales,” & they lived up to these expectations. I still have to grade them on a curve though. (I do not actually give grades.) Too bad they couldn’t have ended on higher notes! Without Alice & Lex, these would’ve been utter catastrophes. If only they didn’t have the misfortune to air immediately after She-Ra’s superlative final season! Can Noelle Stevenson please become showrunner for both?