‘Supergirl’ Turns Fan Service Into Character Development With Ease

01.26.16 2 years ago 6 Comments
supergirl strange visitor from another planet


In “The Fury of Firestorm,” the fourth episode of The Flash‘s second season, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) has a brief run in with the famously grotesque DC Comics villain King Shark. A humanoid shark sent by Zoom from Earth-2 to kill the Flash, King Shark attacks Allen in the final moments of the episode — only to be stunned by Earth-2’s Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Scarlet speedsters and flying Kryptonians? Sure, but a giant shark with arms, legs and a crude ability to speak? In the pages of a comic book or at the end of an arcade game, maybe, but not during prime time.

Yet this scene was just another example of executive producer Greg Berlanti giving his growing fanbase something they desired but never would have expected to see on broadcast television. Fan service like King Shark keeps happening on The Flash and Arrow, and now that Berlanti has Supergirl over at CBS, the superhero television wünderkid has found more nuggets to add to the pile. For example, the appearance of a White Martian in the latter show’s latest episode, “Strange Visitor From Another Planet,” which results in a climactic final battle between the villainous creature, Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) and Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist).

“Strange Visitor” picks up the pace early with an anti-alien rally headlined by Senator Miranda Crane (Tawny Cypress). With hammy dialogue adapted from the mouths of the 2016 election season’s more eyebrow-raising presidential candidates, writers Michael Grassi and Caitlin Parrish craft a scenario in which the citizens of National City (and, presumably, the United States) are tired of Supergirl, Superman, and other super-powered immigrants. Crane’s language is equal parts Donald Trump (“We need to stop them from landing in our country. If it takes a dome, let’s build a dome!”) and Batman v Superman (Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch character), but Cypress chews through her lines with relish.

As soon as the senator drops a particularly fear-mongering phrase (“Monsters are coming for your families”), one of her guards is launched into the air by an unseen force. The soundtrack turns moody and percussive (like in the Man of Steel film and Batman v Superman‘s trailers), the camerawork gets shaky, and Henshaw and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) find themselves unable to see or stop whatever it is that’s attacking the rally. At least, until it pauses long enough to reveal itself to Henshaw, himself a more peaceful Green Martian.

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