“My name is Kara Zor-El. I’m from Krypton. I’m a refugee on this planet. I was sent to Earth to protect my cousin. But my pod got knocked off course, and by the time I got here, my cousin had already grown up and become… Superman. I hid who I really was until one day when an accident forced me to reveal myself to the world. To most people, I’m a reporter at CatCo Worldwide Media. But in secret, I work with my adopted sister for the D.E.O. to protect my city from alien life and anyone else that means to cause it harm. I am Supergirl.”
So, you’re asking yourself, who the heck is Kara Zor-El, and what is this D.E.O.? I get it. You’re just not caught up on the CW series Supergirl. It’s not such a good idea to start here, however. You can check out our reviews for the first three seasons here. Catch up on the episodes, and then join the rest of us for Supergirl: The Complete Fourth Season.
As the season starts we get thrust directly into the theme for this season. The country is celebrating the second anniversary of the Alien Amnesty Act, which gives civil rights to the many ET’s living on the Earth. But not everyone is happy about that turn of events. There’s a group called the Children of Liberty who follow an iron-masked leader. They start with propaganda and eventually full-on violence toward aliens. Eventually they out the President (Carter) herself as an alien, and a new regime begins to take over the country. The Amnesty Act is repealed, and Supergirl is no longer welcome at the DEO.
The violence on aliens leads to one of the most clever episodes to date in the Arrowverse. We get to see a young man’s family and the devastating effects of aliens in his community. He watches his father lose his steel plant to an alien production facility that makes a remarkable alien metal. We see how super-incidents have ruined his home when a super battle goes bad and literally burns their home to the ground. Ben Lockwood (Witwer) goes from resisting his father’s bigotry to eventually becoming Agent Liberty, the leader of the violent movement. It’s a brilliant episode that shows how a person can be turned toward a hateful persona. Remember that villains never see themselves as villains, and as bad as Lockwood becomes, the episode gives us reason to pause from time to time. That’s the stuff of compelling drama.
The new president sends a Col. Haley (Jones) to straighten things out at the DEO where Alex Danvers (Leigh) has been handed the leadership after ‘Jonn ‘Jonzz (Harewood) leaves in an attempt to honor his late father’s hope for his becoming a peaceful man. Haley demands Supergirl (Benoist) reveal her secret identity in order to remain with the unit. When she refuses, she’s fired, and Haley embarks on a mission to find out who she really is. She brings in an alien creature that forces a person to tell the truth. So all of the people who know the secret agree to have ‘Jonzz wipe that info from their minds. That includes Alex, and it makes for a new dynamic between Kara and her sister. Alex also finds that she’s not quite the same person without all of her Supergirl memories.
Lena Luthor (McGrath) has another idea to quell the violence. She believes that if she can develop a serum that gives superpowers to ordinary people, they would no longer fear, and hopefully, no longer hate aliens. What she doesn’t know is that she’s being manipulated by a player who reveals himself near the end of the season. Her formula ends up giving superpowers to Jimmy Olson (Brooks) in order to save his life from a gunshot.
That player, of course, is Lex Luthor himself, now played by Jon Cryer. It is during this later part of the season that we finally start to pay off a tease that began in the last moments of the previous season’s finale. We know there is another Supergirl. She’s a clone brought about because of Kara’s exposure to black kryptonite. She’s being trained by a Soviet-like country in order to destroy America. But guess who is really pulling the strings? It’s Lex, and he couldn’t care less about his new allies. He wants to destroy Supergirl and does so by making it look like she’s attacked the White House. But Luthor has been behind it all. He has placed people in high office and has been manipulating the story from the start. His ultimate goal is a weapon that can reach into deep space and destroy Argo City and Superman himself, who doesn’t appear in this season. It’s a complicated plot that plays out with some of the Arrowverse’s best pacing.
It also leads to a rather unusual episode where we see Luthor’s meddling in events over time from his perspective. Cryer was an interesting choice for Luthor, but he nailed it, I thought.
There are new characters to deal with this season. In the previous season finale Brainiac (Rath) was stranded in our time and now works for the DEO. Rath gives us a wonderfully nuanced character who has a little bit of Data and a little bit of the Tin Woodsman in him. You have to love his confusion over pop culture. He also has an obsession with Keanu Reeves and looks to his movies for inspiration. It’s a bit of a fun gag, because Rath looks remarkably like Reeves. His arrogance would b off-putting if it weren’t so flawed and innocent. I like the addition and hope he remains for the duration.
The other new character is Nia Nal, played by Nicole Maines. Nia is a shy girl who comes to work at Catco and befriends Kara. She’s also an alien-in-hiding who has the ability to dream glimpses of the future. She’s that typical hard-to-fit-in character who everyone wants to shelter. With the help of the team she finds her self-confidence and becomes a hero. She learns to create energy projections in various forms and fights with the team. There’s potential here I hope to see explored down the road.
I’m a huge fan of David Harewood, who brings a lot of heart to the series as ‘Jonn ‘Jonzz, also known as the Martian Manhunter. We don’t see him quite as much this season, as he’s on his own little journey of discovery. He returns to his roots as a private detective and isn’t given the kind of screen time the actor and character deserves. I love the actor’s passion and hope to see him back to full involvement in the future.
There is a three-part crossover that involves Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl. Once again, I applaud the folks at Warner Home Entertainment for including all three episodes in each of the show’s home video releases. That was not always the case, and shows were released out of order of these episodes, making it difficult to see the entire story in order, if at all. They are all included here. This year’s is used to actually set up two future big events for the DC television universe, also known as the Arrowverse. There was a directive from the beginning that all things Batman and Gotham can’t even be mentioned. That restriction had to do with Fox showing the series Gotham. Now that the series has ended, these shows are free to integrate those elements into their shows, and so this season you’ll hear Bruce Wayne and Gotham mentioned often. It’s like the writers are kids finally let loose in the candy store. The crossover introduces us to Ruby Rose and her Batwoman character. She’ll be getting her own series next season. The crossover also sets up an epic one for next year that will take up five hours of television. It’s what Arrow’s seventh season is really all about, and you’ll see it teased here. I won’t tell you anything about that story, because you’ll want to see that for yourself. But we finally see this reality’s version of Gotham City. The event also introduces us to The Monitor, and he’ll be having a big part in the finale of Arrow and next year’s super crossover (pun intended). If you watch nothing else to prepare for the coming season, you must watch the crossover event.
The season finally brings together all of these elements and opens the door for next season’s big bad and the huge promised crossover.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec. There are six episodes per disc, and that hurts the bit-rate somewhat. There are good production values here, and you get something better than broadcast or streaming, to be sure. Black levels are fair, and the colors do pop on this show in particular.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is much more dynamic than the video presentation. The score is very uplifting and pierces through even when it’s not overly loud. You still always hear the dialog with clarity and perfect placement. The surrounds complete the immersive experience with wind while she’s flying and sweet sub range during the more explosive scenes.
Deleted Scenes on select episodes.
Gag Reel: (7:13)
The Best Of DCTV Comic-Con Panels At San Diego 2018: (1:00:59) Instead of the usual panels on each release, this is a compilation of all four in one feature.
Inside The Crossover – Elseworlds: (45:01) This feature has two elements. We get a panel with the executive producers of each show, including the upcoming Batwoman series. They talk about how they each work to integrate these crossovers. We also get a nice history of the Elseworlds line of comics. These are very much like Marvel’s What If… line. They take a question where one thing changes and show us how that would change the familiar stories.
Villains – Modes Of Persuasion: (30:04) This feature looks at the psychology of villainy. We get clips from throughout the DC universe including other shows and animated versions. We also get input from a clinical psychologist.
This season shows the first bit of promise for this show, at least for me. I’ve never been fond of the casting choice. Benoist isn’t very dynamic, and a facial scar/birthmark makes it even more laughable that no one gets the secret. It was a bad choice, but I did finally see a much better performance from her, but not as Kara but rather the Red Daughter clone. I see some aspects of her ability that haven’t been on display before, and I like it. They just have to find a way to work all of this into something that resembles more the Supergirl mythology. “Is this permanent, or are you going to remember that she’s Supergirl soon?”