Season 2 Episode 18 ‘Ace Reporter’
Supergirl comes back from a month long break with an extremely strong episode, only sold short by the biggest problem I’ve seen from Supergirl over its two-season tenure - its tendency to introduce and eliminate foes in the same episode. Yes, there are a few minimal exceptions, and yes, there’s always the possibility of over-arcing foes helping the vanquished villains make a reappearance, but with the introduction of incredible villains, portrayed by equally as brilliant actors, just to wrap up their existence in a singular episode is a true disservice, not just to the character, but for the impact on the overall series of Supergirl itself. This time the short-lived fate falls upon Jack Spheer, brought to life by the charismatic Rahul Kohli, whose performance in this episode was strong enough to make me intrigued enough to go back and check out iZombie. Spheer is Lena Luthor’s ex (who gave a beautifully ranged performance in this episode), and a brilliant inventor, introducing the latest breakthrough in medical advancement, a swarm of nanobots that are able to heal wounds, battle diseases, and eliminate bacteria. Spheer is rushed through a full story arc’s worth of character development and plot twist reveals over the course of forty minutes. Which while executed well, and an impressive feat, making such a dynamic character and his corresponding story fall into a self-contained, single episode arc does suffer from feeling rushed, and causes some pieces to fall slightly flat, whereas if they were given a 3-5 episode stretch to spread his wings, it could’ve been one of a fascinating secondary characters across television this season.
Kara gets a very satisfying run this episode, Benoist’s humor as Kara is always that perfect amount of campy, and her boredom/grief baking adventure at the start of this episode in a desperate attempt to fill her time without a job and without Supergirl requiring baddies is a great laugh. The little details this show plays with, like the involuntary flinch the audience gives when Kara reaches into her 300 some odd degree oven to retrieve her fifth attempt at baking a cake without any oven mitts and Kara emerging from a car explosion, watching on in a mix of terror and confusion, completely ignoring the blazing flames covering her clothing, are the smart kind of details that really set this show into that next level of exceptional. Kara fills many different roles throughout this episode, Supergirl, investigative reporter - which impresses Snapper enough to give her, her job back at the end of the episode, breaking and entering super sleuth when Mon-El pickpockets Spheer’s ID badge enabling them to break into his office to research his Biomax Nanites, and emotionally supporting and caring friend with Lena Luthor. It is nice to see an episode where Kara spends a good portion of the episode in her civilian alias and not spend that entire time crying/brimming over a relationship. Allowing Kara to be a reporter, investigating a string of murders, and protecting her friend is a nice change of pace for the girl of steel during the times she isn’t wearing her cape.
This is truly Luthor’s episode to shine, giving her more insight into her backstory, a huge range of emotions, and an opportunity not only to engage in a knockdown drag out fight but to save Supergirl for once. The depth brought to her character by McGrath in this episode is immensely welcomed development for the character. Her chemistry as friends with Kara is fantastic, which means the inevitable Super v Luthor feud to come, is going to be that much better because of that chemistry and the time taken to establish and cement the friendship between the two. Having been saved a handful of times already during her tenure on the show, it was greatly appreciated seeing Lena go toe to toe with Beth Breen after her reveal as the mastermind behind the Biomax Nanites murdering people. Taking a hit to the face like a boss and responding to the quippy line of ‘did I mention I was a black belt’ with a hard right hook and the clap worthy response of ‘did I mention I grew up a Luthor?’ and then overloading the Nanite mainframe to save Supergirl was a wonderful change of pace from the usual ‘oh no’ look on her face before our favorite Kryptonian swooped in to save the day. It was almost cringe worthy at the end of the episode when Kara was consoling Lena, telling her that she wouldn’t lose her, that she was her friend, and that she’d always protect her, the performances were beautiful, so beautiful that the ominous air hanging over their friendship, knowing the imminent fate of Luthor’s and Kryptonian’s who start as fast friends, just makes you feel sorry for the two of them and what they will be feeling in the future when they’re on opposite ends of the battlefield.
The character Kohli brings to life was far too fascinating to contain in one episode, the jaded past with Lena, the amazing Biomax invention, his desire to get Biomax approved so strong that he injects himself with the Nanites, ultimately making himself part of the mainframe, and then the reveal that he was being controlled by his CFO Breen and became unaware of his actions when she was in control. The mystery, the intrigue, the charisma, the betrayal, the empathy, and the redemption all brought on by Spheer’s presence were positively tremendous. The ability for the Nanites to kill, overpowering the strength of Supergirl, even how neat the effects looked when Kara froze them with her freeze breath, everything about the Biomax, the mainframe, their infusion with Spheer, the mystery of how Breen came into control of them and subsequently him, there is so much left to be explored, many questions I have, where a few additional episodes to flush this out over would’ve been greatly enjoyed. Maybe some combination of the DEO, Breen herself, Cadmus, Lena, or Rhea will result in the return of Spheer’s character at a later date. The limitless options that the character possessed made him one of the most fascinating foes since Indigo battled the Girl of Steel, compounding the relationship history with Lena, and the fact that Spheer was an unwilling, even unknowing participant in the heinous acts he committed made for a fascinating character. Hopefully, this will not be the last we’ve seen of the Biomax swarm, although I couldn’t help but chuckle thinking about Baymax every time I saw the Nanites.
There were some tremendous elements in this episode, in fact, even the B-Story with Guardian, Winn, and Lyra running around fighting street level crime was incredibly enjoyable. The only thing that took away from it, was how quickly everything rushed through due to the decision to confine everything to one episode. Our previews for next week look incredibly as we learn that Alex has been kidnapped and is locked in a Saw-esq death trap, with the blackmail threat to fill the cell with water and drown her unless a high profile criminal is released from jail. What will happen next week? Can Supergirl save her sister or is Alex doomed to a watery grave? We’ll find out next week, until then #keepitnerdy.