UK TV review: Supergirl / The Flash musical crossover (2017)
Ivan Radford | On 02, Apr 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers.
Supergirl is on toe-tapping form in Episode 16 of Season 2, which launches a dynamic duet of a crossover with Episode 17 of The Flash’s third season.
We pick up directly from the cliffhanger of Episode 15, which sees ma and pa Daxam rock up on their big Daxamite ship and demand to have their son back. Their son, of course, is Mon-El, in the least surprising twist in the history of Supergirl, but what is surprising? That despite Mon-El’s mum being played by Teri Hatcher, the show refuses to give us the Lois & Clark reunion we’ve been dreaming of. That terrible slight aside, though, the end result is nonetheless rather fun.
Mon-El’s admission that he’s the prince of the planet Kara once despised is enough to see her finally draw the line – that’s it, they’re over, as she can’t trust him anymore. It’s nice to see Melissa Benoist get the chance to play scorned and angry, rather than upbeat and happy, while Chris Wood’s Mon-El does what his character always does: apologise, claim that he can change and beg for Kara to tolerate him. (It’s testament to how good Wood and Benoist’s chemistry is that we can still root for them as a couple, despite how clearly inadequate Mon-El is.)
Before their break-up, Kara makes polite at some heated dinner conversations, but it soon becomes clear what his parents want: to take him back to Daxam and start repopulating the planet. (They don’t go into the details or mechanics of that would work.) Kara couldn’t care less, she decides, but Mon-El says he wants to stay on Earth and sends his parents away.
There’s not much to the plot beyond that central dilemma, but the episode balances it out with a cute subplot involving Winn, who finds himself breaking into a museum on a whim with Lyra. When a painting goes missing, though, Winn finds himself under arrest the morning after their dangerous date. He’s questioned by Maggie, who has CCTV footage of Winn running around the building all by himself. Lyra, we discover, doesn’t show up on camera (for alien reasons), a fact that she’s been exploiting by breaking into galleries and museums with men so she can steal artworks and leave them to take the blame.
But Winn, being Winn, won’t give up on Lyra, believing that she’s still somehow good – and, sure enough, she turns out to have a brother who owes a debt to a nasty smuggler with the excellent name of Mandrax, which is why she’s been stealing. Winn, being Winn, convinces the DEO to take down Mandrax in a sting operation. The result is a win-win (ahem), and the couple quickly kiss and make up. Awww.
It’s testament to just how brilliant Jeremy Jordan is that his adorable infatuation with Lyra manages to keep us distracted from the appearance of The Guardian (sigh) this episode, who is on hand repeatedly to punch people and pretend to be relevant to the plot. While we’re not ones to side with criminal aliens, Mandrax has it right, when he sneers: “You humans all think you can be heroes. It’s so annoying.”
“She lied to you,” Kara points out to Winn. “She was willing to sacrifice herself for something she cared about,” comes his wistful, forgiving reply. The result is slight episode, but one that neatly explores the parallel pangs of romance in our ensemble – and The CW wins bonus points this week by doubling down on that theme in The Flash/Supergirl crossover.
Supergirl’s episode ends with a hypnotising alien who puts Kara in a coma and teleports to Earth-1 to do the same to Barry (Grant Gustin) from The Flash – and they both wake up in a period nightclub where she’s a lounge singer. That’s right, folks: this is the long-awaited musical episode.
The bad guy? The terribly named Music Meister, whose hobby apparently consists of randomly trapping people in shared dreams, before forcing them to act (and sing) their way through the dream’s cliched musical narrative, so that they can then wake up. Get to the end of the script and they survive. Die in the dream and they die in the real world too.
Comaville is swiftly populated with all the familiar faces you’d expect, from Malcolm Merlyn (as if you could have a musical without John Barrowman) as Cutter, the guy who runs the nightclub, and Winn as Grady, the joint’s piano player, to The Flash’s Cisco as Pablo, a waiter, and Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and Martin Stein as rival gangsters to Cutter. As for the script they’re all following, it turns out that Cutter’s son, Tommy (Mon-El) is in a forbidden romance with Stein’s daughter, Millie (Iris). And so Barry and Kara work to convince Stein and Cutter that it’s ok for their kids to get off with each other. Because forgive and forget, love trumps all, and make babies not bullet holes, and all those other sayings (ok, maybe not that last one).
They do so, naturally, through the medium of song – and, spoiler alert, Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin are great at singing. Melissa has the hard job of easing into the musical world and she nails it with a spiffing rendition of Moon River, which leaves us in the same boat as Barry, quietly watching on in surprise. (Well, almost surprise: they have both been in Glee before.) Barrowman, naturally, gets in on the act pretty quickly, as the whole ensemble wind up singing a number called “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, which has enough group twirling and sashaying to add some credibility to this alt-musical-world.
There’s a slight lull in More I Cannot Wish You, the song that sees Stein and West capitulate and decide that what Millie wants is what matters most – you wish the show picked a different song for them (this one comes from Guys and Dolls), one that felt a little more relevant. The harmonies don’t quite click either, not least because Barrowman joins in and has a voice that contrasts far too much with the others’ singing.
But things rally wonderfully for the finale, which sees Barry and Kara tap-dance their way through a cute ditty called Super-Friends – penned by none other than Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom. With her on writing duties, the song’s as fabulous as you’d expect, suiting Gustin and Benoist’s voices and having enough wit and heart to really hammer home the episode’s message.
A musical about learning to value love above all else? Why yes, we see what you did there, The Flash and Supergirl writers – and the episode is all the better for it. Because after an episode of Supergirl centred around trust, honesty, forgiveness and love, the crossover turns out to be less a shared dream and more a way for all of our couples to work through their own romantic dilemmas. That means Mon-El and Kara get to mend their rift (as she understands that he lied because he wanted to keep them together no matter what), while Barry and Iris, who have had their own problems (short version: he proposed to her, then got cold feet), also rebuild bridges. There’s the thrill, on the one hand, for comic book fans to see more of The CW’s Arrowverse teaming up and working together, as the Music Meister is using Kara and Barry’s powers in real life to do bad things, but it’s the emotional substance to what would otherwise be a pointless, flimsy promotional stunt that makes this so entertaining. (After all, let’s face it, on a plot level, this isn’t at the high bar set by Buffy – how cool would it have been if the singing all took place in the real world, rather than in fake Comaville??)
For testament to how good the character work is, look at the fact that Barry and Kara spend the episode hanging out and, despite the existing chemistry between them, are never presented as anything but plutonic (super) friends – because the writers are more interested in working their current arcs than trying to shoehorn in another love triangle for the sake of it. What will happen to Kara and Mon-El now? Who knows? But if the next step for them involves a musical number as cute as Barry’s re-proposal to Iris (“Running Home to You”), then we can’t wait to find out.
Supergirl Season 2 is available on DVD, Blu-ray and as box set to buy and download on pay-per-view VOD