Supergirl Season 4 episode 13 “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice and the American Way?”
Written by: Eric Carrasco & Aadrita Mukerji
Directed by: Alexis Ostrander
Starring: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Katie Mcgrath, Sam Witwer, David Harewood, Jesse Wrath, Nicole Maines, April Parker Jones
Official synopsis “Manchester Black breaks out of prison with the help of his new team, the Elite; Supergirl tries to apprehend Black and his team while dealing with a shocking new development involving Ben Lockwood.”
The climax to the last episode Menagerie left us with a tease to the return of Manchester Black. This is exactly the main focus to this episode and it’s a welcome return to screen. Manchester breaks out of prison with the help of his new team ‘The Elite’ featuring Menagerie, The Hat and a Morai from the episode Suspicious Minds.
To anyone who complained about the appearance of Manchester in previous episodes, the show runner obviously listened to the criticism. Manchester Black is now in full comic book costume with a Union Jack on his chest and purple hair. This isn’t the only comic book references this week either.
The title of the episode will sound familiar to any Superman comics fan. What’s so funny about Truth, Justice and the American Way is Action comics #775 from 2001 written by Joe Kelly. What this episode demonstrated to me was the admiration of peers from writer to writer. Eric Carrasco and Aadrita Mukerji wrote this week’s episode and its very clear they are not only a fan of the comics but also Joe Kelly’s writing. When it comes to comic book adaption there is always a risk that a straight page to screen adaption feels unimaginative. What Carrasco and Mukerji do beautifully with this episode is incorporate in all the important elements from the comic book story and manage to tie them up nicely with the shows ongoing arcs.
This is the second episode Eric Carrasco has written this series, his first being Bunker Hill Directed by Kevin Smith. Both of these episodes in my opinion have been the most enjoyable (excluding Elseworlds) and slowly making Carrasco one of my favourite screen writers today. He has also written the upcoming animated movie Justice League vs The Fatal Five. Already seeing how well he brings teams together on screen I could see him as a great potential writer for a future Teen Titans or Justice League movie.
There was still a large political theme running through the episode but it felt more relevant to the characters. Supergirl does have a habit of including political themes in relation to real life cultural issues that sometimes feel out of place on the show. A number of people take to social media to complain about the show focusing too much on these issues rather than the characters. Hopefully after this week’s episode the show is taking a step in the right direction to still include those important issues but tie them more closely to certain characters journey.
A great example of this was the use of President Baker. Often used as just an on-screen representation of Donald Trump that serves little purpose to the story. What Carrasco and Mukerji did brilliantly was making President Baker important to the story but integral to all the characters. He was the lynch pin between Supergirl’s struggle with the government, Ben Lockwood’s return to Agent Liberty and Manchester Blacks mission against alien haters.
Bringing the Elite together as a team didn’t feel forced for the show either. Joining forces at the prison Manchester and Menagerie were being held captive was the perfect setting. This gave us Supergirl’s entry to the hallway fight sequence we get in almost every show or movie these days. The action in this show is often overshadowed by the likes of Arrow but along with the final show down between the Elite and team Supergirl the fight sequences this week were a real highlight.
After some recent rumors about the show getting cancelled, this week was a real breath of fresh air. It has reassured any doubts I had around the longevity to Supergirl. I was not the only person to have enjoyed this week by looking at IMDB. This episode so far has a score of 8.2 compared to the season average of 7.2 (excluding Elseworlds).
Overall this was a fantastic episode which gave us great character development with Nia, Ben Lockwood and Manchester Black. It continued to show us Supergirl and J’onn’s struggles trying to fit in as outsiders. We were treated to some very funny scenes between Brainy and Kelex in the fortress of solitude. Jimmy and Lena didn’t get much screen time but are setting us up for some interesting story lines to come. The action sequences, including Manchester flying were to the highest standard this show has delivered. Finally this felt much more like an episode of Supergirl rather than an episode of Kara and friends.