“Supergirl” Episode Review – S04E03 “Man of Steel”

Filling in for Superman Homepage writer Marc Lax, Steve Younis reviews this week’s episode of the “Supergirl” TV series, airing on The CW.

Check out his review of the Season 4 premiere in which Ben Lockwood, through a series of incidents, and input from his anti-alien father, slowly transforms from a mild-mannered professor into the villainous Agent Liberty of today.

Man of SteelOriginally Aired: October 28, 2018
WRITTEN BY: Rob Wright and Derek Simon

Melissa Benoist (Kara/Supergirl)
Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers)
Mechad Brooks (James Olsen)
David Harewood (J’onn J’onzz)
Katie McGrath (Lena Luthor)
Jesse Rath (Brainiac 5)

Sam Witwer (Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty)
Nicol Amber Maines (Nia Nal)

Xander Berkeley (Peter Lockwood)
Rhona Mitra (Mercy Graves)
Robert Baker (Otis Graves)

3Rating – 3 (out of 5): This episode was shot at the beginning of the filming schedule for Season 4 of “Supergirl” to allow Melissa Benoist to star in the “Beautiful” Broadway musical… and it shows. Supergirl/Kara has a diminished role in this episode, when she is there she’s mostly out for the count, lying unconscious from the Kryptonite poisoning.

This episode is all about Ben Lockwood. It is his origin story. Sam Witwer is great in the role. It’s good to see him back in another super-family TV show, having played Davis Bloome on “Smallville”. While Ben’s father Peter (played by Xander Berkeley) is against the aliens being on Earth from the very beginning, Ben is more level-headed, using his knowledge of history to argue against his father’s xenophobia.

However, as events play out over the years and months, Ben is less and less sympathetic towards the aliens, and becomes completely obsessed with trying to eradicate them by the end of the episode.

This episode was well crafted in many ways. The way the writers were able to use past events from earlier seasons of this show and insert Ben and his family in to those events was quite brilliant. However, in other ways this episode was very ham-fisted, with Ben’s progression from educated, level-headed professor to crazed, anti-alien killer quite startling and somewhat unbelievable.

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to see Ben as a villain or a sympathetic victim. In many ways he was the latter, and it wasn’t hard to see why he turned the way he did. But turning in to a killer the way he did seemed out of character for the person we were introduced to earlier in the episode.

The “Man of Steel” title threw many people, but with Ben’s father the owner of a steel factory that is at the center of this episode, it made sense.

Kara’s involvement at the bar when Ben confronts one of his alien students was well done. Kara has a way of coming to the rescue, without violence, disarming her target with her humor and charisma. Nicely done.

All in all this wasn’t a bad episode. It was a great way to fill us in on who Ben Lockwood (aka Agent Liberty) is and why he thinks the way he does… It just felt a little too forced and heavy-handed.

Check out the “Supergirl – Episode Reviews” Contents page.

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October 30, 2018 5:25 pm

I was listening to a podcast about this episode and one of the podcasters brought up some people complaining that this episode made Davis Bloome too sympathetic and therefore seemed to justify his bigotry. In the Star Trek the Next Generation episode “The Drumhead” Captain Picard has the line “the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think”. I think something very similar could be said about racism and bigotry ie. “the road from legitimate concern to rampant bigotry is very much shorter than we think” Here’s the scene from Star Trek TNG that… Read more »

October 30, 2018 8:04 pm

I thought it was really well thought out how they told agent liberty’s back story. I mentioned this in a previous post”I was surprised to see that when agent liberty’s origin aired, that the mask he wore didn’t hide any scar of some kind. There were many times throughout the episode that I thought at some point he will be injured to the extent that he will need to wear a mask to hide his injury. But then the episode aired, and it showed that there was no other reason to wear the mask besides hiding his identity.” I was… Read more »

October 31, 2018 11:41 am

Happy Halloween fellow Superman fans!

October 31, 2018 1:11 pm

The flash backs were nice in regards to seeing Alex in her “normal” looking state. Good to see Jonn as the Martian Manhunter(finally). I still think the general plot so far has been to a large degree playing off of whats going on in today’s real world. As long as they don’t get too political and statement like, it’ll remain at least watchable. 3 out of 5,OK!

October 31, 2018 6:54 pm

“It just felt a little too forced and heavy-handed.” I can’t say I blame you in this.

November 2, 2018 10:42 am

Happy Friday everyone! Thumbs up to all. Even if you agree or disagree with my comments today, you still get a thumbs up.