Supergirl is a show that started on a very bright and sunny note when it premiered back in October. And while the show still remains relatively positive, it’s been headed down a much darker path since episode five, “Livewire.”
Sometimes, when a show choses to “go dark,” it will sacrifice character, agency, and integrity to be as shocking or gritty as possible. Thankfully, Supergirl is staying as far away from that mess as possible. The transition to more serious show feels nothing short of organic. Done correctly, a darker plotline should be riveting, intense, and cause a sense of overall dread or anxiety while watching. Not because the show has gone off the rails, but because the viewer has gotten so attached to the characters that seeing them in peril causes a very real reaction.
If you’ve been watching Supergirl all this time, then you’re probably pretty darn attached to our lovable cast. And they had one hell of a time this week.
In Supergirl’s (Melissa Benoist) corner, a failed fight against Non (Chris Vance) leads to the kidnapping of Hank Henshaw, aka the Martian J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood.) This puts her adoptive sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) in the position of trading Astra (Laura Benanti) for Hank, or suffering the consequences. Because while Hank may have been able to eventually escape as J’onn, there is no logical way he could’ve made it out without revealing his cover. Additionally, it seems foolish to play that ace against the Kryptonians so early in the game.
Kara, who has been battling with her feelings for her estranged Aunt, came to a conclusion this week, not just about family but about herself. Each week, Kara faces a monumental task, but this week, it all began to pile on at once. Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart) suspects her of being the one and only Supergirl. Crazy, right? After a confrontation with Cat leaves her frazzled, Kara leans that Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and James (Mehcad Brooks) attempted to take on Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) on their own.
What ensues is another one of Kara’s rage storms, and if we’re keeping count, that’s her third this season. Not to fault the show; in fact, it’s an interesting facet to her character that deserves recognition and time in the show. Kara in the comics has more hair-trigger sensibilities than her cousin, and the show seems to be playing on that. Kara, if anything, has a right to be angry, and the show doesn’t fault her for it.
It does, however, remind us that Kara is not in a position to fully take her rage out on another person. It’s Winn and James that bring her back down to earth, in a touching scene between the three. While Maxwell Lord may be evil, nihilistic, and a downright narcissist, Winn reminds us why Kara should keep her head while going up against him. It’s our quote of the week.
Kara: What if I’m not so different [from Astra and Non]?
Winn: You have to be, Kara. Because if you aren’t, then we lose.
And the thing is, Supergirl doesn’t actually make Astra out to be a complete monster. She was villainous in her first few appearances, but as we’ve gotten to know her, the show has made a point in giving not just the viewer sympathy for her, but Kara as well.
It matters. It matters so much that Kara is portrayed, week by week, as kindhearted. Quick to temper. Easily flustered. But good. True, moral good, as the Super Family is known for.
Because this is the thing about good characters: We should judge them not based on how they treat their friends, but how they treat their enemies. That’s not to say every hero should have sympathy for the devil. But in a show where we are supposed to believe that Kara is the paragon of moral good, her big heart reminds us week after week why she is. Not all heroes can be Super. It’s a big mantle to carry. Kara’s sympathy and understanding not just of Astra, but of her mother, Alex, even Cat: that’s what makes her worthy of the title.
We’ve got a bit of a cliffhanger this week, as Maxwell Lord has a young-ish Jane Doe that he promises to “help.” Speculation on her character has been rampant already. She could end up to be M’gann M’orzz, niece of the Martin Manhunter. Worth noting is that Supergirl cast the Silver Banshee in December, and there does seem to be an android connection between Jane Doe and Red Tornado. She may also end up being Red Inferno, one of the android’s “siblings.”
Whoever she is, it’ll be exciting to see what Maxwell Lord has planned not just for her, but for Supergirl.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c, on CBS.