Supergirl: Truth, Justice and the American Way

"There's an alien serial killer in National City. We need to find out who's next."

When an armored menace descends on Supergirl's home, she and the DEO team work to defend their metropolis - while tensions on the inside make them fracture over the imprisonment of Maxwell Lord. Also: a funeral for an alien.

I admit freely to love of Alex Danvers. Let's talk about this woman, this Mata Hari. "Sister," yes, adopted sister to a multipowered, super-powerful alien who also happens to have long blonde hair and shapely everything; a sister who, to put the smack in the bitch-slap, is also intelligent and... kind. What would you do with a sister like that? Would you be brave enough to stand up and say "I have to make myself strong, to protect that kindness?" Alex Danvers doesn't exist in the comics. She's someone totally made up for this television show. In a world with revamped monsters from the printed page, she stands out as someone new... and, I really think, is the core and lynchpin of why Supergirl is working so well, why it's constantly new and fresh, and why it feels relevant to today.

I think there's also another 'new' character. James Olsen is not Jimmy Olsen. The freckled ginger I knew in the comic books has been totally obliterated by this man, this journalist, this principled pablum-pusher. The only similarity is the relationship with our hero, and his ability to call her for help. This episode is about Alex Danvers, big sister, and James Olsen, ethicist. And what these two give Supergirl is not only the shield of family, but also the heart of Jiminy Cricket.

James has to get credit for his work in tonight's episode. His concern is about preserving the law and American freedoms. It's illegal to imprison someone because you're afraid that they might hurt you, because they have the power to hurt you, and like several other superhero shows power and ability seems to convey here the right to set up one's own private Gestapo. Supergirl has allowed herself to absorb some of Maxwell Lord's psychology and because of that she's turning into Maxwell Lord herself. When James tells her he doesn't recognize her, he's stating the stark truth.

James' drama with Lucy is not really gelling with me. I think Kara really ought to give him permission to tell Lucy about her identity, and James ought to tell Lucy he has permission, and will give her the name... but to, knowing that, not ask him the name. And she, if she has any honor, ought not to ask. It's still up in the air what Lucy really thinks of Supergirl and the role she plays in National City.

Alex is fearless, but it's losing Kara which is her biggest internal fear. She fears this more than she fears losing her own life. That's why she jumps in front of bullets for a bulletproof woman. But it's also why she can't tell Kara the truth about Astra's death. To be honest, I'm not sure how Kara will really take it. Either she's going to go totally Bursar, or she's going to be more forgiving of Alex than she was of J'onn/Hank. After all, Hank has superpowers and methods, perhaps, to keep Astra down; for all Alex's fearlessness, she's still human, and limited in what she can do; in that state, sometimes the kill option is the only option.

I think the truth is it was much more than that for Alex and she wanted to kill Astra because she felt competition for Kara's heart. Is Kara Human or Kryptonian - or something else? She's thrown in her lot with the Earth, but Kara still has powerful memories and connections to her dead home planet, even if she seems forsaken by her own cousin. I think it's possible Alex wants to make sure Kara comes down on the side of humanity and is ruthless in her actions with Astra as a result: and that possibly Alex doesn't want to face this truth. Unfortunately, her refusal is resulting in the destruction of Kara and Hank's growing relationship. No more happy training flights for these two as Kara looks like walking away from the DEO.

Speaking of 'training these two' I think the whole point of this Siobhan Smythe arc is to make Kara confront the question of her own humanity. I found the character more annoying than funny, especially with all the big issue stuff going on in the background - and I think James, Winn and Kara agree. Here's hoping the little homewear-line digger has her storyline resolved soon.

Oh yeah, and did you notice a generic bad guy in there somewhere? I hardly had time to pay attention to the Master Jailer, who was a stock Punisher wannabe in armored uniform, but as yeast to make the situation between Kara, Hank and Alex rise, he did quite well.

Bits and Pieces

I thought the funeral scene was brilliant, and we get two weeks of no Non. Phew.

The Master Jailer's equipment is made of Black Star Alloy.

Alex says "Do svidanya" to Maxwell Lord when they finally let the cranky inventor go. This is equivalent to "au revoir" in French - a not entirely final greeting.


James: Kara, it's never gonna come down to just a battle of strength, or smarts, or even wills with you. Ultimately, it's going to be a battle of values. Your values versus your enemy's. And if you're willing to abandon those values, what makes you better than Max Lord? I mean, is this the kind of hero that you want to be?
Kara: I'm the kind of hero that believes in doing what needs to be done to keep the world safe.
James: Well, the Supergirl that I know believes in truth and justice. Kara, I don't recognize you like this.


While Non seems to be regressing to stock villain, the rest of this episode was just freaking incredible. Five out of five, Supergirl's alive.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

Many good points in your review, JRS. I thought it was interesting that Alex was the one who stepped over the line, but Kara was the one who had to learn the lesson by being falsely imprisoned herself.

Honestly, this episode was marred for me by the way Kara kept saying nasty things to Hank. It rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed out of character for Kara to keep bringing it up, like the writers wanted to make sure we really got the point.

So far, Lucy hasn't gotten enough to do to make me like or dislike her. She needs a character arc. :)