Supergirl: Alex

"We can't punch our way out of this."

Best episode so far in a somewhat shaky sophomore season, with genuine dramatic tension right through to the end.

This is Secret Identity 101, people. Superheroes have secret identities for a more important reason than holding down a real life job: to keep their loved ones from being used as leverage. In this episode, Alex was kidnapped by Rick Malverne, a Midvale junior high school friend who was smart enough to notice that little Kara Danvers shouldn't have been able to carry out that magical car rescue way back when. Rick did it so that Supergirl would spring his dad, Peter Thompson, from the wonderfully named Albatross Bay Supermax prison.

Along the way, we explored an always relevant topic in a show like this: superheroes versus law enforcement. In the transparently significant opener, Maggie was using complex negotiating skills with bank robbers who were holding hostages, only to have Kara blow in and "fix" everything with her superpowers. What is the role of the police when a city can always turn to Supergirl to resolve any life-threatening situation?

Rather than answering that question, which I will admit is not an easy one, Maggie kept using her brain to find Alex, while a frustrated Kara kept running into a metaphorical wall that she longed to beat down. But of course, Maggie did finally go for the brawn when she took the law into her own hands and broke Peter Thompson out of prison, and Kara showed her smarts when she talked Peter into giving up the location where Rick was holding Alex.

Since we're so near the end of the season, I did actually think that Alex might die. The producers aren't that stupid, are they? Especially since Alex was so wonderfully badass here, with the credit card and the transmitter. In fact, my favorite scenes in the episode were that Navy SEAL thing Alex did with her pants, and her "if I should die" conversation with Maggie about all the firsts they hadn't yet experienced together. They'd better not break up at the end of the season. Or worse — maybe they'll get engaged and Maggie will die. That had better not happen, people.


Throughout the episode, I kept wondering if Kara was going to lose control and start torturing Rick. She could have fried him with her eyes or froze him with her breath, ripped off his arm, both legs... honestly, I've always found Superman's powers creepy in this particular context, and in Smallville, they went there a few times.

I thought David Hoflin did a really good job as Rick Malverne. He was positively Luthoresque, possibly a bit too supervillainy for a guy with no criminal past. Although it was more hinted at than explored at length, it felt like Rick once had a serious thing for Alex in high school and resented not only that she loved someone else, but that she had "changed teams." Good job with the shades of gray thing, too, that a criminal like Peter Thompson could also be a good father, although the usually terrific Gregg Henry was partially wasted in a supporting role. Maybe they'll bring Rick and Peter back at some point. I'd be okay with that.

Speaking of villains, there was a sort of mother/daughter B plot with Queen Rhea talking Lena Luthor into going into business together. While Lena was too clever to be fooled by Rhea's human masquerade, she was indeed fooled by Rhea's faux altruism. Or maybe it was just the lure of the matter transformation technology? We shall see. I'm not ready for Lena to become a villain yet, or actually, any time soon. It does feel like it's too soon, doesn't it?

Bits:

-- When did Maggie and Kara have "the talk"? Did I miss it? How many people truly know who Kara is? Is this episode proof that Kara is way too careless about keeping her identity a secret? I mean, what about disgruntled former employees of the DEO?

-- Was the thing with the tank full of water a specific horror movie plot? I'm not up on horror movies. Although I did keep thinking of the excellent Smallville episode "Mercy," which was sort of "Smallville does Saw."

-- Not much of J'onn, although he did masquerade as someone's father for the second time in a short period of time. I also liked the father/daughter scene with Kara on the balcony.

-- Kara and Mon-El like ham and pineapple pizza. Maybe it's an alien thing.

-- Did anyone think to contact Eliza Danvers?

Quotes:

Mon-El: "Alex, don't be embarrassed. The first time I tried to microwave macaroni and cheese, they had to evacuate three city blocks."
Kara: "That's an exaggeration, but I have seen less terrifying nuclear explosions."

Mon-El: "How's my girlfriend, guys? Huh? Bank robbers zero, Supergirl two. What do we even need cops for in this city?"
Alex: (glancing at Maggie) "He's from a different planet. He doesn't even know what he's saying."
Mon-El, have you ever actually heard of tact?

Maggie: "You never look before you leap."
Kara: "Because I can fly."

Rhea: "Mothers and daughters. Not always the easiest relationship."
Lena: "More like 'apocalyptic', but yeah."

Maggie: "There's a lifetime of firsts that we're going to do together. So you hold on, okay? Hold on until I get to you."
And now I really want Alex and Maggie to adopt a dog and name her Gertrude. (For Gertrude Stein, maybe?)

Really good. Four out of four dogs named Gertrude,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

3 comments:

Patrick said...

I can't remember which one, but there was an episode earlier this season where they revealed that Maggie had figured out Supergirl's identity, basically because of how tight Supergirl & Alex are.

Patryk said...

I think the episode was pretty good, but it's the 2nd time where the writers manufacture tension just in time needed for an episode. I don;t think Maggie was having issues with Sueprgirl's way of solving stuff before the opening of this episode. It felt a bit out of the blue just like noone but Mon-El doubting the circumstances of Jeremiaha's return a few episodes back. For an Arrowverse show they need some better setup then just before something becomes relevant in the future.

That one brush-off Kara did on the phone with Lena while listening for Alex is obviously intended to be the butterfly that causes a hurricane namely the Luthor-Daxam connection. Kara could have talked Lena out of that deal so easily, but it's too late now. Setup for next season or the finale?

James again not appearing in the episode. What a suprise.

Victoria Grossack said...

"Love can make people do things they don't normally do." Another excellent quote from an excellent episode.

I agree with Patryk that some elements just came out of the blue here - the fact that the police would be resentful of Supergirl, and that she does muck it up at times. On the other hand, I was really glad to see it covered in this episode. Judging the episode on its own merits: very very good.