Supergirl: The Fanatical

Supergirl: Olivia was so sweet and innocent when I first met her. Now she’s a cult leader.

In this episode we slow down the Worldkillers (especially Reign) storyline, to follow up on many different threads – to create an episode that is deeply satisfying.

Using Lena’s created kryptonite, our heroes have been able to dampen Reign’s powers. But in the meantime we have an escapee from the Colville cult, which used to worship Supergirl but which now is devoted to Reign. An interesting problem for those who are the object of such devotion: if you refuse the worship, you may be pushing these people – who may be determined to worship someone/something – towards creating a cult to honor someone much worse. The escapee, Tanya, has brought a book with her, a book in Kryptonian, which shows how to make more Worldkillers.

The Colville cult does not take Tanya’s departure well, and makes several attempts to retrieve her. During one of these attempts the Guardian’s helmet comes off and James Olsen’s face is seen by all. Tanya, the escapee, is thrilled, but the others are planning to use that information to make the Guardian do their bidding.

Part of the episode revolves around the dilemmas of both Kara and James: should they reveal their identities or not? James is told that he will be exposed anyway, so he plans a press conference to get ahead of it, and we have an important conversation between him and Lena, where he talks about what it is like to be a black man, what it was like to be a black child, and how liberating wearing the mask has been (and yet the prospect of coming out as the Guardian also feels liberating). This gets reset, but only partially, as several people not on Team Guardian are now aware of his identity and could reveal it at any moment.

As for Kara/Supergirl, her situation is uncomfortable because Lena is mad at Supergirl but confiding in Kara. Kara/Supergirl also struggles with the fact that she is supposed to be all about the truth, and yet she is hiding, or rather lying about, her own identity. They come up with a justification – telling anyone puts that person in danger, and Lena, thanks to her family, would be in more danger than most – but Kara is still conflicted.

The episode follows on several other threads. Alex – who broke up with her fiancée because she wants to be a mom someday – spends a lot of time with Ruby. Ruby is in a bad way, which is understandable when your mother turns out to be a Worldkiller. We get treated to M’yrrn and J’onn, with the reminder that if a member of your family has dementia, the problem doesn’t disappear for an episode. The one thread that was postponed until nearly the end was Mon-El’s decision to remain in this time period, in part because he still has feelings for Kara. We can expect more on this matter in a future episode, as The Fanatical ends with them taking off in a Chevrolet Bel-Air/Martian spaceship. J’onn has warned Mon-El that telling Kara about his feelings would be selfish, so we don’t know what will happen. Which is good!

Title musings: Before I started watching, as a writer I could not help wondering: why is the title using an adjective as a noun? Fanatic and fan are both fine words. Furthermore, fanatical is longer, while usually we lazy humans shorten our words. Grammatical quibbles aside, many of our characters are suffering from fanaticism in this episode. There are the obvious: Olivia and her cult. But others have streaks of fanaticism as well. Supergirl is trying to let go of her mania about kryptonite. Lena could never forgive anyone who has ever lied to her. For the most part fanaticism is perceived as bad, but M’yrrn (after revealing to Ruby that he’s a Martian; I wonder what consequences we’ll get from that) explains how his deep faith kept him sane during the war and his own imprisonment on Mars. By the way, the fact that the episode showcases a bunch of fanatics helps justify the choice of Fanatical for the title – because the word is better at implying a plural instead of a singular.

Bits and pieces

Reign’s make-up (we got to see her without the mask) is really cool.

Appreciated how Alex kept reaching out to Ruby. However, if you’re ever in a similar position in which you’re trying to help out someone who is quite reasonably depressed, a better approach is to give them something relevant to do.

James/the Guardian and the gadgets make him seem like Batman.

Of course the police let the guilty white people run away and were ready to shoot James.

I learned that playing video games can slow down cognitive decline! OK, that’s fun.

Using Winn Schott, the show’s writers acknowledge a plot twist that they borrowed from the movie Ransom. I’m not sure why they did this, as it’s a pretty obvious move for James.

When they showed the depiction of an element, it sure looked like a molecule to me!

Mon-El was really funny when he climbed into the kidnapping van, insisting that it was his shuttle, and then pretending to notice that a kidnapping was happening and nerdily insisting that that was highly illegal.

A great episode for Mehcad Brooks.

Quotes

Tanya: I know I should have left earlier, but at first it was so nice to believe in something, to connect to people.

Lena: We don’t have a friendship.

Mon-El: You can’t be all things to all people. All you can be is true to yourself.
Supergirl: Which self?

James: Racism is the oldest form of bullying. (Note that I don’t know if that’s true, but sometimes it sure feels as if it’s true.)

J’onn J’onnz: Telling her might make you feel better, but I think it would be selfish.

Overall Rating

I didn’t cry, but I was deeply moved several times. Four out of four foosballs.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

1 comment:

Patryk said...

Probably the last standalone-ish episode this season. Finally James got something to do on the show.

Never mind Reign this the season will end with Lena finding out the truth about Supergirl I'm sure now after what Lena said about betrayals in this episode. And it will be ugly.