Supergirl: American Dreamer

Nia Nal/Dreamer: Fear sucks.

Dreamer becomes National City's protector while Kara works to clear Supergirl's name and gets into a showdown with Ben Lockwood; James takes extreme measures to get over his PTSD.

I enjoyed this. It wasn’t as compelling as some recent episodes, but there was still a lot to like.

The A story had to with the responses to Ben Lockwood and the deputized Children of Liberty, who have been given carte blanche with respect to terrorizing and locking up aliens. Supergirl has gone underground, so Nia Nal/Dreamer has stepped into the breach, and is going around rescuing aliens. Kara is not goofing off; she’s doing investigating that she hopes will lead to catching Lex and his faux Supergirl (Red Daughter) and to clearing her name. It's fun to watch her use her super powers to type or to go through a set of files.

How do you fight fear? You have to fight it with hope, which leads to courage. However, hope is hard for the aliens to summon when they are being taken away for no other reason than who they are. We see many who are completely terrified by what is happening: the scene at Al’s, the siblings Franklin and Edna, and George Lockwood’s friend Charlie.

What Kara finally does is interview Nia Nal/Dreamer on television, and then hack all the stations to broadcast it (which is kind of wrong, actually). Kara chooses to interview the Dreamer for good reason: Nia is half-human and half-alien, and so she can appeal to both sides. During the interview she says some things that resonate (a cute description of her affection for Brainy, but most pithily, "Fear sucks"). Of course right afterwards the Children of Liberty attack CatCo, so we have a great fight (and Brainy and Alex and a supercharged James show up to help, planning to fight "in the dark" - a weak and unreliable way of hiding identities).

Much of the episode was spent investigating James’s PTSD, employing many of the actors who had little to contribute to the A story. The idea of using a mind palace to determine the source of James’s underlying trauma was intriguing – despite Brainy’s probability estimate that it was due to Lex, it was something else – and although that story went on a little too long, I thought the final reveal was really interesting. Being locked in a coffin during your father’s funeral is something you would want to forget. Possibly the memory is irrelevant to future episodes (I hope it is), but satisfying in the way that a gut punch is satisfying (it took the breath out of me). And how nice that James, at least for the moment, has some super powers.

The best part of the episode was the reconciliation between Lena and Kara. Kara hasn’t been there for Lena, because Lena needed the help of Supergirl and so Kara was there as Supergirl, but Lena doesn’t know that. Lena confesses tearfully (she's "leaking") that she helped Lex, because he had cancer, and because he is her brother. However, what is missing for me is the scene that shows the relationship between Alex and Kara/Supergirl. The relationship between Alex and Kara was the heart of the show and we’ve seen none of that lately.

Title musings: “American Dreamer” is a play on the song "American Woman" (which they play at one point) and the fact that there’s a lot of the superhero Dreamer in this episode. And of course, the phrase "the American dream" has been used to apply to anyone who wants to make it good in the USA. However, I would have preferred a title that focused on hope, or at least on fear, as overcoming fear was the core of the alien story and James's PTSD.

Bits and pieces

Nice to see that George Lockwood, Ben Lockwood’s son, is having second thoughts about it all. However, the fact that his mother was just murdered by an alien may swing him back – even though it was by an alien whose husband was taken away by Ben.

I won’t miss Lydia Lockwood. She really became an automaton in the last few episodes.

J’onn J’onzz has done his task on Mars and I guess will be back in the next episode. And M’yrnn J’onzz has given his son his blessing, which means we might not see any more of Carl Lumbly.

Anyone want to ship Alex Danvers and Kelly Olsen?

I am rather fuzzy with respect to all of Dreamer’s powers. What can she do? What is her kryptonite?

Why was it necessary to broadcast/hack the interview of Dreamer live? Wouldn't it make more sense to record it and then send it out?

Quotes

Nia Nal: I’m your worst nightmare.

Kelly: I need a break.
Brainy: Was it my metaphor?

Kara/Supergirl: We forgot that the most important part of being a hero is inspiring hope.

Nia Nal: I’m different, Miss Danvers, but so is everybody. And I don’t know when that became such a bad thing.

Kara Danvers: Are you afraid of how the world will react now that they know that you’re an alien?
Nia Nal/Dreamer: Of course. But you know what else? Fear sucks.

Brainy: If you want to be trusted and accepted, you must also trust.

Overall Rating

The episode carried the arc forward, dealing with what I think has turned into a brave and fascinating arc for the series (good job, writers). Still, it was a little slow in parts, and I’m missing the key relationship of Alex/Kara. They were there for each other all the time, and now they don’t even seem to miss each other. Three out of four of Kara’s long pink coats.

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

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