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Supergirl: Stranger Beside Me

Lena Luthor: Non nocere.

Lena’s planning something, but most of the episode is spent fighting J’onn’s brother.

I usually end the first section of the review with a paragraph or two about the episode’s title, reflecting on how well it suits the episode. For this episode, the title really ties everything together, so the Title musing commentary is appearing now.

Following the tradition of Supergirl, “Stranger Beside Me” is already the title of other works, most notably The Stranger Beside Me about the serial rapist-murderer Ted Bundy written by Ann Rule, a woman who had known Bundy in a different context. There’s also a 1995 TV movie about a woman who discovers that the man she marries has a dark past/present (another rapist).

Fortunately, this Supergirl episode contains no sexual violence, but many situations in the episode can be described by the idea of a stranger beside another character. We start with two couples who are still getting to know each other. Alex doesn’t realize Kelly’s allergic to blueberries and nearly kills her with a forkful of fruit-laden pancakes. Brainy, believing he has found the key to Nia’s heart, follows each of her suggestions to the extreme; Nia likes sushi, so he sends her 35 boxes of sushi for lunch.

J’onn J’onzz is also wrestling with a stranger – literally and figuratively. He is fighting with his brother who he now knows is his brother because he’s suffering from the curse Green Martians get when they fight with their brothers (I guess this is the Martian version of the Mark of Cain). But J’onn J’onzz isn’t only struggling with his brother; he is struggling with himself. When working with Kelly to recover from the Green Martian curse, J’onn discovers that some of his memories are missing. J’onn is a stranger to himself.

J’onn’s brother, Malefic (who frequently takes the shape of a small blonde girl with green eyes), is the cause of most of the action / fighting in this episode. As Malefic is a shapeshifter, he gets to appear as Kelly when with Alex (who confirms that Kelly is not Kelly when shapeshifter-Kelly welcomes blueberry pancakes), and as Alex in front of Kara. In these scenes the lover and the sister have been replaced by a literal stranger.

William Day is a stranger, a new-to-Catco writer, working beside Kara. He’s doing some of Kara’s work for her (with her sudden absences, Kara is going to have a hard time pleasing a new boss who doesn’t know her identity). William follows Kara but encounters Supergirl. It looks to me like the writers are planning some chemistry between these two. I’d prefer for Kara and James to get back together – he’s no longer her boss, so there’s no conflict of interest – but I expect the writers will choose William.

Let's get to Lena, who is still simmering with resentment toward Kara/Supergirl. Lena, as she is a Luthor, is taking her revenge in the most twisted manner. She has kidnapped Eve Teschmacher (who totally betrayed her in the last season). Lena is planning experiments – to make humans morally better, by somehow adapting Obsidian’s technology. Since Lena has no regard for Eve, she’s going to use her as her guinea pig. Obviously Lena didn’t know Eve well and Eve isn’t going to know herself in the future, as she is transformed into a stranger. I admit that I'm really intrigued by all of this. Advertising and social media manipulate people in many ways, often not for the good. Would it be so bad to manipulate people in order to improve them morally – and if we don't, are the good guys bringing a knife to a gun fight as the bad manipulators will have no such qualms? Should we guard free will or is free will an illusion? I hope the writers continue in this direction.

Bits and pieces

I really liked the open, with everyone tackling breakfast in their own way. Besides, it was nice to feel that it was morning for everyone. In some shows, you feel as if time of day is being ignored.

Liked the idea of memories being organized like tree rings, and that each ring represents a year. I don’t think that’s especially logical, but I like it anyway.

Non nocere is Latin for “Do no harm.”

In our house, my husband chooses the fruit. Once he was very pleased by how much I was enjoying a particular melon. I asked him to buy me another, but when I saw the gleam in his eyes, I knew to warn him: “But buy only one.” He admitted that he needed that warning. A gal can only eat so much, fellas!

I don't think we've seen Nia suit up this season.


Brainy: No time like the present to create the future.

Lena: If you want me to trust you, try telling the truth for once.

J’onn J’onzz: If this memory was taken from me, what else might I not know about myself, good or bad?

J’onn J’onzz: If someone’s trying to sabotage you, you just ignore them. They spend all their energy on you, you spend all your energy being the best you.

Brainy: You make me want to do the impossible.

Nia Nal: Sometimes you are the dumbest smartest person I know.

Overall Rating

This episode was enjoyable and the pace was good – but it lacked the emotional relevance of the previous episode, where our characters were caught up in whether or not Kara should tell Lena she was Supergirl. However, the title worked really well at bringing the episode together, and the Lena plot has intrigue potential for future episodes. I'm not so keen on J'onn's green-eyed brother. Three out of four blueberry pancakes.

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


  1. "I don't think we've seen Nia suit up this season."

    She did in the 1st episode, where Alex was asking how everyone suited up so fast. :)


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