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Supergirl: Reality Bytes

Kara: “I know, I know, sometimes being the good guy sucks. Especially when you know how easy it would be to just get rid of someone so vile and full of hate.”

Episode description: "Nia's roommate is attacked by a man targeting Dreamer; Dreamer refuses to give into men's threats and puts herself in the line of fire to stop him; Alex, J'onn and Kelly attempt to rescue a man stuck inside a virtual reality game."

The episode opens in a winter wonderland, with children chasing a snowman and a giant white tiger pulling a sleigh. After last week’s cold open with a Game of Thrones-like simulation, I was no longer wondering if I had clicked on the wrong show. But things are not going well in the simulation, and Kelly’s patient can’t get out, and is only rescued thanks to Kelly Olsen. Kelly reports the problem with the failsafe and assures Richard Bates the problem will be addressed. A smirking Leviathan shows up shortly after that, and we suspect Mr. Bates's troubles are not over. All this took place two months ago; the episode then returns to the present.

Nia helps Supergirl in a crisis. Director Dox shows up and the chilly interaction with Brainy sends Nia back to wearing sweats while sitting on the couch eating ice cream. Yvette’s meeting someone but he only wants her to give a nasty message to Dreamer and hurts Yvette in the process – the physical wound is one thing, but the emotional wound seems even greater. I’m sorry, but my sympathy for Yvette is limited. Anyone who falls in love with someone who they have never met is bound to be disappointed; anything or anyone too good to be true probably isn’t. Everyone needs to be careful with online dating; everyone, whether you’re trans or not, and if you’re trans, probably more so.

I’m not familiar with the trans community but I am completely familiar with the story arc, where one of the heroes wants to take revenge with more finality than the law allows, only to pull back at the last moment. It was reasonably well done, but also predictable. Of course, Nia decides not to kill the guy; if she had, the Supergirl-watching audience would lose sympathy for her. What I liked about it was that she was far more torn than most, and still wondering if she should take more decisive action to protect her community than the law permits, especially as her community is so vulnerable. Nicole Maines did a fine job, however, and I felt a lot more sympathy for Nia than I did for Yvette.

The less-trodden storyline has to do with virtual reality. Barkeep Al’s brother, an alien with the name of Trevor, is missing in virtual Las Vegas, and J’onn and Alex set off to find him. Alex, with Kelly’s help, enters virtual Las Vegas but that quickly morphs into a haunted house where you stand a good chance of drowning (Alex’s worst memory) and then changes to a more futuristic, or rather, holosuite-looking setting. So, how did the writers choose these particular settings? Were they simply available and selected in order to save money?

Alex’s adventure, where they rescue Trevor (but not Richard, an omission), brings up all sorts of interesting questions. Should it really be possible to have no rules in virtual reality? Do virtual lovers count? I liked how Alex and Kelly actually discussed these issues, and how they decided that having a virtual affair or engaging in virtual torture are lines that they will not cross. Still, I'm not sure I would reach the same decision. I think letting off steam in virtual reality is better than doing it in real life.

The tag at the end brings in two points. Alex’s mom calls to say that Jeremiah is dead. In case you’ve forgotten, Jeremiah is the father/stepfather of Alex/Kara, who was played by Dean Cain in a few early episodes. As Dean Cain doesn’t seem to be in any additional Supergirl episodes – but perhaps they haven’t been posted yet – perhaps we can assume that he is truly dead, instead of only mostly dead, as is the wont of so many characters in TV land. More sinister is the fact that Mr. Richard Bates’s actual body is being taken to a room that’s rather matrix-like. Of course virtual reality is going to have its downside.

Title musings. The title of this episode is “Reality Bytes,” which is similar to the title of a movie called Reality Bites, starring Winona Ryder. I have never seen it, so I can’t comment on its relevance. Reality Bytes is also the name of a Canadian company providing tech services in Alberta, which I’m also going to assume is completely irrelevant. Nevertheless, I thought it was a good title, combining the sharp pain of reality – Yvette’s experience – and the pain caused by the intersection of the real world with the virtual world.

Bits and pieces

I haven’t worn contact lenses in decades, but I remember them being much harder to put in. Which is one of the reasons I haven't worn contact lenses in decades.

Melissa Benoist is pregnant, which may explain the long white coat she is wearing.

Given Benoist’s pregnancy, and the fact that production has been shut down due to the coronavirus, the writers may have a few extra challenges.

William and Kara have a pool date – not swimming pool, but table pool – but we didn’t get much on that front, which was disappointing, given how much build-up it received in the last two episodes. Sparks? No sparks? Kiss?


Mr. Bates: Your failsafe failed.

Kara: It’s been two and a half years since I went on a date.
Alex: You smile and you laugh and you reach for the check.

Yvette: If you sit on that couch crying over that weird little man for one more minute, you’re going to develop permanent mope face.

Nia (speaking of crimes against trans people): This happens more than you can possibly know.

J’onn J’onzz: Trust the weapon and it will trust you.

Nia: Your sense of self is so shaky that anything outside your narrow world view threatens it.

Nia: You will find that kind of love, Yvette, but not if you shut down.

Overall Rating

There was no Lex Luthor and very little Brainy, so the dialogue wasn’t as much fun as it could be. There was also not enough Kara, and she’s the heart of the show. Nicole Maines turned in a fine performance, and we’re finally addressing some of the issues with virtual reality. Three out of four large white tigers.

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


  1. While it was a good episode, the superhero going too far thing was indeed a bit predictable, but I agree that Nicole Maines gave a good performance. The lack of Supergirl herself -- well, I guess we'd better get used to that for awhile. And the VR plotline is getting so strange. Why would anyone get a hotel room to do VR?

  2. Dean Cain supported Trump, and then his character died off screen. I'm sure it's a coincidence.


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