Supergirl is about to go on hiatus (apart from next week’s big crossover) and that means big things need to happen so we’ll all tune in again in the new year. In previous seasons that’s meant Supergirl being utterly destroyed by the bad guy.
This year it’s a little more complicated.
Instead of Reign punching Supergirl across the city, Agent Liberty used media and humanity’s tendency towards hypocritical bigotry to score one for the bad guys. And it was easier than any of his previous attempts at discrediting Supergirl. All he had to do was be arrested, cuts and bruises all over his face, and point towards the hypocrisy of Supergirl outing his identity even as she hides her own. Now xenophobia is popular and socially acceptable, Supergirl is out at the DEO, and the world of Supergirl is a lot more terrible.
Most importantly, Supergirl’s secret identity suddenly matters. It hasn’t really before this. Aside from an electric scene back in season one when Cat tried to get Kara to admit her dual identity, Supergirl’s identity has just...kind of been ignored. Sure Lena doesn’t know and it’s gonna be a lot of drama when she finds out, but the rest of the primary cast has, and they’ve all been pretty lax with their guarding of that secret. But in the midseason finale, we were suddenly asked to care about Supergirl’s identity again, and thanks to Melissa Benoist being a very good actress the moment works. When she’s asked to reveal herself or leave the DEO it really does feel like her back is against the wall and she’s being asked to betray something deeply sacred.
A quick recap of the episode, in case you missed it. Kara, Brainiac, and Nia Nal team up to use Nia’s powers (she’s actually an alien from another planet and the women of her species sometimes have prophetic visions) to track down Agent Liberty. J’onn, meanwhile, is still reeling after Manchester Black betrayed him, and he’s eager to find and stop him before he can torture and murder more of Agent Liberty’s cronies. (J’onn’s not a fan of bigotry, but he’s less a fan of murder and torture.) Unbeknownst to both teams, Manchester Black has actually worked out that Ben Lockwood is Liberty and is in his home trying to decide if he should murder him in front of his wife or not.
The focus of the episode never really strays from these three stories. There’s no Lena Luthor continuing her unethical journey into giving humans powers so they can go toe to toe with aliens. No James Olsen pulling a New York Times and ingratiating himself with the bigots to better understand them. Just four heroes trying to stop more murders.
It continues Supergirl’s foray into examining the current political landscape via a story about extraterrestrial immigration in an alternate version of America. And its honestly kind of weird after three seasons of Super Silver Age romps.
This feels more like some Marvel allegories than the gods and monsters of DC Comics. Agent Liberty and his cronies continue to be a stand in for Alex Jones, Richard Spencer, and the rest of their ilk, and this week there’s a name check of the “intolerant left” that I’m pretty sure is supposed to be mocking the phrase seeing as it said, with much sarcastic panache, by a very murderous and competent Manchester Black. There’s also Bruce Boxleitner’s President of the United States, who is insisting that the “human rights activists” have a point and their protests and violent rhetoric might be more than just naked bigotry and xenophobia.
From the show that gave us Kryptonian witches, giant killer ice sculptures, and ALIEN DRAGONS, it’s ambitious to see a pretty fleshed out political allegory become the primary plot of the season. But here we are.
And maybe that’s OK! When the show started back in 2015 the public discourse was very different. Many people were sure our next president would be a woman and so many were sure that eight years of optimism that seemed to characterise Obama’s presidency would continue on for another eight years. That’s why it wasn’t even that weird that Supergirl was essentially an agent of a black ops government task force hunting down illegal aliens.
Things are different now and perhaps that demands a different kind of hero existing in a different kind of story. So I, for one, am actually excited about the new turn Supergirl is taking.
Besides Supergirl got bonded to the floor via Nth Metal and her work around, to stop murders and capture the bad guy, was the fly THE ENTIRE WAREHOUSE. What a legend.
Also, we got our first glimpse of The Monitor in the last few moments of the episode. He’s on Earth-90 killing just about every past and present Smallville hero and leaving just the Flash alive—you know this Flash. But he’s not the Smallville Flash or the current CW Barry Allen. Instead, he’s the one straight from the 1990 TV show.
The shot, a long tracking shot over the corpses of fallen heroes, is the stuff comic books are made of and if next week’s three-part crossover lives up to the promise of this brief sequence then Supergirl can do whatever it wants in my book.
Seriously the number of times people have shouted “Kara!” when Supergirl gets hit means you have to suspend a lot of belief to believe no one at the DEO knows her identity. Like do they just not know their boss, Alex Danvers, has an adopted sister named Kara who looks just like Supergirl?! Bruce Boxleitner you fire them all.
There’s a lovely moment where Nia mentions she’s an alien and the women of her planet sometimes have prophetic dreams. Super prophecy powers see no cis or trans. Just woman.
Also, Nia finally got to sleep.
Brainiac continues to be a gem and has made a wonderful addition to the cast.
Kara trying to get kidnapped was some epic bumbling reporter Clark Kent tomfoolery and I am here for it.
Also, Kara and Brainiac using steam to hide their powers and stop the bad guys was a nice Smallville moment. All they needed were some leather jackets or a red jacket and a blue t-shirt to really seal the deal.
Really this whole episode was just good superhero fun.
With the focus on Supergirl’s secret identity maybe this means we will get more Kara Danvers trying to slyly save the day antics.
Kara and Lena are definitely headed towards an outs huh? As Kara becomes more radical in her desire to protect aliens and Lena becomes more zealous in her desire to give human’s powers.