OK, Supergirl is finally back from hiatus. For real this time. Honest.
After two months of intermittent airings, Supergirl finally kicked off the second half of its fourth season with a Super Friends vs. the Elite throw down—a pleasant reminder that when this show wants to go full comic book, it can really do so with aplomb.
Yes, the episode did take time to relish in its heavy-handed racism allegory some more (which has diminishing returns when the good guys are mostly white, and the human supremacists are all white, and the bad guy alien extremists are mostly people of colour). Supergirl, being an illegal immigrant who came to Earth in a space ship, naturally has feelings when she learns the President has built a death ray to shoot all incoming space ships out of the sky. The Elite, led by Manchester Black, are also having feelings about the death ray, but think those feelings are best explored through the murder of humans.
Agent Liberty, who was recently pardoned by the President, does not have any specific feelings about the death ray, but does get a few minutes in the episode devoted to his quick return to the human supremacist group he created—whose regional leaders somehow have the time to meet up in a Washington, DC warehouse and all look like they recently shot photo spreads in White Supremacist Quarterly.
So yeah, the allegory is still lacking in anything remotely close to subtlety and instead continues to be painfully earnest. But honestly, this episode had Supergirl donning a spacesuit and punching a death ray out of orbit to save a racist President of the United States, and it had Manchester Black steal Brainiac’s Legion ring and fly after Supergirl, trying to shoot her with dinky little pistols.
A lot was happening, but I’d rather have painfully earnest allegories and death rays, and a man in a magical bowler hat breaking Manchester Black out of prison, than grimdark heroes any day of the week. These earnest dorks are actually fun, dang it!
This episode also finally gave Supergirl the gang of Super Friends she needs. We’re now three episodes into Kara being out of the DEO (and in the super-closet as far as her sister Alex is concerned), and we’re starting to get a good idea of what a DEO-less Super Friends team up looks like. Alex is still around to believe in Supergirl (after a heart-to-heart) and surprise bad guys with pithy one-liners and blasts to the back, and J’onn is still around to show off his wide and unique array of powers without overshadowing Supergirl. But now they’re joined by Brainiac and Dreamer, the latter of whom can apparently shoot dream energy out of her hands?
In this new DEO-less Super Friends, the exposition all happens at the Fortress of Solitude, which Supergirl has taken over since her cousin and Lois Lane jetted off to another world to have a baby. They watch TV on giant hunks of ice, which makes you question how the Kryptonians ever got anything done, because giant hunks of ice seem to not be an ideal display material. They train in ice caves and Brainiac bickers with Kalex, Supergirl’s semi-sentient butler robot.
But one of the best scenes in the episode is when Kara, in full Supergirl garb, shows up on Alex’s balcony in search of a pep talk from her sister. These scenes would have normally played out in Kara’s apartment over a pint or two of ice cream, but here, given Kara’s need to maintain her secret identity, they’re playing out in proper superhero fashion, with Alex confused by the hero’s appearance but warmed by the connection they inexplicably seem to share. (SHE IS YOUR SISTER ALEX. JUST DRAW SOME GLASSES ON HER AND ALL WILL BE REVEALED. THIS IS NOT THAT HARD!)
I’d forgotten just how secret-identity averse the whole CW-superhero-verse is until the moment, and if Alex has to stay in the dark for me to get more fun moments like this I’m all for it. Even if she’s going to look dumber and dumber the longer she fails to connect the dots.
Between the balcony scene, the Super Friends versus Elite fights, and the whole death ray plot line, this episode was a pretty perfect piece of Silver Age comic book fun.
Because amnesia Alex is less protective of aliens, it also means she is fully on board with Lena’s plan to give humans in the military super powers.
Which means she is totally going to get superpowers by the end of the season, right?
And the girl has zero bro code, because the first thing she does after James reminds her he and Lena are broken up is seek out Lena and flirt real hard.
Speaking of James, given his inability to just hop up to the Fortress of Solitude like the rest of the Super Friends, he’s now very much the odd man out on the show.
Brainiac called Kalex Kleenex.