This review contains spoilers.
1.14 Truth, Justice And The American Way
Ever since Supergirl started, it’s been dealing with comparisons to Superman. Of course, it’s essentially a spin-off from the older character and, in terms of our current popular culture, she’s still less well known than him. But after a very shaky start, the show has done a relatively good job of allowing Kara to exist on her own without direct influence from her big-screen cousin.
Just going by the title of this week’s episode, Truth, Justice and the American Way, we knew that the show would be dipping back into that pool, but thankfully it wasn’t in the heavy-handed manner early episodes had. Instead, this used the well-known catchphrase to explore Kara’s developing character.
She’s losing her sunny perspective on justice and moral boundaries, beginning to cut corners and bend the rules if the ends justify the means. Specifically, as James points out, it’s a little dubious that Kara and the DEO are holding Maxwell Lord, a human, against his will in an underground facility. It’s an interesting way to take the story, especially after so much criticism was levelled at The Flash for nonchalantly doing the same thing to its villains.
More than anything, this episode muddied up a few things for Kara by demonstrating that the line between good and evil isn’t as clear as she once thought. The escaped convict of the week actually wasn’t such as bad guy and, though he had much the same goal as Kara and those she works with, the Master Jailer’s methods weren’t exactly in line with what she’s fighting for.
Over at CatCo, Kara’s still on the outs, and a new assistant has come to make her feel even more insecure. They’re basically being pitted against each other, which sounds like Cat’s favourite social experiment, fighting it out for a job that really isn’t that great to begin with. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to make of Siobhan at this early stage, but she certainly brings an energy to things. Plus, comic-readers know there’s much more to come from her.
Sadly, the show still refuses to use Lucy in any substantial way, instead imprisoning her in scenes with James in which they endlessly argue about their relationship. Still, I had to laugh when she pointed out the obvious – James gets way too easily wrapped up in the superheroics of other people, especially when they’re sporting red and blue and an ‘S’ on their chest.
He wants to tell Lucy about Kara’s identity, which surely would just make her think he’s got a thing for his co-worker (if she hasn’t figured it out yet), but won’t do it unless she gives him her permission. Poor Kara, always being given awkward ultimatums by her buddies and made to feel bad about just being herself.
At least she stood up to Hank and the DEO in general, even if her reasons aren’t based entirely on truth. In her mind, she’s still working for the man who killed her aunt and, despite their strained relationship and Astra’s fondness for murder and mayhem, that’s a complication too far. Kara yearns for a positive connection to her home planet and, bad guy or not, Astra was that for her.
And I desperately want the DEO to become the big bad of the series, a la S.H.I.E.L.D. over on the other side of things. There’s a reason anti-establishment storylines work so well for these shows, and personally I just dislike watching Alex and Kara take orders from a dank, shady organisation run by some sort of military contingent. Okay, I might be re-watching Buffy season four right now, but my point still stands.
The further Supergirl goes into those grey places, the stronger it gets. If there’s one thing that’s been great about the series since the very beginning, it’s the central character and, if shaking up her world view is the thing that makes her more interesting, all the better.