This review contains spoilers.
1.20 Better Angels
Since Supergirl has now come to a close, and no second season has been confirmed (though I feel like it must be imminent), this is a good opportunity to look back on what’s it turned out to be over the last six months on air.
It started as a an ultra-girly, Devil Wears Prada-esque disappointment to many, but others were thrilled to have a superhero show that didn’t centre around an angsty male character, killing off its female characters and choosing instead to focus on stories that had been told over and over again. Supergirl was different from the very start, and it revelled in that difference. It was feminine and bright and optimistic, and this finale dealt in all of those things.
No one had to die, and Kara’s enemies were overcome with hope and heart. It’s a simple concept, even cheesy at times, but it’s also refreshing to see something like this delivered in any medium.
While we could have the Marvel vs DC conversation forever, it’s worth saying that even the Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently dealing with ideological wars pitching hero against hero. Supergirl has little interest in this, choosing instead to rely on the worldview of its heroine to save the day. The season has had its serious moments and it’s been hard to like some of the supporting characters at times, but Better Angels really was the perfect demonstration of what a delight Supergirl has been since it premiered.
The Myriad zombie thinktank problem is overcome before the opening titles run, and it felt right that it was the three Danvers women who resolved this particular issue. In the moment I’ll admit to finding Eliza’s declaration of familial love a bit easy (Helen Slater is a little *too* Supergirl for Supergirl, sometimes), but the fact that it led to Kara’s city-wide broadcast made it a lot more palatable.
The broadcast was great, with a throwaway comment about the science behind the idea from Max barely needed. Of course Kara could stop an epidemic with only the power of hope, and what her coat of arms really means, it’s what we’ve been headed for all season. It’s also yet another example of a silly idea being completely sold by the strength of the cast.
This is replicated at the end, as Supergirl and J’onn attempt to stop an amplified Myriad from killing everyone instead of brainwashing them. She’s said goodbye to everyone she loves with tearful summations of what they’ve meant to her, and she’s more than willing to sacrifice herself even before she realises what she’ll have to do.
Some of the visual effects this season have been shaky to say the least, but here we got to see what that money was being saved for. Not since the pilot has Supergirl looked so cinematic, from the battle sequences to the sight of Kara trapped in space, saved only by her resourceful sister. I remember a similar shot in the Smallville finale, and realise just how far we’ve come since then.
So, in a landscape of television writing off an alarming amount of female characters since the beginning of the year, Supergirl is a complete anomaly. Not only are they allowed to exist independent of whoever they happen to be dating, but they get to have deep, meaningful relationships with one another. Kara and Lucy, once love rivals, are now friends and colleagues and, rather than James or Clarke saving Kara in the end, it’s Alex.
This show has been about family and love and other lovely things, as well as delving into the idea of Supergirl as an immigrant story more than a lot of previous stories have attempted. It took a character people were skeptical of, and it made it into something really unique on today’s television schedules.
Call me sappy (maybe I should eat a Red Vine), but the world needs Supergirl right now.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Myriad, here.