Supergirl episode 9 review: Blood Bonds

The first Supergirl episode of the year shows that it's willing to learn and grow without compromising on its original vision...

This review contains spoilers.

9.9 Blood Bonds

Secret identities are dumb. Well, they serve a purpose in-universe when there are legitimate threats against a hero’s nearest and dearest but, as a narrative tool? They’re dumb. Over the course of Blood Bonds, said identity was disappointingly shoved back in the bottle, and Cat Grant remains none the wiser about Supergirl’s civilian name and face, thus rendering one of the best bits of the show’s mid-season finale completely pointless.

It’s not dissimilar from Arrow‘s decision to have Quentin arrest Oliver for his alleged vigilante ways surprisingly early in its first season, thus plausibly throwing off suspicion for the character most likely to go on a witch hunt later on. Here, at least, more or less everyone knows the truth, but it would have been nice to leave Cat clued in. Of the people we care about, she’s the last one to know.

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And we care because she remains one of the strongest parts of the show despite rarely leaving her office. Her importance in Kara’s life has been something left to our collective assumptions up until now, so having her actually tell Cat that her day-job is her emotional anchor was a really nice touch. It’s one of the few things Supergirl has properly built up so far, and so feels honest to both characters. Cat’s a marmite type, but she’s growing into someone with real layers of personality underneath the front.

However, that’s but one thread in a typically busy episode, in which Kara continues to struggle with the version of the truth revealed to her by Astra in Hostile Takeover. She doesn’t know who to trust or even where to direct her anger, and this means that marrying her own personal feelings with the interests of the DEO is even harder than usual.

When Hank (or are we calling him Jean now?) gets captured by Non and offered as a trade for Astra, she has to decide on a strategy that will be best for everyone.

Though it was pretty obvious from the start, I do like that they’ve at least attempted to make Astra into an ambiguous villain, if not just to give Melissa Benoist something more to work with than abject revenge when their confrontations occur. She’s done very bad things, but she’s still presented as Kara’s family as much as someone like Alex or her adoptive parents.

And as she points out in this episode, Clark grew up on Earth but Kara knows a whole life before she even left her home planet. That distinction means that her decisions as a superhero aren’t necessarily always going to be in humanity’s interests, and will likely cause more problems for her down the line.

Aside from things that are good and getting even better, one small improvement in this episode was the new friendship between James and Winn, who went on their own mission to figure out what Maxwell Lord is up to. No good, is the answer, but James’ snooping landed him in a sticky situation that only added to Kara’s stress levels.

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I guess James’ realisation that Winn is in love with Kara has meant they can bury the hatchet? This love triangle is strange, and I’d much rather they be a group of three friends – as seen when they both take Kara’s hands in a show of solidarity and support – than awkward rivals. Anyway, Blake Jenner’s Adam will soon be on the scene, making it a love pentagon – no one wants to spend precious time unpicking that one.

So there are still some discouragingly meek parts of Supergirl, but it’s proven itself to be a show that’s willing to learn and grow without compromising on its lightness or initial vision. Also, the better, more intriguing show Maxwell Lord is on by himself appears to be merging with the rest of the series, which is a very exciting prospect.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Hostile Takeover, here.