This Supergirl article contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2, Episode 15
Kara Danvers may be the central protagonist of Supergirl, but she is far from the only hero on this show. Tonight’s episode placed the bulk of the storyline on Alex Danvers’ more than reliable and she was more than up for the challenge. From its very first episode, this show has doubled down on its main theme of complex, brave female protagonists.
Even when it was inconsistently skipping along in Season 1, Supergirlhad the one-two punch of both Kara and Alex Danvers. I’m not one to pit female characters against each other. We don’t need to choose either Kara or Alex as the coolest character on this show. We can have both! That being said, in watching Alex’s coming out storyline season and now her inner (and, often outer) conflict as she refuses to give up on her father, it’s hard to argue that Season 2 of Supergirlhasn’t belonged to Alex Danvers so far.
But to highlight Alex’s Season 2 storyline over Kara’s Season 2 storyline is to fundamentally miss the point of Supergirland of feminist storytelling in general. Feminist storytelling isn’t about having Strong Female Characters. It’s not about crafting female characters who are physically strong or emotionally stoic. It’s about showing how traditionally feminine traits — like empathy and compassion and, yes, the prioritization of interpersonal relationships — are strengths in of themselves.
Kara and Alex are Strong Female Characters not because they can fight (though, their moves are pretty cool), but because they trust and believe in one another. Because they know they can’t always do it alone. Because they know they shouldn’t have to. Watching Kara fight to stop the exodus spaceship from jumping to lightspeed as Alex was a goddamn beautiful scene, one of the best Supergirlhas ever given us, and one that shows the fundamental strength of this show.
From the Supergirlpilot, when Kara first revealed herself to the world to save her sister’s airplane, to “Exodus,” when Kara fought harder than she ever has before to save her sister’s spaceship, this show is about this sisterly relationship. Whether the particular scene makes it explicit or not (and, sometimes it really does), Supergirl‘s superpower is love.
OK, enough waxing poetic about the strengths of this show and episode, let’s talk details. “Exodus” had a strong narrative framework in that it was about both Alex and Kara going freelance. For Kara, that meant choosing to blog an article warning aliens around the world that Cadmus had their number and was abducting aliens off of the street. It was a move that lost Kara her job and, though I feel sorry for Kara and don’t necessarily disagree with what she did, given the stakes, I don’t think Snapper is wrong either.
“The rules are there for a reason,” he tells Kara. “To make sure you get the story right. That’s not luck. That’s being a good reporter.” It’s a great speech, and one that was obviously informed by the current state of our country and its news media. Snapper even throws a line into his rant about having a “fascist in the White House.” If this episode had been less well written or the context had been weak, then this line might have come off as too pedantic and simplistic. (Think: Arrow‘s recent gun control episode.) For me, however, it worked.
(Side note: Maybe Kara could have just posted a YouTube video as Supergirl. Surely, that would have gotten more hits than Kara’s blog anyway?)
In a week where we also saw Logan— a movie about a young, foreign mutant trying to escape the dangers of America — Supergirl‘santi-anti-immigration storyline was welcome. If superhero stories are our current public mythos, then Loganand Supergirlare doing a damn good job of examining our public anxiety around immigration and trying to paint one of the most defining issues of our generation in a different, more human light. “Exodus”‘s cold open, which saw a regular, happy family kidnapped because of their alien background was one of the best this show has ever done.
Later in the episode, Alex’s emotional outburst to her father was more than a little topical: “You are forcibly deporting them. Some of them have escaped famine, poverty, genocide.” Supergirlis as brave as its characters. It’s not pulling any punches. And by making this immigration theme about more than just its central characters, the show is strengthening its exploration. Immigration isn’t just an issue for immigrants. It is an issue for all of us.
For Alex, going freelance meant ignoring her forced leave of absence from the DEO to go after Cadmus — and her father — herself. Though J’onn was wrong to trick Alex into betraying her conflicted allegiances, he was right to suspend her. Frankly, she should have been taken off this case as soon as she beat up that suspect. The fact that Maggie didn’t back Kara up on this kind of surprised me, but it was worth the perhaps out-of-character move to see Maggie and Alex go out on a Cadmus take-down mission together.
Again, I was less impressed that Maggie let Alex go into Cadmus on her own. Then again, Alex was more than able to hold her own. Proving how much of a badass she is by not only planting mines around the facility, but actually triggering them when Lillian Luthor tried to call her bluff. (Never play Chicken with Alex Danvers. You’ll lose.)
The act of defiance not only allowed Alex to board the Exodus ship to try to save the aliens aboard, but also inspired Jeremiah Danvers to be the man Alex thought him to be: a hero, who stands up for what’s right, no matter what the consequences. Having a man do something terrible to protect the women in his life is a well-trodden theme.
(For recent examples, see: Rogue One.) To see a female character call a dude on that convoluted logic and for the show to back it up was refreshing. (Again: this is how you do feminist storytelling.) “How could you think that we would want you to help others to proect us?” Alex asks her dad.
Ultimately, Kara and Alex’s heroics saved the alien immigrants from being forcibly deported to somewhere on the other side of the galaxy, even if it cost them some important things in the mean time. For Alex (and Kara), Jeremiah is still missing. For Kara, she lost her job. Sometimes, being the hero comes at a steep price.
Why was everyone falling for that red tape trick? If a police officer offered to help me tape together my tail light, I would be so weirded out.
“It’s the milion dollar question, buddy.” “Really? That low?”
“There’s way too mcuh fake news out there. I can’t risk it.” Guys, the Supergirlwriters room is really up on today’s hot button issues.
Maggie and Alex play pool for “dinner, a bottle of scotch, and one of those flash grenade things.” You have been playing pool wrong.
Winn and Lyra’s relationship is really growing on me. They love Dune.
The alien dive bar fight scene was so good: the interplay of shadows and light. Not quite being able to see what was going on. Extra points for the fact that it was casually a fight with almost all women as good guys. Minus points for the fact that James missed most of it because he had to change. Supergirl,you really need to figure out what to do with James. It’s embarrassing how little storyline he is currently getting.
“Maybe Mon-El was right, We could all use a deep breath… or a drink.” Supergirl continues its tireless campaign to convince us that Mon-El is sometimes right.
Speaking of Mon-El, don’t think I haven’t forgotten that crazy teaser of an ending which saw Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo show up on an alien spaceship. Presumably, they are Mon-El’s royal Daxamite parents. Definitely, I am very excited about this casting.
“This time, you’re the only Superman we need.” I see what you did there, Supergirl.
“But J’onn isn’t family.” Did anyone else want to yell at Fake Jeremiah when he said this? J’onn is family. It’s kind of sadder now that we know this was really J’onn pretending to be Jeremiah saying this.
“What did mother do now?” Guys, I really don’t want Lena to be evil.
“Post a blog. Tweet the hell out of it.” Or: That time Kara turned into Iris West.
“Wish I had what you two have.” “Go away, Brian.”
“It’s blobbed.” “Way to blob, babe.”
Lena Luthor casually tasers a man without hanging up the phone.
Supergirl catches Lena and then carries her through the air like Clark carries Lois. If Supergirldoesn’t want people to ship Kara and Lena, it’s not doing a very good job. (Maybe it does want people to ship Kara and Lena? Well, it doesn’t really matter, does it? A heck of a lot of people do ship Kara and Lena.)
“It’s time for you to do what you taught your daughters to do.”
Is “hyperbolic trajectory” a thing?
Cyborg Superman vs. Jeremiah Danvers. Did anyone really think Jeremiah stood a chance? I mean, he’s not Superman in this show.
“You know what the worst part is? I was rooting for you.” — Snapper, to Kara
“Can we just agree to stop doing the wrong things for the right reasons?” Alex and J’onn’s relationship is so sweet.
“Supergirl is what I can do. Kara is who I am.” There were so many quotable lines in this episode.
“Maybe being Supergirl and having you is enough,” Kara tells Mon-El. Um, it’s definitely not going to be enough.