This review contains spoilers.
Supergirl sure knows how to stick a landing. What started out as a pretty trite TV drama set-up — a bad guy kidnaps the person who is most important to our hero and demands they break an evil guy out of jail — developed some layers in its second half. This was in no small part to the #Sanvers relationship, which can pretty much always be counted on to add some fresh depth to any episode of Supergirl Maggie and Alex decide to grace with their presence.
While we all knew that Kara and Maggie were going to save Alex in the end (that is: if Alex didn’t save herself first), the set-up provided our characters with the chance to work through some of their issues. These character beats were much better than the plot, which featured some random dude Alex and Kara went to high school with who decided to stalk Alex for a year as part of an elaborate plot to get his dad broken out of jail.
Whatever. The real gems came in what this does to Kara and Maggie, who begin the episode at each other’s throats after Supergirl flies in and does Maggie’s job for her during a hostage negotiation. As Maggie tells Alex: she gets along great with Kara; it’s Supergirl she has a problem with. I see what the show was trying to do here, but I’m not sure if Maggie and Kara really worked through their issues so much as realised they both love Alex more than anything. Which, yeah, I guess puts things in perspective for both of them, but didn’t really convince me that Kara and Maggie won’t clash again sometime soon while on the job.
Kara also got a sweet scene with J’onn, when she admits to him that she is frustrated and scared because she can’t punch her way out of this problem. Rather than telling Kara to buck up or that everything will be okay, J’onn tells Kara that he is scared, too. This is the kind of narrative decision that Supergirl makes that sets this show apart. This show isn’t about pushing down or even overcoming your emotions. It’s about embracing them and sharing them with others.
Which leads me to the big #Sanvers love confession. The moment when this episode really took the turn from predictable plot to emotionally-driven work of art was in the scene that saw a desperate Maggie and Alex telling each other all of the firsts they still want to have with each other.
Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima both did an amazing job in this episode, elevating what could have been contrived emotional scenes into something believable and affecting. This was equally true in their hospital reunion scene, which saw the two gazing into each other’s eyes and confessing their love for one another. Supergirl season two has been consistently great, but this relationship has been a highlight amongst highlights. Something this show — and this network — has gotten incredibly right.
Let’s pause here to talk about Alex’s badass survival skills. Because I would have watched this entire episode from Alex’s perspective, stuck in a box with her as she digs trackers out of her flesh using only a credit card and turns her trousers into a flotation device. Throw in some flashbacks to important relationship moments with Kara, Maggie, and J’onn, and you’ve got a great hour of television. I mean, this one was good, too. I’m just saying. Chyler Leigh could pull it off… for future reference.
Elsewhere in the episode, Lena and Rhea got their own little storyline that, while totally disconnected from the rest of the plot of this episode, was so much fun to watch. This is how you use dramatic irony to cause tension: having Rhea wax tragic about the death of her husband (whom she murdered) and the estrangement of her son (whom she kidnapped) over drinks with Lena. Even better? Give us dramatic irony, but also give us our hero (in this case: Lena) figuring out what the audience also knows by the end of the episode. Lena Luthor is a smart cookie.
Unfortunately for her, so is Rhea, using the Luthor family alien hate as a reason for her deception. We’ll have to see what her next move is, but something tells me this isn’t the last of the Lena/Rhea relationship we’ve seen. Probably bad news for Lena, but good news for us viewers. Katie McGrath and Teri Hatcher make a great on-screen team. (And I love how Rhea managed to play such a convincing human after only a few weeks on Earth while Mon-El is still clueless when it comes to most Earth customs.)
All in all, Supergirl managed to elevate a trope-filled context with some moving character moments and a thrilling conclusion. Alex wasn’t without its flaws, but there remains something (sadly) novel about seeing an hour of television so inhabited by female characters. Even if James Olsen is still M.I.A.
Read Kayti’s review of the previous episode, Ace Reporter, here.