This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2, Episode 21
“It’s not what you do; it’s whom you love.” Cat Grant was back in this week’s Supergirl to deliver that grammatically-airtight nugget of wisdom, reminding us just how great her character — and this show — truly is. Supergirl might not be the shiniest of prestige dramas, nor the most-watched of network fare, but this is the age of the superhero drama and, when it comes to using the genre to tell relevant, necessary stories, nothing beats Supergirl.
“Resist” picks up right where “City of Lost Children” ends, with Rhea having just launched her Daxamite attack against the citizens of National City, phase one of her plan to conquer the Earth and rename it New Daxamite. (It’s all about branding… and tiaras.) She has brought Mon-El and Lena along for the ride and it’s the latter’s appearance who really makes this storyline shine.
It was a stroke of genius to have these Lena and Rhea form a mentor-mentee/mother-daughter relationship over the last few episodes. They have both been rejected by people they want desperately to accept them. (The difference is they were on opposing ends of toxic relationships.) Watching Rhea give Lena such good advice and accept her in a way her mother never seemed to made Rhea infinitely more relatable as she set about, you know, conquering the planet.
As straight-up evil as Rhea may be, she is not without her capacity to articulate love in someway because is gave us a glimpse into the person Rhea perhaps once was. Presumably, she was once able to feel and demonstrate love, at least to some degree. Now, she is a woman who kills her husband when he dare suggest they should support rather than kidnap their son. If it’s not what you do, but whom you love, then Rhea is without merit for she is without love.
On the otherside of the love spectrum lies our heroes. Rhea’s army quickly makes work of the DEO, causing our ragtag band of resisters to set up shop at the alien dive bar, which… is just so perfect. They moved from an agency charged with protecting the Earth from extranormal threats to a symbol of safety and community for alien refugees, where humans and aliens alike gather to drink, flirt, and share stories. What better place to set up a resistance against the invaders who plan to take the Earth from their own.
If Supergirl had done a less good job exploring the issue of refugees through literal aliens, then this invader plot might have fallen a bit flat. After all, as Lillian Luthor points out, this is exactly what she warned the Earth of: alien invaders who would come into your homes and take what is yours for themselves. This is the fear of the xenophobic, but to conflate refugees and invaders is to do a disservice to the first and to go easy on the latter. There’s a world of difference between people who have abused power and people who have been abused for their lack of it.
Supergirl has thrown some not-so-subtle digs against the Trump administration since his election, but it hit new heights with “Resist,” using its season-ending story arc to get one last appeal out to the people of real-life America before summer hiatus hits: resist. I’m just going to leave Cat Grant’s epic speech to the people of National City here…
I can imagine that you’re feeling afraid, and feeling like your world is spinning out of control. But, believe me, you have power. And right now, you have a job to do. Resist. Resist these invaders with everything you’ve got. They come with empty promises and closed fists. They promise to make our world great again, and yet they know nothing about the people who make this world great.They think they can con us. And if that doesn’t work, what? They’re going to beat us into submission? They have no idea who they’re up against.
Aliens and humans, we need to band together and we need to stand up and fight back. Everyone needs to be a superhero. Everyone needs to get up and say, ‘Not in my house.’ Let’s prove to these thugs that we are strong, and we’re united, and we are not going to be conquered.
The people who have power need to fight for the people who don’t. Supergirl has always championed this message, but by applying it clearly to our current sociopolitical situation, it’s using the full power of the superhero genre (and pop culture in general) to get a message out: we must join together to resist the bullies of this world, those who would use their power to take the most basic human rights away from those without.
It’s amazing that Supergirl managed to get such a specific message into an episode that was mostly action-oriented — and boy did it deliver on the action front. From Alex’s firing jump off of the DEO balcony (knowing that Kara would catch her) to the Air Force One crash that nearly claimed the lives of both Cat and the president, this episode had some of the most thrilling superhero TV moments of the year. (And all on a CW budget!)
President Marsdin was back in this week’s episode to threaten Rhea, reveal her alien identity to Kara & co., and give Alex the order to destroy Rhea’s ship with Kara on it. Two seasons in and I am still can’t get enough of the feeling of seeing a whole gaggle of powerful, three-dimensional female characters make decisions in a scene together with no men in sight. It’s still all-too rare in pop culture (and especially in superhero and/or action-based programming).
“Resist” was an embarrassment of riches on this front as Kara, Alex, Maggie, Marsdin, Cat, Rhea, Lena, and Lillian all took center stage. Like, I can’t get over how many female characters names I just listed there. And they all had stuff to do! Some were good, some were evil, some were emotional, some were stoic. They are not exceptions to an almost all-male cast, the Smurfettes amongst Smurfs; they have vivid character dynamics with one another.
Kara missed Cat’s advice. Lena didn’t believe her mother would come for her. Kara loves Lena. Maggie agonizes with Alex as she has to decide whether or not to blow Kara up. I could go on. On many shows — most shows — I could not. Because the representation of female relationships is even more atrophied than the representation of female characters. It’s getting better — and, in some genres, it’s blossoming. But it’s still, sadly, noteworthy. It’s still an exception to the rule. And, in a genre that is obsessed with daddy issues, we have the mommy issues in spades to match on Supergirl. (Because mommy issues is a thing, too.)
Ultimately, both Kara and Alex have some tough decisions to make, arguably putting the people they love over the safety of the citizens of National City. Who knows if Alex would have hit the button to fire on Rhea’s ship if it hadn’t been destroyed before she could, but she definitely hesitated. Something tells me this is going to have some dire consequences for Alex when the dust settles on this whole alien invasion thing.
Meanwhile, Kara’s decision to stay behind backfires when she gets a surprise visit from her cousin: Superman! Something is up with the Man of Steel because he seems to be on Rhea’s side. Either she is very convincingly holding the children’s hospitals of Metropolis hostage, too, or Rhea has another Daxamite gadget to control aliens up her sleeve (though, if that were the case, then why wouldn’t she use it on Supergirl?). Either way, this is not how I expected Superman’s season finale cameo to begin. Color me intrigued.
Cat immediately recognizes James, which is hilarious. Also hilarious? Winn’s terrible lies that “Kira” and James aren’t around because they are hiding like cowards. He’s almost as bad at lies as Season 1 Oliver Queen.
Supergirl and her airplanes, amirite?
Ha! Rhea wants Kara’s two love interests to marry one another. Side note: Are Lena and Mon-El going to have a child together? Is this going to be a Season 3 plot? Because it kind of sounds like Rhea was going to magic up a genetically-blessed offspring in some Daxamite lab. I’m not sure if I can see Chris Wood sticking around for another season (but, hey, I could be wrong). If Mon-El does get killed off in the season finale, will we see Lena and Kara raising a baby together next season, Sherlock Season 4 End Montage-style? Discuss in the comments below.
Mon-El and Lena’s marriage was so awkward and also kind of hilarious in its awkwardness, like two teenagers who were forced to go to prom together because their families are friends or something.
Poor J’onn has been stuck in some kind of mind prison for an entire episode now. Will he be the same alien dude we know and love when he wakes up?
Of course Lillian Luthor leaves Kara and Mon-El to die and of course Kara isn’t even surprised by it. As she said, Lillian Luthor is nothing if not consistent.
Lillian Luthor says she has no idea where Jeremy Danvers is, which sucks because I know we are all waiting for Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher to have a scene together, right?
Speaking of Teri Hatcher, she is so damn good as Rhea. This cast is strong all-around, but it’s always a delight to see Hatcher chewing up some scenery.
How great was it that Mon-El was the straight-up dame-in-distress in this episode. When Kara decides to stay behind on the ship, she insists that he leave so that she knows he is safe — and he does, without any masculine posturing. If you need anymore example of character growth, look no further.
In addition to including some great action and some inspiring messages, “Resist” also had some laugh-out-loud funny lines. Basically, this episode was the complete package! Stop showing off, Supergirl. (Just kidding. The world needs you.)