This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2 Episode 6
Hands up if you ever thought you’d see a sensitive coming out narrative as a central piece of a superhero TV show! Anyone? Put your hands down. You’re lying.
While the CW superhero shows in particular have done an excellent job of increasing the visibility of their gay characters, one of the things that I think has been kind of a hallmark of it is that it’s a “this character is gay, no big deal, moving on…” kind of situation. Which is great, of course. We’ve seen it on The Flash with Captain Singh and his partner, and we saw it on Arrow, where not even a freakin’ supervillain like Ra’s al Ghul gave the tiniest of fucks that his daughter was gay. If you remember, it wasn’t her lifestyle he disapproved of, but rather that her romantic attachments in general make her weak. Looks folks, if Ra’s al Ghul isn’t a homophobe, but you are? It’s time for some self examination.
But I can’t remember any of these shows having to deal with a character, particular a major player like Alex Danvers, needing to come to terms with their sexuality in full view of the audience like this. At least to my eyes, this is being handled in a fairly sensitive way, and the fact that they’re not taking the easy way out with her relationship with Maggie Sawyer is encouraging. And it’s a nice touch that not even Kara knows how to behave in every situation, and her apology to Alex after their initial miscommunication was really a wonderful moment. It helped that this was probably Chyler Leigh’s finest hour to date on the show, both in these moments and in her more traditional ass-kicking ones.
So, that’s a whole heap of praise before I even get into the rest of “Changing” which is, as much of Supergirl Season 2 has been so far, excellent. “Changing” is another one of those perfectly balanced episodes, something we’ve been seeing across all of the CW superhero shows this year. But more importantly, “Changing” was a little bit more adventurous than this show is known for being.
Aside from Alex’s story, which already sets this apart from the show’s first season, “Changing” even experimented with a different tone early on. That opening in the lab in Norway was as close as this show has ever flirted with horror, and the similarities to John Carpenter’s The Thing were clearly not accidental. There’s only so far a show like Supergirl is likely to push this, but it’s still great to see.
What’s more, “Changing” looked great. Parasite might be the best fully CGI creation any of these shows has yet attempted (King Shark on The Flash was pretty good, but the giant nazi on Legends of Tomorrow a few weeks back wasn’t). This was probably my favorite version of the Parasite we’ve ever seen, which leaned a little less heavily on the “loser” motif that’s usually Rudy Jones’ thing and substituted it for a little horror, and a genuinely cool and inventive design. I also couldn’t help but feel that when Supergirl was flying to take on the Parasite for their final battle that it was one of the better flying sequences we’ve seen this year, if ever. They’re just getting all the little things right.
The Mon-El and Kara stuff is fun, even adorable, although it should be noted that this is very much not the Mon-El from the comics. I’m no purist, and really, I’m not complaining. Too often, Mon-El was just a kind of bland Superman stand-in but in red instead of blue, and while you can dig deep into Legion of Super-Heroes lore to get some more nuance out of him, it’s not the kind of thing that would make for particularly compelling TV storytelling. So, I’m on board with whatever they’re up to here. Chris Wood is fun, and he and Melissa Benoist are great on screen together.
Now, as for the whole James Olsen/Guardian thing, I feel like this might have been better served getting teased out over a few more episodes. I’m really not sure what’s served by rushing this right now, although his rapport with Winn about the whole thing manages to ring true, even if the timing doesn’t. Look, Arrow committed far greater sins in its early years (especially with anything related to the Starling City legal system), so this seems like a minor sin. But it’s a big frakkin’ deal to get somebody into armor to start fighting menaces, so it couldn’t have hurt to save it until midseason.
Also, am I dense? Did Supergirl actually kill Rudy Jones when she took out the Parasite? Or had it been established earlier in the episode that Rudy was already dead and it was basically just an alien virus running around at this point? This rubbed me the wrong way (for obvious reasons), but I have a cold so I’m dumber than usual at the moment…so if it means that I missed something really obvious explaining this, please feel free to yell at me.
Kryptonian Memory Crystals
– The “Thorul Arctic Research Center” is…ummm…Thorul is an anagram of Luthor. And in the comics, Lena Luthor was “Lena Thorul” for awhile.
– The fact that Parasite was initially disguised as a wolf, as well as the whole “I’m gonna do a routine medical procedure and OH MY GOD MY HANDS!” was a wonderful homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing. And yes, just as surely as I never thought I’d see a sensitive coming out story on one of these shows, I never expected one of them to do a Thing homage. And for cryin’ out loud, if you haven’t seen that movie, the next time you’re snowed in, you absolutely must fire it up. It’s a frakkin’ masterpiece.
– The Parasite first appeared in Action Comics #340 in 1966, but the Rudy Jones version didn’t pop up until 1987. Rudy is generally the go-to Parasite these days, primarily thanks to his appearances on Smallville, Superman: The Animated Series, and Young Justice. The whole “global warming scientist” thing was a new angle, though. This was a great origin story.
– Rand O’Reily? Look, Supergirl, I’m as on board with your liberal agenda as the next New Yorker who understands that Superman as he was originally conceived was absolutely, 100%, without question a “social justice warrior” but perhaps we should be a little less on-the-nose with our scaremongering political figure names?
– The Guardian was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (the same guys who created Captain America!) and first appeared in Star Spangled Comics #7 in 1942. There’s a bunch of Jimmy Olsen connections there, too, even though he wasn’t Jimmy Olsen. It’s too much to fit here, so I wrote a whole article about it!
– “Who are you?” “A friend.” It’s been a little while since Supergirl gave us a Superman: The Movie reference, so this bit of dialogue from the end of the helicopter rescue (my favorite few minutes in all of cinema, in case you were wondering) was a nice touch.
– You know what was another nice touch? That Mon-El was wearing red when he finally decided to step up and be a hero. I really hope we get to see him in costume before the end of this season. I have a feeling we will.
– And while we’re on the subject of Mon-El, the fact that the Guardian costume is lead-lined and it didn’t make Mon-El sick tells us once and for all that they aren’t going the lead poisoning route with him. Right? Maybe?
What did I miss? Hit me up in the comments or give me a shout on Twitter!