This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 2, Episode 9
Supergirlwent full-on space epic this week (right after I wrote a feature highlighting its non-genre elements, too — thanks, Supergirl), proving the narrative limits of this universe stretch well beyond Earth.
“Supergirl Lives” was an ambitious episode, a challenge that director Kevin Smith and this (as always) exemplary cast took into stride. Supergirlmakes throwing a random space slavery episode into the mix look easy — nigh, look natural — when really it is anything but easy to introduce new elements into an ongoing TV show. Sure, aliens are integral to this story (and alien refugees in general have been a major focus of Season 2 in particular). But there is a big difference between having an alien-focused dive bar as a main set and jetting off to an alien planet. (For other shows that have effectively done this, see also: Agents of SHIELD‘s “4,722 Hours”.)
How did Supergirldo it? By grounding its escapade on Slaver’s Moon in ongoing storylines: Kara’s mission to figure out what kind of reporter she wants to be, Mon-El’s quest to discover where he fits on Earth and in Kara’s life, Winn’s growing pains as an in-the-field agent, and Alex’s anxiety over being happy. Here’s everything that went down on this action-packed episode of Supergirl…
When the frantic mother of runaway teen Izzie shows up at CatCo, looking for Snapper to take the case, Kara swoops in. While Snapper might not think the story of a missing teen matters, Kara is nothing if not true to her heart, so she dives in full-tilt. In a very Doctor Who-esque set-up, Kara (and a tagging along Mon-El) find the truth is much more alien than they might have suspected. It turns out an alien has been kidnapping people under the guise of an easy money medical study, only to send through a portal to an alien planet (the aforementioned Slaver’s Moon) to be sold into slavery. So… not light stuff.
This might have been a short episode if Kara and Mon-El ended up somewhere where they could use their powers. Unfortunately, Slaver’s Moon happens to have a red sun, which means no flying or laser vision for these two. Instead, bleeding and walking on the ground like a norm is on the schedule.
Still, as Supergirlhas always insisted (and proven, time and time again), it’s not the powers that make the superhero (though they certainly help), but rather a willingess to help others. She and Mon-El surrender themselves into slavery, finding themselves in a cell with Izzy and the other missing persons. While there, Kara sees another familiar face: Roulette, last seen operating an alien fight ring in National City before Kara broke it up. It seems she found a new business: selling people.
When Roulette’s guards come to take the group away, Kara refuses, taking several electric shocks to the stomach in defiance. (Haven’t these slavers ever heard of tranqs?) Kara’s bravery inspires the other prisoners (including Mon-El) and they fight together to escape the cell, making a break back to the portal, alien guards hot on their tails.
Meanwhile, Alex has come to rescue her little sister, with the help of a PTSD-laden Winn and plenty of DEO soldiers. You see, Alex is a hero, too — she will always come for her sister, no matter the odds. She also convinces Winn to brave a trip to an alien planet days after he is beat up on the job with Guardian not by telling him to man up, but by telling him how afraid she was when she first went out in the field. Hear that, other TV shows? Vulnerability and admitting you’re afraid isn’t a weakness; it’s brave and often leads to strength.
Kara & co. manage to fight their way out of the alien base, with some considerable help from Mon-El, who uses his body to block Kara and the others when it’s apparent they are about to be stopped. This especially works well because it turns out Mon-El is the secret prince of Daxam. The aliens recognize him and lower their guns. He’s not to be hurt.
You may have seen this secret prince twist coming, but that doesn’t make it any less effective, especially because Supergirlhas played it slow on Mon-El’s character, letting him settle into this story and form relationships with these other characters in his own, complicated right, largely divorced from his life on Daxam.
The reveal that Mon-El is royalty also makes perfect sense given what we know about him. Though he has a good heart, he is also kind of a privileged jerk. He doesn’t know how to hold down a job and initially doesn’t understand why Kara would risk her life to save others. Slowly, through his relationship with Kara, however, Mon-El has changed. He has grown. And, as we learn once Kara and he are safely back in Kara’s apartment, he wants to be a superhero, too. He doesn’t think that the prince he once was is worthy of saving, but maybe this new person he’s becoming might be.
Unfortunately, Mon-El might not be able to stay divorced from his past much longer. In the episode’s final moments, we see two mysterious aliens looking for Mon-El on Slaver’s Moon. Who are they? Why are they after him? And what other secrets about his past is Mon-El hiding? Did he sell and/or buy slaves on Slaver’s Moon once? Furthermore, will the rocks a enthusiastic Winn brought back from Slaver’s Moon lead the robed bounty hunter-types straight to Mon-El? Questions to consider as we continue into Season 2.
Elsewhere in the episode, we finally got some Alex/Maggie in their honeymoon period and it was adorable. Maggie makes Alex so happy she literally can’t keep from smiling. Of course, Alex doesn’t trust happiness. It’s too fragile. Something has to go wrong. When Kara goes missing, Alex freaks out and tells Maggie that she can’t do this anymore. After Kara is safe and sound, Alex realizes that she’s made a mistake and apologizes to Maggie, who already had reservations about Alex’s readiness for this relationship.
Alex explains that she has pretty much never put herself first. It has always been her job to protect her sister and, when she hasn’t done that, things have gone terribly wrong. Maggie has (awesomely) already put it together that Supergirl is Kara and cuts Alex a little slack, though clarifies that, if Alex does do something like this again, she won’t get another chance. (Cue the ominous music.)
For now, the two are happy and making heart-eyes at each other. Hopefully, it lasts for awhile. Alex deserves to be happy.
I want to take this opportunity to say how happy I am that Supergirldidn’t milk the Maggie Doesn’t Know Kara is Supergirl thing for contrived dramatic effect. We have seen this done a million times on other superhero shows and it’s refreshing that Supergirlhasn’t relied on the secret identity angst trope too much to create drama. It doesn’t need to.
All in all, “Supergirl Lives” was another entertaining, action-packed, and thematically-focused episode of SupergirlSeason 2. This show continues to be one of the best character dramas on TV, and one of a very few series with optimism as its very core. More than anything, “Supergirl Lives” proves just how expansive this show’s narrative universe can stretch — literally, into other galaxies and complex alien civilizations. That’s exciting. Supergirl‘s heart will always be on Earth, but that doesn’t mean space adventure can’t have its day, or episode, in the (red) sun.