Supergirl Season 3: Chyler Leigh Talks Sanvers Heartbreak
We talked to Chyler Leigh about the responsibility of portraying the Sanvers relationship.
This article contains major spoilers for Supergirl Season 3 Episode 5, “Damage.”
Alex and Maggie called it quits in “Damage,” tonight’s Supergirl, ending their engagement over the realization that, while Alex wants to be a mother, Maggie does not.
It was a heartbreaking moment for fans of Sanvers, a relationship that has gained a following in the LGBTQ community and beyond as a positive example of a queer relationship that doesn’t fall into harmful stereotypes.
Den of Geek was amongst a group of reporters who visited the Supergirl set today, and who talked to Chyler Leigh about the responsibility of telling Sanvers’ story, a narrative that has meant so much to so many, through their breakup.
“I want to make sure that people know that, regardless [of what happens with Sanvers], they’re loved and that they matter and that the story that they have to tell is just as important as the story we told on the show and that that continues for them as well,” said Leigh. “Nothing ends tonight.”
Leigh said she is proud of the story Supergirl has told with Alex’s coming out story and her relationship with Maggie.
“What we did, I feel, was pretty groundbreaking,” said Leigh, “and to have such a strong relationship, I feel, portrayed as well as we did, I think we did a very great justice to that storyline and for the community. The hope, honestly, is just that people can see what it was and celebrate that just as much as I do and I know Flo does, and really be able to grow from here and just see what comes next for Alex. That’s my hope.”
Leigh said that, in some ways, filming the episode felt like “a genuine breakup,” as actress Floriana Lima’s lack of availability spelled the end (at least for now) of the fan-favorite relationship. Leigh teased the tragedy of the Sanvers breakup, saying:
Alex would never wish anything but the absolute best for Maggie and vice versa. That’s really where, I think, you kind of see what is most heartbreaking about the ending of their relationship is how much they love each other and how much they want the best for each other … It’s like you really see that the intention there is to allow them to be their best selves no matter what. I feel like we did a really good job with that.
Kevin Smith directed tonight’s episode, and he, too, treated the Sanvers breakup with the seriousness it deserves. Traditionally, the actors’ read through involves the entire cast going through the script from top to bottom. Instead, with “Damage,” Leigh and Lima read their scenes together separately, with executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Jessica Queller sitting in.
“[We] wanted to make sure that the words were right,” said Leigh, “[and] the intention was right and the heart behind was right. Either way, any way you roll the dice, it’s not going to be easy, and it’s something that everybody felt. “
When it came to filming, Smith decided to film all of the Sanvers scenes in one day, a choice that Leigh said she appreciated, but made for an emotional experience.
“It was a hell of a day,” she said. “It really was. But I really feel like, you know, we can only do our best with what we’re handed, right? And that goes with anything in life. And, in this case, because it was so deep and so heartfelt, the day, it was tough. It was. But it was also in a lot of ways, it’s not like an absolutely closure because no one ever knows exactly what’s going to happen.
Is there any hope for Sanvers in the future?
“As of now, what we know is we got these five amazing episodes, based on availability,” said Leigh. “I know that just sounds like words, but it really does just come down to that. If [Floriana] can come back, I know we would all love to have that happen. So if she’s available, that would be fantastic. I don’t know what that would look like. I don’t know how that would incorporate, but that’s not my job. My job is to do the best with what has been handed to me.”
For now, we are going to see a post-breakup Alex. What will that look like?
“Because of the significance of it, it’s not like you can sweep it under the rug, you know what I mean, and just try to be chipper and move on,” said Leigh. “At the same time, Alex has a very hard time of really dealing with things.”
Next week’s episode will see the Danvers sisters returning to their hometown of Midvale to visit their mother and nurse their broken hearts.
“With that, you kind of see Alex going back and really having to figure some stuff out,” said Leigh. “But that’s just the beginning of it. From there, I think in some ways we try to busy ourselves, right, and you sort of put things off a little bit.”
Leigh said it’s a “fine line” post-breakup because, while the show does not want to bring the entire tone of the show down, Sanvers was “an incredibly significant relationship” in Alex’s life. Ultimately, Leigh is happy with the balance they struck.
As was the case with Kara following the end of Kara and Mon-El’s relationship, Alex will draw comfort from her sister, with plenty of “ice cream, pizza and the couch scenes.”
“The great thing about the sister dynamic is that regardless of what circumstance they’re facing, they’re always going to be each other’s champion … And that was a big part of what Andrew [Kreisberg] talked to me initially about before we started the season is we really want to see that relationship come back as the heartbeat of the show.”
So you do get to see a lot of that really, really sweet scenes with Melissa that I’m just gratefully appreciative of. She’s a sister. So it’s great. We always have fun regardless, whether we’re crying, laughing, or whatever it is.
Moving forward, Leigh wants to let fans know that this isn’t the end of Alex’s journey as a queer woman.
It doesn’t mean that Alex isn’t still a lesbian. It doesn’t mean that Alex’s journey ends there. It means that this is a loss, but also a gain for herself and understanding who she is.
“There’s still so much positivity,” continued Leigh, “and there’s still so much growth and so much freedom for so many people that came from this, that it’s going to continue on … I don’t want people to think that this is the end of something really, really significant and important. It is really just the beginning in a lot of ways. I hope people can really latch onto to that and hang onto that.”