This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 3 Episode 12
This season of Supergirl has struggled to find its feet after losing two of the relationships that defined Season 2. But this episode found a way to be both sweetly moving and a fun superhero caper at the same time. Importantly, it struck the right balance between the growing number of important relationships on the show.
This episode made a strong case for the showrunners course correcting away from a frequent criticism of last season: focusing too much on Mon-El. Mon-El was a big part of this episode’s resolution, and yet he never dominated the story or the screen. He was just one of the four people who Supergirl worked with to resolve the Edge/Lena problem, all of which was lead by Lena herself. Even when it’s clear that Mon-El is preoccupying the Girl of Steel’s thoughts, she isn’t basing her actions on him or following his lead. The show’s tone and plot don’t originate or depend on Mon-El – he is just one part of a large, talented cast of characters.
It certainly helps that this older, wiser Mon-El is a better listener, team player, and leader. He makes good suggestions, but consults others on their area of expertise, like Winn and Brainy. He falls in a support role to Kara, which is what she actually needs from him, and backs her play.
Another clear indication that the Supergirl Mon-El returned to is not the one he left: the story now clearly revolves around the women at the heart of the show, the Danvers sisters, Lena, and Sam. The writers constructed the story so that the logical next step, after Sam went to Alex with her health concerns, was to bring Lena and Kara in on the issue as friends, rather than bringing in Supergirl and the DEO as heroes. Of course, the fact that Sam’s blackouts are presenting as a health concern make that logical, but the Supergirl writers could have just as easily structured events so that the DEO was the next logical move. Indeed, last season felt more DEO-centric, with most episodes centering around that team and location in the wake of Callista Flockhart’s departure. That left characters like Jimmy Olsen out in the cold, but it also meant that Mon-El was pushed toward a role he wasn’t yet ready for yet, and as a result, he had a substantial presence in every aspect of the show.
Morgan Edge, however, is a bit tiresome. If he has a greater narrative purpose annoying Kar and Lena and providing an allegory for all terrible men, I’d love to see it – but Lena’s moral wavering is as interesting as ever. We never truly believe that Kara will do anything all that dark, but Lena or James might, with the proper motivation. They could easily make the kind of choices that are justified on a show like Arrow, but that are seen as morally lacking in Kara’s world. I’ve got to think, for example, that poisoning Diggle wouldn’t end with a rescue op, even with our gentler, more evolved Oliver. More than Lena’s Luthor past, Edge’s dogged tormenting makes it seem like she would be justified, perhaps if not in killing him, but in looking the other way while her mother’s drone made a few…adjustments.
The appearance of Mama Luthor added a wildcard element that Supergirl has been lacking since it de-fanged (and then offed) Livewire. Other CW shows, like The Vampire Diaries or even Dynasty’s better episodes, have had more success at setting up a number of main characters with a variety of crisscrossing motivations. Each new development changes up the teams from one episode (or even scene) to the next, making everything a little less predictable. On Supergirl, you’re either Team Supergirl or you’re wrong – or perhaps you’ve momentarily lost you way and are in need of a good lesson and a heart-to-heart. Instead in this episode, Lillian Luthor was Team Lena, but not Team Save Edge, causing her to switch up her targets, and letting her show off her new suit. And while Lena was Team Save Edge, she’s not a Pollyanna, either. She did the right thing, but she also got her man – at least for now.
We hear a lot about Lena’s intelligence, and it was fun to see her wield it against her mother, who’s smart enough to warrant it, and Edge, a true foe. Hopefully she’ll be able to Ravenclaw her way out of Sam’s moonlighting as Reign and bring down the other world killers, before Alex takes over as Ruby’s permanent babysitter.