This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 3 Episode 13
“Both Sides Now” started connecting the dots that we’ve been seeing all season and propelled us closer to several eventual breaking points. Ruby knows about Sam’s condition and Lena thinks she can fix it. Imra and Brainy planned their sojourn into 2018 but didn’t tell Mon-El, who married Imra as an act of political strategy and inter-species goodwill. And Alex and Kara’s optimism, trust in each other, and belief in the goodness in others are all tested.
One of the strengths of Supergirl is the way that characters continue to deal with issues that affect them. Like real people, they evolve and change their relationship toward these challenges, but something like Alex’s breakup with her fiancée doesn’t go away after the (fantastic) requisite episode featuring it and the fallout from it. The goldfish-short, highly selective memories of characters on other shows like Gossip Girl or even The Vampire Diaries ultimately frustrates viewers, and necessarily leads to shallower character development.
Alex is in a new phase of her grief over breaking up with Maggie, and it manifests in this episode as distrust, being overly protective of Kara, and a tendency toward violence. It doesn’t help that it’s in Purity’s best interest for the DEO to think Julia is gone, and Purity uses her powers to stoke Alex’s rage and mistrust. But beyond trusting Julia or not, being cynical or not, the Danvers sisters have always trusted each other, and it was tough to see Alex’s trust in Kara so thoroughly shaken by how much her worldview has changed in her life after Maggie.
Winn also had some great moments in this episode, as he has all season. It seems the show has finally figured out how to use him outside of romantic relationships. He truly is every kind of nerd: someone who loves tinkering, learning, and curiosity. That allows him to pair up with anyone from Brainy or Mon-El to James or Lena, depending on who needs a smarty. Beyond that, his role as an intuitive and empathetic friend plays into Supergirl’s overall choice to prioritize relationships and processing emotions. Though he was only on screen with her for a short while, he did a lot to help Alex have her own breakthrough this week.
Perhaps that means Winn should spend some time with Sam – she’s in dire need of a breakthrough. Lena is doing her best, though it remains to be seen if Luthor has figured out Sam’s real secret. I hope the theme of intelligence as Lena’s superpower continues, and that she’s the one to find Reign, who has been under Alex and Kara’s noses this whole time.
The tiff between Lena and Sam served another purpose: blurring the lines between Reign and Sam is long overdue and fit in well thematically with Alex’s suspicion of Purity. So far it seems the human alter-egos of the world killers are innocent, and either completely unaware of their Kryptonian selves, or making the best out of a bad situation, like Purity chose to do to save Alex. I would love to see more parsing of their awareness, and what responsibility they have, if any.
While Sam’s response to Lena after suggest that all of her sharpness was from Reign, it would be more interesting if Reign was leaking over into Sam’s waking personality. For one thing, she would be justified in being upset with Lena for disclosing frightening medical information to Ruby without her mother’s permission. For another, we’ve seen someone break through to Julia when she was in Purity form in just one episode – how has Reign fought so many of her friends and never once had Sam crack through?
Between a love of Lisa Loeb, a couple of bottles of Martian Moonshine, and some sage advice for Mon-El, J’onn J’onzz had quite a few tricks up his sleeve this week. J’onn has long been Space Dad to the Danvers sisters, especially Alex, but playing that role for Mon-El felt like a natural extension of the prior relationship, particularly in light of Mon-El’s newfound maturity. That maturity allowed Mon-El to admit to his past bad behavior, even going so far as to label it immaturity. That felt like a direct response to feedback from fans and critics alike, and it was a welcome mea culpa from the creative team.
Many have been waiting for the other shoe to drop on the Mon-El/Imra pairing, and it finally happened. This is probably the best path they could have chosen in order to maintain the idea that Mon-El isn’t going to abandon his wife, the two women aren’t going to “catfight” (ugh), and still have some tension about how the three will handle their situation. So far everyone is trying to do the best they can with a tough situation, but now we know that Mon-El isn’t just struggling with seeing a former love. He’s also struggling with his own feelings upon being with Kara again.
So how will the revelation that Imra and Brainy planned this little foray to Kara’s present day go over? Well, it certainly speaks to Imra’s confidence in her relationship and/or dedication to their cause, since that’s presumably why they’re in 2018. But why did Mon-El have to be in the dark? Keeping this from him is a betrayal, and one that could send him closer to Kara.
Even if Mon-El’s interest shifts from the wife he learned to love to the Kryptonian that he models his life and revolution after, Kara has had to put in a lot of work to recover from two different heartbreaks from the same Daxamite. By the time Mon-El is interested, Kara may not have anything left to give.