This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 3 Episode 14
Aside from being a highly relevant pun, Schott Through the Heart is a fun and heartfelt episode that pushes at the edges of the superhero genre, and reminds us how amazing Supergirl can be when it’s firing on all cylinders.
The episode is an excellent showcase for Jeremy Jordan’s range. Once the other-network, Season 1 love triangle was resolved, Supergirl largely has him playing comic relief, technobabble exposition-bot, and empathetic sounding board for other character’s issues. He excels at all three, but he can do so much more. In his alleyway scene with James, he believably played the kind of pain and confusion that the death of an estranged, villainous parent can bring. And in every sin
Speaking of: holy Laurie Metcalf, Supergirl! What a get! She makes an excellent scene partner for Jordan, taking on the role of dark, sardonic wit so he can dwell in the dramatic end of the pool. Aside from her humor and obvious acting chops, Metcalf warmly brings to life that lifelong motherly impulse to butt in and ignore the world around her, so long as it’s in service to helping her child. The pair also have great parent-child chemistry, which helps sell that they go from the intensity of Winn’s initial confrontation with her to duetting A-ha’s Take on Me in the space of a single episode.
As a character, Mary went toe to toe with the influence his infamous father has had on his life. The writers smartly made her a fellow tinkerer, mathematician and toy-maker, and she settles into leading Winn’s lab like it’s her own. She hits the Mom stuff out of the park, worrying about his last tetanus shot and overstepping her boundaries at his work like she’s been doing it from afar for every day of the 20 years they’ve been apart. Finally, Mary adds a rare perspective with the, “your father didn’t just go to bed normal and wake up a monster,” speech. Women in relationships with evil men are often blamed for their behavior, but we often fail to consider them their partner’s first victims, as Winn’s mother was.
Alex, J’onn and My’rrin had an excellent sub-plot focused on how to be there for family, found and not. It was lovely to hear the elder J’onzz refer to Kara as J’onn’s daughter – he’s always been Space Dad in our hearts, but it’s good to hear that acknowledged in the text. Exploring an aging parent’s dementia is not the kind of story one normally associates with a light superhero show, which makes me love Supergirl all the more for finding a way to do it, with their trademark touch of warm authenticity.
Also an A+ trademarked Supergirl move? The fact that Alex doesn’t play dumb when J’onn asks her what’s going on with his father. So many shows rely on conflict that is manufactured purely by characters making unrealistically bad decisions, usually keeping one another unnecessarily in the dark. Instead, Alex maturely and realistically tells J’onn that it’s not her place and he needs to discuss it with his father. This brought a closeness and respect to the three of them that real families are made of. In the future, I would love for Supergirl to show that there are strategies and treatments when a loved one has dementia. Ignoring it only makes it worse, but it’s not as hopeless as many fictional depictions would lead us to believe.
In an already-excellent episode, the writers gave us something I’ve been wanting for a while now: J’onn J’onzz discussing earth’s racism and his human form. Yes, Hank Henshaw was a forced choice. But now he is free to choose, and he likes his face. Or in other words, he’s black and he’s proud. Beyond that, J’onn draws on the history of white and green Martians when he asserts that he would rather work to make the world a better place than change his appearance to suit a racist world. The call-out of not wanting to be a target, and the whitewashing of rock and roll’s history are the kind of thing I’d love to see more of on Supergirl.
This episode benefited from a relatively light touch with the Danvers sisters’ love lives, especially Kara’s. We got a reminder that Alex is still healing that fit nicely into the karaoke framing of the episode, a device that was both fun and expository. The Kara and Mon-El storyline benefited from brevity, and Kara drawing some clear boundaries. So much of what’s making his return work better than his initial run on the show is the way the writers have learned from their (and his) mistakes, and really earned genuine changes in both his personality, and the way the show uses him. He’s another member of the ensemble, not the lead.
Supergirl wisely punted the world killer arc until next week, with the exception of the end of the episode. Part of Mon-El’s narrative function this week was to tee up the next episode, when we’ll learn more about what the Legion has been up to, and how to stop the world killers. And possibly see some “cape tricks” with his old suit. And of course there’s that big bad science lab Lena has cooked up in her efforts to help her friend. Here’s hoping they’ll ‘fess up to Kara and/or Supergirl soon, so the effort to eradicate Reign can begin in earnest.