This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 4 Episode 19
In an episode directed by David Harewood (J’onn J’onzz), Supergirl returns to some of the promise that we’ve been missing this season.
It’s been hard not to compare the way Supergirl handles its immigration storyline with the way Roswell, NM, a much newer show with less backstory to draw on, manages to pack so much more nuance and depth into their interpretation on the same network. But if there’s an episode this season that has redeemed my faith in what Supergirl can achieve, it’s this one.
The inclusion of Kelly Olsen, James’s sister, has been a welcome one. She has made him a more well-rounded character and has provided much-needed outlet for Alex beyond her relationship with Kara and her troubled work situation. It was wonderful to see the word “triggered” used correctly for once, and even better to see Alex hold space for Kelly. Alex’s comparison of the two as caregivers who neglect themselves made it easy to feel like we’ve known Kelly for longer than we have.
Kelly and James’s journey to uncover what really happened at their father’s funeral was much stronger material than Brainy simply informing everyone that they were wrong about their memories, a schtick that’s wearing thin. I know Brainy provides the mind palace construction, but the more we see him reach toward struggling with real human emotion, the more frustrating it is when he falls back toward calculations and, frankly, cowardice.
James’s powers seem thoroughly Kryptonion. I don’t know that he needed them, but it will be interesting to see how Lockwood and his ilk handle the idea of a human who gains powers. Will they try to co-opt him again or replicate what happened? Or, as this episode seemed to indicate, merely treat him as a hostile force? Judging by Lydia’s injury and possible death, I’m guessing Lockwood, who seemed to be hiding before James arrived, will be doubling down on his beliefs. I’m intrigued by the idea that it might continue to send his son in the opposite direction, and I hope we see more of that process, rather than just a quick escalation.
It was good to see Lena work through her anger toward Kara, which turned out to be anger and shame at herself that she was projecting. These two work best when they’re open and honest and work together, a thematic message that recurs in this episode, reinforced by Dreamer’s interview and Brainy verbally processing it. For just a minute, I was foolish enough to let myself think Kara was going to reveal herself as Supergirl on TV, since she’s someone who lives a double life as both a human and an alien. The Dreamer interview was lovely, if a little shallow and goofy, but the longer Supergirl stalls on letting its star be open and honest about who she is, the harder it is to seem true to that theme.
Nia and Kara both learned that there’s a difference between intervening in the short term and making longterm change, a valuable lesson. I hope future episodes tease out what, exactly, Nia has learned as a result of her unique position as someone who occupies both human and alien culture. It’s great for her to be a symbol, but I’d love to see her struggle with what that means, and learn how to go beyond a shallow reading of that symbolism. I hope, too, that someday Lena lets her know just how much she inspired her to act. And I can’t leave out the delightful fact that she likes, “Nerdy boys who think too much,” to which Brainy responded, “What does love feel like?”
It was great to see Kara using good old fashioned investigative reporting skills, and finally putting together the pieces that James gathered before he was shot. Another highlight was the way that this episode paid off Franklin, an alien who has long worked at CatCo in a bit part. In the past we’ve seen a fellow CatCo employee harass him for being an alien, and now he’s being targeted by Lockwood’s roving bands of Deputies. Adding Edna, his sister who works at AmerTech, brings forward another side
It’s always fun to see Kara use her powers on the sly, and this episode is no exception. She blows her ice breath to keep herself and Edna from being discovered, and to non-lethally stop Lockwood’s men from apprehending Dreamer. Never one to put aside her mission, she stops a criminal with a well-place elbow of steel. There’s a sweet moment when she exclaims to a bewildered Franklin, “you saved me!”
For now, J’onn is done his quest. Edna is willing to go on record. Next stop: Kaznia!
“Oh, my. You’re leaking”
I love Kara doing cape tricks with her pea coat
“As a wise woman once said, fear sucks, so let’s kick fears ass”