This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 4 Episode 4
This week, Supergirl was framed around nonviolence and rules.
Kara’s armor looked a bit too much like Iron Man’s for my liking, but the bigger problem was that once again, someone had a giant face covering when what we really needed was to see their emotions. Kara and Alex’s conflict was initially framed around Kara’s struggle with being sidelined by her health issues. I was happy to see Alex assert her authority to keep Kara safe. The show may be called Supergirl, but Alex is the one who’s Director of the DEO, and sometimes Kara needs to learn to take orders.
Oddly, halfway through the episode the writing changed tack and made this plot about following the new president’s rules or not, and Alex’s insecurities around leading and keeping everyone safe. That’s also a worthwhile narrative, but it was hard for that lesson to come through clearly, since those dynamics weren’t present until most of the way through that story.
Brainy’s emotional development continues to be one of my favorite minor story lines, allowing Jesse Rath to show off more of his range, and I hope he revisits the concept of compartmentalization. It’s no surprise that Lena compartmentalizes to a disturbing degree, given all that she’s been through. But I want better coping mechanisms for both of them, so I hope Brainy lets something about this slip in front of Alex, who is generally more in touch with her feelings.
I wanted so, so much better for Fiona. Manchester Black is a fun character and I’m looking forward to getting to know him (and his interesting, nonviolent fighting style) better, but did we really have to lose Fiona to do so? I love Supergirl but they send women characters of color packing far too often.
Manchester Black provides a potential way forward for J’onn, who was dealing with some guilt this week. It’s hard to go from being a law enforcement official one week to practicing nonviolence the next, so I’m glad he’s backtracking a bit to tack more of an emotional journey to figure out what his next move will be.
This episode left us with a few intense revelations as a send off to next week. Part of what makes this season much stronger than the previous one is the way it is broken – that is, the parceling out of various stories for each episode over the course of the season. Certain episodes are always supposed to be intense, like mid-season finales, and shows do their best to avoid filler, but it’s hard to keep up a consistently high caliber of show for 18-24 episodes like the CW does. It’s still incredibly early, but so far we still have a ton of mileage left for Liberty and the Earth First movement, Brainy, our new character Nia, Lena and Supergirl’s conflict, Alex with her new role, which is a good sign for the rest of the season.
James got a costly lesson in what happens when you go from writing the news to being the news, one I’m looking forward to seeing him unpack next week. The previous episode made a point of sprinkling in Liberty’s interactions with Lena Luthor and James Olsen as well as Supergirl, the DEO, and aliens more generally, and Liberty even complimented James/Guardian. Mercy did say that Liberty had a skill for communications, and spinning Guardian as a symbol of the Earth First movement is brilliant. It also offers a devastating insight as to why James is not only safe from prosecution, but potentially going to be deputized by the police department.
Liberty isn’t done, though. He also put a parasite in a human’s ear, because this seems like a great time to start experimenting with powered people. It’s interesting that Supergirl has handled the inherent power imbalance in the Earth First versus aliens conflict by always ensuring the humans have powered people on their side. It might make better television, but I do wonder if there isn’t another, more realistic way.
Alex has to face the music – a colonel has arrived to supervise her since she disobeyed direct orders. After seeing her grow as a leader, though, I’m not worried. As Director Danvers said, “being a leader means doing what needs to get done and taking the consequences.” And not to sound too much like Eliza Danvers, but that Colonel was pretty cute…
Oh and remember that Soviet Supergirl? She was affected by the Kryptonite in the atmosphere too. No clues as to who she’s working with, other than the language they’re speaking and the government-y look to their compound, but this was a great time to remind us that she’s here too. Is she Bizarro Supergirl? Is she from another Earth? Is there some other explanation? Who’s running her, and what are their goals? We’ll have to wait and see, and that’s a good thing.
A few observations:
Shout out to Streaky in the Mind Palace!
Both Brainy and J’onn echoed what it’s been like in the US recently: “Do humans feel like this all the time? Its intense and disruptive. How do you get anything done.” “My mind is hijacked with anger”
I love Brainy: “These are tears of logic.”
Manchester Black clearly shops at the CW store, with that long, black (crocodile?) jacket
Did Kara think about what would happen when her enemies figured out she was weak?
“Was that Supergirl, or one of the blokes from daft punk?”
The mind control of powered people and duplicating powered person in this episode had me thinking of The Gifted.