This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Season 4 Episode 5
Ironically, Supergirl more successfully sidelined its hero this week than last, when she was in a full-body suit and was physically on the brink of death. Here, she voluntarily understood a lesson I’m happy to see her learn: there’s more than one way to fight for justice. Season one (and to a lesser extent, two) did a much better job of tying Kara’s stories for work into her job as Supergirl, something that returns swimmingly in this episode.
On the subject of those looking for other ways to fight for justice, J’onn finds a new purpose as a private detective for the aliens. It takes a few people saying it throughout the episode for him to realize it, but J’onn has skills that his community really needs. It’s not surprising that they don’t trust the police, and makes an easy parallel to our world. Once again, we see black aliens like the one who said that quote, and I really want more stories about that intersection, like the episodes we (finally!) had last season.
James learns more about how the current political climate has changed the media landscape and decides to use his newfound fame among the Children of Liberty to go undercover. This is a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one; the guy can only write so many rousing op-eds. It was interesting to watch him push back smartly against Ben Lockwood, it will be trickier when he has to stay on his toes and manipulate him as Agent Liberty, especially when he’s surrounded by goons who are all on his side, and likely armed.
Lena, on the other hand, was pretty disappointing in her “both sides”-like assessment about inflaming trolls, reaching across the divide, all press is good press etc. I probably shouldn’t be surprised at how naïve Lena was about hate groups and even the supposedly moderate media – If Kara is the optimistic, privileged character, Lena is the corporate White Feminist. She’s due to get her bell rung, just like Kara did a couple of episodes ago.
Alex started working with her babysitter, Colonel Haley, for the first time, something that mostly seemed to be working out – until the subject of J’onn J’onzz came up. Both women respect hard work, smart decision making and good outcomes. Unfortunately, the end of the episode almost made it seem like Colonel Haley might even be anti-alien. She stops short of using the word roaches or any of the more vitriolic anti-alien rhetoric, but it certainly seems like more than just a dislike of J’onn J’onzz specifically.
A couple of other noteworthy developments include the fact that Kara finally knows about the Children of Liberty, Brainy got drunk, and Brainy and Nia saw one another again for the first time since the pizza incident. The Brainy and Nia stuff is fun, although in the future I hope it’s a bit more integrated into the rest of the plot. This boozy brunch felt a bit tacked on, whereas their initial pizzagate encounter (too soon?) felt like a perfect way for them to meet.
Now that Kara knows about the Children of Liberty specifically and with James going undercover, perhaps the heroes can start taking on that threat and that part of the plot can get going in earnest. So far Supergirl and the DEO have only been engaged with active terrorists who are already in the act of trying to kill people – not the best strategy. While Kara has expressed fear about everyday hate groups, there have been no proactive investigations thus far.
Finally, Kara is planning a series of profiles on the aliens of National City, inspired by the one she did of Amadei in this episode. It all sounds very Humans of New York, and while her intentions are as pure as always, it seems she has immediately forgotten the concerns she had earlier in the episode when Amadei was targeted, potentially because of her profile, and she was worried about all of the hate directed at him in the comments. That’s not to say she shouldn’t do the series, but it seems odd to ignore the reality that inclusion in the series would be hard on the subjects of her profiles. And once again, Kara gets to write from the assumed default perspective of a human, not an alien, lending her pieces a credence that they might otherwise lack.
I’ve never cared if the general public knew her identity before, but as Colonel Haley calls J’onn an impersonator, aliens talk about “coming out” in J’onn’s support group to be met with applause, and the President’s unmasking is seen as a political lightning rod, it forces the question. With a friend who was almost indicted for being a vigilante, even moresoe. How does Kara, and in turn, the show Supergirl, not at least consider the question of whether she should come out as an alien? How can she live her values if she doesn’t at least think about disclosing that status, considering how much privilege she has compared to other aliens? It’s no one’s choice but hers, but can she really be a role model if she doesn’t?