SUPERGIRL: All of Kara’s Worst Impulses Come to the Surface in “Falling”
All of us have anger inside of us—what separates the good people in this world from the bad people is what they choose to do with that anger. She may fly and have laser eyes and ice breath, but the greatest power that Kara Danvers possesses is her compassion.
We are reminded of that compassion at the beginning of “Falling,” as Kara overhears a girl being bullied for dressing up as Supergirl at school. Kara flies to the girl’s rescue, telling the bullies that she’s a friend to nice girls everywhere. But what would Kara be without that compassion? What would Supergirl be capable of if all of her polite and humble nature were stripped away?
Enter Red Kryptonite. There all sorts of different kinds of Kryptonite in the Superman mythos, and each one affects Kryptonians in a different way. In Supergirl, the red strain of Kryptonite is a synthetic version created by Maxwell Lord as a way to easily defeat Non (and, by extension, Kara). However, while real Kryptonite weakens, and can even kill, Kryptonians, the fake red variety only seems to turn off their empathy switch, bringing, as Kara will later tearfully describe, “every bad thought” to horrible life.
In the beginning this affects Kara by making her more, well, sexy. She marches into Catco with world-beating confidence (to underscore this, she will later attempt to seduce Jimmy Olsen as “Confident” by Demi Lovato plays). And instead of backing down against her new nemesis Siobhan (who we see hooking up with Winn in the storage closet), she engages her, catty remark for catty remark.
After Kara lets an alien bad guy escape (would you ever guess? He’s yet another Fort Rozz escapee), Siobhan finds security camera footage of the incident. She takes it to Cat, but Cat’s not interested in running it … yet. As we are reminded by the blatant cross-promotion for The Talk that opens the episode, Cat Grant is responsible for selling National City, and the rest of the world, on Supergirl. So before she sullies a brand that she helped create, she wants to know the full story (“It could be another Bizarro”, she says). Seeing an opportunity, Siobhan goes to email the Daily Planet with the scoop. But Kara overhears, and manages to not only delete the email, but to print it out and show it to Cat. Furious that Siobhan would go around her, especially to the hated Perry White, Cat fires her.
Now, that’s something that Kara never would have actually done before, but it might have been something that, deep down, she wanted to do. And that’s the core of the episode. The Red Kryptonite brings all of Kara’s worst impulses to the surface. So, when she finally makes her long-awaited pass at Jimmy Olsen, she does it by insulting Lucy as a “poor man’s Lois Lane” and literally twisting his arm to get him to pay attention to her.
Before the situation can escalate, Cat calls Jimmy and demands an audience with Supergirl. Kara flies over, having gone from moody teenager to budding sociopath. She whines to Cat that she’s tired of saving everybody, and Cat scolds her “You don’t get to have two sides, you’re a superhero. You get to represent all of the goodness in the world.”
“You want to see what powerful really looks like?” Kara says, and then throws Cat Grant off the damn building.
She catches Cat just before she splatters on the pavement, but even that is only done to prove how much more powerful she is than her. “True power, Cat, is deciding who will live and who will die.” (Perhaps Donald Trump has some Red Kryptonite hiding under that pathetic toupee of his).
So Kara’s gone—nothing remains of the sweet, caring girl we know. When Alex manages to track her down, even the Supergirl costume is gone, replaced by a slinky black catsuit, and she now wants all of National City to worship her. But she turns her cruelest words on Alex herself. “Without me, you have no life,” she says. “And that kills you. Deep down, you hate me, and that’s why you killed my aunt.”
Alex returns to the DEO, which is now equipped with an antidote laser thingie whipped up by Maxwell Lord. When the DEO confronts Kara, she goes at them with her full power, blowing up a cop car and knocking into a few buildings downtown. She’s even about to kill Alex when Hank intervenes. Realizing that he’ll only be powerful enough to stop her in his Martian Manhunter form, he transforms and attacks Kara just as she’s aiming her heat vision at her sister. Supergirl and the Manhunter duke it out in the skies of National City, with a terrified city looking on, until Alex gets a clean shot at Kara with the anti-Kryptonite ray.
Kara is neutralized, but the Manunter is revealed to the world. Alex pleads with him to fly away, but instead he returns to his Hank Henshaw form and allows the DEO to arrest him. Alex later asks him why he submitted, and he tells her, “I’d spend a thousand years in this cell if it meant keeping you, and your sister, safe.” It’s another moment of well-played emotion in an episode full of strong performances.
But the most amazing performance of the night, per usual, comes from Melissa Benoist—especially in the way she portrays Kara’s overwhelming remorse as she wakes from the effects of the Red Kryptonite. Benoist is great throughout this episode, and has proven herself one of the most engaging and versatile actors on television throughout this season. But this scene is one for her reel, a scene that would merit—should merit—serious awards consideration. She apologizes to Alex for what she said, and while Alex accepts that apology, she also admits that there was a little truth to what Kara said.
Jimmy, on the other hand, is freaked out to even know that Kara has that kind of anger inside of her. Kara explains that she never hated Lucy, but that she was jealous of her—that she would be jealous of anyone that Jimmy was with. She’s about to confess her love for him when he tells her “Don’t … finish that sentence. I need a little time. To Think.”
And Kara needs time to think, too, about the limits of her own power and emotions, and how to win back a city that’s now (rightly) terrified of her. The episode ends with a quiet moment between Supergirl and a still-shaken Cat Grant on the same balcony that Kara tossed Cat off of earlier. Supergirl apologizes and Cat tries to play it cool, but they both know that there’s no taking back what happened. But, as Cat reminds Kara, “If anyone can win this city back, it’s you.”
And so, they sit together in silence, watching over a city that they each hope will come to trust their judgment again.
Supergirl, Season One, Episode 16, “Falling”: A+