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SUPERGIRL Season One Finale Recap

By on April 19, 2016
Supergirl Vs Indigo

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, Laura Vandervoort as Indigo. Photo © CBS

Supergirl is silly.

There are aliens flying around all over the place—aliens who can be defeated by glowing green rocks. Some of the aliens flying around are green. Those aliens cannot be defeated by the glowing green rocks. And sometimes the show is silly in other ways, in elements like dialogue and special effects that keep us from fully believing in its noble flying aliens’ dangerous glowing green rocks. So, the question for the finale—an episode on which the very future of the series depends—is this: will this episode be so silly that we roll our eyes, or so silly that we watch with a big goofy grin on our faces, wrapped up in the adventure of it all?

Oh, thank God that this finale was big goofy grin silly.

We begin where we ended last time, with step-sisters Kara and Alex (the first, the noble flying alien I mentioned before, and the second, a human woman strapped into a big mechanical suit filled with some of those glowing green space rocks) flying toward each other to battle. Now, it’s likely that Alex won’t die here, and we’re damn sure that Kara won’t. So this is mostly filler action, and its function in the story is to show us how in the world Kara, Cat Grant, and Maxwell Lord can possibly defeat the Myriad signal, which has turned Alex against her sister. Well, as it turns out, all you have to do is mention mommies and daddies, and everyone snaps right out of it—I see a flaw in your brilliant design, Non!

According to Maxwell Lord, Myriad works by shutting off the “hope” center of the brain, a thing that, to go along with the plot mechanics of this episode, I’m going to assume exists. Though, to offer a quibble here—shutting off hope seems to affect all of the humans here the same way, turning them into empty shells willing to do Non’s bidding. I would think a few of those people would have become scared and desperate. But, listen, I’m going to assume these aliens knew what they were doing when they built their giant mind-control ray.

So, as alluded to last week, Max and Cat have a plan to flash a symbol of hope to National City, which they do while Supergirl gives an impassioned speech that is broadcast on every screen in the city. Here we move from the genre-silly to the genuinely corny. And yet.

I’ve seen a million of these moments. You’ve seen a million of these moments. We all know how this will play out. Kara will give her speech, the people will wake up, somehow Non will be defeated, etcetera. So why does this moment work so effectively?

Look, I spent all of yesterday showing you five (six, really) reasons why Melissa Benoist is the one of the best actresses on television, and yes, that’s part of why this moment works. She doesn’t go big with it, and the temptation to go big must be overwhelming for an actor. But she’s not big, she’s not bombastic. She’s Kara. But there are other elements at play here—direction, music, supporting performances, and the underlying message of the series—that all combine to make this moment, while riddled with clichés, also genuinely powerful. We just have to accept it, guys: Supergirl is a really good show.

Now this all happens before the first commercial break. One of my favorite elements of the series is how much damn story they pack into an episode before that shield flies at the screen, and before it does in this finale, we’ve seen Kara fight Alex, J’onn show up (alive, but hurtin’) with Eliza Danvers (which is what actually snaps Alex out of the hold that Myriad has on her), Kara’s speech, the symbol of hope that wakes up National City (I’ll give you two guesses what it is, and the first one don’t count), and Indigo promising to kill all humans and make Kara Zor-el “queen of a dead Earth”. That all gives us kind of a reset, as the show moves into its regular rhythms when we pick up after commercial, with Kara walking into Catco with Miss Grant’s morning latte (as Cat growls, “you people were more punctual when you were drones”).

Meanwhile, at the DEO, J’onn and Superman are recovering (or, rather, Superman’s boots are recovering, because that’s all that we see of him), and General Lane bursts into arrest him. Lucy gives an impassioned speech on tolerance (though the audience may be wondering why the Supergirl shield was a symbol of hope for Lucy and not a symbol of the alien that stole her boyfriend), and the three Trump supporters who also watch Supergirl click off their televisions in frustration (POLITICAL SIDEBAR: One of my favorite dropped lines of the night is the reveal that, in the Supergirl universe, the president is a woman. Watch out for those mythical Bernie Bros, Supergirl!)

But all is not well. I mean, look how much time we have left in this episode. So, as it turns out, even though the Myriad signal no longer controls the minds of the people of National City, it’s still operating, and has been amplified to an astonishing level. Maxwell Lord spells it out for us: Non and Indigo have cranked it up so high that it will eventually cause the minds of every human on Earth to burst like a water balloon. And with both J’onn and Clark’s boots both out of commission, only Kara is left to save the world. It’s essentially a suicide mission, and much of the episode is spent on Kara saying veiled, emotional goodbyes to Winn, who she thanks for being such a good friend; Cat, who she thanks for being such a good mentor; and Jimmy, who she, essentially, dumps. Poor Jimmy. But Jimmy doesn’t seem all that broken up about it, as any problem that Jimmy has probably fades the minute he walks past a mirror. Oh, right, he reminds himself, I’m handsome.

As Kara says goodbye to J’onn, he fully realizes what she’s doing, and refuses to let her sacrifice herself. She answers, “My mother didn’t send me here to fall in love with a human, have children, and live in a house with a white picket fence. She sent me here to protect Kal-El.” Hey, Kara, it worked—his boots are right over there, and looking sharp! But in protecting Kal, she’s learned to protect the entire Earth as well, and that’s just what she’s going to do.

So an entire season had been building to this showdown: Kara vs. Non as the main event, with J’onn (of course he came along!) vs. Indigo as an undercard rematch. And once the action begins it is unbelievably exciting. For us to believe that this situation is truly different from all of the other times that Kara Zor-El has saved the Earth, we need to really believe in the danger here, and we do. It’s the best action the show has given us so far, as Kara and Non take their battle to the sky and J’onn and Indigo duke it out on the ground, all intercut with the people Kara loves wailing and moaning as the Myriad device threatens to burst their brains out of their skulls.

Then Kara and Non face off against each other in a fight similar to Kara’s showdown with the Red Tornado, but amplified by the emotions of an entire season’s worth of storylines. How can it get any better than this? Well, I’ll tell you how: J’onn J’onzz picks up Indigo and then rips her in half. And even better than that is the fact that the top half of Indigo then tells J’onn and Kara that they’re screwed: without her, and she’s about to die, they can’t shut off the Myriad signal. Good work ripping me in two, guys, but the humans are still dead.

So all that’s left for Kara to do is to fly Fort Rozz, Non and Indigo’s hideout and also the source of the Myriad signal, into space. That, again, is probably going to kill her (interesting to learn the limits of Kara’s powers, she can’t breathe or get thrust in space. Some previous versions of Kryptonians could fly in space, but not these, apparently). So Kara now says the goodbye that she couldn’t before: to Alex, telling her, “everything good I did, it came from being your sister”, and making her promise that she will find a life and happiness and all of the things that being Kara’s sister prevented her from doing. Kara would probably rethink this promise if she’d seen her sister locking hands with Maxwell Lord as the Myriad signal fried their brains.

Anyway, Kara tosses Fort Rozz into the vacuum, and she floats away to die, but we see a craft—Kara’s pod from Krypton, actually, coming to save her. And in that pod is Alex (“You’re not the only bad-ass in this family”, she reminds her sister), and Kara is saved, the Earth is saved, J’onn is given a pardon by Hilary Clinton, Maxwell Lord does some shady dealings in Kryptonian energy sources with the U.S. government, Cat Grant gives Kara a promotion (and better yet actually calls her Kara rather than Kira), and all is well in National City. For ten seconds.

Because what would a silly series be without a silly cliffhanger? As Kara is enjoying a dinner with her friends and family, another Kryptonian pod streaks across the sky. Kara and J’onn fly out to investigate it, and open the smoldering wreckage to find … credits. Summer. And, hopefully, not cancellation.

So. What’s in the pod? We don’t see, so the writers have all summer to figure it out, if indeed they do not have it figured out yet (if you think that doesn’t happen on television, check out some of the fascinating, discouraging interviews with the creative team behind Lost). This episode was great, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but I do wonder if this is the right approach. It would have garnered more conversation to reveal something mysterious in the pod and then cut to credits than to just leave an “it could be anything” mystery. We, as fans, have nowhere to narrow our focus, other than the fact that the pod is Kryptonian. But so are half the damn characters on this series.

My own wild guess is that the pod contains an unstuck-in-time version of Kara herself. It could be anything. But I won’t be tuning in to Season Two, if there is a Season Two, for the answer to what’s in this pod, I’ll be tuning in for more time with these characters, these actors, this world.

Supergirl, Season One finale, Episode 20, “Better Angels”: A

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