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SUPERGIRL “Solitude” Recap: Kara Learns There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’

By on March 1, 2016
Supergirl

Pictured left to right: Mehcad Brooks and Melissa Benoist Photo: Darren Michaels/CBS

“Solitude” is typical of Supergirl so far in this first season: a very strong episode overall that almost derails due to some iffy plotting and logistics, only to be set right again by a moment of pure emotion. Part of why this show is working so well, and certainly why “Solitude” works, is that it embraces the campy fun of comic books—here through the purring, prowling figure of Indigo, who is described as a “living extra-terrestrial computer” (and just happens to look exactly like Mystique from the X-Men film series). She was once connected to a giant, living cyber-structure, which was used to control the computer system on Krypton, and was known as Brainiac 8 (a name that will resonate with readers of DC Comics).

Indigo is played by Laura Vandervoort, who played the previous TV incarnation of Supergirl on the WB’s Smallville (she joins the 80’s film Supergirl, Helen Slater, who on the CBS version is Kara’s adopted mother Eliza Danvers). Vandervoort goes big with her performance. It’s mostly a success, and definitely fun, but toes the line between good campy and bad campy, and will likely be divisive. One thing Vandervoort nails is comic book body movement. She strikes a definitive pose with each movement, painting little panels with each step and expression. Of course, there’s no way to avoid looking silly as her arms are stretching out, Mr. Fantastic-style, to reach to both ends of the control room of a nuclear missile silo, to unlock ignition switches on either side. But that’s jumping ahead.

The real underlying story in this episode continues to be the fallout from Astra’s death, with Kara blaming Hank for it, since he covered for Alex. The last thing we saw in the previous episode was Kara walking away from the DEO and telling Hank that she couldn’t work with him anymore. This episode begins with Alex bringing Kara donuts and trying to find a way to tell her the truth. Again, she fails.

Kara, meanwhile, is dealing with the rising threat of Siobhan at Catco. “I could throw her into space,” Kara tells Winn, “I dream about doing that.” Siobhan brings Cat a flash drive which contains the secret directory of a website called Diamond Discretions (think Ashley Madison) that caters to prominent men cheating on their wives. Later on, we’ll find out that Siobhan is more interested in the fact that her own father is a client—years after he was caught cheating on her mother, and promised that he would never do it again. Jimmy bonds with her over bad fathers (Toyman Junior, as Cat calls him, certainly knows a thing or two about that), and they end up making out in the elevator.

This will keep the ever-evolving romantic geometry of the series essentially a square, as Lucy Lane, apparently, is out of the picture. She breaks up with Jimmy, after spending the entire episode waiting for him to show to her that she is more important to him than Supergirl is. He fails, and she is hurt. While trying to convince Lucy to give Jimmy a second chance, Kara innocently tells Lucy the story of Jimmy getting his first camera from his father, right before his father was killed in battle, a story that Lucy has never heard. This leads Lucy to realize what Jimmy and Kara both know, but won’t put into words—that they love each other.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot of story packed into this episode, but it all fits well. More than anything, this is just a very entertaining episode, with the best one-liners we’ve gotten in weeks. The episode even includes a trip to Superman’s fortress of solitude, where Jimmy and Kara travel to in search of information on Indigo. They’re able to enter the fortress because Superman has, quite literally, left a key under the mat. Of course, this key happens to be made of condensed dwarf star material (a direct reference to one of the greatest Superman stories of all-time, Grant Morrison’s ­All-Star Superman) so only Kara can lift it. The fortress is full of nerdy callbacks and Easter Eggs, and it continues to be fun, if also a little frustrating, how the show dances around Kara’s relationship with her cousin. In the Fortress, a floating robotic helper (rendered with decent CGI) tells Kara that Indigo was sentenced to the Kryptonian super-prison Fort Rozz. The audience already knows something is up, because we’ve seen that Indigo and Non have some kind of history together.

As it turns out, Diamond Discretions is just a way to get access to the private information of a general who has access to nuclear launch sites. Indigo hacks into the missile silo and sets off a bunch of nukes. Kara comes in to fight her, and then flies off after the missile. But Kara can’t stop the missile on her own, for reasons that are pretty murky (we did just see her pick up the equivalent weight of a dwarf star), so she reaches out to the DEO for help disarming it. Meanwhile, also at the DEO, Jimmy creates a piece of malware that he loads into Indigo, blowing her up, but not before she can reveal to Kara that she is the reason that Kara is on Earth at all. It seems that when Kara’s pod went off course, knocking her into the phantom zone, it was Indigo who set it back on course.

At the end of the episode, Kara comes back to work for the DEO, saying “the world almost ended because we weren’t a team”. But she’s still not ready to forgive Hank for what he did. That leads Alex to finally do the right thing and tell her sister the truth. She breaks down, in a real emotional showcase for Chyler Leigh, who we’ve seen be tough, and charming when bonding with Kara or flirting with Maxwell Lord, but hasn’t had many of these breakdowns. She really sells this scene, as does Benoist—you see the anger and hurt in Kara’s eyes. But when Alex says, “I was afraid of losing you”, Kara finally hugs her sister. Hank steps away to give the sisters their space, but Kara reaches out for him. And so, Alex holds on to Kara as Kara holds Hank’s hand—a family reunited. It’s a genuinely touching moment; with strong performances from all three actors. It shows what emotion this series is capable of, and it’s nice to have this moment as a capper to one of the campiest episodes of the series so far. That’s what separates Supergirl from most of superhero television, and even some of the lesser superhero films. There’s certainly more genuine emotion in this scene than in the entirety of Man of Steel or Ant-Man.

But a character as fun as Indigo isn’t going to go away for good, as we see, at the end of the episode, that Non has brought her back to life. I merely broke your heart,” he tells her, “look what Supergirl has done to you.” So once again, the series keeps mounting the tension leading to the back half of the season, which we can only hope remains as fun, and as consequential, as this episode.

Supergirl, Season One, Episode 15, “Solitude”: A-

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