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SUPERGIRL Recap: The Girl Who Has Everything Gets an ‘A’ From Us

By on February 9, 2016
Supergirl

Pictured: Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl. Photo: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Supergirl herself may be in peril, but Supergirl, the series, is on a roll right now.

There might not be any other series on television with more narrative momentum. And there’s certainly not any series that packs more stuff into each episode.

When we last left Kara at the end of last week’s “Bizarro” she’d been jumped on by some sort of space squid thing. This week we learn that the space squid thing is actually a creature called a Black Mercy, which forms a symbiotic and unbreakable connection with its host, and causes them to hallucinate a time in their life that they idealize the most. For Kara, that’s life back on Krypton, which allows the show to give the grown-up Kara some time with her parents in a surprisingly well-rendered digital Krypton (complete with a cameo from a young Kal-El, with his greaser hair curl). In fact, the digital effects throughout this episode are strong, with the striking exception of the lip sync on the digital lips of the Martian Manhunter. CBS, I’ll take a little less sheen on the sparkling surfaces of Krypton if it means that we can get a J’onn J’onzz that doesn’t look like he was dubbed for a spaghetti western.

With Kara gone, Jimmy and Winn have to cover for her with Cat, who is still busy gnashing her teeth about Kara driving her son away. Calista Flockhart does angry really well, and spending time in the office gives the show a chance to do a little preparatory exposition about a coming solar flare that is heading for the earth, that should hit in the next few episodes. That should cause a spike in Kara’s powers, but if the other Kryptonians are still hanging around, then they would experience a power surge as well. So, we could have an all-out Kryptonian war in the streets and skies of Los Angeles, I mean, uh, National City.

Back at the DEO, Alex needs to find a way to reach Kara in her Black Mercy-induced coma. They can’t sever the connection, because it would kill her, so instead Alex uses a DEO virtual reality projection thingie to go inside Kara’s head. Silly, maybe, but it’s an effective device (both as a gizmo and as a narrative tool), as it allows Alex to show the depths of her devotion to Kara by being willing to sacrifice herself for her sister. She tells Jimmy before she goes in to hold Hank back from pulling her out if it looks like she’s in trouble, because she knows she has to stay in to fight for Kara. Plus, Jimmy just needs something to do, or, maybe, you’re just not going to trust Winn with that job.

So Alex finds her sister and, with a lot of speechifying, convinces Kara, who had been gradually forgetting her life on earth, that she needs to come home. Interestingly, it’s the word “Supergirl” that’s the key to her release, as it unlocks the entire family that she now has back on earth, with Jimmy and Winn and Hank and Alex. Somehow, Kara was not lured back to earth by the memory of making lattes for Cat Grant.

Astra and Non are the ones responsible for unleashing the Black Mercy on Kara, but it’s Non that’s still determined to attack earth. When Kara comes out of her coma, leaving the Black Mercy to just sort of shuffle around on the floor of the DEO (apparently no one’s really concerned about it once it’s done with her), she goes to beat up Non, while Astra is making short work of Alex, as you’d expect from a Kryptonian warrior, when J’onn shows up in his Manhunter form. He fights her valiantly, but Astra gets the upper hand on him as well, until, RRRIIIIIIIPPPPP!!! Alex stabs Astra through the chest, delivering her a mortal wound (but one that, conveniently, leaves plenty of time for Kara to fly over and say her tearful goodbyes). That’s a real surprise. Again, this is the Supergirl writers saying to the audience “We’re going to keep this narrative train moving forward, and things are going to happen faster than you would imagine”. Astra has been the big bad of the series since the first episode, so you’d expect something like this closer to the season (or even series) finale.

But this does create a brilliant complication, because when Kara shows up at Astra’s side, J’onn covers for Alex and says that he killed Astra, and that it was a decision that had to be made. This leaves Alex with a choice, and with a secret. At the end of the episode, Alex wants to tell Kara the truth, but is afraid to. How exactly can she tell her sister that she’s taken away her last tie to her mother? It’s a smart move for the series. How will it be revealed, and will Kara feel more betrayed for Alex killing her aunt, or for lying about it? We see, all through the episode, people sacrificing themselves for each other and loyalties being tested. That’s why, when we get to the end of the episode, the cheesy “we’re your true family” moment with Kara, Alex, Jimmy, and Winn actually works, because we do like all of these characters.

But most of all, we like Kara. And a large part of why we like her is Melissa Benoist, who’s proven herself to be one of the most versatile actors on television. This kind of material could veer into silly at any moment, so it takes someone who’s aware of the proper choices necessary to keep the show grounded. Consider early in the episode, when Kara’s still under the effects of the Black Mercy, and Hank volunteers to step in for her at work, using his shape-shifting abilities. So now you have Melissa Benoist playing J’onn J’onzz playing Kara Danvers. Benoist does such a great impression of David Harewood’s mannerisms, voice, and especially his stooping masculine strut. It’s legitimately laugh out loud funny. Then later, when Kara emerges from the Black Mercy and is ready to attack Non, you again believe the moment because of the look of fury and determination on Benoist’s face. It’s important that you believe that a superhero can actually get in the mix with the villains and kick butt.

But this episode Chyler Leigh gets to spend a lot time kicking butt herself. In the past, she’s been at her best in the quieter moments, playing across from Kara. Her natural chemistry with Benoist has worked really well when we’ve just needed to believe that these two women have shared a lifetime bond. But in this episode, Alex stands on her own across from Astra, and is just as brave as her super-powered sister (Hank puts it into words when tells her, “you’re Supergirl’s hero”).

As the episode ends, we’re given hints of a coming danger in the form of the Myriad, some sort of secret super-weapon that Astra and Non have readied to unleash on the earth. What is the Myriad on Supergirl? We don’t know yet. In the comics, Myriad is a character, a woman named Sasha Green with the power to control minds. Will it be the same thing on the TV series? It’s hard to say, as the show has generally used old characters and concepts, but given them a new twist. Since the Black Mercy itself had properties of mind control, will they unleash something like that on a larger scale? Is that why the Black Mercy was left to just crawl around on the floor of the DEO, so that it could be ready should the characters need it to synthesize an antidote? I’d like to think it will be more surprising than that and, at this point, I trust that it will be, because the Supergirl writers are doing some of the most inventive work on TV right now. Given all of the other narrative surprises, it’s a fair bet that whatever the Myriad is, it will be here sooner than we would expect it to be.

Supergirl, Season One, Episode 13, “For the Girl Who Has Everything”: A

 

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