written by Dayna Abel, Jason Froikin and Cara Russell
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
This week brings us the Parasite by way of John Carpenter’s The Thing, and I could not care one whit about that because this episode’s heavy-handed metaphor is about becoming what you’re meant to be. As much as I’d like to discuss Mon-El and James and their respective steps towards becoming heroes (tl;dr – I think James is still an idiot and Mon-El is a bit of a dick but with promise), space is limited and I very much want to talk about Alex Danvers.
The more Alex admits her queerness to herself, the more terrified she is of those around her rejecting her for it. After all, her own first instincts were to deny it, push it down, repress the feelings, reject it. If even she’s afraid to accept part of herself, who’s to say those closest to her won’t also reject her? I personally had little fear coming out as bisexual due to an amazing support system, but Alex doesn’t have that 100% certainty. Nor do many others who struggle with their sexuality. Alex is so afraid of being rejected by Kara that she isn’t braced for any other possibility, and initially attacks Kara for being weirded out.
The thing about coming out is that it’s usually after you’ve had long, long talks with yourself about it. Even for those who have never doubted their queerness and embrace it, it’s still something you’ve had the benefit of living with in your own head. Other people are neither empaths nor psychics, so hearing new information about someone they love is going to hit them all at once. So, yes, even in best-case scenarios, it’s possible for people to need a minute to process things. Kara being a bit taken aback at first reads as rejection to Alex, until Kara sits her down and tells her that even though it’s not the same thing, she knows what it’s like to have to hide part of yourself and how lonely it can feel. But, as she assures her sister, Alex is never alone. Supergirl is built on the motto “stronger together,” and I’m grateful to it for its kind assurance to its own audience.
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I strongly sense that James Olsen is going to get himself in serious trouble, and quickly. He’s wearing armor, but hasn’t really learned how to use it properly. Testing something like that in the field is not a smart idea. And when something does go horribly wrong, Winn is probably going to feel responsible, lose the high of success, and start to become resistant again. In other words, it looks like James and Winn will start to butt heads, depending on how well things go.
The mini-story of Alex’s self-discovery concluded this week, and it was one wild roller coaster ride of emotion. Her coming out wasn’t easy, and wasn’t a celebration; instead, it was a very painful experience, both for her and for us watching. She even thought the worst of Kara at first, who turned out not to be against her, but genuinely confused by her sister’s announcement. But Kara does come to the rescue and revives her sister’s bruised faith and self-confidence.
And confidence Alex had, from that point on. Boosted by that bonding moment with her sister, she stopped feeling sorry for herself and went back to being her unstoppable problem-solving self. Alex became the most successful hero in the entire episode, saving both her sister and Martian Manhunter against difficult odds, and even taunted Mon-El into doing something useful for a change. But sadly, the episode ended in a heartbreaking moment, her confidence shattered once again when she was turned down by Maggie Sawyer. Fortunately she had her sister to cry on. It’s always great to see how supportive the two of them are of each other.
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This is the first episode following the most recent U.S. presidential election, and while I feel it’s incredibly poignant that it focuses on the reality of climate change and those who question it, I am unsure as to whether the disorganized feel of this episode is because it’s lacking, or because the world is fundamentally off-kilter.
Our villain du jour is a scientist infected with an ancient alien virus, and he’s bent on murdering a climate-change-denying businessman to help save the planet. Unfortunately, neither get time to gain enough depth to be any more than caricatures, or motives to distinguish their conflict from Astra’s quest to save humanity from itself last season. Meanwhile, Alex is still struggling with coming out to Kara, in an astonishingly awkward manner that feels more like it was to create drama, or possibly benefit the audience, than it did ring true to the characters and what they’ve struggled through to date.
To add to this, James pressures Winn for the Guardian suit in a manner most unbecoming. It’s a much more hostile tone, with more James/Winn interpersonal drama than I feel I’m used to in Supergirl. Whether this is the price we pay for a second season and network switch – to see a shift from “stronger together” to “secrets and ominous feelings” – a misstep, or just an error in perception has yet to be seen. But I can’t help but repeat the words when the absence is felt – we are never alone, and we are stronger together.
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