[Review] Supergirl Episode 3×02: “Triggers”

written by Dayna Abel and Cara Russell

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

[last night]
ME: Cara this is a fear-based episode PLEASE TELL ME IF THERE ARE SPIDERS
CARA: …it is four in the morning there are no spiders please go to sleep

Anyway I guess I can review this episode now.

I might go long here. I have had anxiety for most of my adult life, and when I saw Psi induce a panic attack in Kara, I began paying very close attention. I’m happy to say that the episode dealt with the effects of anxiety, trauma, PTSD and phobias very well (as opposed to some episodes I could name).

It makes a huge amount of sense for Kara to have PTSD and claustrophobia from being shot into space. I don’t think we’ve ever really focused on the terror she must have felt, alone in that rocket in the silence of space as her world died around her. No control, no guarantee she would even survive, no way to know if she’d be safe in there…jeez, I’m getting twitchy just thinking about it myself.

Of course she would layer her worst fear onto Mon-El’s exile because of the similarities between their situations. Her panic reaches critical levels as she babbles “it’s him in the pod, I killed him, it was me, I killed him he’s dead“, and Alex is there to ground her, to help her push past it. Of course it’s Alex who saves her. What other bond would be stronger than her fear? “You saved him, Kara,” Alex insists. “Just like your mom saved you. She knew you would be okay. She knew you were gonna live.”

Alex Danvers is a damn superhero and not having powers doesn’t undermine that in any way.

Lena consistently going over James’ head at CatCo and undermining his authority is a bad sign. Those two are gonna have a confrontation. As for Sam and Ruby, our two new major characters, I’ve avoided spoilers as much as I can so I’m intrigued as to why the show is setting them up so prominently. Good stuff this week.

-Dayna

* * *

With Halloween right around the corner, we’re gifted with a fearsome episode which falls somewhat short of Batman’s foe Scarecrow’s work, but focuses more on exploiting general anxiety and causing panic attacks. It features a new villain, Psi, a blonde bank-robbing bombshell in leather pants. We discover more potent realizations and reactions than a straight-up shocker would have given us, but I do wonder if the timing was intentional. To start with, after Supergirl’s first encounter with Psi (and subsequent debilitating panic attack), Alex mentions that Kara experienced those sorts of episodes during her first few years on Earth. It feels like a handwave of a comment, but to those who have felt that kind of crippling anxiety, it is huge to know that one of our heroines faced that, overcame it, and is no less worthy of love and support if she were to experience them again.

While I didn’t expect Kara to get over Mon-El overnight, I do find it intriguing that this is one of the few instances of a male character being “fridged” for the angst and character development of a female character. With this episode’s reveal, we finally get to the crux of Kara’s general discontent – she fears that she sent Mon-El away just to die in space, making her responsible for “killing” him. It’s Alex’s unwavering presence and advice that finally get through to Kara, allowing her to overcome her fears and stand tall in the face of Psi’s attacks to save the day (and robbing us of any hint of a backstory for Psi’s sudden turn to a life of crime).

Taking equal footing in this week’s episode is Samantha Arias (played by Odette Annable), struggling to balance single motherhood of a teen daughter with a high-powered career, while her daughter Ruby is convinced Sam has superpowers after a feat of strength in last week’s episode. It’s a bitter reveal that Ruby’s fixation comes from a desire to spend more time with Sam, as superheroes probably wouldn’t have demanding day jobs…something Kara’s struggling with herself. As Lena moves into CatCo’s territory, her Luthor traits emerge in a power struggle with James Olsen and power plays over Kara’s attentions (both professionally and personally). It’s a hugely awkward situation, which Lena comes to admit when she says she’s not used to having friends, or being part of an environment where it’s not a constant struggle for supremacy. It’s all tied together as we learn that Sam is Lena’s new hire at L-Corp, taking over Lena’s duties while Lena focuses on CatCo, and ensuring we haven’t seen the last of Sam.

With M’Gann’s cameo, it looks like next week will take us to Mars – here’s hoping a change of scenery will help bring some closure and perspective to our Girl of Steel (as opposed to, let’s say, a wayward Kryptonian shuttle).

-Cara

Supergirl airs Monday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Dayna can be reached on Twitter @queenanthai and Cara at @virtualcara.

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