written by Cara Russell
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
Things don’t get better for anyone this week in Supergirl. James, held captive by the Agents of Liberty, is coerced into shooting a propaganda piece for them, including blowing up a monument at an alien refugee processing center (last seen in previous seasons). If this were a smarter show, it’d be an excellent illustration of how “but boooooth siiiiiides” will only lead you to actively aiding and abetting whatever side you’re opposed to.
Unfortunately, this is still just Supergirl, and really, between the ol’ “Super Pal’s Super Signal” trick or James yelling for Supergirl in his cell OR SEVERAL DAYS PASSING WHERE JAMES IS JUST MISSING AND NO ONE NOTICES OR CARES, it never should’ve escalated to that point to begin with.
But hey, Manchester Black has teamed up with Supergirl, but he double-crosses her to deliver her to the Agents of Liberty in exchange for a meeting with the singular Agent Liberty. As a result, a weakened Supergirl is captured and trapped in the monument that James has agreed to blow up. That’s a dramatic setup that is totally (not) worth all of the idiocy he’s been displaying.
Manchester is double-double-crossed, as he should’ve expected. He’s given to a fake Agent Liberty and is no closer to avenging Fiona. He ends up murdering the Agents who meet with him, then taking out the dampeners that are weakening Supergirl. Kara flies the activated bomb into the atmosphere while Guardian takes out his own captors like a putz who should’ve done that before recording an “Earth First” speech that will surely be used against him.
None of this ends up reflecting poorly on James’ poor choices, but Manchester is outed as a murderer and psychopath to Supergirl – and more importantly, to J’onn, who had vouched for his character and desire for a path away from violence. Unfortunately, despite Manchester’s methods, he still comes off as the more sympathetic character with clear goals and clear intentions, albeit with duplicitous and very violent methods.
Meanwhile, Lena is still working on her experiments with Harun-El, the substance that keeps Argo operating, as well as the one she wishes to use to make humans superhuman. This is largely a vehicle for Lena to bond with her current test subject, and open up with some repressed angst about her family and life under the Luthor household. It’s largely wasted on me because I am still so mad about the rest of this episode. Her test subject dies from the test after talking Lena out of abandoning the experiment, but it gives her enough data to vastly increase probability of success on the next attempt.
Here I still must give applause to Katie McGrath for an excellent performance. We can see Lena losing pieces of her soul and mourning them while still pushing towards both her goal of helping humanity, and the consequence of becoming a Luthor in service of that goal. It’s just a shame she only has Eve Teschmacher for support, and sadly Eve’s more of a lackey (though a really good one) than an emotional support. I don’t see this going very well for Lena in the long run, but I’ll take it over literally everything else going on in this show.
Supergirl airs Sunday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Cara can be found on Twitter @virtualcara.