[Review] Supergirl Episode 5×13: “It’s A Super Life”

written by Cara Russell

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

After two events involving timey-wimey universe-altering events, we have a third! Mxyzptlk returns, his powers restricted so that he may only use them to help those he’s wronged until he serves his penance. With Kara the last person he has to help, he offers to send her back in time to confess her super-shenanigans to Lena before it can sour their relationship.

Through this, we get a heavily punned clip show of Kara and Lena’s interactions from earlier seasons, where Kara returns to do it differently…only for each event’s fallout to go horribly wrong and Mxy pulling Kara back for another try. It never quite goes right, and the closest they get involves the return of Ben Lockwood, whose family killed themselves as an act of faith for the Cult of Rao. Lockwood kidnaps Lena and Thomas Coville, leaving them in a deathtrap as bait for Supergirl. Kara reveals her secret identity to the rest of the world to save them, but it leads to the Agents of Liberty hunting down and killing all of her friends and family later.

Kara sorrowfully claims that Lena would be better off if they’d never been friends, and Mxy shows her a dystopian world where Lena’s L-Corp turns National City into an authoritarian hellscape with the help of Reign, Brainiac 5, and a stolen fifth-dimensional hat to power her technology. An all-out battle ensues as Winn and Mon-El take Mxy to reclaim his powers via his old hat, and Supergirl faces down Lena. It goes poorly, as Lena had been saved by her mother from near death after Lex’s assassination attempt…and this Lena has a Kryptonite heart.

Fortunately Mxyzptlk saves the day, and they’re all swept back to the original timeline before Kara actually dies. Kara’s done with trying to rewrite the past, however, and absolves Mxy, winning him his powers back permanently and sending him on his way. I wish the episode had ended here. It was pretty good, even with the appearances from Mon-El (whom I don’t dislike, but am in a minority), Lockwood (who I’d love to never see again), Kelly returning as Guardian, Reign’s short hurrah and Winn sticking around for another episode. That said, it didn’t get to much of a point while superficially homaging It’s A Wonderful Life.

But then Kara confronts Lena in her own home, again, and announces that she’s absolved herself of any remaining guilt over Lena’s actions. Telling Lena that her actions are her own responsibility, and it’s her choice to forgive Kara, work with Lex, or any number of less savoury choices. Which is all well and good, but then she continues to say that if Lena doesn’t stop, Supergirl will come for her like she would any other villain. That isn’t “hope, help or compassion” for anyone – that’s a literal threat. That’s an icy blade at the warm squishy bits. That’s some unfair play below the belt. That’s Lena crying herself to sleep for the 97th straight night in a row and Kara feeling righteous about it.

That’s someone with access to the scripts going “Shit, they’re lesbians; we need to undo this somehow.”

I don’t think they succeeded, but they’re still trucking onward and everyone’s a horrible person.

I understand that in the grand scheme of things, Kara likely isn’t a character who can be revealed as queer in this medium. But Supergirl, above all others, is a character who has unending love for her friends and family. Yet Lena is another character towards whom she can’t profess any sort of love. Not platonic, not as a friend, not as a sister, not as a trusted ally. Not worthy of the same professions of love and trust she gives Alex, J’onn, even newcomers Nia and Brainy. And Lena is desperate to be loved and accepted as she is, even with all her flaws. It’s possible to do this without making it a relationship based on romance, the characters keep recognizing this, and yet the showrunners won’t take that step. Instead we get episodes like this one, designed to display paradise and then twist a knife.

So I suggest this: When your heroes let you down, do what you needed them to do. Tell your friends that you love them. Trust them. Give them your truths and accept theirs. Remember to hope, to help, and to have compassion in this reckless world.

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Supergirl airs Sunday nights at 9 Eastern/8 Central on the CW. Cara can be found on Twitter @virtualcara.

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