[Review] Supergirl Episode 5×16: “Alex In Wonderland”

written by Dayna Abel

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

“All those things I can do. All those powers…and I couldn’t even save him.” -Clark Kent, Superman (1978)

We get that a lot with Super-family stories. There’s a very insidious kind of guilt, of hopelessness, when there is absolutely nothing you can do to help. Even if you can hear a butterfly flapping its wings halfway across the world, even if you can shoot lasers from your eyes, even if you can defy gravity itself…you can’t stop a heart attack, or cancer. You will never be able to help all of the people, all of the time.

And that’s with superpowers. Alex Danvers has many gifts, but she is still human. This episode centers around her feelings of powerlessness and helplessness after learning that her father Jeremiah died after going into cardiac arrest during a humanitarian mission. On top of that, she has a great deal of unresolved anger and guilt about Jeremiah’s death because neither of them had the chance to mend their estrangement. And now they never will.

This reminded me of my father, and his father. Papa died in 2013 after a long, painful decline. He was not a great father to my dad, and there’s a lot there I won’t really get into. Suffice to say that it wasn’t until nearly the day he died that he was able to tell my dad that he loved him, after a lifetime of abuse and neglect. He waited too long to be a real father and now he can’t and it’s caused my dad a lot of pain.

So it’s easy to see why Alex wanted to escape into a virtual reality where she could protect and save everyone just because she had the power to do so. But because of the unpatched flaw in the Obsidian lenses, Alex ends up not only trapped in the VR, but a bit brainwashed by it. It’s only when she comes face-to-face with the avatar of her teenaged self, programmed by Kelly, that she’s able to see the danger she’s in by hiding away from reality – not to mention the danger posed by Obsidian Platinum itself.

That B-plot is shaping up into an interesting mystery – what does Leviathan get out of trapping people in the Obsidian VR? What kind of world are they trying to shape?

I loved seeing Kelly Olsen in action, being the voice of reason and giving Alex a strong foundation of love and compassion. She also works well with William here, pooling their knowledge and resources to start scratching the surface of the link between Obsidian North and Lex Luthor. I can’t recall whether or not Kelly and William know about Leviathan’s link to Andrea, but they’re sure to find out any moment. Once all of our intrepid reporters are able to prove the Luthor-Leviathan-Obsidian connection, someone’s hand is going to be forced, and I’m nervous and excited to see how that’s going to shake out.

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

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