written by Dayna Abel
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
“Phantom Menaces” is a a good exploration of how people process loss and frustration, but it’s a bit of a crowded episode. We have three plotlines running concurrently: Kara attempting to escape the Phantom Zone; the fallout of Lex’s exoneration; and one of the phantoms set loose in National City. The third is the weakest of the three, and I feel as though the other two would have benefited more had it been cut. The tug-of-war between Lex and Lena for control of Luthor Corp was threatening enough without the Phantom threat in the background. A man willing to set fire to a children’s hospital just to get back at his sister is far more terrifying than ghosts from another dimension.
Speaking of said dimension, Kara refuses to stop trying to escape the Phantom Zone. Her father, Zor-El, is kidnapped by other criminals for a sacrifice, and while trying to get him back, she meets another inhabitant of the Zone: Princess Nyxly of the fifth dimension, an imp like Mxyzptlk whose father depowered and banished her for being a “useless” woman. Nyxly is completely demoralized until she meets Kara, whose strength of will and hopeful spirit inspires her to fight to regain her magic and help Kara save Zor-El.
Meanwhile, Kara’s absence has left her friends and family reeling. Brainy is feeling emotions to a degree he never has before, and his rage at Kara being gone and Lex getting away with everything threatens to turn him into a killer. Lena sees herself in him and helps keep them both from going down that dark path. J’onn, on the other hand, prefers to bury his emotions to focus on freeing Kara, and wants everyone else to do the same – something that comes back to bite him when M’gann refuses and nearly dies from a Phantom attack. Alex, initially feeling like everything is pointless and empty, finds meaning in helping others who need her.
I love that Kara’s inspiration is felt throughout the episode. What I love about her is how her goodness is reflected back at her. She inspires others to be their best selves, even when she’s not around. A side effect of helping others is that it occasionally benefits you as well, as demonstrated by Nyxly becoming an ally and by Alex pulling herself out of despair by saving M’gann.
That’s the best part of Kara – that cycle of kindness that strengthens everyone around her. Then every time she gets discouraged or she’s at a low point, the people she’s helped show her the difference she’s made, and it keeps her going. It’s a great demonstration of the ripple effect of good deeds, and I hope we see more throughout the season.
Supergirl airs Tuesday nights at 9 Eastern/8 Central on the CW. Dayna can be found on Twitter @queenanthai.