It takes Supergirl going bad for the show to have its best episode yet. Week after week, except during breaks, we have to deal with a lot of elements going on at the same time: the latest big bad, Kara juggling her life at the DEO and CatCo, and what’s going on with every other characters’ lives — all in two, not-so-tidy plot lines. “Falling” trims the fat with a single problematic element that effects everyone at the same time. That problem, however, turns out to be the show’s protagonist.
Every hero has a bit of a dark side, there’s no questioning that. Part of what makes them a hero is knowing to resist those chaotic/bad urges. But every now and then, someone makes red kryptonite to deal with one threat and ends up accidentally altering your brain. As a result, the flood gates that once held back your raging id are now wide open and in control. That’s what happens to Supergirl this week after unknowingly getting exposed to red kryptonite.
The red kryptonite is a man-made substance created by Maxwell Lord, who meant to synthesize the effects of green kryptonite. He wanted to be prepared for when Non and his Kryptonian rogues show pop back up for another showdown. But then the lab creating it caught on fire. Believing it to be your run-of-the-mill burning building where firemen are trapped, Supergirl swoops in to save the day. In doing so, she comes a little too close to shards of the red kryptonite, which were hiding underneath some rubble. The negative change in Supergirl/Kara’s attitude is gradual, but she eventually becomes everyone’s worst nightmare.
But! Before she turns bad, “Falling” smartly reminds us how good and kind Supergirl is. She shrugs off catching Winn and Siobhan hooking up in the supply closet, and she hesitates jumping at the opportunity to “comfort” James (Yes, I’m switching from Jimmy to James. It’s time.) after hearing he and Lucy broke up. Most importantly, we see how she effects the community through the eyes of a little girl who bravely comes to school dressed as Supergirl. Our hero stumbles into a bullying in progress and flies in to take the little girl’s side by pretending they’re best buds. As Cat Grant likes to brag, Supergirl is “brave, kind, and strong.”
Then red kryptonite unleashes the darkness living within Kara. The rock doesn’t transform her into an entirely new person, per se. It’s more like the red kryptonite empowers Kara to act on every bad and malicious impulse that has ever crossed her mind. I’m sure that if left to her own devices any longer, we would have had an Irredeemable situation on our hands — a story by Mark Waid where the Superman-esque character decides that enough is enough and just goes ape-crap on the entire planet. And it’s not like we haven’t seen this side of Kara before. We got a glimpse of her “having enough” when she unleashed her anger on the Red Tornado on “Red Faced.”
Melissa Benoist is on point this week. She sells every beat of Kara’s gradual evolution, from matching Siobhan’s office mean girl attitude (and getting her fired), to mocking Alex’s insecurities, to outright throwing Cat off the CatCo building just to prove a point. If Alex and Hank weren’t there to stop her, I’m almost sure Kara would have either joined Non’s cause, taken it over, or destroyed him and his men altogether to rule planet Earth herself. The way she was acting, I’m leaning more towards the third option.
But it’s Benoist conveying genuine despair and shame after she’s cured that really got to me. The once bubbly superhero is now despondent and unsure of how to begin the difficult task of getting everyone to trust her again. Alex will always love her sister, and James will always be Kara’s friend. But there is some truth to what she has said to the both of them, and they need time to heal before their respective relationships with Kara can begin to feel normal again. It was really touching to see Kara come to Cat Grant, even after almost killing her and then getting publicly disavowed by CatCo. Kara barely had to explain herself to Cat. The understanding is already there, and the media mogul jumps right back into her mentor/mother figure position.
Probably one of the biggest consequences of Kara’s actions this week is forcing Hank Henshaw to reveal himself as the Martian Manhunter in front of everyone, including the DEO. Before Kara kills, Hank changes into his true Martian form and attacks the Kryptonian. This is the first time we see J’onn truly fight. Kryptonians may still be stronger, technically, but this Martian has tricks up his sleeve that will give even Superman a run for his money. I’m sure getting phased through several times in mid-air will knock the wind out of anyone on the receiving end.
Martian Manhunter may have saved the day, but that doesn’t spare him from getting arrested and thrown into DEO jail. And now that everyone knows that the real Hank Henshaw is dead, we’re left to wonder what will become of J’onn J’onzz, the de facto father figure to both Alex and Kara.
- The most consistent pattern with Supergirl is that whenever Melissa Benoist cries, I cry. I can’t run away from it. She’s an infectious crier!
- Lucy Lane is gone. This actually makes me sad. I wanted to see her charging through CatCo offices as the bad-ass lawyer lady, now free and unaffected by some break-up. Well…not immediately. I imagine a relationship like James and Lucy’s was more substantial than what we’ve seen to just get over in the course of an hour. But still!
- Senator Crane is back. Before she finds out that Hank is an alien, she shows signs of attraction towards the director of DEO. Le sigh. I wanted to see Hank/Crane romance. Seeing Crane place her hand on top of his in the situation room (and the kids reacting to it) was cute.
- Jeremy Jordan acting genuinely shocked when he hears about Supergirl throwing Cat Grant off the building. “She killed Ms Grant?!” he said in a voice that came out a lot louder than he anticipated.
- This isn’t the first show that has jammed in CBS’ daytime talk show, erm, The Talk. They need to make these dumb segments less awkward. Or better yet, just not do them at all. Please and thank you.
- Hank reassuring Alex, twice, by winking. HEART. MELTING.