Supergirl Ep. 219 Recap & Review – ‘Alex’
This week’s episode gets super tense when someone from Kara’s past kidnaps Alex. Now she and Maggie have to work through their differences to save the woman they love, or else….
Leave it to an ordinary human to send Team Supergirl scrambling like desperate chickens with their heads cut off. I mean this in a totally positive way. This week’s episode, simply titled “Alex,” introduces a villain that really raises the stakes for our hero. Rick Malverne (David Hoflin) spent an entire year concocting a plan to best the Girl of Steel, resulting in a near fool-proof plan that would would have taken the life of a major character. In other words, he’s the type of villain for which no one was prepared to handle. That alone is refreshing.
There is still some suspension of disbelief. Within a rather short amount of time, we’re asked to accept that this man, who is about the same age as Alex, is so emotionally starved for parental love and approval that he’d spend so much time stalking the Danvers sisters (without either of them noticing!) and devising such a plan to even anticipate J’onn Jones’ shapeshifting and telepathic abilities. All this to break his father out of prison. (Is he secretly a Luthor, by any chance?) If he’s so smart why even bother with the Danvers and break his father out himself? Cut out the middle man. Either way, it made for some great television. It also brought up another flaw in Supergirl.
In the beginning of the episode we learn that not only is Maggie a pretty good detective, she’s also a pretty good negotiator. Or rather, we are made to assume that she’s a good negotiator. Supergirl has a tendency to undo all her hard work. After hours of talking down a hostage-taking bank robber, Supergirl swoops in and grabs the bad guys. As a hardworking cop with no powers, something like this irks the hell out of Maggie. It’s especially annoying when these same low-bar criminals are let go because they sued the “Supergirl Defense,” a defense criminals taken in by a vigilante (illegal). They sometimes also include getting roughed up a little too much (excessive force). For once, we hear about the negative legal side-effect to Supergirl’s heroism.
Maggie and Kara have clearly gone past the point of polite friendship and have grown close enough to feel comfortable to confront the other with some cold hard truths. Aw, just like family. And like family, things that bother them may have been bottled up to the point of boiling frustration — Maggie practically biting Kara’s head off about her day-saving seems sudden but understandable if you think about it this way.
Their heated conversation does bring up a nice idea that isn’t always talked about in superhero comics, movies, or TV shows. As well-meaning as Kara is, she can cause more problems than she solves. Kara’s tendency to dive right into danger is well-documented. Even when the situation is low stakes, Supergirl doesn’t really take it upon herself to assess the situation first. Someone usually does that for her while she’s already en route. Like Maggie points out, it’s fine if they’re dealing with powerful aliens with high-tech weaponry and the like, but when it comes down to humans…maybe ask what’s going on first?
Melissa Benoist and Floriana Lima deliver really strong performances this week. It’s rare to see Benoist channel a side of Kara that isn’t downright adorable and charming. When it comes to Alex’s life being in danger, Kara is like a flipped coin. She’s even less patient than usual and is willing to use intimidation and force to get the bad talking. Partner those aspects of her personality with the attitude that she can do anything because she has superpowers, and you have a recipe for a series of mistakes that could have been avoided easily. This is where Kara and Maggie butt heads the most.
I’m super happy that we get more of Maggie this week. Lima’s best scene is when Maggie is tearfully begging a trapped Alex to not give up. You can feel Maggie’s heart breaking as Alex tries to give her the “If I don’t make it…” speech. I maintain that the Alex/Maggie relationship contains some of the best writing in this second season.
Meanwhile, I’m actually digging this new dynamic the show has constructed between Queen Rhea (Teri Hatcher) and Lena Luthor. Hatcher acting as the regal queen of an abandoned planet seemed a bit too stiff to me, but put her in some human clothes and she turns into this charismatic person with the ability to bewitch Lena. In such a short amount of time, I’m genuinely impressed how well she is able to blend as much as she has. It was enough to fool Lena for a while until she slipped up with a “Thank the gods” remark.
Rhea approaches Lena with plans to the teleportation device we saw earlier this season — the one used to traffic humans off-world to be sold into slavery. Of course, Lena doesn’t know about this important little detail. All she knows is that this construct would change the face of travel around Earth for the better. Good job, Rhea, for having enough insight to add the “This would also help the environment” chestnut in her proposal.
Lena does work out on her own that Rhea is being less than truthful, but Rhea manages to sway her back to her side by appealing to their mutual family tragedies.
I made an observation last week that the show is precariously moving Lena towards a possible downfall in which she eventually will fall into the Luthor family business of super villainy. Her encounter with Rhea reenforces that possibility even more as they go into business together. I do appreciate that instead of falling in haphazardly, they’re giving Lena some time to naturally evolve from a completely good and well-meaning human to a full-on xenophobic Luthor. Right now, she just lacks enough foresight to realize where she’s being led.
You’ll also notice that Lena trying to reach out to Kara when she’s unsure of what to do next, but Kara is too busy saving the day to help her friend. I have a feeling this will be the first of many times Lena will be ignored by Kara.
I’m calling it now: Lena will fall into the tragic character trope of the inherently good character whose values get warped by a malevolent outside force because no one was around to tell set her straight.
I’m glad we finally have a clearer endgame, but it’s a little frustrating that it took this long to get here. Our main bad guys throughout the second season — Lillian Luther, Hank Henshaw, Jeremiah Danvers, and the rest of Cadmus — are still at large, for crying out loud.
Another thing that bothers me is that we’re getting another invading alien building some kind of doomsday device. Again, should have followed through on Cadmus. The season’s not over yet, though.