Supergirl – Season 3 Episode 11
Supergirl heads on another outer space adventure as Kara puts together a team to visit the Kryptonian prison ship in an effort to find out more information about Reign.
The big challenge the writers have is keeping Reign relevant as a threat. If she is defeated too often then it will be difficult to take her seriously but if she disappears for a long period of time then she might be forgotten to a degree. Finding something that works will be difficult so the stories have to be about Reign without necessarily featuring her.
This episode tests the water to some degree by staging an information gathering mission that keeps Kara away from Reign but tells a story that relates to their conflict. Reign does show up at a later point but her role is very subdued and feels relevant to the story being told while also being grounded in the characters.
Kara’s adventure takes place in outer space after learning that an evil Kryptonian Priestess might be able to supply important information about Reign which may include a way to stop her. In order to find her Kara decides to put together an all female Suicide Squad to enter Fort Rozz and accomplish the mission. She needs extra help because Fort Rozz is orbiting a Blue Star meaning that Kara won’t have her powers when she’s there due to the lack of a Yellow Sun. This means that Supergirl is functionally useless so she needs super powered backup.
The unique properties of the star also limit prospects for assistance as it emits radiation that will kill anything with a Y chromosome -also known as men- which is fairly flimsy as justifications go but it does keep with the theme of female empowerment that has been a big part of this show since the beginning.
Kara’s team consists of Imra, Leslie Willis aka Livewire and Psi who was last seen earlier this season in “Triggers“. It’s an eclectic and interesting team because of the relationship they all have to Kara. I’m glad to say that any tension between Kara and Imra appears to be gone which means they can function as allies without any unnecessary angst defining the relationship. For the purposes of this mission Imra is the one Kara can trust implicitly to support her and follow her instructions without question. This is definitely something she needs considering the same can’t be said for the other two recruits.
Unfortunately they spend very little time together so their interactions are very surface level rather than exploring the extent of their relationship. I’m assuming that the tension between them is gone based on the previous episode but this episode doesn’t provide much justification either way.
Leslie has been an interesting character since her introduction and has appeared a few times since so has an existing relationship with Kara as Supergirl. It’s broadly an antagonistic one but there’s some depth to it as Leslie’s motivations have always been better developed than many other villains on this and her last appearance wasn’t in a villainous capacity as such. Basically there is enough scope for this relationship to develop and a life or death situation is as good an excuse as any to do that.
It turns out that the presence of Reign has scared Leslie into abandoning a life of crime to make an honest living. Many criminals are scared of Reign dispensing her form of justice on them and Leslie represents a cross section of the criminal element who will be doing exactly the same thing she is. The episode doesn’t go into this but I wonder if Kara will consider the fact that Reign’s methods are actively discouraging some criminals where hers don’t seem to be. Superhero methodology and Kara’s approach against Reign’s could be an interesting point of debate in a later episode.
Leslie agrees to help because it increases the chances of Supergirl defeating Reign which ultimately benefits her because it means there is no chance of being hunted down and killed. She becomes a really reliable member of the group getting by on sassy comments rather than the promise of betrayal and strikes up a really entertaining dynamic with Kara. The best scene was where they discussed Imra and reflected on Kara’s relationship with Mon’El. Considering Leslie’s former occupation it makes sense that this would interest her and it’s clear that she sees a more Human side to Supergirl. They’re not quite friends by the end but there’s definitely a mutual respect there and it’s a lot of fun to watch them bounce off one another.
This episode does such a good job with Leslie that her sacrifice feels earned when it happens. Redemption and Kara’s belief in the potential for anyone to be redeemed is very much a central theme to this episode and Leslie throwing herself in front of Reign’s heat vision to save Kara is about as clear a representation of that as you can get. Kara sees through this that redemption is possible for anyone and takes some comfort in that fact.
The other recruit Gayle Marsh aka Psi who shares Leslie’s motivation of not being killed by Reign for helping. Since she has only appeared once before this episode she is more of a question mark than Leslie is which adds a degree of tension as it’s unclear how much she can be trusted. Less time is spent on this character which makes it difficult to invest in her. The use of her powers on Imra doesn’t work as a moment because it’s unclear whether this is an accident or not. Building a mystery around that to make Psi more ambiguous is a reasonable idea but the episode does very little with it so it feels like a waste. Psi being benched because she is too dangerous and unpredictable makes a lot of sense and I can see what the writers were going for with the redemptive moment for her when she saves Kara from Reign but it doesn’t quite work because the time wasn’t taken to develop it. As such Kara starting to trust her and upgrading her cell to one with a window feels unearned.
It’s a pity because this episode would be the perfect opportunity to explore these characters and their relationships to one another. A hero working with villains to achieve a common goal is nothing new in comic books and their adaptations and the best stories mark something of a shift in the relationship. This happens with Leslie certainly though she dies and the episode wants us to believe that it happens with Psi but as I pointed out the execution wasn’t strong enough for it to land as well as it should. As fun as it is to see Leslie and Psi sniping at each other along with everything else there should have been more to it.
A big problem is that the episode gets too bogged down in the actual mission itself which would have been better used as an excuse for claustrophobic character development. Fort Rozz is a sinister and foreboding looking place but ultimately not a lot happens there so the Haunted House angle can only be sustained for so long. This was a great opportunity to dig into the characters and focus on them but it sadly wasn’t used to the fullest possible extent.
The confrontation with the Priestess Jindah Kol Rozz (Sarah Douglas) is well handled. The foggy location and her demonic whispering. Sarah Douglas adds the right amount of gravitas to the role. Not much information is gained from this exchange other than Kara becoming aware of the existence of other world killers which gives team Supergirl something to focus on in the coming episodes. The dialogue itself is very cryptic and heavy handed but it doesn’t remove the sense of mystery and threat from the conversation.
Reign’s appearance is very effective because of the way it’s built. The assumption Kara -and the audience- makes is that she will be without her powers for the same reason Kara is but it turns out that her abilities don’t work in the same way which puts Kara at even more of a disadvantage than she was before. Kara does reiterate that she isn’t afraid of Reign and seems genuine enough but it’s easy to remember the savage beating she endured only two episodes ago and be aware of the level of danger she’s in going up against Reign without her powers.
Naturally Kara tries to appeal to her better nature and steer her desire for justice in a less lethal direction. She points out that they have the same goal and should work together rather than be on opposite sides. Essentially Kara tries to awaken her own values inside Reign because she has a feeling that they do exist which may be an unconscious recognition that her friend Sam is in there somewhere. Either way she does now have a reason to believe in Reign’s hidden goodness after Psi causes Sam to emerge very briefly. I wonder if Psi will return in a later episode to stand up to Reign.
One thing that could become concerning in regards to the Reign arc is that very little has been done with the Sam persona before this point. We see her dropping Ruby off with Alex and attempting to go to work before being summoned to go after Kara but beyond that the psychological struggle hasn’t been covered in any real detail. I get the impression that this is about to become significant based on her begging Alex for help and realising that she has been losing a lot of time lately. There definitely hasn’t been a lot of time to focus on that duality but it did run the risk of fading into the background. Odette Annable continues to impress playing both personas and the terror in Sam’s face and voice as the realisation of the lost time dawns on her is nicely done.
Focus on other characters was limited but effective. Alex and Ruby’s scenes were really endearing and possibly foreshadow Alex’s role in the coming episodes at least on a temporary basis. These scenes do allow Alex to address her lingering feelings for Maggie and enhances an already strong dynamic between her and Ruby. Winn and Brainy offer some entertainment with a tech guy rivalry. It hits the usual notes such as Brainy making fun of primitive past technology and them finding a mutual understanding at a later point.
Mon’El also shows significant growth albeit a consequence of off screen events when he gives Kara advice that is both useful and filled with compassion. It’s clear that his time in the future has granted him a deeper understanding of social nuance and Chris Wood works wonderfully with Melissa Benoist to suggest a new friendship based relationship for them.
An entertaining if flawed episode that allows Kara’s antagonistic relationship with Leslie to develop into something close to friendship without losing the edge to it. The idea of being far away from help with people she barely knows or trusts backing her up is a strong one but the episode fails to make proper use of it. Psi isn’t featured enough to make it clear whether she is working against them or not and Imra shares barely any scenes with Kara. The episode is too bogged down in the mission itself which is the wrong focus. Kara’s conversation with the Priestess is effective enough on its own despite some heavy handed dialogue thanks to the gravitas that Sarah Douglas brings to the role.
Reign’s appearance is appropriately threatening thanks to the reveal that she has powers and Kara doesn’t. The emergence of Sam’s personality after Kara’s attack is really effective when coupled with Kara’s attempt to reach her better nature. This confirms to Kara that it does exist and it’ll clearly continue to develop. There is a risk that Sam’s duality could fade into the background though her appeal for help from Alex should correct this. Alex and Ruby’s scenes together were entertaining to watch and enhance an already strong dynamic while allowing Alex to deal with lingering feelings for Maggie. The rivalry between Brainy and Winn was expected and lacked originality but was fun nonetheless and Mon’El’s advice shows real growth for the character. All told a solid episode that does a lot of things right.
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