Supergirl – Season 1 Episode 15
Supergirl introduces Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and brings back a former Supergirl as a villain.
The villain of this story goes by Indigo (Laura Vandervoort) but she is also a version of Brainiac known as Brainiac-8. That isn’t necessarily important for this story but it’s a nice piece of Superman trivia to bear in mind. Superman’s conflict with Brainiac is a very significant one and he numbers among his greatest enemies so the potential exists for Indigo to do the same. Having her be responsible for Kara and the Fort Roz prisoners escaping the Phantom Zone increases that potential.
In terms of execution, Indigo doesn’t work as well as the episode clearly wants her to. The whole hacking plot feels utterly ridiculous and dated already so I can’t imagine how ridiculous this episode will seem even a couple of years from now as it already resembles a 90s interpretation of what computer hacking might be like. I am glad the episode stopped short of Kara digitising herself to fight Indigo on her own turf because at one point I felt that it might go that way.
Her defeat was almost as silly with a plan ripped right out of the end of Independence Day. Somehow advanced alien technology can be brought down by a simple computer virus. It was ridiculous back then and it’s ridiculous now. That definitely won’t help this episode when people come to view it in the near future. It feels like a really quick fix and it has me wondering why Winn bothers to work at CatCo. If he really is that good then it seems like he could be working anywhere he wanted to and probably should be numbered among the top minds in the country. I feel that him moving to the DEO full time would be a better fit for the character as it would give Kara more of a connection to that part of the show and it would give Winn more to do.
Indigo’s plan is more than a little confusing as it starts with her revealing celebrity scandals as a way to eventually get access to nuclear missiles so that she can use them to wipe out all of humanity. I’m still not sure how any of that makes sense but it does allow Cat Grant to have an opinion on the whole thing so that makes it worthwhile doesn’t it? Except that it doesn’t. I would think that a genius level intellect like Indigo would be able to figure out some way to get access to nukes without alerting the world to her existence. Certainly keeping Supergirl from being on the case would be in her best interests. I think it’s safe to say that she needs serious work as a villain.
The character design looks like a discount Mystique which disappointed me as instead of being remembered as Indigo from Supergirl she will most likely be remembered as “the villain that looks like Mystique”. Despite that she does look really good except from the jumpsuit the same colour as her skin, I’m no fashion expert but to me that looked strange. It is impressive that she spends more time in her true form than the human disguise that we see as I would have expected it to be the other way around. Laura Vandervoort should be commended for her dedication to being under heavy makeup for the bulk of her screen time.
Laura Vandervoort gives a good performance in this villainous role. She has a believable physicality and the joy she takes from being “evil” is just camp enough without being over the top. The end of the episode suggests that she will come back so it’ll be good to see a villain with so much personality return at some point.
The title of the episode references Kara visiting Superman’s Fortress of Solitude but it also refers to the self-imposed isolation that the characters are creating for themselves. Kara is still unable to work with J’Onn after he –as far as she knows- killed Astra so cuts herself off from the DEO and tries to be a hero without their assistance. She is still fully committed to working with Winn and James because she feels more effective when she works with other people. It ties into the “Stronger Together” idea from the second episode. Kara isn’t a loner and needs some sort of support system but that needs to be people she can trust. At this point that isn’t J’Onn and she is sticking to her guns on not working with him.
This pays off when she has to ask for his help in bringing down a nuclear missile that is heading for National City. It’s a great sequence with some really impressive visual effects as well as a tense fast pace to it. Supergirl definitely consistently delivers on action sequences and this one is a series highlights.
It’s also important on a thematic level as it marks the point where Kara realises that she has to put her personal feelings aside in order to save the city. The DEO can help her deal with the missile so she has to learn to work with them despite how awkward that will be. Kara shows that she holds the safety of others above all else and it’s a very mature heroic decision to make.
Alex has been isolating herself from Kara because of the secret she is keeping. She feels guilty for killing Astra as well as hiding the fact that she did it and letting J’Onn take the blame. It’s clear that doing this is eating away at her and she confesses in this episode. Kara’s reaction isn’t what I expected it to be but it really worked. Having her instantly forgive Alex shows that her relationship with her sister is more important to her than holding a grudge over what she did in the heat of battle. Alex’s explanation is perfectly reasonable as it paints it as if she had no choice. The events as seen when she did it completely support that so she’s not lying to sugarcoat the truth. It’s more important that she feels remorse for doing something she thought was necessary. Alex’s confession is a really powerfully acted scene by Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh. There aren’t enough genuine moments between these characters so it makes them more significant when they do appear.
The theme of isolation continues through James and Lucy who are having real trouble keeping their relationship together. Lucy is feeling insecure about James’ connection to Supergirl and James naively thinks that telling Lucy Kara’s secret will stop that. I’m not sure how that works because keeping a secret doesn’t seem to be the root of the issue here. Lucy is jealous of Supergirl in the same way that she was jealous of Superman. In both cases James seemed to be more fixated on that relationship than theirs so the issue Lucy has is that she’s not a priority in his life. Considering the way he is acting it’s hard to disagree. Ether the lack of chemistry between Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Mehcad Brooks means that they are simply a mismatched pair of actors who are forced to act like they are in a relationship or it’s deliberate to show that they don’t “belong together”.
Lucy is always smart and refuses to let anyone push her around so constantly confronts the situation to the point that James simply runs out of excuses. His feelings for Supergirl are something he isn’t being entirely honest about to her or himself.
Kara’s attempt to help repair the relationship by telling her a story that shows how great a guy he is and listing everything she likes about him puts Lucy on a different track. James has never told her anything about his Dad so that raises a red flag around the intimate information he has chosen to share with Kara rather than her. The conclusion she reaches is that Kara and James have feelings for one another but are unable to admit it for whatever reason. Listing things you like about someone’s boyfriend as a way to convince them to keep the relationship going is perhaps not the best approach.
This whole narrative really bothered me as it all felt needlessly contrived. Lucy can’t be around in the show forever apparently so she has to leave on a really angsty note. James and Kara can’t simply be together because keeping them apart apparently makes for a better story. The only relationship themed story I have enjoyed on this show has been Winn’s feelings for Kara as I was impressed with the maturity of a character simply getting on with their life when his feelings are one sided. It felt fresh and added a sense of realism to it all.
Lucy and James have never been that engaging a couple as very little time has been devoted to their relationship. I never got the sense that the show knew what to do with them so they just lingered in the background until problems appeared largely off screen. At least Lucy ends it on a mature note without getting angry or resentful. I’m sure there’s plenty of angst to come from James and Kara over the coming episodes and it’s not really what I want to see.
This is actually a really important episode for Winn who does the opposite of isolating himself. He is brought in specifically by the DEO as he is more skilled with this type of problem than anyone they’ve got so that becomes a massive confidence for him to the point that he is willing to assert himself around Siobhan who refused to engage with him before that.
Siobhan is a better presence this week as there is some justification for her behaviour. She is unwilling to trust people as she walked in on her father cheating on her mother and decided that people aren’t worth trusting so closed herself off entirely. This ties into the theme of isolation again as Siobhan thinks she is better off on her own.
Winn is able to get through to her by telling her about his own father to connect with her on their shared issue of having a parent who doesn’t measure up. He reassures her that not everyone will betray her. This leads to them kissing and Siobhan insisting that nobody finds out. I’m not sure where this will go but it does make Siobhan a more significant presence as well as developing Winn outside of his connection to Kara.
Kara’s trip to the Fortress of Solitude was something of a missed opportunity. I have no complaints about the design which incorporated the crystal formations of the Richard Donner films as well as the memorabilia associated with many comic book depictions. There was lots to look at such as the ship that brought Kal’El to Earth, statues of Jor’El and Lara as well as a Legion Ring. The entrance was also unlocked by the key made Dwarf Star material too heavy for anyone else to lift. A lot of effort was made to make this look good so it’s a shame that the trip is lacking in depth or purpose.
There was a real opportunity to explore Kara’s feelings of isolation and loss by being reminded of her home planet. Considering how absent Superman is in this show it could also have been a really good way to explore the relationship Kara has with her cousin without actually having him there. It could have also been used as a way to show how much trust exists between James and Kara since she brings him with her to experience this for the first time. It is even mentioned that Kara was reluctant to go there because it would remind her of home but it didn’t actually go anywhere so was a bit of a waste. More time in the Fortress of Solitude to explore these ideas would have made the episode a lot stronger and provided some really meaningful character development.
Myriad was mentioned again but there are still no more clues as to what it might be. Indigo mentions that Astra’s plan was for Kryptonians to live on Earth among humans but that surely can’t be all it is. If so then it seems my prediction of the reveal being a complete let down was accurate.
An uneven episode that fails to make effective use of the Fortress of Solitude. It looks great but isn’t used to develop Kara in any way despite all of that potential. James and Lucy’s relationship is handled really poorly and there are massive hints that there is more angst on the way. The episode did stick to the central theme and used it to develop most of the characters and had some really powerful emotional moments. Kara chasing down a nuclear missile definitely goes down as a series highlight in terms of set pieces too.
• the genuine emotional moment between Kara and Alex
• a strong and well developed central theme
• Laura Vandervoort’s performance as Indigo
• how great the Fortress of Solitude looked
• Kara chasing down a nuclear missile
• the development potential created Fortress of Solitude being ignored
• James and Lucy’s relationship being poorly handled
• a laughably dated hacker story