Supergirl – Season 2 Episode 6
Supergirl introduces long running Superman villain, Parasite as Alex struggles with her feelings for Maggie, Mon’El has trouble deciding what to do with his life and James starts his vigilante career.
This was a really busy episode that had to keep a lot of plates spinning in order to maintain its momentum. It definitely helped that the majority of the narrative was grounded in the characters who were dealing with different problems.
The first is the villain plot. Dr. Rudy Jones (William Mapother) aka Parasite was the villain of the episode and actually managed to be a lot more developed than a typical Supergirl villain. That isn’t to say that the episode nailed it but if he is to be a one shot antagonist then he’s certainly a memorable one.
Jones was fairly engaging and somewhat sympathetic to begin with even if his motivations were a bit on the nose. The whole Global Warming angle was a good idea in theory but the overall message came across as a bit preachy at times with Jones seeming more delusional than anything else.
He is able to put Kara and J’Onn out of commission at the same time which is impressive. I wonder what will happen now that J’Onn has the blood of a White Martian in his system. Will he sense the truth or will there be complications?
Having the plot move on through his career being sabotaged by people that disagree with his position didn’t really work and only served to provide him with his list of victims to trigger the action sequences. There wasn’t any more to it than that because the episode wasn’t really interested in exploring climate change in any significant way. It was a means to an end and that’s the route Supergirl seems to be going down when approaching whatever topical subject that comes up in a given week. So far this season we’ve had asylum seekers/refugees, gun control and now climate change but it almost seems like the writers are afraid to really sink their teeth into them.
This might seem overly negative and it’s not because I think Parasite was handled fairly well as villains go. The gradual corruption was well handled and his threat level was significant enough to make him seem like a worthwhile villain. His transformation into something closer to the comic book version looked great as well but came with the drawback of removing the human element from the story. There was also a missed opportunity to comment on the irony of someone so concerned about preserving the planet becoming a parasite that kills others to keep himself alive. The tragic element was there but could have been enhanced so much.
Another missed opportunity was to progress the story as if it were a horror. The early scenes were very much reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing and offered a decent homage that didn’t come across as being overly watered down despite the fact that it’s a network TV show. I understand why the episode didn’t play out as a horror as it would have clashed with the tone created by the other stories but it might have been a nice break from the norm.
Kara’s handling of the problem was well done as she was able to use her intelligence to defeat him while also making a tough decision. She at least suspected that that radioactive material would destroy him and Melissa Benoist’s delivery of “I’m sorry” just before he exploded perfectly encapsulated the regret that she would feel for being driven to this.
This episode had Kara be more reactive to other things that were going on rather than having an arc by herself. The most significant thing she had to deal with was Alex admitting to her that she is gay. Initially this seemed a little frustrating as Kara’s reaction really wasn’t what I would expect from her. She was certainly blindsided by it but at first it seemed like she didn’t approve and that definitely isn’t consistent with the character that we have seen since this show began.
Once the reason for her reaction is explained it made perfect sense. The guilt she feels over their childhood being completely about her and the secret she had to keep is definitely in character for Kara. The fact that nobody would ever consider that Alex might have secrets of her own is an interesting angle and I like that Kara has regrets about how her influence might have held Alex back. Of course this could be another example of Kara making this situation about her but it doesn’t seem that way to me as it comes across that she is genuinely upset that she might have been of Alex’s uncertainty.
This plot is handled with a great deal of maturity and Chyler Leigh delivers the best performance I’ve seen from her on this show. It’s unheard of to see Alex in such a vulnerable position and it makes it all the more powerful to witness. I like that her life is starting to make more sense for her when she rethinks all of her previous friendships with women and sees them in a new light by considering that these feelings have always been there.
Her coming out is not without its tragedy when she is rejected by Maggie who makes the point that relationships with women who have recently come out never end well. It’s clear that Maggie has had a lot of failed relationships and and more than a little cynical about the whole thing. It could be that she is unprepared for the emotional baggage that will come with this period of uncertainty for Alex. She does promise to be her friend and support her throughout this tough time but these words feel somewhat hollow for Alex who focuses on the rejection that comes so soon after admitting the truth to herself and others.
The rejection causes her to retreat into herself a little and wonder if her feelings are genuine. Going back into her shell seems preferable to facing that level of rejection which feels like a very natural thing for Alex to do. It’s really well played and is heartbreaking to watch though not as heartbreaking as when Alex breaks down in front of Kara who offers her emotional support. It’s a beautiful moment and shows how strong their sisterly bond is. I would say this is one of the most human moments between any characters in this show.
Mon’El is still trying to figure out his place in the world after his attempt to blend in as Kara does didn’t work for him last week. Overall he’s directionless which causes him to try his hand at being a muscle for hire. Naturally Kara is disgusted with him for this as she thinks that he should be using his powers for the greater good. Mon’El doesn’t see it this way as he thinks that his abilities are perfect for making money even if the ethics are a bit suspicious.
This leads to a really interesting discussion on the ethics of having superpowers that allows for a clash between Kara and Mon’El’s ideologies. Mon’El is of the opinion that he doesn’t need to become a superhero as it doesn’t fit with his personality. He’d much rather use his powers for his own benefit and it’s a really valid stance to take. If any of us had his powers how would we react? Not everyone is as altruistic as Kara is so it’s interesting to see that point of view.
Mon’El clearly hits a nerve when he accuses Kara of loving the attention that being Supergirl brings her. We know that she does because she likes to talk to people that she has saved and has reacted with self pride whenever her heroics are portrayed in a positive light. The flip side of this is also true as she takes any sleight on her ability to be a hero as a personal attack. This is all very natural as behaviour goes but it also means that she can’t quite act as self righteously as she does to Mon’El and he recognises that. We also see another hint of her prejudice against Daxamites when she almost says that his behaviour is typical of his people.
The problem is that the episode doesn’t let this clash of opinion play out as naturally as it could have. Mon’El essentially comes around to Kara’s way of thinking by the end of the episode when he decides to take Parasite on. Fair enough he’s doing that to save Kara but his conversation with Alex makes it clear that he’s seeing things differently and he categorically states that he’s trying to be better at the end of the episode. It feels far too sudden and it’s something that could play out over a few episodes rather than being broadly resolved here though it is clear that he is trying to silence his own instincts when it comes to how to behave. He’s not a bad guy; he’s just kind of a selfish ass.
His battle with Parasite looks really good and I like that his style as well as his powers are different to Kara’s. He is essentially where she was at the start of the first season where she was unfocused and unskilled. Also, does anyone else think that his outfit is almost the same as one of Clark Kent’s favoured clothing choices in Smallville?
James is still hell bent on being a vigilante but it still doesn’t make much sense for him as a character. It comes across as him being jealous of his superhero friends rather than having a genuine desire to make a difference in the world. This whole plot was very clumsily handled from Winn insisting that the suit wasn’t ready to it suddenly being fit for a field test after what had to be a matter of hours. Whether we like it or not James is in full vigilante mode and goes by Guardian. The suit itself looks cool if a bit colourless and his fight with Parasite looked really good even if it made no sense for James to be that skilled against a super powered mutated human. Last week he had trouble with a group of thugs and now he’s squaring off against Parasite while looking like a seasoned pro.
I can’t get invested in James’ journey to becoming a hero because I think it has come out of nowhere. He says that he has felt the call of heroism every since finding out that Clark Kent and Superman are one in the same but this hasn’t ever been brought up before on this show and he seemed to be fairly happy pursuing his career outside of his comfort zone. James comes across as impulsive and stroppy which makes this hard to swallow. He also really needs to ditch that awful robot voice.
As a final point, I don’t know where else to put this as it doesn’t flow organically into what I wanted to talk about but I have to mention that drunk Kara was absolutely hilarious. Melissa Benoist clearly had a lot of fun with it and so did I.
A well put together episode that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. The homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing created a good opportunity to make the villain story more horror themed instead of the more standard narrative we get here. In theory the climate change angle was a good idea but the episode fails to develop it properly. Despite that, Parasite is one of the more memorable villains the show has had with the surprise reveal of a more comic book inspired design. Alex coming out to Kara was the best part of the episode. Chyler Leigh delivered a powerful and heartbreaking performance that gave us very human moments between Kara and Alex. Mon’El’s attempts to find a purpose are interesting but he comes around to Kara’s way of thinking a little too quickly where more of his different ideology might have been interesting. James as a vigilante doesn’t work as his motivation feels far too flimsy for me to invest in it.
- the homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing
- great action involving different characters
- the emotional journey that Alex goes through
- Mon’El having a different ideology from Kara
- Kara using her intelligence to defeat a villain and the regret she feels for what she has to do
- James as a vigilante
- the lack of proper development of the climate change theme
- Mon’El quickly coming around to Kara’s way of thinking