Supergirl – Season 2 Episode 15
Supergirl picks up on the cliffhanger from last week by clearing up the purpose of the mysterious ship being built by Cadmus as Kara and Alex struggle to find a way to stand up to what they believe in.
It turns out that Cadmus’ plan for the ship is actually a fairly simple one but that doesn’t make it any less imposing. The ship is to be used to round up all Aliens and send them away which is disturbingly topical given recent events. Science fiction has always had the ability to hold a skewed mirror up to real world events and let audiences consider them from a different angle so I’m glad to see Supergirl doing that when it comes to the issue of immigration.
It’s funny how rounding up innocent people and deporting them are the actions of a supervillain in the world Supergirl inhabits but in our world it’s something that legitimate governments are trying to do. I don’t normally get this political but the episode makes such a strong showing of how ludicrous and wrong this plan is that it couldn’t go unmentioned.
Alex makes the point that many of the Aliens on Earth are there because they’ve escaped War, famine, genocide or any number of horrible things so sending them away is tantamount to condemning them to death. Jeremiah tells Alex that this was his idea and it’s implied that this was a condition of him supporting Cadmus. It doesn’t really track that Jeremiah would have that kind of clout but I like that his affiliation with Cadmus is much more complex than having simply joined them.
This complexity adds nuance to Alex’s role in the episode. She is the only one saying that Jeremiah isn’t a bad guy and shouldn’t be treated like an enemy which proves to be immensely frustrating for her. The episode smartly plays it as Alex being blinded by her familial connection and lacking the capacity to be objective so her arc becomes about proving that her gut feeling has merit.
She goes about this in entirely the wrong way at first when she beats a captured Cadmus operative to get him to talk. It’s a great scene that is well acted by Chyler Leigh who projects the almost feral rage that has consumed Alex perfectly. It fits the character and the situation for her to behave this way and it’s good to see this show stray into darker territory occasionally.
J’Onn is the one to stop her from doing this and is forced to be her boss rather than her father figure in this instance. He does understand where she’s coming from but also needs her to conduct herself professionally as an Agent of the DEO. Eventually he has to suspend her because she is simply too close to the situation to be relied on.
This is proven when he tests her loyalty by disguising himself as Jeremiah and asking for her support. There was something off about the scene as what “Jeremiah” was saying seemed to be as phony as his words last week but I know that it’s not beyond this show to be so on the nose with plot points so I didn’t see the twist coming. It’s a great use of J’Onn’s shape shifting abilities and moves Alex’s arc forward significantly. J’Onn is able to prove to her that she has a weakness for family and she is able to see that her weakness is dangerous to herself and others.
Even Kara supports J’Onn in this. She seems to have accepted that Jeremiah isn’t on their side any more and is apparently willing to make that emotional separation. She is never tested on it so we don’t know if that works in practice but for the purposes of this episode Alex is practically on her own. It’s interesting to see Kara and Alex on opposite sides of an issue because it so rarely happens. There’s an extra layer to it because it tests the sisterly connection and the whole thing follows on from Kara beginning to mistrust Jeremiah last week.
Maggie is completely in Alex’s corner which makes sense because she doesn’t know Jeremiah well enough to make up her mind one way or another. Alex needs to see this through and that’s enough for her. She only helps Alex find out where Cadmus’ base is before being told that she has to go alone but the show of support makes sense and provides a great team-up opportunity for this badass power couple.
When Alex is confronted with Cadmus and Jeremiah she holds onto the belief that he isn’t beyond redemption and is ultimately proven right when he turns on Cadmus. It’s a really well executed scene that shows the internal conflict in Jeremiah. It may have been unclear whether he actually wanted to help Cadmus or not but the way he turned his head between Alex and Lillian showed exactly how conflicted he was between the two distinct choices. Ultimately he makes the right one and betrays Cadmus after Alex’s emotional appeal.
As good as this scene was I think more work needs to be done around Jeremiah’s motivations. If he was working with Cadmus to protect his daughters then that definitely wasn’t working judging by how often Kara and Alex have been endangered by their actions. It seems like he might have been doing so to protect Aliens as best he can but even that is unclear. This scene also suggests that there was an element of brainwashing going on that he had to overcome but there has been limited evidence of that as well. It’s possible this is to be further developed in later episodes but for now it’s not hugely clear.
Alex conducts herself very well in her one woman assault against Cadmus by planting bombs as she went just in case she is captured which proves to be a really good idea. I was also impressed that she didn’t hesitate when it was made clear that Cadmus wouldn’t back down. I’m really impressed with the character this season and things like this are a big part of why. She may have been governed by her emotions in terms of pursuing Jeremiah but that doesn’t mean she loses her intelligence as a result.
Kara has her own professional struggles when she wants to use her clout as a journalist to get the word out that Aliens are in danger. Naturally Snapper Carr is a barrier to that because she doesn’t have two verified sources to give her story credibility. I don’t think anyone could accuse Kara of being a good journalist given that she uses herself as a source and writes passionate articles entirely from her own point of view. Her heart is unmistakably in the right place and her reasons for pursuing a career as a reporter are completely pure but the issue is that her methods are somewhat unethical. This episode is about the problems that her dual identity causes her in day to day life.. She has facts that she knows to be true but can’t do anything about them without compromising the DEO and her identity as Supergirl.
She tries to get around this by offering Snapper Carr an interview with Supergirl so that he can be the one to break the story but that doesn’t work because Snapper knows that she isn’t telling the whole truth. The line about a half truths being a whole lie sums up his position on this perfectly.
Snapper was well used in this episode because the writers really focused on his integrity as a journalist. Despite knowing why Kara is so desperate to get her story out there it’s impossible to disagree with Snapper’s position. He talks about how detrimental to society reporting facts incorrectly can be. The examples he uses are causing market crashes by printing incorrect statistics and fake news putting a fascist in the White House. Snappeer recognises the power of the press and can’t risk his reputation being derailed because Kara is passionate about something.
This pays off when Kara releases her story on an independent blog which accomplishes her goal of getting the story out there and sticking to her morality but it means sacrificing her job. Snapper was right to fire her for this because it’s a conflict of interest and a breach of trust. I’m not unsympathetic to Kara losing her job because it is well established how important her role at CatCo is to her but I can understand that she wasn’t good at this job and should never have been in it. Snapper clearly admired her passion and tenacity but couldn’t support her lack of journalistic ethics. It’s good to see that there are significant consequences for her actions. Interestingly I wonder why asking Clark for advice on this was never mentioned because this has to be a problem that he has experienced in the past so it would have been worth finding out how he might deal with it.
I’ve mentioned on several occasions that the CatCo part of the show hasn’t been working this season. This is mostly due to a lack of effort on the part of the writers to make it relevant despite having Kara as a reporter and James as the CEO to mine stories from. I wonder if Kara being fired is the writer’s deciding that the CatCo aspects of the show will be abandoned in favour of something else. I can’t say it would be missed based on the output this season. It’s also possible that this will be resolved by the next episode.
This episode boasts some really well put together action sequences. Everything involving Alex kicking ass is really dynamic with he infiltration of Cadmus being particularly noteworthy. Kara stopping the ship carrying all of the rounded up Aliens was the definite highlight though. For one thing it looked amazing along with being full of all the urgency and tension you could ever want.
It also managed to have a really solid emotional hook with Kara and Alex being separated by glass where they couldn’t hear each other. Alex offering Kara the emotional support to push the limits of her strength and save the day without being able to say a word was really powerful and the moment was reminiscent of the emotional moment in “Red Faced” while also channelling Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -or its copycat Star Trek Into Darkness if you happen to be that self punishing- in the execution of the sisters separated by glass. I’ll admit that I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to spend an episode or two with Alex on an Interstellar adventure but Kara being victorious is the right pay-off for her digging deep and finding inner strength.
The episode ends with the travelling Daxamites finding their way to Earth and they are played by Geek Culture icons Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo. With Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo on this show it looks like the 90s are returning in a big way! Unfortunately we have to wait two weeks to see more.
An excellent episode that develops a science fiction spin on current events by focusing on the Aliens as a persecuted minority. It makes a strong point about how ludicrous it is to round up and deport innocent people. Alex pointing out that the Aliens have come to Earth to escape horrible things is well made though Jeremiah’s point about it being better than killing them makes a kind of sense despite the fact that I don’t believe he has that kind of clout at Cadmus. Alex’s arc about proving that her instincts about Jeremiah being redeemable are correct is really well handled and is accomplished without her losing her intelligence which surprised me. J’Onn taking the position of zero tolerance of her reckless behaviour made a lot of sense as well and the way he tested her resolve by pretending to be Jeremiah was a really good twist. Jeremiah deciding to side with Alex with a good pay-off to this build-up even if more work needs to be done on his motivations.
Kara wrestling with journalistic ethics and her desire to do the right thing also works well. This is the first major conflict she has faced between her desire to help and keeping her identity secret. Being completely honest about where she got the information from would compromise the DEO as well as her dual identity since Snapper needs more evidence than she’s prepared to provide. Letting Snapper interview her as Supergirl doesn’t work because he can’t verify her information so she goes public on her own which gets her fired. It solves the problem but also cuts her off from something that was important to her. It’s an appropriate sacrifice and it’s good to see that there are consequences. The episode also boasts some excellent action sequences such as anything involving Alex and the tense sequence where Kara has to stop the ship carrying the kidnapped aliens from escaping. It has a great emotional hook from Alex and Kara and looks incredible to boot. Join me again in two weeks for Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo!
- the fascinating exploration to a real world issue
- Alex’s well executed arc
- J’Onn’s test of Alex’s ability to be objective
- Kara’s conflict between journalistic ethics and her desire to help
- the consequences that Kara suffers for her difficult decision
- that ship scene!
- Jeremiah’s muddled motivations