Supergirl – Season 1 Episode 13
“For The Girl Who Has Everything”
Supergirl adapts the classic Alan Moore Superman story “For The Man Who Has Everything” from Superman Annual #11 in 1985 to have Kara confront her memories of Krypton.
At least, that’s the idea but the overall execution doesn’t quite get there. I can see what the episode was going for in having Kara live what she considers an idyllic life on Krypton where her parents are alive and well and Kal-El (Daniel DiMaggio) is her younger cousin as he should be. It all seems pretty perfect but it comes across as too perfect and therefore unbelievable. The dialogue Kara shares with her mother and father gets the point across but lacks any real warmth to it. At no point did I really believe that Kara was content in her fantasy world despite the fact that the episode kept telling me that she was.
Another issue the episode has is that it doesn’t seem to be confident enough to fully embrace the fantasy idea. It is made clear very early on that Krypton is a fiction and Earth is the real world which weakens the premise quite a bit. The best of these episodes have kept the audience in the dark over what reality truly is until a pivotal turning point. Notable examples include the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Normal Again”. the Smallville episode “Labyrinth” and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Far Beyond the Stars”. Obviously people watching the show will know that it is a fantasy because if it wasn’t then there’d be no more show but those episodes worked so well because they made me wonder. I think what helps those so much is that significant time was devoted to convincing the character affected that the world they think is real is actually a fantasy. This episode does that but to a far lesser extent. Early on Kara talks about Earth and having to get back to reality but her memory of it fades and she fully commits to the dream which pretty much removes all the conflict for her.
In contrast, the Superman story this is based on makes Clark’s fantasy really complex by having it take a more sinister turn as it continues which causes him to question what would be the ideal life to lead. It gives the character a lot to deal with and the fact that the fantasy isn’t perfect makes it more real. I wish some of that nuance had transferred over in the adaptation.
Having Kara experience everything she desired was the perfect opportunity to gain insight on her that we didn’t have previously but all this really does is reinforce what we already know. She misses her family and misses Krypton but what else can we take from her experience? It seems like it was supposed to reaffirm her relationship with those she is close to on Earth but that doesn’t come across properly.
The lack of commitment to the fantasy premise further shows itself in Kara rejecting the Black Mercy as it happens so far from the end of the episode that it feels as if it was only in place to delay her confrontation with Non.
Despite that, Melissa Benoist does a fantastic job playing Kara native to Krypton. It’s all a bit surreal as her performance is the only natural one in a sea of blandness. The early scenes where she was lost and confused were by far the strongest but seeing her content in later scenes when her mind had fully accepted the false reality were very believable as well. Kara on Krypton was slightly different to how she behaves on Earth so that added a measure of depth to the situation. If the dialogue had been better and the other performances more believable then this would have been stronger.
Melissa Benoist also nails her portrayal of Kara coming back to reality. At first she seems really dazed and then that transitions to a sense of loss and pain. Kara has had to suffer losing her family for a second time and this deeply affects her. It may not have been real but it was very real to her so from her point of view she lost them again.
Her confrontation with Non really shows that as she very nearly loses control. Non is no match for her because she is fueled by rage which makes her a lot stronger. I also feel that Non underestimates her since he makes no real attempt to fight back. The really interesting thing here is that Kara’s anger doesn’t tempt her to go too far. She wants to hurt Non for sure but killing him never crosses her mind. I really appreciated that as shows like this often have characters come close to killing when enraged so it’s refreshing to see that anger doesn’t encourage Kara to compromise her principles.
Outside of Kara’s fantasy the other people in her life come together to find a way to help her. James and Winn are brought into the DEO but there’s no real reason for them to be there since they don’t actively contribute to helping Kara. James is trusted by Alex to make sure that Hank doesn’t stop her but that’s about it. Winn does some IT stuff which makes me wonder if anyone outside of Hank and Alex at the DEO are at all competent. Surely there’s a member of that organisation able to do what Winn does considering we are constantly told that the DEO are an elite group. It’s a big issue in fiction generally but it’s made worse by how weak the DEO have been portrayed so far.
I do like that Winn and Kara’s friendship has survived his unrequited feelings. The awkwardness has largely gone away and they are back to being good friends again. As the episodes progress the friendships on this show are being handled better. This episode in particular ended on a really genuine moment for Kara, Winn, James and Alex.
Alex having herself pulled into Kara’s fantasy to convince her to leave is something I could completely have done without. It lessens the impact of Kara having to decide to reject it if she has to be convinced by an outside source. I get that the episode was trying to promote the power of sisterhood but it would have been more engaging had Kara realised on her own. She still made the choice on her own but Alex being there would make the whole thing seem artificial since her presence makes no real sense otherwise.
Chyler Leigh’s acting really didn’t help the situation. It was melodramatic almost to the point of parody. When she made the impassioned plea to Kara over their sisterly bond I really struggled to take it seriously as the acting was so over the top. It didn’t fit with Melissa Benoist’s more subdued performance.
Alex’s contribution to the episode was otherwise quite meaningful as she admitted that she used to resent Kara when she was first adopted but now can’t imagine her life without her. It’s an angle on their relationship that we haven’t seen before and I’m pleased that the episode didn’t see fit to show us flashbacks showing what was easily put across in a handful of lines. The whole idea of feeling hostile towards an unexpected addition to the family is a relatable idea that anyone who has siblings can understand. It’s good that depth is added to the relationship in this way without an awful lot of effort.
Having Astra offer her help to Alex and suggest that they are all part of an extended family is an interesting development. Alex points out that Astra is starting to question her role in this War that she and Non have started. This idea was introduced in her previous appearance and is developed here. Astra offering her help without Non’s knowledge created a lot of potential for conflict between those characters and made sense since she clearly cares about Kara.
It’s a real shame that all of this was undone by her death which leaves Non in charge of whatever plan the former prisoners have. What were they actually up to in this episode anyway? Non being in charge wouldn’t really be a problem if he was in any way engaging as a character but in this case the Non might as well stand for non entity at this point because he brings absolutely nothing to any episode that he’s in. Astra being in the mix added some emotional stakes with her familial connection to Kara.
Alex killing Astra came as a real surprise but it did show that Supergirl as a show is willing to change things up in a big way. It was a shock and showed that Alex is willing to make difficult choices when put in the position.
It’s frustrating that J’Onn accepted the responsibility for killing Astra as it artificially extends the inevitable conflict between Kara and Astra on this issue. J’Onn doing this does develop the father/daughter bond he has with Alex but I feel like they should be giving Kara more credit. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out and I suspect the standard accusations of lying will follow.
Cat Grant’s role in the episode was to wonder where Kara is which led to J’Onn disguising himself as her. Melissa Benoist did really well playing J’Onn trying to be Kara and failing. It was as if she was doing a bad impression of herself and worked really well. Cat’s reaction to the way she was acting was really amusing and the whole thing brought some welcome awkward comedy to what was otherwise a very serious episode. Cat and Kara’s relationship still needs to have some form of resolution after the recent shakeup but I dare say that will come in time.
Visually this episode had a lot going for it. Krypton looked great and there was a realistic looking robot for a few seconds but the interiors were pretty boring to look at. The various action sequences were really impressive as well. It was particularly cool to see J’Onn in full Martian mode taking on Astra and I’ve already mentioned Kara’s fight with Non. The wire work is getting better and the actors do throw themselves into it well.
An uneven episode that doesn’t take full advantage of the potential given by the fantasy premise. Melissa Benoist’s performance is excellent but nothing new is learned about Kara so the concept is largely wasted. Alex makes a meaningful contribution to the narrative for a change and the episode is visually very impressive.
• Melissa Benoist’s acting carrying the episode
• a rare meaningful use of Alex
• the visuals and action sequences
• Astra’s further development as a complex villain
• learning nothing new about Kara from her fantasy
• the removal of a compelling villain that leaves a boring one
• artificially extending the inevitable conflict between Alex and Kara