Supergirl – Season 6 Episode 18
“Truth or Consequences”
Supergirl prepares for its finale by encouraging the characters to be true to themselves and raising the stakes significantly.
Using Nyxly as the final antagonist Team Supergirl will have to deal with has been a great decision. She has far more depth than a lot of villains the show has delivered, challenges them in very real ways and prompts the heroic characters to ask themselves difficult questions. Thanks to the strong character work the totem hunt plot has become a lot more than a simple plot device fetch quest because they are used to inspire meaningful character development. As always Supergirl front-loads character which means that the totems feel purposeful.
The lack of focus on the totems themselves is something of a problem as they don’t quite feel important enough. It is well established that Nyxly wants to combine them in order to regain full use of her powers but her actual objective is pushed far into the background most of the time. From a narrative point of view the episodes amount to Nyxly and Team Supergirl fighting periodically while they exchange totems to tip the balance of power in either direction. Part of the conceit of watching this show is being invested in the characters while accepting that the plot is often lacking but there’s no denying that the conflict is repetitive.
It’s time for the Truth Totem which gives the episode its theme. Most of the characters confront their inner truths in some way. Nyxly passes the gauntlet after being told to admit her own truth. At first she states that she wants justice and wants all those who wronged her to be punished for it which makes up part of her truth but not the entirety of it. With almost no prodding she confesses that she is used to being alone but doesn’t want to be and wants to be sure that those close to her won’t betray her. This ties into her desire for revenge as she feels both abandoned and betrayed so it makes sense that she wants to be in a position where she feels both loved and accepted by people she can be close to. It’s believable that Nyxly has lived a lonely and tortured existence which has allowed her to develop a thick skin as she adapted to it but she is also resentful of it and doesn’t want that to be the case forever. This confession is enough for the Truth Totem and she proves herself worthy of it.
This feeds into her connection with Lex following the leak of his journal containing twisted love poetry about Nyxly. He is mocked in the media for it but the important question where Nyxly is concerned is whether he’s sincere. Using the Truth Totem she is able to force him to be honest and he tells her that every word he wrote was genuine. Lex reiterates that being in love is new for him and there is a visible shift in the way he behaves as a result which makes it more believable. He is far less self serving and there are examples of him favouring Nyxly’s safety over his own so it seems likely that he is legitimately in love with her. She begins to return that affection for him in this episode and opening herself up to the possibility points her in the direction of the Love Totem. This is a strong example of character development directly influencing plot progression. A lot of work has been done very quickly to make the Lex/Nyxly connection compelling and both actors play this wonderfully.
Another example of confronting inner truth can be found through Andrea who is provided with meatier content than she typically does. William angrily calls her out for leaking Lex’ journal because he believes that it devalues the threat he represents. Since the media and public are mocking him for it they fail to see how dangerous he actually is. Andrea’s view is that bringing Lex down is the goal and how that happens isn’t important but William disagrees because he believes it’s important for everyone to be aware of how dangerous Lex is. William approaches this argument from the point of view of journalistic integrity. He sees it as his responsibility to report the truth and is angry that Andrea is a barrier to him doing that. She uses his name under false pretenses and attributes content to him that he would never write so he’s naturally enraged about this because it calls his word and reputation into question.
Andrea goes to Lena to gain some perspective on what William said. His words clearly resonate with her and she worries she is as bad as he suggests. Lena openly asks her why she did what she did, what she wanted out of it and whether she believes it was right. She doesn’t openly condemn Andrea’s actions but she forces her to consider her actions on a moral level. Lena forces her to confront her own truth and be upfront about it. Andrea has always been a character chasing popularity where CatCo is concerned. Everything is about clicks and being noticed with the actual integrity of the reporting being secondary. Up until now there was no real consequence to that way of thinking but seeing how passionate William is about his name being attributed to something like this causes her to rethink. She doesn’t arrive at a definitive conclusion but it’s clear that Lena forces her to think about it which makes for a major step forward.
Her conclusion may be accelerated by her learning of William’s death. She received the video he took and sees him get shot by Lex who says that he did so in retaliation for leaking his journal. William’s death is both moving and powerful by itself but gains extra weight through Andrea feeling responsible for it due to the decision she made. She now has to live with her decision to leak the journal directly leading to William being murdered and that could make for some great introspective material for her in the final episodes. William also proves his point by sending her the video as it shows Lex for how dangerous he really is. If nothing else then it could be instrumental in bringing Lex down in the right way.
William proves himself to be a hero in the events that cost him his life. He was responsible for Esme and did everything possible to ensure she was safe with no regard for his own safety. Added to that is him protecting his sources and not outing Andrea for being the one responsible for publishing the journal. He takes full responsibility for things that weren’t actually his fault and doing so costs him his life but he does remain true to himself as well as everything he stands for right until the end. Lex using a gun adds weight to it as there are often outlandish sci-fi ideas on this show so a simple gun makes it more visceral.
There are some logical issues with the scenario. One glaring problem is William not having a signal watch or a similar device that can summon Kara. Other characters have carried these in the past and with William being Esme’s guardian for the evening it’s difficult to believe that Kara wouldn’t have supplied him with one so that she could be summoned at a moment’s notice. Granted it would have been easy to throw in a line from Lex detailing that he blocked it somehow but having it absent stands out. Another issue is how easily Esme agrees to go with Nyxly. She has been shown to have a strong sense of when people have less than genuine intentions which ties into her background coming from a group home so she should be suspicious of Nyxly. She has also been around Team Supergirl for long enough to be aware of Nyxly and probably shown pictures of her so accepting her at face value doesn’t make sense. The same could have been accomplished with more resistance from Esme.
Confronting truth is also showcased through Alex who has a really strong disagreement with Kara over how to handle raising a child with powers. Kara innocently suggests giving Esme something similar to the glasses she was given as a child. Those glasses blocked out a lot of the sensory input she experiences allowing her to focus better. Kara sees that as being positive as she was able to be around other kids without fear of standing out. She talks about being afraid of her inability to control her strength along with her other powers and the glasses helping her to build confidence. They also helped her to hide her powers and blend in which forms the root of the disagreement.
Alex’ argument is that they live in a different world now where being an alien isn’t as taboo as it once was and she wants to raise Esme to embrace her powers rather than hide them. She equates hiding them with being ashamed of them which prompts Kara to double down on her point as she believes the world is still a dangerous place for everyone with aliens having more of a disadvantage. Kara sees hiding powers as a viable defence mechanism because that was her experience growing up. Alex doesn’t want Esme growing up hiding who she really is because of her own experience adjusting to her own sexuality so both sides of the argument are informed by the backgrounds of the sisters. Alex feels ambushed by Kara’s suggestion and overreacts to the point of snapping at her which is a very relatable reaction causing some rare friction in a strong relationship. There’s no doubt it’ll be resolved but the disagreement is believably serious.
The reconciliation plays out more or les as expected with Alex acknowledging that Kara wants what’s best for Esme as well as pointing out the life she wants Esme to lead. Kara reaches the point of understanding that she was overstepping when J’Onn helps alter her perspective. Kara’s argument is fully valid based on her own experience but J’Onn helps her understand that Alex has to find a way that works for her, Kelly and Esme and that Esme’s experience might be a unique one. It’s a very well constructed character conflict that progresses in a logical and emotionally rich way.
This episode also features one of the things I love most about the show; the core cast enjoying being around one another. It’s a bit of a stretch that Alex and Kelly would be having their bachelorette party only a day after getting engaged but seeing the characters together in a social setting letting loss and enjoying themselves remains a joyful viewing experience. This will be what is missed about this show and it’s possibly the final example of it before the end.
More emotional risk exists in Brainy’s contribution to the episode where he is made aware of the need for him to return to his own time. He speaks to one of his alternate selves who approaches problems in a less emotional way and talks about his reluctance to return. Brainy has built a life with Team Supergirl, enjoys a loving relationship with Nia and feels like he belongs so doesn’t want to return to where he came from. Expectations are placed on him as he is needed to ensure the continued survival of his people but he doesn’t want to leave behind what he has built. Added to that is the loss of his physical form in the process which equates to losing himself. It is pointed out that he will still exist but what he is will change though that’s exactly what Brainy has a problem with.
After a brief wobble Nia fully understands why Brainy didn’t tell her immediately and they discuss the situation like rational adults. Nia going with him is ruled out because she has historical significance and the weight of responsibility as well as the need to sacrifice in order to fulfil that responsibility is something she fully understands even if it has personal consequences for her. There is still work to do in order to arrive at a decision but for now they’re able to agree that what they feel for each other and the fear of losing that means that it matters so resolve to enjoy what time they have left together. It’s likely this will end in a tearful goodbye and this reviewer isn’t quite prepared for that but their interactions in this episode around the subject were excellent.
A strong episode that sets the stage for the final two episodes wonderfully while providing excellent character interactions and an impressive exploration of its core theme around people living their truths. Nyxly becoming worthy of the Truth Totem by admitting her loneliness and desire to have someone close to her who won’t betray her ties into her history, develops her character and opens her up to furthering her connection to Lex. Using the totem to learn that Lex’ feelings for her are genuine marks another step forward for them and her development towards being more open to the idea is believable. Lex is also changed by these feelings in interesting ways. The actors sell this growing connection really well and it makes their inclusion in the episodes more compelling. Another example of confronting truth is found through Andrea who is concerned about her moral standing after William calls her out on leaking the journal. She contacts Lena who encourages her to really think about her reasons for leaking the journal and ask herself difficult questions. This is furthered when William proves his point in death by showing her how important it is for people to understand how dangerous Lex is. William’s death is both moving and heroic. He does everything possible to protect Esme and refuses to give up his sources despite being in mortal danger. The logistics of the situation are questionable as he doesn’t seem to have a signal watch and Esme accepts Nyxly at face value which stands out as being something she shouldn’t do but the emotional weight is both present and strong.
Alex and Kara’s disagreement tie into the theme of confronting truth. Kara suggests that Esme hides her powers until she learns to control them as that was her experience when growing up where Alex doesn’t want Esme growing up hiding a part of herself. This comes from Alex’ experience of denying her sexuality. The conflict resolves itself as expected but is very believable when playing out due to how well constructed it is including J’Onn helping Kara shift her perspective enough to see Alex’ point of view. The episode features one of the best things about the show; the characters letting loose and having fun with one another. It’s something that will be sorely missed when it ends. Brainy and Nia’s contribution to the episode is also very strong with Brainy being faced with having to return to the future to ensure the survival of his people. Doing so means losing his physical form, losing Nia and everything else he has built up during his time with Team Supergirl. It is pointed out that he will still exist but the nature of that existence will change significantly. Nia helps him to process it with the only possible conclusion being that they have to make the most of what time they have and that them feeling strongly about the loss of what they have means that it matters. It’s a really strong character and emotionally driven issue that plays out very well.
- excellent exploration of the core theme
- Nyxly developing more by admitting to her loneliness and desire to be close to someone who won’t betray her
- the evolution of Lex connected to his feelings for Nyxly
- Andrea getting meatier content than usual and being forced to question her moral standing
- William’s moving and heroic death
- the Alex/Kara conflict being rooted in their life experiences and playing out logically
- coverage of the characters letting loose and enjoying being together
- the complex Nia/Brainy content and their decision to make the most of the time they have
- Esme accepting Nyxly at face value
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