Who knew Supergirl had this kind of episode in it? For a season seemingly comfortable barely meeting expectations, this episode delivered in a major way by turning its sunshine and puppies heroine in a much darker direction.
Supergirl has liberally borrowed from the Superman cannon for story lines to mostly average results. The concept of Red Kryptonite warping Superman’s mind and turning him darker/borderline evil has been a frequently explored plot device.
Longtime fans best remember a Red-K stand in used in Superman III while Smallville had lots of fun tackling its impact on a teenage Clark Kent. Upon reading the synopsis for tonight’s episode, I figured we’d be in store for another goofy and too cute spin on the effect for Kara, but instead the writers provided took a more serious approach that definitely upsets the status quo.
Initially, the writers had some fun with Supergirl getting exposed to Red K. She upgraded her wardrobe from 1950s to 2016 chic and started showing a harsher, more cynical attitude towards Hank, Cat and Siobhan. As usual, Melissa Benoist was up for the challenge of revealing another side of Kara and she delivered her best performance so far. Kara’s attitude change was kind of fun at first as she was brash and self-confident like Power Girl [ ]. The more aggressive nature was an intriguing spin on a character who too often gets treated like a Pollyana.
Soon, the Red-K led to Kara being more assertive and domineering like revealing Siobhan cut a side deal with Perry White to expose Supergirl’s questionable behavior prompting Cat to fire her. Regular Kara cut into Winn having a little supply closet action with Siobhan, but evil Kara essentially ended his relationship. Winn is definitely getting the raw end of their friendship.
Taking care of one lingering issue only helped to further empower Kara as she aggressively tried to take things to the next level with James before Cat summoned Supergirl. In a terrific moment for those tired of Cat’s shtick, Supergirl laid into her before tossing her from the balcony and making a last minute save to show off her power.
Turns out that rascally Maxwell Lord was responsible for Supergirl’s exposure to Red-K. Max offers a weak alibi of coming up with flawed version of Kryptonite for a Non and Kryptonian contingency plan. To his credit, that’s a more proactive plan than anything the DEO has come up with since Non warned Kara of his retaliation for Astra’s death.
Thankfully, Max figures he can whip up a ray to counter the Red-K effect, but in the meantime Kara is doing major damage to her support system. She lashes out at Hank for refusing to acknowledge his true self, Alex for being jealous of her and James for being with a weak-willed woman like Lucy. What really stung was how dead-on, yet completely un-friend-PC Kara’s statements were. These aren’t the kind of comments that get forgiven by the hour’s end and forgotten by the next episode.
Cat quickly reversed her pro-Supergirl stance and turned National City against Kara, who responds by chucking peanuts in the bar in a nice Superman III homage. Just as Supergirl is getting further off the ledge, the DEO — and its 1-22 record against any formidable aliens — arrive with Max’s souped up weapon. But because the DEO is lame, Supergirl quickly takes them down and goes after Alex, promoting Hank to become Martian Manhunter.
The animation was sharper this week even if the actual Supergirl/Manhunter fight still looked soft. That gave Alex the opoprtunity to zap Supergirl with the laser and free her from the Red-K influence. Despite his aid in taking down Supergirl, the DEO surround Manhunter at gunpoint. Alex pleads with him to take off and he simply reverts to Hank.
I didn’t buy J’onzz’s explanation for not flying away/turning invisible or a handful of options that didn’t include him surrendering to the DEO. Outing himself seemed like the worst possible way to keep Alex and Kara safe. It wasn’t like his revelation put him in position to help restore Supergirl’s tarnished reputation. Now Hank is in DEO custody and his potential love-interest Sen. Miranda Crane is back on her xenophobic alien kick again.
Kara’s apology tour was heart-wrenching. Benoist was absolutely tremendous as Kara took in the scope of her actions and was completely broken down while apologizing to Alex. James wasn’t as forgiving and wanted space while Cat encouraged Supergirl she can recover from this debacle.
The show took some major risks that really advanced the story instead of making Red-K a wacky installment. With so much fallout still to come from this episode, I’m anxiously awaiting next week’s follow-up. If it’s anywhere as good as this episode, we’re in for a treat.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
This was a dynamic episode that finally improved upon a classic Superman plot device.