Have the writers of Supergirl woken up a little? Have they listened to the blogosphere and heard the many, many complaints people have had about the downturn in quality? I wonder these things because for the second week in a row the show has taken a smaller, more personal approach to storytelling. The exact kind of storytelling that I have said many times is where this series’ strength lies. As a result, we got a very entertaining episode in “Alex”.
Starting off with Maggie negotiating with hostage takers, it brings up some very interesting questions and issues. The kind of questions that could support a whole episode entirely on their own. Basically in the middle of negotiations, Kara busts into the building and knocks out the criminals, saving the day. All good, right? But as Maggie brings up, apparently criminals have begun using “The Supergirl Defense,” that being the acts of a vigilante not sanctioned by the government to bring in criminals sometimes using excessive force and contaminating crime scenes with all the debris from when Kara breaks through walls.
I’m honestly impressed that they would address these obvious types of repercussions from vigilante justice. Now I also need to say that there is never any resolution or discussion about avoiding these pitfalls going forward, but the acknowledgment is at least a step.
The confrontation over this happens at a family dinner which I have to say is kind of tacky for Maggie to do. There is a time and a place for this kind of discussion. I guess we have to fill our awkward dinner storm off quota for the year. Alex runs off to calm down Kara and ends up kidnapped by a stranger in the elevator. This one moment is my biggest gripe with the entire episode. The villain later goes on to show an amazing amount of forethought and planning in his abduction plan.
Every turn the team makes, he’s one step ahead of them. He even brags he’s been planning it for a year. So what was his plan for abducting Alex originally? He couldn’t have known that they would all fight that night, that Kara would run off and Alex would follow. So his entire plan hinged on a coincidence? In an otherwise smart and well-crafted episode, this is one major flaw that could slip by if one was not paying attention.
So as we find out, the whole ordeal links back to Alex and Kara’s past. Specifically the flashback from season one of Kara rescuing someone from a car crash as a child. Featuring Malina Weissman, who has gone on to Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, I liked the call back and that someone has finally just been able to see the obvious and figure out Kara’s identity through deduction. This former childhood classmate wants Kara to break his murderer father out of jail in thirty-six hours or else Alex will die.
This madman, Rick Malverne, is played by David Hoflin. While sporting a decent IMDB page, I have never seen this actor before personally but he does an impressive job here. His menace and strength of performance is way too good for a one off. The cat and mouse aspect to his plan and the cool way in which he implements it are Luthor-like. In fact in another world he would have made an excellent Lex Luthor for the show. A shame he was wasted on what looks to be a one and done story. No matter what steps they take he is always one step ahead, eventually springing a filling water death trap to motivate Kara. An old fashioned but effective method.
Alex gets some good stuff here as well. While spending most of the episode as a prisoner, we get to see her as a formidable agent again. Macgyvering a way to send a signal to her team, though her captor has thought of this already, the sequence of her digging her DEO tracker out of her own skin and hacking into her cell’s camera feed at least reminds us that she is a strong agent and not the weak woman we’ve seen as of late.
Also refreshing was when instead of beating the villain, the team actually fails. They do everything they should. Chase every clue, use every tool. They even try to get J’onn to impersonate the man’s father and use telepathy. Both methods fail but at least it’s attempted. Everyone acts smartly and still can’t beat the intricate plan laid out. What finally saves Alex’s life is Kara going to his father and appealing to him. To keep his son from becoming a killer like him and convincing him to tell them where Alex is.
Alex also gets some great moments with Maggie here, cementing them as the heart of this show and seemingly back to form for the couple. The emotional moments between them are much more in line with what I loved earlier this season and devoid of the garbage from the middle of this year.
Another seemingly too easy moment was when they have J’onn mindwipe the young villain to protect Kara’s secret. So he was shielded from J’onn’s powers before but now it’s no problem? Okay, we’ll give you a pass on this one Supergirl. But only because I enjoyed the rest of this one so much.
There was also a small “B” plot about Lena meeting with Mon-El’s mother. I picked up on the “thank the gods” clue that gives her away as an alien and I liked how Lena was able to figure things out on her own. Having her turn face and suddenly make a deal with her seemed totally out of character and I hope it leads somewhere worthwhile.
Two weeks in a row where Supergirl feels like it’s worth our time again. Also two weeks that mostly ignore Cadmus, the Daxamites, and any type of giant world ending events. Proving again that this series thrives in the smaller stories while floundering when it tries to up the gravitas. The writers should take these lessons and gear season three away from the overarching big bads and just be about these smaller interesting stories.
What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below.