NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
Supergirl presented one of the most creative, unique challenges for its titular heroine all season this week, as Alex becomes the target of a fully human psychopath that wants to exploit Supergirl for personal gain. “Alex” refocused the show around a very personal and human conflict, which worked to sublime effect, creating another Season Two high point that even had the added bonus of offering a pretty fantastic team-up between Kara and Maggie!
The episode begins with Maggie becoming rather frustrated with the intervention of Supergirl during a bank robbery and hostage situation, which is resolved peacefully and without fatalities, though at the cost of negating seventeen hours of honest police work by the NCPD. Kara seems to think that the end result is all that matters, resulting in a spat between Kara and Maggie, since Kara doesn’t seem to argue that National City might as well not have any cops, if Supergirl can so easily and quickly resolve any active crime.
Instead of an episode focusing on Alex being caught in the middle though, this episode instead had Alex become the target of a very patient criminal, who kidnaps her and traps her, threatening to kill her if his criminal father isn’t released from jail in 36 hours. It’s not long before Kara and Maggie manage to find enough evidence to have the guy brought into the DEO, where, conveniently, J’onn isn’t able to read his mind. This was the only questionable element in an otherwise excellent storyline, since it’s never explained why J’onn can’t just read the guy’s mind and figure out Alex’s location, because, “He’s being blocked somehow.” Oh, bullshit. You’ll have to try harder than that, Supergirl!
Still, I understand the necessary evil of having to remove J’onn’s mind-reading ability against a normal human antagonist, especially when the rest of the storyline’s outstanding quality nicely compensated for this story stretch. Since J’onn insists that Kara can’t negotiate with criminals, Kara and Maggie are both left to struggle with how to free Alex without giving in to the bad guy’s demands. On another note, it was also a fantastic twist to have this criminal be someone that Kara and Alex grew up with in Midvale, who witnessed Kara rescuing people from the car wreck that Jeremiah warned her about when it was referenced earlier. Turns out Jeremiah was right, and there were massive and unexpected consequences for Kara’s heroism!
What really made this storyline shine though is how Kara and Maggie had to try and make use of their own separate ideas of bringing down criminals. Kara tries to power through the situation and brute force her way to Alex, while Maggie tries to use police tact and proper procedure to get the guy to spill. Both attempts only endangering Alex more also worked very well, with Kara accidentally accelerating the time limit right when it looks like Alex successfully makes contact with the DEO, while Maggie eventually gives in to the bad guy’s demands and swipes some DEO tech to get the father out of prison herself. Fortunately, Kara intervenes before Maggie can fully capitulate, and the two manage to get Alex’s location from the father, thankfully saving her mere moments before she would have drowned!
The episode also contained a standout subplot with Lena Luthor to boot, as Rhea contacts her in hopes of building a teleportation device. During the business proceedings though, Lena sniffs out that Rhea is an alien, and abruptly terminates their business arrangement. Rather than embrace being a villain however, Rhea instead comes clean and approaches Lena honestly, trying to use reason and compassion to motivate Lena to build the machine, citing its huge benefits for the human race. Lena calling Kara for advice, and Kara being unable to help due to being tied up in Alex’s rescue, also made for a great bit of tragic irony, since Kara not being able to take this call means that Lena agrees to work with Rhea, no doubt creating massive consequences for the world at large across the season’s final three episodes!
“Alex” made for a very different episode of Supergirl, but one that turned out excellently in pretty much all respects. Kara and Maggie both having to find common ground to save the day made for an outstanding core plot, while Rhea meeting with Lena, and using decency rather than violence to pursue her agenda, also made for a strong subplot. It’s tough to make a fully human villain that feels like a legitimate threat to Supergirl’s titular heroine, especially with Superman arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor seemingly off-limits for the show at this point, but this is a fine example of how to make for a strong small-scale human enemy for a member of DC’s Superman family. The fact that this incident managed to get Kara and Maggie to put aside their differences and both become better heroes makes for the perfect icing on the cake as well!
- Interesting and effective conflict between Kara and Maggie
- Alex, Maggie and the DEO doing all of the smart moves and failing
- Kara being unable to stop Lena from working with Rhea
- No clear explanation for why J'onn can't read the criminal's mind