NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
Supergirl has been doing very well throughout most of its second season, but its choice of big bad is once again very problematic. In some respects, Queen Rhea is an even more underwhelming foe than Astra and Non before her, and, “Resist” really solidified that, as the show frustratingly starts re-treading practically the exact same finale scenario from Season One, only done more poorly this time.
If there was a high point in Season Two’s penultimate episode though, it was the return of both Cat Grant and President Olivia Marsdin. Both Calista Flockhart and Lynda Carter both added some much-needed presence and punch to an otherwise weak episode, which is still failing to adequately sell the threat of Rhea, especially since her motivations are kind of a mess. Is she lashing out about Mon-El choosing Kara over her? Were she and the late Lar Gand going to invade and conquer Earth even if Mon-El stayed with them? It really seems at this point that Rhea is just angry about Mon-El’s decision, since her invasion operation feels like it’s full of holes, especially since, you know, Supergirl’s Earth already fought off a similar invasion last year!
Further making Rhea’s invasion feel messy and sloppy is the Daxamites feeling like their powers are not as well-defined as Non’s Kryptonian thugs. How can Mon-El, a super-powered alien, struggle with taking them down, while James can clear out several with no problem, even if he does use some lead dust? There’s even one laughably clumsy fake-out where Mon-El and Lena think that they’re cornered, only to have Kara just suddenly knock several Daxamite soldiers over like bowling pins. Despite all this, Earth’s military is helpless to stop them too, which feels like it doesn’t totally make sense, given that the Daxamites don’t seem to be that dangerous. Hell, even just considering what we know about them from the show’s own lore, they’re a laid-back party people. How do they even have the means to invade Earth with a small, mostly decimated splinter force anyway? This climactic storyline just isn’t making sense!
Fortunately, like I said, President Marsdin at least helped give the episode a bit more punch and dignity. Not only does the truth finally come out that she’s an alien, a refugee that had to watch her good-natured people become enslaved and all but wiped out in fact, but she also takes decisive action against Rhea’s forces, to avoid the same thing happening to Earth. Unfortunately, this means pointing a massive Positron Cannon at Rhea’s ship, with President Marsdin deciding that she’d rather doom Lena and Mon-El than risk any more damage to Earth.
This agonizing presidential order is often where the episode was at its smartest and most engaging. Alex having to weigh this decision as acting director of the DEO, due to J’onn being out of commission after the events of the previous episode, made it all the better, especially with the added wrinkle of Kara trying to save Lena and Mon-El before Alex has to fire the cannon. Kara even has to team up with Lillian Luthor and Hank Henshaw to infiltrate the ship at all, by rigging a Phantom Zone teleporter in the Fortress of Solitude. Having to make that deal with the devil added some more much-needed intrigue, especially when Lillian does inevitably betray Kara by leaving her and Mon-El on the ship, after she gets ahold of Lena. Kara at least finds a way to send Mon-El back, but she then decides to try talking sense into Rhea one last time, even though she knows that the ship will be blown up in minutes! Yes, seriously. Because reasoning with Rhea worked so well every other time, clearly!
One of the most frustrating points of this episode comes right at the end here too, as the Positron Cannon is suddenly destroyed by heat vision, right before Alex can fire it, and Kara is later ambushed by a powerful foe that Rhea has brainwashed; Superman. Yes, seriously. Ugh, how crappy is Superman in the Supergirl universe when he’s mind-controlled for the second time by the season’s big villain?! This is another story element that’s just been flat-out recycled from Season One, where Myriad also provided a forced excuse to prevent Superman from saving Earth. Granted, the prospect of Kara having to fight her brainwashed cousin at least has a little more potential, especially with J’onn not able to fight alongside her for now, but are we really going to provide such a lame excuse for the Man of Steel to be taken out so easily again? How the hell did a rank amateur invader like Rhea even manage to subdue Superman in the first place?!
This sizable storytelling speed bump is placing quite a lot of expectations on next week’s season finale, since it has to work overtime to make sure that Season Two of Supergirl at least concludes by making up for these weaker episodes over the past two weeks. “Resist” may have provided a solid chance to bring back some of the show’s much-missed guest personalities, but it still has to rely on a big villain that’s way too underwhelming. The Daxamite invasion just feels like it raises too many questions, and both Superman and Martian Manhunter being conveniently taken out of action draws even more attention to how much Supergirl is forcing Kara to save the day, in a rather contrived fashion. There’s still one episode left in Season Two though, and maybe the show will still manage to do something great for the end of the season. At this point however, that’s frustratingly looking like a bit of a long shot.
- Cat Grant's inspiring return
- Interesting Kara/Lillian/Henshaw team-up
- Both Kara and Alex struggling with President Marsdin's orders
- Rhea still doesn't feel like an effective climactic villain
- Daxamites aren't believably dangerous invaders
- Superman is seriously brainwashed AGAIN?!