NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
Supergirl is now the latest Arrowverse series to make it to 100 episodes, and the show’s 100th episode happens to coincide with the return of a fan-favourite Superman Family foil this week. “It’s a Super Life” brings back fifth-dimensional mischief maker, Mr. Mxyzptlk, a.k.a. “Mxy”, this time played by Thomas Lennon, with the excuse that his former guise from Season Two was a more attractive form that was designed to woo Kara. After his sudden re-appearance however, Mxy is trying to make amends for his former actions, and he decides that the best way to help Kara and repent for his former trouble is to take Kara back to the past, to change history so that she can repair her strained friendship with Lena.
As much as this storyline does feel like it’s re-treading some story elements from The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, the way that Mxy’s return plays out on Supergirl still manages to stand out well, specifically by making the Kara/Lena friendship its emotional anchor. This also provides an excuse to do a similar 100th episode convention as Arrow and The Flash beforehand, namely bringing back some high-profile legacy characters, and taking a trip through memory lane, revisiting former season arcs. In this case, after Mxy sends J’onn and Alex to a paintball dimension (why J’onn and Alex showed up in this episode’s present timeline at all, I’m not sure), Kara decides to start by telling Lena the truth during the years that they combated Reign.
Naturally, this provides a convenient excuse to bring back Samantha/Reign for a guest stint, with Kara deciding to tell Lena the truth about her secret identity at the DEO, first to avoid the initial rift between Lena and Supergirl over Lena synthesizing Kryptonite, and later when Reign first makes herself known to National City. In both instances however, catastrophe inevitably ensues, first when Kara ends up being killed by the Kryptonite bomb, which Lena was no longer present to stop, and in the second instance, Reign, Mon-El (he’s back too, having never gone to the future in the changed timeline), and Lena are all killed during a confrontation at Sam’s mother’s house. Obviously, Kara is unable to accept this, and so decides to go further back in time with Mxy.
It’s at this point that this storyline becomes especially interesting, particularly when Kara goes all the way back to the moment wherein she first met Lena, all the way back in Season Two. Yes, Supergirl’s 100th episode never actually goes back to the show’s first season, beyond a token mention of Cat Grant at one point, but this could be due to the issue of Supergirl’s first season airing on CBS, before moving to The CW from Season Two onward, thus likely limiting which Season One assets, actors and scenes that the show has access to here. In any case, when Kara first tells Lena her identity right from the start, the two become an impeccable fighting force together, endearing themselves to the world at large in the process. This merely results in the Cult of Rao gaining an enormous amount of power though, resulting in Ben Lockwood, another legacy villain, forcing Kara to reveal her identity to the world after the rest of Lockwood’s family dies in a botched cult stunt, in order to save Lena and Thomas Coville. Naturally, Kara capitulating to this demand results in Alex, J’onn, Winn, Cat and everyone else that Kara ever cared about aside from Lena being murdered by the Children of Liberty.
This eventually pushes Kara to the conclusion that she never should have been friends with Lena in the first place, and seeing as this leads into the climax of the episode, this naturally results in the darkest timeline possible. Not only that, but Mxy’s magic stops working at this point to boot, temporarily stranding Kara and Mxy in this horrific alternate timeline, wherein Lena has taken over National City and placed it under martial law, and the remnants of Team Supergirl have formed a struggling resistance effort. This leads to a pretty great climax, with Reign and Brainy serving as Lena’s enforcers, while Lena herself has become Metallo. Kara discovers Lena’s new abilities the hard way too, nearly being killed by Lena during a confrontation, before Mxy recovers the enchanted hat from The Hat, allowing him to bring himself and Kara back to their true reality. Yes, this was actually a pretty awesome explanation for how The Hat attained his powers last season, namely by winning his inter-dimensional hat from a card game against Mxy.
This failure to change history nonetheless brings Kara to the truth that she needs to hear and see, namely that no matter when she tells Lena about her secret identity, there are always negative consequences. Kara then thanks Mxy for his help and sends him away, before confronting Lena with what she’s now learned. Admittedly, this is the point where this episode starts to stumble at the finish line a bit, even with Kara otherwise making the smart decision to forgive herself for Lena’s bad choices, in the fallout of learning Kara’s secret identity the way she did. Kara threatening Lena into not working with Lex sort of makes sense, but Kara nonetheless appears to learn the wrong lesson from her trip through history with Mxy, namely that Kara has no accountability in Lena’s actions, and Kara should never care when she makes mistakes. Uh, yeah, that’s the wrong takeaway, Kara! Granted, this is frustratingly true to Supergirl’s usual take on its titular heroine, namely that she’s an immature, flighty and self-important emotional liability who thinks that her shit doesn’t stink, which would be one thing if Kara was in high school, as she is in most DC media, but in the Arrowverse, Kara is almost thirty now, and really should be smarter than this!
Aside from that frustrating ending portion however, Supergirl nonetheless manages to deliver a pretty strong 100th episode with, “It’s a Super Life”, one that does a good job of looking back at the show’s past (at least, as far back as The CW’s run on it), while doing well enough at leading into a new era for Kara and Lena. Thomas Lennon is a standout new live-action rendition of Mxy, and I hope that he gets a chance to reprise the role at some point, despite this episode providing a pretty definitive conclusion to Mxy’s current story arc in the Arrowverse. Kara learning to forgive herself for all that’s happened with Lena is also a fairly satisfying turn, though I wish it didn’t come at the expense of Kara once again acting like a conceited airhead, and solely dealing in emotional extremes. Still, with Lena being freshly dismissed all over again, hopefully she can at least keep injecting some much-needed emotional weight into this show, especially now that there’s probably no reason for Lena to ultimately resist working with her megalomaniac brother anymore, despite Kara’s threats.
- Interesting trip through most of the show's history
- Thomas Lennon provides a fun new take on Mxy
- Kara deciding she's done making excuses for Lena
- Kara finding yet another excuse to be emotionally immature