NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
Team Supergirl has thankfully eradicated the Phantom ‘infection’ spreading throughout National City, but Kara herself still remains trapped in the Phantom Zone at this point. Last week’s cliffhanger ending left Kara in a pretty intense position as well, seemingly witnessing her father and Nyxly die in an explosion. It seems that the series wants fans to keep stewing on that big Phantom Zone cliffhanger however, because, for the next two episodes, Kara’s arc is being entirely sidelined, in favour of a quest to reclaim Kara’s DNA from the past. Yeah, apparently we need to time travel for some of Kara’s DNA, which feels like a pretty convoluted solution. Seriously, does Kara not own a toothbrush?!
Well, regardless, Supergirl is presenting a two-part event over the next couple of weeks, one involving Brainy and Nia traveling back in time to Midvale, circa 2009, in order to get some DNA from a teenage Kara. Again, I don’t know why teenage Kara is easier to deal with than adult Kara, but I guess we needed the excuse for this time travel storyline. Granted, I do like the idea of pairing Nia and Brainy together in a dedicated plot, since both characters will almost certainly serve as the basis for the Arrowverse’s Legion of Super-Heroes, following the conclusion of Supergirl’s run later this year. Not only that, but the foundational storyline of Nia and Brainy trying to navigate a foreign time period within a planet that’s not natively their own has promise for a good, light-hearted plot, injecting some welcome levity after a fairly dramatic start to Supergirl’s final season before now.
Inevitably, Brainy and Nia run into complications while using Brainy’s ship to travel back in time (Brainy could just time travel this the whole time? Kind of sucks the stakes out of this show to some extent, but whatever), crash landing right in front of the young Kara and Alex, alongside Kara’s old boyfriend, Kenny. Yeah, Kenny’s death from Supergirl’s pre-Crisis Earth-38 continuity has been erased within the revised canon of Earth-Prime, meaning that Kenny now lives in this time period, thus leaving the teenage Kara with the fresh dilemma of staying in Midvale, or fulfilling her destiny in National City. This is kind of an interesting idea on paper, but honestly, the stakes don’t really matter here, because the turnout of this plot is obvious. Hell, we don’t even see Kara committing to telling Kenny the truth during this first time travel episode, which feels like a waste of time.
Regardless, after Brainy and Nia encounter the very people that they’re not supposed to interact with, the two try to talk their way out of the situation by posing as runaway aliens, leading to Kara and Kenny taking Nia and Brainy in, respectively, at least for a day, while Alex orders them to leave the planet by the following night. This is another fairly interesting idea, especially when the cheesy, yet wholesome humour behind this storyline works reasonably well, at least sometimes. Truth be told, Nia is served a bit better than Brainy here, as Nia continues to dream ominous premonitions about a confined pink cougar, while Brainy simply screws around with a series of misunderstandings at Midvale’s strangely advanced high school. I get that Brainy is trying to cope with the stress of time travel, but considering that he’s supposed to be a 12th-Level Intellect, his inexplicably inept behaviour throughout this mission feels too ridiculous to be believable. Brainy’s over-the-top behaviour manages to be kind of amusing at first, sure, but it quickly becomes annoying and inexplicable before long.
Still, the trip back to Midvale wasn’t a total loss here, even if it felt like the storytelling didn’t achieve much forward momentum during this first half. One of the most surprisingly effective elements of this episode is Eliza Helm’s guest turn as a young Cat “CJ” Grant, who shows up in Midvale exactly when Nia and Brainy become stranded there. Helm’s Callista Flockhart impression is actually pretty fantastic, and it definitely makes you long for the days when Supergirl could exploit one of its best legacy characters in her proper role as head of CatCo. Regardless, Cat is determined to hunt down the secret of Midvale being the, “Luckiest town in America”, which is of course made manifest by Kara intervening in and stopping every single one of the town’s would-be crises. Considering that 2009 seems to be the height of Superman fever in the Arrowverse’s new Earth-Prime universe to boot, Cat is extra determined to get the scoop on Midvale’s likely new super-being before Lois Lane can, another origin story device that works pretty well, as Nia’s and Brainy’s problems are compounded by having to avoid tipping off Cat.
A weird, intentionally goofy storyline naturally merits a weird, intentionally goofy villain-of-the-week(s) as well. That comes by way of two ‘Bismollian’ aliens named Mitch and Professor Tork, who run an illegal alien ‘zoo’ full of the rarest creatures in the galaxy, and are seeking to capture Kara for their Kryptonian exhibit, since Superman gave them too much trouble. This is actually a loose echo of a storyline from Superman: The Animated Series, wherein Lobo attempted to capture Superman for an alien being called the ‘Preserver’, who, similarly, ran an alien zoo for the last survivors of various extinct alien species. Weirdly, Supergirl seems to dumb this storyline down, despite being a live-action series ostensibly made for an older audience than Superman: The Animated Series was targeting in the 90’s, but oh well.
If you’re a DC fan, and the term, “Bismollian” sounds familiar to you as well, it’s likely because it’s the alien race of Matter-Eater Lad, one of the more eccentric members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in DC Comics lore, whose superpower is literally the ability to eat anything, no matter how durable. It actually would have been very funny to feature Matter-Eater Lad as an antagonist in this storyline, or at the very least, some prototype version of him. Instead, the Bismollians of the Arrowverse appear to simply be cheap knock-offs of Marvel’s blue-skinned Kree aliens, and they simply capture Nia and Brainy because they’re rare aliens, and because Nia and Brainy (Brainy especially) are stupid enough to fall into their obvious trap. Seriously, did Brainy have an aneurysm this week?! Why did he spend this episode acting like such a moron?!
The Bismollians and Cat are both meant to spotlight a story wherein Kara and Alex clash over Kara’s inability to resist helping people around Midvale, which is drawing more attention to the town. This is actually kind of an interesting idea, at least in concept, but there’s no real payoff at this point. Instead, this storyline is simply left hanging, with Nia and Brainy becoming the latest additions to the Bismollian zoo as this episode ends, despite the promo for the following episode showing them both being free and just fine? Yeah, not much of a cliffhanger, in that case. Regardless, “Prom Night!” is a decent excuse for a more light, fluffy Supergirl storyline to follow so much drama and dread throughout this season so far, but it’s a bit of a disappointing first half to the show’s two-part Midvale event. The young Kara’s drama currently feels trite and pointless, plus Nia and Brainy spend this entire episode more or less goofing off, and not accomplishing anything of value. Instead, Nia seems to completely forget about the ticking clock of Kara being in the Phantom Zone, while Brainy inexplicably responds to stress by getting stupider in every conceivable way.
Still, Supergirl has time to bring its Midvale plot to at least a decent conclusion next week, even though Nia and Brainy probably won’t be incapacitated for long. Hell, we still have at least another week for Matter-Eater Lad to make his surprise debut on the series in some form, I suppose! I guess I’d better lower my expectations there though, considering how much time the show has wasted on pointless storytelling in Midvale already.
- Some fun moments with Nia and Brainy
- Eliza Helm's uncanny young Cat Grant
- Interesting exploration of early consequences for Kara's superhero career
- No worthwhile payoff to young Kara's drama (yet)
- Brainy's frequent, out-of-character stupidity
- Bismollian villains feel unnecessary