NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review

 

 

Supergirl’s sixth and final season has been pretty bumpy, not least because it feels like the show is mostly out of ideas at this point. The dull totem hunt that’s comprised this season’s back half is not only recycled from a much more interesting totem hunt on sibling series, Legends of Tomorrow a few seasons ago, but it’s also dragging back the same weird ‘paragon’ idea from Crisis on Infinite Earths, only now on a scale that’s exclusive to Supergirl. Finally, the fact that the show pitted Kara against a magical enemy, fifth-dimensional imp, Nyxly for its final season, only to render Nyxly de-powered for most of the season, feels like a massive missed opportunity, one that ultimately led to plot-convenient magic elements that the series felt like it was just making up as it went along.

Thus, it seemed unlikely that Supergirl would deliver a strong finale, allowing itself to end on an impressive or memorable note. For what it’s worth however, the first half of the show’s two-hour series finale event, “The Last Gauntlet”, isn’t too bad overall. It provides a decent duel against Nyxly and Lex Luthor, while also putting Team Supergirl into some compromising positions, as the Destiny Totem leaves them struggling against a seemingly inevitable fate. All the while, Alex’s and Kelly’s adopted daughter, Esme remains in the custody of the villains, something that eventually leads to a more vulnerable side of Nyxly coming out, one that ultimately leads to a rift between her and Lex.

Nyxly and Lex eventually ‘breaking up’ and becoming foes is one element of this episode that felt all too inevitable. Bringing in Lillian to drive a wedge between Lex and his fifth-dimensional sweetheart isn’t a bad idea, mind you, but even then, it feels like Nyxly rejects Lex on the basis of willful misunderstandings, rather than legitimate drama. Despite the two initially working together to try and extract the Love Totem from Esme, after it appears on the back of her neck, Lillian warns Nyxly that Lex is incapable of love, and will eventually betray her. Lex attempting to take initiative for Nyxly shortly afterward only cements this, at which point Nyxly arbitrarily decides that Lex won’t listen to her. Yeah, it’s pretty childish, but then again, ‘childish’ is mostly on-brand for Supergirl lately, so I can’t exactly say this break-up, forced as it is, feels all that surprising.

As for the heroes, they spend a good chunk of this episode floundering, moping and wasting time, because the show needs to save its true final battle for the following episode. This entitled self-pity is another thing that’s disappointingly on-brand for Supergirl’s increasingly insufferable do-gooders in recent seasons especially, and it sucks that it lingers even within the series finale. The series continues to pay lip service to some minor arcs on this end, such as Andrea feeling guilt over William’s recent death at the hands of Lex, or Nia and Brainy having to cope with Brainy needing to return to the future soon, but none of it ultimately matters here. Hell, the team doesn’t truly have time to grieve William yet either, due to the pressing threat of Lex and Nyxly. I assume William’s true funeral is likely being saved for the proper finale to come after this.

One story element that does work a little better on the note of the heroes is Alex and Kelly deciding to capitulate to bringing the rest of the totems to Nyxly and Lex, since they can’t risk the life of their daughter. I wish that the show had dug further into this though, since Team Supergirl falls in line with Alex’s and Kelly’s betrayal far too quickly. Still, seeing an increasingly desperate Alex break ranks from the team, and take Kelly along with her, makes for some solid drama. Alex’s and Kelly’s treachery even indirectly leads to Kara and the rest of the team deciding to appropriate a solar satellite to super-charge Kara as well, supposedly rendering her invulnerable to the AllStone’s magic.

Surprisingly though, after Kara sees that appropriating the sun’s energy causes the world to suffer (gee, can’t imagine why, super idiots!), she decides that taking power is the tactic of her enemies, and she’s better than that. Yeah, it’s a little cheesy, as is the subsequent pep talk being given in National City to inspire the citizens not to lose their virtues after the totems are misused by the villains (take a shot), but this still helps Kara engage Lex and Nyxly on more equal footing, alongside her allies. There’s even a pretty shocking moment wherein Lillian protects Lex from a totem blast, nearly dying in the process. I wish that the show had gone all the way with killing off Lillian here, especially since this is the series finale anyway, but Lillian proving that she does indeed love her son is nonetheless a pretty gratifying moment, especially after Lex and Nyxly ultimately turn into monsters battling each other over the fractured pieces of the AllStone that they each hold.

Considering that so much of Supergirl’s final season has been a bust, it’s pleasantly surprising to see that this first half of the show’s overall finale is surprisingly solid, at least by Supergirl’s standards. “The Last Gauntlet” delivers a nicely subversive new challenge for Team Supergirl, as it effectively primes Lex and Nyxly to become climactic threats that drain the world of their virtues with their endless battling. The heroes’ arcs nonetheless feel rushed through in some respects here, not to mention that the show’s magical elements still feel contrived and overly convenient for the plot, but I suppose it’s nonetheless valid to have Kara’s final obstacle be based around inspiration and emotion, rather than direct conflict. We still get some action here though, and likely even more in the following episode, so for what it’s worth, Supergirl’s ending is off to a solid start.

Supergirl Series Finale Part 1: "The Last Gauntlet" Review
The first half of Supergirl's two-episode series finale, "The Last Gauntlet", sets up a solid final obstacle between Lex and Nyxly, even if it still rushes through several character arcs.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Nyxly's more vulnerable side coming out around Esme
  • Kara rejecting power to preserve the citizens
  • Lex's and Nyxly's creative final challenge
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Lex/Nyxly break-up feels forced
  • Several character subplots are rushed through
  • Alex/Kelly betrayal is quickly made pointless
75%Overall Score
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