Episode 113 “Fallen”
Written by Robert Rovner & Jessica Quiller
Directed by Larry Teng
This episode takes the “villain of the week” trope and turns it sideways. And does it in a way that actually has people rooting for the bad guy? Because the villain this week is Kara Zor-El.
It’s just another sunny day in National City. The birds are singing. The sky is blue. The kids are off to school, even the one who dresses like Supergirl and gets bullied…
… until Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) swoops in and claims her as a friend. You don’t mess with Supergirl’s friends. They’re the cool kids. Right?
A building fire!
Supergirl is off to save the firefighter trapped under an I-beam (on the roof), when she’s exposed to a glowing red rock. Staggering, she recovers her balance and flies off. No biggie, right?
Until she starts getting snarky with friends. Until she starts getting rude and insubordinate at the DEO. Until she calls out Hank (David Harewood) for being a coward, hiding himself away instead of owning the “Last Survivor of Mars” title. Until she shows up at CatCo wearing the bolder, more grown-up, yowza who is this little minx?
Y’know, there’s a reason why Bad Kara played so well on Twitter. She’s hot.
Until she throws Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) off the balcony and just barely saves her from being street pizza. Then she’s hot, but she’s scary. And I applaud the writers for taking her that close to the edge. The build-up in her fall was well-crafted, adding layers of depth to her uninhibited personality.
Turns out, Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) is responsible — at least, inadvertently. He’s decided that with so many Kryptonians out to destroy humanity — because it’s a thing, and it must be more difficult than it looks — he’ll take it upon himself to develop his own brand of kryptonite. Only he doesn’t get the formula right, and makes red kryptonite instead.
He must have used tar.
The exposure to Red-K does what it’s done before: relaxes Kara’s inhibitions so she pretty much does what she wants and says what she wants with no filter. Which causes all sorts of hurt feelings everywhere. Jimmy and Winn (Mehcad Brooks, Jeremy Jordan) don’t recognize her, especially after she get’s Winn’s new girlfriend Siobahn (Italia Ricci) fired. Cat can’t trust her anymore, and she warns the city to be on the lookout for the new villain in town.
Cat, especially, is feeling the burn after going on The Talk (plug for another CBS show, much?) to spout all sorts of good things about Supergirl and how much of a hero she is and on and on about the good things related to Supergirl. Because she’s a ray of sunshine. She rescues cats out of trees.
The most emotional scene of the hour is the confrontation between Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Dark Kara, who sports a Kryptonian outfit very much like her Aunt Astra’s — and that’s a sticking point, the fact that Alex killed one of the last members of Kara’s family. The hurt and anger in the performances between these two really bring home the fact that they’re both playing characters who have had to deal with a lot of anguish in their lives. And through it all they’ve had each other.
Except now they don’t, and Alex is properly devastated. But she still does her job. Because she’s a grown-up who doesn’t whine about how life’s not fair and should come with trigger warnings.
With Lord’s help, the DEO manages to develop an antidote to the Red-K radiation, and a recovering Kara falls apart when she realizes how much damage she’s done. (See, Snyder? It’s not difficult.) Again, Benoist’s performance here is the brightest part of the show, even when she’s flat on her back bawling like a baby. Because it feels like it’s coming from deep inside somewhere.
If she doesn’t get an Emmy, there will be riots in Chicago. (too soon?)
But there’s also a little deus ex machina here, though, because what would have happened if Maxwell Lord hadn’t admitted his culpability? Yes, he was going after Non & Company, and Supergirl just happens to get in the way, but if the Red-K had killed Supergirl, would Lord have had any regrets? Probably not. But as Alex points out, his tampering made Kara exactly the kind of monster he was hoping to repel. So it’s right that he recognizes he brought this on himself.
I also think he’s helping in order to score points with Alex.
Now, for those who have been paying attention: many of the past episodes have been taking established themes and stories from the Superman mythology and giving them new twists with Kara at the center. This episode is no different, as it re-works Superman III, complete with the peanut-flicking bar scene. Only instead of Kara splitting in twain, she goes up against J’onn J’onzz in a very public battle in the streets.
Yes, the Martian Manhunter has been outed. And he allows himself to be arrested and put in a crystal cube. Because next hour, we’ll get the flashback story we’ve been wondering about: the death of Jeremiah Danvers and the real Hank Henshaw, and how J’onn took Henshaw’s place at the DEO.
One nitpick, and it’s the same one we’re going to get until the end of Crisis on Infinite DC Media: why didn’t Clark show up to help stop Dark Kara?
Gotta admit, Dark Kara looks more grown-up, sexier, and more in control of herself, even if she’s a loose cannon. Hopefully, some of that she’ll allow to peek through every now and again so her wardrobe isn’t quite so much from high school.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS.