‘Supergirl’ 2×20 Roundtable: ‘City of Lost Children’

It’s always important for a show about a superpowered superhero to remind us that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero. We can always count on Supergirl for that.

Our Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Lyra, Nora, Sarah  and Erin are breaking down the most recent episode of Supergirl, which has us wondering how Supergirl has lost track of James and how Mother Of The Year Rhea continues to ruin lives.

Describe your thoughts about “City of the Lost Children” using just six words.

Alyssa: Queen Rhea, Mother of the Year.

Lizzie: Oh God, James is so boring.

Lyra: Really Lena? You trusted this lady?

Sarah:What the hell was that?

Erin: Crazy Mutha Effin Crazy.

Describe your feelings about “City of Lost Children” using a gif.

Alyssa:

Lizzie:

Lyra: 

Sarah: 

Erin: 

Steve Harvey Tv GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A theme that Supergirl has explored a couple times this season has been about not needing superpowers to be a hero. And because the message can not be stressed enough, what are your thoughts on that theme?

Alyssa: When you have a show about a superhero that has superpowers it’s important that you take the time to stress the fact that it’s not the powers that make the hero. I feel like with superheroes with powers it’s even more important because it’s not their powers that make them heroic, it’s their heart and actions. Even if you took away Kara’s powers, she’d still be a hero who would no doubt want to help people. That is the mark of a true hero.

While James is by far my least favorite character — only because this show has no idea what they’re doing with him and haven’t given me a reason to care — I feel like he was a good person for this theme. I mean, this is a storyline that practically came out of nowhere this season, but I feel like putting a non-powered hero in the massive shadows of two super-powered heroes like Supergirl and Superman was smart. Because it’s very easy to feel discouraged when surrounded by others who have assets you don’t have and feel like they’re better than you because of that. When that couldn’t be further from the truth. Also, truth be told, we need more non-superpowered heroes in this television world that has become ripe with superheroes. Because we live in a world where we’re surrounded by every day heroes.

Lizzie: I love the theme, I do. I just …don’t love James, and I practically fell asleep every time he was on screen, so the theme was lost on me. It’s episode 20 of Season 2 and now the show wants me to care about James? Dude, too little, far too late. I liked him more than Winn in Season 1, but now I hardly ever remember him and I love Winn. That’s how badly the writing has failed James Olsen.

But, fine – the theme. I love that they keep stressing this theme, I love that they give people without powers – not just James, but Maggie and Alex and Winn a chance to prove that you can be a hero in every-day life, because that’s the message that we should take out of a show like this. Not that we need to save the world like Supergirl, but that we need to save it as Kara Danvers.

Lyra: Heroes not needing superpowers is a key theme in all superhero shows. Nevertheless, I’m kind of tired of it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been exposed to an overabundance of superheroes via TV, movies, and comics? But, a bit ol’ but here, I understand that the human condition and emotions are complicated, frail, and likely to muck things up. And when we are exposed to things that we can not explain, control, or emulate, we become transfixed and often times jealous. Addressing the fact that you don’t need superpowers to save the day, make it through life, or help another is then key for a successful superhero show to grow, survive, and teach its viewers lessons about life.

Sarah: The theme was very well executed or would have been perfect if they hadn’t used it as an excuse to throw James back into the main fray. He’s been out of the frontrunner storylines for too long and it was a heartwarming way to show it but it didn’t really make me immediately care about James the way I did in Season 1. On the theme itself though, I LOVED every scene with James and Marcus.

Superheroes come in all shapes, sizes with or without superpowers and the fact that it was so well done in this episode is one of the best aspects about Supergirl. They may have superpowered aliens on the planet, but they never forget powers aren’t the reason anyone on Earth is called a hero. The desire to help people and to express it in your own way is a message I will never get tired of seeing.

Erin: The thing that I love the most about Supergirl is that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero. Every person on this show has so much to offer. I’ve never felt like this show is just about Kara. I have felt like it’s about how every person connects and they are all needed to solve the issue. What kills me though is that a lot of people don’t see that. The refuse to look past their “ships” and see that every person, every interaction, every relationship is what makes this show strong. I love that the fans have passion about Supergirl, but sometime people need to see that it’s an adaptation of the comics – not  a full on bring the comics to life. But I LOVE the theme of you don’t need superpowers to be a hero, because it reminds people that you can be everything and anything you want to be.

James has often compared himself to Supergirl and Superman when it comes to being a hero. But he learned in this episode that superpowers don’t make the hero, the heart does. What were your thoughts on that?

Alyssa: It’s definitely an important lesson to learn, as I said before. The superpowers don’t make the hero, the heart does. While James didn’t feel like the right person to deliver the message, it was a message that came across clearly. It’s something that I’m disappointed about  because in the first couple episodes of season 1, I thought James was going to be one of my favorite characters. But they’ve just completely lost track of what they want to do with him. Kind of reminds me of what Arrow did with Laurel Lance in season 2 after they lost track of her character.

But I really appreciated how Supergirl stuck an ordinary, powerless hero in a world where he compares himself to the likes of Supergirl and Superman and how that ultimately affects him. It makes sense. Who the hell wouldn’t feel discouraged when you’re living in the shadows of Supergirl and Superman? But that’s not something that you overcome if you don’t try to find who you are as a hero, which is what Supergirl did with James.

Lizzie: That the show has no idea what to do with James so every time he’s on screen they need to reinforce the same message that we already got because without the romance they’re lost on a storyline for him?

Lyra: *looks around skeptically* Didn’t James know that superpowers don’t make the hero, ages ago? Isn’t that why he’s been hitting the streets as the Guardian? I thought we already covered this with James and I was a bit surprised Supergirl decided to make this the core of James story. Because of that I was a little bored of James and started thinking back in wonder at what they’ve done for him this season. What I concluded was that it doesn’t matter that he’s a hero hitting the streets to protect people or the acting head of Catco. He’s not a romantic interest so the writers are at a loss what to do with him. Shame. So much potential, wasted.

Sarah: I think it was a really good message to send, but as I said before James being the one to deliver it was a little out of the blue for me. I really liked his initial start out as Guardian wanting to make a difference in the way he chose to regardless of whoever disagreed with him including Kara. However despite that it didn’t really take off in the way I thought it would and writing wise just fell to the wayside. So when they decided to bring him back into the limelight it was a lovely way to remind anyone who might have forgotten anyone can be a hero regardless of superpowers but I think it would have hit more close to home if we’d gotten to see that more from James over the season.

Describe your feelings about Rhea using a gif.

Alyssa:

Lizzie:

Lyra: 

Sarah: 

Erin: 

Angry GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

When Mon-El found out his mother was still on Earth, he expected to feel anger but was surprised to find that he still cared. What were your thoughts on Mon-El not being able to let his mother go despite everything she’s done?

Alyssa: When it comes to family, nothing’s black and white. So no matter what Rhea did or was about to do was ever going to make her not Mon-El’s mother. It’s easy to say, I’m never going to speak to my mother again or “I’ll hurt her if she comes near you again.” But it’s another thing to actually act upon those words. Because if you’re a child that has loved your parents, then you know there’s no decision here. Mon-El was never going to pull that trigger. And Rhea knew that. Mon-El even knew that. But that didn’t stop him from at least threatening. Even as he stood gun pointed at his mother and mustered up all of the terrible things she’d done — from emotionally abusing him to threatening Kara and threatening Earth — he still couldn’t pull the trigger. Because he loves her. It’s as simple as that. He might not agree with her or like her, but he does love her.

Lizzie: She’s his mother. Like, that’s legit my answer. I don’t even know what needs to be added here. She’s his mother. And yes, she wasn’t a good mother, yes, she was emotionally abusive, yes, she wants to kill everyone – but SHE.IS.HIS.MOTHER. Did anyone really expect him to just be able to pull the trigger? Hell, I don’t think I would have liked the kind of person pulling the trigger would have made him. If anyone’s got a problem with Mon-El because of this …I just ..I recommend taking a step back, or like 57. Possibly stop watching the show. Because this is not just totally understandable, it’s actually a good thing. He has a heart. Of course he can’t kill his own mother.

Lyra: My first thought at Mon-El not being able to kill his mother or let her go was, “Is this what people were mad about about all over social media last episode? Seriously?” Listen, I would describe my mother as a hot pile of garbage on fire, but you damn better believe that I would be hesitant to kill my own mother. Why? Because things aren’t black and white. This woman gave birth to Mon-El. She raised him, cared for him, taught him the ways of the world, and became a crucial part of his life. Sure, her way of caring might have been manipulative and the ways of the world that she tried to teach him were hot pile of garbage on fire worthy, but she raised him. There’s a connection there forged by blood and by time. You don’t just forget that because you’ve found a better way of living, a group of people that care for you, new things about yourself, and the realization that the way that your mother tried to raise you is not the person you want to be anymore. The people who gave Mon-El a hard time for not stopping his own mother are the 3 B’s. Bitter, biased, and blinded by their hate of Mon-El. You don’t have to love him but you do have to acknowledge that he has a heart and it isn’t leading him to murdering his own mother. It’s a positive and you’re not admitting your undying love for him by admitting that he was put in a hard situation and that you might hesitate if put in the same position.

Sarah: I say this knowing how ironic it is, but it’s completely human that he couldn’t pull the trigger. No matter what she’s done and how awful/evil she’s been and let’s face it the woman has earned the title at the end of the day that’s his mother. Mon-El literally told Kara he was surprised that he wasn’t angry as he thought he would be when he thought he saw her and when he confessed they used to drug themselves on Daxam that they wouldn’t feel anything my heart broke for him. Kara, being the smart lady she is knows it’s not a mark of weakness or says anything bad about him that he couldn’t do it (and if anyone argues against him for this kindly shove off.)

Rhea is a master manipulator and she manipulated the incredibly intelligent but emotionally vulnerable Lena Luthor. She came to her as this encouraging mother figure, which gave Lena that sense of belonging only for another mother figure to betray her. What are your thoughts on Lena and Rhea’s dynamic?

Alyssa: Lena’s weakness is mother figures and that emotional turmoil that they bring. Lena has mommy issues, clearly. If there’s one thing she desires most it’s to pleasure her mother and feel that acceptance she’s so desperately craved — the acceptance and love that her brother Lex received from her. So while Lena should’ve known better, it makes complete sense why she fell into Rhea’s trap. Here was this woman doing everything her mother should’ve done all of her life in a matter of days and providing that encouragement and inspiration she’s never received from her mother. Lena finally felt like she was doing something right. Acceptance is a funny thing. You wouldn’t think that it’s a primary need, but it’s something that we all yearn for. In fact, I feel like this might be part of that push that might push Lena to the dark side. She’s already walking on eggshells. Now she can’t trust herself around others to a degree. Lena took a big chance trusting Rhea and welcoming her into her life. That’s not something she does. Ever. So doing that and taking that risk and having it blow up in her face is only doing to promote more trust issues with Lena and might ultimately be the reason why she turns dark — because she can’t turn to others when she needs help.

Lizzie: As understandable as it is, I feel like Lena should have known better. She really should have. I feel like this is a matter of the writers putting plot over characterization, because they’ve painted Lena as a hell of a smart character and then just didn’t give me enough of a connection between these two for Lena to just fall for it so quickly. What, because Rhea is saying nice things? Lena should be able to see through that! She’s the CEO of a big company, people kiss her ass all the time. Plus, we’re talking the same Lena who KILLED her ex to save Supergirl, aren’t we? Give me a break.

If nothing else, she should have made Rhea work for it – or hell, asked a question or two about the details of what Rhea wanted. But no, that would have been inconvenient for the plot, so naive, emotional Lena it is. Ugh.

Lyra: First of all, Lena is a precious fire breathing unicorn. She doesn’t need to be protected because this unicorn can do it herself. Second of all, what the hell, writers? Lena Luthor, the woman that you have been presenting as resilient, adaptable, and competent was bested by Rhea because she gave Lena the motherly affection she’s always wanted? I don’t buy it. What I don’t buy even more is the fact that this resilient, adaptable, and competent woman didn’t think to put a back door of some sort to the project she was working on with Rhea? Seriously? Look, I get it. Girl is starving for that motherly affection and Rhea gave it to her. But I can’t believe that the woman that you have shown me all season, and the woman who just killed her ex-boyfriend to save her friend, didn’t think to second guess Rhea or protect her company and its future from a new variable that she just entered into a business venture into. Supergirl writers sacrificed Lena’s character for the sake of plot and I hated it. Remember that random piece of equipment/rubble that hit Lena and knocked her out like some cliched damsel? That was the plot hitting her in real time.

Sarah: Honestly I blame the writing for Lena more than Lena herself at falling into Rhea’s trap so easily. This is clearly a smart, capable and brilliant character but when plot takes priority the audience is “treated” to her falling into a trap crafted just for her. It was heartbreaking to see Lena get the encouragement she clearly always desired from her family, only to once again be at the end of another betrayal. Rhea played her part brilliantly (nobody plays sincere but devious underneath like Teri Hatcher), but it left me questioning how she knew to manipulate her in that way.

It felt to convenient for Rhea to quickly hone in on how Lena was vulnerable to say all the right things, at exactly the right time to get what she wanted as quickly as it happened? I mean I’ve swallowed my share of weird character and plot inconsistencies over the years but even this was a stretch for the imagination, especially for Lena. This woman has come so far despite growing up in a clearly screwed up family, having taken control of L Corp as CEO to change her own life. Please let that continue in the future, Supergirl writers.

Erin: I feel for Lena. She has had a pretty fucked up life and lets all face it – we can’t complain about our moms because her’s takes the cake for certifiable. But what kills me is seeing the way that she’s willing to allow herself to be blinded, all for the idea of someone being the mother that she always wanted.

Lena is smart. So smart that it makes me sad for her that she’s distracted by a few nice words. It makes me wonder how damaged she is and what needs to happen to fix her. I mean I get it, she wanted to have a big breakthrough – do something that sets her apart from her family. But I don’t think that Lena’s gonna be able to forgive herself for what has happened.

What are your thoughts on this “New Daxam” that Rhea has created?

Alyssa: I mean, we should’ve known that this threat was going to be alien, right? But perhaps Rhea and Daxam will redeem last year’s disappointing Big Bad with Non. It’s interesting because it seemed as if Cadmus was going to be this year’s Big Bad. But I think the show is slowly building that up to the point where it’ll be fully explored. I’m intrigued to say the least about Rhea’s plan with this New Daxam. Obviously it’s going to be nothing good, but it’ll give us some really good character moments with all involved. There’s no way this is going to help Rhea win over Mon-El, so it’s almost as if this is a go-out-trying kind of outcome.

Lizzie: I mean, I will say that it’s much better than whatever they could have done with Cadmus, but she does know there’s more than one super-powered alien around, right? Plus – I don’t see how this gets her Mon-El back, which seems to be her plan. She’s clearly not thinking straight, or at all.

Lyra: Like my answer for Question 5, Rhea needs to, “Get a grip, get a life, and get over it.” This has nothing to do with saving her people, because I’m all for giving people a home if they are displaced or their planet has been blown up to smithereens. This is about losing her son. She feels like Kara, a Kryptonian, took away her home aka Daxam and her pride and joy aka Mon-El. (The former was because of the other Kryptonians but Rhea isn’t seeing reason right now and has placed all her anger towards one of the survivors.) Kara has helped Mon-El grow and change into a better person and Rhea can’t stand it. So she’s forcing his hand by bringing his people to him, his life back to him, instead of accepting it and moving on to build a better future for her people. Get a grip, Rhea. And move on!

Sarah: Oh good lord almighty were the first words that came to mind. It’s not entirely surprising she’d try to take Earth and mold it into what Daxam used to be in order to get Mon-El to “wake up.” However no matter what she does or how brilliant she thinks she is as long as she is working against everything her son has come to believe in and learned from Kara, THE WOMAN HE LOVES AND FULLY BELIEVES IN EVERY WAY, it won’t work.

Erin: She’s going to regret it and I have a feeling her son is going to be the one to make her feel that regret.  I have no further  comment.

What were your thoughts on this episode of Supergirl?

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW. Stay tuned for another Supergirl roundtable next Monday!

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor, DCTV Writer

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters. TV and Sports Editor. I write about DC TV, One Chicago and so much more. Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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