‘Supergirl’ 3×02 Review: ‘Triggers’

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Supergirl never fails me when it comes to delivering an emotional powerhouse of an episode when I least expect it. Given last week’s season premiere and the emotional weight that was so gut wrenching yet so beautiful, I was expecting a bit of a break.

But you can’t stop feelings from being felt.

Supergirl’s latest hour, “Triggers,” focused on the issue of fear, and what that means for us as people. Fear is a powerful emotion that can cripple you if you allow it. It’s an unexpected emotion. You don’t know necessarily when it’s going to hit. You don’t know what to expect. You just prepare for the worst.

I can’t say this enough, but I love how Supergirl manages to make me feel in every single episode. I feel something. More often than not, it’s multiple emotions over the course of a single hour. It’s really impressive considering how this is still, after all, a superhero show that demands superhero exploits.




But Supergirl has been successful because it manages to capitalize on the hero herself. Yes, we get the badass fight sequences and visual effects. But most importantly, we get the heart. Everything is worth it. We care about that because we care about Kara and these wonderful characters.

It’s always wonderful to write Supergirl reviews because I can embrace my emotions as I write. And that’s powerful. Emotions are powerful just as words are powerful. Just as art is powerful.
And so long as Supergirl continues to deliver on the emotions — the good, the bad, and even the ugly — they’ll continue to make my job easier.

Let’s break this down:

Fear & Emotional Triggers

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Fear. The word itself is enough to send a shiver through your body. Painful memories of the past, of what could’ve been, and still could be race through your mind. Thoughts of your greatest fears linger in the back of your mind like a cool autumn breeze on the back of your neck. It’s there. Just waiting to leap into action.

Fear is crippling. Fear is terrifying. Fear is the one emotion that has the power to rival love, though not necessarily overcome it. Fear is always with you, even when you don’t see it. Fear doesn’t wait for the best time to strike. Fear can bring even the strongest of men and women to their knees.

Whether it’s fear of the physical — simplistic phobias that are massive in nature — or the emotional fear that has the power to cripple the human spirit, fear isn’t something to mess with.

Fear has the power to cripple you, yes. But it also has the power to motivate you. It’s just it takes some time to channel fear as motivation.

This week’s villain had to be one of my favorites in quite a long time. There’s nothing like a villain that elicits an emotional reaction out of our hero. No matter how painful, it’s these situations where heroes thrive. It’s these situations where heroes become super. It’s these situations where heroes define themselves.

Kara faced Psi, a psychic villain that makes you experience your worst fear, at perhaps the worst time in recent history. Still reeling from Mon-El’s loss and the emotional toll it took on her, Kara felt herself transported back in time to when her mother placed her in the pod and sent it to Earth. Kara was forced to relive the most traumatic experience of her life as she watched Krypton burn and was sent spiraling through the galaxy — and it crippled her, both emotionally and physically.

Kara might not be human, but as I said last week, that’s irrelevant. Kara has humanity, which means that, yes, she’s susceptible to emotions. Even fear. Yes, even Supergirl has fear.

You couldn’t help but wonder if this flair up of emotion had anything to do with what happened with Mon-El? And that’s exactly what it was.

Kara realized that it wasn’t her childhood trauma she was reliving. It was something else. It wasn’t her in the pod she was seeing. It was Mon-El.

Of course it was. Kara’s biggest fear has always been loss. She’s lost her planet. Shes lost her parents. She’s lost Mon-El. That crippling fer of loss is prevalent — and you’re damn right Mon-El is at the center of it. Because of the unknown. She assumes he’s dead because that’s what she’s used to. She’s used to losing the things she cares about most.

Watching Kara as she literally came to the realization in real time was the emotional pain you feel in your heart. It’s that raw emotion from Melissa Benoist — where we can see ourselves in her shoes at some point in our lives — that really elevates the scene.

Kara watched as Mon-El sat cramped in his pod, spiraling out of control, until the pod exploded. Kara was so convinced in her own mind that her sending Mon-El away resulted in his death that she couldn’t separate fear from reality.

Because that’s the thing. Fear is so powerful because it has the power to make you create false realities — realities where you see your worst fear come to life. You can picture it so vividly in your own mind. Fear reacts to the person that feels it. It creates that false reality that is so convincing. It’s so convincing because of the pain. Pain is such a raw, natural emotion that why shouldn’t you believe it? This world is a harsh place. Why shouldn’t you believe the worst? Why shouldn’t you believe that the love of your life died at your own hands? Why shouldn’t you place that guilt upon your shoulders in such suffocating fashion? Why shouldn’t you suffer as a result?

Kara’s biggest fear is that she lost Mon-El forever. Not only that, but that she killed him. She’s been so overcome with guilt over the situation — five months. Five months of blaming herself, five months of keeping those emotions bottled up inside, five months of feeling anything but super.

How do you overcome fear when it feels so very real?

Fear Doesn’t Define You

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Fear is a son of a bitch. It’s infuriating how it can control you. Even when you’re aware of it. You’re also aware of the power that it can have over you.

Fear isn’t a lie, no. But fear also isn’t truth.

Fear is something that we create in our own minds based on our experiences and emotions. Sometimes, it’s grounded in reality. Other times, it’s grounded in the “what could be.”

Fear might be crippling, yes. But it only holds power over us if we let it. I don’t know if we truly ever overcome those deep-rooted emotional fears that are ingrained into our being, but the important thing to know is that fear doesn’t define you.

You might not be able to erase the fear, but you can control it. So long as you don’t let it define you.

Kara was consumed with guilt because she placed Mon-El in a similar situation where she found herself as a child. The most traumatic moment of her life. And she assumed the worst. The absolute worst. How could she do that if she loved him, she had to be wondering? When she was placed in that pod as a young girl, that turned out to be the most traumatic moment she’d ever experienced. How could she do the same to Mon-El knowing the possibility of what awaited him? How could she send him away?

Because she loves him. She sent him away because she loves him.

Just like Kara’s mother saved her by sending her in that pod, Kara saved Mon-El, too. Sure, it doesn’t feel like it. Because that’s the fear of the unknown creeping in. But love is the greatest sacrifice. Love isn’t necessarily about getting a happy ending. Love is about putting those you love even before yourself. Love is sacrifice.

It’s what Kara’s mom did. And it’s what Kara did for Mon-El.

And once Kara understood that — understood that she saved Mon-El instead of killing him — she was able to control that fear. That fear that she had lost him forever; that fear that she had killed the man she loves. Now, she could use that fear as motivation.

But Kara wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help and support of Alex, who has proven time and time again that she saves Kara in all the right ways that she needs to be saved. Alex helped Kara overcome that fear. Alex helped get Kara her strength back.

Psi fought with fear as the weapon. Kara fought fear with love. And won.

Like I said, fear has the power to rival love. But love, as we know, is the most powerful emotion. And it has the ability to overcome all.

Beginning of the End?

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With Floriana Lima stepping down as series regular before this third season, this is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen. Even though the actresses and the showrunners promised us everything would be okay. Even though they whispered comforts. Even though they promised they’d honor Sanvers.

Then why does it feel like this is the beginning of the end for Alex and Maggie?

“Triggers” highlighted the rushed nature of Alex and Maggie’s engagement while also focusing on where the pair disagree — from the irrelevant, band or DJ, to the super relevant, like kids or no kids. Apparently, this is a conversation Alex and Maggie hadn’t had before they got engaged. Which is not okay.

It’d be one thing if this was being used to strengthen their relationship moving forward. But when Floriana leaving — and rumors of a break-up — this feels like an injustice to their relationship.

Honestly, this just feels like a cop-out. And it’s the first time — in a long time — where the Supergirl producers have stumbled. If you have to break Alex and Maggie up, this is a terrible way to do it.

So you don’t want to kill Maggie. THANK GOD. But since Floriana is leaving, and there clearly needs to be an explanation, there are better ways to go about it. Maybe an undercover mission? Maybe a family issue back home? There are plenty of things better than what feels like the unraveling of what was such a beautiful dynamic last season.

Maybe the producers felt backed into a corner. After all, it was sort of last minute before they started work on season 3 that Floriana backed out as series regular. But there’s just a part of me that knows there has to be something better than taking a couple that seemed so in sync and knew each other so well and making them, dare I say, virtual strangers when it comes to these important issues.

Let’s just hope that I’m completely wrong about this. But regardless, there’s no excuse for how Alex and Maggie are being made to look like strangers that are engaged. If you’re going to fix it, fix it now. If you’re not, then, I don’t know what to say.

Fear of the Unknown

Fear was the theme of the hour, and the same held true for Sam Arias, soon to be known as Reign. This was a different kind of fear. It was a fear that wasn’t so deeply rooted in the emotional trauma of one’s decisions, like Kara’s fear was. This fear, for Sam, was about fear of the unknown.

Following last week’s events — where Sam lifted a steel rig off of her daughter — we’ve seen a slight change in Sam’s demeanor. It’s not overtly obvious, but you can see the uneasiness there when it comes to not knowing what happened. To not knowing if it wasn’t just mama bear lifting a tractor off her child in an adrenaline rush or if maybe it was something more?

This also wasn’t something that was going away, either, because Sam’s daughter Ruby seemed convinced that her mom had superpowers.

And who wouldn’t want superpowers?

Well, Sam appears to be the only one we’ve encountered that isn’t leaping at the possibility of possessing super strength of some sort. Sam considers herself to be a normal woman, a normal mother who loves and provides for her daughter. She’s not worried about super powers. She’s worried about her daughter.

Sam seemed in denial for most of the episode. She refused to acknowledge, even in the world they live in, that she could possibly have superpowers. It wouldn’t have been too odd if she wasn’t so adamantly against it. It was suspicious. It kind of gave her away. That she was indeed worried. Worried about the unknown. And what the unknown might bring.

But her daughter wouldn’t let it go. She continued to put herself into situations that would force her mother to come save her. We soon learned that, cleverly, Ruby wanted her mom to have superpowers so that she wouldn’t have to work. She wanted to spend more time with her mom. Plus, how would it not be cool if your mom was a real-life superhero? (Though all moms are, really.)

There was a moment at the end of the episode where you saw Sam — perhaps letting the curiosity get the best of her — attempt to bend that steel rod like she had last week. But nothing happened. Perhaps it was because of the adrenaline, after all.

Or not.

The unknown continues…

8 Things About “Triggers”

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  1. The Kara and Alex scenes in this episode were the death of me. A complete turnaround from last week after Alex confronted Kara and forced her to confront her emotions. Alex let Kara talk to her about it instead of talking at Kara. She listened. She comforted. And that’s exactly what Kara needed.
  2. Way to start the hour off with my heart bleeding on the floor, Supergirl. As if the succeeding events involving Mon-El didn’t tear my heart out, seeing Kara wake up alone and then find Mon-El’s copy of Romeo & Juliet — with “Kara” written next to a beautiful line — set the tone for an emotional hour. Well done.
  3. Once again I love how Supergirl is allowing Kara to embrace her emotions and show that it’s a strength. Allowing your hero — especially a female hero — to show emotion and not look down upon her as a result is refreshing and everything that we need more of.
  4. Seriously, I think Psi is one of my favorite villains in a good long while. I love villains that push a hero emotionally. It’s what strengthens them. It’s what makes them the hero and not the villain. It’s also why I’m so excited to see Reign as she becomes the villain because it’ll really drive those emotions home given the current state and where you know things are headed.
  5. I loved that we got to see Kara and Lena get into a little fight only to make up by episode’s end. They both realize that a lot goes into friendship. It’s not just the ups, it’s also handling the downs. It’s coming back and supporting one another even after the downs.
  6. Dare I say I spied some sexual tension between Lena and James in that episode? Clearly the two are strong-minded individuals, which is why they clashed, but there was most definitely something there. I guess we’ll see what the show has in store.
  7. I’m beyond excited for next week’s episode as J’Onn — and Kara, it looks like — are headed to Mars to help M’Gann. WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING UP THERE? And can we keep M’Gann, please?

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.



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