‘Supergirl’ 4×04 Review: ‘Ahimsa’

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“Heroes go out there even when they know something bad is going to happen,” James Olsen told Nia Nal. “That’s what makes them heroes.”

If there was ever a quote to encapsulate everything that comes with Supergirl or any other superhero series, it’s that one. Somewhere in the middle of the logic — where the risks that heroes take are examined for being risky — heroes go out there in spite of the danger and the risk and whatever consequences come as a result.

“That’s what makes them heroes.”

Heroes don’t have their best interests at heart. That would just make them a selfish nobody in a suit and mask. Heroes are looking out for the interests of others — be it the people they love and/or the innocents that they’ve sworn to protect.

In Supergirl’s fourth episode, “Ahimsa,” we caught a glimpse of our heroes at work in spite of the consequences that would befall them. Whether that was James having to be locked up for protecting his city or Kara actually risking her life in a Kryptonite-riddled atmosphere, there were a lot of risks that our heroes took to protect their city.

Let’s break down Supergirl‘s fourth episode of the season, where Alex found belief in her leadership capabilities, we met Manchester Black, Guardian made a return that will have repercussions, we learned more about Lena Luthor, and the continued threat of Agent Liberty’s movement.


Alex Danvers is the Leader the DEO Deserves

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That heading sounds insulting. Like I’m insinuating that J’Onn J’Onzz wasn’t a greater leader for the DEO. He was. Which is why it was so satisfying seeing Alex finally embracing that role to its fullest extent and stepping into the role of not just director but leader of the DEO.

We’ve all been Alex Danvers at some point in our lives. Thrust into some type of position or situation where we don’t necessarily feel prepared for or where we’re so afraid of failing and what that entails that it actually does more damage than trying and failing does. But it was nice to see Alex’s inner struggle with her new role become more external for us as viewers and those around her.

Heading into this season, Alex was already discouraged about taking on this new role. Whether it was because of the footsteps she felt like she had to fill or wondering if she could handle this new responsibility, Alex let that insecurity in and pushed it down into those little boxes that Lena was talking about. The only problem with locking your emotions into boxes and pushing those boxes down is that, eventually, they’ll bust with a tidal wave of emotion. And that’s what we saw with Alex.

If you’ve been keeping track at home, on Alex’s watch there have been two DEO agents that betrayed them and took the enemy’s side, including one that released Kryptonite into the atmosphere that nearly killed Supergirl. Not to mention Alex almost lost Kara. That’s a lot of emotion for one person to handle. And we saw how Alex tried to reconcile hiding behind the rules as if the rules could protect her and those she loves and anything else from going wrong. Only, that wasn’t the answer.

I love how Alex goes to J’Onn in times of need and when in need of advice. In her most vulnerable, Alex confides in J’Onn that she thinks he made a mistake in appointing her director. How everything that’s gone wrong is her fault. How she’s basically blaming herself for every mistake that’s happened.

But the thing is, life isn’t perfect. People make mistakes. Even J’Onn. But the thing is, you don’t let the mistakes slow you or stop you. You let them inform your decisions moving forward. Use them as teaching points. And J’Onn basically told Alex that mistakes will happen, but you have to trust your gut. That’s what this comes down to. She knows what’s right. She knows that her decisions are informed by the well-being of all. She just needs to stop thinking so much and just react.


Who Is Manchester Black?

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Supergirl introduced us to a new face, and let’s just say his introduction was a memorable one.

Manchester Black had this instant charisma and sense of danger and excitement all rolled into one since the first moment he stepped on screen. Here we had Fiona’s fiance, who had come to the United States in search of her. Now, given that she’s been missing and not accepting his calls, he became rightfully worried. And that led him right to J’Onn.

I really loved how Supergirl paralleled Manchester Black’s introduction with J’Onn’s guilt and anger issues after he refused to join Kara in her fight and she wound up nearly dying. After J’Onn chose to honor his father, he also agreed to honor his father by following the peaceful path that his father traveled. Only that’s easier said than done.

We got a small tease of who Manchester Black is through his own words. He used to be a violent person. Until he met Fiona. Until she showed him a way of nonviolence, and he felt like he was better for it. She kept him grounded in that. Until the end of this episode.

Following the death of Manchester’s fiancee Fiona, we caught a glimpse that Manchester isn’t choosing to honor Fiona’s last words to him — to not react violently, to continue to handle things in a non-violent way that she’d taught him. But when you watch the love of your life die in front of you, it’s hard not to react the way Manchester did.

There’s an interesting parallel between J’Onn and Manchester: Both people that once were on the violent side of things trying their hand at this nonviolent way of life only to find themselves drawn back to it. Introducing Manchester through J’Onn was genius. And it’ll be interesting to see how their journeys intersect and parallel each others.


Guardian Returns

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I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to return to James and his being Guardian that we were promised before the season. How his journey this season consists of juggling being an unmasked hero in this city. And while Guardian rode the bench in the first three episodes of the season, he returned in force just when National City needed him.

As Supergirl continued to recover and function in a world where Kryptonite lined Earth’s atmosphere, the city was short on heroes in her absence. During a time where Agent Liberty and the Graves siblings were hell-bent on destruction.

James being Guardian was no secret. He was nearly indicted on those charges before Lena stepped in and saved him. The only problem? If James was caught suiting up as Guardian again he would be charged. But even that couldn’t keep this hero on the sideline when his city needed him most. Guardian swooped into action helping Supergirl and the DEO prevent an attack on National City Fair and take down two prominent members of this anti-aliens group.

We later learned that James wouldn’t be charged for suiting up as Guardian and that actually Guardian was actually viewed in a positive light by law enforcement and the such. Seems like everything was fine and dandy, right? That is until photos of Guardian taking on mind-controlled aliens were shared and posted in support of the anti-aliens movement. That’s right, they’re trying to make Guardian the face of the anti-aliens movement, a movement that James couldn’t be more against.


Lock Your Emotions Away into Little Boxes

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Not that this was a huge part of this episode by any means, but I really enjoyed this brief bonding between Lena and Brainy, as well as a deeper look into who Lena Luthor is.

We know that Lena is certainly not in the most ideal of circumstances being the only member of her family that isn’t hell-bent on evil. But we also know that she’s experienced some pretty rough betrayals in her life. To the point where we worry that the next — which will most likely be learning that Kara is Supergirl — will break her.

But in what was a really great scene with Lena and Brainy — where Brainy was (shocker) overcome with emotion over this whole thing and Lena calmed him by telling him to put his emotions into little boxes and push them down — we got a glimpse at why Lena is the way she is.

Lena isn’t someone that particularly shows emotion. It can be conveyed as weakness, especially as a woman in the field she’s in. But Lena isn’t a robot. She has feelings, she has her vulnerabilities, she has her moments where she wants to break. But how does she maintain composure in the face of it all?

Boxes. Little boxes that she told Brainy to focus on. Where she said to stuff your emotions and push those boxes down so they’re not even there anymore. It’s why we get a Lena that’s so composed under duress. She has practice in remaining stoic in moments of potential weakness. That little conversation let us in a little more to who Lena Luthor is. It also made me worry that when those boxes do eventually resurface and overflow that the fallout will be exponential.


Graves Are Dead & Gone, But the Fight Isn’t Over

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Rest in peace, Graves siblings. Or not. Really, don’t rest in peace. Rest in pieces. You truly deserve it.

While Mercy and Otis met timely and deserving ends, the fight is only just beginning. Agent Liberty, whose chilling backstory we saw in last week’s episode, made it clear that despite his statement, he is the leader of this movement. He has the charisma. He has the intelligence. He has the motive. He has the element of danger.

The thing about two prominent figures in this anti-alien movement dying is that it doesn’t really make a difference. Because, like Agent Liberty said, this isn’t’t a one-person movement. This is a movement fueled by belief. It’s not the person dying that ends this, it’s the movement and belief dying that will end this.

Agent Liberty continues to be fueled by that hate and anger that ignited this entire thing. He continues to reach out to people that share similar beliefs, targeting the very worst of them and using their vulnerabilities and hate to mold them into what he wants them to be. And apparently that includes sticking an Animorphs-like slug into their ear to do, what exactly?


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

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