'Supergirl' 2×22 Review: 'Nevertheless She Persisted'

If there’s one thing that you should know about Kara Danvers, it’s that she’s one of the strongest heroes in this DCTV universe. And I’m not referring to physical strength. I’m referring to the emotional strength that she has that allowed her to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save her world. A sacrifice that tore a piece of her soul.
But much like the title of this episode indicates, despite all of the pain and the sacrifice, nevertheless she persisted.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in how glamourous being a superhero can look. Cool powers, a super suit, the world admiring you. But it’s the gritty part of being a superhero – the part with the pain, the hopelessness, and emotional trauma – that truly is the measure of a great hero.
How does a hero respond when put in a compromising position? Do they run away or towards the danger? What is a hero willing to sacrifice to defend their city? Love? Happiness? What makes a hero different from us?
Heroes are heroes because of their instinct to put others’ needs and well-being before their own. And it’s not just in terms of “superheroes.” I’m talking about the everyday heroes that protect and serve us. The police officers, the firefighters, the doctors, the teachers, the military, and the list goes on. All of those people give so much of themselves to protect strangers. It’s not even something they have to think about. It’s just something that they do. That’s the mark of a true hero.

And even though Kara believed that she would be able to defeat Rhea and not be forced to use the device that would rid the Earth of Daxamites, when the time came to use it, she made the tough call. While every part of her had been searching for another way to get rid of Rhea and the evil Daxamites, Kara realized that the only way to save her city and Earth would be to sacrifice her true love, Mon-El.
There’s a point that every hero comes to where they see everything that they want in life in clear sight just before it’s taken from them leaving them broken. But there’s also an important point that happens after that moment. How does the hero respond? Does she give in? Or does she keep fighting?
As we saw, Kara made the decision to keep on fighting despite the loss. Despite seeing everyone else in her life get a happy ending. It was a wake-up call of sorts. While, yes, it is possible to have it all while being a superhero. It’s also just as easy to lose it all. As it is in life. But that’s something that you have to face head-on. It’s something that you can’t let overpower you. It’s something that you have to push through despite the agonizing pain that feels like it’ll never fade.
As we head into Supergirl’s third season, I feel like this will be the year where she learns to truly balance being a hero and having it all. The first season was all about being Supergirl. This second season was about learning the hard way that you can have it all and lose it. But season three will surely be about learning to grow stronger because of the pain and knowing that there’s always something worth fighting for. And coming to realize that not only is it possible to have it all, but it’s possible for her, Kara Danvers, Supergirl, to have it all.
Supergirl’s season 2 finale was emotional and epic in every sense of those words. The character moments, the action, the emotional turmoil, and the cliffhangers that are going to make this five month wait beyond painful to endure. But it was everything that I would expect from a season finale.
Last year’s finale, while not so much painful, felt too easy. There weren’t real stakes when all was said and done. But Supergirl’s season 2 finale managed to do the exact opposite. It capitalized on the emotional aspects of this show and Kara’s life to bring us the kind of emotional cliffhanger that feels like it’s more than just a cliffhanger. It’s about so much more than that. It’s about testing Kara as she moves into another chapter in her hero journey. It’s about making that eventual reunion between Kara and Mon-El all the more epic. It’s about character growth.
Heroes don’t always win. It’s plain and simple. Sometimes they lose. In different ways. While Kara was able to help defeat Rhea and the evil Daxamites, she had to sacrifice her own happiness to do so. Personal loss. It’s a common side effect of being a hero. One that no matter how many times you experience never gets any easier. But you learn to deal with it. You learn to feel the emotions. You learn to channel those emotions into inspiration to keep on fighting. You learn that as long as the love in your heart remains, no one is ever really truly gone.
Let’s break down this emotional season finale:
Supergirl — “Nevertheless, She Persisted” — SPG222b_0059.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

A Hero’s Sacrifice

As I discussed in my introduction, when it comes to being a hero it’s all about what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to save other people. Being a hero is a selfless job that requires a lot of emotional strength and willpower in order to not lose yourself in the grief.
Something that I found quite interesting was this parallel between Kara and Clark. Superman is considered, in this world, to be the strongest and most powerful superhero. But as we saw, being the strongest superhero isn’t so much about physical strength than it is emotional strength. The ability to not only make the tough decisions, but the impossible decisions.
Kara made the ultimate sacrifice when it came to saving Earth. She understood that one life wasn’t worth billions. And I agree. Kara made the right decision. But it doesn’t make it any less painful.
You see, it’s easy for you and me to say that we could’ve made the same decision if we were in Kara’s shoes. But until we’re actually in that position, it’s impossible to say. Think about it. It’s save the world or save the person you love most in the world. It seems like it’d be an easy decision to make. Save the world, of course. But it’s more about the strength to actually make that decision – to know that you’re saying goodbye to that person possibly forever – than it is anything. Can you make the right call when it comes down to it? Can you be responsible for sending away the person you love? Can you live with yourself?
It’s not something that most people can do. Heck, even Clark acknowledged that Kara’s strength outweighs his own.

“You are so much stronger than me.”

Clark doesn’t believe that he could sacrifice being with Lois to save the world. It’s something that’s easy to think about on the surface, but actually making that decision isn’t something he could do. He doesn’t believe he’s strong enough to ever make the right decision in that situation.
But Kara was able to make the decision – the right decision. Look, I love Mon-El with all of my heart, but you, me, and my grandmother know that setting off that device to defeat the Daxamites was the right call. The effects were painful as hell, but Kara made the right decision. And the fact that Kara is able to make the sacrifice doesn’t negate or lessen the intensity of her love for Mon-El, it just proves that she’s one of the most selfless heroes in this DCTV universe.
But Kara wasn’t the only hero that sacrificed in this season finale.
Mon-El, who has been a character unfairly bashed for his flawed nature and realistic journey, also made a sacrifice as he finally became the hero that Kara and us always knew he could be.
Mon-El has come so unbelievably far this season. The rich, snotty Daxamite that used to be has morphed into this caring individual that has learned what it means to be selfless through his relationship with Kara. Not only has she inspired him to be a better version of himself, she helped him discover that hero within. But his journey is far from over.
Even as he said goodbye to the woman he loves (thinking it’s the last time he’ll see her and hold her in his arms), he made it a point to promise her that wherever he’d end up, that he was never going to stop carrying her in his heart. He will never stop fighting to become the man that Kara always believed he could be.

“I promise I’m going to be the man you thought I could be. I promise.”

Because Kara and Mon-El’s love – and, yes, Kara finally telling Mon-El she loves him destroyed me – is about so much more than the intimate. Sure, the kisses are sexy as hell and those hugs make me warm inside, but their relationship is about this underlying respect, trust, and belief in one another. They’ve helped make each other better people. Kara has inspired Mon-El to become a man worthy of being called a hero, a far cry from the person he used to be on Daxam. Mon-El has inspired Kara to jump when it comes to love. She’s found a true partner I life. Someone that she can rely on, someone to share her life and grow with, and someone that inspires her to be better. They both have. Which makes this sacrifice hurt so, so, so much.
When Kara made the decision to sacrifice her happiness with Mon-El, she was sacrificing all of that. This bright future that she could see in front of her was suddenly snatched away as she was forced to watch everyone else around her get to be happy. It’s something that can surely gnaw at a person. But luckily, Kara has a great support system around her – great friends and family, as well as her true love that she carries with her forever in her heart even though he might not be with her physically.
But no one said being a hero was easy. In fact, it’s very difficult. As much as I’d like to say this is as bad as it gets for Kara, that’s something that remains to be seen as Supergirl continues on in her story. But that doesn’t mean that, that which was lost won’t be found. Because this finale definitely was setting it up. Kara’s happy ending is out there, it’s just not something that’ll be immediate.

Supergirl — “Nevertheless, She Persisted” — SPG222a_0025.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Chris Wood as Mike/Mon-El — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

True Love Will Survive

Okay, so I know it’s going to be hard right now to try and convince you that this is not the end of Karamel, but I’m going to explain to you exactly why this isn’t the end…it’s only the beginning.
Karamel isn’t a random ship that was forced to try and make up for the disappointment that was Kara and James. It just happened to be timed perfectly. This has been a relationship that has had a purpose from the beginning. This has been a relationship that represents everything that Kara wants in life. But it’s also been a relationship that has shown Kara that true love doesn’t come easy.
That’s the thing. If Kara and Mon-El’s relationship had been easy from the start and without any real conflict or growth, I’d be the first to tell you that this wasn’t going to last because the writers weren’t putting much thought or effort into it. But the exact opposite has come to fruition. Karamel has become this relationship that is helping Kara grow as an individual in life and also as a hero.
Kara and Mon-El’s relationship from the very start has been about making each other better – especially Kara, who is the hero of our story. Mon-El, when he first appeared, represented this alien race that Kara’s people despised. So, it’s ironic and quite beautiful that, once Kara got to know him, that he would be the one person that represented a hopeful future in her eyes.

“There’s something I need to say. Wherever I go, I’m gonna be better because of you. You’ll be in my heart.”

Yes, Kara was forced to sacrifice her happiness with Mon-El to save Earth. Yes, Mon-El was forced to leave Earth so that he wouldn’t die. Yes, Mon-El was sucked into a wormhole. Yes, everything looks beyond hope and repair.
But that’s exactly why Kara and Mon-El’s love will survive.

Supergirl made it a point to show that not only does Mon-El matter in this universe, but he represents the future that Kara wants for herself. They’ve so beautifully and tragically set up this angst-filled journey for Karamel as we head into season 3 that’ll no doubt be difficult. But nothing worthwhile comes easy. True love doesn’t come easy. You have to fight for it. And if you do, then it’ll return to you.
Now, I’m not saying to expect Mon-El to miraculously show up back on Earth in the season 3 premiere. But I am saying to expect Mon-El to return to Earth – and Supergirl – in season 3. The writers are going to want to draw out this angst for as long as they can without losing the story or the interest. It’s going to be painful, but it’s going to make the destination even more worth it.
But there’s also proof from Melissa Benoist herself, in case you were worried about Chris Wood’s future on Supergirl:

“I don’t think you should be too worried,” she told TVLine.

And she’s right. Even from a viewer standpoint, I’m looking at how Supergirl set up Mon-El’s character this season and specifically in this season finale. If Supergirl wanted to get rid of Mon-El, they would’ve killed him. But he’s alive and well…although in some trouble. From a writer’s standpoint, you don’t waste all of that time in a season or season finale if there isn’t going to be payoff. They’re just laying the groundwork for what’s to come.
Pain is the name of the game on television. If your OTP isn’t making you feel pain, then something is wrong. Writers live for moments like this. Where our hero and her true love are forced to say goodbye not knowing if they’re going to see each other again. Where they’ll both miss each other like crazy. Where they’ll both eventually be reunited in a moment that will parallel their goodbye. The hard part for the viewers, like us, is the waiting game.
So while your Karamel hearts might be aching right now, remember that the pain is only temporary, as Cat Grant said. Eventually, things will work themselves out. And Kara and Mon-El will be even stronger for it.
But how can Mon-El return to Earth if the atmosphere is toxic to him, you ask.
Perhaps it’ll be Lena who will help Kara fix the atmosphere to allow Mon-El to come back. I can only imagine how the Karamel haters would react to that.

Supergirl — “Nevertheless, She Persisted” — SPG222a_0274.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Alex & Maggie Are Engaged?

It was almost a blink and you miss it kind of moment. But Alex Danvers, the woman who felt so lost in her identity at the start of this season, decided that she wanted to have the rest of her firsts with girlfriend Maggie Sawyer and popped the question at the end of the season finale.
You could argue that it was quick. These two just started dating this year. But at the same time, you can say that the spontaneity of the situation made sense. Alex had just watched her sister have everything she wanted ripped away from her. She watched her sister standing there broken and was brought back to the moment where she felt the same earlier in the season. Before Maggie. And it was then that Alex realized that she wanted to spend the rest of her days with the woman that had inspired her, grown with her, and loved her.
But there’s one question I have: DID MAGGIE SAY YES?
Because we didn’t actually get an answer. Truthfully, the scene happened so quickly that there wasn’t any time for an answer, which makes me believe that this is something that will be hashed out in more detail and time when we open season 3. Honestly, I’m relieved that they didn’t show Maggie’s answer because that allows for more time to actually explore that moment and not just the 10 seconds in which it happened. But let’s be honest, we know that Maggie’s going to say yes. She has to say yes. Right?

Supergirl — “Nevertheless, She Persisted” — SPG222a_0296.jpg — Pictured: Tyler Hoechlin as Clark/Superman — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Superman Returns

God, I’ve missed Tyler Hoechlin as Superman on Supergirl. It’s never felt like he was taking the focus off of Supergirl on her own show, which is something that fans feared for a while. In fact, he adds an extra element when he’s there because of the significance of his relationship with Kara.
Melissa Benoist and Tyler Hoechlin have this amazing chemistry that just shines. They’re both so amazing individually as their characters. But when they’re together, it just feels epic. You can feel the family bond. You can feel the love and concern. It feels natural when they’re together fighting crime and saving the world. And it’s worked because Superman hasn’t been a regular part of the show. He has his own city to save, his own story to tell. But this is Kara’s story.
In fact, “Nevertheless She Persisted” was the perfect example of that. Superman is representative of this hero that Kara has aspired to be. Ever since she put on her suit, she’s wanted to be the kind of hero like her cousin. Last season was about living in his shadow, but this season has been about defining her own journey and her own legacy.
When Kara needed Clark, he was there. He was there to help her with the Daxamites. But most importantly, he was there as her cousin to help her through a pretty rough time in her life. He was there to provide encouragement and inspiration reminding her that he sees a strength in her that he doesn’t even see in himself. Him – and Cat Grant – together helped remind Kara that even at her darkest, she represents all that is hopeful about this world.

Supergirl — “Nevertheless, She Persisted” — SPG222a_0500.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Tyler Hoechlin as Clark/Superman, and Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Who’s The New Threat?

Well, I guess it’s safe to say that the recurring theme with Supergirl’s season finales are alien ships coming to Earth with this question of friend or foe? Well, Mon-El’s arrival certainly ended up being one of friend. But this latest arrival – which we’re not even sure has arrived yet or has already been among us for a while – seems like it’s leaning more towards a definitive foe angle.
Could this be our new Big Bad?
That’s what we thought with Mon-El’s arrival, and he ended up being Kara’s ally and true love. But there’s an immediate sense from that flashback that whoever is coming to – or has been on – Earth is someone that means to take it over. Or do they?
So who is going to be the new threat next season? Cadmus is proving to be one of those slowburn villains and Lena Luthor isn’t to the point where she’s ready to follow in her brother’s footsteps and join the Luthor family. Is Cadmus shaping up to be this Big Bad? Or is this latest arrival poised to make Kara’s already traumatic life even more painful?

Seven Things

  1. Kara made the ultimate hero’s sacrifice…a sacrifice that not even Superman could make. Like Cat said, women are so much stronger because they allow themselves to be vulnerable and they grow stronger through the pain. Kara did what she had to do despite losing the man she loved in the process.
  2. THAT KARAMEL GOODBYE DESTROYED ME. Like full on sobbing – both from me and Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood. You could feel
  3. But we all know Mon-El will be back! Come on, there’s no way that Supergirl gets rid of a character like Mon-El after giving him the journey they’ve given him this season. His departure will be temporary and used as a means for angst. It’ll make Kara and Mon-El’s reunion all the more satisfying.
  4. ARE ALEX AND MAGGIE GETTING MARRIED? Another first for Sanvers! While I would’ve loved for it to have been a little longer, I love acts of love that are in the moment and about living for today. But I have one question, did Maggie say yes?! (Of course, she did!)
  5. Tyler Hoechlin is such an amazing Superman. Like the way he portrays the character with the hope, optimism, vulnerability, and heroism is so inspiring and amazing to watch. But what’s even better is his dynamic with Melissa Benoist, which is truly something special to watch.
  6. CAT GRANT KNOWS KARA IS SUPERGIRL! I mean, of course she did! Cat isn’t stupid. But I love how she’s pretending not to know because that’s what Kara needs right now. Whenever Kara is ready to tell Cat, Cat will be there to listen. But also, can Cat Grant stay? There wasn’t really a scene where Cat was leaving National City, so I’d like to think that it gives us hope for Cat’s return in season 3. Though things can and will certainly change between now and the season 3 premiere.
  7. So, who the hell is the Big Bad in season 3? I was convinced it was going to be Cadmus next season, but that final scene basically set up that another Kryptonian was sent to Earth ready to make it bend at its knees. So who the hell is it?

Supergirl returns Mondays this fall on The CW.

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