Supergirl has proven that it’s at its best when it’s churning out storylines wrought in emotional context. Where it makes the audience feel rather than merely watch. It was something that was prevalent in the opening episodes of this third season. But lately, it’ been lacking.
Honestly, Supergirl has been lacking the thing that has made it my favorite DCTV show over the past season and a half: emotion. I mean full-fledged emotion complete with heart-to-hearts that both want you to rip your heart out and sing with the angels.
Lately, it feels like Supergirl is relying mostly on action with occasional moments of heart in a way that isn’t as impactful as it has been in the past. It feels like this season could be building to one of those epic emotional moments, but right now it feels like a long way away. I want a reason to care now. Whether that’s Kara and Alex or Kara and Mon-El or Sam and Ruby, I want some substantial feels to cling to.
Supergirl’s latest hour, “Fort Rozz,” brought the female dream team to space in search of information on Reign, which would lead to the revelation about the World Killers. Reign isn’t alone. And if Team Supergirl doesn’t find the others before Reign, then the world would go to hell. Even more than it already feels like it might.
I have to give it to Supergirl in this hour: I enjoyed several dynamics that felt like they’d been earned. Granted, it took awhile to get there in the episode, but I enjoyed getting to see women supporting women and ultimately women inspiring women. Whether it was Kara’s relationship with Livewire (RIP) or Psi (enjoy that room with a window) or Alex and Ruby’s budding relationship, this episode did give us some moments. But it still didn’t feel like the kind of emotion that I’d grown accustomed to. Might just be a personal preference. But I miss that.
Let’s talk more about this episode, which included the key to ultimately defeating Reign, Kara’s new friends, Kara and Mon-El’s relationship, and Alex and Ruby’s new friendship.
The Key to Defeating Reign
Supergirl has set up an improbable foe for its hero. Facing a World Killer with similar abilities but perhaps more strength. Reign has already kicked the crap out of Kara and walked away without breaking stride. This isn’t your typical villain. This isn’t that villain from season 1 whose name I can’t remember — wait, is it Non? — or Astra. This is someone whose sole purpose is to rid the world of sinners and deliver her unique brand of justice on anyone that commits sin — by acts of violence or standing by and letting things happen.
Villains are the heroes of their own story. Even super-enhanced ones like Reign. They believe that what they’re doing is the right thing. They have motive. They have weakness. You just have to find it.
While for awhile we’ve known that Ruby would likely be the key to saving Sam and defeating Reign, this episode all but confirmed that for me. In an episode where Supergirl speaks about “seeing humanity” in Reign; in not being able to reach her. In an episode where Psi gets inside Reign’s mind and pulls to the surface her greatest fear: losing Ruby, thus temporarily waking Sam from her World Killer stupor. In an episode where even Reign pointed out “(Sam) has strength I did not expect.”
Foreshadowing. All of it is foreshadowing, as far as I’m concerned. It’s the obvious key to defeating Reign. Only now, Reign might be the least of their worries — not that other World Killers are out there.
Plus, Sam’s starting to realize that something is wrong — she’s blacking out, not remembering going places, losing time. She’s becoming aware that something is happening that is outside her control. In confiding in Alex, this might be an important step in discovering what makes Reign tick and how they might ultimately overcome her. Hint: Love. It’s always love.
Making New Friends
When you’re in dire circumstances and damn near desperate, it’s times like these when you’re forced to turn to people you don’t necessarily like but need in order to succeed. Success, in this case, is not die at the hands of Reign by getting intel on her. The answers? Located inside Fort Rozz, which Supergirl tossed into space, and then began orbiting a blue star. First rule: No powers. Second rule: No boys. Third rule: Frenemies needed.
“This feels like a risk worth taking,” Kara says. And it was.
Kara turned to longtime frenemy Livewire and Psi, as well as new friend (maybe?) Imra to travel to Fort Rozz in order to retrieve information about Reign, which might include how to stop her. Naturally, as you’d expect, the dynamic between Supergirl, Livewire, and Psi alone was enough to power that damn Legion ship. It was hysterical, it was suspenseful — as you waited for the betrayal — and it ended up being quite heartfelt. Nothing was more surprising than that.
While Psi certainly had a moment of character growth — choosing to use her powers to help her allies and eventually saving Supergirl from Reign — it was Livewire that stole the show for me. Livewire is a villain that we’ve always gotten to see a human side to, whether that was in her introduction or second appearance or this current one. There’s an obvious redemption just below the surface, and you have to believe that Kara saw that from the beginning. Kara always looks for the best in people. That’s who she is. She also has the power to inspire. And that’s something that certainly translated.
We saw Livewire rise to the occasion — to “have Kara’s back” — as she went into space, powerless to defend herself. It would’ve been easy for Livewire to fry her. But instead, Livewire went above and beyond to protect her. More than that, there was a genuine concern there. We saw Livewire, a ruthless villain, ultimately sacrifice her life to save Supergirl. But Livewire was leading by example. She saw how Supergirl was willing to die for her, and her loyalty won out. Livewire threw herself in front of Supergirl to take Reign’s blast. Ultimately, she died so Supergirl could live. And I’ll be damned if that didn’t mess me up a little.
Redemption. It’s a common theme in all superhero shows, but I feel like this episode really served to show that villains are capable of redemption — if they want it. Livewire wanted it — and she ultimately got it in her sacrifice. But then you had Psi, who also showed signs of redemption. She saved Supergirl’s life. In return, Supergirl vouched for better a living situation for her. There was a smile. There was respect there. Supergirl has that power. Even over villains.
“Talk to Me”
Remember when I talked about those “moments” that we’d get between Kara and Mon-El? The kind of moments that guide their journey back to one another? I can really get used to them. More than that, I can really get used to Kara leaning on Mon-El — during a time when she no doubt still feels upset about the whole Imra thing. Kara has no doubt shut herself off to Mon-El, and rightfully so. She’s afraid to feel around him; she’s afraid to be the person she used to be with him; she’s afraid that she’ll give in to that voice where she feels like she’s lost him.
But Kara and Mon-El took perhaps their most important step yet in rebuilding that foundation that’ll ultimately bring them back to each other. When Kara and Mon-El are interacting, just talking with one another, there’s a sense of ease that seems to radiate off the screen. I’m not just talking angsty love. I’m talking about moments where we really get to see the two just talk to each other. Where we get to see them rebuilding the foundation that made their dynamic so enchanting in the first place.
In “Fort Rozz,” Mon-El made the conscious decision to reach out to Kara — to let her know that he was there for her; that he was there to listen; that she could lean on him (like she had before.) But perhaps even more important was the fact that Kara made the decision to allow Mon-El to be there for her — as a friend. And if that’s all that they are to each other at this moment, then hey, that’s enough for right now.
In order to begin that rebuilding process, they need to be able to talk to each other. That was a staple of their relationship before things went awry and Mon-El was cast into the future. It’s felt like they’ve been dancing around each other for so long, both uncomfortable and both unsure how to handle this new dynamic between them. Mon-El finally broke the ice. And Kara opened the door.
Kara opened up about the guilt that she felt after failing to get through to Reign. Kara saw humanity in Reign (it’s there), but she was unable to get through to her. But Mon-El, familiar with Kara’s desire to save everyone, gave Kara some sound advice that helped put her mind at ease — at least for now.
“Livewire was as bad as there was. And you go through to her…You changed her heart for the better. That’s amazing.”
And the subtext? “You got through to me. You also changed my heart for the better. You’re amazing.”
Well, maybe that was just me.
I’m a regular at Angst City, so I know that these relationships — the ones worth fighting for, the ones that are endgame — don’t come easy. I know these relationships are all about the journey, not the destination. It’s not enough to know a couple is endgame. You want to see it.
And that’s what we’re seeing with Kara and Mon-El. Their journey is continuous. Their journey has faced its share of ups and downs. And it’ll no doubt feature more. But these experiences shape and define them as individuals and as a pair. That’s the satisfying part. Knowing that they’ll have faced insurmountable odds and come out on the other side even stronger for it.
The New Tag Team Featuring Alex & Ruby
Honestly, I don’t that there was anything I enjoyed more than Alex and Ruby’s relationship in this episode. (Except maybe that Karamel scene, but that’s always my default.) There was something just so organic about both characters and their interactions and how they related to each other. It’s something I didn’t think I needed, but now that I’ve had it, I’m going to need much more.
Perhaps my favorite thing was how Alex and Ruby both took care of each other, how they leaned on each other. Alex helped Ruby take on a cyberbully — and Alex scared her; scared her senseless. It was so satisfying for Ruby, for Alex, and for anyone that’s ever been bullied before. Then you had Ruby taking care of Alex — talking to her about Maggie, helping her send Maggie’s passport back.
Alex is a natural mother, as we saw with her interactions with Ruby. It was so easy, so genuine, and so infectious to watch as a viewer. I can’t help but wonder — and hope — that one Sam goes full-on Reign that Alex will be the one looking over, protecting, and being there to lean on for Ruby.
10 Things About “Fort Rozz”
- I love Supergirl, but I’m missing those hardcore emotional episodes that left me a sobbing mess on the floor. What can I say, I’m a masochist, clearly.
- Is there any doubt that Ruby is going to be the key to salvaging Sam’s soul and defeating Reign? Didn’t think so.
- Gotta admit, I loved the women team-up in space. But I especially loved Kara’s relationship progression with Livewire and Psi — to the point where Livewire died for her and Psi saved her life. That’s respect.
- Alex going all FBI on that cyberbully was everything and more. I think I just fell even more in love with her (which I didn’t think was possible.)
- I’m living for these significant Karamel moments at episode’s end. I love that they serve a purpose; not to just distract the Karamel fans. There’s substance in the scenes, there’s substance in the journey that’s continuing.
- Sam is starting to realize something really bad is happening to her. But will it be too late to do something about? Please tell me Alex is going to help.
- Winn and Brainiac-5 going at it was hysterical.
- I’m going to miss Livewire…I didn’t realize how much I’d missed her or how much I’m going to miss her until now.
- Can we get more Alex and Ruby please?! They’re too cute.
- And there’s our second World Killer…
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on the CW.
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