'Supergirl' 3×20 Review: A Balancing Act

Supergirl continues to prove that the strength of any show is the characters that make up its universe.
While “Dark Side of the Moon” wasn’t my favorite episode in the past few weeks — because Supergirl has been pretty solid of late — this was another prime example of continuing to follow through on storylines and further exploring these characters and how they respond and grow in certain situations.
“Dark Side of the Moon” had its good moments — Alex’s maternal instincts and the Lena/Reign parallel — and its not-so-good moments — Kara’s reunion with her mother. Something about that reunion in Argo City didn’t sit right with me. Perhaps I’d hyped it up too much. Perhaps there wasn’t ample time to fully explore what was really happening, which is Kara’s mom is alive.
This episode might’ve been touted as “Kara reunites with her mother,” but for me, this episode was all about Alex Danvers. Alex Danvers, the badass, the queen, the hero. She continues to make saving the world look so effortless and also kill us with her loving, maternal nature. If you’re not in love with Alex Danvers, you’re kidding yourself right now.
At this point of Supergirl’s third season, I find myself hyped for the future. Alex’s storyline is one that I see continuing to progress before it becomes a focus in season 4. Not to mention, you have Lena’s continued inner conflict when it comes to embracing the good and fighting the evil or following the route that everyone expects and has already seen before. Then there’s the tease of what’s to come on the Karamel front as we wind down this third season with “the talk” very much needing to happen before season’s end.
From Alex’s maternal instincts to Kara reuniting with her mother to the desire to be yourself in the light to the age old question of “is evil born or created,” let’s break down “Dark Side of the Moon.”

A Balancing Act

Supergirl — “Dark Side of the Moon” — Image Number: SPG320b_0096.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Emma Tremblay as Ruby Arias and Chyler Leigh as Alex — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

If there’s one thing I appreciate on a television show it’s when the writers follow through on the seeds that they plant for the future. Little things you notice as a viewer and go, “I really hope they pay that off.” One of those very important seeds is Alex’s desire to be a mother and everything that entails. And Alex’s conflict — brought forth by her change of circumstance — was the emotional anchor of this episode.
Alex Danvers is a badass. Alex Danvers is a queen. Alex Danvers is the embodiment of heroism. But Alex Danvers is also loving. Alex Danvers is also protective. Alex Danvers, even if she doesn’t realize it yet, is already a mother.
Supergirl planted the seed of Alex’s desire to be a mom back when they were writing off Floriana Lima’s character (as the actress chose to step away.) At the time, it might’ve seemed like a cheap ploy or excuse for Alex and Maggie to separate. But it was the beginning of what’s continuing to be a beautiful emotional arc for the multi-layered Alex Danvers. One that I have no doubt will carry over into next season.
“Dark Side of the Moon” found Alex a wanted woman as one of her enemies was trying to kill her. It wasn’t anything she hasn’t dealt with before and managed to handle with ease. But it was apparent from the beginning that something was different. Alex had no problem taking care of herself before, especially when it comes to psychotic villains. But something changed. Alex wasn’t just looking out for herself anymore.
She was looking out for Ruby.
I am now fully convinced that Alex will wind up taking care of Ruby full-time after this season. I wanted to believe that Ruby would be enough to save Sam, but what if she isn’t? Then in order to defeat Reign, they’re going to have to kill her. Which also means killing Reign. And everyone and their mother knows that if they asked Sam what she’d want, she’d say: “Protect my daughter.”
I am now fully convinced that Sam will die at season’s end — possibly by sacrificing herself for her daughter, the way mothers would do in a heartbeat. Which would leave Ruby without a mother, but not without someone that loves her and would lay her life on the line for her in an instant. Without even realizing it, Alex has become a second mother to Ruby.
So this made “Dark Side of the Moon” the perfect time to continue laying the groundwork for Alex’s maternal instincts shining bright and setting this world on fire.
With Sam effectively gone in Reign’s, well reign, Alex is all Ruby has left. And Alex knows that. So when someone was coming after her — trying to kill her — this time it was different. Alex isn’t someone that’s afraid. She risks her life every single day. She takes the kind of risks that put her life in even greater danger than it already is. But now she has to stop and think. She remembers that she has Ruby to look out for. And that Ruby is looking to her in her mom’s absence.
Following a lot of Alex Danvers badassery and subsequent nabbing of the villain, Alex and J’Onn shared an beautiful conversation in which everything was laid out on the table.

“Today I risked my life for it,” Alex tells him.

How she jumped a building without even thinking twice about it. But she’s always been someone to take risks.
But she wasn’t concerned about her own safety, her concern was simple: “Where would (Ruby) be?” she asks, if something had happened. She’s looking out for Ruby. She’s a mother now.
But the conflict here isn’t whether or not Alex can be a good mom. She’s already proven that she will risk her life for Ruby in a way that only a mom could. The conflict here lies between the two sides of Alex Danvers.

“That’s what I want (to be a mom). That’s who I am,” she tells J’Onn. “Just like I know I’m the person that’s going to jump the building to stop the bad guy. Can those two people co-exit?”

Inner conflict is one of my life’s greatest struggles. Recognizing that you have multiple sides to the person you are and sometimes wondering if those sides can co-exist. Because people aren’t just one thing. They’re made up of so many different sides and emotions and desires that it makes it impossible for them to be one-dimensional.
We’ve explored that and continue to explore that with Kara — and how she didn’t know how to be both Kara and Supergirl. We’re exploring that with Lena — and how she’s struggling with good vs. evil. Now we’re exploring that with Alex — and how she’s trying to balance being a hero and saving the world and also protecting Ruby.
This was the episode that we’ll look back at next season as the beginning of what I believe to be Alex’s emotional arc for season 4: Learning to balance being a superhero and being a mom. And, I have to tell you, I could not be more excited about it.

Kara Reunites With Her Mother

Supergirl — “Dark Side of the Moon” — Image Number: SPG320a_0191.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Erica Durance as Alura Zor-El — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

When last week’s promo revealed that Kara would be reunited with her presumed-dead mother, Alura, I was prepared for an onslaught of feels. Because this is Kara, our heroine, who has had to exist without her birth mother or father and never knowing what could’ve been. We’ve known — hell, we’ve seen — how much her birth parents mean to her and what she would give to be able to have them in her life.
So the idea of Kara getting one of them back — her mother — had the potential to be monumentally emotional. And yet, for me at least, it wasn’t. This reunion didn’t resonate with me as much as I thought it would. Maybe it’ll happen next week when Kara returns to Argo City. But this wasn’t a storyline that hit me the same way Alex and Ruby did. Maybe it’s because we don’t know Alura. Maybe we didn’t get ample time to further explore it. I loved Kara reuniting with her mother, but something was missing and I can’t put my finger on it.
Yet this storyline served a dual purpose: Getting a substance needed to defeat Reign and preaching the all-too-common theme in this series that you learn from your mistakes.
Kara and Mon-El’s mission to Argo City ultimately resulted in getting the very thing they needed. Although it did take time. Too much time that Reign got out of her prison just as they returned. But Kara preached to the council the importance of legacy and how even though Krypton no longer existed, both Argo City and Kara continue to carry on its beliefs. And Earth is in trouble because of Krypton. So isn’t it their duty to save it?
Krypton made its share of mistakes before it was destroyed. They failed to act before it was too late. So now, they found themselves in a similar situation — only it was Earth whose fate laid in waiting. They failed to act to save Krypton. Would they do the same with Earth? Hadn’t they learned from their mistakes?
Kara’s true superpower — although she has many — has always been compassion. She’s able to see where people are coming from, she’s able to take a sympathetic approach, and she’s always caring in her execution. She’s hope embodied. And that’s how she was able to get through to the council, so that they would give her the substance they needed to defeat Reign.

Is Evil Predetermined or Created?

Supergirl — “Dark Side of the Moon” — Image Number: SPG320b_0035.jpg — Pictured: Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

As Supergirl continues to explore this whole “Is Lena good or is Lena evil” storyline, things took an interesting shift in this episode as the show went as far to try and compare Lena to Reign. It raised the question: Is evil born or is evil created? Or, in Lena’s case, is evil predetermined or created?

Lena and Reign could not be more opposite. One is a human being that has a life filled with experiences that have led her to this point of inner conflict while the other was created to be evil by Kryptonians. Both have an inner darkness — as we all do — but evil is also something that’s expected of both of them.
Reign is a World Killer, she’s expected to be evil. Lena is a Luthor, she’s expected to be evil. But when it comes down to it, evil isn’t something you’re born with. Evil is something that’s created through your actions and experiences.

“You’re strong. You’re ruthless,” Reign tells Lena. “You’re so much darker than you realize. You’re so much like me.”

Lena has been so afraid that she’ll fall into that Luthor villainy that she’s gone out of her way to ensure that it won’t happen and put herself in situations where she’s at risk of falling victim to the darkness. There’s no doubt that Lena has a darkness inside of her. We all do. Which is why I feel like Lena’s story is a good exploration of the human spirit when it comes to waging that internal battle of good vs. evil. You’re only one bad day away from being at risk of becoming someone other than yourself.
Lena is doing the best she can given the circumstances she’s facing. Here she is this close to losing her friend to evil, as well as her world to darkness, and she’s trying to do what she thinks is the right thing to do.
Should she spare Reign and try to save Sam — and risk Earth? Or should she kill Reign, and kill Sam in the process to save Earth?
And the thing is, Lena ultimately chose to kill Reign. Only it was too late before she was broken out of her cell. Here’s the thing about Lena: She’s someone that recognizes that she has to make the hard decisions sometimes. The decisions that others might not be able to make. But with those decisions and the betrayals that she feels, that’s what ultimately might send her over the edge.
I still feel like it’s already predetermined that Supergirl is going to make Lena evil. I know they want to parallel Smallville and what it did with Clark and Lex. I understand that, but why? Why does Lena have to be evil? Why can’t her story be that she’s the one that overcomes that Luthor stereotype?
But even though this is something that we’ve seen before, I feel like the journey is something that’s quite compelling. This isn’t so much about if Lena becomes evil, this is about what happens for her to get to where she’s headed. Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. There are a multitude of things that define our lives and the person we become. Lena’s story is only just beginning. There’s so much left to explore, including her current situation with Supergirl and what’ll ultimately happen once Lena learns Kara is Supergirl. It’s happening. There’s no doubt about that.

An Understanding

Supergirl — “Dark Side of the Moon” — Image Number: SPG320a_0032.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Chris Wood as Mon-El — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

This wasn’t an episode for Kara and Mon-El to have “the talk.” You know, “the talk” that we know is coming as these two work through their feelings for each other and how they ultimately choose to respond.
But this was a mission that they both went on, together, for good reason. This episode did a great job of highlighting the importance of understanding in emotional instances such as this.

“Out here, with just you, I don’t have to pretend,” Kara tells Mon-El. “I can just be me.”

This is something that goes far deeper than any romantic implications. If anything, this was more about the connection that they share. The romantic feelings are there, yes. But the foundation of their relationship — and how it exists now — is rooted in friendship.
Kara and Mon-El both come from the same place when it comes to living their lives as superheroes. The struggle that comes with concealing your identity and being forced to divide yourself into two separate people. It’s something they’ve both dealt with as heroes on Earth. But it’s something Mon-El doesn’t have to deal with when he found himself sucked into the future, but it’s still something they’ve both had to deal with in their lives.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the subtle Karamel in this episode. Because this show is headed towards romantic resolution in Kara and Mon-El’s case. With three episodes left, it’s coming sooner rather than later, you have to believe.

“I’m very fond of your daughter,” Mon-El tells Alura.

And we can’t help but smile because we know those words have more meaning than what’s on the surface. Mon-El continues to harbor his true feelings for Kara as he debates about what coming clean will do. Will it cause more harm than good? Is he doing it for himself? Is he doing it for Kara? Could this end up working out?
That’s where Mon-El is at right now. To be continued…
Supergirl airs Monday’s at 8/7c on The CW.

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