‘Supergirl’ 3×23 Review: Apparently Choosing Happiness is Selfish

Choosing happiness is selfish. Well, at least that’s the message Supergirl is sending its audience, including young men and women.

How dare a hero want to be happy. How dare a hero choose happiness. They’re supposed to miserable, after all. That’s what makes them heroes.

How dare Supergirl, which is a show that tons of young girls watch, even put that thought in their young minds. You can’t be happy, that’s selfish. You can’t be in love, that’s selfish.

Don’t get me wrong, every one of these DCTV shows have followed this same path of having their heroes choose duty over happiness because they feel like if even for once, they choose themselves, they’re not worthy of being a hero. And it’s been ridiculous every single time.

But it’s all part of the hero’s journey to recognize that not only can they be selfless in protecting the city, they can also choose happiness for themselves without feeling like they’re being selfish. It’s a storyline I know all too well in this universe. But it’s also a storyline that  Supergirl already hit…last year. Why are we using recycled storylines here?

Supergirl is the lone superhero show with a female hero as the lead, which has allowed it tackle the superhero genre in a unique way. But it also presents its share of challenges as these producers and writers need to be careful in how they handle a female hero in a misogynistic world. Because not only was it Mon-El heading back to the future, it was again showing us our female hero without the man she loves because that somehow makes her stronger. Um what?

Supergirl’s second season remains my favorite because it allowed Kara Danvers to just be, well, Kara Danvers. She was allowed to focus on her career. She was allowed to be in love and be happy. And guess what, she still managed to protect National City.

Say it with me, You can be happy and be in a relationship and still be a hero.

Superman gets to do it. The Green Arrow gets to do it. The Flash gets to do it. Why not Supergirl? Why not the only female superhero in this DCTV world?

Someone better send a reminder to the Supergirl writers because they’re using recycled storylines because they don’t seem to have a clue. There are other conflicts and obstacles you can can throw at your characters that don’t include unnecessary love triangles or unhappiness.

I’ll let Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins say what so many of us are feeling right now:

“I feel like one of the most ironically sexist things that happened to women heroes for so long was that they had universal storytelling taken away from them. So, male superheroes could have Lois Lane. They can have love, they can have vulnerability, they can have complexity. But women superheroes or strong women characters had to be, ‘I don’t need anyone, I’m the toughest person in the world.’ That’s not fair to anybody. No human being is an island like that.”

I’d like to have that quote tattooed on my forearm, please.

Why does Supergirl keep presenting this idea that Kara cannot have happiness, when it comes to romance, and be happy? Why does she have to love and lose?

As a viewer and a writer, I’m confused by Supergirl’s storytelling in this season finale. As a writer, I control the narrative. As a writer, I know my central storylines and I hit those important beats along the way that allow the reader to have some idea of where this is going without giving everything away. But your reader always has an idea of where things are headed and the romantic implications.

As a viewer, I’ve followed Kara and Mon-El’s storyline over the past two years. These producers have done everything but put in flashing neon lights that Mon-El is Kara’s epic love story. We’ve seen Kara fall in love for the first time. We’ve seen Kara have her heart broken for the first time, romantically. We’ve seen Kara truly happy. We’ve seen the complexity and weight of these emotions and how they affected both of them.

Like it or not, Supergirl has been indicating that it was going there with Kara and Mon-El this season. Just throwing the obstacle of Mon-El being married now, which wasn’t based in love but duty. Then having Imra tell Mon-El to follow his heart and tell Kara how he feels. The moment they shared in Argo. Kara and Mon-El never stopped loving each other, and this show never let you forget that. Otherwise, why devote so much time to it? Why put an obstacle between Kara and Mon-El when he returned? Why focus so much on that if it’s the focal storyline?

Honestly, it was messy and embarrassing and lazy storytelling. You spent two seasons building this story and this relationship only to bow out in the final episode. Because everything this season — up until the finale — hinted at Kara and Mon-El’s reunion. Until Supergirl decided, last minute, to put him on hold for another season or whatever. Even then, Supergirl didn’t kill him. Even the “goodbye,” which didn’t even feel like a goodbye, didn’t feel final. The door is wide open for Mon-El to return down the line. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. Maybe they want to end the series with their reunion. Who knows. But it definitely doesn’t feel final.

These showrunners said it was always the plan to have Mon-El for two seasons? If so, then this was a really stupid plan.

Honestly, like with Winn, the future seems to be an excuse to hold characters until the producers decide they need them. So I would not be surprised to have Mon-El return in season 5 or beyond.

I remember a time when Supergirl wasn’t afraid to allow its hero to be happy and in love and show that it’s just as important as being the hero we all know. There was a line at the end of the episode where Kara said, “Everything that makes me happy is here.”

Alex, first and foremost. Obviously. J’Onn. James. But what about Mon-El? Her first love that she, herself, said makes her happy? And it’s not just about saying it. It’s seeing it. And everytime Kara and Mon-El share a scene, you can see it. It’s so easy for Kara to fall back into that version of herself that’s Supergirl and a girl in love. The fact that Supergirl chose to ignore that or crap on that was ridiculous.

Love is not a weakness. Love is a strength.

While Chris Wood won’t be returning for season 4, his departure in the finale lacked any real sense of closure. While Winn’s goodbye felt like a permanent, emotional affair (Jeremy Jordan will be recurring next season), Mon-El’s didn’t feel permanent. It was underwhelming and felt anything but permanent. And again, it was inconsistent storytelling that marred what began as a promising season.

This season had a fantastic villain. I loved everything about the Reign dynamic, which highlighted an innocent person becoming a villain in front of our eyes. I loved the whole good vs. evil internal battle and how Sam overcame it. I loved the mother/daughter dynamic that gave us some really good emotional moments. I loved the friendship that came out of it, with Kara, Alex, and Lena. I even loved how Supergirl utilized the whole “traveling back in time” aspect to have Kara defeat Reign without killing her.

“Battles Won and Lost” also set the stage for next season, which is what finales do, including Alex’s new role in the DEO, Lena going evil, Guardian unmasked, J’Onn stepping down, Brainy replacing Winn, and a new villain that wears Kara’s face.

Alex’s New Beginning

If there’s a character’s storyline I’m most excited about next season it’s Alex Danvers, who deserves everything in this world. Alex’s journey on Supergirl has been beautiful to watch as she’s learning about who she is and deciding to embrace these new sides of herself. Next season, that’s going to include being the Director of the DEO and motherhood.

I cannot say how much I love that Supergirl is going to allow Alex to explore balancing being a mom and being a superhero. That’s something we haven’t seen as a focal point in the DCTV universe. We got some glimpses of it in Arrow with Felicity as a stepmom, but Supergirl will be the first to make it a focal storyline instead of one that they stumble upon by accident.

Alex knows what she wants. She wants to be a mom. And she has so much life to live. She can’t keep putting her life on the line if she wants to be a mom. Not when that child is depending on her. So when J’Onn offered Alex the Director position, it was a little curious. But J’Onn gave Alex a way to remain a part of this mission without putting her life on the line every day and allow her to explore motherhood. And I can’t wait to see where her story goes in season 4.

Embracing the Luthor Within

Remember when I talked about taking cues as a viewer when it came to the Karamel storyline? This is another example of looking at what Supergirl and these producers are showing you — small glimpses where prediction is needed — to see where a character is going.

Since Lena Luthor’s arrival, Supergirl has done everything to highlight the possibility of Lena embracing her Luthor evilness. At first, it was Lena fighting it with everything she had, which gave me hope. But then this show made it more and more obvious throwing betrayals her way to guide her to a place where she’ll choose evil. It happened on Smallville with Clark and Lex, and Supergirl seems determined to recreate that dynamic with Kara and Lena.

Because this was a finale, the brief glimpses we got at the end of the episode are supposed to be hints as to where these characters are going next season. If the dark music wasn’t enough, the sight of Lena in her lab working with the substance used to defeat Reign and talking about “Phase Two” was enough. Oh, did I mention the ominous music? Cues, ladies and gentlemen. Look at what these writers are trying to tell you.

I might not agree with this storyline — I’d like to see something more original with Lena than just going evil — there’s no doubt that that’s where she’s headed in season 4. Things are about to get much worse before they get any better.

Guardian Unmasked

I have to admit, I’m actually quite intrigued by where James Olsen’s story appears to be going in season 4. This idea of having a superhero being unmasked. Not only being unmasked, but doing it willingly as a means to connect with the people of National City.

Though I do have a lot of questions because technically Guardian is a vigilante, which means the law should be after him (ala Arrow.) So while James believes he’s doing the right thing — and wants this to be the right thing — it doesn’t mean it’s going to be. If anything, this storyline has every indication of turning out really bad for him. But exploring what it means to be a hero unmasked does present some intriguing storylines.

Brainiac Replaces Winn

Because…? This whole Winn going to the future to save the future and Brainy staying in his place lacks any logic to me. Supergirl has been struggling to rationally explain things, be it the whole Karamel storyline, Winn’s departure, and now Brainy’s arrival. I have no idea why this happening, other than Supergirl is feeling pressured to address comic book canon.

I’m assuming they’ll try a Kara/Brainy romance because comic canon. Whatever. But just because it works on paper doesn’t mean it’s going to work on screen. Arrow proved that forcing comic canon when it’s not working doesn’t work. And Arrow actually learned from it and went with Oliver and Felicity, who actually had amazing chemistry and made Arrow what it is. Supergirl seems to be going the opposite direction. Hopefully Supergirl gives Brainy an actual storyline. Though after how Jeremy Jordan was underutilized over three seasons, I doubt it’ll get much better for Brainy.

A Familiar Face, New Evil?

Supergirl‘s final shot of season 3 ended with a glimpse of Kara in…Siberia? The producers confirmed that this is a Kara inspired by the “Red Son” storyline in the Superman comics.

“For fans of the comics, I think they might recognize that the story we want to tell is inspired by the iconic DC Comics’ Red Son, which told an alternate origin story for Superman,” Rovner told TVLine, to which Queller added, “What happened if — as a baby — Superman landed in Russia and became a hero there instead of in America. It’s an homage to that.”

Supergirl returns Sundays this fall at 8/7c on The CW.

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