‘Supergirl’ 4×03 Review: Making of a Villain

To say that Supergirl’s newest episode was difficult to watch would be selling it short. But that’s what happens when art imitates life so terrifyingly accurately that you feel it in your bones. You begin to wonder what’s the next horrific storyline we’ll see covered. Because that means that it’s happening in our reality.

There were some moments in “Man of Steel” that were chilling in their accuracy when depicting events in fiction that we hear about in our own reality. Things like an alien delivering steel, you know, just doing his job. But because he’s an alien, these ignorant, racist pigs decide it’s okay to harass and then attack him because he’s different. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it’s become more and more common by the week.

Or listening to people refer to aliens as “cockroaches” and insinuating they’re less than American because they’re different than them. Or listening to this “us vs. them” mentality. Or watching these assholes blame these aliens for their problems because it’s easier than facing the reality that maybe they’re the person to blame. Watching Ben feed on people’s anger and fear and recruiting them to do harm to these aliens.

Not gonna lie, this was so very hard to watch because it was so damn real.

With that said, “Man of Steel” was Agent Liberty’s origin story. And it was relatable. Apart from the alien hate. It was the perfect example of getting all sides to help justify a particular storyline. Given that Supergirl is an alien and is surrounded by people that are supportive of aliens, it would’ve been easy to ignore the other side. But Agent Liberty is our representation of that other side. And this origin episode was greatly needed to provide context and motivation behind his actions.

We saw from start to finish how Ben Lockwood became Agent Liberty. We saw how Ben used to be someone that was in favor of acceptance of aliens. But through a series of repeated events where his family paid the price, we saw how Ben began to change into someone who was enveloped by his fear. We also caught a glimpse as to how smart this man is. We understand now how this man can get others to follow him like they’re doing. Knowledge can be powerful. But it can also be used for evil as much as good.

Enough cannot be said of Sam Witwer’s portrayal of Ben Lockwood turned Agent Liberty. Witwer gave an outstanding performance that was nuanced and complex and dare I say relatable. The hardship of it all — watching how adversity can feel crippling at times — was something that struck an emotional core within me. But watching how his aimed his anger and hatred towards those that were different from him — because he blames them for everything that’s gone wrong in his life — that’s not relatable to me. But the scary thing is that it’s most likely relatable to others in this world.

Last week I discussed the importance of understanding the other side. Perspective is important when exploring stories like this even in the fictional sense. If you just take one side and don’t provide context for the other — even if you’re audience doesn’t agree with it — you’re losing credibility. It’s important to acknowledge the good, bad, and ugly to see all sides. And also help make your point even more.

While we were getting Agent Liberty’s backstory, Kara was struggling with the Kryptonite poisoning that covered the atmosphere. She was unconscious and seizing from the abundance of Kryptonite in the atmosphere. This was a real glimpse at what would’ve happened with Mon-El following season 2’s finale with the lead poisoning. And look at Supergirl paralleling Kara and Mon-El’s circumstances.

As Kara nearly died on a table in the DEO, Lena Luthor came to the rescue with a new suit that’s supposed to keep Kara out of this Kryptonite-lined atmosphere and save her life. Now they just have to find a way to get rid of that Kryptonite.

Here are some lessons to take away from Supergirl’s third episode, which reminded us that, yes, you never know what people are going through, but that also doesn’t give you an excuse to take out your anger on others because you can.

Supergirl — “Man of Steel” — Image Number: SPG403_Still_2.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Sam Witwer as Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl — Photo: The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  1. Love trumps everything.
  2. Even Supergirl isn’t invincible.
  3. You likely are a product of your environment.
  4. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.
  5. Knowledge is a weapon that can used for good or evil. In Agent Liberty’s case, it evolves from good to evil.
  6. Experiences shape the person you become.
  7. This season’s arc could not be more relevant than at this present time.
  8. Hate is fueled by anger and fear.
  9. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to attack someone because of their own hate, anger, and fear.
  10. Americans are Americans. And Americans have rights. Even if they’re aliens. Even if they don’t look like you want them to.
  11. Assault is assault.
  12. Don’t start whining about assault when you instigated said assault.
  13. It’s an “Us vs. Them” thing.
  14. As far as origin stories go, Agent Liberty’s is nuanced and complex and entirely relatable.
  15. You never know what someone is going through.
  16. Even good people can be poisoned by anger and fear and hate.
  17. History has been obsessed with progress indeed.
  18. And indeed someone has always paid the price of that progress.
  19. It’s okay to be angry and blame others when things crumble around you.
  20. It’s not okay to take out that anger in a physical way or a way that incites violence.
  21. Supergirl will save you. And not just in the literal sense. In a “Supergirl represents hope” way.
  22. Our world has Supergirls and Supermen fighting for what’s right, and that’s pretty damn amazing. We are those heroes.
  23. Perspective is important.
  24. Understanding motives is important.
  25. Understanding the other side is important. And in choosing to understand it, it doesn’t mean you agree with it.
  26. It’s not necessarily “one moment” but a series of unfortunate events can alter your perspective and eradicate hope.
  27. Finding something to attack about someone because you know they’re right and you’re wrong is stupid as hell.
  28. It’s also transparent as hell.
  29. “America is a country of immigrants.” You can’t talk your way around that.
  30. “Made America great again.” This show is holding back nothing when calling out the real enemy of the people.
  31. Attacking someone because of how they look and how you believe you belong here and they don’t isn’t nativism. It’s xenophobia.
  32. Passing on your prejudice to others, especially young minds, is cause for termination.
  33. Also, coming at a student and getting in their face and blaming them for your racism is so not okay.
  34. Hate can be all consuming.
  35. When it becomes even more dangerous? When you find others that believe the same things you do and it encourages you.
  36. Tragedy changes you. How you respond to it is what defines you.
  37. Hate can be taught and hate can learned.
  38. Blaming people for your problems will get you nowhere.
  39. Tragedies happen because people get angry and believe that because they can, say burn down a building, that it gives them the right to do so.
  40. They have no such right. That’s called terrorism.
  41. This episode is so terrifying because this is the exact world we’re living in. Just replace the aliens with people of color.
  42. Support groups can be helpful. Or in this case, they can also incite violence.
  43. Name me a more relevant season arc out there right now than this one.

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

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