Supergirl: (Gay) love in the time of Trump-era
Previously on Supergirl: James “Jimmy” Olsen decided to come out as a superhero, while Alex did just about everything but come out as lesbian. Mon-El lost his non-paying job at CatCo for screwing around at work (literally), while Dr. Brenda Strong (aka Mrs. Luthor) is a member of the anti-alien agency Project Cadmus.
Well, let’s just get right to the heart of this episode, which is Alex officially coming out as gay. It begins with Alex seeking out Maggie for advice, as she’s not really sure what to do now about this new realization, since she’s “almost thirty” (the actress is 34; I guess they made the character younger to make it a little more believable that she’d have no inkling of her gayness before now). Maggie says that first things first, she needs to come out to her family, and Maggie will be here to support her.
And so, Alex and Kara have a lengthy conversation where Alex reveals that she’s developed feelings for Maggie, and in fact this may have been going on for a while and she may have had these same feelings for one of her female friends back in high school (and fuck you Vicky Donahue for breaking Alex’s heart), and Kara is taken aback, though her reaction is totally understandable. And it honestly feels a bit surreal to be watching something like this unfold on Supergirl, formerly one of the most square and conservative-minded shows on TV back when it was on CBS.
And the way the storyline plays out has its flaws, to be sure. Midway through the episode, Alex accuses Kara of acting “weird” around her since she came out, and we see absolutely no evidence of this. Then Alex kisses Maggie, but is totally heartbroken when Maggie says she’s not interested. Maggie’s reasons for not getting involved with Alex are also understandable, considering Maggie is a lot more experienced, and she knows a relationship with someone “fresh off the boat” tends to not work out. Alex goes home and drinks alone in the dark and cries her eyes out, and it seems a little odd that a woman who’s “almost thirty” would get this despondent over someone she met a month ago.
Still, overall, they’re doing a lot better with this plot thread than I ever expected. It was certainly more engrossing than any of the cliché-ridden action hero plots we got this week. Though I do have to wonder how much of this is all about Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh (the latter of whom I don’t think gets enough credit for what she does on this show) having such great sisterly chemistry and being able to sell the hell out of whatever this show throws at them.
Alas, I must move on and describe this episode’s A plot. This week, the writers of Supergirl once again switch on the Cliché-O-Matic 3000, and this time it lands on John Carpenter’s The Thing, as a team of arctic researchers accidentally unearth a 5,000-year old alien parasite that sucks out their life forces. The parasite then merges with lead researcher Dr. Rudy Jones (played by William Mapother, Tom Cruise’s cousin, who you probably didn’t see on Fox’s Minority Report) who pretends to be the sole survivor and gets airlifted back to National City, where he proceeds to exact completely predictable vengeance against anyone who ever wronged him.
But it’s during a fight with Supergirl and J’onn J’onnz that we learn Dr. Jones isn’t just a parasite, he’s the Parasite, a longtime Superman foe from the comics with the ability to temporarily steal the superpowers of any hero he touches. It’s an ability that makes him a daunting foe in the comics, but unfortunately, we see very little of that aspect of his powers here.
Supergirl ultimately defeats the Parasite by grabbing a glowing blue chunk of plutonium from a nearby nuclear power plant (was it just lying around for the taking? Is the National City nuclear power plant staffed by nothing but Homer Simpsons?), and getting the Parasite to absorb its power, which conveniently causes a power overload that makes the Parasite explode. Though luckily for everyone, it’s not an explosion that covers several city blocks in radioactive dust. And unlike most villains we see on Supergirl, this one was kind of interesting in the comics, so it’s a bit of a bummer that he was killed off this easily.
In the meantime, Kara informs Mon-El that while he doesn’t have to work at CatCo anymore (being the rare individual who fucked his way out of an internship), he still needs to find a job. In a mildly amusing turn of events, Mon-El decides to become the hired muscle for a loan shark, and he’s soon threatening to bust the figurative kneecaps of a random blue alien (by the way, and this is something I’ve been wondering all season: why is National City suddenly overrun with aliens? The last I heard, all the aliens in National City came here as prisoners of Fort Rozz, so why aren’t most them currently locked up at the DEO?).
Kara doesn’t approve of Mon-El using his muscles for money, and oh what I would give for them to adapt that comic into an episode. Regardless, Mon-El decides to make an effort to be less money-hungry and selfish, and when the Parasite drains Supergirl of her powers, he steps up to defeat the alien. Also having the same idea around the same idea is James Olsen, who finally leaps into action as a superhero, and he’s calling himself the Guardian.
In the comics, the Guardian is mostly known these days as a Superman side character, but he actually debuted back in 1942. He was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and so bears some superficial similarities to another Simon-Kirby creation, Captain America. The James Olsen version of the Guardian, however, looks more like RoboCop fused with Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still. He’s also got voice-changing technology in his mask, which he uses to hide his identity from Supergirl. Apparently, he and Winn have decided not to tell Kara that they’re helping James be a superhero, because all she’s going to do is try to stop them. And there is absolutely no way this is going to blow up in their faces in a week or two.
When Supergirl gets her powers drained by the Parasite, so does J’onn. Alex appeals to Megan AKA M’gann, the only other living Green Martian, to provide a blood transfusion. She hesitates, most likely because she’s secretly a White Martian, or is part White Martian, but she goes ahead with the transfusion anyway. J’onn/Hank wakes up and they have a tender moment where he thanks her, but I guess it remains to be seen what that White Martian blood will do to his system. Also, while I originally assumed they were going for a surrogate father-daughter relationship between these two, some of the looks they give each other make me fearful this show might be going for some sort of romantic angle here. I really hope I’m reading things wrong.
And to wrap things up, we have Mon-El, feeling especially selfless of late, trying to help out a homeless guy, who turns out to be a Project Cadmus operative. He hits Mon-El with a super-powered tazer and loads him into a van being driven by Dr. Brenda Strong, the end.
Next week: The National City police, represented by Maggie Sawyer, who’s quickly becoming the only detective on the National City police force, are after the vigilante calling himself the Guardian. Also, it seems J’onn turns evil for some reason and attacks Supergirl. And the word around town is that this is where the next big CW superhero crossover begins, so I guess it’s at least worth tuning in to find out how Supergirl ends up back in the Flash’s universe.