I might start doing TV episode reviews once in awhile. Maybe more than once in awhile. But at the very least, I’m going to start now with Supergirl. Only I’m also sort of talking about season 2 up to this point (episode 6, “Changing”) since I haven’t already written about it and the context is important. Warning: this post contains spoilers.
So! Summary up to this point. My imagined tagline for this season has been “Just like season one, but gayer.” Partly because of the actual canon-confirmed characters I’ll talk about in this post, but there’s also a lot of shippy flirty goodness that’s not as likely to come to anything. Lena/Kara, Winn/James, Winn/Clark. That alone is enough for me to love it. But it also seems to have dropped a lot of the proclamations of girl power and started actually having some. I’m a fan of that.
I’m not a fan of Cat leaving, though I understand the location change making it difficult and don’t blame the actress for backing off. I mostly mention it because I appreciate how the show is handling her absence. She’s still definitely a part of the show, the way the other characters have to adjust to fill her various roles says a lot about her importance. You don’t just write a character like Cat off a show, she has a strong presence that makes itself known even when she’s not in the same physical space. I appreciate that they acknowledge that and continue to include her.
The themes of self-discovery, secrecy, alienation, and finding our own families/communities has always been a big part of this show. Those are also familiar aspects of queer identity, and the showrunners seem to recognize and acknowledge those parallels. I think it’s in the very first episode that Kara tells Winn her secret and his first guess is that she’s a lesbian. (Granted, there’s some sort of creepy entitled reasoning behind that assumption, but that parallel is still there from the start.)
I know those aren’t only queer themes, they’re universal experiences to some degree. And most of the characters in the show deal with them in their own ways. But much of mainstream media tends to deal with LGBTAQ+ issues largely if not only in metaphor, and the decision to add actual gay and/or bisexual characters this season and talk about these experiences on their own is an important one that makes the show that much more important to me. (And also more fun to watch. Alex and Maggie cut right to my little shippy heart from their first scene together. THEY’RE JUST SO CUTE.)
Maggie is a new character (to the show) this season. Comics fans might recognize her as Batwoman’s girlfriend. DC fans/comics fans who have read quite a bit more might also recognize her as a character in her own right. I admit I don’t know much about her. I don’t read a lot of DC and have never actually read a comic with Maggie in it as far as I remember. I have read quite a bit more featuring Renee Montoya (who some fans might recognize as Batwoman’s other girlfriend who is also a superhero called The Question) and I have to say this version of Maggie reminds me a lot of her. I love Renee Montoya and I am so very okay with this.
This latest episode saw Alex coming out to Kara, Kara’s new alien friend revealing he’s not the person she wants him to be, James making an important decision about what it means to be true to himself, M’gann struggling with her own secrets (OH HEY, DID I NOT MENTION HER? YEAH, SHE’S IN THIS NOW TOO. YAY.), and Winn being the awesomely supportive friend he is at his best. (He frequently misses the mark on this, but that’s a conversation for another time. I’m happy with him today and I’m just going to think about that.)
Let’s talk about Alex! She’s “almost 30,” as she says here, and claims to have never once considered that she might like girls. Huh. The conversation with Maggie in the last episode dealt more with her need to be perfect and take care of everyone else, so I guess it makes sense she just never really thought much about what she wanted in a relationship or really tried to make that happen for herself. I can understand it, but I’d much rather see more queer characters who are out already and comfortable in their idenities. But as long as we have Maggie for that, I think it works to show Alex going through this. It’s still new to some people, I’m sure.
One complaint I had about this episode. Climate change is a real, important issue. I think more of our entertainment should deal with it. Supergirl chose to do this with fanaticism and gross vomit-Yeerks. I think that probably wasn’t the best choice. But what do I know? I’m just here for the ships and character growth.
We don’t get Maggie/Alex this episode, though I think it’s coming. (I also think Alex is going to be Batgirl. A lot of what I think in regards to this show may be better phrased as “I hope.”) But I like that whatever happens with them, it’s not simple. In the previous episode, when Maggie asks Alex what she’s been thinking about, I was soooo frustrated that her answer was something like “I like girls” rather than “you.” (I may have been trying to play Cyrano for Alex in that scene…) But that just leads to it becoming another cheesy romantic comedy and we don’t need that.
I like that Alex isn’t charming and flirty, that she tries too hard and wants everything to work out perfectly in this just like every other part of her life, and that she has no idea what she’s doing. I think letting herself be imperfect is another part of her character growth. And I can relate to falling hard for someone who’s just not on the same page and being devastated when it doesn’t work out. It’s really easy to get all wrapped up in a “true love!” fantasy when you first find someone who makes you feel totally yourself. You imagine they must feel the same way because movies say so.
I’ll be honest, when I decided to write this review while I watched, I assumed my review of a Supergirl episode would involvle more superheroes and villains. But I probably shouldn’t have. They were there, and they were fine, but they’re not why I watch this show and it’s not what I was looking forward to when I thought about getting home from work and sitting down to watch it.
Supergirl is at its best when it showcases the humanity of its characters and the relationships between them. The super-fight aspect of it has always felt weaker to me. (It may be that I don’t much care for action rather than that the action isn’t done well.) If you ask me how Supergirl defeated any given enemy from the first season, I probably won’t be able to tell you. But I can talk about why Cat is so important to me, why Winn sometimes makes me want to punch a wall, why I think Kara collects mother-figures and what they each mean for her, etc.
It’s a very human show, despite the fact that it’s all about an alien superhero. I like that. I’m excited to see how all these relationships continue to shape Kara this season.
Totally Unfounded Prediction Time!
1 – Lena knows Kara is Supergirl. That’s not even a prediction, really, that seems so certain I think we can just assume. Much like Cat in season one, it just wouldn’t make much sense for someone so smart to be so close to both of them and not notice. But then inviting them both to her party might be a test, and pushing Kara to use the alien-detector that probably wasn’t functional at all would be more about observing her reaction to it.
2 – Alex is Batgirl. Because she should be, no justification needed.
3 – I was afraid with all Winn’s worrying that James would get hurt or killed. But this is generally a pretty upbeat show and that wouldn’t fit. I sure hope making it darker and more depressing wasn’t part of the move to CW. I don’t think so. So I predict instead that Kara will find out about them in like 3 episodes, be upset but accept that they’re doing what they need to do, deal with James feeling like he needs to be super-powered to be on her level but by that point it will be something he does completely for its own sake and they can be heroic together. Not necessarily in a romantic way.
4 – I’d guess there’s probably 1-2 episodes before someone, probably Alex, finds out about M’gann. Not really a prediction, but I feel the need to say I love M’gann and named my latest D&D character after her when I was watching Young Justice. Including her here was a good choice and I hope to see more of her. So I predict much, much more of her because that would make me happy.
5 – Winn’s coming out as bisexual at some point in this season or the next. I think? Please? I remembered reading that he might be at some point, but a quick search now reveals there was just a teaser that someone on one of these DC/CW shows would come out and it looks like that’s Alex. Don’t care. No reason there can’t be more than one (or two even, counting Maggie as a significant character). We’ll see.