Supergirl: 3.23 Battles Lost and Won
So here we are, the Supergirl season three finale.
There are elements that almost work, that feel like a tweak in the right direction but overall this is a frustrating finale to a frustrating third season.
Picking up from last week, Reign is causing world wide seismic destruction by burrowing to the Earth's core with a magic sword in an attempt to terraform the planet and start New Krypton. Kara and gang (including her mum who it turned out had her own super hero costume just sitting around on Argo) are zipping around saving people and trying to stop the destruction. They sort of tackle The Superman Problem in these opening scenes, with a news report referencing that The Man of Steel is dealing with the fall out on the other side of the world. This is the kind of thing the show needs more of. Reference Clark and what he’s doing and why he’s not here,;it just keeps things tighter.
Reign is stopped by M’yrnn sacrificing himself and merging with the Earth. I’m not sure how this works; is it a temporary fix or is all of Earth will be earthquake free from now on but he’s gone and the planet is safe? Despite the nonsensical sci fi of it, this is a stoic, emotional ending to a messy but well acted storyline.
Once things settle down the team have to put a plan into place to stop Reign and the evil Kryptonians for good. The Legion have returned to help out so the gang’s all here! What is actually nice early on is a scene where Guardian tries to go into a building to rescue a kid but the child’s mother is panicking and trying to run in herself. Jimbo takes his helmet off and shows his face in order to reassure her, and it works. This was actually a really nice moment using Jimmy/Guardian and leads to his publicly outing himself as the vigilante.
Jaaames going public as Guardian has the potential to be an interesting story thread going forward, especially incorporating the race angle in contemporary America. The problem with this is it does feel like another attempt to “Make Jimmy Work”. From the get go, this version of Jimmy Olson has felt like a misstep and the show has seemingly attempted to reposition and repurpose the character; while the exploration of a public, black, vigilante hero is interesting, being built on the back of the toxic-masculinity version of Jimmy and the desperate attempts to make Guardian relevant, means the show has its work cut out in the landing.
Eventually after working out where their lair is, its decided to go and attack Reign and the baddies, with pretty much everyone saying they should kill Reign if they need to. Supergirl’s decision to kill is one of the worst moments of this season and the series as a whole. Bringing Kara to a point of such desperation and frustration that she starts to believe killing is the only possible option could have worked if it had been earned or held any consequence. But Kara has straight up killed people in the past (she took out a load of Martians with a giant sword!) without flinching. Her protesting that she doesn’t kill, unfortunately, had the child’s tantrum quality that much of Melissa Benoist’s performance has had this season and her wrestling with the question of to kill or not to kill lasted about eight seconds.
Bad news this week, it looks like Winn is gone! Braniac (Lame-iac more like, am I right?) explains that in the future Winn’s tech has become the foundation of all protective technology and he is a historical hero. He also hints at his evil relative having turned up in the future to kill all AI, so they need Winn to go with them and save all future AI. This does beg the question; if Winn goes to the future at this point in his life how does he manage to spearhead a technological revolution in the past? Aaaaaaanyway… by the end of the episode, Winn is heading off to explore this strange new world.
Once all the goodies and baddies meet up for the finale things quickly go wrong, Reign gets de-powered with the Black Kryptonite and thrown in the lava pit but during her death throws she randomly laser blasts everyone in the room except Supergirl. So, Supergirl travels back in time to not kill Reign (though the alternative they come up with does appear to simply be killing her in a different way?). The actual consequences of the deaths feel so immediately connected to Kara only, that her motivation for turning back time comes across as a little selfish. Perhaps it wouldn’t feel this way had she not been so self important and bratty through much of season three? The consequences of choosing to kill are just very personal to her alone - and not in a weighted, Superman: The Movie way.
The time travel fix was cheap and fast, as well as illogical. The Flash has given us four seasons focusing on the bad things that happen when you time travel yet time travel in this show has been used in the most blasé and uninteresting way. Kara just does a quick time travel with the Legion ring and bish bash bosh, problem fixed. Why not travel back further and stop Reign before anyone got killed? Despite a very short dreamy sequence of Kara remembering stuff as she flies up to space to time travel, there is no attempt at weight or consequence to Kara’s time traveling.
By the and of the show, a host of other characters are gearing up for their next phase on and off the Supergirl; Alex is now in charge of the DEO and looking to start a family while J’onn goes walk about to connect with the people of Earth, Lena is possibly turning to The Lex Side as she secretly makes more Black Kryptonite with Miss Teschmacher by her side, SuperMum goes back to Argo with plenty of Lena’s Black K to fuel the city, Sam who became superpowered just long enough to sort of kill Reign is now human again and Winn heads off to the future along with Mon-El and The Legion. Mon-El has had perhaps the most emotionally schizophrenic past few episodes. While his returning as a mature, perfect boyfriend material hero was interesting in contrast to his near (psychologically) abusive relationship with Kara in the past, his later flip flopping between Star Girl/Supergirl, staying and going just got a bit boring. I think he’s gone now, which is good as we can maybe move on after a fairly solid arc for his character.
It’s a shame that at the end of all this Kara feels like the character who has been least well served by season three. She was self-righteous and entitled through most of the season with hardly anyone calling her out on it. Spending the majority of each episode as Supergirl it feels as though she and the show have lost sight of what it is for her to be Kara; to be human. At the end of this finale it’s as if she hasn’t really learned much at all? The final scene presents us with a cliffhanger that could be interesting for the Supergirl/Kara dynamic next season but its hard to say where they might go with things.
There is a difference between growth and simply forgetting what you were trying to do to start with. This has not been the light, fun inspiring super-show it originally positioned itself to be. This has been a darkly boring story of a spoiled super brat and her government task force friends. It has been, at times, a genuine slog getting through the episodes and it feels like a repeating issue with the Berlanti/Arrowverse shows (with the clear exception of Legends of Tomorrow) that season three is always hard work. This show has become really hard work. Nonsensical plots, poorly written episodes and lazy storytelling have all plagued this season, especially in it back half. I’ll keep going when season four comes around with fingers crossed for a return to the joyful highs of season season one but at the moment, the show is stuck in the gloom. Lets hope it can step out into the light…