Supergirl: 4.10 Suspicious Minds
Supergirl returns to our screens after its mid-season break with a strong but oddly safe episode.
The look and visuals of the episode instantly stand out with the always superb Rachel Talalay in the director’s chair. Melissa Benoist, who has a habit of going goofy and over the top when she should be going introverted and subtle, gives one of her best performances. Chyler Leigh’s Alex, who I’ve often championed as the emotional secret weapon of the show, actually feels like she’s falling into repetitive behavior: pensive, angry, stoic, pensive, angry, stoic etc etc etc. It would be nice to see her flex her acting and emotional muscles again. She’s being wasted at the moment just looking sad a lot.
This is a weird episode in that it answers a lot of irritating questions I’ve had about the series for a long time while not really answering them satisfactorily. For the longest time I’ve wondered if the random DEO agents know Kara is Supergirl. Here we find out yes, they do. I feel like every government worker at this place knowing this fact is hugely dangerous (as evidenced here when Colonel Haley tortures her own people to get the information and discovers Supergil's secret identity). It also opens questions like, did the DEO agent who defected a few episodes ago know? Why didn’t he instantly tell Mercy and Otis?? And Agent Liberty??? Introducing, definitely, that the entire staff know Kara’s secret massively undermines the importance of that secret as well as creating new loopholes in previous adventures. Basically, this was a stupid idea.
What it leads to is an emotional closing beat that should have had a bit more ooomph than it did.
Supergirl rescues some soldiers from a mysterious almost invisible alien and is chastised by Colonel Haley for intervening while not being DEO staff. Supergirl teams up with J’onn who has now set himself up as a private detective, bringing his character nicely more online with his comics counterpart. Some digging exposes some secret government tests connected to Colonel Haley and, after a little invisible alien cat and mouse, Supergirl ends up swooping in at the last moment and saving Haley when the DEO is under attack.
Rather than thank Supergirl, Haley, who now knows she’s Kara, immediately demands she rejoin the DEO and will be conscripted by the present or exposed. Haley’s threats are genuinely horrible; from a character who has been predictably antagonistic it was the first time she’s seemed like a nasty person and not just a pantomime foil. It was nice, too, that the rescue didn’t change her view about Kara/Supergirl.
This all triggers the big emotional beat which comes with a few questions, not just narratively but morally. J’onn is brought in to wipe Haley’s mind, which is hugely morally questionable - which he addresses but does for the greater good. Then the memory wiped Colonel Haley brings in some alien mind reading octopus that will force people to tell her who Supergirl is. This is when it’s decided to wipe everyone’s mind at the DEO (with their consent) including Alex.
This may have an initial emotional punch (even if it’s a little bit of a heavily warn sci-fi trope) but it opens a lot of questions; Alex has known Kara is super from the first time they met; how much of her childhood has been removed? Or re-written? The level to which Alex’s experiences as a child and as an adult have been influenced by knowing her sister is super, let alone Supergirl, is so huge that in reality a wipe of this knowledge couldn’t help but drastically alter her very character and personality. Also, do they have to wipe their mum’s mind too? What happens at the next family get-together when she mentions it to Alex? I’ll be interested to see how the show addresses this going forward...
While I’m sure this isn’t a change that’ll stick, it’s a messy plot device used here for a quick emotional boost. The show has a habit of doing this. Just when I was rooting for you again Supergirl!
Lena and Jimmy get some side plot this week, with Lena confessing (most of) her plans in the lab and Jimbo giving his blessing for her experiments. They reconcile after their argument but it’s implied they’ve not really spoken properly since they had their big fight... like two months ago? Surely they’re broken up?!?
Brainy, in between helping out with the main plot, is on a side mission to convince Nia to become a superhero - presenting her with a selection of code names and costumes to pick from. I’ve warmed to Brainy, I don’t miss Winn as much as I thought I would but I miss the emotional centre and character glue he brought to the show; he had genuine relationships with all the characters. Brainy hasn’t filled that gap but his performance has settled in a little bit and feels far less forced than it did on his first appearance.
This series had a strong start after an especially poor previous season but it's kind off fluffed it a bit as it hits the mid season point, even with a break and the Elseworlds story. Perhaps Supergirl’s biggest issue is that the seasons are just too long?
And another thing... Colonel Haley must know that J’onn knows who Supergirl is? He’s just a guy who got fired now and he’s very easy to find since setting up a detective agency. Why isn’t Haley chasing him down to find out who Supergirl is? And how does she even know Supergirl HAS a secret identity?!?! Has this show ever made any sense…?