Supergirl: 1.16 Falling

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This may be my favourite episode of this joyful show so far. It opens with the kind of scene that sums up all that is great about being a Super (man or girl). Supergirl is flying about, as you do, checking things are okay and spots a little girl, dressed in a scruffy red cape getting bullied by older, mean girls who are making fun of her homemade Supergirl outfit. So Supergirl whizzes down to the children. She doesn't scare the bullies, she doesn’t tell them off or chastise them, she simply smiles at the little girl getting bullied and (by X-raying her bag to see the name on her school books) calls her by her first name. When the bullies ask the little girl if she’s really friends with Supergirl, Kara just replies “Of course, I’m friends with all the nice girls” and flies off, leaving the little girl beaming and the bullies to question their life choices, because if being nice meant you were friends with Supergirl, wouldn’t you chose to be nice?

This one scene blew me away and left me welling up. This is what I expect to see from my Kryptonians, kindness, generosity, a best friend and big sibling all rolled into one. Kara could have taught the bullies a lesson with some super breath or heat vision or flying them to the top of the school building and leaving them there but she didn’t, instead she showed kindness and compassion and lead by example. The excellent vision of protector and friend gets brutally and wonderfully smashed away when the episode starts proper and poor old Kara gets exposed to some Red Kryptonite!

There is a nasty misstep in this episode early on, when Jimmy implies Lucy broke up with him because he couldn't tell her Kara was Supergirl. The shows attempt to create drama in the Jimmy/Kara romance seems to mostly manifest in Jaaaaames being a possessive arse and he needs to change if I'm supposed to want them together.

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So, as often happens in the DC universe, some Red Kryptonite gets randomly dug up near Kara. Uh-oh! And what also always happens when women go bad, Kara gets sexy (I could write a whole essay on that but this show is one of the mildest offenders so we'll let it slide for now) makes herself an all black one piece suit and starts flying around causing havoc. She starts just by being tougher of crime but it soon twists to threatening and intimidating the populous and includes some great moments with Cat and a few more obvious moments with Alex. In Kara's non Super life, she also manages to exact a little revenge on Siobhan who cranks up from misguided to work rival to manipulative sociopath a little too quickly.

There are some very odd moral implications going on with Maxwell Lord and this is a side of the show which is hard reconcile. Lord, while a megalomaniac is also looking out for the city he loves and his actions have been selfish but with a dose of what if Supergirl turns bad, I'll have to stop her! Having Jimmy (who isn't the strongest of moral compasses) uncomfortable with Lord's unlawful imprisonment a few weeks back wasn't enough to counteract the fact it was unlawful and I'm just not sure that Supergirl would be okay with that. But... Supergirl has turned bad, so Hank/J'onn and friends get Lord out of his prison as he might be the only person to help stop her.

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There is a moment when, at the height of her Red K ways, Supergirl sits, stern faced, in a bar, pours out a bowl of peanuts and proceeds to flick them like bullets at the spirit bottle on the shelf, smashing them one by one. The call back to Reeve and his own dark Superman moment was enough to make me yelp with joy but this was more than just a cheeky nod to the past. They use this moment, as the film before it did, to show the darkness and the petty boredom of these characters when they lose their way. The fear of when Gods go bad runs through this episode and it would be impossible, in fact naive, not to see this as a direct commentary on the Snyder Superman movies. Supergirl doesn't destroy buildings in this episode, she destroys her own reputation.

The finale, involving a full on fight between Supergirl and Martian Manhunter, is exciting and poignant, with J'onn exposing his Martian identity - in effect sacrificing his freedom - to save Supergirl.

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With J'onn locked away and Supergirl restored but her reputation in tatters, this episode, which started with the most joyful of openings, ends on an emotional downer which is not only heartbreaking but it's narratively reinvigorating and earned. At the end of this excellent episode I was left with one thought: imagine if Snyder's Superman ever got exposed to Red Kryptonite?
God help us all...

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