Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Supergirl 2x09 Review: "Supergirl Lives" (Under a Red Sun) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Supergirl Lives”
Original Airdate: January 23, 2017

Ah, it feels like it’s been an age and a half since we last visited National City! Slightly less time since we last saw Kara, on account of her her being involved in the CW’s DC crossover event. Well, I say “involved.” They didn’t actually let her do anything, which was absolutely ridiculous since she’s — without a doubt — the most powerful DC character on television right now. But that’s a rant for another time, perhaps. For now: “Supergirl Lives.”


Although we open up with Supergirl foiling a robbery, that’s really just a way to introduce the fact that Kara feels like she’s in a rut. Without any really big bads attacking her city, and with the appearance of Guardian to pick off most of the little guys, Kara hasn’t had a whole lot to do as Supergirl in the time since she defeated a bunch of aliens on Barry Allen’s Earth. Apparently going off to other planets is a great way for Kara to restore some pep in her step, though, because that’s what happens in this episode and she seems pretty refreshed at the end of it. Is that why the episode gets this title?

The main plot for “Supergirl Lives” begins with a woman seeking help from CatCo reporters (namely, Kara and — to a far lesser extent, since he’s useless — Snapper Carr) to find her missing teenage daughter. The police won’t help because the girl has a history of running away, so the distraught mother skipped straight to... a news agency? Um, I don’t really get what logic she was working with, there, but she lucked out and accidentally got to plea for help to a bored Supergirl, so hooray!

During her investigation for the missing girl (Izzy), Kara learns that a number of people have gone missing and the thing they all have in common is that each one of them had bloodwork done at a particular clinic. Did Izzy’s mother not know her daughter was getting bloodwork done at some clinic somewhere? Furthermore, the portal that sends Earthlings to another planet is kept on location at the clinic, which means that these kidnapped people probably never left the premises. But the administrator of the “clinical trial” (who was working with aliens to gather humans as off-world slave labor) still documented their arrival well enough for Winn to use a computer and find the bloodwork connection in the first place? I just have too many questions.

Anyway, Kara and Mon-El (who works as a bartender now but took the day off because he has the work ethic of an absent-minded sloth) are the ones investigating the multiple missing persons cases and they show up at the clinic, only to be presented with that aforementioned portal to another world. Although Kara tells Mon-El to go get Alex — who is busy enjoying her giddy new relationship with Maggie — the moron follows her through the portal and they both get trapped. Also: the planet has a red sun, which means that both Kara and Mon-El are powerless as well as trapped, plus no one on Earth knows where they are because Mon-El can’t follow basic directions.

The good news is that Kara and Mon-El find the missing people from Earth! The bad news is that the whole lot of them are going to be sold as slaves to one of the Dominator race we all remember from the big CW DC crossover. Without actual superpowers, the only thing Kara has going for her is unyielding optimism in the probability that someone back on Earth will realize she’s missing and start retracing her steps.

Which they do! Unfortunately, a missing Kara sends Alex into a tizzy and she sorta breaks up with Maggie because she thinks her happiness is cursed? I’m not sure. Feels like fabricated drama, and it’s swept away by the end of the episode so it doesn’t even really matter. What does matter is that Alex and the DEO teams up with Winn in order to mount a rescue of Kara. And Mon-El, too, I guess. Even though he’s terrible.

Turns out, though, that Mon-El is the only one they didn’t need to rescue. Not only does the Dominator stop one of the guards from shooting Mon-El during what would have been a totally great heroic sacrifice that I swear I would not have gleefully applauded at if he were to die, but also he bows? As wary as I am of the idea that significant portions of future plots might revolve around the human-shaped lump of beige that is Mon-El, I’m pretty curious about what all of that really means. I’m thinking that everyone who guessed Mon-El to be the actual Daxam prince is right, but I don’t really get the Dominator connection or why anyone would care to honor the prince of a destroyed planet.

So Alex and the DEO (and Winn) use a portable yellow sun device to re-power Kara and Mon-El long enough to get all the humans through the portal and put a serious dent in the slaver planet’s industry. Once they’re all through the portal again, Kara destroys the control panel and, presumably, makes it inoperable.


A minor plot in this episode was Winn’s arc, in which he goes from fearful of getting hurt while helping James be Guardian to being more confident after traveling through the faux-Stargate and hitting an alien with a rock. Now, I don’t really care about Winn Schott’s crisis of heroism. Him whining about how hard it is to be a hero instead of just a wisecracking lackey had me rolling my eyes so hard I probably sprained something.

But what’s worse is that the writers constantly hijack James’s story (which is pretty minor to begin with, this season, since it basically just amounts to “James is a vigilante now” and little else) with Winn’s boring antics, thereby taking a character that I genuinely liked last season — James — and making him absolutely worthless this season. Mehcad Brooks is a really good actor and Supergirl’s twist on James Olsen is an interesting one: not a youthful sidekick clinging to the capes of the more powerful, more interesting heroes, but an adult with significant standing in his career field, the likability that leads to him befriending not one, but two Kryptonian superheroes, and — with the emergence of the Guardian plot — potential for a lot of really good stories. Instead, we get James either punching people or grinning at them, with very little plot tethering him to this show.

I don’t want to say that the romantic interest between James and Kara was the bulk of James’s reason for existing (especially since the James/Kara romance subplot was terribly handled when it was going on) but it really feels like they have nothing to fall back on for him this season. They had to get him out of the way in order to make the horrendous pairing of Mon-El and Kara happen, but didn’t put a whole lot of effort into giving him something else to do.

James being Guardian, like I said, is an interesting development — however, the writers know that we’re not here to watch some other vigilante punch people; we’re here to watch Supergirl punch people. Therefore, they can’t devote too much screen time to James growing as a hero. If he paired up with Kara, maybe they could develop the idea more — but James’s vigilantism is being kept secret from Kara, which shuts that possibility down and keeps the whole James/Guardian idea as more of a distraction than a genuine vessel for character growth.

And yes, I do know that I titled this section of the review like I was going to talk about Winn, only to spend three paragraphs talking about James. It was an intentional inversion of what the show always does. Also, to reiterate: I don’t care about Winn.

Other Things:
  • Roulette was the person orchestrating the whole human slave labor thing, by the way. This role could have been played by literally anyone, so I ignored her return in my review.
  • Also missed in the review: Maggie knows Kara is Supergirl and she figured it out all on her own because she’s the only person in this universe with a brain.
  • Less ignored in the review, but still deserves a spotlight mention: Alex and Maggie are freaking adorable and Alex’s happiness makes me happy, but also terrified that the writers will destroy her.
  • Thanagarian Snare Beast mention! Unfortunately, Supergirl does not get to fight a giant spider at any point in this episode.
  • "You want a medal?" asks Snapper Carr to the reporter who presented him with an interesting, well-documented, important article that he was willing to let slip by because he has zero investigative instincts and just wanted to eat a danish. I dislike this character immensely.
  • Oh yeah, and Mon-El wants to be a hero now. Yawn.


  1. Why do you watch the show and write about it if you dislike so much about it?

    1. The only things I dislike are Winn and Mon-El, and even then it's just because they're both boring. I hardly think they're worth giving up on the show.