Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Supergirl 1x15 Review: "Solitude" (No One Is An Island) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: February 29, 2016

This week on Supergirl, I’m still annoyed at the same things that annoyed me last week on Supergirl: the interpersonal fights that make no sense. Kara and Hank are fighting! James and Lucy are fighting! Why are they fighting? Well, from what I can tell, it’s mostly just over bad writing. Look, I’m actually getting sick of the go-to writing phrase “show don’t tell,” but just because I’m sick of it that doesn’t make it any less true. Television is a visual medium (hint: it’s right there in the name) and it requires on-screen, visual evidence of character motivation — in other words, telling us that Kara knowing Alex was the one to kill Astra would put a wedge between them means nothing when we have many episodes’ worth of visual evidence proving that Kara is a forgiving individual whose love for her sister would likely outweigh the possibility of winning her aunt back over to the side of good. Telling us that Lucy really needs to know that Kara is Supergirl for her and James to stop fighting doesn’t stop viewers from observing and realizing that Kara’s identity has nothing to do with why Lucy and James can’t seem to make it work.

By telling us stuff that goes against what we’ve seen, it only makes these plots irritating to watch unfold.


The episode is called “Solitude” — and not just because Kara pays a visit to her cousin’s Fortress of Solitude, since that sequence is only about ten minutes long, tops. It’s also called “Solitude” because that’s where Kara finds herself, in an isolation of her own making as she pettily refuses to team up with the DEO due to Hank Henshaw’s “I killed your aunt” lie. Hank doesn’t ever elaborate on this lie, by the way, which makes him just as worthy of my frustration as Kara is. No matter how how much he seems to really want Kara back on the DEO’s side, never just tells Kara the flipped version of the truth — that Astra was seconds from killing Alex and Hank reacted accordingly.

(This is, of course, ignoring the fact that the actual truth isn’t as bad as Hank is telling us it would be. That there’s clearly a misunderstanding of Kara’s character from both Hank and Alex, who should definitely know better. That lying about stuff, even if the lie is one shrouded in good intentions, only makes things more difficult for everyone.)

As a result, when another escaped Fort Rozz prisoner called Indigo (a Brainiac, apparently) makes herself known, the DEO and Supergirl have to approach the problem separately, rather than as a much stronger unit. Both Hank and Kara understand that they need each other — Kara needs the DEO because they have information, and the DEO needs Kara because she’s, well, Supergirl — but they’re saving the apologies and reunion business for the end of the episode, of course. It makes things more annoyingly dramatic that way.

Indigo breaks into CatCo’s private feeds, pretending to be your average Earthly hacker. She wanted CatCo to release information about a bunch of officials using a matchmaking site for affairs, but it’s just the opening to her technology-focused attack on National City. When CatCo doesn’t release the information, Indigo’s real plan falls into motion: chaos. She turns all the traffic lights green, sabotages infrastructure, and damages bank security.

Winn starts off working for Kara and CatCo, but is then recruited by the DEO when it’s revealed that the “hacker” is actually an alien lifeform. Indigo, apparently, is feeling so high-and-mighty that she wants to destroy humanity to prove that Astra was wrong about aliens being able to live alongside humans. Uh... I don’t remember Astra wanting to do that? What’s up with the retconning of Astra’s character into some sort of hero, here?

Anyway, of course Indigo’s previous cyber-attacks were just to cover up her actual goal: nuking National City. She launches a missile at the city in the hopes of destroying several million lives -- just the first step of her grand plan, no doubt — and Supergirl aims to stop her. Kara has to put aside her grudge against Hank and seek the DEO’s help in stopping the missile — which she does — and Kara’s part of episode ends with Alex telling Kara the truth about who really killed Astra. Thanks for finally being the only one in this whole situation with some sense, Alex.

But what of Indigo? She explodes, basically (thanks to a virus from Winn) and Kara and the DEO probably think they’re done with her. But we’re the audience, and we get to see that Non has collected all of Indigo’s parts. Will she be rebuilt? Will Non make a decorative centerpiece out of her limbs? Only time will tell!


The unstable premise of the personal issues in “Solitude” meant that, rather than a sense of relief when things concluded, all I felt was supreme disappointment that the people on my screen would never be able to hear my loud, unsurprised response of “Duh-doy!” I mean, really, anything other than Kara hugging her sister after Alex’s teary confession would have seemed forced and out of character for her. Anything other than Lucy laying out the real reason for her fight with James Olsen — that James clearly values his relationships with others more than he values his relationship with her — would have seemed like an unnecessary way to draw out the love triangle plot and add romantic drama.

It’s not possible that I was the only one thinking the personal battles were senseless and artificially extended past the point of logic. Anyone who has watched the show so far would know that Kara’s brief hope for Astra’s redemption would be nothing against her love for her sister. Anyone who has watched the show for the past couple episodes would realize that James and Lucy’s fight had nothing to do with Kara’s identity as Supergirl, and that the request from James to tell his girlfriend about Kara’s identity was really just a cheap threat to dangle before the audience. We knew Lucy wasn’t going to find out. Cat Grant actually figured it all out on her own and had to be humiliated back into ignorance, and Supergirl expects us to believe for a second that Lucy’s going to get that knowledge handed to her by James Olsen? Please.

But I don’t know. Maybe these obvious things were obvious on purpose? I have it in me to hope that, perhaps, we the audience were meant to view the responses to interpersonal troubles as a new reflection of the characters. Maybe Hank doesn’t know Kara as well as he thinks he does, to assume that the truth would damage her relationship with Alex, and Alex herself might have felt so guilty that she found herself susceptible to Hank’s thought processes. Kara’s response to Hank could be a way to show how a heroic disposition and a good nature can be waylaid by grief and anger, something that Kara might need to work on in the future if she doesn’t want it to come between her and saving lives again.

And the fight between Lucy and James was so obviously not about what James thought it was about. There’s no way we weren’t supposed to notice that he was fighting the wrong battle the entire time, dopily avoiding the issue right in front of his face while he tried to fix things with his on-again, off-again girlfriend. After all, Lucy’s jealousy over James’s superfriends is mentioned on several occasions, while Supergirl’s identity isn’t mentioned by her once, and yet James thinks their relationship could be salvaged by Lucy knowing the truth about Kara? It’s ridiculous that such an intelligent character could miss something so obvious.

Of course, the alternative to this “it’s the characters who are getting it wrong” theory is that the writers think we’re all idiots. And that can’t be true, can it?

  • “I could throw her into space.” Siobhan might have graduated from “smirky new girl” this episode, but I would still be okay with Kara throwing her into space.
  • “As effective as kicking and punching is, next time you’re angry about something, let’s have coffee.”
  • “Never call me ma’am, this is not the Old West.” ... “Circle the wagons.” Was that intentional?
  • “Why is it your first instinct to work this with Supergirl and not me?” Because she’s SUPERGIRL, Lucy!
  • I feel like Kara didn’t need to rip her shirt open to reveal the Supergirl suit underneath? It just seemed like a waste of a shirt.
  • Indigo ruined that poor geeky dude’s proposal. How mean.
  • The Winn/Siobhan thing came out of nowhere but I’ll accept it. Anything that keeps Winn/Kara from happening.
  • James was way flirtier with Kara than usual, right? I’m not complaining or anything, but the ramp up to eleven on this episode seemed abrupt.
  • “He just keeps the key under the doormat?”
  • “I save the world better when I save it with people.” “Well you are saving it with me.” So much flirtier.
  • Apparently Indigo was the one who got Kara to Earth. Okay.
  • "I'm going home to hug my son and cook him chicken." Aw. The show remembered Cat’s younger son!
  • I had a lot of problems with this episode (clearly), but Chyler Leigh’s acting in the confession scene and the small touch of having Kara stop Hank and hold his hand as she hugged Alex was lovely.


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