Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Supergirl 2x15 Review: "Exodus" (Trying to Stay Grounded) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: March 6, 2017

Last week’s episode perfectly leads into this week’s as Team Supergirl deals with the fallout of Cadmus getting its anti-alien hands on the country’s alien registry. “Exodus” not only works to push the season’s story even further forward, but is also another strong episode on an emotional level — especially for Alex, her relationship with Jeremiah, and her relationship with Kara. This is very much a Danvers episode at the heart of it, with interesting peripheral events rounding it out. Bonus: both Lena Luthor and James actually have lines this week! How exciting!


Cadmus has already started rounding up the aliens in America, as the episode opens up with a traveling alien family getting swiped from their minivan and loaded into a truck. I’m pretty sure that this scene, like all the scenes dealing with the xenophobia-ruling Lillian Luthor and her Cadmus cohorts, is meant to be a parallel to real life xenophobia and the potential outcome of allowing such illogical fears to rule society. Supergirl tends to be heavy-handed with its moral lessons, but I think “Exodus” handled its subjects remarkably well, even considering the outright references to real-world political subjects. It helped that much of the episode’s message was shown, rather than told. The audience sees things like a whole family getting kidnapped or Winn’s alien girlfriend getting locked up, and it carries much more emotional weight than if the characters were to simply preach about the wrongness of Cadmus’s mission statement.

Kara wants to write an article to warn the aliens Cadmus hasn’t caught wind of yet, but Snapper Carr says she can’t write the article without concrete proof. Apparently, Snapper Carr’s adherence to the strict rules of journalism is directly influenced by whether or not he feels like being a jerk to Kara, because he wasn’t so dedicated to absolute proof back when he made (innocent) Lena Luthor into a negative cover story for the magazine just to sell more copies. Now, the fate of thousands of aliens hangs in the balance and he can’t allow a couple anonymous sources through so Kara can warn them? What a douche. After getting some encouragement from Lena and Mon-El, Kara decides to publish her warning as a blog post even though it could cost her her career.

In the meantime, Alex is handling Jeremiah’s betrayal very poorly. J’onn questions her ability to act as a DEO agent first and Jeremiah Danvers’s daughter second, but she assured him that she’s fully capable of compartmentalizing her emotions and dealing with Jeremiah as an enemy. This proves to be a lie (whether Alex knew it was a lie or not remains to be seen) when J’onn shapeshifts into Jeremiah and pretends to need Alex’s help, and Alex only takes a few moments before she agrees to help him. After she makes that agreement, J’onn transforms back into himself and tells Alex she’s suspended until the Cadmus case is over. Then Alex turns around and ropes Maggie into going rogue and dealing with Cadmus on their own anyway. Well, I mean, I say she “roped” Maggie in, but Maggie is very much the enabler of Alex’s dangerous ideas in this episode.

The plot involving Alex and Maggie teaming up to fight Cadmus as a kick-butt duo had me on the fence regarding positive or negative feelings toward it. On the one hand, Alex and Maggie are a great pair and Chyler Leigh’s acting throughout the story (and the whole episode) it absolutely top-notch. On the other hand, Alex is definitely in the wrong and Maggie should not be encouraging her behavior, especially since most of Chyler Leigh’s marvelous acting is Alex teetering on the edge of an emotional breakdown. On a third, mutant hand, Alex and Maggie’s scheming does get them into Cadmus headquarters and leads to the rescue of all the kidnapped aliens, who were about five minutes away from being shot across the galaxy in a spaceship.

After proving that Lillian Luthor would seriously suck at poker (the woman tries calling Alex’s “I have explosions everywhere and I will totally blow this place up” bluff twice, and is wrong both times — note to villains everywhere: Alex will definitely explode all the things) Alex manages to get the kidnapped aliens out of their cages, but not off the ship, which is scheduled for launch. Jeremiah offers to hold down Cadmus’s headquarters and try to shut down the launch from the ground while Alex boards the ship (in a really, really cool shot of Alex running onboard, by the way).

The ship launches, because yeah. That was never not going to happen. It’s a matter of being able to stop the ship from hitting actual outer space and then sliding into lightspeed, now. Side note: I think it’s clever of the show to give us multiple fake-out fixes to the whole ship launch problem: first with the initial shut-down that fails and leads to Alex boarding, then with Jeremiah’s attempt to stop it, and again when Alex calls Winn at the DEO and gets a “fix” from him that also doesn’t work. Just a couple clever touches to keep the audience guessing.

Supergirl is the one to save the day, because her name is the title of the show. And also because she’s awesome. In my opinion, this is the best section of the whole episode: Kara trying to stop the ship from reaching orbit while Alex encourages her from inside. There’s very little dialogue in the majority of the sequence and few shots other than close-ups on Kara and Alex’s faces — but it’s an absolutely wonderful scene, with a moving musical score, beautiful lighting, and incredible acting. Overall, the moment works to really underline how much strength and support Kara and Alex get from each other. It’s a much better depiction of their relationship than last week’s uncharacteristic harshness and anger from Alex. Also, as a Star Trek fan, I’m a sucker for any time people have to put their hands up to transparent surfaces as a form of pseudo-contact.

When the dust settles and all the aliens are back on planet Earth, it’s time for the characters to deal with the aftermath. Lillian Luthor has escaped despite Alex’s numerous explosive devices, J’onn apologizes to Alex for tricking her into revealing her compromised state and she gets her job back, and Jeremiah did make the right decision to fight against Cadmus when Alex implored him to do so, but his fight with Hank Henshaw left him in trouble and still in Cadmus’s clutches. Happily, Winn reunites with his alien girlfriend, Lyra, and we can probably assume that the other aliens who were kidnapped got to go back to their regular lives. They’re probably all still terrified, but at least they haven’t been deported back into space.

Kara loses her job, thanks to that blog post she made. She’s really sad about it, since she says being a reporter was basically a way for her to be “Kara” — i.e., a path for her to be her own person with her own strengths and abilities separate from her role as Supergirl. Then when Mon-El comforts her, Kara muses, “Maybe being Supergirl and having [Mon-El] is enough” and, uh, no? Like, what the heck are the writers thinking, having Kara say something like that right after establishing that her job at CatCo and being a reporter gave her a sense of self apart from being a superhero? They’ve basically just stated that all Kara needs is a boyfriend to be happy, and I don’t even know how to break down how terrible that concept is. It’s terrible for Kara to think that way and it’s terrible for the show to write it and have her say it as, essentially, her closing thoughts for the episode.

Maybe it was a throwaway line to end the emotional episode on a happier note. Maybe it’s laying some groundwork for Kara to grow in some way (after all, I’m pretty sure her relationship with Mon-El is her first serious relationship, ever, so that has to be doing a number on her emotionally and mentally). Or, maybe, it’s a way for the show to set up Happy Kara/Mon-El in order to better contrast the relationship with the implosion that might happen next week, when Kara learns what all the viewers have been fairly certain about for at least six episodes: Mon-El is the Daxam prince.

Other Things:
  • Yeah, Winn is winning (no pun intended) the “How long will I like them?” game right now. His alien girlfriend really makes him shine. Meanwhile, Mon-El still hasn’t figured out tact.
  • That said, Mon-El did make me laugh a couple times in this episode.
  • Does Kara losing her job mean I don’t have to deal with Snapper Carr on my screen anymore? Because that’d be great.
  • I’m very disappointed in how little James has been given to do all season. I thought they’d start making him his own character, considering his new role as a hero. Instead, he just sits around and smiles while everyone else does stuff.


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