Friday, November 17, 2017

Supergirl 3x06 Review: "Midvale" (Going Home) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

Original Airdate: November 13, 2017 

Danvers sisters! Always nice to get some focus on the Danvers sisters, but this week’s episode takes us back before they had that strong sisterly bond and were just two bickering teenagers who hated each other. “Midvale” takes place in, logically, Kara and Alex’s hometown (well, hometown for Alex — adopted hometown for Kara) of Midvale. Most of the episode covers a span of time ten years ago, presumably important because it was both the catalyst for Kara’s urge to superhero and the start of Kara and Alex getting along. A little bit of the episode takes place in the present, as Kara has dragged post-breakup Alex back to Midvale to help her recuperate with the help of Eliza Danvers’ home cooking and lots of alcohol.

Considering that so much of the episode takes place in the past, with different actresses playing the roles of Kara and Alex, “Midvale” might be the most unique episode Supergirl has ever tried, but it’s oddly formulaic and kind of nostalgic with its high school setting and predictable mystery plot. If they were to throw in some early-2000s alternative rock tunes, the flashback storyline here wouldn’t look out of place in a lineup next to an early season episode of Smallville.


Ten years ago, Kara was fifteen and shared a bedroom with her adoptive sister, Alex Danvers. I’m a little confused because Kara was thirteen when she landed on Earth, and fifteen-year-old Kara and Alex hate each other so... have they just hated each other for almost two years straight? Or is all of this a result of tension caused by Jeremiah’s death that wasn’t really a death? I’m pretty sure Kara spent at least some time with Jeremiah as her adoptive father, so I have to assume that the rift between her and Alex is a result of Jeremiah being gone, in which case I have to wonder why nothing was mentioned in this episode about Kara and Alex previously getting along with each other. It’s kind of just assumed that they’ve been bitter rivals ever since Kara arrived on Earth, which does not make any sort of sense when you stop and think about the amount of time they would have been spending with each other. At least a year spent sharing a room, and it takes an investigative adventure to make Alex realize Kara isn’t to blame for every bad thing in her life? Doesn’t really make sense.

Let’s ignore the questionable continuity for now, though. Alex and Kara’s inability to get along continues even at school, where Alex does very little to help her adoptive sister along in the Midvale High sea of bullies and history teachers who, for some reason, have included the basic accomplishments of George Washington on a high school curriculum. Am I the only one who finds that weird? Hey, Midvale School Board: invest in some copies of Schoolhouse Rock because your kids are waaaay behind. I guess it works, though, since Kara is also way behind on her Earth history.

Little Kara’s only friend is a nerdy kid named Kenny Li, and since we’ve never heard of or seen this guy in the present day it’s not really a surprise when he winds up dead. It is sad though, since he and Kara were cute and enjoyed stargazing together and he was a really smart kid who designed a way to capture images onto his (suspiciously modern looking) laptop. Unfortunately for Kenny, being smart and having the ability to capture visual evidence of a small town’s misdeeds is a great way to make enemies.

As soon as Kara super-hears news of a male seventeen-year-old being found dead, she rushes to the scene and, yes, it’s Kenny. She immediately signs herself up for solving the mystery of his murder, since she feels like her superpowers mean she has a responsibility to help people, but also Kara seems like the sort of person who would probably help people regardless, so it’s pretty much inevitable. Kara calls out her classmates’ hypocrisy when she sees a loving memorial of photos and cards stuck to his locker, since no one actually knew Kenny or cared about him when he was alive. She confronts a jock she had seen bullying Kenny earlier, but his alibi is his mom.

When she goes to visit Kenny’s grieving parents, the sheriff tells her to stay out of the investigation — and so does just about everyone around Kara, except for Alex. Kara finds out that Alex was also friends with Kenny and knew him through tutoring and they agree to a truce so they can solve the Kenny case. We get a Smallville reference (Clark’s friend Chloe and her Wall of Weird) that really hammers home the similarities between that show and this flashback episode.

Like I said, the mystery is formulaic and predictable as Kara and Alex cross off shady small-town resident after shady small-town resident, running through the usual suspects of a jock, a teacher having an affair with a student (atrocious timing on that plot point, Supergirl), a brief suspicion of Kenny’s own father, and, finally, the actual culprit: the sheriff who originally told Kara to back off.

To be fair, the real point of the episode wasn’t to present a compelling mystery, but to show how Kara and Alex grew to be devoted sisters. Throughout their investigation we see them get closer to each other as they get closer to the truth of Kenny’s death. Kara saves Alex from nearly getting run off a bridge and Kara defies the orders of Eliza and an FBI Agent (secretly J’onn J’onzz, using Alura’s form, which I thought was really bizarre and kind of cruel considering that it forced Kara to endure a moment of thinking her mom was alive only to realize that she really wasn’t) to save Alex again when she realizes her sister was in the presence of the true killer. Alex, on her side of things, learned to have faith in Kara and trust that she would always be there to protect her as much as she wants to protect every other person in the world.


Presumably having shared the flashback of the episode, Kara and Alex wake up at their childhood home and apologize to each other for the fight they had the night before. Kara remembers Kenny, who had been the first person to make her feel connected to humanity, and how their journey to find his killer made her realize the great things she and Alex could accomplish together. Her opinion on her humanity changed after Mon-El’s departure, but Kara reaffirms that being with Alex makes her feel at home.

Next week: Mon-El is back and this show apparently thinks I’ll find him interesting if he has a beard. Spoiler: I won’t.

Other Things:
  • I can’t believe Mon-El is returning already! I haven’t even properly prepared my ode to his dullness yet. I mean, should I use the usual rhyme scheme or try and switch it up? What rhymes with “beige” anyway?


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