So a lot of things happened in this episode of Supergirl. Some good, a lot of it with really unfortunate implications. Kori’s going to attempt to break it down this week as Elizabeth is taking a break, but fear not, there are many things to say.
There have been some concerns expressed in recent weeks that having all of the Worldkillers be women of color could end badly depending on where the show went with the characters. I wanted to wait and see, as the writers had laid a lot of groundwork that by and large, these were women who were fighting for their own agency and possession of, literally, their bodies and sense of self. Perhaps foolishly I was attributing too much faith in the writers, thinking they were making an interesting statement on personhood for women of color.
I was very wrong. Let’s break this down.
Reign, Purity, and Pestilence are now all united and creepy hologram lady is still spouting her End of Days party line. We see shots of Sam and Julia in the Valley of Jury aka the Supergirl version of the Upside Down, where their “human” psyches are stored and tormented by all of the people their alter egos have killed. Only there’s just Julia and Sam. That’s right, we don’t even get to see Dr. Grace Parker because she’s apparently already been killed.
Yup, that’s right. They already killed off one of the women of color before we even really got to see her as a person. That’s not my only problem with all of this, but we’ll have to cut back over to the DEO to set up the other really, really bad optics.
But first, a moment of levity. We’ll need it. Alex has a new super suit! Winn made it for her and I’ll be damned if she’s not rocking the Commander Shepard look.
Back to more pressing matters. The DEO and Supergirl are not happy with Lena after the Sam/Reign revelation, and she’s brought in/voluntarily comes in for questioning. During the meeting she refuses to back down, reminding the DEO that she’s signed no waivers, no contracts with them. And sadly, her fears about Sam being seen as nothing but the enemy are kneejerk proven right by J’onn who tells her she was “harboring a mass murderer for weeks.” Way to reinforce some negative beliefs there.
Furthermore, when Kara asks her how Lena kept Reign contained, we find out that Lena Luthor has seemingly done the impossible and figured out how to create kryptonite. The one substance in the universe that is particularly deadly to Kryptonians.
Look, from Kara’s standpoint, I can’t blame her for being leery. Lena has been one of her best friends, and she’s suddenly finding out that Lena was keeping Sam locked up in a lab with the substance that is deadly to her and only her kind, and experimenting on her.
Now we know that Lena was genuinely trying to help her friend, even if we can be uncomfortable with her methods. But Kara? I honestly can’t blame her for being paranoid. Even if Lena has never used kryptonite to attack her, that doesn’t mean her mother or half-brother can’t now get their hands on how to make it and take Supergirl and Superman out. But this comes on the heels of two seasons of not letting Lena know who she really is, and Lena, during a moment of the episode I really enjoyed, calls Supergirl on it. Kara says a Luthor shouldn’t be asking her that, and I have a hard time disagreeing with that, even if it probably is hurtful for Lena to hear herself lumped in with her family.
It’s the unfortunate reality that the rest of her family are hellbent on destroying Supers and have shown utterly no qualms in the past about using or hurting Lena to do so. Still, it’s a bit sanctimonious to be lecturing Lena on secrets when you’ve been moonlighting as her best friend for years now.
Anyway, we find out the Worldkillers could cause an eclipse which will render Kara powerless, and then our SuperFriends find out Grace is dead, meaning there’s a space in the Upside Down they can enter through. (What? How? This makes no sense!)
So in the next part of “really, this is such a bad take did nobody point this out?” we have Lena, Kara, and Alex form a super white, super GOOD GUYS Trinity of their own to go fight the Worldkillers in the Upside Down. Brainy puts them under, and Kara tells Mon-El that if it starts to go south to pull Alex and Lena out, but to leave her in, she’s got a mission to fulfill. Mon-El promises, but is suitably angsty and gets a hug from J’onn.
Oh yeah, Kara asks James to spy on his girlfriend for her. Kara, I can understand your anxiety, but you lose me when you put your friend in this position. James decides not to, and even opens up to Lena, sharing a secret of his own, that he’s the Guardian. At least someone on this show is being honest.
Now returning to the Upside Down adventures. Kara and Lena have the talk I detailed above and then find Julia. Kara reaches out with her superpower of Empathy and implores her to fight back. Sam, meanwhile, has been having a time of it. My poor, sweet Sam who doesn’t deserve any of this (nor do Grace or Julia), has a moment of utter horror when she realizes she can’t remember Ruby’s name and starts desperately scratching information into the walls around her so she doesn’t forget anything else.
We get a showdown where Lena is about to be strangled by Reign and Kara begs for Reign to take her instead, which helps mend the Supergirl/Lena bridge for a time. HOWEVER. Julia dies taking out Purity, and now both Grace and Julia are gone, and so are Pestilence and Purity and I’m sorry, what the actual fuck was the point for the extra two Worldkillers at this point when you immediately take them off the table? Why all of this buildup just to kill them?
I actually really liked that Julia’s strongest link to her humanity was music. That part I loved. As a music lover, it’s a nice bit of affirmation that no matter what happens, music is still there for you, shapes you, and becomes a part of you.
And I really liked that at the end of the day, it was Julia who had been in the Valley of Juru/Upside Down the longest, and it was Julia who grabbed onto her humanity and fought and was the hero everyone needed.
And then she died.
Which leads me to the biggest rage-inducing part of the episode. Yes, we get cute scenes with Winn, Lena, and Brainy on the ship with Lena piloting it. Sure, nice. But then we see the DEO celebrating that they took out two Worldkillers and somehow saved Julia?
You did not.
Julia, a black woman, who embraced her humanity so fully that it could never be completely stripped away from her, saved you. She died for you. And now we see white women celebrating and claiming the victory as theirs.
Shame on you, Supergirl. I expected better of you. Be better.