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Faith is Tested on Supergirl

Oh, come, all ye faithful, worship the Kryptonian! So this episode was fun…right? Each episode this year seems to get heavier, but that’s alright, because they also get better. Let’s jump right in.

Grab a glass of wine now, you’ll need it for the last ten minutes of this episode.

Recap

First of all, snaps for the new Supergirl intro! It only took us three seasons, but I’ll take it. We open with a flashback to the pilot, the plane Alex was on right before it turned into a fireball and was on a collision course with death. We see Thomas Coville (Chad Lowe) guzzling either vodka or water and being a jerk to an expectant father on said plane. He’s one of those, “Your life is going to suck and your wife is probably screwing her personal trainer” dudes.

Cue the plane failure. Coville, in the middle of everyone panicking, sees passengers of different faiths calmly praying as the plane heads for certain doom. Except we know that Kara saves everyone. Coville, wholly overwhelmed, looks out the window and sees her… and has a religious awakening of his own.

In the present, Sam is at Ruby’s soccer game and trying to balance being Lena’s L-Corp right hand and being an attentive mom. Then a soccer mom comes up and tells Sam that she and Ruby are special, chosen. She pulls out a pamphlet for a cult. Sam is understandably creeped out as the lady walks away.

Back at L-Corp, Kara proposes that Sam attend the girls’ night at her place to celebrate her first big merger as CFO of L-Corp. Honestly, the scene is adorable, and I love the amount of women together in scenes this season.

Kara spies the cult pamphlet creepy lady gave Sam and is concerned. That leads us, however, to the return of Super Friends! Kara wants to go to the meeting, especially since that symbol on the pamphlet is for the Kryptonian god, Rao. James and Winn accompany her.

The meeting, which couldn’t you have picked a LESS creepy place? Anyways, it’s in an old, abandoned building and the Super Friends are greeted by a young woman, Olivia (Sofia Vassilieva), who tells them they have to experience the meeting to understand fully. Out comes Coville, now in all his cult-y glory and we basically find out they’re all worshipping Kara. The weirdest part is that Coville has done his research and he knows the prayer to Rao. (Nice shoutout to somewhat explaining Kara’s worldview “protect us so that we may protect others” there.) We have a flashback with Alura (Erica Durance) and a young Kara reciting the prayer themselves.

Okay, look. Benoist sold this scene wonderfully. The complete bewilderment and the tinge of hurt and anger that someone was using her sacred words for something it wasn’t intended for landed, along with the concern and increasing tension of her identity as a human or an alien. Benoist knocked it out of the park here.

It’s also a nice, if warped, reminder at how many people Kara has helped. Olivia nearly died after falling off the ledge of a building. Supergirl caught her, saved her, and promised her it would be okay. And the scene is written to where you honestly could understand why someone like Olivia would be drawn to this “church.” 

Now we’re at Ladies’ Night! Lena recounts how a man wanted to know if she was baptized because apparently, he would only sleep with good Catholic girls. She found it a little hot if for nothing else that he was convicted about it. The conversation turns to Kara as Sam asks if she has a boyfriend, and boy does the temperature in the room drop a few degrees. Alex quickly changes the subject, asking if Ruby’s father is in the picture.

Whiiiiiiiich leads into the baby issue again, and we can tell that Alex is struggling a lot with that decision. But they all offer to be supportive aunts and again, I love that we have an entire room full of women and they’re being supportive of each other.

Kara has to leave for Supergirl rescuing, this time it’s a blazing inferno. Only the man she rescues is Olivia’s boyfriend and a member of the cult. They’re literally putting themselves in harm’s way for Supergirl to rescue them as a test of their faith. Kara is, very understandably, NOT happy.

Kara tells Maggie about Coville and wants him arrested. Maggie can’t arrest him though unless they have proof that Coville is doing this. He’s guaranteed freedom of speech, and the followers are guaranteed their freedom of religion. However, until Coville breaks the law, Maggie’s hands are tied.

At L-Corp the next day, Ruby is at Sam’s office finishing her homework. Ruby wants to practice her song, but Morgan Edge has decided to muck up the merger deal that should have been done earlier. Sam has to take care of it, leaving Ruby to wait.

Now back to Kara, she goes to talk to Coville as Kara Danvers, CatCo reporter. I love that she is starting to use her journalism career to collect real-world information. She brings up that the whole building burned down last night, and Coville proclaims that by Supergirl’s light, they were saved. Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiit. Coville officially peeps Supergirl’s identity, and Kara is confounded. Coville sees this as a test and even offers to help Kara find her way. We also learn that Coville has been a busy man. He’s collected every artifact on Krypton there was to find (presumably through alien connections) and has a religious device containing Rao’s teachings.

Kara finally rips it away from him and claims he’s perverting Rao’s teachings and orders him to stop with the dangerous tests of faith. Coville says he trusts her but doesn’t actually agree to what she’s demanding. After Kara leaves, we see that he has an even bigger artifact, and now believes that it’s his job to save Kara as well.

Sam finally finishes the Edge business, but by the time she’s done it’s late, and Ruby’s already asleep. She and Lena have a heart-to-heart about mothers. Sam feels like she’s the world’s worst mother, but Lena knows she isn’t. After all, Lillian Luthor more than earned that title. Speaking of which, are we going to get to see Lillian again this season? It’s a lovely scene that again shows women supporting each other.

I’ve missed this James.

Over at CatCo, Kara and James talk about religion and how important it was on Krypton. It was their spirituality, but also their community, and Coville’s teachings are dangerously misguided. James relays the time Superman first saved him and frames how humans can see the Superfamily as miraculous. Prayers aren’t usually answered quite so directly, but Kara and Kal-El are there. You can see them; you can touch them. And they save people. Seeing season one James at his best is a delight. I have missed you, James.

When the religious artifact activates, Kara rushes back to the DEO. A-ha! That’s how Coville has all of these artifacts. Krypton sent out probes with information on their culture and religion on the regular throughout the galaxy; this one happened to land on Earth. Which means Coville has the big probe and it’s degrading. Uh oh.

Kara realizes Coville knows what it’s capable of and that he’s going to use it as a bomb to bring in new followers. Now Coville and his cult have planted the bomb below an arena with a full crowd. Coville, in all of his fanaticism, wants to reaffirm to Kara that she’s the god of Earth by putting her in a position to save everyone.

Yikes.

Alex zooms to the stadium on her super hot motorcycle to try and evacuate, and Kara flies after Coville. When Kara gets close to the obelisk, however, she realizes that it also contains kryptonite. Like, a LOT of it, because her face goes super green, super veiny, and even her eyes begin to glow. She manages to cut herself in her weakened state to prove that she’s not a god, and then all of Coville’s followers flee.

Coville has a crisis, saying he believed in her. Alex, unable to evacuate, runs down to help Kara and realizes Coville had also put a container of Kryptonian soil in the probe, which was laced with kryptonite. She throws it away, and Kara has just enough strength to laser eye the floor until it melts deep enough to drop the bomb in to explode safely. She collapses, and Alex, with Coville, managed to push it down the hole as it explodes harmlessly. Yay for Danvers Sisters saving the day!

After, Kara visits Coville in prison. She asks if Coville will tell anyone who she is. He says he “doesn’t remember” the name Kara gave him at the rec center. He tells Kara that she’s at a crossroads, and he’s convinced that Rao’s will for him is to help Kara find her balance. This isn’t his prison; it’s his salvation. He will continue to pray to Kara, but also for her. Benoist kills it again, and the look on Kara’s face is just… UGH.

This was somehow both very creepy yet affirming, and I am now uncomfortable.

All of Ruby’s awesome new aunts show up to support her at her performance. Kara sees a group of younger girls dressed like her performing a dance. Alex tells her they’re not worshipping her, they’re inspired by her. Next up is Ruby, singing “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

And the dam breaks for Alex. She can’t ignore the fact that she really wants a child. She wants to teach a child to sing, and throw a punch, and all of the other things that go along with being a parent. She rushes out of the auditorium after the song ends, and Kara runs after her. Alex knows that Maggie isn’t going to change her mind. The only way they’d work through it is if Alex lets it go.

But as much as she truly loves Maggie, she can’t let go of the dream of having a child. Chyler Leigh absolutely crushes this scene, and my poor heart can’t handle this. She breaks down proclaiming that she wants to be a mom, and the sisters embrace.

As the episode ends, we see Kara with a hologram of Alura, once again reciting prayers to Rao. We cut to J’onn kneeling to pray with his father, M’yrrn as Kara’s voice-over continues reciting the prayer. Alex crawls into bed with a sleeping Maggie, and bursts out into tears.

We end with poor Sam having more really creepy visions/flashbacks/manifestations. Oh, this is going to hurt so good. Oh, also, when Kara blasted that hole into the earth? It exploded but activated a dormant, buried Kryptonian ship. That has people inside. DUN, DUN, DUN.

Analysis

So I know this episode was primarily about Kara, but I’ve got so much to say about her that I’m going to be including it in my upcoming Thursday article about Kara’s mental health arc rather than writing about it here. Instead, I want to talk about Maggie and Alex, because we are only one episode away from the last chance I’ll have to do that.

Hello, darkness my old friend.

First, can we please get an Emmy nod for Chyler Leigh in this role? No, I am not joking. I made a joke in the season premiere recap that Supergirl is full of actors who can nail a two-minute talking-head monologue, but damn if that isn’t true. I already knew from the screencaps of Ruby’s recital that this scene was going to be incredibly difficult for me to watch, and I was right. Of course, you guys know I have related much more to Maggie up until now, this episode made me take a very, very hard swing towards Alex instead.

I may get accused of harping on this, but I’m going to keep bringing it up; if you don’t find this story arc believable, I am here saying that it is to me, for the good reason that it happened to me. I had a relationship end over it, and we were nowhere near the marriage stage. And just like Alex, I tried to lie about it and convince myself that I could compromise. If you have never experienced a moment like this that ended a relationship, oh my sweet summer children… Do not plan on getting lucky.

I can personally attest to knowing what it’s like to love someone so much, you are willing to compromise a core value to keep them. I can also tell you that definitely didn’t work out. At least, I am 0 for 3 on this, so I can say with reasonable assurance that this is not a good path to pursue. That big, swelling sensation I’m feeling in my chest right now isn’t heartburn, it’s validation. I need this show. Yes, I’m sad to be losing Maggie Sawyer, but I still have Alex Danvers. Considering what I went through last year, I need Alex Danvers, and I suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Is Maggie’s departure going to hurt? Oh yes. But this show knows how to do that well, as it demonstrated tonight by having the gee-dee nerve to use the Jeff Buckley* version of “Hallelujah” in the closing montage. It’s going to be insanely hard to write the recap next week. Hell, it’s been incredibly hard these last two weeks. But we’ll get through it. And Alex is going to be happy again, I promise.

One last thing before we go; something that Supergirl is doing very well this season is drawing parallels between their characters with such detail and specificity that we normally only see it done in fanfiction. Having Lena comfort Sam because Lena’s mother is literally the worst person on planet Earth is not a parallel that occurred to me, but now that I’ve seen it on screen I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. The show does so much to breathe life into its universe and characters, it elevates it above many dramas that are far more realistic and far more expensive to produce.

Elizabeth’s Final Thoughts: Watching season three feels like watching a large tapestry being unfolded for the first time when you’ve only seen parts of it in pictures. The way that Kara’s backstory is being filled in as it relates to the present is an absolute treasure to watch, and I can’t wait to get into that more with you guys this Thursday. Also, I think I may have discovered my next tattoo from this episode.

Kori’s Final Thoughts: Oh man, Reign’s evolution is going to hurt. Especially when you see that Sam has found a network of super (pun intended) supportive women who have welcomed her into their family. As far as the discussion on religion goes, this episode was just fantastic. It wasn’t overly hamfisted and took the time to show you exactly why people would be inclined to worship a superhero. Seeing Kara return to her faith and having prayers with her holo-mom gutted me.

Next Week On Supergirl: we’re sure you all know what’s coming. We’ll be there crying with you! See you next Tuesday!

Editor’s Note: The version of “Hallelujah” playing was incorrectly identified as Rufus Wainwright’s version, and has been corrected.

Images courtesy of the CW

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When not working on her degree or at her actual job, Elizabeth pursues her true passion of complaining at great length about pop culture on the internet. She serves as a Managing Editor for The Fandomentals. You can find her on Tumblr, Twitter and Steam @ohemgeelizabeth

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