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Supergirl Raises the Bar to New Heights in Exodus

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 15, “Exodus”

So, Elizabeth and Gretchen love you all very much because they both just got back from ClexaCon (WOO! It was amazing!), and they’re still doing a Supergirl review for you, despite running on nothing but caffeine and post-convention adrenaline. And for this episode? You’re most definitely welcome. Best episode of 2B by a landslide.

Quick Recap

You know Supergirl is back to being on point when an episode opens with a police officer pulling over a family with the highly situationally coded excuse of ‘you have a broken taillight.’ Clearly, this is a ruse, as a black van pulls up and the entire family gets taken away in handcuffs. At the DEO, Team Super discusses the uptick of alien kidnappings by Cadmus, which includes Mon-El wondering what Cadmus wants with them (um, dude, they hate aliens; what do you think they want?). J’onn declares Jeremiah an enemy combatant, to be arrested on sight. To get the news out about the kidnappings, Kara declares she will get an article on the front page of CatCo. At the media empire’s headquarters, Snapper vehemently disagrees. He demands Kara provide a secondary source for Supergirl’s quotes. She offers instead to set him up for an exclusive interview with Supergirl.

At the bar, Maggie beats Alex at pool; Alex is worried about the DEO finding her dad, who she still believes in despite everything (oh honey). Winn and Lyra are absolute dorks about Dune (omg Gretchen loves this so much), and James(!) can’t get a word in edgewise but is clearly thrilled for his friend finding a nice girlfriend. Cadmus agents bust into the bar, and Alex, Maggie, Lyra, and James fight them off. Cadmus manages to get away with Lyra and another alien, but Guardian takes one of them captive. Back at the DEO, Winn (justifiably) stresses out. J’onn (conveniently) can’t read the Cadmus agent’s thoughts, so Alex decides to beat him up in his cell until J’onn drags her away.

Snapper interviews Kara, but he’s unhappy that she won’t tell him about the DEO. He kills the story until Kara (and Supergirl) can give him more to go on. Jeremiah comes to Alex to ask for her help against Cadmus; she reluctantly agrees, but it turns out, it was J’onn testing her allegiance (we’re conflicted about this choice). At Cadmus headquarters, Lillian quotes Nietzsche to validate her pro-human/anti-alien biases. Cadmus agents shepherd the kidnapped aliens (including Lyra and the family from the opening scene) onto an alien ship. Meanwhile, Kara sides with J’onn’s decision to suspend Alex, but Maggie supports Alex’s decision to protect Jeremiah.

Kara runs into Lena at CatCo, who encourages her to blog her report about the alien abductions since she can’t use official channels. Lena also agrees to help Kara fight Cadmus (again) by digging into old L Corp files. Alex and Maggie thwart an alien getting kidnapped and find the intel they need to track down Cadmus headquarters. (Good thing the black vans use GPS.) Meanwhile, Lena uncovers Cadmus’ headquarters in the files. Too bad her assistant works for Lillian and is told to ‘take care of’ Lena so long as it isn’t permanent. Alex breaks into the DEO, but Jeremiah protects her from the guards. He explains how he talked Lillian into forcefully deporting the aliens instead of killing them, which he did to prevent Kara and Alex from being hurt by Cadmus. When he tries to mansplain parenting, Alex is all:

Kara writes up her blog post. Mon-El comes home and makes an I Love Lucy joke that’s reflective of his understanding of gender roles. He encourages her to publish even if Snapper objects. Lena calls and tells Kara about Cadmus headquarters. Goons attack her; Lena tazes one, but they accidentally push her off the balcony. Kara, fortunately, rescues Lena all Superman/Lois Lane style (we’re swooning). At Cadmus, Lillian starts the ship launch, but Alex threatens to blow the place. Lillian calls her bluff, only it wasn’t one, and three bombs go off. Alex convinces Jeremiah to betray Lillian, and they tag team trying to shut down the launch. Alex frees Lyra, who frees the aliens. The ship launches anyway. Jeremiah battles Cyborg Superman, who destroys his bionic arm.

Kara struggles to stop the ship, but Alex’s belief in her from across the cockpit window gives her the strength she needs to do it. (God Damn. This scene.) James cheers on Lyra and Winn reuniting. Kara gets fired from CatCo for blogging the report on Cadmus. Alex confronts J’onn, who apologizes. They reconcile and hug (THE FEELS). Alex gets her job back, but we learn Jeremiah went missing after his fight with Cyborg Superman. Mon-El brings Kara potstickers to cheer her up. For unknown reasons, she says that being Supergirl and having him is enough, despite CatCo being her dream job since the show started (WTF). In space, Kevin Sorbo and Terri Hatcher, the king and queen of Daxam, have arrived to claim their son Mon-El. And oh noes, they have yellow sun powers too (is this a repeat of Kara fighting her family from last season?).

Best Quote: It was incredibly difficult to pick just one, but we knew it had to be a Snapper Carr quote. Literally everything he said this episode was sharply relevant, but we have to pick a winner.

“One mis-attributed quote about a candidate, and you put a fascist in the White House.”—Snapper Carr

Thoughts & Feelings

God. Damn. As we said last week, when Supergirl is good, it’s very, very good. And this week is top tier, grade A, solid gold Supergirl. It’s Elizabeth’s favorite episode of the series by far. CatCo finally found it’s voice and place in the plot (only to be dropped for a while, but we’ll come back to that). Snapper Carr alone merits all the love we can give this show. His dialogue is on point, incisive political commentary worthy of Ms. Grant herself.

We have to say, the person writing Snapper Carr has an excellent grasp of how news media works. Snapper is a good journalist and mentor, even if his actions and critiques thwart Kara’s efforts to help people. The need for two verifiable sources, the frustration over Supergirl’s caginess and lack of transparency, none of the choices he makes in opposition to Kara can be faulted in their logic and consistency with good journalistic practice. He’s not an antagonist so much as an obstacle, and a very well written one. This, at least, makes more sense than some of the other obstacles and objections to helping people Kara has faced, like, ‘don’t go looking for trouble’ or ‘take a day off from superheroing’ or ‘everyone distrusts Lena because of her last name.’

It just goes to show what wasted potential this season has been for CatCo. Snapper makes a compelling obstacle for Kara’s internal war between the desire to help and the desire to be a good reporter. He pushes her without insulting or undermining her. He challenges her preconceived notions of how best to help and forces her to see new angles. And Snapper has some of the best-written dialogue this season. In this episode alone, we get such gems as:

“I’m a journalist, we believe everyone is lying until we can prove they’re not.”
“She told parts. It’s not a journalist’s job to cherry pick which bits gets shown and which bits don’t. We show everything. ‘A halber emez iz a gantzer leegen’… as my grandmother used to say in the shtetl: a half truth is a whole lie. The American public deserves to know the truth, Danvers, and until you can provide me with more than just an edifice source, the story is DOA.”
“The rules are there for a reason, to make sure you get the story right, that’s not luck, that’s being a good reporter. You know what the worst part is? I was rooting for you.”

At the same time, it bears mentioning that Snapper’s motivations for which news stories he runs sometimes conflict. He’s not willing to incite panic over the kidnappings without proof. Fair enough. But, at the same time, he was willing to blackball Lena Luthor just because it’s what everyone else was saying? Granted, these aren’t equivalent situations by any means. But still. A man with what seems to be his business and news sense ought to have known better than to immediately smear Lena without it being proved in a court of law. She’s a powerhouse CEO and not a good enemy for a media company to make without definitive proof.

He walks a fine line with his attitude toward journalism. On the one hand, he decries ‘fake news’ (and thus how our own president talks about the media). On the other, his comments about what good journalism is subtly pokes holes in the actual problems with media. It’s ridiculously clever and leaves us scratching our heads with what the past several episodes have been doing with the writing. Once again, we ask why did we not get more of this since the hiatus. We are thrilled that the political commentary and meta about fake news is being included now, but it really needed to be a more consistent theme of the season. They didn’t drop the ball completely, but it popped out of their hands for a bit before they caught it again.

Above all, the struggle between helping people and doing so in a way consistent with well researched, honest journalistic practice would have made a compelling backdrop to the political commentary, which we got a lot of this episode. We saw what you did there with having Lillian Luthor quoting Nietzsche, Supergirl, and we very much appreciate it. Seeing the line of aliens being herded onto the ship like cattle was a haunting visual, and a bold one; the show is making sure that you never forget for a second that this plot is paralleling both historical and current events. It is neither heavy handed nor preachy; it’s simply powerful. There is a level of awareness and care to this that precious few pieces of genre fiction manage to get right. We can’t say we’re entirely happy with how the alien rights plot has been paced out across the season and how CatCo has taken the far back seat to less impactful story elements, but this episode was definitely a humongous step towards what we wanted from these plotlines.

One last note before we move on to Kara’s future as a journalist: it cannot possibly be a simple coincidence that a Nietzsche quote and a Yiddish one appeared in the same episode. All things considered with our current political climate, bold move Supergirl. Keep being brave. Kara would be proud.

Alright, moving on. We have to talk a little bit about the weird ending to this episode regarding Kara’s reaction to being fired. CatCo has been one of the most important elements of Kara Danvers’ life since the show began. Kara’s choice to become a reporter at the beginning of this season stemmed from Cat Grant’s challenge that she “Look inward, and figure out what Kara Danvers needs to do with her life”. Being a reporter seemed to be what “figuring out what it means to be Kara” was all about. Heck, it’s one of the reasons Kara broke up with James. CatCo represents something Kara can do to help people, rather than always relying on her Kryptonian powers.

“Supergirl is what I can do, Kara is who I am. I really loved that job.”

For her to turn around and tell Mon-El, “Maybe being Supergirl and having you is enough” makes absolutely zero sense. This is not Kara Danvers as we know her. She has prioritized her job as Supergirl and at CatCo over not one, but two male love interests. That job has been just as important (if not more so) to her that being Supergirl since the show started. But now she’s fine not having it because of a boy? Whoever this is, it isn’t Kara Danvers. Once again, Mon El’s arc (i.e., maximizing their connection leading up to the discovery of his lies) seems to be prioritized over Kara’s character motivations.

It’s not that this development is entirely implausible in theory. People do change their minds about careers all the time, even careers that they firmly and deeply believe are their calling in life. Elizabeth’s gone through it twice herself. The idea that you need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life in your early twenties is absolutely absurd; you barely know yourself, and you’re not done growing up yet. You could (and probably will) be a completely different person at 26 than you were at 22. Hell, you’ll probably be a completely different person at 26 than you were at 24, or maybe even 25.

A bit of life advice from us: your twenties are often going to be every bit as dramatic as your teen years, just in a different way. This is an important message to send to young people, especially young women, but that isn’t what Supergirl seems to be trying to do here. If that was the intended message, the delivery method is severely kneecapping it. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s some of the weakest writing in the show by far.

But you know what has been (mostly) well written? The parallels between the Danvers’ sisters arcs, which were on full display this episode. Alex’s single-minded belief in Jeremiah mirrored Kara’s belief in Lena in 2×12. Alex’s suspension, though brief, echoed Kara being fired from CatCo, an event which we hope will be resolved by the end of the season. Perhaps this explains the otherwise out of character choice to have Alex encourage Kara to take a chance on romance so soon after she had. Though we still think that scene doesn’t make sense for Alex given what she knows of Mon-El up to that point.

Likewise, Kara’s reaction to J’onn testing Alex further highlighted the wedge we’ve seen growing between the sisters since episode two. Kara disagrees with J’onn’s methods, but sides with him against Alex the way Alex sided with J’onn in “Luthors” over Lena. Maggie sides with Alex just as Mon-El sided with Kara. Alex convinces Jeremiah to turn against Lillian just as Kara has done with Lena. The writers are drawing the sisters along on parallel arcs that are, at the same time, isolated from each other.

We have hope, though that the wedge will be resolved, at least more hope than we did after last week’s episode. The scene where Kara stopped the ship from leaving the atmosphere fucking killed us. It was A+ punch you in the face Danvers sisters feels dialed up to a million. The music, Kara’s muted screaming, Alex’s wholesale belief in Kara, the sister, bonding, the hand touching. God fucking damn. That was “Better Angels” levels of pathos, and we’re still not over it.

This episode also featured the best use of Mon-El since 2A. He works best on the fringes, making dumb jokes because he doesn’t know Earth customs or language well and being supportive of Kara. The persistent questioning, not listening, insulting Kara and her choice to be a hero was getting old. Though we will admit that the change in his behavior seems conveniently placed to maximize Kara’s pain when she learns he’s been lying.

We have to mention that Kara and Lena did not get any less romantically sub-textual when they interacted this episode. They have such an effortless relationship that the previous weaknesses with Mon-El continue to stand out. They had a ‘date’ lined up to try a ‘fermentation place,’ then Lena gives Kara advice she immediately listens to. Lena immediately agrees to help Kara without any hesitation and offers to do Kara ‘one better’ and go above and beyond. Kara bites her lip at Lena like Lena did in “Crossfire.” When Lena says, “what are friends for?” Kara blushes. Seriously. WTF. Kara rarely ever acts this way with Mon-El, and definitely not this consistently. To top it off there’s Kara rescuing Lena all Superman style for the second, nay third, time since the show started. Lena fits all the beats of a Super/human romantic arc, so we can’t help but love Supercorp even more.

We swooned right off our chairs.

Finally, we need to talk about Alex in this episode. We’ve been saying since the start of season two that Alex has gotten a shockingly large amount of character development and screen time, and this episode was truly the cherry on top of that arc thus far. While it’s true that Kara has been a bit sidelined in her own television show, we don’t mind this if it’s for the sake of highlighting Alex. Over half this episode’s screen time was given to Alex and her story arc, and it really shines a spotlight on how Alex is truly the second protagonist of the show, not just a supporting character.

The writers have said before that Alex Danvers could carry her own show, and we believe it. This episode was overwhelmingly about Alex, building upon the strong foundation that the writers have spent an entire season establishing for her. And it should be about Alex, because Jeremiah is Alex’s father; while Kara is part of this arc, it is Alex’s story, and she deserves to be forefronted in her own narrative. This may sound like kind of a ‘duh’ statement, but when you sit down and think about it, what Supergirl has done with Alex as a queer protagonist is absolutely groundbreaking.

It’s not often that the queer characters in a show get to be the stars, and even when they are the star of the show a lot of times, their queerness isn’t forefronted. It’s often only present in the narrative in the sense that we will see a romance arc, but for all intents and purposes, many queer characters on television don’t read as queer when viewed outside of the context of their overtly queer interactions. The best kind of queer characters are ones where you can tell that they’re queer without them saying it to the camera or angsting over the drama of it all. Alex Danvers is not a character who happens to be queer; she is a queer character. This might seem like we’re arguing semantics, but we aren’t. Her identity is inseparable from her character arc, it is always present within her character arc, and most importantly of all; it is done well.

Alex’s queerness does not begin and end with her coming out arc; in fact, her coming into herself via her relationship with Maggie is a separate arc in itself. And this aspect of Alex’s character is so deeply intertwined with her story. When you see her and Maggie interact, regardless of the scene, you know they’re a couple. Some of this is acting choices, and of course, Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima just knock every aspect of these characters out of the park. But it is also palpable in the scripting and the directing. Alex is the kind of gay you can see from space, and it actually doesn’t have all that much to do with kisses and handholding. It’s something that’s intangible and difficult to explain, but Alex and Maggie feel so real. And that is so incredibly important to us.

So why are we bringing this up now? Well, because what they do with Alex and Maggie in this episode is really, truly unprecedented. We just don’t get to see wlw women do what Alex and Maggie do in this episode. First of all, Alex is participating in a lot of classic hero tropes that are almost exclusively reserved for men. She’s a real renegade Shepard in this episode, encompassing many of the Cowboy Cop-esque tropes that are so rarely applied to women in fiction. Alex is no stranger to questionable tactics to get what she wants (like trapping a man under a barstool while trying to track down Maggie), but in this episode, everything was amplified because of her personal connection to the case. Her judgment is compromised because she’s too close to the issue. She’s willing to do whatever it takes, including beating an enemy captive and going rogue, to save Jeremiah. She’s even asked to turn in her badge, for Rao’s sake!

And then, as if that wasn’t enough icing on the cake, Maggie is 100% Team Ride or Die with her girlfriend. We know that Maggie is a good cop if a bit by-the-books compared to Alex. But if there’s one thing this episode taught us, it’s that when the cards are on the table, Maggie Sawyer suits up for battle. This is something that is core to who Maggie is as a character. She may not be getting quite the level of direct development that we’d like, but what’s there is rock solid. Maggie gets Alex, and that’s why she agreed to help her get Jeremiah without a second of hesitation, and also why she let Alex go forward alone when she needed to.

It’s fascinating that this episode features Maggie and Alex communicating so well, as that has easily been the biggest stumbling block for their relationship, and it’s something that they’ve been working on together across the entirety of season two. Where Kara’s relationship with Mon-El often feels like it goes in circles as far as establishing boundaries and vocalizing needs, Maggie and Alex improve their communication skills with each episode. They are visibly growing not just for each other, but with each other. This is how things are supposed to work in a healthy relationship. It’s unusual to see that on a television show, and doubly so with a queer couple. It’s not just that Alex and Maggie are growing together; they’re growing together on screen.

We also cannot shut up about Alex getting the action hero kiss in this episode. This is one of those many moments that we are so sick of seeing in heterosexual contexts, but it feels fresh and crisp when integrated into a wlw storyline. It was so effortlessly placed after the action sequence where Maggie and Alex save Brian (who hopefully has finally learned his lesson about gambling) that it almost takes you aback. They just. Exist. Together. As a couple. A couple that telegraphs the fact that they’re a couple regardless of whether they’re kissing on screen or not. Romantic chemistry is all well and good, but this is far more than that. Once again, it just feels so so real, and it’s such an incredible thing to come home to post-ClexaCon.

The cure for the post-convention blues.

Randomness

  • The moments where the alien features flashed across the family’s was very similar to what happens to the Wessen characters on Grimm (like, eerily so, according to Gretchen).
  • We all know Maggie only beat Alex at pool because Alex is distracted by her dad. Also, we love that they continue to bet on things (dinner, a bottle of scotch, and a flash grenade…Maggie is so cute.)
  • Where does James store his Guardian suit that he can get it on that quickly? The suspension of disbelief works better with Kara and Kal because they’re superhumanly fast. James is not. Unless he has a team to sew him into the costume like an old school ballerina, there’s no way he’s pulling off those quick changes.
  • Where was Kara after Cadmus took Lyra? Why was she not called to the DEO?
  • Alex’s “I’ll get her back” to Winn killed us. Brotp.
  • Jewish Snapper Carr confirmed! It’s been kind of a headcanon of ours, so it’s nice to see that confirmed.
  • Ha ha, Dean Cain’s Jeremiah Danvers is ‘the only Superman we need.’
  • The way Lena says “What did mother do now?” kills us.
  • Maggie using Alex’s gun? HOT.
  • Wait, so if Alex’s gun has settings where it doesn’t actually kill, why couldn’t she just take Jeremiah captive last episode?
  • Yay Supergirl freeze breath!
  • Lightspeed never fails to make us think of Star Wars.
  • Lyra x Winn x James might be Gretchen’s new OT3 for this show.
  • Disappointed dad Snapper hurts us deeply.
  • Even the Earth can’t handle sad Kara and has to rain in sympathy.
  • That Bridal Carry.

In Conclusion

The pacing this episode exceeded our expectations. We were literally biting our nails/hugging our stuffed animals during the final showdown at Cadmus. Action and dialogue blended seamlessly, and the CGI was some of the best we’ve seen all season. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if we have seen less of Kara’s freeze breath/J’onn’s phasing thus far so that the studio could save their budget for the rest of the action scenes this episode. It definitely paid off this episode. The ship launch scene between Alex and Kara alone is worth the budgetary restrictions seen in other episodes.

The choreography was likewise excellent. The fight scene at the bar, though dark, showcased our favorite kickass Alex. The teamwork between her, Maggie, and James highlights how well James as Guardian could work as a consultant for the DEO rather than a vigilante. We appreciate the turnaround at the end of that sequence where Alex goes after Lyra, then Maggie after Alex, then Guardian showing up to help them both. The Guardian is at his best in situations like these: backup or on the spot defense when Kara is unavailable or doesn’t know what’s going on.

Speaking of James, he’s back! Though he was weirdly absent from the CatCo scenes, we do love him as team wingman for Winn x Lyra. Which, by the way, is freaking adorable. They’re the dorkiest couple ever, and we love them so much. Nerding out over Dune, Winn trying not to gush to James. Fuck, just the way Winn looks at Lyra when she walks away to get drinks makes us weak in the knees. The way he worries about her, and is so happy to be reunited? And how wonderfully refreshing to see Lyra fighting for herself and Winn being the character to fight Cadmus the least. We love the gender-flipped dynamic of their relationship.

Overall, this episode was one of, if not the best from this half of the season. To the point that it leaves us begging the question, who has been at the wheel the past six episodes? Everything was pitch perfect and proved our faith in this show was justified. But still, what happened from the hiatus until now? The more we think about it, the more it seems like a Mon-El detour to make the inevitable discovery of his lies hurt Kara that much more. And yet, they still failed due to poor character development and lack of growth. Kara and Mon El’s relationship still feels forced and nonsensical, so regardless of the strives to course correct the plot this episode her hurt due to learning he lied will still feel unearned.

Supergirl has the week off next week, so tune in March 20th for Kara yelling at Mon-El about lying/part one of the musical crossover, “Star-Crossed”!


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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