Supergirl Season 3 Reviews: Episode 10, “Legion of Superheroes”
Supergirl is officially back from winter hiatus! Well, for four weeks. Then it’s going back on hiatus until April and Legends of Tomorrow will take its slot in the meantime. So y’all get Kori on recaps and Elizabeth on analysis through June, and the CW gets to keep playing Tetris with its schedule. But enough of that, let’s get to the episode.
Oooooh boy. So the last time we left Kara, she’d had her butt handed to her on a silver platter courtesy of Reign. In “Legion of Superheroes” she’s still down for the count. Well, down in her apartment loft. We get our first introduction to Brainy (a.k.a Querl Dox, a.k.a. Brainiac 5) who is part organic being, part AI and is currently checking in on Kara to twig her in on the fact that she’s in a coma. We get a delightful little scene of Kara getting worked up because she can’t get out, and Brainy cutting back to reality and informing everyone that “Kara’s brain activity is fine, but she’s very angry.”
I love Brainy (Jesse Rath,) Doc Brown hairpiece notwithstanding. I was worried that they would play him completely cold, and we’d get another offensive autistic-coded nerd character on television. I worried about nothing. Brainy is incredibly intelligent, but Rath plays him with a warmth and openness that could have been far too easy to cut out. He’s a little dry, but that’s just his personality.
Many of his moments with Kara are delightful, between his wry humor and the fact that he listens to Kara work her way through her entrapment. He affirms her struggles, but offers a new perspective, or encourages her. As someone who has read far too many Supergirl comics, I’ve been waiting to hopefully get a Querl/Kara ship since the show started. If they’re going down that road, this is a great first step as far as showing a potential dynamic of how those two would work. Even if the ship isn’t your thing, he’s very reminiscent of Mass Effect’s EDI in mannerism and sense of humor, so if you liked EDI, you’ll really like Brainy.
Also, my heart broke with the Streaky Easter egg and that Kara spent all that timing learning to control herself so that she could safely pet a cat. Of course, she would, Kara you precious floofball, you.
Anyways, while Querl and Kara work on reconciling Kara’s humanity, Reign is running amok in National City.
While Mon-El is willing to wake Querl up to help Kara, he’s not willing to risk his team’s lives fighting Reign. Apparently, there’s a big bad in the future hellbent on destroying everything, and the Legion’s DNA holds the secret to stopping it. Which, okay? You have Brainy who is literally a perfect blend of organic and AI and y’all can’t figure out how to store DNA? Sure.
Alex and the DEO set a trap for Reign without them, using a protocol with the codename “Sundown.” Appropriate, considering it was a containment protocol for Superman, originally. Alex & Co. stage a bank robbery, ski masks and all, to draw Reign and her puritanical justice crusade out. It works, and THAT’S how you Red Sun grenade someone! Score one for the DEO!
Well, it doesn’t exactly last, and Reign gets away, but not before snapping Alex’s tibia. Ouch. Now we default back to the Legion, and Imra (who I am liking more and more) quotes Bon Jovi at Mon-El and tells him they have to help. Mon-El apparently got them all on a Bon Jovi kick, and this would be the type of stuff that survives a millennium of cultural progression. Of course, it’s gonna be “It’s My Life” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
But before we go straight to the big battle, let’s diverge into Guardiancorp.
Long story short, James and Lena dance around each other this episode in a will they/won’t they pick up where they left off from last time. Lena shows up in a rather lovely dress and James appears to shoot her down, but eventually admits he definitely noticed a spark. Lena, being Lena, needs to go over to Kara’s immediately to Process. James has only a few moments to come up with a reason why Kara can’t see Lena, and he settles on “she has the flu.” Unfortunately, James forgot that Luthors don’t get sick, and Lena sets off immediately to bring soup to her ailing friend. Looks like we need an extra Kara to fool Lena, which means my favorite running gag in the series is about to make a triumphant return.
J’onn having to impersonate Kara is a riot to watch Melissa Benoist play every single time, and this one is no exception. Lena drops by to check in and then starts talking about kissing James to J’onn disguised as Kara. Benoist can handle the heavier scenes like a pro, and she’s a delight to watch as a sunny, adorable Kara Danvers, but it’s always nice to see her comedic chops stretched a bit to play J’onn in this scenario. Also, poor J’onn. Despite the awkwardness, he perseveres and offers some sound advice. Space Dad saves the day once again!
After all of that is said and done, James and Lena finally work it out and appear to be back on track… without Lena knowing Kara is Supergirl. Yo, this is gonna come back and bite all y’all in the ass eventually. The longer it goes on, the harder she’s going to take it.
Moving on! Alex talks to Kara as the Legion suit up and flash their rings, of which I will from now on refer to as their “calling for Captain Planet” pose.
On a more serious note, Alex is devastated and is blaming herself for telling Kara to go fight Reign. Chyler Leigh, as per usual, kills it and I just want to give both sisters a hug.
Back to the showdown! Imra sure has her superhero entrance on lock. I can’t tell if they’re completely throwing out her telepathy powers in favor of telekinesis, but it is fun to watch her throw a large set of weights at Reign like they’re skeet shooting. It reminded me of the first X-Men film with Jean Grey, though I’m not sure it was intentional. Then we see Mon-El and, I’m sorry. How is he their leader? What kind of tactical move is that? Who rushes up to their enemy head-on and directly in their line of sight instead of flanking them? Reign, of course, sees him and nearly freezes him solid if not for Imra managing to shield him. Granted, he’s now in an ice sphere he can’t punch out of, and Reign punches Imra into next week, but that’s okay! Why?
She flies out and uses the kryptonite against them both, managing to stab Reign in the neck with it and forcing her to retreat. Kara and Mon-El have a moment, and it looks like they finally might be on the road to closure.
We get more Danvers sisters bonding time, as Alex and Kara drink wine on the couch and basically revel in the fact they’re both alive and will be okay.
Elsewhere, we find out that Reign has siblings, and we end with her going to Thomas Coville to find out where they are. Uh oh.
It’s a new year so let’s shake up the format a bit and start with a critique for a change.
While Kori is a level 12 comic book nerd, especially when it comes to the Legion of Super-Heroes, I am an enthusiastic (but ultimately filthy) casual when it comes to superhero knowledge.
Anyway. The Legion of Super-Heroes. I don’t like to throw around words like ‘super lame,’ but that fight scene was super lame. I actually can’t quite put my finger on what was so lame about it, but the fact that it started with a Bon Jovi song did not help its case one bit.
Full disclosure, I don’t like Guardians of the Galaxy or the specific brand of nostalgia it excels at. This reminded me a bit of that aesthetic, and it felt insanely out of place in Supergirl’s universe. Swing and a miss, team. This isn’t the tone you’re looking for.
It only got worse when they had Mon-El taken out of the fight so swiftly and so ridiculously. It’s no secret that I actually like Mon-El, but even I’ll admit this was hilariously bad. If the goal is to make Mon-El seem like the competent leader of a superhero team, you probably shouldn’t have him be taken out the easiest in a fight. Especially not when his companions have powers like telekinesis and the intelligence to run an entire ship combat suite while also conducting a therapy session.
It’s a shame he didn’t really get much to do this episode because his internal conflict has been nicely reversed from what it was last season. This time, he’s arguably doing what Kara would want him to do. If they know that Supergirl survives, then the logical thing to do is not take the risk of one of the Legion being killed before their mission is complete. This time around, in a way, he’s being persuaded to make the selfish choice.
Supergirl deals with this dichotomy a lot: the good of the many versus the good of the few. The thing I’ve always liked about their handling of it is that the show doesn’t stick to one answer or the other 100% of the time. Having your heroes stick to their guns no matter what doesn’t really make sense, because a hero without nuance is a hero without true sympathy and empathy. The choice that is presented to Mon-El is a nicely grey one. You could make a strong argument for both going after Reign and staying hidden. It’s not the most clever dilemma, but I like that it’s something you have to think about and justify, as opposed to there being a morally easy answer.
I feel like Kara is finally coming around full circle in her healing process, now that’s she’s experienced a heavy-handed visual metaphor for rediscovering herself. I’ve had nothing but good things to say about this arc, and I’m happy to say that’s continued into this second half of the season. A breakup, regardless of the context, messes with your sense of self and your own perception of where ‘you’ end and where your partner began.
No matter how good the parting, everyone must go through this period of adjustment. As Kara lost Mon-El in far more dire circumstances, this process was much more involved and much more difficult. There was a lot more damage and baggage to sort through before moving on. And it seems to be that this moving on is going to be permanent, though it could go either way.
I personally prefer Kara single, at least through the end of this season. Same for Alex. While I do like ships as a side dish, I can’t stand when they’re the main course of a television show. Especially when the lore of Reign has been built up so well, I’d very much prefer the show focus entirely on that for a while before even considering bringing in a new romance other than James and Lena.
Speaking of. Honestly, I’m neutral on this ship. I like how they look together on screen, I think they have good compatibility, there’s some chemistry when they’re given room to breathe on screen together, but I don’t really have a horse in this race. I’m actually relieved that the ships have taken a backseat at the midway mark of the season because the lore of Reign and the character study of Kara Danvers and Kara Zor-El is far more compelling to me than any romantic potential currently in the show. There’s time for romance, but like. Later. Right now we have to stop the Worldkiller!
And what an appropriate epithet that is. Reign is genuinely, awesomely, powerful in a way that feels almost overwhelming. While Supergirl has had some decent villains, she’s still Supergirl, so it’s hard to feel really worried that Kara & Friends aren’t going to triumph. But Reign is making mortals of us all: she took out Kara for an entire episode, she broke Alex’s leg badly enough that she’s going to be out of commission for a bit, and she played around with the Legion of Super-Heroes like they were noobs, not experienced intergalactic superheroes. In any other show, Reign would seem ridiculously overpowered, but against our girl Kara… it seems close to a fair fight.
That’s it for this week, Superfriends. I can tell from the Twitter response that this is very much a “Your Mileage May Vary” episode. It’s not bad, just not great. I was definitely hoping for a stronger open coming off the hiatus but the meaty, emotional content is what matters to me, and that was the solid part of the episode. Hopefully, future fights will be more like the ones we saw in “Reign,” because Supergirl deserves better than the snoozefest of a punch-up in this episode. See you next week everyone!