Choices and Family on SUPERGIRL

Supergirl’s 13th episode (“For the Girl Who Has Everything”) had a surprising amount of emotional weight for a story about a symbiotic plant monster. (Maxwell Lord called it a “messed-up daffodil,” but it looked more like an evil rose octopus to me.) Kara, in a sort of coma, wakes up on Krypton—with everything she ever wanted: her family. It’s a dangerous temptation. At first, she fights the illusion, but eventually she gives in to the Black Mercy (aka evil octopus flower). In life, people often fall into complacency, convince themselves that they are happy. Kara, after so much loss and so much struggle, gives in to this alternate reality.


Alex, Winn, and Jimmy (can I start calling them the Trio? Or is that too Buffy?) find Kara passed out on her floor, bring her to the DEO, and fail at forcibly pulling the Black Mercy off of her. If that weren’t bad enough, Captain Evil (sorry, Non) is wild-eyed crazy over the next phase of Myriad (it involves tapping into Maxwell Lord’s satellites under the cover of a crazy solar storm). As far as evil villain plans go, I don’t think it’s quite Spectre-level menacing. But he and Astra butt heads about who’s more committed to world domination—sorry, “saving” the earth—and I’m rather disappointed she never punched him in the face and told him to kneel.

At CatCo, Operation Cover for Kara goes hilariously wrong on two levels. Winn is the worst liar ever, by which I mean he’s basically me: he babbles on about Kara not being in work because she got bit by a monster tick, looking a lot like Sally in Practical Magic. Cat spends most of this episode fuming, seething, and stalking away in a huff. And of all people, Hank (disguised as Kara) saunters in to do damage control so Kara doesn’t lose her job. I literally mean saunters, because Melissa Benoist changes her walk so artfully and does such a stellar job of pretending to be Hank pretending to be Kara, including several over-the-top apologies and crocodile tears. After a hilarious Hamilton reference by Cat, Hank slinks away muttering, “That woman makes me miss my alien prison.” SNORT.

Meanwhile, Alex (Chyler Leigh can crack your heart like nobody’s business) is wracked with guilt, and she interrogates the hologram of Allura with such naked desperation. In that moment, Alex is every person who has come dangerously close to losing a loved one, running through every what-if involuntarily. The hologram cannot help her—but Astra can. She shows up at the apartment, talks her way into Alex’s temporary trust, and explains that Kara must reject the fantasy herself. Because walking away from perfection and paradise is so easy, right?

With a “the enemy of my enemy” speech, Alex enlists Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli is delightfully charming and witty in this episode; maybe his love of Dr. Pepper has swayed me) to ramp up the DEO’s virtual-reality headset so that she can enter Kara’s mind. Alex wakes up in Krypton, ends up in handcuffs, and pleads passionately for Kara to remember who she is. To remember her friends on Earth: “Life isn’t perfect. I know it can be hard, it can be grueling. Especially for you. You have sacrificed and you have lost so much. … This…isn’t real. And deep down, Kara, deep down—you know it. I can’t promise you a life without pain and loss, because pain is a part of life. It’s what makes us who we are. It’s what makes you a hero. … Kara, I can’t choose this for you. You have to choose it yourself.”

Kara comes back to herself, fighting her way out of the fantasy. It is that choice—not her flight or her strength, which are merely traits, attributes, talents—that make her who she is, that make her a hero. Because she walked away from everything she ever wanted to stand up for what’s right, to fight for the people of earth. The sheer strength of that choice is pretty badass.

When Kara wakes up at the DEO, she doesn’t say anything for what feels like forever. At first, I assumed she was in shock, but as soon as she spoke, her anger was as fierce as it’s ever been: “Who did this to me?” It’s clear she’s devastated, but she’s also focused.

Winn is in his element, helping out the DEO using their fancy tech to uncover the fact that Myriad has something to do with Lord Tech’s satellite fields outside of town. Kara confronts (read: flying tackles) Non in an unparalleled fit of rage-grief. She’s not blind with anger. She’s not motivated by loss. Instead, the two have twined together, because she is a girl who has lost and lost and lost (“Do you have any idea what you did to me? You made me lose them again.”). And yet, despite all that, she chooses to fight. She chooses to stand up against those who would do harm. There’s something so strong and so defiant about her in this scene. Again, it isn’t Kara’s powers that make her a hero. It’s who she is. It’s how she acts and what she chooses. That’s a powerful message. It is something that makes me proud of the show.

At the same time, Alex is fighting Astra at another satellite field. She argues that Kara’s aunt has lost her edge, because she no longer believes in the war Non is waging. While Alex protested in an earlier scene that they’re not family (a big theme of the show is that family is often the people who you choose to have in your life), this is very much a familial chat. Recognition ghosts over Astra’s face and she starts to soften, right up until Hank (all J’onn J’onzz’d out—doing his level best to protect his adopted home planet; David Harewood is really excellent when is being protective) flies in and engages Astra. She nearly kills Hank, but Alex stabs her with a Kryptonite sword—because, sweet mother of mercy, this show doesn’t pull any punches with the feels.

Guys? When Kara comes to say goodbye to her dying aunt—about whom Hank lied and said he stabbed her to protect Alex, because that’s never going to come back to haunt anyone, right?—I cried. I cried a lot. The raw, honest emotion between Laura Benanti and Melissa was so open and so palpable. It was a touching, heart-ripping scene. Astra warns Kara, “Non cannot be stopped. If you stand in his way, he will kill you and those you love.” And yeah, I cried. Hell, I cried more than Non did, when he is later shown leaning over her body. Dude, grow a heart. Maybe three. Clearly, you don’t have one, and you’re full up on the psycho. Of course, we are told that Myriad is operational, so there’s more to come from the Kryptonian Misfits. (Does that make Kara Jem?)

The episode ends on a cleansing, lighthearted note that, honestly, as a viewer…I needed. Between the stuff on Hallucinated Krypton and Astra dying, this scene added some sweetness a light to balance out the tears. In this episode, we were all—as viewers—Kara. We saw just what she lost. We saw the toll that loss took on her. But we also saw what she’s managed to carve out for herself: people who have her back, no matter what. Yes, even Winn, who has been a tool. When push came to shove, everyone in her life stepped up and showed up—and that is what family is, that is what family does.

It didn’t hurt that Jimmy brought ice cream (Kara’s favorites, too) and booze. It looks like Kara and her adopted family celebrate victories like I do: splendidly, with as many calories and carbs as possible. There was, after all, also talk of potstickers.


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