Supergirl’s season 4 premiere (“American Alien”) was pretty excellent. There was more to cheer about than not, even though the show tackled some difficult, relevant social issues. I mean, Kara was forced to confront her privilege, since she can “pass” for human. That was no small deal, and I loved that Alex reminded her to listen to J’onn, instead of be defensive. The sister talks? Always my favorite.
Speaking of Alex, I love her as the new head of the DEO. First of all, Chyler Leigh looks flawless—a beautiful badass. Second of all, she kicks all the ass ever, which always makes me cheer. And it was nice for her to get recognition for her efforts from another strong woman, President Marsdin (the ever-so-fabulous Lynda Carter). That was a really nice moment. But I also enjoyed Alex’s interactions with Brainy (Jesse Rath). I’ll be honest: I was skeptical of the Winn/Brainy swap, because I love Jeremy Jordan. Winn is an awesome character. I didn’t think the change would work well, but it did. The transition was pretty flawless, even if Brainy had to dress like a low-rent Mr. Rogers wrapped in bad 90s flannel (sorry, not sorry—Winn was not a fashion aficionado, as much as I adored him). The conversation Alex and Brainy had was pretty compelling, and I think we’ve all been Brainy before: trying to please, but not getting it right, despite the effort. It was a very human moment.
Obviously, dangerous politics abound in this episode, illuminated by Boris and Natasha—sorry, Mercy and Otis (Robert Baker). Rhona Mitra makes for a compelling villain, especially when she delivered the chilling line, “What can I say? I love my country.” That was every zealot, hiding under the cloak of righteousness, while wallowing in the muck. It illustrated the way bad people can feverishly believe they’re doing good things, working for a good cause, while they’re really just sowing hate, discord, and more than light treason. The online hate group, the isolationism (“earth first”), the chat rooms—Kara was shocked to know the members are just like the people she saved. The ordinary nature of Mercy and Otis’ names also underscores this reality.
And I think that’s a very important moment. Villains and hatemongers don’t always look like a classic antagonist. They don’t saunter in wearing a black hat, while evil piano music plays. No, they look like your neighbor, your violin teacher, your barista, your uncle. And that’s terrifying, because they’re basically Hydra agents, innocent-seeming, but awful. When Kara comes to that realization (which eventually leads her to apologize to J’onn), it’s devastating: “I thought that we were in a better place. … Trying to unite such a dividing world, ah, it’s overwhelming.” And it is overwhelming, but J’onn gives a perfect pep talk about beacons of hope and standing up. I don’t know about you, but I certainly needed that.
Speaking of pep talks, Kara mentoring Nia (a charming and adorkable Nicole Amber Maines) is perfect, right down to how Kara has now become Cat. I DO wish we got to see more of Kara pitching articles and hustling, but I did enjoy her scenes with Jimmy. They work best in that friendship/supporting dynamic. I’m concerned about his relationship with Lena, only because I think he’ll be mad to know she went behind his back/against his wishes to help get his case dropped. There’s something uneasy about Lena, something sharp and ruthless (using her mother, a formidable Brenda Strong—love the chess symbolism again). I hope they’re not building to a fever pitch of Full Villain, but time will tell.
One final note: I found myself surprisingly sad that Sam has gone off to Metropolis. I’m glad that they filled the audience in instead of left everyone hanging (*cough* Maxwell Lord *cough*), but I hope we’ll see Odette Annabelle back some day. She was nothing short of brilliant.
Until next week, nerds!