Supergirl’s seventh episode (“Rather the Fallen Angel”) dealt with the complexities of human nature—specifically how complicated people are, how we only often see part of them (the part they’re willing to show), and how we can carry trauma and blame ourselves for things that aren’t our fault.
Obviously, Manchester Black (David Ajala) is a difficult man, one born anew in loss and grief, who compromises himself for revenge—and it’s that desire for revenge that is so raw and relatable. Who wouldn’t want to punish the person who killed someone we love? I mean, sure, he kind of went all Punisher on the Children of Liberty folks, betraying Kara in the process, but the desire is not unfamiliar. And neither was J’onn’s keen desire to believe the best in Manchester—to still reach for the man underneath the pain. Yes, he was wrong in his optimism, his defense of his friend. But his reasons were pure and good, so when J’onn broke down at the end, it was compelling and completely effective. David Harewood has done some truly stellar, impassioned work so far this season.
I also enjoyed Tom and Jimmy’s storyline, specifically how Tom (Steve Byers) was reachable. The show made it clear that not all hateful zealots are saveable. In fact, most of them aren’t. Most of them are cowardly assbags, wearing masks and not picking a fair fight. But Tom? Tom isn’t a lost cause. And Jimmy goes out on a limb to save his life: “But what is reputation? What is it? It is nothing. … Agent Liberty can do whatever he wants with my reputation. I know who I am.” That was a solid moment for Jimmy, and I found myself considering the idea of reputation. To quote the indominable Peggy Carter, “I know my value.” Jimmy does too, and I like the notion of doing the right thing and not caring what people think. Not the easy thing, not the convenient thing—the brave thing that might look crazy from the outside.
It was also nice to see Jimmy and Kara have another one of their classic heart-to-heart chats near the close of the episode. The actors still shine so brightly in those moments, and I find them much more meaningful than his with Lena. Don’t get me wrong: I love Lena a stupid amount. But I’m far more interested in Science Lena than I am in her dating life.
Speaking of Dr. Kiernan, that storyline with Adam was stellar. Michael Johnston was everything he should’ve been: complex, funny, real, and oddly earnest. I enjoyed the connection he had with Lena, the rapport they developed over such a short time, and the way they were vulnerable with each other. That vulnerability was remarkably interesting. It’s easy to be vulnerable with someone where their might not be any consequences. Adam doesn’t know her real name (How? HOW?), but he manages to connect with Lena on a fascinating level (“I live with risk every day. … The risk I’d be taking is worth it to me. And you are a good person. … So you made one very human mistake when you were practically a baby, that is not your fault. … Please let me do something good.”). And while she eventually relents and stops using his subject number, it’s not like they wove friendship bracelets for each other. So, Lena can put that armor down she’s always wearing and let herself be vulnerable. But she can’t seem to do that with Jimmy, when it would have more meaning. I think that are a lot of people like that, who keep their walls up for fear of losing that control. But in reality, all that does is keep you small, not safe.
Even though the experiment with Adam failed, it was interesting to note that Lena considered it a success. She gleaned knowledge from it, not just grief from his loss. I think part of what Lena learned was about herself. Perhaps she can forgive herself for the trauma she went through as a child, instead of carrying it with her like an albatross.