Supergirl’s fifth episode (“Parasite Lost”) had some really great moments. J’onn becomes an alien detective! We get to see Kara in action as a reporter—and mentoring! Brainy gets drunk and has the hangover cure abilities we mortals can only dream about! The twist at the end with Haley (April Parker Jones) being a godawful racist was truly, truly excellent. I mean, overt racists are easy to point a finger at and say, “No, nazi bad.” But it’s the ones who are subtle, good-seeming, even kind that throw you through a tailspin. My heart grew three sizes, seeing Alex defend J’onn. And oh my god, someone give Chyler Leigh an Emmy for everything she can convey with a look and a shift in stance. Brilliant.
Now, that said, the episode was a bit haphazard, narratively speaking. I feel like the show is struggling to give everyone screen time, while weaving the storylines together. But we don’t sit with any of the new characters long enough for us to truly get invested. I would’ve liked to have heard about Amadei (Adam Levy) in an earlier episode, for instance. (I did enjoy his earnestness, though: “I see what is happening to our country. … To lead as an example to others, I must be seen. … But it is my greatest wish to heal the human heart.”) And I wish we could’ve cared about Jensen (Anthony Konechny) before he slipped to the dark side. I mean, why did he remove the stone and essentially kill himself? We don’t quite know. Aside, that is, from Alex’s stellar speech: “But don’t let that fear define who you are. … I still see that agent I’m proud to call my colleague. … Surrender now and you will save everyone in here.”
I do appreciate Lena coming to terms with the depth of hate in the world. Lena, who is an intelligent, strong woman can still be blind to what she hasn’t experienced herself (a good example of white privilege). But seeing Ben at the gathering, along with someone who seems reasonable morph into a xenophobe—well, I think it was an important shift for her character. And a staunch reminder that nice is different than good. Sometimes, the villain is someone you work with, someone with a nice smile and a good reputation.
The argument could be made that Ben is such a person. He seems charming enough, when he isn’t doing his best frothy NOPE-fest of hate speech on the internet. His snide, seething haughtiness is interesting, though, when he addresses Jimmy: “Far be it for James Olsen to listen to an opinion that is not his own.” That’s always the argument from those trying to spread hate—that you owe them both your time and attention. Jimmy does the smart thing, refusing to engage, walking away: “And you forgot the part where people like me walk away. … You will not lay this at my feet.” Here’s the thing about harmful ideologies: if you engage them, you’re giving them a chance to sway you. You’re giving that hate validation. It’s smarter and simpler to just say, “Not today, Satan.” Plus, nothing makes hate-mongers so furious as losing an audience. Try it. It’s fun.
Where was I? Right, one final thing: I ship Nia and Brainy so much. I mean, she got visibly flustered when she saw him at the Random Rooftop Brunch. And he was awkward and more than mildly charming (despite the stalkery vibe of wtf): “You told me to find you, not call you.” I love how ridiculously to-the-letter he can be, and I look forward to him loosening up a bit. Perhaps with Nia’s help.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out where I can get J’onn’s fedora