So I wanted to talk about the most recent episode of Supergirl, the super-strong 2×19, which aired Monday, May 1. Below, a really short promo to get you primed for our discussion.
Some of you may recall that I fangirled the Sanvers ‘ship in another Fangirl Friday back in December. For those of you watching Supergirl on the CW, you’re probably all caught up. For those who are not, there are some good things about the show, and some not-so-good things.
One of the good things is the relationship between Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers, and detective Maggie Sawyer. Hence “Sanvers.” The ‘ship set sail toward the beginning of season 2, which is what we’re rolling through now. It’s been an uneven journey this season for this show, and there are any number of reasons for that. Most of the complaints in the fandom deal with how it seems Kara (Supergirl) has been basically backbenched in her own show and the focus has shifted to her relationship with the guy Mon-el and there are lots of complaints in the fandom about that because the relationship doesn’t seem healthy in some regards, but that’s not the convo I want to be having in this blog (though you can find others having it here, here, and here).
Other complaints are that Cat Grant (played awesomely by Calista Flockhart) is no longer appearing and she served as a really cool motivating factor for Kara at CatCo; the almost-disappearance of James, who hasn’t figured in the last few episodes; and the lack of focus on the relationship between Alex and Kara, whose sister dynamic was one of the things that anchored the show in Season 1 and provided so much good stuff to explore.
And there’s been a stretch this season in which Sanvers was barely a blip on anybody’s gaydar. The series promoted the Valentine’s Day episode heavily, suggesting that there would be a lot more Sanvers at hand, but the focus ended up being primarily on the start of the Kara/Mon-el relationship though we got a really great 40 seconds or so of a private prom date between Maggie and Alex. Still, the promotion of a Sanvers-centric Valentine’s Day episode did feel a bit like queerbaiting because all told, Sanvers got maybe 5 minutes total in the episode (2×13).
I’ve been really frustrated with a lot of the plot and character arcs in Season 2, and I’ve been wavering in watching anymore, but given that episode 2×19 is titled “Alex,” and given that the previews seemed to focus on Kara and Maggie having to literally save Alex from a really shitty situation, I decided I’d watch. I’m glad I did because this episode was so full of feels and woman-power and explorations of different relationships between the holy trinity (Kara, Maggie, Alex) that my head practically exploded. AND as if that wasn’t enough, we got a Lena Luthor side story, in which some mysterious lady is trying to get her to do a business deal. HMMMM! Ladies’ night, y’all. Just sayin’.
WARNING! YOU ARE ENTERING SPOILER TERRITORY! RIGHT AHEAD! SPOILER JUNCTION! STOP READING NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO VISIT SPOILER TOWN!
One of the coolest things that has been developing in the show is the Sanvers relationship, which currently is probably one of the healthiest relationships on TV. There have been some rough spots between them, but what’s cool is that Alex brings things up that bother her and forces Maggie to deal with some unhealthy patterns. And Maggie does. She communicates back, and watching these two strong, capable women navigate trust and vulnerability together is…hell, it gives me all the feels. I love that the show is willing to let the characters have some difficult conversations in healthy ways and come back stronger because of it. That’s reality. Relationships are work, and they require give and take and communication. But Alex and Maggie are doing the work, and it’s painful sometimes and can be hurtful, but both want to do it, even Maggie, who struggles with the whole communication thing, but watching her try and engage with Alex is…
FEELS. FEELS EVERYWHERE.
And episode 2×19 brought a whole lot of that up and it did something else — it explored the relationship between Kara and Maggie, which has, at times, been comparable to two tigers sizing each other up in a jungle clearing and honestly, it’s about time we got these two sharing screentime together to see how they work and don’t work and what they do to deal with it.
This episode was all about Kara and Maggie finding common ground to work together to save someone they both love deeply. It was, essentially, an episode about love, and what you would do for those you love.
Regarding Maggie and Kara, both can be headstrong and stubborn, both bring different skills to the table, and both are control freaks in their own ways. So when Alex ends up in a bad situation, Kara and Maggie both want to tear shit up to find her, and to steamroll over each other to do it, but they learn that these approaches aren’t always the best.
So here’s the gist of the episode. It opens with a hostage standoff at a bank. Maggie is conducting negotiations with the bad guys in the bank. She’s been doing it for hours. And then Supergirl shows up and blasts a hole right through the roof of the bank, grabs the bad guys, and does that whole “you’re welcome!” kind of thing. Maggie is not pleased. After all, Supergirl damaged property and broke one of the bad guys’ arms and Maggie pointed out that this can play against the side of law in a legal case.
The episode thus establishes this tension right at the outset between Maggie and Kara. Then it’s double-date night at Maggie’s apartment. Alex and Maggie and Kara and Mon-el having pizza. The hostage standoff comes up again and Maggie is still super salty about it and irritated with Kara and basically tells her barrelling into everything like that isn’t always the best approach.
Things get super-tense and Kara leaves with Mon-el giving Sanvers an apologetic glance before he follows her. Alex and Maggie then have a little tense moment about family and Alex, who is not taking sides, tells Maggie she’s going to go talk to Kara because she wants her to get along with Maggie. She says she probably won’t be back for the night. She gets onto the elevator and OMG CREEPY DUDE ALERT WHOOP WHOOP CREEPY DUDE ON THE ELEVATOR ALERT. Alex gives him a look, we see the doors sliding closed, and…
Cut to the next day. Maggie goes to CatCo (Kara got her job back, for those not in the know) and asks Kara if she’s heard from Maggie. Kara clearly hasn’t and Maggie says that Alex went to talk to her the night before. They both come to the realization that something bad has happened. Sure enough, Kara gets a call that shows up as “Alex” in the screen but instead, it’s a creepy altered voice and whoever it is knows Kara’s secret identity and that she has 36 hours to spring a guy named Pete Thompson out of prison or Alex dies.
Here’s the first four minutes, which includes the hostage standoff and tension-laden dinner AND creepy dude in the elevator!
We do get to see the predicament that Alex is in — she’s being held prisoner in a large glass cage. And one of the other cool things during the episode was that we get to see how resourceful Alex is while being held prisoner. Like when she breaks one of her credit cards in half and literally uses the sharp edge to DIG HER DEO TRACKING DEVICE OUT OF HER SHOULDER SO SHE CAN WIRE IT THROUGH ONE OF THE CAMERAS IN HER CELL SO WINN CAN FIND HER. This is the badassery of Alex Freaking Danvers. (Chyler Leigh, please don’t change)
At any rate, Winn helps Maggie and Kara figure out that Pete Thompson, a convicted murderer, is the father of Rick Malvern (played by a really good David Hoflin), a guy Kara and Alex went to middle school with back in the day in Midvale. Turns out he figured out Kara’s secret, and he’s been basically stalking Kara, Maggie, and Alex for a year coming up with his plan to free his dad, who, he claims in a riveting scene, is the only person in his life who helped him. And because Supergirl is super-powerful, Rick tells her that she can just bust him on out of prison, no problem. But that is not how Supergirl rolls, even when she actually IS busting into things, she has a moral code in play.
So the episode unfurls with some great tension as we watch Maggie and Kara jockey for plans and primacy in saving Alex and it’s so painful because damn, Melissa Benoist (Kara) and Floriana Lima (Maggie) brought their damn A games to this script, and they’re both so good at conveying what Alex means to each of them, and that everything they’re trying to do is coming from love for Alex that it literally brought tears to my eyes.
Okay, so Rick-the-damaged-douchebag has set up cameras and comms so Kara and Maggie are able to talk to Alex and see her on computers, though she can’t see them. And it’s WRENCHING, watching these two women interact with Alex in very different ways over this medium, and to see the depths of their feelings for her.
Then, in a most awful twist, Kara flies off the handle again (literally) because they think they’ve found where Alex is and she jumps the gun rather than thinking things through and being methodical and ends up carving a good twenty hours off the timeline, bringing them down to, like four hours to find Alex AND to add to the fuckery, Alex’s cage starts filling with water. Kara is beside herself, knowing she totally fucked it up.
In one scene that gave me weepies and feels after the water started coming in, Maggie is talking to Alex via laptop and Alex tells her she needs to say some things to her and Maggie says no, you’re a badass Danvers, and you’re gonna find a way to stay alive until I get there and then she starts getting kind of weepy and she says “we just started this and it’s not gonna end, not today, not for a long time”and omg crying. (you can see that here, starting at about 3.35)
Maggie also has a really interesting moment with Rick-the-damaged-douchebag. Maggie kind of gets him, because she had a messed-up childhood, too, but she knows he’s manipulative and she knows what he’s capable of. Still, she’s desperate to save Alex, so she does something impulsive and wrong. She goes to the prison to break Pete Thompson out.
And in a great turnabout, Kara then becomes the voice of reason and talks Thompson into getting his son to reveal Alex’s location because if he doesn’t, the one good thing Pete Thompson did — help his son for a good part of Rick’s life and save him from the abuse of his mother — will have been for naught. It’s Kara/Supergirl at her best. Earnest, serious, somehow making someone who has absolutely no damn reason to do so, see her point of view. We’re also getting scenes of Alex struggling in the water tank. She does a cool survival trick where she uses her pants as a life preserver, but the water keeps coming until it’s covering everything but her nose…OMG THE STRESS…
And then Kara and Maggie get the location and go to the warehouse and OMG are they too late? Supergirl superspeeds at the tank and breaks the glass and Alex comes pouring out, coughing and gasping and Kara and Maggie are holding on to her and omg SO MANY DAMN FEELZ.
Don’t just take my word for it…
I can’t even. SO MANY FEELZ. But then, of course, we have to have another Sanvers moment. Alex is back at the DEO in one of their infirmary beds and Maggie is standing in the room, just being there with her and then Alex wakes up and YOU GUYZ! The L-WORD! No, not THAT L-Word. Geez. LURV, people. LUUUUUUV. They say it to each other! AND IT IS TEAR-INDUCING. Here. Get the feels with me:
THIS is Supergirl at its best. This episode went back to what attracted so many people to it in the first place: strong women doing badass things and helping each other within the parameters of the different relationships they all have together. RELATIONSHIPS and the bonds between the characters.
It was SO NICE to see the Alex/Kara sister dynamic come shining through again and it was gorgeous to bring the Maggie/Kara dynamic in and to see how much these two women love Alex. Even Rick-the-damaged-douchebag commented on it, basically, an “I wonder who loves her more” kind of thing without any creepy lesbophobic pervness — frankly, I think Rick would be a good returning villain character, because he brings an underlying vulnerability to this character which makes you understand him on some level, and that makes for a great villain.
AND it was SO NICE to see a F/F relationship portrayed in such a healthy, beautiful way. No holds barred, LURV. And how Kara, Maggie, and Alex work through the family dynamics thing — Alex recognizes that Kara and Maggie are similar in some ways, and she’s used to dealing with strong, stubborn women. I really like that Alex is so healthy about this and doesn’t take sides. She loves them both, and she just wants them to work it out with each other and because Maggie and Kara love Alex, they are going to work on this for her.
Gimme a moment, friends. Basking in all the woman power awesome-ness.
::grabs tissue and pours another glass of whiskey::
::which makes her think of what she’s going to talk about next::
OKAY! The side story was Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath freaking owns a screen when she’s on it), who, in the previous episode’s last scene, was visited by some mysterious woman with a business proposition. But HA we know the mysterious lady isn’t that mysterious…it’s Mon-el’s cray mom in disguise! She’s got some kind of anti-matter hoo-zee-whatzit she wants Lena to build and Lena’s all, “yes, this seems amazing! Let’s talk more over dinner!”
And they’re having dinner and family comes up and Rhea tells her that her son hooked up with a simply awful woman (hmmm) but then she says something that tips Lena off that she is not all she appears to be. Rhea uses the phrase “thank the gods” and BOOM Lena realizes this woman is not who she says she is. Lena later tricks her into revealing she’s an alien (remember that device-thing that she developed?) and she boots her ass on out of there.
Swoon. I may have just discovered that I have a kink for corporate badass women displaying corporate power. Or something. Or it could just be Katie McGrath. Regardless, I also have a kink for powerful, badass women who drink whiskey. Damn you, Lena Luthor. ::ruined for others::
After we wrap up the Alex story, we cut back to Kara checking in on Lena because Lena had called to ask her advice but Kara was freaking out about Alex. Anyway, Kara calls back and Lena says she’s fine, everything’s great and we see Rhea’s there and clearly, something hinky is afoot and I’m going to be super-pissed if they make Lena evil…
the way she drinks whiskey tho
All right, friends. Wrapping this up. But this episode was such a joy after the mess of previous episodes. Strong women back on their game, sensitive and solid queer rep (the healthiest relationship on TV). Thank you, writers.
I don’t think people realize how very, very important it is to see a relationship like this, and to see badass women doing badass things and working through relationship issues in healthy ways. It’s not just about queer rep. It’s about relationships in general, and the many forms of love, and about strong women owning their power, taking responsibility for their actions, and trying to work things out. And it sets a marvelous example not only for young queer people and women, but for everyone.
But cynic that I am, there are a few more episodes to go in this season and I’m skeptical about them, but at least I have this episode as a highlight of Season 2. Maybe even the whole series. And what a highlight it is!
Happy Friday, all, and may The Force be with you.