'Changing' aired earlier this week and was a very strong episode. As has become the norm this season, there are great action moments and those are fantastic. But more importantly, there are truly incredible character moments. Each of these characters is going through an arc. No one is being shuttled to the sidelines. And every character's story is compelling.
The title of this episode - Changing - is so appropriate. Yes, Rudy Jones is changing, mutating into the Parasite. But most everyone is changing. James is becoming the Guardian. Winn is becoming more confident and is acting as James' partner. Mon-El is trying to changing his selfish ways and become a hero.
And the biggest change is Alex finally realizing she is gay and coming out. And it is a very emotional arc even in this one episode. She is nervous revealing it to Kara. She is afraid Kara disapproves. And just when things seem bright, the rug is pulled out from under her. It is truly a gut punch. After not getting much sister moments this season, we get three separate scenes with the two in this episode!
None of these stories could work as well as they have if the acting isn't there and everyone shines here. In particular, Chyler Leigh's performance as Alex this episode is phenomenal. Because we have scenes of her showing her strength, showing how she became a leader in the DEO, being stern to M'Gann and Mon-El. And at the same time we see her at her most vulnerable. I'll also say that Jeremy Jordan is showing how much Winn has changed.
If I have one minor complaint, it is that it is clear that the show has a progressive agenda in mind this season. We saw the idea of refugee amnesty early on. Now the enemy is climate change. The Parasite is the villain but he is fighting 'evil, well dressed men' who are denying science. Even if I agree that climate change is a problem, I don't need such a ham-fisted way of being told it.
The episode starts with Kara and the gang hanging out at the alien bar. Mon-El gets Kara to drink some alien ale which gets her drunk. Maggie tells Alex that she needs to come out to her family. The night is interrupted by Winn at the DEO. He has received a distress call.
In what is clearly an homage to John Carpenter's fantastic horror movie The Thing, the Thorul research center near the north pole has sent out a SOS call. The scientists there found a wolf buried under the ice which that was still warm and housing an alien. We see it attack Dr. Rudy Jones, a very passionate scientist trying to combat Climate Change.
When the DEO arrives at the site, only Jones is alive. Everyone else looks drained of life. Back at the DEO, we see Jones recover. But a literal ear worm crawls from his mouth and into his ear. Disgusting.
Now I am a huge fan of Carpenter's The Thing so I liked what I saw there.
But more importantly, the THORUL Arctic Research lab. We know that in the comics, Lena changed her name to Thorul. Is this a Cadmus lab (since the Doctor is Lena's mother)? Or is this a site Lena is in charge of?
It is the first of the three scenes of the sisters. Walking outside, Alex comes out to Kara. She says that she developed feelings for Maggie. And that now that she has been thinking about this, she is remembering these moments early in her life where maybe she had those feelings and didn't know how to deal with them. It is a heavy scene and Chyler Leigh really shows the struggle of getting this out.
Meanwhile, Kara seems surprised and says she is trying to understand all of it. But that sort of lukewarm response is off-putting to Alex. She says she doesn't want to talk about it anymore and storms off.
But the two are soon called out on a mission. Winn has found footage of Jones attacking the lab staff. The sisters go to engage.
And Jones is now assimilated into this new symbiotic being. He and the Parasite are one. They use the pronoun 'we'. He realizes he can use his powers to lead the war on climate change.
We see him use his powers to drain Kara, absorbing some of her power greedily, and then storming off.
I like the effects here, the purple energy draining Kara and her scared face sells the moment.
As I said, Winn has shined this whole season. James arrives to check on Kara and is upset that he wasn't out there help in the fight. He demands that Winn give him the hero suit he is making.
In a superb acting job by Jeremy Jordan, Winn yells back at James. He isn't taking orders. They are partners. He is good at his job and the suit isn't ready. If James goes out now, he'll die. He won't give it to him. And frankly, James can't treat him that way. After a season of Winn being meek, this season Winn has stepped up.
I love the directing here showing just how far apart they are in their opinion, putting them on opposite sides of the room.
Alex goes to confront his sister, asking Kara why she is acting weird.You can sense that Alex is worried that Kara is upset about her revelation.
But it is the exact opposite. Kara left because Alex said she didn't want to talk about it. She says clearly that she is 'so okay' with Alex's sexuality. And then she apologizes for dominating their relationship in the early life. It was all about Kara's secrets. And Kara knows that keeping something about yourself hidden is lonely.
With the air cleared, the two hug. It was a great moment. The scene ends with a great line. Kara is called away to fight an alien. She says 'I'll get the alien. You get the girl.'
The alien turns out to be Mon-El who is acting as a strong arm for the mob to collect debts. Kara isn't surprised a Daxamite would stoop low and not be a hero. And Mon-El says it isn't his desire to be a hero. He even says that Kara isn't perfect, loving the adulation she gets as a Supergirl. I think they like each other!
Realizing that Jones wants to fight climate change, the DEO figures out who is next victims will be. Supergirl and J'Onn go and fight Jones (still in his human form). But the Parasite gets them in his clutches. Nearly draining them to death, he mutates into a huge, purple, humanoid lamprey.
This was a great action sequence. And again, the effects were great here. We see J'Onn shape change and phase. And the wire work on the physical aspects was cool.
The attack leaves them skeletal. Supergirl can recover with yellow sunlight exposure. But J'Onn needs a blood transfusion. And there is only one person who can do that ... M'Gann. Alex heads to the bar and the two leave. But before they go, Alex sees Mon-El drowning his sorrows. She lays into him calling him a coward and running at the first sign of danger.
And back at the DEO, she demands that M'Gann donate blood for J'Onn. M'Gann hesitates, probably because she knows she is a white Martian. But Alex isn't back down. She says that M'Gann needs to put custom and history and personal issues and squeamishness behind her. M'Gann has to save J'Onn.
After a couple of scenes of the vulnerable Alex, the one who is dealing with personal issues, we see the iron-willed professional Alex.
James armor has weapons. And the shield is impressive acting like Vibranium, absorbing and reflecting energy sent at it. Winn is nearby in a van (the 'DEO Speedwagon' ... awesome) directing things. And Winn calls the Parasite 'Grimace', the big purple McDonald's character.
Again, great action scene.
And in another nice comic homage, Mon'El as to run and catch a car that is thrown. It definitely riffs on the cover of Action Comics #1.
I love that the show recognizes comic history a bit.
Kara recovers and decides the best thing to do is overload the Parasite. She tricks him into trying to absorb Plutonium 239. It is too much energy and he literally explodes. She vaporized him.
So ... she killed him. Hmmm ...
Second, that seems like a risky gambit. What if he could absorb it? He would be that much stronger!
And we know that cold works! It forced it into hibernation. Why not super-breath???
Okay, I'll move on.
James calls himself the Guardian and rides off.
With the bad guy killed, there is nothing but the wrap up.
James and Winn decide to be super friends. They are in James' office, next to each other, in the same position. They are now united in purpose. But they will hide the Guardian from Kara. Why????
J'Onn wakes up improved from the transfusion. But we see his hand shake a bit. Maybe the white martian blood might have some weird effect on him??
Mon-El gets kidnapped by Cadmus! Maybe he is the Cyborg Superman?
But the big ending scene is (no surprise) with Kara and Alex. Alex heads to the bar and sees Maggie. Giddy with realizing who she is, she kisses Maggie and tells Maggie who she is feeling.
But Maggie backs off. Alex is at a different place. Everything will be heightened. She doesn't want to be with Alex in that way. Alex walks away crushed. Kara shows up at Alex's apartment. and hugs her heartbroken sister. Alex feels humiliated and alone. Kara holds her as she weeps. It is just a powerful, emotional, very natural feeling scene. I loved it. Seriously, I know it is Supergirl ... but I hope the Emmy people are watching. Chyler Leigh runs the gamut of emotions here.
So overall, just a great episode with action and character moments that resonated!
This show just seems to be on a roll.