Supergirl Season Two has been very entertaining so far. Between the Superman visit, the personal growth of the character, and the very strong performances of the cast, the show has been gripping. I have had my minor complaints, no doubt. Some of the political messages have been delivered in a very heavy handed manner. Some of the character beats (specifically James deciding to be a costumed hero) has seemed rushed. But overall things have been fantastic.
'The Darkest Places' aired this last week and was one of the strongest episodes of the season so far. There are basically 4 plots happening, one for each of the major characters. Each plot pushes these characters' individual stories forward, some of them nudged, others pushed forward rapidly. But, for me, the biggest thing about this episode is that it also pushed the overal season's story forward as well. We have known about Cadmus before. But now we get a sense that they have a big plan. And they have an enforcer. And they are willing to do whatever they need to do to achieve their goals.
Now this isn't a perfect episode. Nothing is perfect. I think the Maggie/Alex storyline was advanced almost too quickly here. After last week's emotional ending, I almost wish this subplot was left alone to let Alex's issues sort of simmer a bit. Instead, we get a bit too much progression. And both Supergirl and The Doctor seem to make classic comic book mistakes which are hard to dwell on. Sometimes, you can't think too hard about plot points or suddenly you realize how ridiculous these things can be. But these were minor issues.
But overall, this was an action-packed, quickly paced, powerful episode. When watching with my youngest, she looked at me and said 'this is too intense!' That is definitely a good sign!
On to the details.
The episode starts with Alex, Kara, Winn, and Jimmy relaxing at the alien bar. Now, right off the bat, this seemed off. Why would Alex, still reeling from Maggie's rejection, go to the bar she knows Maggie hangs out at? Wouldn't that be the last place she would want to go?
At the bar, the discussion revolves around The Guardian. Kara doesn't trust him quite yet. After all, her cousin used to team up with a masked vigilante with 'tons of gadgets and lots of demons' who was a bit too weird. (Yay Batman reference!) Alex thinks The Guardian must have a sidekick who is feeding him information. And James and Winn play coy. We see flashbacks of the Guardian doing good, stopping robberies.
But the conversation is interrupted by ... Maggie. She tries to clear the air with Alex. She wants to remain friends. Her decision wasn't anything personal. Alex accepts the friendship offer, although it looks like she does so begrudgingly.
Everyone assumes that Mon-El is at some random girl's house. He is called a male floozy. Hmmm ...
But the plot thickens for everyone.
We see Mon-El at Cadmus. He almost escapes but it seems Hank is also captured. To make sure Hank survives, Mon-El agrees to be put back in his cell.
But the real Hank is at the DEO. He again thanks M'Gann for helping him. But Hank is troubled by visions of his family.
Guardian stops a robbery at The Newsboy Liquor Store (nod to Newsboy Legion!) But the thief left hanging from the street lamp is subsequently killed by another masked vigilante.
And Snapper Carr runs with the story that the Guardian is a murderer. When James says it isn't true, Snapper lectures him about biases and the need for journalistic intergrity.
One of the things I like about this season is that this is a more mature Supergirl who, having worked through major personal issues last season, can give some advice.
J'Onn admits to Kara that he is seeing visions of his family. Kara thinks it is J'Onn worrying that the addition of M'Gann in his life will diminish his family in his mind. She tells a nice story about how Eliza never tried to replace Zor-El and Alura. But Kara deserved to be loved. It is a nice anecdote adding some depth to Kara's backstory.
How interesting to see Kara be the mentor here.
Guardian ends up fighting the killer vigilante and needs to run away.
Supergirl tries to help find the Guardian but is called away. Cadmus sends her a hypersonic signal telling Kara that Mon-El will die if Supergirl doesn't show up alone.
Arriving at Cadmus, Supergirl meets the 'real' Hank Henshaw. He is angry and powered and thrilled to work for Cadmus who has 'inherited' the DEO's 'glorious purpose' of killing aliens. They brawl which leads to the reveal that Henshaw has been upgraded. He calls himself the Cyborg Superman and knocks Kara out.
Meanwhile, Winn tells Alex that the Guardian is, in fact, James. James isn't a killer. The police need to back off. Angry at the deception, Alex smacks Winn on the head. It is a perfect character moment for both.
But she agrees that James can't be arrested for a crime he didn't commit. Alex goes to Maggie and tells Maggie to back off a bit with the Guardian pressure.
The conversation veers to the personal. And this is where I think things get rushed. Alex sounds almost petulant. Alex says that her coming out and telling Kara felt empowering and liberating. But then Maggie's rejection ruined it. All she feels is pain. She doesn't want to be friends.
I just think all of this felt a little rushed.
At Cadmus, Supergirl awakens in a cell next to Mon-El. The bars are made of Thanagarian Nth metal(!!) and unbreakable! The Doctor arrives Supergirl recognizes her from Lena's office. The Doctor reveals she is Lillian Luthor. She goes on a nice Luthor-ian rant about how Lex was wrongly jailed, unrecognized for his genius. Lex, a true Superman, was fooled by the Kryptonian one. And now Superman's power and influence has gone on unchecked. It is a wonderfully delivered unhinged monologue.
The Doctor also shows Kara that Mon-El is vulnerable to lead, shooting the Daxamite in the knee. Luthor will kill Mon-El unless Kara complies with a request. She wants Supergirl to be 'human' and she'll accomplish that by having Kara 'solar flare' into a special helmet, depleting her cells of their energy.
And this is where I just need to roll with things.
Kara was in her secret identity when she saw the Doctor in Lena's office. Isn't that a risk to revealing who she really is to the bad guys? [EDIT: this is wrong. It was as Supergirl that Kara saw Lena's mother. Sorry! And thanks KET for the correction.]
And couldn't Kara fake the flare? Pretend to be depowered for a second but then turn things around? Not expend every bit of energy? At this point, in the helmet, she is out of the Nth metal cell and standing next to the Doctor. What about super-speed?
But no, she truly depletes herself. The Doctor has her thugs manhandle Kara, tie her to an operating table, and get a sample of Kara's blood. Why doesn't the Doctor just kill Supergirl then?? She is a Luthor! She hates the Supers! She has Kara completely depowered! Why throw her back into her cell!!
Back in National City, Winn susses out who the masked vigilante killer is. He is an ex-Navy Seal whose wife was murdered. The murderer was set free on a technicality. Now, the husband goes out and kills people who were released on technicalities.
Every character has grown since last issue. But Winn has really changed. I really like his character this season. Smart, confident, and finally comfortable with who he is.
She also tells Mon-El that he can't have survivors guilt. Again, this is something she dealt with last season. It makes sense for her to help him this way. I loved that little bit of the conversation most of all.
But then, in a major reveal, Kara and Mon-El are freed from their cages by ... Jeremiah Danvers!!! He removes the bullet and gets them out of the building. Neither hero are in any shape to fight back. And Danvers knows he needs to stay. Kara and Jeremiah hug.
So we get both Cyborg Superman and Jeremiah Danvers in this episode!
J'Onn continues to have visions and tests show that his blood has been tainted by White Martian blood. He confronts M'Gann. He demands she take her true form and he attacks. It is a well done fight. J'Onn is filled with a deep desire for vengeance.
M'Gann admits that she was the White Martian who refused to kill any more Greens. She tried to free some. And she doesn't consider herself a White Martian. She takes her human form. This is who she is.
Again, this is potent scene. J'Onn's anger. M'Gann's guilt. The history of these two. Just fantastic.
James incapacitates the vigilante. And Maggie lets the Guardian slip away.
Whew. Lots of plot progression for everyone!
But that's not everything. There is a lot of wrap-up.
Alex, Kara, James, and Winn all meet at Kara's apartment for pizza and potstickers.
Kara has her powers back.
Guardian is cleared of charges.
Alex says loudly that the Guardian will surely reveal who he is soon.
Mon-El seems to be crushing on Kara.
Then Maggie shows up and asks Alex to stay in her life. She cares for Alex. This also seems a bit too soon. Maggie tracks Alex down? Asks her to remain friends? It all seems just a tad rushed. There isn't any room for the decisions of these two to breathe before the next step is taken.
But there is even more.
M'Gann, imprisoned at the DEO, tells J'Onn that her blood is rewriting his genome, turning him into a White Martian. Now that is a bombshell.
And then one more ...
The Cyborg Superman uses Kara's blood to fake his way into the Fortress to learn about something called Medusa.
I'll say it again.
There was a lot in this episode. It was very intense. There were several plots but the episode didn't feel compressed. And we had almost too many reveals to count.
Lastly, there wasn't any hammering of political viewpoints.
This felt almost like a fall finale. And that is high praise.