Supergirl Episode 219, titled 'Alex', aired this week and was another episode which focused more on the characters and less on the main storyline of Daxam's impending invasion. The main arc isn't completely ignored, a crucial piece is definitely put into place here. But this is about how important Alex is to this universe.
Alex is kidnapped and we see how that effects Kara. We see how that effects Maggie. And we see how that effects J'onn. Alex is an important figure in all of their lives - sister, girlfriend, and daughter respectively. And when she is put in peril, we see just how much Alex is the rock these characters rely on.
One of the underlying themes of this episode is seeing how different Maggie and Kara's methods are in delivering justice. Maggie is a 'by the book' detective, following procedure, and using her interrogation and investigative skills in a deliberate manner. She is aware of the long game and doesn't mind playing it. Kara, on the other hand, is a 'fly in and rescue' sort. She doesn't wait, she acts. That plays out well with this sort of over-confident Supergirl we have seen this season.
And while there can be times when either method are needed (in fact that plays out a bit), these women are a bit entrenched in their style. And the friction that arises when they disagree impacts Alex who loves them both. It gets a little awkward.
I also have to applaud Chyler Leigh as Alex who not only plays the personal moments extremely well but also shows how resourceful she is as an agent. You see why Alex has her position in the DEO.
Lastly, I love that the writers throws long time fans some Easter Eggs. It makes me happy.
On to the episode!
The difference in Kara and Maggie's approaches is put on center stage in the first scene. We see Maggie embroiled in a long negotiation with bank robbers who are holding hostages. She has been at it for 17 hours. And then Supergirl crashes through the roof and flies out with the robbers in hand. The standoff is over.
That night, Maggie and Alex have Kara and Mon-El over for dinner. When Mon-El says National City doesn't need cops any more (way to go!), Maggie shows her frustration. She was about to end the standoff peacefully. Supergirl ending things opens up an easy defense. Maggie worries about excessive force and 'vigilante justice'. Kara says anything could have happened while Maggie talked to these criminals. Supergirl ended things with everyone safe. That is a win!
In one of my favorite moments of the season, Kara says Supergirl stands for 'hope and help and compassion', clearly restating the ethos that Sterling Gates added to the legend in Adventures of Supergirl!
This difference - nuance versus action - is the key to this episode. With both Maggie and Kara steaming, Kara storms off. Alex chases her sister to try and smooth things over. And it while chasing Kara that Alex gets kidnapped.
The next morning, both Maggie and Kara are worried that Alex is missing. And Kara gets a call from Alex's cell phone. The kidnapper says that if a career criminal, Peter Thompson, isn't freed within 36 hours, Alex will be killed. And he knows Kara is Supergirl so he knows she can do it.
The DEO cannot find Alex's subdermal tracker. There is no hint of where she is in the picture sent to Kara. Supergirl and the DEO won't negotiate with terrorists. And while plenty of people know Kara is Supergirl (and what a long list - the Danvers, Lillian Luthor, all of the DEO!), the best lead is Thompson.
At the prison, Thompson is a smug guy in for life. Hank, Maggie, and Kara ("a fed, a pig, and a journo") interrogate him. He claims to know nothing about who could have kidnapped Alex. And this frustrates Kara to the point where she lashes out, denting the table in frustration. There is that lack of nuance. Maggie was willing to get him talking but this truncates the talk.
But he actually doesn't know. J'onn read his mind. He doesn't know.
Luckily, Winn was able to comb the prison files and discover that Thompson has a son named Rick Malverne. Supergirl knows this guy. She grew up with him in Midvale!!
She dashes to his apartment and sees computer screens with Alex. He is the kidnapper. Grabbing him and threatening him doesn't work, even the red angry eyes of death. He won't be intimidated. Brought back to the DEO, somehow Rick is impervious to J'onn telepathy (I have to roll with it).
Rick gives a bit of backstory. In a nice nod to the first season, we see the scene where a young Kara rescues a woman and baby from a car wreck. The boy Alex was with was Rick Malverne! He saw Kara use powers. So when Kara moved to National City and Supergirl arrived, Malverne put two and two together.
And he turns out he has a sad backstory. He lived alone with his mother in Midvale. And she was physically abusive. His father, while a criminal, rescued him. Took him away, raised him, put him through college. And now Rick will rescue his father just as he was rescued.
Still, despite this back story, Malverne is an oily sort of sociopath. You never feel sympathy for him.
Can I just say how great it is that there is a Supergirl show with Dick Malverne!!!
While not sympathetic, he is smart. He has been planning this for years, to the point of having stalked the Danvers. He knows their patterns. He knows their secrets. And he isn't fooled when J'onn tries to imitate Rick's father. He knows about the Martian Manhunter as well.
He is a worthy foe.
As for Alex, alone in her cell, she digs out her subdermal tracker and hooks it up to the electricity of the cameras. That pings the DEO. They can now track where Alex is. When informed, Malverne seems awfully relaxed. His cool exterior makes Maggie cautious. She tries to stop Supergirl from running off but there is no stopping Kara.
Flying to the site, it turns out it was a fake out. Malverne anticipated that move by Alex and had the signal routed to somewhere else. And when Supergirl flies in, it dials back the time from 24 hours to 4 hours. Alex's cell starts to fill with water.
Once more, Kara's decision to rush in backfires. Maggie angrily yells at Kara, saying she should have listened to the career cop.
The cell filling with water is very very reminiscent if not a straight rip-off of the killer's methods in the Jennifer Lopez movie The Cell.
Malverne sits smugly, knowing his endgame has been activated. He allows Alex to talk to her family.
First Alex tells Supergirl that she cannot deal with Malverne. Supergirl, as a concept and person, is bigger than just Alex's life. I love that sense of sacrifice in Alex.
But the real power in this scene is Maggie and Alex talking. Alex, fearing she is going to die, wants to tell Maggie all the things she hasn't had time to say. But Maggie won't let her. They are just starting. There are so many 'firsts' they need to have - first vacation, first dog. It is a wonderful scene. And Floriana Lima really shows her range, crying into a laptop screen, but selling all these emotions.
With death looming, Maggie loses it, lashing out at Kara. As Alex's girlfriend, the person who 'let her be herself', Maggie should have been listened to. Suddenly, Kara realizes this isn't a problem she can punch.
Lena is pretty savvy, seeing through Rhea's acting, and proving it by tricking Rhea to out herself with the LCorp alien detection device. Rhea talks of dysfunctional families and her desire to get home. She says the gate could help Earth and help her get back home. Initially Lena says no but then she agrees.
One thing here is that she initially calls Kara to get her take on this offer. But Kara is too busy with the Alex problem. I guarantee this is going to come back. If Kara had the time to talk to Lena, maybe the deal wouldn't be struck. Kara promised Lena she would always be there. I am sure the gates are going to be used to bring in a Daxamite invasion force. This could be the wedge which splits Kara and Lena.
As usual, Katie McGrath kills it. She could kill a man with her little sneer.
Kara and Maggie continue to argue about what is right to do. And Kara is scared that she is going to fail and Alex will die. J'onn tries to comfort her. But he is just as effected. I loved this moment. This is a family.
With an hour left, Malverne realizes that Maggie might be the one to actually act. Maybe she is key, not Kara.
And then there is role reversal.
Maggie adopts Kara's methods, breaking into the prison to spring Thompson. She is pro-active.
And Supergirl arrives and adopts Maggie's methods, talking to Thompson and using nuance and influence. She says Rick will forever be damaged if Alex dies. Rick talked of love and rescue. Now it is time for the father to do the same.
Thompson thinks of a place where Alex might be being kept. And sure enough, it's right.
I like this turnabout. Maybe Maggie and Kara will understand each other a bit more now.
Time is up but Alex, who had made a floatation device out of her pants, is able to buy some seconds by breathing in the air in the pants! Those seconds prove important as Supergirl and Maggie just arrive in time to save her.
There is nothing left but the wrap up. Maggie and Alex profess their love for the first time.
J'onn casually mindwipes Malverne. Maybe a bit too casually?
And Maggie says she and Kara were a good team. But I don't know if I agree. If Thompson didn't know where Alex was, she'd be dead.
Overall, I like this episode a lot. The inclusion of the Gates' motto alone would make me love it. But the in depth look at Alex's importance, the Easter Eggs, and just the suspense of the ticking clock had me on the edge of my seat.
That said, there is bunch of things I just need to accept - Malverne's ability to thwart J'onn telepathy, the casual mindwipe, the 'good team' which I might call lucky, and Supergirl acting more like a brute wanting to bash everything was a little tough to swallow.
With just three episodes left, we have to turn to the Daxam plot. Time to don the Legion ring!