Supergirl kicks of the second half of season three with a strong mid-season premiere. With Reign having knocked out Kara and sent her into a coma at the end of the mid-season finale, I was worried this episode, titled “Legion of Superheroes,” would be weighed down by what it had to accomplish prior to moving forward. Thankfully, it did a decent job balancing many of its plot threads, though there could have and should have been more focus on Kara’s journey while in a coma. The show got there in the end, but it missed an opportunity to showcase more of her inner workings.
Mon-El wakes Brainiac 5 (guest star Jesse Rath) from hypersleep in order to tap into Kara’s brain to evaluate her mental state. Having been in a coma for two days, Kara still isn’t waking up and it’s got everyone worried. Kara is sitting in her apartment, at first unaware that there’s anything strange going on. That changes when Brainiac, or “Brainy” as everyone calls him, shows up to alert her of what’s going on. Kara’s been stuck in her head for awhile now. Trapped in an ongoing debate between being Kara and being Supergirl, Kara finally finds some clarity by episode’s end. While being stuck inside her own mind doesn’t offer enough depth, it does offer her the chance to revisit a particular memory from her past. This memory helps center her and make peace with the grappling of her vulnerability earlier in the season.
“These aren’t Supergirl’s things,” she muses while looking around her apartment, “they’re Kara’s.” And sure enough, she realizes that there was once a time that, even though she felt like an alien for the longest time, a stray cat she’d found helped her to feel human because both of them had been lost, wandering and trying to find their way. It’s a really nice moment made even better when Kara later recognizes that she has to use Kryptonite to defeat Reign. And even though doing so makes Kara vulnerable, too, she does it anyway. And if that’s not a direct parallel to all that she’s been going through this season, I don’t know what is. It finally feels like the issue has come full circle and it’s a nice, if underwhelming, payoff.
One of the best scenes from the episode comes when Alex admits she feels bad for having told Kara to forget who she is in order to fight Reign. Kara needed to remember who she was and it’s clear that Alex’s conversation helps to kick-start something for her while in the coma after maintaining that Kara is still her favorite person. Supergirl may have never had a steady romantic relationship on the show, but that’s not a bad thing when it’s Kara and Alex who are the heart of the series. And in scenes like this, it’s easy to see why. No other relationship for Kara has as much depth like the one she has with her sister. Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist play off of each other so well and continue to be each other’s strengths no matter the stakes. Their bond is a big part of what makes the show enjoyable to watch and no matter who comes and goes, their relationship is the show’s core.
One of the more frustrating aspects of the episode comes while Reign, who is being ordered to “cleanse sinners and those who harbor them,” is on a rampage attacking the city and the entire time Mon-El and his Legionnaires are reluctant to intervene. While the reason is explained, I don’t buy it. Mon-El explains that one thousand years in the future, an event occurs that destroys an entire planet and they’ve placed the cure inside their DNA. The argument is that helping with any present issues could alter the future. Throughout Mon-El’s resistance, Imra is the one more inclined to help and they eventually suit up to help take down Reign, but it should be noted that Mon-El’s heroism stuttered here. He should have been more willing to help. Damaging the future is an understandable excuse, but in hindsight makes no sense since half of Earth’s history is wiped out in the future and Mon-El having only spent time on Earth for a little less than a year should not be wholly trusted to know the outcome of all events. This subplot drags on for a little too long before anything comes of it.
However, the question really is why they even need to have this constant back-and-forth. J’onn is the Martian Manhunter and Supergirl is so used to relegating him to the background at the DEO that it makes absolutely zero sense he’d sit around while Reign tries to kill people. Martian Manhunter is powerful and he’s criminally underused on the show, something which is more than evident in this episode. Why is J’onn constantly hanging out at the DEO instead of in the field? Kara being in a coma could have been an opportune moment for him to put his powers to good use, but the writers underutilize him to the point that progress as a character is practically nonexistent. This is a shame given who he is and what he’s capable of.
Brainiac 5 is a nice addition to Supergirl. He’s fun without being over-the-top and Jesse Rath is able to balance being part human and part computer quite nicely. Reign’s storyline is less problematic here because she’s simply on a rampage. However, the intrigue is heightened when it’s revealed that there are more like her. Here’s hoping that Sam will eventually be made to realize that she is Reign and that she will be able to choose and dictate her own actions moving forward.
Finally, there’s Lena and James. Lena wants to address the elephant in the room (that being that James and Kara dated) and wants to discuss their kiss with her friend. James gets all awkward about it and lies to Lena, telling her she can’t talk to Kara because she’s sick. Then comes a funny moment where J’onn impersonates Kara to discuss James’ kissing skills and his “elusive” nature. Lena then second guesses herself and believes he’s being strange because of her family name, but James assures her that it’s not and all is well between them. Surprisingly, Supergirl actually mentions the fact that Kara and James dated (they didn’t really because Kara dumped him two seconds in, but hey, their almost relationship hasn’t completely been erased at least). Katie McGrath and Mehcad Brooks have fantastic chemistry and it’s nice to watch Lena be a bit more vulnerable and second guess herself, while James’ charm and awkwardness come forward. Both characters are usually pretty collected and this relationship is showing us different sides to them.
Ultimately, “Legion of Superheroes” is a solid episode with some lighthearted moments. It deals with some weightier material and progresses Kara more than the first half of the season ever does and it’s both refreshing and needed. It seems like the writers are finally moving past the heaviness between Kara and Mon-El and this is really good for Kara’s development in order for her to move forward. Season 3B is off to a good start so far and if the show continues to center Kara and Alex, then it’ll be all the more better for it.