After a decent buildup, Supergirl dropped the ball when it came to Reign’s rise to power. Someone meant to be a villain called the “world killer” should feel more threatening. But the show, for whatever reason, wanted to advance Sam’s storyline and this led to events playing out in an anticlimactic way. “Reign” had some great character beats throughout, but Sam’s evolution into Supergirl’s nemesis moved far too quickly and ended up being underwhelming in its execution.
Here are the episode’s biggest takeaways:
Lena and James
Their budding tension has been building up throughout the first half of the season and, after growing closer and hanging around each other more often (not to mention James saving her a couple of times), Lena, at first brushing off their chemistry, took the dive and kissed James. Beyond simply making for an interesting dynamic (they’ve had their differences in the past and got off on a bit of the wrong foot after Lena took over CatCo), they’ve come to respect each other as people. In James, it seems Lena has found someone she can rely on and in Lena, James has found a genuineness in her actions. It’s not clear where this relationship might go, but it could provide new insight into two people who have grown closer over the course of several episodes and who have trusted each other in the wake of certain events.
Kara and Mon-El
Aside from introducing the Legion of Superheroes, Mon-El’s return has been largely to cause Kara emotional turmoil. At most, his presence has provided further hurt for Kara and his return comes at a time when it finally seemed like she was healing from his absence. However, just like in a previous episode, “Reign” prolonged the subplot and it became almost painful to watch while Kara’s heart broke all over again. It certainly didn’t help when the conversation about Mon-El not being able to move on from her was had. Imra seemed very happy to be in Kara’s presence and gushed about her like she was meeting her own hero. And while her intentions might have been good regarding her conversation with Kara, it’s Mon-El who should just allow her to mourn the loss of their relationship and sudden reappearance in peace. There’s no need to pressure her to be ok with it so quickly because that’s not how feelings work.
To start with, I still think it’s strange that Coville knows more about Kryptonian religious teachings and lore than Kara does. His scene with her is used for exposition, but it’s unnecessary. Kara could’ve easily explained some backstory to her friends at the DEO without having to include him in the narrative, but the show won’t allow her to know too much about her own planet despite her resources.
Samantha has been a wonderful addition to Supergirl this season and watching her struggle a bit with what seemed like memory loss and the sadness surrounding the talk with Ruby was heartbreaking. It seems Reign wants to bring about her own sense of justice, but wants to do it in a way that harms people. It’s very much a different take on the way Kara takes care of crime. With that said, the fight at the end was good and brutal enough to be shocking, but it’s the overall buildup to the fight that was lacking. Turning Sam so soon into Reign lacked any real suspense because it’s something she had no choice in after discovering her ship. She was “activated,” but the storyline didn’t quite feel fully realized. It was being developed well enough prior to the full on change, and so it felt more like the writers were pushing it forward in time for this mid-season finale without focusing as much on it as they could have.
Despite the underwhelming nature of the overall plots and subplots, there were still some great character beats in the episode. I continue to appreciate the fact that Supergirl builds upon its female friendships and hope this continues. Odette Annable gave a wonderful performance as both Sam and Reign and acted in a way that distinguished the two characters without simply relying on the outfit change to show the difference. What the end goal is for Reign and how her story ties back to Kara’s mom remains to be seen, but hopefully the show will find a way to also connect it back to Kara’s struggles with being both human and Kryptonian, something she can’t quite seem to distinguish.
While on the topic of Kara’s struggles with her dual identity, Alex is the one to tell her that to defeat Reign, she has to tap into her alien side instead of relying on her human side. It’s something that struck me as strange given the fact that Alex has been telling her from the beginning how she shouldn’t shut away her emotions. Did it need to be said that the only way to defeat Reign was to go full alien? Is the show saying you can’t have more than one feeling at a time? Or that women can’t have emotions when they need to fight physically?
It’s something that’s never been an issue for Kara before. It doesn’t seem like Kara has learned anything from the whole human/alien argument and that’s concerning. During the crossover, she declared that loving was different for everyone else because they’re human and now she has to let her alien side take over in order not to feel anything. It’s a thin line the show has drawn between the two and it’s not realistic. No one person is simply one thing all of the time. To make her out to choose one over the other or not come to terms with both sides of herself is something I hope gets a proper payoff somewhere in the second half of the season.
Finally, the Supergirl writers should consider giving J’onn and his father more screen time. As it currently stands, it makes no sense to have someone as strong and powerful as the Green Martian stand around the DEO without any meaty material to work with. Can he not join Kara out in the field more often? Right now, the DEO itself isn’t doing much and one of the more refreshing aspects of this season has been getting to see CatCo again; having James and Lena work there makes it feel like there’s a world outside the DEO’s walls. Having to deal with Morgan Edge, whose presence this season hasn’t been given much thought, at least takes them outside and through National City.
Ultimately, I’m cautiously optimistic with regards to Reign’s storyline for now, especially if there’ll be a bigger payoff later on. And with the eventual introduction of the entirety of the Legion of Superheroes, the second half of the third season should hopefully pick up.
Supergirl returns with new episodes on January 15, 2018 at 8/7c on The CW.