Supergirl: Season 2 Episode 10 review – We Can Be Heroes
This review contains spoilers.
Although Supergirl has several outstanding central characters, including Kara, it doesn’t always hold outstanding villains, nor outstanding side-heroes. This episode suffered a little for the simple fact that it focused so heavily on two of those sub-par elements; a poor villain (Livewire) and a tiresome hero who has had all too much focus this season (James as Guardian). All of this was buffered with some interesting M’gann content and also some more narrative footfall concerning Mon El’s development as a hero and as a potential love interest.
The title of the episode is not only a reference to James and Mon El, but also to Winn, in his desire to no longer “just be stuck behind a computer.” James and Winn’s views are easy to sympathise with; most of us would jump at the chance to be a hero if we knew we could do it. Therefore, Kara’s stance might appear to be a rather selfish when looked at from a broad perspective, but I would argue instead that her concern is of extremely sound judgement. Both James and Winn are human, without powers, and are therefore placing themselves in the way of extreme danger or even death.
As crazy as Livewire is, she delivered a very wise line this week, about James and Mon El being “little boys who think they can do a better job than the woman who’s an actual superhero.” It’s a line brimming full of female empowerment which also relates to current, real life views that women should be the way forward politically. ‘The future is female’ is the slogan on so many a sign, during so many a protest of late. The “little boy” in Livewire’s line could easily be applied to Donald Trump, who holds no political experience, and the “woman who’s an actual superhero” could have been Hillary Clinton, who held substantial political experience.
Although Wonder Woman is a completely different heroine to Supergirl (the bondage-style, lasso-like lead image is coincidence, I promise), it should not be forgotten that when William Moulton Marsten created Wonder Woman, it with with the firm belief that women are better than men; he believed that they hold more capacity for goodness and are therefore more suited to positions of power. Similarly, one could argue that Supergirl is not only superior to James and Mon El in physical strength, but that she is also perhaps better placed to carry the responsibilities of power, due to the finer qualities of her gender. Kara is still learning the superhero playbook herself, but I would argue that Marsten’s hypothesis about women bears as much relevance here as it would in any Wonder Woman venture, and it’s an interesting supposition to ponder.
If you’re going to lean heavily on side characters, I would argue that you need stronger characters than the ones used here. Livewire has always come across as a little annoying to me, I think due to the way in which Brit Morgan plays her (or is perhaps asked to play her). In this episode Livewire veered quickly from loathing Kara and wanting to see her fry, to being comfortable enough to ally herself temporarily with Kara, which for me was a bit to strong of a leap. The Guardian plot with James is another longstanding issue for me. I still hold the view that (from a writing point of view) not every character needs to be turned into a superhero and that turning James into one is a considerable misstep, given how sub-par Guardian is.
The saving grace of this episode for me was the Martian sub plot between J’onn and M’gann, which although traversed prior to now, was very welcome, because this was the first time that J’onn truly and openly forgave her. This ,combined with the interesting use of a memory as a flashback and J’onn’s physical show of affection and support and this rounded off the M’gann arc nicely. If M’gann sticks around a regular character then it’s clear that J’onn and her can now move past the history that they share with one another. And given that next week’s episode is titled ‘The Martian Chronicles’ (in a nod to Ray Bradbury), it appears as though M’gann isn’t going anywhere just yet.
The romantic honesty from Mon El upon the episode’s close was refreshing due to its intenseness. Kara actually went out of her way to remove her glasses during his talk, signifying that she’s not only looking him in the eyes without any barriers, but also that she’s fully placing her Danvers persona aside and talking to him wholly as Kara Zor El, alien to alien. Where Kara often deflects any awkward conversations with smiles, her manner was deadly serious here, because she knew that he was pouring his heart out and she knew that her feelings didn’t quite match his.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for these two (just look at the way Alex and Maggie swung around to a positive outcome) and I do suspect that part of the reason for introducing Mon El into the show was to provide Kara with a good looking and similarly alien love interest. Where such a love focus might be the ruin of other shows, this particular coupling feels natural and weaved into the writing just well enough that it doesn’t feel like forced mushiness.
Although these James and co have “always been heroes” to Kara, I’d rather that they stuck to what they do best; helping Kara from afar and staying out of harm’s way. If they continue to pursue their superhero goals regardless, then I fear this show just might pull a death out of the bag, which would viewers hard and Kara harder. If the show focused less on Guardian, then it might have more time for characters like Kal El himself, or even just a clearer runway on which to continue developing Mon El.
Image credits: The CW