Supergirl: “Falling” sets the bar very high for the rest of this season

I’m not sure if I love or loathe this most recent episode of Supergirl. Partly this is because it turned out to be absolutely none of the things that I thought it might be based just on the title. I don’t watch previews for the individual episodes, believe it or not, so I (probably naively, now that I think about it) thought that maybe this week would be centered on Kara’s budding romance with James now that Lucy Lane is out of the picture. So. Needless to say, my expectations were not met at all, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of what the episode actually turned out to be.

Objectively, I suppose, “Falling” does a lot of things right. It’s a structurally sound episode, for sure, with Kara’s descent into badness acting as a grand unifying event and theme for the whole hour. This works really well to bring the DEO and CatCo portions of the show into a kind of harmony with each other that it’s seldom accomplished before. I’d be really pleased if I thought the show would be able to maintain this cohesiveness, but that seems highly unlikely considering this is the first episode (Episode 16!) that they’ve managed it. That said, it was still very nice to see all of Supergirl’s moving pieces working in concert for once, even if it does feel almost out of place after I’ve gotten so used to the ordinary way the show is run.

I also really like the way Kara’s turning bad is presented. While it does touch on a lot of the expected good-girl-gone-bad tropes, Bad Kara is much more than just evil. The red kryptonite essentially turns off Kara’s ability to give a fuck about what other people think of her, and Bad Kara is a creature of pure id, spewing all her worst feelings all over everyone she comes in contact with this week. There’s a little bit of mixed messaging, like when Kara showing up in full on femme fatale mode to a club with Demi Lovato’s “Confident” plays—I guess ironically—in the background, but for the most part I think it works.

The best part of the episode, though, was that there are real consequences for Kara’s actions, and she’s forced to be really accountable for what she does while under the influence of red kryptonite. It’s not fair, because of course I love Kara and only want good things for her, but the fallout we see here is something real-seeming. Hank Henshaw is forced to out himself as Martian Manhunter, which jeopardizes his position at the DEO—he ends the episode locked in a cell there like any other alien. James is still reeling from being dumped by Lucy, only to have Kara act like a monster about it—things are not okay between them now, and he asks Kara for some space right as she’s finally about to declare her feelings for him. I’m not a huge fan of this romance, but this is a real impediment that makes sense and is legitimately compelling.

The heroes of the episode, of course, are Alex, who loves Kara unconditionally, and Cat Grant, who has a different, but similarly unconditional, kind of love for Supergirl. When Kara wakes up after being cured of the effects of the red kryptonite and Alex was there to forgive her, I thought my heart might break. And when Supergirl goes to Cat for comfort and advice at the end of the episode, and Cat was also forgiving, I think my heart grew at least two sizes. These relationships are so important, and I wish the show would cut out all of Kara’s boy troubles and just focus on this. Supergirl isn’t always as revolutionary as it aspires to be, when it comes to women’s issues, but these scenes were absolutely perfect.

“Falling” was a great way for the show to shake up the status quo. As a viewer, it definitely surprised me, and the way things are left at the end of this episode should make for some excellent episodes in the coming weeks. My biggest concern going forward is that the show is going to move too quickly through Kara’s journey to redemption and miss out on the resonance that this story should have. It’s the sort of thing that ought to take til the end of this season, but Supergirl has a worrisome tendency to rush through story. I’d hate to see it miss this opportunity for greatness.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Probably an unpopular opinion, and I know it’s shameless cross-promotion for another CBS show, but I kind of loved Cat Grant’s appearance on The Talk.
  • Is there any possible way that Cat really doesn’t know that Kara is Supergirl? We’re supposed to believe that Cat is highly intelligent and perceptive, so is there any chance that she doesn’t notice her assistant’s bizarre behavior?
  • If Kara burned all her clothes, where did she get her final outfit of the episode?
  • So I guess Siobhan is gone for good? That was anticlimactic.
  • Senator Crane was back this week! I love her, but I hope she doesn’t become an antagonist.
  • I feel like the show might still be trying to make Alex and Maxwell Lord happen, and OH MY GOD PLEASE NO DON’T. He is the literal worst.

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