Supergirl: “Better Angels” predictably features all of the show’s strengths and weaknesses

I’m not sure what I expected from Supergirl’s season finale, but I feel like what we got—an uneven episode that is equally full of frustration and heart—is probably what I should have expected. “Better Angels,” like many Supergirl episodes, has flashes of greatness, and the sheer earnestness of it is refreshing in a television landscape dominated by darker, grittier programs, but the episode nonetheless exemplifies most of the show’s ongoing storytelling flaws. There’s a lot that’s satisfying about this season finale, but there’s much to frustrate as well, especially in light of the fact that the show still hasn’t been confirmed for a second season.

Last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger of sorts, with Alex under the control of Non through his Myriad program and set to have a fight with Supergirl. Like most similar cliffhangers in the show’s first season, however, this one is resolved within the first five minutes or so of the episode when J’onn J’onnz (I guess I should get used to calling him that now since everyone knows his identity) shows up with the elder Danvers, Eliza, who is able to break Myriad’s hold on Alex with the power of love, I guess, which is just the sort of borderline Pollyannaish thing I expect from this show, but still. It seems like something that Supergirl could have done herself, which would have been more economical storytelling, but I suppose this is the way the show decided to contrive to have Eliza in town so that she could be told about her husband still being alive and then hang around for family dinner at the end.

Eliza being able to get through to Alex does lead to the idea that ends up freeing the rest of National City (except, inexplicably, Superman, who languishes in a coma until the end of the episode when he wakes up to text Kara about how awesome she is) from Non’s control. Unfortunately, because Non is highly impressionable, Indigo is able to convince him that if they can’t control the humans they should just kill them all and move on to a planet that they can control. This is a totally ridiculous plot, and the show itself seems a little sheepish about it, to be honest. Instead of focusing on resolving this silliness, most of the episode is instead dedicated to character work and touching speeches. Sure, Indigo gets ripped literally in half by J’onn, and Supergirl flies the remains of Fort Rozz out into space to save the world, but that stuff seems relatively unimportant and takes up a comparatively small amount of screen time.

Unfortunately, this leaves the finale feeling decidedly anticlimactic. Non and Indigo never feel like a true threat, and their defeat doesn’t feel like that much of an accomplishment. Though earlier in the season the idea was heavily seeded that Astra and Non were misguided environmentalists, this theme is completely abandoned, and whatever “message” the show has been going for with the whole Astra/Non and Non/Indigo saga has been watered down to something vague and mealy-mouthed about kindness and love being the answer. The answer to what? Meh. Everything, I guess.

Still, Supergirl has redeeming qualities. Melissa Benoist is an absolute treasure, and her performance carries this episode just like it’s carried so many others before. I love the evolution of Kara’s relationship with Cat Grant, even if the promotion she receives in the finale makes no sense whatsoever. The show often goes overboard with its number of sappy speeches, but I adore every stupid one of them. The family-friendly comic book feel of the show is exactly what I want it to be, and the supporting cast is solid, even if Benoist does do a lot of the heavy lifting from week to week. All in all, it’s an enjoyable show that only lacks in the writing department. Hopefully a second season will have plots strong enough to actually support the cast’s excellent chemistry and fine character work.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • I guess Project Cadmus is going to be the season two big bad.
  • So, does Cat know that Kara is Supergirl or not?
  • Also, Cat finally called her Kara!
  • Is there anyone who doesn’t cry at the end of Working Girl?
  • I’m glad that it looks like they’ll be keeping Lucy Lane around. I really want her and Kara and Alex to be best friends and have lots of time hanging out together just the three of them.
  • Kara and James are legitimately precious together, and I’m looking forward to seeing their relationship develop in the future.

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