Warning: This contains spoilers.
Doing what you think is right is one of the central tenets of Supergirl, both as a superhero and as a programme. The series is at its best when we’re watching not just Kara trying to do right but also those around her – and one of the most reliable supporting characters to deliver on the noble goods is Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh).
Kara’s sister has gone from intriguing supporting role to one of the best things about the show – no mean feat, when you’re sharing the screen with Melissa Benoist. She’s blossomed in Season 2, thanks to her relationship with Maggie, although she’s also had some of her thunder stolen by the programme’s foregrounding of Mon-El (Chris Wood). Episode 15 of Season 2, then, is a treat, because it gives us even more Alex time than usual. And, even better than that, it gives us Kara and Alex time.
The title of the episode (Exodus) gives you an idea of where things are heading, following last episode’s Homecoming-gone-wrong, but even that doesn’t quite prepare you for the opening montage, which sees Cadmus enact a forced exodus of aliens, using the data they stole from the DEO. Rounding up aliens willy-nilly, they arrest a family, then storm on everyone’s favourite alien dive bar – which means Winn’s girlfriend, Lyra, is also abducted. The plan, it turns out, is to put all the aliens from Earth on a massive spaceship and send them off to another planet. Because sometimes, the simplest schemes are the most effective – and the most abhorrent.
We discover this plan after some rather dark stuff from Alex, who, after capturing a Cadmus henchman, begins to torture him to get answers. What about J’onn’s telepathy? Oh, that’s not working, because of reasons. Fortunately, those reasons are to continue developing Alex’s character, so we have no problem with that at all. Jack Bauer, eat your heart out. Except, obviously, don’t, because torture is bad – unlike 24, notably, Supergirl’s brief diversion into forced extraction of information doesn’t work.
Kara, meanwhile, is doing her own version of investigating – as a journalist. Yes, folks, it’s Snapper O’Clock, and he inevitably shoots down her pitch of a story about Cadmus stealing the National Alien Registry. That gives him a chance to rant about fake news, which will please all the anti-Trump fans in the audience (we’re presuming everyone – us included), and also reminds us that Kara really isn’t very qualified as a news reporter. What does she do when asked to produce a source? Why, she turns up as Supergirl instead, but even then, she can only offer her own word for something without explaining where her source comes from. Woodward and Bernstein, she ain’t.
At this point, you may be thinking that you don’t really care about all this newspaper nonsense and you want more of Alex – and that’s where Exodus really gets it right. Alex is this episode’s A plot, with Kara relegated to B plot territory. And so we head straight back to Alex, who is approached by Jeremiah Danvers (hello to Dean Cain) to steal something from the DEO to help him. But, of course, it’s not really Jeremiah at all: it’s J’onn playing his naughty Martian tricks to test Alex’s loyalty. Alex fails that, so he suspends her immediately.
So Alex does what any good employee would: she goes wrong and teams up with Maggie instead, kidnapping a bunch of Cadmus soldiers in the middle of their own kidnapping attempt, so they can find the location of Kadmus’ HQ. You wonder why nobody at the DEO did that sooner, but when Maggie and Alex are being so bad-ass, that’s hardly a complaint.
Kara, meanwhile, is following in her sister’s footsteps, and decided to self-publish her news story about Cadmus on her own blog, rather than wait to do the reporting business properly. Mon-El’s on hand to encourage her to do it, despite it being obviously a terrible idea, and so she does – and promptly gets fired by Snapper. “I was rooting for you,” he admits, in a scene that almost makes the whole Kara-being-a-journalist subplot unexpectedly moving.
It’s a nice little thematic echo between the two narrative strands, as we’re reminded that both sisters are willing to break rules to do what they think is right. Both are justified, in a way (Alex gets her job back), but only when they come together at the end in Cadmus’ HQ – while Alex confronts Jeremiah, who says he came up with the idea of mass deportation to stop Cadmus just killing aliens (including his daughters), Kara’s blog post goes viral, leaving the whole world knowing exactly what Cadmus is planning. Jeremiah decides to side with his family, after Alex points out how wrong he is – and after they rig the base with a ton of explosives – and so the sisters leave to do some fighting, while they team up to stop the deportation ship from lifting off and exiting out atmosphere. One on the inside, one on the outside.
You may see where this is going, but in real-time, it’s hugely powerful, as Alex winds up in the cockpit, failing to hit the brakes, and Kara is struggling to push with all her might on the outside of the ship’s hull. It’s a marvellous demonstration of Supergirl at its best. Every single thing that Alex has done this episode has built up her character, all of it fuelled by her determination to find and redeem and her father. And that union of action and emotion crescendoes brilliantly here, as the action scene becomes less about a gigantic spaceship or some mass explosions, and more about two sisters trying to stay together. (It’s a win for the production budget too, which makes it doubly smart.)
Later that night, after the Danvers save the day, Mon-El tries to cheer Kara up, but she confesses that she misses being a reporter, that writing is part of who she is: “When I write, I don’t need a yellow sun,” she says. “Supergirl is what I can do. Kara is who I am.”
A quick Google will tell you that this iconic-sounding dialogue springs right from the well of wonder that was the Lois & Clark: New Adventures of Superman TV series. It’s a lovely little line, which brings the focus neatly back to Kara, after an episode in which she’s played second fiddle. It reminds us just how much strength Supergirl, both the show and the superhero, find in Kara’s human side – doing the right thing isn’t a result of her superpowers, but a result of her as a person. That’s the reason we tune in each week. The flying and the heat laser vision are a bonus. (Incidentally, as we haven’t ranted about Guardian in a while, can someone please explain this to James, who doesn’t think being the boss of a media empire can help change the world for the better?)
That nod to Lois & Clark, though, gets even more nerd points come the episode’s finale, as that grand ship we glimpsed in the midseason finale reappears, right above the Moon. Referred to as “highnesses”, it’s clear that these are going to be Mon-El’s Daxamite parents, right? After all, he’s clearly the prince of the whole planet. That’s not the exciting part, though. The really exciting part? His mum’s played by Teri Hatcher. Oh, yes. It’s Lois & Clark reunion time. If Supergirl doesn’t get Cain and Hatcher together next episode, there’ll be hell to pay.
Supergirl Season 1 and 2 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription – with a 7-day free trial.
Where can I watch Supergirl Season 2 on pay-per-view VOD?