UK TV review: Supergirl Season 2, Episode 17
Ivan Radford | On 08, Apr 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers.
After Supergirl and The Flash’s musical crossover, Supergirl continues that special’s commitment to romance with an episode of partners getting to know each other better.
Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Lima) make an even cuter couple than normal, as they stroll through the streets of National City – only for Maggie to bump into her ex, Emily. Alex, being Alex, doesn’t fly off the handle with jealousy, instead inviting Emily to dinner with the duo, and Maggie, being Maggie, is willing to do anything to please Alex. When Emily stands them up, though, Maggie’s romantic history is dragged out of the shadows: Maggie, it turns out, cheated on Emily, something that upsets Alex, not because Maggie was unfaithful, but because she kept it from her. After the back-and-forth drama with Kara and Mon-El, it’s a treat to have a serious love story on Supergirl that deals with these kind of issues with maturity and sensitivity.
“You don’t think I’m a bad person?” Maggie asks. “No,” says Alex. “I always thought that you were perfect, but it’s nice to see that you have problems too.”
Alex reassures Maggie that, unlike her parents, she’s not going to judge her. Both Leigh and Lima continue to shine in their roles, almost to the point where you wish the whole show was about them; in a series of aliens, superheroes and planetary threats, theirs is a wonderfully grounded relationship about realistic problems, and it’s a pleasure to see their bond grow every episode.
Kara and Mon-El, meanwhile, are cosying back up to each other, with Kara discovering that Mon-El is putting an effort into cooking and doing laundry, and Mon-El discovering that Kara really, really likes bacon. But (wouldn’t you know it?) another obstacle turns up to disrupt their honeymoon bliss; while Alex meets Maggie’s ex, Kara meets Mon-El’s parents. Of course, they already met last episode, but now, Kara gets to know what Queen Rhea and King Lar Grand are really like: homicidal, possessive, controlling monsters.
Teri Hatcher is loving the chance to go full villainess as Rhea – and she absolutely nails Supergirl’s balance of cheese served with a straight face. (“Krypton on Earth? And I thought the location of our last meeting was vile,” she sneers, when Kara arranges to meet her at the Fortress of Solitude.) When she and Kara are face-to-face on Daxamite territory, she whips out a kryptonite dagger without hesitation, with a violent fury that’s 50 per cent maternal devotion, 50 per cent unhinged and 100 per cent awesome. What’s crazy is that you can almost understand where she’s coming from: Rhea is so intensely loyal that she won’t accept anything less in return from her family members. While that might manifest itself in a typical parent in the form of catty insults or disapproving stares, here, it manifests itself in the form of Rhea putting a price on Kara’s head.
Supergirl being bumped off by any lowlife or bounty hunter in the galaxy? It’s the kind of thing that could form the basis of a fantastic The Raid-style comic book movie, let alone a TV episode. So it’s with some disappointment that this doesn’t take up the whole hour, in a wall-to-wall action fest of intergalactic fights. But what action we do get is top-notch stuff, particularly as one of them is a mind controller who takes over Mon-El’s body and gets him to attack Kara. A possessed partner being forced to harm the person they love? It’s an old trick, but it’s an oldie for a reason, and it once again allows Supergirl to balance action and character to just enough of a degree to give the show some substance.
With the help of J’onn, Rhea’s decision to pay people to kill her future daughter-in-law is swiftly unmasked – it’s a CW show, so is anyone really surprised by the revelation that someone’s parents are evil? – and Mon-El says he’ll go with his mum and dad, if they spare Kara. They obviously don’t see eye to eye, and so we get another punch-up on the Daxamite spaceship, which involves those duelling sticks we used to see on Lois & Clark all the time back in the 1990s. (Seriously, Supergirl, where’s our Cain/Hatcher reunion?) We also get a flying visit from the DEO, who lend a helping hand with some of the best dialogue in an episode crackling with witty exchanges. “I’m here to rescue you,” quips Winn. “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” retorts Mon-El. “You finally saw Star Wars!” comes the delighted reply.
All of this, needless to say, takes place without the approval of President Marsdin, who pops up to tell J’onn that she disapproves of any kind of human-alien conflict on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, particularly when it involves punching a member of another planet’s royal family. But, in an unexpected twist that will no doubt be Important For Later, we also find out that POTUS is actually an alien, so expect more from her in the coming weeks.
Speaking of things that women don’t approve of, King Lar Gand ultimately agrees to let Mon-El stay on Earth. Does Rhea like this decision? No, she does not. Rhea being Rhea, she kills her husband in anger and decides to reclaim Earth for herself. On the scale of believable relationship complications, having your boyfriend’s mother attempt to wipe out the whole of your race because she doesn’t like you ranks several rungs below Alex and Maggie’s storyline. But sometimes, you need a murdering matriarch from another planet to stop things from becoming too serious. And if that means we get another season of Supergirl with a female Big Bad, we’re all for it. Someone give Rhea Lillian Luthor’s number stat.
Supergirl Season 2 is on UK TV on Sky 1 every Tuesday at 8pm. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it live and on-demand on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription. The contract-free service includes access to a range of Sky channels, from Sky 1 (Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash) and FOX UK (The Walking Dead, Legion, 24: Legacy) to Sky Atlantic (Billions, The Young Pope). A 14-day free trial is available for new subscribers.