UK TV review: Supergirl Season 2, Episode 18
Ivan Radford | On 07, May 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers.
Season 2 of Supergirl returns after its month-long hiatus and Episode 18 is a reassuring reminder that the show hasn’t forgotten that it’s important to develop its villains as well as its heroes. If you want an episode with some quality Lena Luthor time – and who doesn’t? – good news. If you want an episode with some quality Lena Luthor time and some killer robot bees, even better.
The episode picks up with Kara’s lack of a journalism career, with Melissa Benoist appearing despondent for the first time, after days of “funemployment”. Her grief baking, though, is swiftly interrupted by the arrival of Lena (Katie McGrath), who invites her to a press conference hosted by a scientist about to unveil some suspiciously advanced technology. Why? Because the scientist is her ex, Jack (played by iZombie‘s Rahul Kohli). And when Rahul Kohli’s in town, the law says that you have to swing by and check him out.
Jack, sure enough, does unveil some technology that is suspiciously advanced – technology that he says can cure any injury and potentially eradicate all disease. He spots Lena and swoops in to catch up, inviting her out to a fancy dinner. While he’s whisking her off her feet (Kohli’s charm is 100 per cent swoonsome), Kara has a date of her own – with a bespectacled, nervous guy, who warns her that Jack’s company has faked its human trials, because its technology isn’t safe to use yet. (Did we mention the “suspiciously advanced” part yet?) And, just in case there was any doubt that Bad Things were about to happen, a swarm of the nanobots turn up and blow up the guy’s car.
Sinister deaths? A corporate cover-up? Who should be investigating these events but Snapper Carr, everyone’s favourite disgruntled newspaper editor! After bickering with Kara at the press conference about her Cadmus blog post, he and Kara coordinate their efforts, both finding their own sources who say that something is up with Jack. Inevitably, the nanobots swarm on his source too, resulting in a nifty little apartment set piece that delivers some of the most impressive CG action on the show to date. (Kudos to director Armen V. Kevorkian, who’s got VFX priors on his CV.)
There’s no surprise where this all ends up – it turns out Jack injected himself with the nanobots and ended up fusing with them, to the point where he’s actually made up the tiny wasp-like mites. All those deaths? Those are on him. Which makes you wonder exactly how he and Lena would have (ahem) reconnected, if you catch our drift.
And that’s very much the best thing about the episode: despite its predictable sci-fi plot, the writers weave that narrative into the emotional development of the characters. More specifically, Lena and Kara. Their relationship has already become one of Supergirl’s stronger elements and Episode 18 does a great job building on the existing work done: the scene where Kara interrupts Lena and Jack’s date to quiz him manages to be both a display of journalistic skills and concern for her friend’s new romantic interest. The two are indistinguishable, both central parts of Kara’s character – and that gentle depth is echoed by Lena’s actions at the end, as she overrides the computer that controls the swarm so that Jack ends up dying and Supergirl doesn’t. (On the plus side, Jack turns out to be innocent, as his CFO, Beth, is the one mind-controlling him and the swarm.)
The bond between them is reinforced by some neat moments at the episode’s conclusion, as Kara consoles Lena, who fears she’s becoming like her mum. As for Kara’s career, she’s rehired by Snapper, who gives her a co-byline on the CatCo news story exposing Jack. It’s a promising indication that the series is starting to get a handle on how to balance the careers of Kara and Supergirl. Add that to the confident emotional juggling and you have a series that has managed to mature over its sophomore run, despite a notable lack of narrative direction.
For example, there’s no real sense of what the show is building up to – James Olsen pops up as Guardian for some pointless subplotting once again, as he and Winn struggle with the violent urges of Winn’s girlfriend, Lyra, who wants to help them solve crimes. With Queen Rhea offering a business proposal to Lena just before the end credits, though, it’s surely only a matter of time until Lena works out Kara’s identity. On the plus side, the show’s done just enough this season to make that discovery matter in time for Season 2’s closing chapters. Whatever happens, at least there’ll be some sense of emotional pay-off.
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.