Warning: This contains spoilers.
Supergirl is a show that firmly follows the CW network formula of embracing the importance of family. Compared to, say, The New Adventures of Superman and this is notably an ensemble show, with all of the supporting characters playing an important part. Indeed, let it never be said that Kara doesn’t have the most dramatically convenient family ever. On top of her secret agent sister, her techxpert friend and her long-lost dad (Dean ruddy Cain), who just happened to turn up last episode to break her out of Cadmus’ prison, she also has a mum, Eliza, with a degree in Alien Science Stuff.
So when we finally discover that Medusa is a nasty wee virus that kills aliens, but leaves humans unharmed, it’s a good job that Eliza is in town for Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving can sometimes be kryptonite for a TV show, Supergirl’s family focus means that it’s immune from any holiday-themed pressures; its strength lies in its sincere emotions and earnest connections. So when we pause for everyone at Kara’s to talk about how thankful they are for each other, it’s genuinely sweet – not least because everyone has their own secret they want to spill, from James’ Guardian alter-ego (not spilled yet, which means we sadly have to put up with more of it in the future) to Alex’s sexuality. Add in Mon-El and his growing crush upon Supergirl and you’ve got a warm, squishy scene that, were it acted out by any other cast, would have you vomiting down the back of the sofa.
But anyway, Medusa. Cyborg Superman – who is the real Hank Henshaw, but not really – is spotted by Mon-El in everyone’s favourite alien dive bar, before he walks out and leaves the weaponised virus spurting out into the air. The result is an extra-terrestrial graveyard that the series doesn’t hold back from showing us – and a shock for Mon-El, who only avoids dying by following Mon-El outside for yet another top-notch punch-up. (The show’s choreography is always strong, but Supergirl’s camerawork is particularly impressive here, swooping but never cutting to allow for long enough shots to admire the stunts.)
The result is a quarantined Mon-El, who is kept company by Supergirl (them playing Monopoly and pretending not to fancy each other is another treat), and a quick jaunt for Kara to the Fortress of Solitude. There, she discovers that Medusa was actually created by her dad, as a means of a destroying enemies of Kypton. This is Supergirl back at its best, combining its action with character development. Sure enough, the programme’s other central parent-child bond is also tested, as Kara approaches Lena Luthor, who owns the isotope needed to disperse the Medusa virus – and Lena is put into direct conflict with her mother, Lillian, aka. the head of Cadmus.
Does Lena know her mum is an evil, alien-hating megalomaniac? She may not know the organisation Cadmus, but she’s not exactly surprised by her mother’s stance, after what happened to Lex. The question, rather, is whether she will join forces with her mum, just to win her approval and affection.
That, finally, gives Katie McGrath something more to do, as she faces off with the icy, disapproving Luthor matriarch, selling her inner conflict well. (Speaking of which, did we mention how awesome it is that Supergirl has another female Big Bad, after Season 1?) When we learn that Lena has given her mum the isotope, therefore, we can easily believe that she has succumbed to parental pressure.
But this is Supergirl, a show of redemption and compassion, so how lovely to find out, in the end, that Lena has double-crossed Lillian and rendered the virus harmless, before it can explode in a rocket over the city. David Harewood, meanwhile, is clearly enjoying himself in a duel between himself and himself, with the fake Hank Henshaw turning into a White Martian to deliver a hefty smackdown to Cyborg Superman. (Will the real Hank Henshaw please stand up? Oh look, he can’t.)
All the while, Supergirl’s super-convenient mum cures Mon-El and even uses Medusa to restore J’onn back to being a Green Martian. It’s the kind of quick wrap-up that would feel unsatisfying, were it not for the opportunity Eliza’s presence provides for Alex to come out to her mum. Her supportive reaction to the news is exactly what we tune into this superhero show for – and there’s even a Maggie-Alex kiss to boot, as she admits that she does have feelings for Kara’s sister after all. Compared to the crowded, uneven last episode and this is another busy episode, but in the best way possible.
With Lillian arrested, that seems to be things mostly tied up for now – but before you can say mid-season finale, along comes Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon from The Flash, via the time-space continuum holes that keep popping up through the episode. They need Supergirl’s help, they announce, kicking off a four-way crossover that will stretch across The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, each airing on consecutive nights this week on Sky 1 – ideal for a binge-viewing session on Friday. There’s admittedly not much of a connection between this episode of Supergirl and that attempted event, but judging by how much fun the previous Supergirl-Flash overlap was, The CW’s focus on wider family is as welcome as ever.
Read our review of The Flash’s crossover episode here.
Read our review of Arrow’s crossover episode here.
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?