Supergirl balanced a good plot with strong political beliefs in the second episode of the season, alongside some truly inspirational moments.
The second episode of Supergirl season four, entitled ‘Fallout’, doubled down on the show’s strong stance on immigration and the refugee crisis. It also wasn’t afraid of showing the flaws of human nature – how we are inherently afraid of what we don’t understand. Despite these heavy themes, the episode managed to inject enough humour to balance the darker overtones.
All in all, it was a great follow-up to the premiere, and an exciting start to the new season. Here are our top moments from the episode. Spoilers ahead!
1 – All American Hero
Supergirl has had her ups and downs over the seasons, from proving herself to her family and her city, to fighting the toughest aliens, and humans, in the galaxy. Throughout it all, she has strived to be a beacon of hope.
Even though it may seem like Supergirl has finally achieved this, we can’t be sure for how long she will enjoy her moment in the sun. As a reminder to audiences of just how important Supergirl is to a country and its people, not to mention pop culture, the show gives us an iconic image – one that will probably live on for the ages.
In the opening scenes, President Olivia Marsdin, who was revealed to be an alien in the premiere, decides to step down from her role because she doesn’t want to cause any rifts between the American people. To illustrate this, a riot breaks out in front of the White House between protestors who want the President gone, and a group who do not want to discriminate against aliens.
Either way, to avoid casualties, Supergirl swoops in to save the day, catching an errant flagpole holding the American flag before it squashes the protestors. Landing back on terra firma, Supergirl appeals for peace as she hoists the flagpole – a symbol of truth, justice and the American way. I can’t help but think: Superman who?
2 – Out of Sight, Out of Mind
One of the themes that we have seen recurring in this season of Supergirl is that the girl of steel and her friends aren’t flawless. In episode one, Supergirl herself was made to realize that her experience as a human-passing alien was not the same as others. The powerful scene between her and mentor/father figure J’onn Jones was one of the most memorable of the episode.
And the trend continues in the follow-up. Human beings have a short attention span, and this is never more clear than when J’onn goes to meet his replacement at the DEO, Director Alex Danvers. Alex and J’onn have grown extremely close over the course of the series but that does not mean that she will continue to give J’onn her undivided attention.
When J’onn comes to Alex for help looking for his friend Fiona, Alex gets caught up with her own mission, practically forgetting about J’onn. Now that he’s a civilian, he is more easily dismissed. As many humans will empathize, despite J’onn’s concerns, he is reluctant to take up too much of Alex’s time and thus leaves without receiving the help he needs.
This is one of the many quiet human moments that has defined Supergirl as a show that is about more than just superheroes and fight scenes. This is a show that is determined to study human nature and interactions.
I am curious to see where J’onn’s arc will go this season, especially as the audience know that J’onn’s friend is anything but safe. Clearly, sidelining him is going to backfire on Supergirl and the DEO. It’s only a matter of when.
3 – Taking a Stand
There were a lot of political moments in this episode, but again, it was the human interactions that made the politics really stand out.
When Brainiac-5’s image-inducer malfunctions and his true alien form is revealed to the owner of a pizza joint, the owner and his colleagues immediately turn on Brainy, threatening him with baseball bats. Brainy, being a more cerebral superhero, is not equipped to handle such aggression.
Fortunately for him, a fellow bystander knows exactly how to deal with bullies. Nia Nal came to the pizzeria looking for coffee but ended up fighting against bigots. It wins her a fan in Brainy, or perhaps something more, but it also gives her cause to speak to James Olsen, Editor-in-Chief of CatCo Worldwide Media, about making a statement against anti-alien sentiment.
In a powerful scene, the first of its kind in the superhero genre, Nia tells James that she is transgender and is intimately acquainted with bigotry and otherness. She has had to fight to be herself and she cannot stand for anyone else being treated the way she has been.
What I loved about the scene was the tête-à-tête between Nia and James. It isn’t just Nia insisting on a statement and James accepting it – he explains to her that making a pro-alien statement in this environment has the potential to erode CatCo’s standing as an unbiased media enterprise. And, though Nia understands that, she still holds firm in her belief that CatCo, as an international organization, has a responsibility to show people who are being discriminated against that there is someone standing by them.
By the end of the episode, James makes his stance clear to all of CatCo – alien or not, people deserve the right to share the planet without fear of recrimination – which earns him Nia’s gratitude. Coupled with a speech by Supergirl about acceptance and tolerance, and the world looks like it’s heading towards a better place.
4 – No Phone Booths Here
The dark themes of the episode were brilliantly undercut by a long and humorous scene near the end of the episode.
Kara Danvers visits Lena Luthor, ostensibly to get information on the villainous Graves siblings, but also to hang out with her friend. When Mercy Graves attacks LCorp shortly after, Lena, her scientific advisor, Eve Teschmacher, and Kara search for a place to hide till Supergirl comes to save them. Unbeknownst to Lena, Supergirl is effectively standing beside her, desperately looking for a place to change into her Supergirl suit.
Due to misunderstandings in the previous season, Lena and Supergirl aren’t exactly besties, which gives Kara even more incentive to not be found out. Thus ensues a hilarious sequence of events where Lena takes charge, handing Eve and Kara dampeners to protect their ears from sonic blasts, which Kara doesn’t need, and fussing over Kara’s safety.
This scene is one of the rare moments where a superhero doesn’t get a convenient place to change into superhero garb. It’s one of the reasons why Spider-Man: Homecoming was so refreshing – seeing Peter Parker change in a disgusting alleyway, and consequently losing his backpack, was a change from everything audiences had seen before.
In a similar vein, Supergirl tries to keep it real in this episode by forcing Kara to face danger in Kara-form, and more importantly, let someone else handle the bad guy. Of course, in the end, Lena’s efforts to fight Mercy Graves aren’t enough, and she does need rescuing by Supergirl, but this is going to be one of those indelible moments in superhero history that we will not soon forget.
5 – What Every Alien Needs
Since Brainy’s decision to join the DEO, Alex Danvers has struggled to accept him. By the end of the premiere, Alex had come to realize that it was mainly because Brainy had taken the place of her close friend, Winn Schott. But her feelings of annoyance have only dwindled a bit since then.
Brainy’s over-reliance on probabilities is often difficult to deal with, even if they are usually accurate. However, following the incident at the pizzeria, Brainy is visibly shaken and thus makes incorrect calculations, almost sending Supergirl to her doom.
When Brainy tries to process his mistake, Alex confronts him and, surprisingly, takes his side. Mistakes happen and she is ready to forgive him. She is also extremely understanding about the pizza place incident. Alex has been a loyal friend to a number of aliens – her sister, Kara, and J’onn, chief among them – and with the support she gives Brainy, he soon adds himself to that list. As Brainy aptly says, “Every alien deserves an Alex Danvers”. If only there were more Alex Danvers for the marginalized in our world.
This episode of Supergirl certainly had a number of memorable moments though it did end on a very dark note. It is clear that this season is going to be hard-hitting and realistic in its politics. It is going to be very interesting to watch the rest of the story unfold.