Supergirl: 217 “Distant Sun” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
Episode 17 of this current season of Supergirl takes our show where it should, which is right in the midst of high stakes science fiction action. Alien bounty hunters come to earth and give Kara a run for her money, and things with Mon-El’s parents take a sharp turn for the dramatic, whetting the appetite for an epic alien invasion story with the insane Queen Rhea doing her level best to raze Supergirl’s adopted homeworld to dust. It doesn’t air for nearly a month, so let’s hope that gives the production team the time they need to save up enough money for the special effects, and also to get Tyler Hoechlin back for another turn as Superman.
But…this is Supergirl. So it’s possible that the next episode is going to shove Rhea into the background and focus instead on either a villain-of-the-week or Kara learning to be a reporter, with a distracting relationship-based subplot thrown in the pad out the run-time.
Or worse, it might wrap up the Rhea / Daxamite plot in one quick episode, and then just leave us with more tedious business with Lillian Luthor to wrap up the end of the season.
It’s possible that Supergirl, more than any other CW superhero TV show, has the potential to deliver one show-stopping spectacular after another: the threat of the White Martians, the mystery of the president, the dilemma of Jeremiah Danvers, the plight of M’gann, the machinations of Lena Luthor, the menace of Live Wire. But so often, the series struggles with how to pace these events out. Really, a series of short but intense story arcs, each lasting three or four episodes, would probably yield better results than the approach they’ve been taking, where everything is stretched out and takes place against the backdrop of Kara (and Alex’s) ordinary lives and personal dramas.
But back to this week, Distant Sun was an enjoyable outing. As mentioned, Teri Hatcher’s Queen Rhea has now been clearly established as a major antagonist – viciously menacing, physically threatening, and completely insane. On top of that, there was plenty of cool action, including the sequence where Mon-El comes under the bounty hunter’s mental control. The episode moved along Kara’s relationship with Mon-El nicely. It did some interesting things with Mon-El’s father and gave him some nice development, even if that resulted in his death. And it used J’onn well, giving him a few fantastic sequences. It was great to see him go mind-to-mind against another telepath and show everybody what he’s made of.
On the negative side, the episode continued to highlight just how superfluous James has become to the program—even becoming the Guardian hasn’t done much to raise his profile. I’m pretty sure he was in this one, but I can’t remember if he actually did anything. Even Winn helps to stop one of the villains this episode rather than James. The show really needs to either write him out, or get him into the DEO (as the head of security?) and possibly cut ties with CatCo all together. Or maybe give him a storyline where he can go deep undercover and infiltrate Cadmus?
The episode is still weighed in relational subplots that don’t really have any bearing on anything else going on. The forced thematic connection of the Alex / Maggie story with the main plot (both Alex and Kara attempt to get their significant others to talk to people, with pretty unpleasant results) doesn’t really help make the story feel more relevant. But at least it didn’t take up as much screen-time as thing with Winn’s girlfriend last time.
So now we have several weeks to wait before we see where the series is going next, and whether the production team are able to keep up the momentum and deliver a closing round of episodes that have focus and direction.