Supergirl: 219 “Alex” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
Alex, the latest episode of Supergirl, is in much the same vein as last week’s story in that it is largely standalone adventure. This time the focus is squarely on Alex and her relationships with both Kara and Maggie, which the series has obviously spent a lot of time on this season. And as far as Alex goes, it’s a pretty strong episode. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Kara.
Chyler Leigh has a fairly limited role in the episode, and spends most of it locked in a cage, but the material she has is strong and she gives it her all. Even though Alex is literally a victim in this episode, she responds to the situation like we’d expect: with strength, resolve and with the right amount of humanity. Alex gets to be tough and resourceful as well as scared and vulnerable, which is a mixture the series has not always hit well this season, so it was good to see.
Kara, on the other hand, got to mostly be freaked out, lacking in sense or self-control. It’s a bit painful to watch her be relentlessly wrong every step along the way in this rescue operation, to not demonstrate any intelligence or restraint, all to force the contrast between her and Maggie. Indeed the tension between them from the beginning is contrived, and it becomes clear that the whole purpose of the story is to highlight the fact that they are different yet both important to Alex. It’s just that those differences come a bit out of the blue.
Actually, the idea that the police might not always appreciate a superhero’s involvement is a good one, but Maggie has never hinted at it before. But then, we’ve seen her do so little police work this season that that’s not a big surprise. But the show doesn’t do itself any favors when it just throws in wrinkles like this without any development—it just smells of the writers making stuff up in order to find some kind of drama to keep the episode going.
Other than that, Maggie is actually written pretty well this week– relying on procedure and keeping it cool until she actually sees Alex about to die. Her breakdown is not hard to believe, but Kara’s turnaround is harder to buy. There’s no particular reason for her to suddenly be so enlightened and reasonable about the whole thing, and of course it’s very convenient that the villain’s father is convinced by Supergirl’s emotional appeal, so it makes the conclusion of the story a bit unsatisfying. It’s only watching Alex desperately fighting to hold on to life that raises it up again.
Meanwhile, over in the subplot, Lena Luthor and Queen Rhea get to know each other and come to business terms. Normally, a subplot so disconnected from the main story would feel annoying and intrusive, but in this case it works because of course we know this is where the season arc is really playing out. Even though not much actually happens there, it does elevate those scenes. As a nice bonus we get to know both Rhea and Lena a bit better and our appetite is whetted for the inevitable season finale, coming soon.