After many revelations and repercussions, this week's episode of Supergirl, titled "The Fanatical," really dug into the complicated ways secret identities have been colliding for our heroes and whether or not those issues can be resolved.
James in the Spotlight
In the process of protecting Tanya, the young woman who escaped the darks halls of Coville's cult, James' secret identity is revealed. Facing the possibility that the cultists may publicly unmask him leads him to dealing with some heavy emotions.
James has been more in the background for a stretch, so it was great to see him front and center, and with such a strong storyline. There's a lot of complicated intersections at play for James and I appreciated that the writers didn't shy away from it all. While he deals with the conflict of maintaining a secret identity like Kara, he also has to deal with his race and how that affects the way people see him as a person and a hero. Tanya's reaction to discovering James is Guardian was a stark contrast to the cops who held him at gunpoint, letting the real bad guys escape, and a simple and great exemplification of this concern. The writers layered all the ways James' navigates his identities, big and small, through the episode (hello hidden costume compartment in his elevator) and established the risks of disrupting it well.
Mehcad Brooks put in an especially great performance, delivering the emotional highs and lows of the episode in a real way. The scene where James told Lena about being handcuffed for no reason when he was seven years old is up there with the best of the season. Not every actor can play the full range—from tonight’s vulnerability to being cool and confident, but not obnoxious.
Supergirl and Lena: Still Rocky
Kara finally confronted James about his spilling the break-into-the-vault beans to Lena. Well, "confront" is maybe a bit strong. She was upset and admitted that it wasn't her best decision, but she expected James to have her back. This, of course, turns into a discussion about her navigating her human and superhero lives. She doesn't want to tell Lena she's Supergirl, not only to protect her, but because she's afraid to be lumped in with everyone else who's betrayed Lena. I've been talking about this the last few episodes, theorizing that this was what's been making Kara act a bit out of character, and it turns out I was on the right track.
Kara also tried to apologize to Lena as Supergirl, as I mentioned she should try last episode, and...well, Lena just wasn't having it. It certainly didn't help that Supergirl already got angry about a new anti-Kryptonian technology that Lena created to rein in Reign. I'm glad they're continuing down this slow path of resolution. It's much more realistic and I believe this will make their hopefully reinstated friendship that much more satisfying as it'll feel more earned, as opposed to everything suddenly being okay.
Part of trying to reconcile with the situation involved Kara discussing her identity issues with a lot of people, getting different points of view. The most in-depth conversation was with James, as they reconciled and mutually apologized. Them relating on this level was a nice added layer of depth to their relationship and a great reminder of why they're friends in the first place. I'm glad they didn't draw their argument out. There's enough going on without that being a problem and this is a much better example of handling problems than just sitting on things passive aggressively.
- We got to see Winn and Lena interact a bit tonight, which I feel has been a lost gem of interaction this season. Also, I continue to be very happy that Lena is shown to be such a genius and all the tribulations that come with that.
- Ruby is depressed and Alex is trying to help and distract her, but she just wants to be left alone. It turns out she's worried she may also become a Worldkiller, which is a super valid concern. We have yet to see if she has any powers, but with Lena's potential cure in development, it may be something that's resolved before it ever becomes an "issue" (if it's going to be problematic versus something potentially fun and useful).
- J'onn tried to take M'yrnn to an arcade to use VR games to help with his memories. It...didn't work. Like, it went really badly AND THESE WRITERS CONTINUE TO BREAK MY HEART. I did, however, enjoy seeing Ruby and M'yrnn bond over foosball because he was genuinely happy in that moment and that's all I want for him for forever.
- Even though Olivia was the first to challenge Coville when he tried to blow up that stadium, she kept visiting him in prison because she felt lost. This made her upgrade to leadership status in the cult. I think this was a great example of how hard it is to get someone out of a harmful situation like this, especially when belief is involved. And how, ultimately, understanding and kindness are keys to helping someone through troubled periods.
- Lena wants to stand beside James during his press conference and that's just a strong relationship move. I can dig it.
- Mon-El got to don his "Mike" disguise again in order to infiltrate the cult's ceremony space. Remember how last season this would've probably have gone horribly awry? It was nice to see him act decisively and correctly in this situation. Also, I enjoyed his playing off the kidnapping situation as being afraid. It was good schtick.
- The ceremony fight scene was a highlight. I particularly appreciate the paralleling fights with the shadows behind the theater screen. I can't wait to see what the finale fight scenes will be like.
- Much progress on the Kara/Mon-El front, very wow. So, it looks like we'll be navigating this revelation next week. They'll likely end up back together, but I at least hope they take it slower than last season.
- The cult’s plan to make a new Worldkiller was foiled in the end. However, Coville shows up at the crime scene and tells the guard there that he's never been better. This can't be good.
How do did you feel about this week's episode? Do you think James' volunteering to publicly unmask was a good decision? Is Kara handling her relationship with Lena better? Any predictions for next week? Let us know!