It’s surprising when you think about it, but we’ve gone almost a year without the Girl of Steel.
Nearly all scripted TV shows have been impacted by the pandemic, but Supergirl was hit particularly hard. Forced to shut down production just before cameras were due to start rolling on what should have been the season finale, Supergirl Season 5 ended up wrapping an episode earlier than intended. The result was an unplanned finale that was heavy on the action and stakes…but also on the cliffhangers. For nearly a year, we’ve been unsure of whether Brainiac-5 would live or die or whether the planet would be insidiously overtaken by Leviathan or Lex Luthor.
However, arguably the biggest impact the pandemic had on Supergirl was on how its most recent storyline was received. Planned, scripted and largely shot before the world knew it would be forced to stay at home and isolate to keep a destructive virus at bay, the message of Supergirl’s fifth season was about the danger and destructiveness of doing just that. Leviathan and Lex aimed to use the new virtual reality tech designed by Andrea Rojas’ Obsidian North to control humanity—their success seemingly guaranteed by modern society’s need to remain constantly plugged in.
It’s a message that hit close to home for the entirely wrong—and unintended—reason. Yes, people have been constantly plugged in this past year. It’s because that’s been the only way they’ve been able to stay in touch with their friends, family and other loved ones. Supergirl arguing in favor of logging off and going outside was exactly what we shouldn’t be doing.
Still, for all of her abilities, Kara Danvers can’t predict the future. We can’t control what we can’t control, so we move on and look ahead to Supergirl’s sixth season, which makes its debut on The CW tonight. And interestingly, the show is once again mirroring real life—though this time in a much more positive way. Entitled “Rebirth,” a name that holds great significance for DC fans, the episode picks up right where the season finale ends. It’s action-packed and features some surprising twists. Yet, it also works fascinatingly well as a season premiere due to how it turns a page for some of its characters.
“Rebirth” proves to be a fitting title. Brainy and Lena are both reborn as heroes, a deserving and much needed evolution after the mistakes they made last season. Lena’s recognition and understanding of her bad choices and the selflessness of the team in forgiving her makes for some powerful, emotional moments. On the other side of the spectrum, Lex is reborn as a more powerful being—infused with immortality and powers that transcend even Supergirl’s. He also gets some killer lines and a montage set to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” that ranks among the best Lex Luthor moments on screen. Alex also gets a rebirth, as J’onn leads her to recognize her unique contributions to the team. He also gives her a new name and symbol, officially making Alex National City’s latest superhero.
Kara gets a rebirth as well, though I won’t spoil the details of that one. Instead, I want to reiterate, if it wasn’t already clear, that rebirth is both the title and theme of Supergirl’s return, which feels perfect as it seems like we’re going through our own rebirth as well. When Supergirl shut down last season, it was alongside all of us as we were told to stay home and stay apart. To be clear, that’s still the order of the day…but there really does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel now. With vaccinations on the rise and restrictions on what we can do gradually being rolled back, it feels like we’re being born anew alongside Alex, Brainy, Lena, Lex and Kara. We may not have heat vision, super-strength or shape-shifting abilities, but after a year of being locked up, getting told we might soon be able to see, hug and spend time with the people we love feels like some sort of superpower.
The irony, of course, is that as we’re about to say hello again to all of our greatly missed real-life friends, we’re about to say goodbye forever to some wonderful small screen ones. It was announced last year that this season of Supergirl would be the series’ last. As someone who’s fallen more in love with this series with each passing season, I can’t say I’m not sad about that. Yet, there’s poetry in it as well, if you look at it the right way. Supergirl debuted in 2015 and since then, we’ve seen some unquestionably dark times. Racial turmoil and protests, natural disasters, mass shootings, two impeachments, an attempted coup and a still-ongoing global pandemic unlike anything seen in over a century. Through it all, Supergirl has been a source of hope for millions of viewers—a brightly colored, unwaveringly positive light within all the darkness. And while our struggles and challenges are NOT done and things will continue to be difficult for far too many of us, we are inarguably turning a page as we make our way out of this pandemic and return to the lives and people we’ve missed.
As she prepares to take her final bow, it feels almost fitting that Kara remains with us over these next few months, guiding us out of this dark moment back into the light. In that way, Supergirl’s rebirth belongs to all of us.
Supergirl's season premiere airs tonight at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW. Visit our official Supergirl page for the latest news, announcements and articles about National City's Girl of Steel.
Tim Beedle covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, writes our monthly Superman column, "Super Here For...", and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our series of articles devoted to all things TV. Follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Beedle.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Tim Beedle and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.