One of the unexpected surprises of this season of Supergirl has been the slow-burning subplot of Alex Danvers coming to grips with her sexuality. There was an indication the show would go into this territory when Floriana Lama was cast as Maggie Sawyer, the most visible gay character in the DCU outside of Batwoman. But staking out that territory through a story of Alex coming out is not only unexpected. It’s also a good way to make Alex interesting and more compelling as a character outside of “government agent lady who throws good punches.”
For her part, Chyler Leigh sells the nervousness, excitement and anxiety over this new self-revelation incredibly well. Her big coming-out speech to Kara at the start of the episode is a wonderful thing, beautifully performed and well shot by director Larry Teng. In all likelihood, this scene will most likely get the show a GLADD Award nomination next year.
While Alex’s journey is the emotional motherlode of this episode, there’s a lot of other changes too. For one, Kara tries to turn Mon-El into her. Setting him up with an alternate identity named Mike, an internship at CatCo, and a haircut-by-heat-vision, she basically tries to turn “Mike” into her. Which fails pretty spectacularly and hilariously, but also opens Kara’s eyes a little bit to what she can and can’t do to people.
Speaking of people, after beating down on dudes with a baseball bat last week, James decides to keep his superhero streak going. With Winn serving as his support, James–looking like Robocop meets Klaatu from The Day The Earth Stands Still–shows up as the Guardian. While this shift feels a bit out of nowhere in one sense–other than a good bit about James tiring of being the “sidekick”–it’s an interesting hurdle to throw into things. I’m not totally sold on the design or the modulated voice but I do think the idea makes sense.
Speaking of ideas, episode writers Andrew Kreisberg & Caitlin Parrish (working from a story by Greg Berlanti) hit upon a good one when it came to introducing the DCTV version of Parasite (William Mapother). Not only is he a dedicated climate change researcher devoted to saving the Earth–a much better tack than the fat janitor he was in Geoff Johns’ and Gary Frank’s Superman: Secret Origins–but his origin story and eventual alien look is a fun mix of Alien and The Thing. The final design is really creepy and, even with every scene of him fully mutated set in the dark, it’s really eye-catching.
Juggling all these threads incredibly well and anchoring them in the beautifully resonant coming-out story of Alex leads to a wonderful episode. Will the show stick the landing on any or all of its threads? I like to think so and I hope it does. Now more than ever, we need a show as hopeful and uplifting as this. Hopefully, the upcoming DCTV crossover involving the Dominators doesn’t derail the show too much.
Tom Speelman is a contributor to Loser City and The Mary Sue and a regular writer/columnist at Comics Alliance. He’s a freelance writer and proofreader and is featured in the upcoming criticism anthology A Galaxy Far Far Away: Exploring Star Wars Comics from Sequart Publishing. Find him on Twitter @tomtificate.