Thus far, Supergirl has soared by doubling down on the positive, inspirational qualities of its main character. That’s to be expected of a member of the Super-Family, of course: in the 1940s, not that long after Superman’s creation, there was a “Supermen of America” fan club.
And we get more of that in this week’s episode, “Falling.” Episode writers Robert Rovner & Jessica Queller and director Larry Teng give us a lovely scene where Supergirl flies down to stick up for a little girl being bullied for her homemade Supergirl costume that gets right at the heart of why this character and this show exists. And then we see it all go wrong.
That is to say, while saving a fireman, Supergirl is unknowinngly exposed to Red Kryptonite. True to form, it turns her into a huge jerk, lashing out at all her friends, co-workers and family. She also lets an alien criminal go after beating him up because he’s not “worth my time.” As ever, Melissa Benoist is the key to making this shift works.
Unlike when Smallville did its Red Kryptonite episode–and gave Clark Kent the cartoonish bad boy signifier of a leather jacket–Supergirl‘s jerk Kryptonian is a lot scarier because this is Kara unleashing a season’s, if not a lifetime’s, worth of frustration and upset. Whether it’s at James for sidelining her in favor of Lucy or at Alex for killing Astra and lying about it, this is Kara unleashing her unchecked id and the consequences are terrifying and thrilling to behold.
Benoist sells all of this spectacularly well. I never watched Glee so I have no clue whether or not her character was ever nasty but here, she relishes digging into Kara’s bad side, lending genuine menace to this huge shift. Everyone else is playing below her level but they still do some good stuff. With a synergistic cross-promotional appearance on The Talk (weekdays on CBS!) Calista Flockhart sells the business side of Cat Grant and later, her genuine concern at what has happened to Supergirl, a public figure she helped create. Mehcad Brooks has some nice stuff to do as James, particularly in the wake of last week’s “Solitude” ending with Lucy leaving him after confronting him with his love for Kara. Chyler Leigh also gets stronger stuff to do for Alex than we’ve seen in a while. That said, it is a little strange we don’t get even an IM from Clark checking if his cousin is ok…
The way this episode ends gives us two major plot threads that will more than likely reverberate over the rest of the season. I’m intrigued to see where it goes and, if Red Kryptonite is a thing here, what other forms of Kryptonite will show up. Dare I hope for Supergirl to have a lion head? Only time will tell.