Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: I love Supergirl and the main idea it’s pushing–being forthrightly embracing of superheroes being inspirational figures of fun–and I get the sense that that’s what its sister shows are about…but I’m not caught up with them.
I watched The Flash from its premiere until school & life intervened and haven’t caught up yet. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Arrow. And I’ve not seen a single episode of Legends of Tomorrow even though it has what looks like the most faithful version of my favorite DC character, Jonah Hex. And so, while I loved last year’s “World’s Finest,” I don’t really plan on checking out the rest of “Invasion!,” as this week’s four-way crossover between all DC CW shows is officially called, or “Heroes V. Aliens” as it’s been called in promos.
Fortunately, “Medusa”‘s writers Jessica Gueller & Derek Simon & director Stefan Pleszczynski, recognize that a not-insubstantial bit of the viewership is in my shoes. Thus, the crossover stuff is mainly restricted to The Flash (Grant Gustin) & Cisco “Vibe” Ramon (Carlos Valdes) showing up at the end and saying, “Hey Kara, we need some help; stuff’s getting crazy. We need you to pinch-hit.”
And that’s great. Something superhero comics are only just starting to remember in small doses is that crossovers are fine and fun but a lot of people aren’t interested in buying every issue and each part has to stand on its own while also providing connective tissue.
Thus, “Medusa” by and large continues where “The Darkest Place” left off and mostly sticks to rolling its various plots forward. Thus, we open with the gang at Thanksgiving dinner at Kara’s place, with Mon-El–bless his heart–bringing “stuffing” from his mattress and being super-nice to Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater) so he can score points with Kara. We get Alex & Jimmy trying to one-up each other with big declarations–Alex trying to come up to her mom and Jimmy trying to reveal that he’s the Guardian–before a crazy, giant portal pops up above the dinner table (related to that Flash business).
That weirdness aside, J’onn–the show is doubling down on calling him that now, so that’s what I’m doing–says the next day they need to figure out what Cadmus is doing with the sample of Kara’s blood they obtained last week. But as viewers know, that blood was used by Robo-Hank Henshaw (also played by David Harewood, who keeps calling himself Cyborg Superman, which makes no sense and it’s a little dumb) to access the Fortress of Solitude and learn how to replicate Project Medusa, an airborne virus developed by Kara’s biological dad Zor-El (Robert Gant) for Krypton’s defense that kills all non-Kryptonians. Cadmus synthesizes that virus to not kill humans and tests it out by having Robo-Hank covertly disperse it in the Alien Hangout Bar (there’s not an official name for it, I don’t think).
This kills all aliens inside and later incapacitates Mon-El, who was in the bar but briefly fought Robo-Hank outside as the virus was activated, thus delaying his own reaction. Kara flies to the Fortress and finds out her dad was behind Medusa.
This messes her right up, as does Supergirl later telling Lena (Katie McGrath) about her horribly estranged–and just plain horrible–mom Lillian (Brenda Strong) leading Cadmus. Those are nice parallel arcs and both wind up at pretty similar ends which works, particularly in the show’s decision not to turn Lena evil which is exactly what a lesser show could’ve done. As does the continuing evolution of Alex & Maggie’s relationship.
While watching “The Darkest Place,” I kinda hoped the show would move forward with Alex & Maggie just being friends, with Alex fully acknowledging that Maggie was the reason she came out while accepting that Maggie doesn’t feel the same way. That’s a story that I–a white dude, let it be said–hadn’t seen before and that’d be neat emotional territory. But this is a superhero show so every emotion’s big and thus, we get the ending we get this episode. It’s very heartwarming and I’m happy to see it…but I still kinda want see stories like what I outlined above (if anyone has any recommendations, let me know!).
I have some mixed emotions about the way Alex’s coming out to Helen is eventually handled but I’ve been told that this is a realistic way to handle that sort of thing (and I’ve thought of a couple of real-life examples since I watched the episode) and it plays into the big broad melodrama of this show. Otherwise, there’s only really two big quibbles with this episode.
- The ending and the way it resolves the “J’onn’s turning into a White Martian” bit feels a bit too tidy…BUT M’Gann is still imprisoned at the DEO so obviously, they’re gonna get back to that.
- If the Medusa virus is set up to kill all non-Kryptonians but Cadmus is using it with the intention of killing all aliens within National City, presumably including Kryptonians, why not have Lillian say or, in some other way, set up that this virus has been modified to not kill humans? It’s a bit difficult to intuit upon first viewing.
Otherwise, this was a solid way to end the first half of Supergirl‘s second season. Hopefully, those of you who watch the rest of “Invasion!” enjoy it. Me, I’ll be waiting till January for new episodes of this show…and hopefully getting back into The Flash in the meantime.
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.