Season One, Episode Fifteen — “Solitude”
By Molly Jane Kremer. With the thrill of a nuclear threat and a visit to Kal-El’s favorite vacation spot, “Solitude” had the potential to be an amazing episode of Supergirl. Sadly, despite some touching character moments between Kara and Alex, and a potentially amazing villain in Indigo (but so very disappointing in execution), what could have been a fun hour got mired down in farcically absurd relationship drama and a villain reeking of Hackers-esque silliness.
WHAT WORKED: Though the episode was more dud than not, there were a few shining moments. Kara and Jimmy’s visit to the Fortress of Solitude was certainly one of them, but any time a comic geek sees the statues of Lara and Jor-El, Kelex (in its second series appearance), or a ding-dang Legion flight ring (there was MUCH squee-ing at DoomRocket HQ), happiness is bound to ensue. Hopefully they’ll make it back there soon, as our glimpse was disappointingly short. I won’t be happy until we get a tour of the Fortress’ intergalactic zoo, to be honest. (Agreed. — Ed.)
And while much of the story surrounding it was silly as silly could be, Kara disarming a nuclear missile in mid-air was one of the most exciting sequences Supergirl has ever shown. Though it’s been seen in countless comics (and yes, in movies like ‘78’s Superman), it never gets old. Thrill as the rocket’s metal shell crunches and peels away under the might of Kara; gasp as Supergirl is thrown from the missile only to race back to it; and finally, fall back into your couch as Kara switches it off at the last moment, letting it fall harmlessly into the ocean. This is what superhero stuff is about, man.
WHAT DIDN’T: Aw, man. Lucy and Jimmy. Though the show started building Lucy’s weird, unfounded jealousy of Supergirl a while ago, the last couple episodes saw it start to gain some real (if completely irrational and fabricated) momentum. The coalescing melodrama in this episode has become so basic it hurts, and I feel bad for Tatum and Brooks for having to recite it; moreso for Tatum, as she gets the brunt of the script’s crap by being saddled with stereotypical reactions, and made to jump to conclusions that make absolutely no sense. Not that any of the last few episodes have dealt with this supposed love-triangle in a believable way; Kara, Jimmy and Lucy have all, in turn, been written completely out of character, making this situation all the more frustrating.
And then, of course, there’s our villain, Indigo. As a female Coluan (also called Brainiac-8), Indigo is an inspired addition rife with possibility, but somehow ends up completely terrible. She’s played as well as could be managed within this silly script by Laura Vandervoort (Smallville’s Supergirl) but there’s only so much to be done with material like this. She’s mainly used as a tech-based, evil-lurking-within-the-‘net-type villain that, well, was probably a fun concept about twenty years ago. And speaking of which, Indigo’s costume design skirts the line between X-Men’s Mystique and Freddy Krueger, with the addition of pink cornrows and braids for further, puzzling, effect.
In a scene full of mediocre innuendo, we’re informed that Indigo and Non had liaisons before he married Astra, and it made me realize every relationship on this show—the only exception being Kara and Alex—either echoes parent/child, or has gross sexual undertones. No, really: think about it. The two sisters have the only normal friendship on the show. Everyone else is either a mother/father figure to the other, or wants to/already has/is currently scromping the other person. How… boring. But I guess the ability to comprehend anything more complicated or realistic might be lost on the network that airs eight different CSI series.
“Never call me ‘ma’am’; this is not the Old West.” – Cat, to Jimmy.
“I could throw her into space.” – Kara, concerning Siobhan.
“I save the world better when I save it with people.” – Kara.
“My heart’s still racing from chasing after a zig-zagging missile. I kinda feel like Harry Potter playing Quidditch.” – Kara. Sometimes these pop culture references can get exhausting (and holy heck will they date this show for future watchers) but this one was genuinely cute. And honestly, probably more timeless than most commentary the show attempts.
BEST MOMENT: When Kara returns to the DEO, grudgingly acceptant of the fact that they need to work together, Alex goes against J’onn’s advice and confesses to killing Kara’s Aunt Astra. It’s an incredibly emotional scene, and Leigh acts the hell out of it (I admit it, she made me tear up), and Kara’s reaction—not anger, but empathy, concern, and a huge hug—is exactly the sort of thing that brings this show back from the brink of shittiness in episodes like this. The relationship between Kara and Alex is the most realistic, and most resonant, in the series so far.
EPISODE’S MVP: Chyler Leigh’s performance as Alex was wonderful and understated in this episode. Leigh and Benoist’s chemistry together makes them really feel like sisters, and Alex’s fretting throughout this week’s episode really brought home her fear of losing Kara, and her determination (desperation?) not to. When Alex finally receives Kara’s forgiveness it feel like a weight off our shoulders too, and only further cements these two as the beating heart of Supergirl.
– The key to the Fortress was a smart and lovely compromise between the enormous Silver Age original and Morrison/Quitely’s recent take on it in All-Star Superman. Big enough to be dopey and cheesy, and showing respect for the comic origins, but also showing deference to modern heights reached by modern creators. Kind of like Supergirl itself, actually.
– Why on earth did the writers feel the need to include that Ashley Madison-esque security breach? Right here is where those ham-fisted attempts at topicality just cause me to sigh.
– The sparring sesh between Alex and J’onn towards the episode’s beginning really showcases the athleticism of the two actors. Especially Chyler Leigh: she kicks butt, both in her acting abilities and, well, in her literal kicking-of-butts.
– So, um, why exactly does Winn have a program on his Dell desktop PC that shows him which traffic lights are switching from green to red…? Shaking. My. Head.
– “Why is your first instinct to work through this with Supergirl and not with me?” First of all: because she’s Supergirl. Second of all, and more importantly: if Lucy were half the badass independent woman the show tries to tout her as, they would never in a million years have put these jealous and shitty words in her mouth. This entire episode did a serious disservice to her character.
– The crazy-quick face-turn Siobhan has, and her little sympathy-garnering moment at the copier, felt incredibly hackneyed and pasted in. But I guess we need to care when she turns into a shrieking skeleton-ghost lady, so we get an uncomfortable Winn/Siobhan… thing. Ah well. I have a feeling her subsequent super-scary heel-turn will be utilized to motivate Winn to whatever end as well.
– And, while we’re on the subject of Winn: he knows malware better than all the DEO’s employees?? I think they should get all those kids to some training seminars, tout de suite.
– Indigo/Brainiac-8 could be such a great nemesis for Kara (especially in being the reason Kara’s pod escaped the Phantom Zone and made it to Earth), and seeing Non salvaging her parts (creepy though it may be) gives me hope that the character will return, hopefully within the confines of a superior script. (And maybe a costuming upgrade.)
– No Supergirl next week. Sad MJ.
6 out of 10
Next: “Falling”, soon.
Before: “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”, here.