Season One, Episode Sixteen — “Falling”
By Molly Jane Kremer. After an episode full of melodrama and bad characterization, this week’s Supergirl episode, “Falling”, dug deep into its rich debut season to find the real drama and genuine portrayals we all know it’s capable of. What’s more, “Falling” — with a powerful performance from its titular heroine — reminded us there often comes real and frightening consequences for a world with superheroes and villains, but that doesn’t mean hope and strength should be sacrificed in order to persevere. And it did as such while throwing some not-so-subtle shade to all that grim and gritty nonsense we’re all about to endure next week in theaters: this was one of Supergirl’s best episodes yet.
WHAT WORKED: Since the series began, Supergirl has been a bright and optimistic contrast to her cousin’s glum movies (and the dismal, Instagram-filtered angst that colors them), which has been something I’ve lauded to no end. This episode takes the Zack Snyders of the world and their ideas about superheroes to task, by playing into some of those tropes itself — but never once at the consequence of the show’s core message. A darker episode like this pays off in the pathos it creates further on in the series, but such tragedy is pointless without the possibility of joy; thankfully this is a show that knows the meaning of that word, and uses it as a building block in most everything it does.
WHAT DIDN’T: Making Supergirl “angry and sexy” is how DC Comics reintroduced Kara Zor-El back in 2004, and aside from the blessed interludes of a few creators who wrote her like an actual person, that has been the company’s default for the character ever since, as those in charge seem to have a hard time understanding that a young superpowered woman can be depicted as anything else. And though I enjoyed this episode’s biting, seemingly overt allusions to DC’s and DCE’s reliance on stuffing characters with the grimmest of grimness while simultaneously eradicating any joy or hope (no matter what they say that ding-dang “S” stands for in Man of Steel), I couldn’t help but think of this dreck whenever Kara’s face glowed red. Just as long as they don’t give her a Red Lantern ring…
Maxwell Lord’s sudden entrance into the DEO base—even responding off camera, just in time, with “Yeah, that’s my bad,” to a posed question—was contrived and silly, and pulled me immediately and completely out of the scene. Apparently on the side of the angels (for this week at least), Lord’s too-perfectly-timed appearance, and involvement with the Red K, which required blatant exposition explaining why and how it was made, was by far the worst bit of plotting in the episode.
The sequence at the beginning, with Cat Grant guesting on the real-life CBS daytime talk show The Talk, was an exceedingly painful three minutes to watch.
“God knows I hate a generic sports metaphor, but that interview was a touchdown. A homerun. Whatever you call it when you do something good in hockey.” – Cat.
“Brazen. That’s a new color on you, I don’t mind it. Yet.” – Cat.
Kara: “‘Supergirl is brave, kind, and strong’; isn’t that kind of a stock characterization? Very two dimensional, everyone knows real people have a dark side.” Cat: “Yes, but you don’t get to be a real person, you’re a superhero. You get to represent all the goodness in the world.” – Talk about stock characterization, this sounds like every dumb nerd’s reasoning why they don’t like Superman, and Cat’s response to that is perfect. (Relatedly: people who don’t like Superman—a character who is the embodiment of goodness—make me profoundly sad.)
Alex: “Why didn’t you run? You could have gotten away.” J’onn: “Because I’d spend a thousand years in this cell if it meant keeping you and your sister safe.”
“To me, every person in this city is a light, and every time I’ve helped one of them a little bit of their light has become a part of me.” – Kara. Thisthisthisthisthis. This is why Supergirl is great.
BEST MOMENT: At the episode’s end, after all the Red K has been purged from Kara’s system, she has a talk with Alex and with Cat, and they each have meaningful things to say about her life: Alex about her life as Kara, and Cat about her life as Supergirl. The exchange with Alex is incredibly emotional, once again bringing me to tears (I just love those two), and the conversation with Cat is much more reserved but equally meaningful. The show revolves around these two women’s’ relationship with Kara and with Supergirl, and these scenes show you why.
EPISODE’S MVP: Melissa Benoist went beyond Kara’s typical personality traits in “Falling”, yet again showing her breadth and range as an actress. We’ve seen Kara get angry, but never this mean and inhibitionless. Benoist is just as convincing — even frighteningly so — hissing insults as she has been charming the heck out of everyone. And then there were the last two scenes, with Alex and Cat respectively, showing Kara’s typical innocent optimism now colored with a slight tinge of regret. Benoist just proves again and again that she’s the backbone of this series, and an actor of amazing caliber.
– Wonder why they decided to add an apostrophe to Khund? Maybe the writers wanted that little extra bit of cosmic je ne sais quoi.
– Kara’s post-Red-K wardrobe is pretty on point, to be honest. Crossing my fingers it leads to a more stylish Kara in future episodes.
– The tickets Cat gives Kara are for a DJ playing at Club… Apokolips?? No, Kara, nooooo
– How exactly does Siobhan get that footage of Supergirl freeing the K’hund? This simply feels like an easily inserted reason for her to go bad and turn into Silver Banshee. Ugh. And I’m still mad the character isn’t Irish…
– Oh dang, that dance club scene! I was waiting for Thea to sidle up with drinks, or for Ollie to announce that everyone needed to evacuate because ninjas or something.
– Supergirl at the bar belligerently flicking the peanuts like bullets? It had precedent. Here you go.
– Seeing David Harewood’s Martian Manhunter wink at the camera—and then later David Harewood winking himself!—pretty much made my night.
8.5 out of 10
Next: “Manhunter”, soon.
Before: “Solitude”, here.