Honestly, making these “initial thought” things a weekly thing was not my intention, but I do feel like I should put something down about this one because there was a lot I liked about it!
First off, the whole theme of the episode is about the bonds between the various characters breaking and/or shifting, which is great! Previous episodes have attempted to shake up the dynamic in small ways, but this one really lays everything out on the table and just kinda see where things stick. I’m glad Kara got the chance to operate on her own for an episode; it reminded me of the early days of the show where she wasn’t quite with the DEO yet, and that was cool to see. I do wish they’d continued the themes and character conflicts established last week between James and Kara like they did between Kara and the DEO. They didn’t acknowledge her and James’ conversations on morality at all beyond the fact that Kara left the DEO. I’m getting mildly annoyed that the writers are holding off on pressing character relationships in favor of the current episode crisis; not horrible, but worth noting.
The relationship between Lucy and James has always felt forced to me, but the tension here was real enough, and I’m glad they’ve at least tried to inject some natural conflict into the relationship. Lucy and Kara’s interactions also felt real and weighty. How that ends, though, that was a real sticking point for me. I was hoping Lucy might somehow find out Kara’s secret on her own and that’s what would’ve ended the relationship somehow, but having her jealous over Kara as a civilian and her and James’ friendship seems petty at best and contrived at worst. Lucy is a lot smarter and a lot stronger than that. I also don’t know how I feel about Kara give permission to James to reveal her identity, something she’s kept close to the chest anyway. The whole ending to this just seemed reckless and contrived, though I’m glad they didn’t go through with the reveal (yet).
Siobhan’s opening up to Winn was out of nowhere, but it does fit in if you’re thinking ahead to her eventual villainy, how now Winn will lose someone yet again to villainy, and it’ll give that origin story a bit more weight. I’d’ve liked to have seen their relationship grow more organically from the start, but I expect we’ll see more of it as the show goes on. Winn in general got to shine a bit more here too; again great suspension of disbelief must be taken in order to buy that he could’ve done… well, any of what he did here, but they payed lip-service to it in a smirking way, so it’s all right.
And of course, there’s the big admission at the end which I actually liked a lot more than I thought I would! It would’ve been easy for Kara to walk out of there again and then have this subplot of she and Alex hating each other, but this is actually a stronger writing decision for me, because it means that they’ll now have to struggle with the weight that this puts on their sisterly relationship instead of just being “enemies.” This makes it more complicated and real. I also liked how J’onn was forgiven too, and Kara embracing a weeping Alex and holding J’onn’s hand is a pretty good summation of their relationship: they all rely on each other, but it’s now fractured and tentative and mournful.
The Indigo character is one-note… y’know, they really need to step up there game with the villains; c’mon, fifty years of comic history and you couldn’t mine a bit deeper into this character? Plus it’s Braniac!! Like REALLY?? I do like her pseudo-Mystique makeup and movements though! (I wonder if she’s run into Livewire in the digital cyberspace land!) Having Supergirl stop a nuke was cool too (I liked that they dropped the fact that she flies faster than Superman earlier in the episode; it’s a subtle subconscious justification for how she can keep up with it that admittedly wasn’t really needed but was a welcome extra). That felt like a solid victory and how everyone dealt with it afterwards made the weight cary.
I guess I should mention the Fortress of Solitude for all that we got to see of it; the title definitely applies more to the theme of the episode than the actual location. Which is good; I’m glad they didn’t fan-service us for an hour with the Fortress, but it did initially feel like they cheated considering how much the marketing people played it up. Lots of DC Easter Eggs in there, I’m sure! I doubt we’ve seen the last of it.
Overall, this one was a solid above-average episode of Supergirl. It doesn’t hold a candle to last week’s, but it was good. Cat Grant continues to be my inner monologue on television pretty much and the effects dazzle as always. Melissa Benoist’s gleeful geeky expression when holding up the dwarf star key made me crack a big smile too!