SUPERGIRL Review: “Alex”

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Last night’s , “Alex” mixes personal stakes with a pretty standard action plotline. The personal elements work fairly well. The action, however, is a mixed bag. As you might have guessed, the personal stakes here involve Alex. It all begins when the older Danvers sister goes missing en route to patching things up with Kara after a dinner. She’s kidnapped by a mysterious guy in an elevator who turns out to be a former childhood classmate and crush of Alex’s.

The familiar flashback to when Little Kara saved some folks from a car before it exploded is replayed and this time we get more information as Rick Malvern, the aforementioned mysterious dude, describes how he puts two and two together. Actually, it’s pretty obvious and the fact that the show spends more than five seconds on this explanation is strange, unnecessary, and draws attention to the fact that other characters (particularly sharp ones like Cat Grant) haven’t figured out Supergirl’s secret identity.

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Anyway, Rick uses his knowledge of Kara’s true identity to blackmail her. He wants his criminal father out of the slammer and gives Supergirl a limited amount of time to do it. There’s a literal ticking time bomb here, which keeps the episode moving at an exciting and tension-filled pace.

The two people in the episode who are closest to Alex, Kara and Maggie clash over how to deal with Rick. Kara refuses to capitulate to Rick’s demands but also believes taking a hardball approach will get him to crack. Maggie, meanwhile, is a bit more tactful but ultimately — much later in the episode — seems to capitulate to Rick’s demands.

Kara and the DEO come up with a few ideas to appease Rick that don’t involve breaking Rick’s father out of prison. One of them involves J’onn J’onzz doing his shapeshifting thing and becoming Papa Rick. I wish there was a bit more misdirection here, however, and — mostly by the way “Rick’s father” is acting here — it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on here. Rick figures things out rather quickly too, and in a strange way, it almost feels like Rick is too smart for our heroes. I’m all for sharp antagonists, but only if our heroes aren’t dumbed down to make it work.

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Similarly, Kara later bursts into a holding cell with critical intel from Winn about a ping that Alex sent from where she’s being held. My problem here is that Kara doesn’t act with any tact. Rick is right there in the room when she not so subtly announces to Maggie what’s going on. This leads to another of Rick’s contingencies being set in motion. The ticking clock speeds up and now Alex only has a few hours before she drowns in a container. Uh oh.

On the other hand, the warring approaches of Kara and Maggie really forces Kara to accept that she’s not the only one who cares deeply for her sister. Maggie and Alex have their own relationship and history now, and Kara can’t act like she’s the only one with her heartstrings being pulled here. This was a pretty solid theme that’s much more inventive than a lesser version that might have Kara being jealous of all the time that Alex is spending with Maggie. To be fair, that’s come up a bit in season 2 as well. But here, Supergirl uses action to dramatize the changing relationships in its second season.

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Away from the main storyline, Rhea, in plainclothes, pays a visit to Lena and offers to partner with L Corps on new technology. It was fun seeing Rhea acting tactful and even decent, but that’s what has made this late season villain so fun. Rhea and Lena seem to even bond at a restaurant, that is until the former slips and “thanks the gods.”  It’s not long before Lena figures out who Rhea truly is (great payoff of that alien fingerprint tech that was set up way back when!), but the two agree to work with each other under seemingly more honest circumstances.

I will say that as Supergirl’s sophomore season marches to its conclusion, I hope that Rhea’s wrath is trained more towards Kara than it is towards her son Mon-El. There was a time a few episodes back where I felt like Kara was being overshadowed a bit, so hopefully that doesn’t happen again.

Season 2, Episode 19 (S02E19)
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8PM on CW

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Ade writes about the philanthropy of billionaires and millionaires by day, and writes screenplays by night.
Follow Ade on Twitter: @derekadeniji
Keep up with all of Ade’s reviews here.

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