“Change is good when you finally become what you’re meant to be,” says Kara at one point this evening, spelling out the theme of tonight’s episode because Supergirl still struggles with subtlety. Big shifts are afoot in “Changing,” which finds Alex, James, and Mon-El inching closer to who they’re supposed to be. However, change isn’t easy, and for some, there are a few poignant bumps in the road.
As I watched “Changing,” I couldn’t help but be reminded of The X-Files season 1 episode “Ice,” which bears several similarities to Supergirl’s latest outing — and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence. The similarities begin with tonight’s cold (literally) open, set in a research facility in the Arctic where Dr. Rudy Jones (Lost’s William Mapother) is researching climate change. One of his coworkers summons him into the lab to examine a wolf that’s been buried under ice for 5,000 years, but is somehow still warm. Rudy sticks his hand inside the wolf’s body and something latches onto him.
The next thing we know, everyone at the outpost is dead except for Rudy, whom the DEO transports back to National City. For some reason, J’onn lets Rudy leave the DEO before his test results come back, creating a whole bunch of problems: We soon learn he’s now the host of a parasitic alien that compels him to drain people to stay alive. (This is yet another connection to the aforementioned “Ice”). This is especially bad news for Rudy’s boss, who tries to fire him because of his extreme stance on climate change. But instead, Rudy just sucks the life out of him.
Alex is still processing her recent epiphany and at Maggie’s urging, she decides to tell Kara. The sisters go for a walk and Alex stutters her way through coming out to her sister. It’s rather heartbreaking to hear Alex talk about how her feelings for Maggie helped her realize she had suppressed similar feelings over the years. Kara starts asking way more questions than Alex is prepared to answer, so Alex cuts their conversation short.
Then, Winn discovers a video of Rudy attacking his coworkers in the Arctic. Kara and Alex rush over to the university to confront Rudy. Supergirl tries to stop him from leaving, but Rudy drains her powers and manages to escape.
James rushes to the DEO after hearing what happened to Kara and demands Winn give him the suit he promised him. Their interaction gets rather heated — James insists on going out there, but Winn refuses because the suit’s not ready and he doesn’t want James to die. While the scene itself didn’t entirely work (the show is rushing James’ dive into vigilantism), I did enjoy how the director positioned Winn and James on opposite sides of this big room to demonstrate just how far apart they are on this issue.
Meanwhile, Kara returns home to get some rest after her encounter with Parasite. Alex can tell something’s up and follows her. Alex thinks Kara is disappointed in her, but that’s far from the truth. Kara apologizes for not creating an environment in which Alex felt comfortable talking about this… They were always worried about her and her powers. “Alex, you are not alone,” Kara assures her sister, and then she invites her to talk about Maggie. The compassion Kara shows her sister in this moment was particularly moving given recent real-world events, and the scene soars even higher thanks to the actresses’ strong sisterly bond.
NEXT: It’s time to step up