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'Supergirl' recap: 'The Darkest Place'

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Robert Falconer/The CW

Supergirl

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
run date:
10/26/15
performer:
Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, David Harewood
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Action, Adventure, Scifi

Kara vs. Cyborg Superman! Martian Manhunter vs. another White Martian! Guardian vs. a random murderous vigilante! There was a lot going on in tonight’s Supergirl, so let’s just dive right in by starting with the Cadmus of it all.

Cadmus abducted Mon-El at the end of last week’s episode, and tonight’s hour reveals Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong) only wanted him as bait for Kara. Lillian threatens to kill Mon-El if Kara doesn’t show up at Cadmus alone, so Kara agrees to her terms.

When Kara arrives at Cadmus’ facility, she’s immediately confronted by the real Hank Henshaw, who survived his tussle with J’onn and Jeremiah and has been transformed into Cyborg Superman. Cadmus rescued him years ago and since then, they’ve given him a cybernetic upgrade that makes him stronger than Kara. Their fight scene — like most of the action scenes tonight — is quite dynamic, thanks to the smooth and sweeping camera work. Cyborg Superman overpowers Kara, after which she finds herself inside a cage besides Mon-El.

Trapping Kara behind bars gives the show an opportunity for Lillian to explain to both Supergirl and the audience why she hates aliens so much: She blames them for Lex Luthor being behind bars. According to her, Superman promised Lex the world when he arrived on the scene; however, Lex eventually grew concerned about Superman’s unchecked power and tried to take the power back, but Superman used his propaganda to turn the world against Lex, leading to his imprisonment.

So, yes, this is mostly about revenge, which can be a weak motivation. However, Cadmus has been going strong for about 15 years and Lex was just imprisoned, so that’s not the only thing driving Lillian. She truly believes aliens pose a grave danger to the planet and views herself as a patriot for trying to kill them all. For her, it’s not only about revenge but also the greater good, which is kind of scary.

Lillian instructs Kara to wear a special helmet that will absorb the radiation from her solar flare. At first, Kara refuses, but then Lillian shoots Mon-El with a lead bullet, which is actually more dangerous than it sounds because lead is deadly to Daxamites. Kara acquiesces and uses the solar flare with the helmet on, causing her to lose all her powers. This was all part of Lillian’s plan to weaken Kara long enough to drain her blood. Unbeknownst to Kara, Lillian gives Cyborg Superman her blood so he can access the Fortress of Solitude and find something called Project Medusa.

The Cadmus guards return a weakened Supergirl back to her cell. Scared of what may happen next, Kara asks Mon-El to give Alex a message if she doesn’t make it. At first, I didn’t buy Kara’s whole “last wishes” thing, but it makes sense since all she knows is Cadmus hates aliens wants to see them dead. She’s just assuming they plan on killing her. And while Melissa Benoist delivers a fantastic performance in the scene, the real scene winner goes to Chris Wood, who seamlessly and believably moves from cracking jokes to revealing Mon-El’s vulnerable side as he admits he never thought he should’ve survived Daxam. 

Mon-El starts to tell Kara a secret about Daxam, but doesn’t get a chance to finish because Jeremiah Danvers — yes, you read that right — shows up and frees them from their cells. After removing the lead bullet from Mon-El’s leg, he helps them escape. Kara pleads with him to come with them, but he says he has to stay behind, so Kara and Mon-El make their escape without him.

NEXT: J’onn gets angry

[pagebreak]

Lillian’s love for her son is one of the main things driving her extreme actions, and elsewhere in the episode we see other characters who are driven to extremes because of harm done to their families. First, there’s Phillip Karnowsky, a military vet whose wife was murdered. The murderer got off because of a mistrial, and since then, Phillip has been targeting criminals who avoid justice due to technicalities — including his wife’s killer. Unfortunately, his nighttime extracurricular activities have put a target on Guardian’s back; their outfits are kind of similar and Phillip has killed several of Guardian’s targets. Obviously, the police assume Guardian is the one responsible for the murder and put out an arrest warrant for him. Guardian manages to clear his name, though, by the end of the episode.

The Guardian subplot was probably the weakest part of “The Darkest Place,” because I’m still not totally invested in James becoming a vigilante. Moreover, Phillip barely gets any screen time and ends up being an even more forgettable villain, even though he’s thematically linked to everything else going on in this hour.

However, if there’s one good thing to come out of this narrative misstep, it’s that Guardian being hunted forces Alex to turn to Maggie for help. Alex has been avoiding Maggie since their intense conversation last week; however, Alex has to go see her after Winn tells her James is Guardian. Maggie tries to be friendly with Alex when she shows up, but Alex is not ready for that — she’s still hurting. The two women share a heart-wrenching scene in a parking lot where Alex tells Maggie how much pain she’s in. Finding time for these heartbreakingly human moments in the middle of all the superhero drama is a testament to how good the show has gotten.

Meanwhile, J’onn is worried something is wrong with him; he’s seeing visions of his dead family and White Martians. Alex tests his blood and J’onn discovers the truth: M’gann is a White Martian. J’onn furiously confronts M’gann as she leaves work. M’gann tries to explain she couldn’t stand what the White Martians were doing to the Green Martians, that she tried but failed to save them. However, her words fall on deaf ears, as J’onn is too consumed by the pain he feels for losing his family.

J’onn forces M’gann to transform into her White Martian form before attacking her. It’s a powerful scene because we rarely see J’onn lose it like this. Like Lillian Luthor, he can’t see past the injury to his family to acknowledge the nuance of the situation. Eventually, M’gann gives up fighting, which calms J’onn down long enough to change his mind about killing her. Instead, he decides to let her “rot” inside a DEO cell.

Unfortunately, this confrontation with M’gann doesn’t solve J’onn’s problems. M’gann explains her people decided to weaponize their blood to turn Green Martians into White Martians when injected, which means J’onn is turning into a White Martian. M’gann says there’s nothing he can do to stop it, but we know they’ll find a way.

As the episode ends, the rest of team Supergirl gathers at Kara’s apartment for dinner. A wounded Mon-El, who’s clearly started to develop feelings for Kara, conspicuously asks James and Winn if she’s romantically involved with someone else. They say no. Meanwhile, Maggie drops by to see Alex and let her know she cares about her, can’t imagine life without her, and wants to be friends. Alex is moved and agrees to meet up for pool the next day.

Wall of Weird:

  • After Kara and Mon-El escape from Cadmus, the DEO returns to the facility to find Jeremiah, but unfortunately, Cadmus has already left the building and there’s no trace of him.
  • The show name-dropped Thanagar in the episode: Mon-El and Kara couldn’t break out of their cells because they were made of Nth metal.
  • In the comics, Phillip Karnowsky is known as Barrage.
  • Obviously, Lillian wasn’t happy to see Kara hanging around her daughter.
  • Do we think Dean Cain was disappointed Jeremiah Danvers didn’t turn out to be Cyborg Superman?
  • If Hank Henshaw is working for Cadmus, does this mean Lillian Luthor knows Kara’s secret identity?

Episode grade: B+  

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