Supergirl finale recap: 'Nevertheless, She Persisted'

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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, Sci-fi

We gave it an A-

Supergirl‘s epic and heartbreaking season finale was focused on one thing: defeating the Daxamites. It was a confident and adrenaline-pumping hour that managed to find the heart in the middle of all of the action. And believe me, there was a ton of action, but that didn’t overshadow the pathos in the story.

“Nevertheless, She Persisted” picks up immediately where part one left off: with Supergirl facing down her cousin Superman, whom Rhea brainwashed using silver Kryptonite. When Superman looks at Supergirl, he doesn’t see his big-little cousin Kara, he sees his greatest enemy, General Zod. The ensuing battle is brutal and one of the best fight scenes the show has ever produced. Both Els fight with all of their power, and thanks to director Glen Winter’s effective use of slow motion, you could feel each punch land. However, there had to be a winner, and it was Supergirl, who knocked Superman out with one devastating uppercut. And then she immediately collapsed in the fountain from exhaustion as Alex came running up to her.

This episode goes out of its way to justify why Supergirl, and not her arguably slightly more experienced cousin, is the one who should be handling this. The first sign is when they both wake up in the Fortress of Solitude and Superman states that the silver Kryptonite didn’t weaken him; he was fighting at full strength, which means she actually beat him on her own.

Supergirl and Superman search through the Fortress’ database and discover the sacred trial by combat. So, Supergirl, stepping up as Earth’s champion, challenges Rhea to a duel. The terms: If Supergirl wins, Rhea and the rest of the Daxamites will leave their planet alone, and if Rhea wins, Earth must surrender. Naturally, Mon-El returns to his paternalistic ways and begs Kara not to do it, suggesting that Superman fight in her place. But Superman says it has to be Kara because she just defeated him, thereby proving that she is Earth’s champion. I love the fact that Superman is letting Supergirl lead the way.

Thanks to a dream about M’gann, J’onn wakes up from his coma and jump right back into action. His first order of business is to dispatch Clark and Kara to ask Cat Grant to stop treating the forthcoming fight like a spectators’ sport because they don’t want civilians to show up and get hurt from its fallout. Cat still carries a torch her “Clark Bar,” so she agrees to tone down CatCo’s rhetoric in exchange for an exclusive interview with the Girl of Steel.

Meanwhile, Lillian Luthor pays her daughter a visit and finally apologizes for how she’s treated her over the years. While one apology won’t make up for all of the years of hurt in the Luthor women’s relationship, it does represent a step in the right direction. Furthermore, Lillian, recognizing her daughter’s scientific brilliance, also comes bearing a peace offering: a device Lex built years ago that would fill the atmosphere with Kryptonite, thereby forcing every Kryptonian on Earth to leave. Lillian thinks Lena can modify the weapon to disperse lead instead of Kryptonite.

The Luthors approach Superman and Supergirl with this solution. Although she realizes what this would mean for her relationship with Mon-El, Supergirl instructs the women to start working on the device just in case they need it. So, while the Luthors and Winn prepare their last-resort weapon, Supergirl and Superman do some sparring to prepare Kara for the fight ahead. This leads to a very touching conversation in which Superman tells her that in order to win, she needs to focus on her loved ones because they’re her secret superpower.

Now, the moment has finally come: Supergirl and Mon-El, her second, meet Rhea on the battlefield, a nondescript National City rooftop. The fight begins, and it’s clear that they’re rather evenly matched, which doesn’t make that much sense since Rhea hasn’t been on Earth as long, but whatever. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it actually isn’t a fair fight; Rhea tries to distract Supergirl by instructing her army to start attacking the city.

Mon-El leaves Supergirl’s side to go help the National City citizens, which is a small gesture that reveals how much he has changed since arriving on Earth. Superman and Martian Manhunter finally bury the hatchet and head out into the streets together, too. And, they all receive some help from surprising allies: Miss Martian and a group of good White Martians, who arrive just in time to help them take on the Daxamite soldiers. Throughout this entire episode, I found myself in awe of how well the show established the scale of this threat and juggled the action on the streets, in the sky, and on the rooftop.

At this point, Rhea reveals the next trick up her sleeve: After Krypton exploded, Kryptonite rained down on Daxam and infected her blood, which is now laced with Kryptonite. Even though Supergirl is weakened, she continues to fight because this is her planet, goddamn it! Unfortunately, it’s not enough, and Rhea reveals that her army will keep attacking innocents even if she dies. So Supergirl makes the ultimate sacrifice and activates the Luthors’ device, which Lillian wanted to activate earlier but couldn’t because Lena and Winn made sure Supergirl was the only who could. The Daxamites ships start flying away, and Rhea dies.

We knew Supergirl was a real superhero, but this more than confirms it. She knows she’ll lose Mon-El, but it’s the only option left, and her entire planet is at stake. And Winter makes sure we realize how heartbreaking it is. The moment after Mon-El starts choking, the camera tightens in on Mon-El and Supergirl’s faces so we see just how hard this is for them. Supergirl pleads with Mon-El to hold on for a bit longer while she gets him somewhere safe. She flies him to the pod that brought him to Earth, puts him in it and sends it off into space. Before he leaves, the couple say “I love you” to each other, and even though I didn’t care much for them, I found myself quite moved by it all.

While the entire city is able to celebrate winning, Supergirl can’t. She just lost the first person she’s ever loved. Not only that, but everyone around her is with their loved ones. Before flying off to be by herself, she tells Alex to never let Maggie go. So, Alex does the logical thing and proposes to Maggie on the spot. Although we don’t actually hear her say yes, that smile on Maggie’s face tells us all we need to know. (Do I think Alex and Maggie should be getting married so quickly? Hell no, but hey, they’re currently riding that adrenaline high. Hopefully they’ll come to their senses later.)

The next day, a despondent Kara goes to see Cat at the office. Naturally, Cat knows just what to say to cheer up her mentee. “The thing that makes women strong is that we have the guts to be vulnerable, we have the ability to feel the depth of our emotion, and we know we’re going walk through it to the other side,” says Cat — echoing, in a way, what Superman said earlier about how he doesn’t think he could’ve done what Kara did if he found himself in a similar position with Lois. Unsurprisingly, this is what Kara needs to cheer her up. A fire breaks out across town, and Kara runs off to save the day. As she leaves the room, Cat says, “Go get ’em, Supergirl,” revealing that she knows what’s up.

The finale ends by planting the seeds for several season 3 story lines. First, we see Mon-El’s ship get sucked into what looks to be a Phantom Zone wormhole. Then, the episode jumps back 35 years to the day of Krypton’s destruction, and we see some hooded figures place a baby in a red-accented pod. “It should survive the journey. It will grow strong on Earth… and then it will reign,” says one of the figures menacingly before the pod flies off. Based on the fact that they gave the bundle of terror a drop of blood before letting it go, I have two theories: Either this is one of the Worldkillers from the comics, or it’s Doomsday, or some combination of both. All I know is that I’m intrigued and excited to see what happens next season.

While I don’t think Supergirl was able to match some of the highs of its similarly uneven first season, I do think it managed to pull itself together by the end. The biggest problem with the second season is that it was missing a strong sense of focus. The aliens-as-immigrants allegory was thought provoking, but it wasn’t enough to hold the season together as a whole. These last two episodes were the strongest of the season because they were tight and moved along with a strong sense of purpose while putting the show’s best qualities at the forefront. My hope for next season is that the show finally figures out how to balance the Kara’s work life and superhero life, because that’s really what’s missing at the moment.

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