In its best episode so far, Kara is exposed to Red Kryptonite and damages several of her most important relationships

By Chancellor Agard
March 15, 2016 at 04:32 AM EDT
Sonja Flemming/CBS
S1 E16
  • TV Show

Tonight, Supergirl took a page out of Smallville‘s handbook and introduced Red Kryptonite, a form of meteor rock that turns good Kryptonian boys and girls bad. Kara comes in contact with this inhibitions-removing rock while helping some firemen out with a fire. Which means we got some capital-A Acting from Melissa Benoist as Kara stopped censoring herself and let everyone in her life know exactly how she felt. Watching Benoist cut loose was so much fun to watch, and you could tell she was enjoying herself, too.

After watching this episode, I definitely understand why EW’s Natalie Abrams called in it “probably the show’s best episode yet.” Kara’s turn to the dark side leads to some severe and heart-breaking consequences, and the episode deals directly with them and is all the better for it. Also, let’s just say Batman and Superman aren’t the only heroes fighting each other this month.

Supergirl still hasn’t quite mastered subtlety, so the first scene prepares us for (telegraphs) Kara’s personality change. “Falling” opens with Cat doing an interview on CBS’s The Talk about what makes Supergirl so special. “The most remarkable thing about Supergirl is she’s the kindest person I’ve ever known,” Cat says. “She is an ideal, and she’s inspiring us to be our best selves. Now, we can learn a lot from her.” While I enjoyed what Cat had to say, I think the show has done a great job of showing this rather than telling so far and didn’t need this. (Real talk: Who was CBS trying to appeal to with this cameo from The Talk?)

Kara catches part of Cat’s interview on the TV at work; however, she’s called away by the DEO to assist some firemen who are having trouble with a blaze on a rooftop. After rescuing the firemen, she walks past some rubble hiding the Red K. She stumbles a bit but then flies off as her veins briefly glow red.The Red K really does a number on Kara. Let’s just say if this was The Chronicle of Narnia book series, she, like Susan Pevensie, would not be allowed back into Narnia with her (metaphorical) nylons and party invitations. Our first clue something’s different about her is that she’s listening to edgy music as she’s getting dressed, and then she shows up at work in a form-fitting dress — her version of Annalise Keating’s fun wig — that turns many heads in the office. “Kiera, look at you dressing like an adult,” says Cat when she sees Kara’s new look. This new Kara has no problem gloating when she outperforms Siobhan in a task and receives tickets to Club Apokolips as reward. “Don’t be jealous. Or do. I don’t really care,” she says.

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This new Kara has no patience for catching lame Fort Rozz escapees (love her) or following Hank’s orders. When she returns to the DEO headquarters, she goes off on Hank for not appreciating how much she risks by following his orders, even though he has powers, too, and could help her. “You talk about honoring your people, and yet you refuse to be one of them,” she says coldly. “What are you so afraid of?” Then, she storms off because she has to wake up in the morning for another job where she’s underappreciated.

The longer the Red K remains in Kara’s system, the worse she gets. At work the next day, she overhears Siobhan showing Cat Grant a video of Supergirl letting an alien get away. Cat doesn’t want to do anything with it because she doesn’t have any context for what’s being shown and is probably worried how that would make her look after she lauded Supergirl on TV the day before. Hoping to make a name for herself, Siobhan decides to send the video to Perry White at the Daily Planet, but Kara intercepts the email before it’s sent, prints it out and snitches on Siobhan. Naturally, Cat fires her.

On the one hand, it’s Siobhan, who is kind of the worst, so I don’t really care, but on the other hand, this shows how far gone Kara is. Earlier in the episode, she was unfortunate enough to see Winn and Siobhan hooking up (thanks to her X-ray vision, #blessed), so she knows Siobhan is kind of important to Winn. But she doesn’t care and does this anyway and then acts like it’s nothing by inviting Winn and James out clubbing.

Clubbing doesn’t go well at all. Kara asks James, who recently broke up with Lucy, to dance and let’s him know she wants “what the poor man’s Lois Lane was too idiotic to keep.” Turns out James isn’t into Bad Girl Kara. Luckily Cat, who calls James requesting he set up a meeting with Supergirl, interrupts this uncomfortable situation in which Kara used her super strength to keep James on the dance floor with her.

NEXT: Kara goes too far 

Supergirl doesn’t enjoy being summoned by Cat Grant, and she lets her know it when she shows up at Cat’s office. So, she decides to show the most-powerful person in National City what real power looks like and throws Cat off the balcony. It was awesome, fun, and scary at the same time, like a Kanye West Twitter rant. At the last moment, Supergirl decides to catch her before she hits the ground. “True power, Cat, is deciding who will live and who will die,” says Kara before flying off. That line was clearly her version of a Goosebumps walkaway.

At this point, Kara’s personality change stops being fun and starts getting scary. Thankfully, the show makes the proper adjustment in tone, with a lot of help from Blake Neely’s score, which was doing a ton of work in tonight’s episode.

The DEO, with Winn and James’ help, finally figures out something’s up with Supergirl and, after quick review of her recent missions, realizes she was infected by a form of synthetic Kryptonite that was created by none other than Maxwell Lord, who shows up at the DEO right as they make this discovery. Turns out the fire on that rooftop was supposed to lure Non out, and the synthetic K was supposed to kill him. A rightfully pissed-off Alex lets him know that he turned Kara into the monster he was scared of. As we learned from Avengers: Age of Ultron, we all create the thing we dread.

While Maxwell gets to work on a cure, Alex heads to Kara’s apartment to check on her. When she arrives, she finds Kara doing some Aunt Astra role play in an all-black outfit, indicating she’s gone full Darth Kara. (This isn’t a leather jacket, but I guess this will do. Still kind of disappointed we don’t get to see Kara ride a motorcycle.) After burning her old wardrobe, which Alex apparently helped pick out, Kara goes off on her sister and accuses her of not wanting Kara reach her full potential because she’s jealous. “Without me, you have no life, and that kills you,” says Kara with a ton of malice in her voice. “Deep down you hate me, and that’s why you killed my aunt.” Kara, how can you be so heartless? is probably what Alex is thinking right then. 

Everything Kara says to Alex and said to Hank and Winn earlier in the episode hurts even more when you realize that there’s some truth hiding beneath the venom of her words. At some point in the past, she has felt his way this before, and now it’s just coming out because the Red K has stripped her of her inhibitions. This episode is a reminder that Kara, like the rest of us, is human and occasionally thinks and feels nasty things and suppresses them.

Meanwhile, Cat decides that it’s her duty to warn National City about this new Supergirl. Kara sees her message to the city while sitting in the bar and decides to go on a rampage. Sen. Miranda Crane, who is clearly attracted to Hank, stops by the DEO to Hank it’s his job to handle dangerous aliens, and right now Supergirl meets that description. So, the DEO heads out with Kryptonite bullets and Maxwell’s finished weapon. Unfortunately, they are no match for Supergirl, and the only way to subdue her is for Hank to reveal himself to the world and shapeshift into Martian Manhunter.

Yes, we got a Martian Manhunter vs. Supergirl fight into tonight’s episode. Although most of it was a CGI blur, I loved it nonetheless. Naturally, Hank gets the upper hand and stuns Supergirl long enough for Alex to regroup and shoot her with the weapons Maxwell created. Afterward, Alex pleads with Hank to run away, but he stays and allows himself to be arrested. He tells Alex he stayed to protect her and Kara, but I think it’s more that he couldn’t bear the thought of running away from them since they’re kind of his family now. 

Guilt hits Kara the moment she wakes up in the DEO infirmary when she sees her sister’s arm in a sling. It’s so moving that Kara’s first concern is whether or not she killed anyone. She doesn’t even ask how she got infected or who created the Red K. All of the relationships in her life have been damaged, and she knows it. Alex lets her know that they’ll have to work on the things Kara brought up. Hank is stuck in a cell now. James stops her from telling him she loves him and says he needs some space. And, most importantly, the city she loves is now scared of her.

Seeking guidance, Supergirl visits Cat to apologize. Cat assures her that winning the city’s trust will be hard, but it’s not impossible. Supergirl asks if she can sit on Cat’s balcony for awhile, and Cat says yes. In the end, Kara’s walk on the wild side wasn’t a one-off gimmick because you can definitely feel the weight of the consequences as the episode draws to a close. “Falling” ends with a beautiful shot of the two most powerful women in National City through the windows of Cat’s dark office.  

Wall of Weird:

  • Don’t you kind of wish Supergirl would take the “you’re not worth my time” approach to every Kryptonian escapee from Fort Rozz. Part of what makes this episode so great is that it wasn’t about handling some one-off villain and instead focused on complicating/temporarily crippling most of Kara’s relationships. 
  • “You look so much younger than I thought you would,” Sharon Osbourne says to Cat. “So do you,” replies Ca,t without missing a beat. 
  • Club Apokolips was a nod to Apokolips. I hope this doesn’t’ mean the show is ruling out ever introducing Darkseid. 
  • Bad Girl Kara also takes Cat’s private elevator, a brazen move that impresses Cat. 
  • “Well, I guess that’s your exit,” says Kara when Siobhan is fired. 
  • Hank having to reveal himself also ruins the budding attraction between him and Sen. Crane. Also, we’re left wondering if finding out the man who convinced you not all aliens are evil is an alien himself will make Crane revert to her old ways. 
  • That shot of Alex and Hank’s hands touching each other through the glass of the cell was very moving. 
  • Episode Recaps

    Kara (Melissa Benoist) steps out from her super-cousin’s shadow to become Supergirl and defend National City in the third Arrowverse show.
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