Kara makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the world

By Chancellor Agard
April 19, 2016 at 03:53 AM EDT
Cliff Lipson/CBS


S1 E20
  • TV Show

“Better Angels,” the first season finale of Supergirl, was heavy on the pathos, the action sequences were kept to a relative minimum (one at the beginning and one at the end), and it brought several of this season’s ongoing emotional story lines to a nice close. (All of that sounds very similar to another superhero show’s freshman closer.)

The episode picks up where last week left off — with Kara and Alex about to fight. Alex, who is still being controlled by Non, doesn’t hold back against her sister and gets the upper hand. J’onn and Eliza show up right as Alex is about to plunge the Kryptonite sword into Kara’s chest. With her mother’s help, Alex is able to overcome Myriad through her emotions, specifically the memory of her father.

Yes, the resolution of the Kara vs. Alex fight was the tropiest of all tropes, but, it works. (It helps that the show has been preparing us for this kind of thing all season long.)

Once that’s done with, they all get back to the task at hand: broadcasting Supergirl to the entire city. While studying Myriad, Maxwell discovered that it shuts down the part of the brain that feels optimism and hope, and Kara’s fight with Alex confirmed that the only way to wake people up from it is to target that area with as much emotion as possible. And, the best way to do that is by blasting Supergirl’s emblem and a rousing speech to every screen in the city.

“I need you to hope,” she says to National City. “Hope that you will remember that you can all heroes. Hope that when faced with an enemy determined to destroy your spirit you will fight back and thrive. Hope that those who may once have shunned you will, in a moment of crisis, come to your aid.”

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And, the plan works. Supergirl’s emblem wakes up everyone in National City. But, this doesn’t stop Non. Indigo convinces him to kill everyone on Earth and then use Myriad to conquer the rest of the universe. If there’s one quibble I had with the finale, it’s that Non went from a kind of understandable villain — he wants to fulfill Astra’s mission and save Earth — to becoming both a genocidal maniac in a fairly short period of time.

NEXT: Time to say goodbye

The next day, National City seems to be back to normal. However, the calm doesn’t last very long at all. Max realizes that Non and Indigo have increased Myriad’s signal to a level that will literally blow everyone’s minds, and they only have four hours to find the signal’s source.

After breaking the news to the entire DEO, Max takes Kara aside to inform her about her odds in another fight with Non and Indigo. Short story shorter, they aren’t good. She’s basically embarking on a suicide mission because she has no backup whatsoever: J’onn is still wounded from the last fight, Superman is still unconscious (shoutout to Superman’s boots making a cameo!), the DEO’s resources are depleted, and even if the DEO were fully operational, no humans could get near the source without their heads exploding.This assessment of her chances doesn’t dissuade Kara — she’s more than willing to sacrifice herself for the planet that has shown her so much love. However, she does take a page out of the hero handbook and decides not to tell Alex or anyone else close to her that she’s going to die.

Instead of telling the truth, she just hints at it really hard by going on a goodbye tour. Most of her farewells are quite poignant because the show has put a lot of effort into making us believe how deep the bonds run between the characters. The best ones are her and Cat and her and J’onn because they are the strongest supporting characters and have the most emotional complexity. On the other hand, her scene with James is kind of frustrating because she thinks it’s in James’ best interest if she squashes any hope of them being together and tells him to find someone else.

Max tracks Myriad’s signal to Fort Rozz, and with under 10 minutes to save the world, Kara and J’onn, who has recovered from his injuries, fly out to face Non and Indigo and shut it down. The show never lets us get lost in the fight scene, which is admittedly really cool. Instead, the fight is intercut with shots of humans feeling the pain from Myriad, which serves as a nice reminder of what’s at stake. We see some very human moments between Alex and Max, who grab each other’s hands, and General Lane and Lucy who cling to each other even though they were on the outs for most of the episode because of the General’s treatment of J’onn.

J’onn defeats Indigo by ripping her in two, and Kara’s heat vision overpowers Non and burns his eyes out. Unfortunately, Indigo locked the Myriad system and the only way to save everyone is for Kara to fly Fort Rozz into space, which will result in her dying since she won’t be able to breath or fly back to Earth. But, Kara doesn’t care and does it anyway. The look of amazement on J’onn’s face as she flies the prison away says it all. Thankfully, she doesn’t die because Alex uses the pod that brought Kara to Earth to save her.

NEXT: A happy ending

Later, Kara wakes up in the infirmary and is met with a round of applause from the entire DEO. General Lane announces that the President, recognizing J’onn’s courage, has pardoned him and has reinstated him as head of the DEO. As J’onn gives a speech about no longer keeping secrets, the episode cuts to General Lane handing over the omegahedron, an unlimited Kryptonian power source that was used to power Myriad, to Max.

Meanwhile, Kara returns to CatCo and finds out that she’s been promoted. Her new position is TBD, says Cat, and will be determined by what Kara wants to do because Cat has faith that she can actually change the world. As I’ve said many times throughout these recaps, this show’s strongest asset is the relationship between Kara and Cat, and this moment definitely feels earned. Later, Team Supergirl has a party to celebrate saving the day and James shows up with a photo he took of Kara in her glasses. As soon as she unwraps the photo, he kisses her.

It’s commendable that the show wasn’t afraid to give Kara and company a happy ending. Did you notice how no one died in the finale? That’s definitely remarkable, especially given Berlanti and company’s track record when it comes to finales. The decision to not off any of the main characters brings the show full circle and back to the second episode, which was all about how they’re all “stronger together.”

Supergirl‘s first season was far from perfect. At times, it was messy and very clunky and most of the villains of the week were forgettable. But, it had a lot of heart and humanity and that goes a long way in a show about a nearly invincible woman.

Although the show has yet to be renewed, I really hope it receives a second season because I can’t wait to see what’s next, especially after the finale’s cliffhanger. Team Supergirl’s party was interrupted by something crashing to Earth and when Kara and J’onn arrive on the scene to check it out, they find it’s a Kryptonian pod similar to the one that transported Kara. The pod opens, Kara gasps and the episode cuts to black without revealing who’s inside.

Wall of Weird:

  • Kara and Alex also tell their mother that Jeremiah is alive.
  • “You see Kira, we have been through hell in the last few days. Lesson: Don’t ever take life for granted, always take good care of yourself, reject the latte and drink the green juice. Carpe diem,” Cat, explaining to Kara why she is requested a moon juice smoothie with Chinese herbs that Gwyneth Paltrow always recommends.
  • “That was either my eulogy or your dictated suicide note,” Cat, when Kara says goodbye before saving the world.
  • “[Jeremiah] needs to know everything good I did came from you being my sister,” Kara, to Alex when she thinks she’s about to die and asks her to give Jeremiah a message when they find him.
  • As always, Blake Neely’s score was fantastic and really made this episode feel kind of cinematic at times. He has a real handle over the musical aesthetic needed for superhero shows.
  • “This is your end of Working Girl moment,” Cat, to Kara when she gives her the promotion. The end of Working Girl makes both of them cry.

What did you think of the finale? Who do you think is in the space pod? Share your thoughts in the comments, or find me on Twitter @chancelloragard.

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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