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.