Supergirl recap: Kara reckons with Lena and the past in the 100th episode
Wow, “It’s a Super Life,” Supergirl’s 100th episode, may be one of the superhero drama’s best episodes ever. Sure, the plot is mostly inconsequential (there aren’t any major twists or big reveals), but that doesn’t matter because this episode is 100 percent about character — specifically, Kara and Lena’s relationship: Is there anything Kara could have done differently? How much of what has happened is on Kara? Those questions ground and drive the hour as it careens through multiple contrasting tones: from playful and comedic, to tragic, heartfelt, and introspective.
Picking up where last week’s episode left off, we find Kara and Alex surprised by the return of Mister Mxyzptlk, now played by Thomas Lennon, who brings major “Robin Williams-as-Genie” energy to the role as he bounds into Kara’s apartment, hilariously clambers atop the furniture, and devours scenery with abandon. He basically treats the entire apartment as his own playhouse, and I loved every second of it because Supergirl rarely has such puckish energy to it.
We last saw Mxy in season 2 when he showed up looking like Peter Gadiot and tried forcing Kara to marry him before she made him read his name backward, which sent him packing. Since then, some cosmic force has ordered him to revert back to his true appearance (Lennon, apparently) and to make amends with everyone he wronged, including Kara. To do so, he’s come to Kara with a proposition, a do-over: Using his powers, he will send Kara back in time and let her tell Lena she’s Supergirl on her own terms. If she likes the outcome of what she sees, then Mxy will snap his fingers and the change will become reality. (As a safeguard, Mxy also gives her a recording of him saying his name backward in case she wants to banish him back to the Fifth Dimension at any point).
Ever the voice of reason, Alex points out that changing history for a friendship is a very extreme action (and something seasons 1-3 Barry Allen would’ve done). But, Kara is so racked with guilt over the sad state of her relationship with Lena that she’s willing to try it. Trusting Kara can handle the situation, Alex and J’onn give their support, and Mxy snaps his fingers, blipping them away to their happy place: a paintball match.
From there, Kara and Mxy plop down and take a trip through Kara’s past (using a variety of devices: old-timey movie projector, the ever buffering Mxyflx, and betamax) to find the right moment in time for Kara to come clean to Lena. First, Kara jumps back to season 4’s “Fallout” and tells Lena right before Mercy Graves attacks L-Corp. Unfortunately, Lena runs away to Metropolis to see Sam — who assures Lena that she isn’t a villain — and thus isn’t around to save Kara’s life when the Graves disperse Kryptonite into the atmosphere. Because of that dark turn, Kara realizes they need to jump back even further.
So, she heads to season 3’s “Trinity” and tells Lena the truth then. Unfortunately, this just pisses Lena off because she was scared and alone when she found out Sam was Reign and would’ve turned to Kara for support if Kara had been honest with her. Despite this falling out, Kara decides to hang around this possible timeline for a bit longer to see if Lena eventually comes around. Luckily, she does — right before Reign kills her and Mon-El in a battle. (“I never understood what you saw in him,” says Mxy about Mon-El right before his death).
Since that scenario didn’t work out, Kara decides to jump back even further and tell Lena she’s Supergirl when they became friends in season 2. At first, this seems like the best move because having Supergirl as a friend changes the public’s opinion of Lena, which we learn thanks to some old-timey newspaper headlines and announcements from Mxy. Unfortunately, Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer putting up big numbers in a couple of scenes) kidnaps Lena and cult leader Coville and threatens to kill them if Kara doesn’t reveal her secret identity.
“Every morning that I wake up, I imagine this moment — the moment being Supergirl gets someone I love killed. I have to push that feeling down or else I can’t get out of bed,” a conflicted Kara tells Winn, who tells her that she doesn’t need to worry about any of them except for Lena right now because everyone else can handle themselves. I loved this exchange because it lent some real emotion to a very familiar superhero trope (the hero worried about putting her loved ones in danger). Furthermore, it served as a nice callback to the conversation Kara and Winn had in Supergirl’s pilot when she first revealed her powers to him.
So Kara unmasks herself to the world and Lockwood frees Lena and Coville. But then, Lockwood turns around and kills everyone close to Kara (including Cat Grant!).
After a third failed scenario, Kara becomes disheartened and wonders if everything would’ve worked out better if she and Lena had never become friends. Spoiler alert: She’s wrong. In that dystopian scenario, Lena rules over National City with an iron fist (read: Hope-powered Lexosuits, Reign, and an evil Brainy) and has a Metallo-like Kryptonite heart. Mxy and Kara briefly get stuck in this world because Mxy can’t access powers, which gives the script an excuse to give us a major action beat that sees Supergirl fight MetaLena; Mon-El and J’onn fight Reign; and Alex, Kelly, and Nia fight Brainy. To be honest, this was probably the weakest part of the episode for me because it felt like we only took a trip to this dystopian future so the script had a reason to give us an action sequence, which I don’t think it necessarily needed.
After all of this, Kara has a breakthrough: She can’t (and shouldn’t) change the past. She simply needs to own her mistakes, accept the consequences, and try to do better as she moves forward. (This took Barry ages to learn.) Even though the script doesn’t directly call it out, the lesson Kara takes away from this episode ties back into what Alura told Kara way back in the pilot. “There is no correct path in life. You will lose your way many times. What’s important is that you find your way back to the brave girl you always were.” With, “It’s a Super Life,” Kara has taken major steps in that direction.
Kara also realizes that she can no longer feel responsible for what Lena has done since finding out her secret because she has no control over her. In fact, she visits Lena and tells her just that in my favorite scene in the episode. “From now on, you’re accountable for your own actions. If you decide to forgive me, I will be there for you. But if you continue to work with Lex, if you go through with whatever the two of you are planning, I will do everything in my power to stop you. Just like I would any other villain,” says Kara in what is a decisive character moment for both women. Kara has broken free from the guilt she’s felt all season and now the ball is firmly in Lena’s court. It seems as though Lena will have to do some soul-searching and reckon with her actions in the back half of the season.
Wall of Weird:
- Thank you to recaps editor Mike Miller and regular Supergirl recapper Sara Netzley for letting me jump back in to recap the 100th episode. I recapped the first two seasons, so it felt good checking back in for this milestone.
- Composers Blake Neely and Daniel James Chan did amazing work in tonight’s episode. I especially loved the music when Mxy first arrives.
- “So much exposition,” Mxy, as he fast-forwards through a lot of season 3.
- Throughout the episode, Mxy apologizes several times for the toxicity of his actions during his first appearance on the show. “It was despicable of me to pursue a woman who so clearly was not interested in me from the get-go. I misread the room, and I’m gonna be better. It’s tough to be an imp and I’m going to try for the rest of my days.”
- I usually don’t notice wigs, but man, the one Melissa Benoist had to wear in the season 3 flashbacks was…not great, Bob.
Kara (Melissa Benoist) steps out from her super-cousin’s shadow to become Supergirl and defend National City in the third Arrowverse show.