Although we love Supergirl, we have to admit the way it handles topical issues has not always been its strong suit. The infamous “anti-gun” episode was awkward enough for those who support strict gun control laws to admit its approach to the topic was a ham-fisted mistake. Doubly so as the decision to remove guns from the DEO was reversed almost immediately and, to this day, Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) variable Martian weapon generally takes on the form of a gun.
That said, this week’s episode felt like the show’s most successful attempt to tackle a real-world issue in a long time. Sure, there may be some schmaltz in Kelly’s (Azie Tesfai) victory over the foster mother, but Kara’s slow-motion realization that the warden was part of the scheme — to say nothing of the way she admitted saving the prisoners caught up in Intergang’s plan would not solve the systemic problem of prison abuse — felt refreshingly honest for the program. And that’s even counting Kara’s refusal to think the warden might be involved early in the episode. Nevertheless, solving the immediate personal issues of the characters in the story while acknowledging the on-going systemic problems felt better handled than in the anti-gun episode. Interesting, then, that both had Olsens at the center of the plots.
Also, the wish-fulfillment aspect of Kelly solving the issue in the group home and securing Orlando’s (Aiden Stoxx) release also felt earned — at least in terms of Earth-Prime’s slightly more equitable sense of justice. Again, we admit the corniness is there, but Supergirl should trade in well-executed corny elements. This week proves the show can discuss issues, serve the characters, and admit that the show is only one part of much larger conversations.
Oh, also, Andrea Rojas’s (Julie Gonzalo) desire for “pictures of Spider-Man” is getting old real quick, but maybe Kara and William (Staz Nair) can really use it to their advantage. Just please, Supergirl, no more speeches on Andrea’s part about hard news immediately followed by demands for Superfriends gossip under pain of job termination. It’s not cute or successful.
Supergirl airs Tuesdays on The CW.