We’ve made it to the halfway point of Supergirl‘s final season and we wish the show had found some of these ideas last year. For one thing, the ongoing social consciousness story with Orlando (Jhaleil Swaby) is interesting. Kara (Melissa Benoist) is finding systemic issues are not as easy to topple as supervillains and the situations behind them are more complex than the worldview her series generally affords her. It’s a more honest way of looking at the issues Supergirl always wanted to tackle with the understanding that Kara’s powers cannot solve it in one 45-minute teleplay, two episodes, or even a season. That was the thing missing from that “anti-gun” episode we referenced last week. That episode felt pat and although Orlando’s gains do not feel hard-earned, they at least ring truer as he attempts to navigate a system which never has his rehabilitation in mind.
That said, it is a gut-punch to see Orlando’s victory taken away by Kara’s baggage with Nxy (Peta Sergeant). At the same time, the dissonance between the social consciousness story and Nxy proves the program is a little bit overstuffed in its final run. For her part, Nxy is a good villain: she’s fun to watch, her beef with Kara is personal, and her abilities pose a genuine threat to Supergirl. Nevertheless, mixing her into the the low-income housing plot at the end underscores the way the series has been historical ill-suited to tell these socially conscious stories. If Orlando started recurring last season, the whiplash would not feel so acute.
Add to that Nia’s (Nicole Maines) story. Wanting another day with her mother has been a running thread all season, but it’s odd to see her real issue turn out to be her sister, Maeve. From what we recall, Maeve never really accepted Nia as a woman and the fact the ancestral powers passed to her only made the divide between them wider. To learn that Nia’s regrets about receiving the powers were fueling their lack of reliability feels off, especially as we doubt the show will have the time to resolve this idea with Maeve onscreen. It is another idea which needed to be established last year to play right, we think. At the very least, it is good to see Kate Burton again as Mia’s mother and the notion that Nia feels personally responsible for Nxy’s escape will fuel at least one great, teary-eyed scene between Maines and Benoist.
Meanwhile, Kelly (Azie Tesfai) is still training to be Guardian and this episode made us wonder how the show will have time to fit a new hero into the mix. The idea that she will be a hero barely has room to breath here. Then again, the series still has ten episodes and, now, a clearly defined big bad. Perhaps that will help the series narrow its focus.
Supergirl airs Tuesdays on The CW.