Amidst all of the Kryptonian mythos of Supergirl, the CW series can always be distilled to a very human idea: acceptance. At times, the show has utilized its character relationships to highlight that notion. Season 2 has featured LGBT love interests, and even interplanetary romances. However, Supergirl has also explored the theme of “acceptance” by telling stories of immigrants and the responsibility of societies to take them in. This week, Supergirl re-engaged those issues by pitting its namesake hero against a Cadmus plan to forcibly deport Earth’s aliens. Importantly, the DEO wouldn’t be united in taking on this mission. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!)
In episode 14, the Danvers family ruptured over the turning of Jeremiah to the xenophobic cause of Lillian Luthor. He told Alex as he left her that he did so for both of his daughters. That explanation wouldn’t be anywhere close to satisfying. In this chapter, Alex’s desperation to break her father from Cadmus wound up leading to her suspension. After Alex beat a Cadmus prisoner at the DEO for information, even Kara agreed with the penalty. Ultimately, the Danvers sisters would have to stop their father despite working separately.
As the story progressed we learned that Jeremiah enlisted with Cadmus as a way to bargain for the lives of Earth’s aliens. He persuaded Lillian Luthor to round up and deport them rather than seek their annihilation. By winning that argument, Jeremiah also earned the responsibility to carry it out. Stealing the DEO’s alien registry (last week) was just one piece of the scheme. This week, Cadmus began a sweeping abduction program, culminating in the alien population being loaded onto a massive ship intended for deep space. How the DEO came back together to foil this plot made for the best offering of the year. Below are the rest of my reactions.
The writing of “Exodus” was strong, particularly with how Kara’s thread finally wove back into Alex’s. While Kara’s and Alex’s romances have brought new layers to the series, Supergirl is at its best when the Danvers sisters are acting as heroes together. If “acceptance” is the intellectual center of the program, Kara and Alex’s bond is its emotional core. It was great to see them reunite in the field. Though Alex succeeded in destroying the Cadmus base, she wound up trapped on the ship when she tried to free its captives. The vessel sealed its doors and blasted off. It was then left for Supergirl to use all of her might, pushing the vehicle in reverse to short out its engines. The moment of Kara and Alex seeing one another on opposing sides of the bridge window lent heart to the well-established tension and drama.
Another benefit came in Kara’s journey to discovering the Cadmus hideout. As Kara solicited Lena Luthor’s help in finding Lillian’s location, Kara also took the bold step of blogging about Cadmus’ intentions. Supergirl resorted to the blogosphere because CATCO editor-in-chief Snapper Carr refused the story. He fired Kara afterward for breach-of-contract. In this geek’s opinion, Kara leaving CATCO has been long overdue. In Season 1, CATCO was a crucial setting. Just as J’onn J’onzz was a surrogate father for the Danvers sisters at the DEO, Cat Grant was a adoptive mother for Kara at her corporate office. Together, Martian Manhunter and Ms. Grant were teaching Supergirl how to be a powerful hero and a strong woman. When the show’s production moved to Vancouver, Calista Flockhart left. The gravitational center of CATCO went with her. In response, the writers created a Perry White-redux in Snapper Carr and made Kara a reporter in the mold of Clark Kent. Not only were these character turns unoriginal, they were uninteresting. Kara’s formal DEO employment means there’s no practical need for her to be at CATCO. If her departure really is permanent, perhaps that will enable greater investment in supporting characters such Lena Luthor, Maggie Sawyer or Winn Schott. Or it could enable more exploration of the show’s villains, an area where there’s already been immense improvement from Season 1.
One supporting character who stood out impressively in this airing, as already mentioned, was Alex Danvers. Chyler Leigh and Dean Cain showcased the intellectual theme of this installment when Alex climatically confronted her father. Leigh had ably portrayed Alex’s pain and determination, already. But in this moment, she also symbolized something larger. Deportation was no compromise worth accepting. There is no humane method of ethnic cleansing. The only solution is to fight the intolerance driving it. As Alex sharply retorted to her father about the refugees, “some of them have escaped famine and poverty and genocide.” Jeremiah wasn’t saving the immigrant aliens from harm’s way. He was simply changing who and what threatened their lives. Chyler Leigh’s wonderful performance wasn’t all purity, however. Alex was allowed to exhibit a vigilante streak. Unlike Kara, Alex succeeded by working around the rules of engagement at the DEO. I hope more gets dedicated to this side of her. It would make for an intriguing contrast if Alex was willing to skirt the edges of darkness while her sister, The Girl of Steel, operated only in the light.
The big remaining question, though, was what happened to Jeremiah. After Alex confronted her father at the Cadmus base and seemingly turned him back, the elder Danvers was forced to face off with Hank Henshaw. The Cyborg Superman hit Jeremiah with an optical ray beam that appeared to incapacitate him. Unfortunately, the resolution of this fight wasn’t made clear. Doctor Danvers was neither rescued nor recovered by the DEO. Jeremiah already received a cybernetic enhancement from Cadmus after nearly dying in his fight with Henshaw from a decade before. If Lillian Luthor and Henshaw escaped with his unconscious body, perhaps even more pernicious enhancements await him.
While its triumphs were many, two missteps did pop up in “Exodus.” What forced Alex’s suspension early on was a ruse by Martian Manhunter. J’onn shapeshifted into Jeremiah Danvers and snuck into her apartment. When Alex came home, J’onn (as Doctor Danvers) told Alex that he really stood with her and against Cadmus. He asked Alex to steal a piece of DEO technology in order to stop an extermination plan by Lillian Luthor. No one could know about the theft and she had to act immediately. Alex agreed. J’onn then transformed back into his normal human personage. Believing Alex’s judgement compromised by the alignment of her father with Cadmus, J’onn suspended Alex. While perhaps extreme, J’onn’s actions seem completely appropriate. His principal deputy was becoming reckless. Furthermore, had it not been for Supergirl arriving on the scene, Alex’s gambit to turn her father back could have ended horribly. Yet, in the face of these results, J’onn apologized for his deception. I don’t think the story made his contrition warranted.
The other concerning character action came from NCPD Detective Maggie Sawyer. Considering her position in law enforcement, it’s worrisome that Maggie chose to enable Alex’s behavior. Her deep feelings for Alex obviously add complicate the situation. But she not only left her nose open by aiding Alex, she put the NCPD in political jeopardy. More critically, her girlfriend was willing to put the lives of every alien hostage at risk in order to return Jeremiah to the DEO safely. A law enforcement officer should be able to better weigh the the possible consequences when innocent lives are in the balance. If Maggie’s moral compass is this flexible, could her decision-making cost her far more dearly before the end of the year?
Supergirl has had an uncanny knack for presenting its most topical episodes when the relevant issue is dominating national headlines. “Exodus” is the best example, yet. Merely hours before #15 aired, the Trump administration again attempted to shut down immigration from 6 Muslim-majority countries. After it’s year-and-a-half on network television, the franchise for the Girl of Steel still displays no fear in stepping out front in social commentary. With Lillian Luthor’s escape, it seems a no-brainer that Supergirl will grapple with this debate again before the season’s end. In the ending teaser, we transitioned to another craft orbiting Earth, and the characters played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher. Sure to be Mon-El’s parents, we’ll now likely see the young Daxamite’s hidden identity outed in “Star-Crossed.”
Submitted by Jody Money