REVIEW: Supergirl, S318 – Shelter From the Storm

This week’s Supergirl was a tense and terrifying hour, as Kara (Melissa Benoist) and her team scrambled to protect Sam’s (Odette Annable) family members from her alter ego Reign’s wrath. But that’s not the only wrath going around in “Shelter From the Storm,” because ever since Lena (Katie McGrath) found out how little her old idol trusts her she’s totally re-evaluated her position on the Girl of Steel. Does anyone make it out of the episode unscathed?

Love the one you’re with?

Well, Brainy does, so that’s a plus. He, Imra and Mon-El (Chris Wood) take their leave of the DEO squad in order to return to a better and brighter future in which their families and the rest of the Legion are now free of the Blight. Though it’s a small moment, Brainy gifting Winn (Jeremy Jordan) dirt from the future and learning how to “bro hug” is the brightest spot in an otherwise dark hour. Unfortunately, he’s the only Legionnaire having a good time. Mon-El is loathe to say goodbye to Kara, and they share a genuinely touching farewell before being interrupted by news of Reign’s latest attack. Meanwhile, poor Imra is loathe to watch her husband clearly still pining for another woman.

This is where it gets a little tricky, because while he hasn’t technically done anything wrong, emotional infidelity can often be just as damaging as the physical kind. So Imra pausing their trip back home to send her husband on a quest to decide who he loves (as well as to help Kara battle Reign, once Brainy’s nerdy gift turns out to be more of a nanny cam) feels a little disingenuous. Mostly because she’s not kicking him out for clearly wanting another woman, but rather “setting him free” to make his choice and going so far as to absolve him of any guilt. Supergirl has done an admirable job of reforming Mon-El for the most part, but they muddy the waters by trying to tack a love triangle onto a redemption arc.

Speaking of muddy waters, J’onn (David Harewood) and M’yrnn only get a few seconds of father-son bonding over the delicious combination of coffee and chocolate knows as a mocha before “Shelter From the Storm” returns to the tale of the elder Martian’s dementia. It’s the show’s most realistic story by far, but also one of its most painful to witness. Thankfully there are still glimpses of hope, such as when J’onn and Kara jolt M’yrnn into remembering how he convinced the White Martians to spare his life, a story which plays seamlessly into Supergirl’s later battle with Reign. Playing by the other party’s rules and using their ethics against them seemed to be a running theme throughout the episode, effectively displayed in Reign’s case and perhaps a little less successfully in Lena’s.

Reign’s search for Ruby takes up most of “Shelter From the Storm,” and it’s a pretty terrifying ordeal. Kara and J’onn go to the home of Sam’s mother to try and keep her safe, but the woman who once abandoned her daughter now wants the chance to confront her and make up for past sins. The fact that she’s a sinner, though, is exactly what allows Reign to murder her without compunction. And while Supergirl’s incapacitated, she can’t do anything to help. Poor Patricia was a pretty terrible mom, but watching her both beg for and offer forgiveness in her final moments was truly heartbreaking.

Future mother-daughter duo.

As for Ruby, Lena has her safely locked away in Lex’s mysterious invisible mansion – which provides some instance of unintentional comedy when we see to just what length the man went to keep his things private. Alex (Chyler Leigh) requests access to visit her, which leads to a few nice scenes of bonding and furthers my belief that Alex will adopt her when this is all over. But it also leads to Alex treating Ruby like she’s 2 instead of 12, refusing to give the child even an inkling of what’s wrong with Sam. And given that Ruby has no clue her mother is a Kryptonian serial killer at the moment, she tries to call her and winds up accidentally alerting her to the mansion’s location.

Thus begins the toughest, and possibly most interesting, fight sequence of Supergirl‘s third season. Alex tries to fend Reign off to no avail until Kara and Mon-El arrive with some Kryptonite (more on that in a second) to stop her. But at first, it’s not Kryptonite that does the trick. Instead it’s Kara laying out Reign’s own rulebook before her, laying down the law that makes it impossible for her to kill an innocent like Ruby. It’s interesting that it was the Priestess herself who said the child must die, but thankfully Reign is too focused on the logic of Kara’s words to remember that – or to notice the Kryptonite-filled gun Mon-El was wielding.

Where did the Kryptonite come from? From Lena’s secret recipe, which makes up the weakest element in “Shelter From the Storm.” But at least it gives us a cute morning after bit with James (Mehcad Brooks), who later convinces his girlfriend to come clean with Supergirl about her Kryptonite stash so that they can work together to stop Reign. Most of the issues I have with this storyline come down to characters’ short sightedness, and Lena’s reaction to James’ suggestion is the first indication of it. At first she is adamant that Supergirl’s anger and mistrust are reason enough not to use her Kryptonite on Reign, which seems counter-intuitive. If you’re not going to use your secret weapon against the villain, then what is it meant for? But at the same time, Kara’s virulent mistrust of the woman who is supposed to be one of her best friends is equally or more galling.

She explains that a substance represents a fate worse than death for her, and that’s why she’s so against it, but Lena’s accusations of her God complex cannot be denied. Humans have to live with the existence of all sorts of horrible weapons that could end them in excruciating ways for what is supposedly the greater good. So why should Supergirl be any different? Supergirl apologizes by the end of the episode, but all is still not well. Upon seeing Kara again for the first time in what seems like months, Lena proceeds to gab to her friend all about how Supergirl is a snake who can’t be trusted. Oh, and she mentions that James lied to the Girl of Steel too! Effectively blowing up two friendships without realizing it, all because Kara’s glasses are masters of deception. It’s a sad state of affairs when the death-knell of Kara and Lena’s friendship in this scene is barely felt, simply because they haven’t shared scenes anyway. Interestingly enough, James’ apparent ‘betrayal’ feels like it holds a lot of narrative weight here. Will he take one woman’s side against the other, or will he be able to make them both see reason?

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on the CW.