REVIEW: Supergirl, S5E3 – Blurred Lines

Right and wrong is full of, as Supergirl‘s title this week so aptly put it, “Blurred Lines.” From Kara (Melissa Benoist) breaking the law to bring comfort to Lena ( Katie McGrath) who is actually plotting a reset of humanity to Kelly (Azie Tesfai) making off-the-books time for a patient who turns out to be Malefic seeking vengeance against J’onn (David Harewood) for doing the unthinkable in Martian culture, good intentions are definitely paving the road to Hell this week. The hour has no shortage of entertaining surprises, but it also has the subtlety of a sledgehammer, which starts to wear a little thin for the first time this season.

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We almost lost James, but then he took a vacation anyway.

J’onn’s is actually the most straightforward – and straightforwardly heartbreaking – plot in “Blurred Lines.” He employs Nia’s (Nicole Maines) dream power to access his hidden memories and better understand what his brother did that led to a memory wipe in the first place. It’s devastation upon devastation for our favorite Green Martian, and Harewood wrings every bit of beautiful angst from it, as J’onn learns that his brother was isolated from the Martian community as a child due to his inability to connect to their greater consciousness. Out of misplaced parental solicitude and religious superstition, their father M’yrnn placed Malefic in the care of monks, which to a young boy was the equivalent of total abandonment.

Naturally, White Martians easily preyed on Malefic and turned him against his people. The last image Nia shows him is of his father blaming himself, which leads J’onn to believe M’yrnn then erased Malefic from both their minds; a crime which in the Martian culture is tantamount to murder. But as it turns out, Nia’s own dreams show her the last piece of the puzzle, and she is forced to reveal to an anguished J’onn that he himself was the one who performed the mind wipe. He may have done it to save their father, but it was sacrilege nevertheless. This places Malefic in a much more sympathetic light, although his actions in “Blurred Lines” are by no means excusable.

What’s stranger is how Supergirl uses this powerful storyline to further investigate Nia and Brainy’s (Jesse Rath) unnecessary communication problems. Following her boyfriend’s advice that when you care for someone you should be honest, Nia finally admits that his sonnets for her – and indeed all his ostentatious displays of affection – are too much. Brainy understandably takes this as personal rejection and walks away, leaving me to wonder if Brainia is about to end with a whimper, or if this is part of a larger (and frankly more interesting story) about Nia not feeling worthy of so much love. For now, though, it’s a bit of a sour note in the episode despite the final confrontation being particularly well-acted by both parties.

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Not much CatCo this week, but Andrea does want “sparkly death.”

But back to the theme of “Blurred Lines,” which is best exemplified by Kara and Lena’s friendship. It’s great to see Kara make an effort to renew the relationship with her bestie in the wake of her earth-shattering reveals, and her grand overtures may in fact melt Lena’s heart a bit. Unfortunately, world domination rehabilitation is foremost on her mind and she uses her Lex-related trauma as a weapon to manipulate Kara into breaking into Fort Summit to steal his journals. Kara offers herself up for the task on a silver platter, but later is nearly talked down by Alex (Chyler Leigh) who is certain it’s a step too far. Of course, this calls into question the entire premise of Supergirl, which has Kara and company breaking laws for the greater good every week. The show is smart enough to point that out, but it can’t really answer the question of why this time is different aside from the audience’s knowledge of Lena’s intentions.

One thing “Blurred Lines” is absolutely clear on, though, is that you can go too far to help a friend – no matter what James (Mehcad Brooks) may think. He dives in as Guardian and nearly gets himself killed by the most likely Leviathan-sent (and William Dey-connected, but more on that in some other review) villain of the week, because Kara is important to him. But that doesn’t mean that she should erase all boundaries with Lena, or that Kelly should break the rules of her brand-new high-tech job to help Sean Astin just because he asked a little aggressively. Supergirl was a little aggressive in doling out its punishment, though, as Kelly is attacked by her friend who was actually Malefic, then wound up psychically linked to him and therefore forced to go into hiding for a few episodes. James goes with with her, which makes me wonder if this is how he’s written off the show. If so, it would be incredibly anticlimactic; especially since we know she’s coming back.

As Alex comforts her girlfriend, Kelly claims, “I was too trusting. It’s all my fault,” which again seems like it’s hitting way too hard. Especially when it’s juxtaposed with Kara being ‘too trusting’ with Lena, suggesting that what happens next will be her fault as well. Sure, we all need to set boundaries so we’re not taken advantage of. But the ones taking advantage are to blame, and it’d be nice if someone told Kelly that.

Supergirl airs Sundays at 9/8c on The CW.