Supergirl, S2E7 – The Darkest Place

Supergirl was full of epic confrontations this episode, almost all of which were rather violent. The episode title was rather fitting, as the show rarely delves into such dark territory. Characters all dealt with plenty of changes, both physically and metaphorically. After kidnapping Mon-El last week, Lillian Luthor uses him as bait to lure Kara to Cadmus. While there, she faces Cyborg Superman, who turns out to be a still-alive Hank Henshaw. Not only that, but she temporarily gives up her powers to save Mon-El’s life and runs into her adoptive father, who is also surprisingly alive and helps her escape. Meanwhile, James’ role as the Guardian is tested when another vigilante starts framing him for murder, and J’onn turns on M’gann when he finds out her secret.

Mon-El doesn't think he deserved to escape Daxam.

Mon-El has survivor’s guilt about Daxam.

Kara and Mon-El’s escape from Cadmus seemed a little too pat, but that’s probably a sign that it was engineered. The real purpose of her imprisonment there was to reveal both Cyborg Superman and Jeremiah Danvers to the audience, but it provided some much needed insight into Mon-El. He and Kara have formed a bond over the last few episodes, which makes it believable that she would risk losing her powers to save him. However, it still feels early and unnecessary for him to develop romantic feelings, which unfortunately seems to be where the show is headed.

While meeting and battling the real Hank Henshaw would normally have been the most shocking moment of Supergirl, and certainly let David Harewood have his fun with yet another character to play, that honor eventually went to Jeremiah. His reappearance poses several questions. Can he really have survived 15 years with Cadmus and not have turned to their side? More importantly, how will Kara and Alex get him back? It was a shock to see him back so soon, especially without the Danvers girls actively searching for him in recent episodes, but it opens the door for a great rescue mission down the line.

Guardian doesn't kill. Or keep secrets very well.

Guardian doesn’t kill. Or keep secrets very well.

James and Winn’s vigilante team-up hit a snag very early on, when an ex-military vet named Philip Karnowsky goes on a rampage of revenge killings in a suit that looks abnormally similar to the Guardian’s. In the process of stopping the murderer and clearing his own name, James gets to show off his excellent fighting skills and his teamwork with Winn. I’ve expressed my concern about this story line before, but I was happy to see that the episode gave James’ other qualities a chance to shine as well. His passion for the fairness and truth came across very clearly in his scene with Snapper Carr, and the hunt for the Guardian provided a good look at how both the media and police department of National City work. Alex is roped into the secret this week, which only makes keeping things a secret from Kara more unwieldy. It’s hard to see how this will end other than in rage and recriminations, but I’m willing to let it play out.

J’onn had the most heart-wrenching plot on this week’s Supergirl, as he was forced to confront the fact that the woman he thought was a fellow survivor instead belonged to the race that exterminated his. From the moment M’gann first told the story about the White Martian who tried to save her, it was obvious that she must have been the White Martian in question. But hearing her share her truth with J’onn was no less powerful this time. Her sincerity can’t erase the loss of J’onn’s family, though, and the scene where he attacks her while forcing her to transform is brutal despite the parameters of the show ensuring that J’onn would never cross the line into murder. The final reveal – that J’onn is turning into a White Martian because of M’gann’s blood – feels a little like kicking someone when they’re down, but there’s no question that Kara and the team will find a way to reverse the process.

While the major plots in “The Darkest Place” were pretty disparate at first glance, they managed to all connect thematically in a very interesting way. The aggressors have all suffered a massive familial loss that blinds them to anything other than the revenge they seek: Lillian wants to destroy Kara because Superman put Lex in jail, Philip wants to kill criminals because his wife’s murderer escaped justice, and J’onn wants to hurt M’gann because of what her people did to his family. The only outlier is Alex, but even she has to wrestle with the personal injury that Maggie’s rejection caused. At times she seems in danger of letting the pain of her broken heart overshadow their professional relationship as well as the friendship that Maggie is offering. Thankfully, Alex finds herself at peace by the end of the hour and ready to welcome Maggie as a friend once more.

Next week is the last episode before the big DCTV crossover! But before the Dominators invade, Supergirl will tell us all about Project Medusa.