Supergirl, S2E8 – Medusa

Love was in the air in last night’s Supergirl, and so was a virus that targeted alien physiology. A crossover episode, meanwhile, was not so much in the cards. Instead, Eliza Danvers (guest star Helen Slater) came to visit her daughters and inadvertently sent them both on different romantic paths. Her appearance also converged with two other major plot lines for the episode: Cadmus releasing Project Medusa with their access to Kara’s blood, and J’onn transforming into a White Martian.

Eliza Danvers ties the episode together.

Eliza ties the episode together.

The meat of Supergirl this week was the race to stop Cadmus’ virus, which very quickly took a dark turn. Mon-El is thankfully saved from certain death because he was busy fighting Cyborg Superman, but a large number of aliens are killed near the start of the episode. As depressing as this development was, the show did a good job of personalizing the tragedy by having one of the victims speak to Mon-El right before dying. It doesn’t matter the exact number of casualties, they all had individual lives that were lost and now the stakes to stop the spread of the virus feel more real. While Mon-El’s life hanging in the balance seemed more like an easy way to jump-start his feelings for Kara, the tension of whether or not Lena Luthor could be trusted to fight against her mother was excellently developed. Despite only recurring throughout the season, Lena has become an integral part of the show and the murkiness surrounding her motivations is earned.

Alex had an equally rewarding story line, albeit one of a less catastrophic nature. Though she was at first afraid of her mother’s reaction to her sexuality, it turns out Eliza loves her daughter just as she is and wants her happiness above anything else. While this acceptance gives Alex the push she needs to be honest with Maggie and ready to move forward with her as friends, a near-death experience instead pushes Maggie to take chances and live in the present. Getting to see Alex come to terms with her “new normal” in the same episode that Maggie acted on her feelings was definitely an early Christmas present from the Supergirl writers.

When not working to prevent the extinction of alien life on Earth, Kara had a lot of internal conflict to deal with. Upon visiting the Fortress of Solitude, she learns that Project Medusa was created by her parents as a defensive weapon to unleash on non-Kryptonian beings. This is another huge crack in her once-perfect image of her parents, and it understandably takes a toll on her. Kara feels especially guilty because Mon-El is hurt due to her parents’ past actions, and he tries to dissuade her from it with a loopy speech about her beauty and a kiss before passing out. The romantic subplot between them is a little forced, but perhaps it’s meant to add drama when his secrets are revealed – and for when the aliens searching for him arrive on Earth.

The rest of the cast didn’t have much to do in the midseason finale, but loose ends were tied up with J’onn and his blood cells. Eliza managing to create an antidote to the White Martian blood cells in his body was a little pat, making me wonder why the subplot was introduced in the first place. Meanwhile, James and Winn dragged out their Guardian secret a little longer at Alex’s request. Will Kara be angry at all three of them next year? Or will she have much bigger things to worry about?

The extent of the crossover.

The extent of the crossover.

The midseason finale of Supergirl was a solid ending to a very strong first half, although advertising it as the first part of a crossover was a little disingenuous. The character developments, especially with Lena and Cadmus, were engaging enough on their own without hoping that every scene would produce an appearance by Barry or Cisco. Nonetheless, the show has been a joy this year and it’s wonderful to see that the second season has improved on the first. All that’s left is to give James Olsen a sustained story line – whether it’s through Guardian or not – so that the entire cast is used according to their merits.