REVIEW: Supergirl, S2E19 – Alex

While Supergirl‘s last outing left us with the cliffhanger of Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) unknowingly joining forces with Mon-El’s mother Rhea (guest star Teri Hatcher), this week’s episode switches gears a bit to focus on Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Lima).

Apparently there is a “Supergirl defense” that criminal attorneys have been using to keep their clients out of jail, claiming excessive force or evidence tampering due to the superhero’s interference in arrests. While this is an excellent point to bring up, it also begs the question of where such an important plot was in previous episodes. Maggie has every reason to start resenting Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) antics if this is true, but the lack of previous build-up makes her come across as unnecessarily harsh. That being said, it absolutely makes sense that the strength of Supergirl isn’t needed for everyday crimes, but rather for alien dilemmas. Perhaps the Guardian would be more suited for daily interventions?

Alex’s family is worried to death.

There isn’t much time to deal with that aspect, though, because Supergirl quickly becomes a tense thriller of an episode when Alex is kidnapped. The moral dilemma of breaking Peter Thompson out of his life sentence to save Alex is presented, but J’onn (David Harewood) and the rest of the DEO quickly discard it as an option. Maggie giving in and nearly succeeding in negotiating with terrorists was probably the biggest surprise of the night, but one that was foreshadowed earlier on in the season. She’s always been willing to go above and beyond the law that she holds dear for Alex, so that was a nice touch.

Maggie’s detective skills are also put to good use, helping to link the prisoner to the man who desperately wants him released – his son Rick (guest star David Hoflin). It’s a clever way to underscore the theme of police versus hero work without beating anyone over the head with it, thought it’s slightly undercut by Winn (Jeremy Jordan) using impossibly accurate facial recognition software to complete the connection.

Once they find the culprit, Maggie gets more opportunities to shine – specifically when it comes to tempering Kara’s impulsiveness and getting her to think more clearly. Thankfully Kara is able to return the favor when it most counts, talking Maggie down from committing a crime as well as convincing a father to keep his son from becoming a murderer. Alex and Kara’s backstory is also deftly woven into the plot at hand in a way that underlines just why Kara needed to keep her abilities hidden early on. Alex herself even engages in some next-level action to save herself, or at least to alert her friends to her location.

Maggie is the episode’s MVP.

Maggie and Alex have a beautiful, heart-wrenching conversation through a laptop that highlights both actresses’ talents as well as the depth of their characters’ relationship. The desperation to get Alex back worked better than the undertone of competition between Maggie and Kara. As wonderful as Sanvers is, it’s hard to compare a relationship of less than a year to a bond between sisters. Kara should have listened to Maggie because she is a cop who knows how to deal with hostage crises, not because she is Alex’s girlfriend.

Lena’s storyline also continues while Alex is in danger, and it’s clear that Rhea has drawn her in on the basis of climate change solutions. If there’s anything that’s been made clear about Ms. Luthor so far, it’s that she’s the best kind of bleeding heart. Because of this, Supergirl  plays on the expectation that she will be easily swayed when her emotional strings are tugged by Rhea’s masterful manipulations. And yet Lena once again defies expectations and uncovers some of the truth, quickly sending Rhea on her way until she offers up a little more honesty. It’s a small diversion through the hour, but it still provides a little more insight into Lena and how she might become a great ally – or enemy – to Supergirl in the future.

Supergirl delivered a taut and well-acted episode that hardly misses a beat. The Danvers’ sisterly bond was on display once more, and Sanvers got more screen time and development than they have almost all season. Finally, the teamwork between Kara and Maggie blossomed at a realistic pace considering how at odds they were at the start. Now it looks like the main thread dangling is whether Lena will discover Kara’s identity, and whether she’ll side with Rhea or not when she does.