REVIEW: Supergirl, S3E2 – Triggers

The Supergirl episode “Triggers” takes the things that worked about the premiere and amplifies them, but still suffers from a similar lack of direction as last season. Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) humanity or lack thereof was a big sticking point in the first episode back, and her story this week clarifies her position a little better. Meanwhile, Lena’s (Katie McGrath) takeover of Catco integrates both Kara and James (Mehcad Brooks) rather well, and Sam (Odette Annable) finally makes her way to the main characters. There are a few more pleasant – and some unpleasant – surprises in store, so let’s break it all down.

Fear the psychic.

My biggest issue with last week’s episode was that Kara was so willing to throw off her humanity and seemed dangerously close to taking the Übermensch mentality literally. It was a step too far for her character, especially because it was primarily due to losing her boyfriend when she has previously suffered larger tragedies. To address the elephant in the room, “Triggers” does once again equate losing Mon-El (Chris Wood) to losing her home planet in a way that I found groan-worthy. But this time, Kara makes it clearer that she feels responsible for killing him, which ameliorates the situation somewhat. The cause of her emotional revelations is Psy (guest star Yael Grobglas), a psychic villain who is so powerful that she renders victims immobile by forcing them to relive their worst fears. Grobglas was excellent in the role, but it was largely under-written and suffered from a lack of backstory and motivation. She served primarily as a tool for Kara to work through her issues, as well as to remind us that J’onn (David Harewood) will never be allowed to use his own psychic abilities very efficiently. As previously implied, I was not a fan of Kara’s worst fear being that she sent Mon-El to his death, but I did enjoy how receptive she was to Alex (Chyler Leigh) consoling her. And I liked even more that this time she went out of her way to apologize for her earlier behavior.

The behavior in question has to do with her job as a reporter at CatCo, seeing as Kara was very much acting like a nepotism hire who didn’t need to actually work but also wasn’t planning on being nice to her boss-slash-friend. Of course, Kara had a lot on her mind dealing with a psychic villain who was causing her panic attacking, but it was still great to see Lena take a stand and treat Kara like a sub-par employee. Not that Lena was blameless in her conduct this episode, either. She was so enthusiastic about learning the ropes as CatCo’s new CEO that she inadvertently left James out of several important communiques and meetings, which James did not hesitate to push back on. It was really refreshing to see tension between two characters that derived solely from their own differing methods, without any extra agendas or external factors to deal with. They were in a better place by the end of the episode, but it wasn’t fully resolved, so I look forward to their interactions in the coming weeks.


CatCo is such a great way to connect the majority of characters that it makes Supergirl‘s choice to put it on the back burner last season even more confusing. This week, it winds up being the thread that brings even Sam (Odette Annable) into the story – something that is going to help a great deal as the season goes on. For most of this week, Sam and her daughter Ruby existed in an isolated bubble that dealt with her potential powers but never referred back to the rest of the show. Even as I was invested in whether Sam would accept her super-powered nature or whether she’d convince Ruby to drop the quest for truth, I kept wondering how it would become part of the plot. The mother-daughter dynamic was touching, but it felt adrift in the middle of interconnected stories about characters we’ve come to care about for the last two years. But that was rectified by revealing Sam to be Lena’s replacement at L Corp, and now we can expect her to have more run-ins with the rest of the cast. Knowing that she’s destined to be a villain makes all of her scenes bittersweet, but also adds a layer of fascination to what is so far a very noble woman.

Another minor issue I had last week that was also improved upon by “Triggers”? The Sanvers plot. Alex and Maggie (Floriana Lima) disagreeing about the size of their wedding last week felt very tacked on, but this time around the narrative started shaping up more clearly. At first it’s just a fun argument over whether they want a band or DJ at the wedding, but things get serious once Maggie casually drops the bomb that she doesn’t want kids. Alex accepts it immediately like she seems to do everything else, but the signs are clear: this may be one concession too many for the elder Danvers sister.

“Triggers” ends with a surprise appearance from M’gann (guest star Sharon Leal), who calls J’onn back to his home planet for a very important yet unexplained reason. This final scene and the promo wound up leaving more of an impact on me than the rest of the episode, but that’s more a reflection of what a great twist it is. Supergirl delivered a solid hour of television this week, it just needs to play its Big Bad cards a little less close to the vest. If I didn’t keep up with interviews, I would have no idea of who Sam really is and would probably be a little less satisfied with the episode than I currently am.

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