REVIEW: Supergirl, S3E20 – Dark Side of the Moon

Supergirl finally makes use of the blessing that is Erica Durance in “Dark Side of the Moon,” in which Kara (Melissa Benoist) finally reconciles with her long-lost mother while Alex (Chyler Leigh) reckons with her lifelong dream of becoming a mother. Though the episode doesn’t advance the plot much aside from grabbing a necessary MacGuffin to stop Reign (Odette Annable), it does provide various characters with some food for thought.

No closer to home-wrecking than last week.

“Dark Side of the Moon” hinges on several coincidences, including that Kara and Mon-El (Chris Wood) would immediately be able to locate the one place in the galaxy that contains black Kryptonite, and that this element is also exactly what’s keeping the heretofore unknown people of that meteor alive. Supergirl is asking its audience to believe that Allura just accepted the idea that her daughter and nephew died without seeking out more information, which is almost as unlikely as Kara not even asking Clark for help with Reign. But ignoring the logistical inconsistencies with the major plot of the episode, there is a great deal of joy to be had in each of Durance’s and Benoist’s interactions. Kara learning that her mother is still alive is a huge shift in her story and identity, so it’s appropriate that the actresses bring out the best in each other and that their scenes radiate warmth and longing. It’s also nice to see Kara argue the value of protecting Earth, even if it comes at the expense of a resource so precious to Argo – if only that argument wasn’t once against presented as selfless white characters teaching decorative POC about the value of empathy. Seems that “The Fanatical” last week was something of a one-off, but at least Kara gets to face a poignant dilemma of whether to stay with her biological family or her adopted planet.

While Kara is dealing with family issues, Mon-El actually gets a moment or two to himself. While it’s strange that “Dark Side of the Moon” doesn’t take the opportunity to grow the Karamel relationship and thus help Mon-El figure his heart out, I’m glad they chose to develop his more cotidian heroic tendencies instead. Watching him heal a young Kryptonian boy is a treat, and reminds the audience that Supergirl really has done a remarkable job of rehabbing his character during his 6-episode absence. Despite his progress, I still haven’t come around to a rekindling of his romance with Kara. So perhaps it’s for the best that the show is stepping back from that aspect for now despite verbalizing his feelings for her.

Alex taking off the Mommy training wheels.

Alex and Ruby’s subplot echoes similar themes as Kara and Allura’s story, especially as is revolves around motherhood and the sacrifices that must be made for it. Alex has longed to be a mother all season, and she’s finally getting a taste of it while caring for Ruby. While the intrigue of someone trying to kill her wasn’t necessarily resolved in the most interesting way, it did reveal a new depth to the character and her contradictions. As fun as it is to see Alex pulling out all the stops to save the day and stop her own personal villain – and as hilarious as it is to imagine a 17 year old version of her making her first arrest – it takes on a new and poignant meaning by the end. Can she be both the mother she wants to be and the DEO agent she needs to be, and how do the two conflict? J’onn (David Harewood) plays his supporting role here nicely, which helps round out the episode, and even Winn (Jeremy Jordan) tries his unsuccessful hand at babysitting.

“Dark Side of the Moon” continues to undercut the tension of Reign by having her locked up in Lena’s (Katie Mcgrath) lab most of the hour, but it does raise the stakes with the countdown to her escape. The final minutes manage to set up an exciting cliffhanger, but how they’ll stretch out the final confrontation three more weeks remains to be seen.

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