REVIEW: Supergirl, S4E11 – Blood Memory

This week’s Supergirl, appropriately titled “Blood Memory,” dealt with the realization of Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Nia’s (Nicole Maines) worst nightmares – both of which involved their sisters. The secrets each woman was keeping from their loved one festered throughout the episode, opening wounds that ran much deeper than either the characters or the audience anticipated. While, this recipe made for a powerful hour of family television in theory, the practice turned out to be a little bit messier and the message a little more muddle. But before jumping in, let’s take a moment to appreciate Brainy (Jesse Rath) employing the frat boy lingo he learned through movies in order to interrogate some real frat boys and obtain the information he needed in 5 minutes or less. We stan one synthetic-human combo!

Mama Dreamer, we hardly knew ye.

Back to the meat of the hour, there was the matter of Nia’s return home for the annual Harvest Festival, which was more of a burden than usual because this time she was hiding the emergence of her powers. Given her glowing review of the small town as an open and honest place where aliens and humans could peacefully interact, it was hard to understand why she would want to keep quiet – or why she would mostly ignore a prophetic dream that foretold her mother’s demise. We’ll delve more into the latter in a bit, but the former was explained when Nia’s sister Maeve was introduced mostly through her fervent desire to become the family’s next Dreamer.

Kara was quick to point out that as understandable as her fear of competing with her sister was, Nia would do best to be honest with her. Somewhat ironic considering she had just wiped Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) mind the week before, but as the circumstances were different we can let that slide for now. Nia wasn’t ready to face such a difficult conversation, instead putting it off until her mother (played perfectly by Kate Burton, who did not appear in the episode nearly enough) died from the poisonous spider bite she failed to recognize in her dream. The bite led to perhaps the most beautiful and bittersweet moment in all of “Blood Memory,” which was when Nia appeared in her mother’s dying dream and received her acceptance and apology for not seeing the truth about her powers sooner. But logically, it was too convenient to make Nia unable to interpret a rather simple dream just so she could feel inferior to Maeve who had studied for the position all her life.

That was the least of my worries when it came to “Blood Memory,” though, seeing how the actual reveal angered Maeve enough to make her spew transphobic comments at Nia. In the midst of an attack by the Children of Liberty, which could only be deemed a hate crime, Maeve thought it more relevant to accuse her sister of not being a “real woman” instead of helping more villagers escape the fire and brimstone. Finding out what kind of hateful feelings family members are harboring is bad enough without having Kara affirm the very next day that the girls would make up soon enough and that their situation was similar to her own with Alex. Finally, just to add to the shock, Kara revealed she was Supergirl so that Nia could see she wasn’t alone. It was a sweet gesture, but I couldn’t believe Nia didn’t already know. At least Nia got her Dreamer outfit thanks to a touching post-mortem gift from her mother, and Maines gave one hell of a performance all episode.

Sisters no more?

While the divide between Kara and Alex wasn’t as insurmountable as Maeve denying her sister’s identity, it did stem from Alex not knowing Kara’s. The first half of “Blood Memory” amped up the sympathy for Alex, who was feeling adrift and unable to explain why ever since her truth-seeking session with Haley. J’onn (David Harewood) and Brainy did their best to assuage her worries without actually giving her any information, but soon enough that unsettled sensation began manifesting in her behavior in rather ugly ways. The biggest example was when she came to Nia’s hometown to stop the terrorist attack on her mother’s memorial service and nearly stop an alien acting in self-defense instead of focusing on the detainment of the COL members. Supergirl stopped her and received nothing but recriminations rather than gratitude, which cut Kara to the core due to how empathetic Alex would have been in other circumstances.

J’onn explained that without her close sisterly bond to Kara the alien, Alex had lost some of ability to understand their struggles. While this makes sense on the surface – and Benoist certainly made the most out of Kara’s heartbreak – it falls apart under close examination. Even if Kara’s identity had been kept from her, wouldn’t Eliza have raised Alex to be compassionate knowing that she would one day have to defend her sister from bigots? And furthermore, wouldn’t Alex still remember learning J’onn’s true identity? The man who was almost a father to her should hold some weight even if Kara is out of the equation. And all of that is ignoring the tragic notion that she was one formative childhood relationship away from becoming a bigot herself. Once again, it’s a storyline that holds a lot of emotional power but isn’t as strong from a practical perspective.

In other parts of “Blood Memory,” James (Mehcad Brooks) renewed his commitment to Lena (Katie McGrath) by killing a story set to look into her potentially illegal experiments without even telling her about it first. Whether it was a romantic move on his part or not is for you to decide, but it certainly wasn’t a smart one. Lena made a one-off comment about couples who lack communication, and it appears she was unwittingly talking about herself and James. Last and most certainly least, the random Red Daughter scenes actually affected other parts of Supergirl this week. It was her team’s resuscitation efforts that somehow sent gamma rays to the drugs in National City, affecting frat boys and eventually Children of Liberty everywhere. I understand that the writers are preparing us for a major plot down the line, but I think the episodes would be better served without her additions for now.

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