Previously on Supergirl: Crossfire
I love Chyler Leigh in Supergirl, and since the beginning of this season her portrayal of Alex Danvers, Kara’s adopted sister on Earth, has been a beautiful revelation. Aside from the villain-of-the-week storyline, Changing is Chyler’s/Alex’s episode. And what an apt episode it is, taking into account the events of the last week. Supergirl’s world is utopian, to the degree that being different is kind of expected. It’s a world awash with alien integration. Even the US president (Linda Carter) has made alien rights part of her platform (though being a secret alien herself, perhaps she has another agenda in mind). So tolerance and acceptance is key in Kara’s neck of the woods – which makes it all the more poignant that when Alex comes out as being gay to Kara, her sister has to take a step back and process what she’s just heard. This makes an uncomfortable conversation that bit more awkward. Alex wonders if she’s done the right thing by being honest about her feelings for other women. The story she tells of a former best friend when she was a child was heartbreakingly honest in its utter believability.
Kara redeems herself later when she says she understands that she’s not the only member of the family who has spent their entire life so far hiding something fundamental about themselves. It’s a lovely sequence of scenes, well played by both Melissa Benoist and – especially – Chyler Leigh. But more heartache follows for Alex. Approaching Maggie Sawyer – who initially urged her to come out to her family – with her new-found confidence, and planting a full-on kiss on the detective’s lips, Alex is distraught to find that her feelings aren’t reciprocated. Maggie wants her to explore her new world, and not jump in to something and someone that may not work out. Once more Kara comes to her emotional rescue. Sisters united!
I’ll go get the alien. You go get the girl.
The main storyline is ripped from the pages of The Thing and The X Files. Dr Rudy Jones (Lost alumni William Mapother) and his team of scientists studying the effects of climate change at a research station in Arctic Norway find a body of a wolf that has been frozen under ice for 5000 years. Its remains are still warm to the touch, though, and when Jones cuts into it he becomes infected by a parasite that coerces him into drawing the lifeforce from each of his colleagues. Answering an SOS call, Alex and J’onn Jonzz arrive at the station and bring Jones back to headquarters. Pretty soon things go to pot. When Jones attacks and kills one of his bosses, Supergirl attempts to bring Jones down, only to have much of her own lifeforce drained from her. While she recuperates, the team at DEO work out Jones’ next move, and figure out that his next target is Rand O’Reilly, a climate change denier who’s out for Jones’ head. J’onn disguises himself as O’Reilly, but ends up falling foul of the parasite, in turn making it more powerful than ever – Jones mutates into a creature that is more alien than human. The Martian Manhunter is left grievously wounded, in need of Martian blood for a life-saving transfusion. Only M’gann M’orzz can save him now. But as a closet White Martian, will her blood cause him even more damage? Only time will tell.
ENTER THE GUARDIAN
Both Mon El and James Olsen’s arcs move forward in Changing. The Daxamite takes on a job as muscle-for-hire, roughing up a poor alien dude for not paying his debts. When Kara calls him on his new career path, Mon El maintains that it his choice to use his powers to make money, and not everyone is cut out to be a goody-two-shoes like Supergirl. Even Alex gets in on the argument. She meets him at the bar when she goes looking for M’Gann, and tells him in no uncertain terms to “stand up like the rest of us.” Mon El likes to drink. He and Kara shared a funny scene at the start of the episode where one high-strenght brew was all it took to get Supergirl hammered. I loved Melissa Benoist’s capture of the first-time drunk – it was innocent and charming.
Not so convincing is James’ wish to become an upstanding member of the vigilante union. Despite Winn’s best efforts to change his mind, Olsen wants to prove his worth as a hero. He’s livid when Kara gets injured fighting the parasite and wants to do his bit. Winn prepares a suit for him, and The Guardian is born. His first mission is to help DEO put an end to the parasite, once and for all. Arriving on the scene when he’s most needed – Mon El has answered the call, too – The Guardian is the difference between success and failure, allowing Kara enough time to expose the monster to Plutonium 239, irradiating it into utter destruction. Teamwork saves the day. Because James’ suit it lines with lead, Kara can’t see through The Guardian’s disguise.
My quandary is this: in the first season, James uses Superman as a source of inspiration for his photography work. He didn’t need to be a hands-on hero to help his friends out. His mere presence in Kara and Clark’s lives was enough support for both of them. Now we’re asked to believe in a sudden change of heart for James Olsen. It’s as if the writers just wanted something else for one of their characters to do. I’m not sure about the motivation, but I remain interested in seeing how it pans out.
Changing is a very good episode, and it’s good to see all the major players getting their moment. Of particular interest to me is how Alex will cope with Maggie’s rejection; how White Martian blood reacts to Green Martian blood; where Cadmus has taken Mon El, who was ambushed in the dying moments of the episode; and if John Carpenter is going to look for a shout-out and some royalties.
Jim Harper was the original Guardian in the DC Universe. An iteration of his character appeared in the first season episode “Manhunter”. Harper was a colonel in the US Marine Corps who, along with Lucy Lane, was investigating Hank Henshaw’s disappearance. He wasn’t an all-round good guy, either, but Martian Manhunter restored order when he wiped Harper’s memories of events. James Olsen has never been, to my knowledge, The Guardian; so this is something else entirely.
FLARROWVERSE TIE IN
James and Winn’s team up reminds me of the close bond Barry Allen shares with Cisco Ramirez. Indeed, with Winn providing The Guardian’s suit and being the man-in-the-van, the correlation is plain to see. And now that James has had his debut, will we see him head over to Star or Century City later? I think maybe so.
Supergirl S2E6 = 7.8/10