Review: ‘Supergirl’ Finale Sticks the Landing Against its Own ‘Better Angels’
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s Season Finale “Better Angels”:
Just to get it out of my system, let’s all declare a lifetime ban on the TV cliffhanger that doesn’t actually allow its audience to see what’s so shocking to characters. It’s only mildly poor timing of Supergirl to end on a similar device to The Walking Dead finale weeks ago, and it seems reasonable to expect an actual person inside that pod over, say, a space chicken, but no more “insert cliffhanger here.” Make a choice, writers! Show the audience something specific to react to, and build on that revelation later.
That frustrating bit aside, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room that Supergirl has yet to earn an official Season 2 renewal, even as all indications from cast and crew have virtually guaranteed Kara’s adventures to continue another year. It’s still an under-performer for CBS’ expectations, perhaps targeted a bit more middle-of-the-road than genre audiences expect from DC drama, and “Better Angels” served as a pretty evocative finale in all those regards.
Supergirl is driven far more by relationships than spectacle, and in that sense, “Better Angels” had plenty to deliver. Alex and Kara got at least several big scenes of fighting and/or saving one another, and Melissa Benoist put in some pretty heartbreaking work to say goodbye to most of her loved ones without trying to tip them off to her plan to face Non alone, and likely never return. It was especially effective to have James largely see through the attempt to stifle their relationship, as well that Hank insisted on joining her for the final showdown, even in his weakened condition.
There’s good reason CBS skewed younger with Kara’s arrival on earth than the comics, to allow Melissa Benoist’s Kara a much more push-pull dynamic with her two heritages, and it made for interesting conflict that Kara came to view her ultimate purpose on Earth as originally intended, protecting her cousin (and the world) at the cost of her own life. All the sweeter was that “Better Angels” actually rewarded the sacrifice on the human side, as Cat offered her protégé a Working Girl ending by a new job, while Jimmy’s photo reinforced that Kara was the real hero all along, not necessarily just the Girl of Steel.
The emotional beats were all fairly-well tended, even as some of the heavier action elements ended up a bit rushed, or hand-waved away, particularly the complete undoing of Myriad via Kara’s big speech. The same goes for Non conveniently placing all his fellow Kryptonians in stasis before Kara’s arrival (writers have neither the budget, nor time to noodle out that kind of set piece), or that like all Superman* problems, salvation lay in Kara simply tossing the giant thing (Fort Rozz) into space, nearly dying, and nonetheless making a full recovery.
*If they haven’t recognized the mistake by now, Supergirl writers may not ever come to understand the absurdity of keeping Superman out of commission or just off-screen (we were ALL distracted by those boots). There’s no need to pretend he’s an accessible part of Kara’s world, and it’d be just as easy to establish him off-world all-season, or ignore him altogether.
Obviously, there’s room for improvement in Supergirl Season 2, perhaps a sharper focus on what specifically Kara wants for herself out of life, but “Better Angels” still served up a solid closer that hit all the right beats. Finding room for smaller relationships like Lucy Lane and her father, or Maxwell Lord’s uneasy dynamic with both Kara and Alex helped as well, and there’s plenty leftover threads to build into Season 2.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- More Alex power-suit next season, please.
- Appreciated that Kara actually took a beat to remember redshirt Kelly, the obvious death to result when Supergirl places her, Jimmy and Winn into simultaneous jeopardy. May she get a full statue in National City!
- Perhaps even sillier than Superman’s unexplained coma, was that he apparently woke, and left National City without so much as telling Kara in person.
- So again, does Cat actually know Kara’s identity or not? I feel like this has only grown less clear since they first walked it back.
- The military who never once thought to check Fort Rozz for its escaped prisoners, everybody!
- I suppose Supergirl isn’t experienced enough with her powers to survive in space? I’m also confused by the inability to gain thrust, because how does she do that anywhere?
- Superboy’s at least a possibility for the crashed pod, though that would be a definite departure from his usual origin.
Supergirl will (hopefully?) return for Season 2 this fall on CBS.
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