‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 15: ‘Solitude’
Welcome to Supergirl Guys, our new regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CBS’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and Flash recap veteran Dylan Todd.
This week, Supergirl faces a killer computer from outer space, James Olsen faces his own relationship shortcomings, and Kara takes a trip to her cousin’s wintery getaway. ‘Solitude’ was directed by Dermott Downs and written by Anna Musky-Goldwyn and James DeWille.
Chris: Well, Dylan we had quite a momentous night of Supergirl-ing this week, and we can get into the specifics shortly, but right off the bat, what’d you think?
Dylan: I really liked this episode. Some things worked better than other things, but overall, I enjoyed it. We got the usual mix of villain/work/relationship stuff that seemed to be in a decent proportions, plus some good, goofy comic book stuff sandwiched in there for good measure. What did you think, Chris?
Chris: Well, I certainly liked it more than last week’s episode. A little more focused, maybe? I had to go back and re-read through last week’s (I always want to say “issue” when I’m talking about these things we write) column to try to remember what I hadn’t liked about the last episode. It’s all starting to run together for me now. Much like real life. I don’t know if this is good or bad.
So, I guess the short answer is, I liked this episode well enough, but it still made me roll my eyes or groan out loud a few times. And those moments wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t want to love this show so much and see it reach its full potential. Every time they do something lazy or trope-y or do something that really doesn’t make sense for the plot’s sake it hurts my heart, Dylan. Way more so than when Agents of SHIELD or Arrow does something like that. Not like it doesn’t bother me on those shows as well, but I expect and want better for this show.
Dylan: Let’s walk through the episode and break it down. The villain this week is Indigo, AKA Brainiac-8, a living computer originally interred on Fort Rozz with Astra and Non and all the other super-baddies. Of all the pieces of this week’s episode, I’d have to say this was the one that maybe wasn’t up to snuff.
For starters, Indigo looks like she’s dressed in bargain bin Mystique cosplay, and also, it’s strongly hinted that Non has had rough, chokey sex with her. Setting all that aside, it worked for me to have a bad guy who’s tied in with the larger Super-mythology as well as Kara’s past, and her plan, to use a pervy Army guy’s infidelity as a way to hack into a missile installation made enough sense for me to give her a pass. What did you think of Indigo?
Chris: Mostly I was embarrassed that they made her look so much like a poor man’s Mystique. Did they have to make her the exact same shade of blue? Did they have to give her red hair that’s pulled back similarly to how Mystique’s is slicked back? Did they have to make her fight with martial arts like Mystique instead of just having her be a powerful alien/artificial lifeform kind of thing? This is what she looked like in the comics:
Decidedly less Mystique-y. Also, why did she bother looking like a normal person in her taunting Cat videos?
Dylan: These are good questions! I mean, it’s a TV show. There’s budgetary restraints, and making her look like a more recognizable supervillain might help Olds and casual viewers or whatever, so I can forgive that. I did feel like they had time to actually develop a personality for her beyond just being vaguely evil, and since it looks like (spoilers) we’ll be seeing her again, this will help out in the long run. My eyes rolled a little when she decided to basically blame Kara for leading Fort Rozz to Earth, as we really don’t need more angst on this show, but overall, we’ve seen worse villains so far on the show.
Chris: In the comics she once got walked in on a sex scene, so perhaps the writers felt giving her a past sexual relationship with Non was crucial to respecting the character’s comic heritage.
Dylan: Comics! They’re not just for kids anymore!
On the Catco front, we got a little more of Siobhan Smythe, Cat’s new assistant and Kara’s rival. I still don’t really understand why this is an ongoing plot point beyond her eventual heel turn, but I have to say that Winn and her sort-of-bonding, and eventually smooching, added a pretty great wrinkle to Team Supergirl. What did you think of it?
Chris: It made precious little sense, but I enjoyed it! Less Winn mooning over Kara and less romance quadrangle confusion/complications (though I guess now, Winn and Kara may be at odds since she hates Siobhan). To be fair, I guess I shouldn't like it, since it's pulling focus away from Supergirl, but I'm sure it's going to come back around.
Dylan: I feel like it adds a lot of drama to that subplot, which has since gotten pretty stale.
As long as we’re talking relationship stuff, how’d you like the James/Lucy scenes, Chris? Lots of movement on that front this week.
Chris: Lots of movement for sure. And movement I was happy about, though it still couldn't move quickly enough for my tastes. That seems cruel. Or it would if they weren't fictional. Maybe their relationship just seemed doomed from the start, and that's part of why it always rubbed me the wrong way when the show would devote any time to it.
At the very least now, we don't have to worry about James telling Lucy Supergirl’s big secret. What did you think about the way that all played out?
Dylan: I gotta admit that this episode did wonders for me liking Lucy Lane, even feeling bad for her during her talk with Kara, when she finally figures out that James isn’t ever going to open up to her fully. I thought that was really well-handled.
Chris: What made you like her here?
Dylan: I liked that she saw what was up and was like, “Welp, this dude is not being honest or open with me so bye.” and dumped him that very same day.
Chris: So you’re a fan of rash decisions is what you’re saying?
Dylan: When they’re warranted, yes. James has been kind of a sneaky dude ever since he showed up in National City, trying to hook up with Kara despite the fact that he had a girlfriend. Dude has not been fair to her.
Chris: Yeah, I don’t know if I’d say he was trying to hook up with Kara, but his head and heart certainly weren’t in that relationship with Lucy. I guess they probably expect us to be rooting for the two of them to get together now, but I think I’d just as soon downplay all the romance for a bit.
Dylan: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it, I guess. James hasn’t been actively pursuing Kara, but he’s also not 100% committed to Lucy, and I appreciated that rather than her continue in a relationship where one person was obviously not all in on, she just cut it off. Good for her!
Chris: Plus, we’re sure to be at the end of Non’s two-week grieving period next week, so it’s a good time to cut down on all the romance anyway.
I’ve been a little sour this week, so let’s talk about something I liked: all the references, nods, and Easter eggs. This has to have been the most Easter egg-y episode yet. Care to go through them lightning round style with me?
Dylan: Egg me, bro.
Chris: The “PLASTINO” vanity license plate on the 18 wheeler that nearly hit the car that Supergirl saves. Obviously for notable Silver Age Superman artist, Al Plastino. No relation to Plastic Man, sadly. Co-creator of Supergirl, Brainiac, the Parasite, and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Dylan: I missed that! Nice.
Chris: I think it said it on the side of the truck too, but I could have imagined that. Speaking of the Legion of Super-Heroes, how about that Legion Flight Ring?!
Dylan: Yeah, that was cool. Between that and a Legion ring popping up in the flash-forward-type thingy in the Flash season one finale, it’s only a matter of time before Kara’s having future space adventures with Sun Boy and Matter-Eater Lad.
Chris: I knew you were going to say Matter-Eater Lad! I’m a big Legion fan, so every time they show one of those rings anywhere I get excited about it. After the lightsaber, I think the Legion flight ring is the coolest fictional gadget ever. They might even be tied, actually, since I’d probably be less keen on the lightsaber after I’d cut a couple of my fingers off screwing around with it.
Dylan: A common mistake. How much did you mark out at the giant key to the Fortress of Solitude, Chris?
Chris: It doesn’t get much more Silver Age-y than having a golden key open the Fortress! Did you like how global warming has brought the temperature at the North Pole up enough that you can survive there in just a parka and a beanie?
Dylan: Al Gore tried to warn us. What else was in the Fortress? Kara pointed out the pod, we saw the flight ring, there was like a block of amber in the background there, right?
Chris: Yeah, I was wondering what that was too. My first thought was that it looked like red kryptonite, but Superman wouldn’t just leave that hanging around out in the open. Of course we also saw the sort of return of Superman’s robo-butler, Kelex! I think they did a great job with him.
Dylan: Oh man, I gotta admit, his non-legs freak me out. But otherwise, yes. I definitely feel like this episode was sort to testing the waters to see how comic book-y they could go with this show on the biggest TV network in America. Like, with The Flash, you can get away with a King Shark episode on the CW that I’m not sure the CSI: Mall of America or whatever crowd would embrace as fully. Does that make sense? I’m hoping now that we’ve spent over a season setting up the mechanism of the show and managing to get it palatable to a wide audience, that we’ll start to see more goofy stuff pop up. Like, Supergirl fought a Brainiac this week. That’s pretty huge.
Chris: Man, I sure hope so. I’d love to see this show embrace the crazy a little more and have fun with it. Not only did we see her fight a Brainiac this week, but we saw the Fortress of Solitude, and had a few seconds of full on Martian Manhunter, so yeah, maybe you’re right. Maybe they are trying to get that “doesn’t care about comics” audience prepared.
We’ve got a few more Easter eggs to go, but while we’re mentioning Martian Manhunter, did you notice that during last scene where Alex is confessing that she killed Astra, she calls him J’onn and Hank so close together it’s almost in the same sentence. Like, she starts one sentence calling him J’onn and then calls him Hank in the following sentence. I don’t even know if it’s a complaint, it just made me laugh.
Dylan: Yeah, let’s talk about that subplot, because it really showcases that Alex continues to be the worst at decision-making. She’s been laboring under the fact that Kara is mad at J’onn for killing Astra, and therefore she’s not hanging out at the DEO, so she wants to tell her the truth and… what’s her plan here? Kara will still be mad, right? Just at her instead of J’onn. But after all that, Kara finally comes back, kind of forgives J’onn, or at least calls a truce, and Alex just blurts it out. She’s amazing.
Chris: Also, for all this talk about Alex being a “soldier” this episode, and how she’s treated like she’s such a badass in general, how many episodes has she had a tear-filled breakdown? At work, no less! I stand by my earlier theory that she is the real bad guy of this show. If she’d just explained what had happened with Astra in the first place, Kara probably would have been sad, but she wouldn’t have been “quit the DEO” mad at Alex. Hank proves what a great guy he is yet again though by being willing to take a bullet he didn’t have to, so his two surrogate daughters aren’t mad at each other.
Dylan: I’m just glad it seems to be over, because pouty-face Supergirl is my least favorite part of the show.
Chris: On to the next reference, I’d be surprised if the number sequence typing on the nuclear missile wasn’t a nod to the Lex Luthor’s plan in Superman: The Movie which involved typing a sequence of numbers into a keypad on a missile. I wish I’d thought to jot down the numbers so I could see if they matched up with the coordinates Otis was supposed to punch in.
Dylan: Ya blew it, man. I loved that whole missile sequence, BTW, despite it looking very shoddy in places. It felt very Super, with Kara trying to knock it off course and finally, having to struggle to climb her way up the thing while it sped toward National City. After a few weeks of big old fights in the third act, this felt like a breath of fresh air.
Chris: My only issue with that scene was how the writers of this show either don’t know or purposely don’t care to know anything about missiles. Do you know how ridiculously fast missiles are? I had to pause the show to laugh when they said the missile was something like “8000 feet away” from hitting the city. If a missile was 8000 feet away when you started that sentence, it would be there and have already blown up and disintegrated you long before you could finish the sentence. Russia has made a missile that can go 15,000 MPH. That’s not a typo!
Dylan: Oh yeah, it was for sure not at all realistic, but we’re also talking about a plan set in place by a living computer who used basically Ashley Madison to hack a secret Army base.
Chris: Yeah, it’s fine, it just cracked me up. Speaking of that living computer in the secret Army base, the whole needing two people to turn the two keys was straight out of Superman 3! Indigo got around it by stretching like Mr. Fantastic in what was my other favorite/funniest moment of the episode. Though if she’d shown up in a giant cowboy hat with a suitcase full of booze I’d have enjoyed that even more.
Dylan: That part was legitimately amazing. Did you see the promo images for the next episode? There’s Red Kryptonite!
Chris: Eeeeevil Kara!
Dylan: I hope she knocks the books out of all those nerdy boys’ hands.
Chris: You can tell she’s got a whole new bad-itude because she’s wearing black and giving severe looks as Kara and as Supergirl.
Speaking of two other Supergirls, the final two Easter eggs I’ve got on my list are that we saw Non using the Omegahedron from 1984’s Supergirl (the movie) to put Indigo back together, and the fact that Indigo was played by the Supergirl from Smallville.
Dylan: You are a Super-gentleman and a Super-scholar, Christopher.
Chris: I certainly try. I like the fact that what the Smallville Supergirl actually wore is now the kind of thing our Supergirl says she wouldn’t even wear to the beach.
We’ve come a long way since Smallville, my Super-friend.
Dylan: You can say that again, super-friend.