‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 15: ‘Exodus’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of The CW’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 intrepid reporter, Katie Schenkel.
This week, Kara and Alex are torn between doing what they think is right and following the rules, and Cadmus’ master plan for the stolen alien registry is revealed! “Exodus” was directed by Michael Allowitz from a script by Paula Yoo and Eric Carrasco.
Chris: Well, hello again Super-Friends and welcome back to another week in National City. Say what you will about this week’s episode, but I think we can all safely agree that a lot happened. There were some things to like, and some things to be befuddled by, so, as is usually the case, I’m hoping our discussion today will help me get to the bottom of the confusing feelings this episode left me with. Katie, what are your initial thoughts and reactions to this week’s episode?
Katie: I do think that for what is essentially the second of two parts, this episode was a vast improvement on last week’s. I don’t know if it was because characters were acting relatively more competently or because it felt like Mon-El was in it far less (even if his specific contribution to the storyline made me annoyed as heck).
Chris: Everyone certainly felt more competent this week, or at the very least, less completely incompetent.
Mon-El felt like a non-factor to me this week other than expressing his belief in Kara’s ability to do the right thing when listening to her own moral compass, so how did he irk you so?
Katie: It was mostly that when Kara wavered over whether to publish the article or not, Mon-El sort of cheerleader-ed her into doing it, ultimately causing her to lose her job. And I know Kara stood by her choice in the end, but something about Mon-El being the one to encourage her without thinking about the consequences, then casually telling her at the end of the episode that she’ll get another job... just on top of his characterization the last few episodes irks me. I’m starting to wonder if the writers are writing him to be terrible on purpose, but if they are they aren’t framing him as such in the actual show.
Chris: Yeah, I have some thoughts on that scene I’ll get to later. Something I wanted to mention as firmly in the positive column for this episode was that I thought it was noticeably well shot. That opening scene with the alien family on a road trip and the jarring shift to an abduction and escape attempt really caught my attention immediately and made me pay closer attention to how the rest of the episode looked. I didn’t recognize the director’s name, but I’ll certainly be watching for it on future episodes.
Katie: That scene was ridiculously well done, both in terms of how it was shot and just the writing choice to start off the episode that way. This season has pulled a lot of social issues from the real world and put them into Supergirl’s world, but (except for maybe the fact that the alien family in question looked white) this opening scene of a family torn apart by agents trying to grab them and put them on a transport “back where they came from” was so similar to what’s happening with ICE targets right now that it honestly shook me up.
Chris: Yeah, between that scene and Alex’s impassioned plea/argument with her dad, the show is clearly pulling no punches about how it feels about some very real issues, and even when they stumble in trying to make some of these points, I have to give them credit for at least trying to use their platform to say something. I don’t know if The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow do the same kind of thing, but I know Arrow does, and it makes sense that a show where the hero is the mayor and a show where the hero is such an aspirational figure would/should try to be some kind of help in frightening times.
Katie: Frankly, I had to pause the episode to say “Oh f----!” the moment Snapper (who is the best he’s been all season in this episode) says with the most serious of tones that lazy or irresponsible reporting could lead to a tyrant in the White House. I then had to rewind about 30 seconds so I could rewatch that whole speech because it was glorious. I know all storytelling is political in one way or another, but I’m genuinely really happy Supergirl the show is going there with the ethics and values that Supergirl the character represents.
Chris: It was a great speech, even if I thought the actor’s choices for tone of voice, and to be constantly looking over his glasses instead of through them (or just taking them off dramatically), was kind of distracting to me. I haven’t seen him in much else, so maybe that’s just what he actually sounds like.
Katie: I’m just still grinning that Supergirl pretty much threw up a middle finger to the Trump Administration last night and it was so satisfying.
It was also a reminder to me that Supergirl is now one of many shows out there that is thoroughly disconnected from our own timeline in a much larger way since February. I really wish we could live in the universe where Lynda Carter is president (even if they haven’t explained that mysterious last moment of her guest starring role back in the fall).
Chris: Well, she’s due back for at least one more episode this season, so maybe they’ll get around to it then.
This also felt like a very Alex-centric episode, and it seemed to me like they clearly had a goal of wanting to show, or maybe reassert, what a capable badass she is.
Katie: I think that’s part of it, and part of it is that it would have seemed weird if there was an episode where her father has turned rogue and she wasn’t out in the field doing everything in her power to get to the bottom of what was going on.
Were you as unsure about the direction for Jeremiah as I was? I never got a real sense for his motivation, because either the direction Dean Cain was given or Cain’s personal acting choices read so vague. I get they did that to keep the audience guessing what was going on, but it ended up making me second guess if he was telling Alex the truth when she broke into Cadmus’ facility. It was muddled characterization, and that could have been a lot stronger.
Chris: Is this your subtle way of saying you don’t think Dean Cain is a great actor?
Katie: I actually like his acting a lot (granted, I mostly know him from his Lois and Clark days), and his small role in the first season felt stronger than this. Again, I wonder if the direction he was given was meant to keep the audience guessing, but now I’m still sort of guessing on if he was truly just trying to protect his daughters.
Chris: I don’t think I ever thought he was a bad guy, if I’m being honest. And since I don’t know what the show’s intent was, I can’t really decide whether he did a good job of portraying it or not. I kept waiting for him to do something bad last week, and I kept waiting for him to be good this week, so… I don’t know. Do we have any idea what happened to him after his fight with Robo-Henshaw? Did I miss that? I guess we can just assume Lillian took him away again, but if she doesn’t kill him at this point she’s really stupid. No, nevermind, she’ll probably want to keep him alive to use as a bargaining chip against Alex and Kara.
Katie: We talked the last couple recaps about being mixed on Winn’s girlfriend, and I was pleasantly surprised with that first little scene of her this week. Getting to see her giddily fangirl over Dune was really cute, and considering how you and I use this feature to critique and fan out over media we enjoy, her moment there made her just a little bit relatable as a character. I rolled my eyes at her getting immediately kidnapped but hey, that scene before the kidnapping I liked.
Chris: I appreciated that she held her own for quite a while against the jackbooted goons, and Winn was characteristically useless in a fight, but tried nonetheless. Also in that scene, after what seems like a very lengthy absence, this week saw the return of Jimmy Olsen and his alter-ego, The Guardian… for all of about three minutes. Do you feel like they just have absolutely no idea what to do with Jimmy anymore?
Katie: It seems weird that he’s there as Winn’s Pal Jimmy Olsen and then a short scene as Guardian, but nowhere else in the episode. Especially after last week’s episode with no Jimmy at all, it does feel like the show has been wasting potential with him.
Chris: It feels to me more like they wrote themselves into the wrong corner with him and are now kind of at a loss for what to do with him and just threw him in this week to remind people he exists (as both characters). Maybe I’m wrong and they have some kind of master plan for what’s going to happen with him and they aren’t just winging it every week, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way to this viewer.
Maybe he’ll give Kara her job back next week, since he is Snapper’s boss? And, I mean, wouldn’t some of those scenes have been a good place to get Jimmy involved? Wouldn’t it have maybe made a lot more sense to have Kara ask him for advice as a fellow journalist and longtime friend? Could have been a powerful scene where they talk about what’s more important to her: saving people or keeping her job. Or couldn’t Kara have just gone over Snapper’s head and told Jimmy what was going on and asked him to publish the story? Or, you know, let Supergirl make some kind of TV announcement like Cat had done previously when there was information the citizens needed to know in a hurry?
Really, what would have been best would be if Cat was still on the show and then she and Kara could have had this conversation.
Katie: I see your points, but I have to admit, I was relieved that after Kara has made truly some questionable journalistic decisions this season, there were finally, finally actual consequences to her iffier work choices. I officially ship Kara/Consequences.
Katie: Whether or not they immediately shift her back to the status quo coming up, we’ll have to see. I’d really like to see those consequences have some weight to them for a while. But who knows, they might return her to CatCo right away.
Chris: Speaking of returns, this week also saw the return of Lena Luthor. Talk about a character I have no idea how to read. She seems so obviously evil in one scene and then completely innocent in another. What’s your take?
Katie: So my take overall is that she genuinely is striving to be a decent person, but that moment a few episodes ago with the chessboard was her questioning her allegiances, because she does care about Lex, and because there’s a part of her that desperately wants to be accepted as a Luthor. But that’s just my take on it.
Chris: Yeah, I can get with that take. I hope you’re right, because I really want to like Lena, and not just have her be evil like every other Luthor.
Katie: Mostly I’m just happy that she and Kara continue to have amazing chemistry, and that moment where Supergirl catches her and flies her back up to her office bridal-style was pretty incredible.
Chris: That was a perfect moment in the Superman-saves-Lois tradition and I loved it.
Katie: Speaking of Lois, the episode ended with the reveal of not only Teri Hatcher’s character, but also Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo. And they are... vaguely menacing aliens. But boy oh boy, do they look like scenery-chewing melodramatic aliens. I guffawed at their reveal. I chortled, even.
If I had to guess, they’re going to be Mon-El’s parents (and surprise, the preview for next week specifically reveals his big secret, so I guess the CW doesn’t care about spoiling that a week ahead), but all I want from Hatcher and Sorbo is oodles and oodles of campy goodness.