Last night’s episode of Supergirl was all about struggling with identity. In “Crossfire”, our heroes dealt with internal crises as well as Cadmus’s latest plot to remove the “alien menace” and take control.
We have to start with Alex. I just have to. “Crossfire” deepened Alex and Maggie’s connection; while attempting to cheer Maggie up after being dumped, several conversations throughout the episode had Alex facing something about herself that she hadn’t realized. Instead of just not being into sex, as she had long thought, it turns out she may have just not been into men. While she doesn’t announce it to the world, she does quietly tell Maggie – who had assumed and then felt bad for assuming – that Maggie may have been right about her.
Alex’s coming out is ridiculously important for several reasons. First off, 2016 has been an absolutely terrible year for lesbians on television; more than 25 LGBT+ female characters have been killed off this year alone. It’s a “plotline” that has its own trope, which means it happens often enough that the trope exists in the first place. Therefore, TV needs to bulk up its numbers again, and it doesn’t hurt to do that on a show that is into season 2 and so far hasn’t killed any of its main characters (and hopefully never will). In Alex, there exists the possibility for a lesbian on TV to live and be happy, and that’s a win right there.
Also, Supergirl is an unabashedly feminist show. It portrays women differently; there is no singular “strong female character” archetype. Kara is peppy and girly, Alex is more quiet and serious, Maggie is sultry and sure of herself, Cat is dedicated and confident. To have an LGBT+ female (or two) on a show like Supergirl is a superb idea, because Supergirl cares about its female characters and about the message it sends to girls.
But it isn’t just that Alex came out, it’s the way that she did so. She was faced with two different situations that led her to question how she’d always viewed herself. When Alex tells Winn about how she wants to help Maggie after her breakup, she reminds him that he exhibited similar behavior with Kara. Winn points out that he was into Kara, but she’s not into Maggie, so it’s just weird. Winn didn’t notice the parallels, but Alex did. Next, Alex eagerly attempts to get Maggie to hang out and have fun with her, and Maggie assumes that Alex is asking her out, and then feels bad for assuming when Alex clumsily denies it. Both conversations caused Alex to question her motivations regarding Maggie. The fact that both Winn and Maggie made assumptions is probably what made Alex realize that she had been doing that her entire life. She’d been assuming that she was straight (or perhaps even asexual, that’s never really defined), but maybe she wasn’t.
You should never assume. There is no such thing as a default when it comes to identity, but many of us are raised to believe that there is. And so Alex coming to terms with her own sexuality will teach countless other girls (and boys, let’s not be gender biased here) that it’s okay to question how they feel and who they are. As someone who is also struggling to self-identify, it is extremely helpful just to be made aware that other possibilities exist – that just because you aren’t like everyone else doesn’t mean you’re broken.
The next major storyline has to do with James, and his desire to make a real difference, like everyone else he knows. James hasn’t had much to do this season; his relationship with Kara – a major focal point of season 1 – fizzled in the first episode. He got a flashy new job, but we haven’t spent a whole lot of time at CatCo this season, and with Kara off being a reporter, there isn’t much space for the boss. When his dad’s camera is destroyed in the midst of a bank robbery, James realizes that he has always been shunted to the side while his superpowered friends save the day. I can’t imagine what it must feel like, to be friends with both Superman and Supergirl, to want to make a difference but be unable to really contribute.
So, armed with a hoodie, a ski mask, and a bat, James tries to stop our trio of replaceable bad guys on his own. He gets badly injured in the process, but it only seems to fuel his determination to join the fight. After realizing that James is going to do this no matter what, Winn decides to help him by building him a suit and some weapons; Winn feels much more valuable at the DEO than he did at CatCo, and I suppose since he knows what it’s like to feel useful, he can’t not help James.
We can only assume what James’s involvement will do to Cadmus’s desire to rid the world of aliens, but with the very anti-alien sentiment that seems to be gripping National City, it may help ordinary citizens to realize that “one of their own” is protecting the city. (Shameless plug: Don’t forget to check out our interview with Mehcad Brooks from Comic Con Stockholm!)
Speaking of Cadmus and their never-ending parade of totally forgettable villains, they apparently have a technology that allows them to kill remotely. Think of it like the chips from Kingsman: The Secret Service, except with less blowing up. This ensures Cadmus’s secrecy, because Bad Guy #1 was willing to make a deal and tell the cops what he knew, and they killed him so that he couldn’t talk.
Also it turns out the leader of Project Cadmus is Lena Luthor’s mom, but that’s not a big deal or anything. At all. It does, however, make me question Lena’s motivations again. I’ve been waffling back and forth on whether or not Lena is a bad guy, and I just can’t seem to make up my mind. With all the connections to evildoers that she has, it stands to reason that she could be working with them in an attempt to bring down Supergirl. After last week’s episode, I had myself convinced that she was in cahoots with Roulette. But now, knowing that her mother is behind Cadmus, it just seems too obvious to have Lena working with them. There’s foreshadowing, and then there’s punching you in the face with it. Perhaps Lena is hoping to get in good with Supergirl so that she can share her knowledge of Cadmus. Maybe Lena hopes to be a double agent. Maybe she’ll end up working with the DEO, making devices like the one she used at her gala. Who knows?
Lastly, Kara faced quite the ordeal in helping Mon-El, aka “Mike”, adjust to life on Earth. There was a very cute scene where they try to find him the right outfit, and Kara assists him with his “disguise” by giving him glasses like hers. (The writers missed a great opportunity here to poke fun at the fact that glasses are a terrible disguise.) She got him a job as an intern at CatCo, presumably to keep an eye on him, and then proceeds to…like…not help him at all? I mean, this is a guy from a completely different planet, and in the however long it’s been since he crash-landed, they haven’t bothered to teach him anything about Earth. I giggled at the bit where he didn’t know how to work a phone, but really, Kara got him a job where he would have to answer phones and didn’t bother explaining to him how they work?
It’s never really addressed that no one is actually trying to teach Mon-El about Earth (and somebody really should be, I nominate Winn), but after a soul-searching conversation with Alex, Kara realizes that she is forcing her way of life onto him, and that isn’t fair to him. He’s the only one of his species on an alien planet, and he needs to be given the chance to find out who he is now, in this situation, without Kara pushing him in one direction. What worked for her isn’t necessarily going to work for him. That’s a good lesson for everyone to learn.
What did you guys think of “Crossfire”? How long do you think we’ll have to wait before Guardian shows up? Do Lena’s ever-increasing bad guy connections make her more or less suspicious? What kind of job would Mon-El even get? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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