There are some familiar faces in new roles, as well as a few surprise reveals along the way in “Solitude,” this week’s episode of Supergirl. After the many problems with last week’s episode, this one is a lot better in my opinion. They are doing a good job of building Supergirl’s mythos up separate from Superman’s, while still including him. That’s a fine line to walk but I think they are doing it well.
The episode opens in space, thirteen years ago. Kara’s pod somehow or other ends up in the Phantom Zone, which has always been another dimension in the comics. I’m not quite clear how that happened. However she got there, her pod display changes to a symbol known to comic fans before the pod blasts free and on towards Earth, but now not exactly alone.
Back in the present. Kara wakes up to the dual prods of her alarm clock and someone knocking on the door. The door proves to be Alex, bearing baked goods. They argue a bit over Kara not working with the DEO. Alex is clearly not handling the burden of her secret about Astra’s death very well. Kara uses the excuse of getting to work to end the uncomfortable conversation.
At CatCo, Siobhan has picked up Cat’s annoying mispronunciation of Kara’s name. Cat comes in, clearly in a bad mood, and calls a staff meeting. Siobhan has a special package for Cat, delivered mysteriously by private messenger. Kara, bless her heart, even warns Siobhan that Cat doesn’t like unopened packages, but she apparently thinks Kara is trying to get her in trouble. Cat’s annoyance is deflected when Olsen steps forward and opens the envelope, which ends up having a flash drive in it.
The drive is from a hacker who got into “Diamond Indiscretions,” a stand-in for Ashley Madison, an online cheating service. They do at least mention Ashley Madison, which I’m guessing they couldn’t actually use for legal reasons. At any rate, there’s a debate among the staff about using the information. Lucy argues the public’s right to know, but Cat shuts her down, in part drawing on her own recent experience of being hacked. That’s a nice touch, combining current events with recent show history and character development.
At the DEO, Alex is sparring with Hank. She’s still upset, and is taking it out on Hank, who eventually shapeshifts out of annoyance. Alex is worried about the DEO being weaker without Supergirl on their team. Hank, reasonably enough, points out the DEO did their job before Supergirl, or even Alex, and will keep going without them if need be. Alex brings up Hank losing a friend in Kara, and he points out that he lost his whole planet- he’s used to it.
Kara and James argue a bit, very quietly, over James telling Lucy about Kara’s secret identity. Kara is still against this, and I agree with her. There’s a reason “secret” is part of that phrase. The debate doesn’t go anywhere, and then gets derailed when all the monitors are hacked. A lovely blond identifies herself as the hacker that sent the package, and is very disappointed Cat didn’t publish the list. The hacker, who we’ll see a lot more of shortly, is played by Laura Vandervoort. Vandervoort played Supergirl on Smallville, so now we’ve had all the live action Supergirls turn up on this show, which is a nice nod.
The hacker expresses her disappointment in true supervillain style– she turns every traffic light in the city green. Chaos ensues, and Supergirl streaks off to prevent as many collisions as she can. It’s not looking good for National City. Cat calls yet another meeting in her cheery style (“Relevant people in my office!”). We hear that “National City’s mainframe” has been breached, which makes no sense. I don’t know of any city that has one system to control everything, in part to prevent this very kind of thing from happening. Cat calls Winn “Toyman, Jr,” and says that, since he knows computers, he should fix this. He gets a good aside of, “I liked it better when she didn’t know who I was.” Siobhan also screws up again, not knowing who Cat’s broker is.
This is a weird bit they do this week. Last week, Siobhan was Ms. Perfect, knowing everything and outdoing everyone. This week, she can’t seem to get anything right. I can see various story reasons to do that, but it’s an abrupt shift. I think they should have maybe let this go on a bit longer than they did. It just feels disconnected somehow.
To make sure we get our soap opera quotient in this week, Lucy is worried about James spending so much time with Supergirl. To reassure her, James asks her out for dinner. Ever see an action show where that kind of thing goes well? Riiight.
Anyway, Winn has been coding and muttering to himself, making Kara and James wonder if he’s going around the bend a bit. His defense of himself is interrupted when our hacker, now revealed as very alien Indigo, teleports through his computer. She knows who Kara is, and tosses her through the window while also going after James and Winn. This is when Hank and Alex burst in. They tracked her with DEO equipment. For reasons unknown, Indigo flees from the two humans with what look like normal weapons. Kara bickers with Hank again before dismissing him.
Indigo, formerly Brainiac 8 in this world, meets up with Non. This is mostly a backstory reveal. Indigo was a computer AI on Krypton, where her kind handled the day to day running of things. She also apparently has a thing for Non and hated Astra. In the comics, Indigo was a Brainiac construct that eventually rebelled and became part of the hero team known as the Outsiders.
Alex shows up at CatCo, but this time, she’s not there for Kara. The DEO wants Winn’s help to find and defeat Indigo. Everyone is surprised by this, and Kara doesn’t look happy. Kara, partially in stereotypical female “Fine!” mode, and partially seeing the logic, says he should go work with them. To cheer her up, Olsen brings her to the Fortress of Solitude.
Kara has never been here before, refusing invitations from Superman in the past. It’s a nice set, and the place looks great. They also get some information on Indigo from Kel-Ex, Superman’s robot butler. Some nice elements of this trip include a Legion Flight Ring (those are all over the place now, showing up recently on Flash, too), the classic Silver Age bit of the key to the Fortress that no human can lift, and the information that Indigo was banished to Fort Rozz for trying to commit genocide. One quibble: Kel-Ex identifies Coluans as Brainiac’s race, which is right, and notes their blue skin, which isn’t. While Indigo is blue for whatever reason, Brainiac and all the other Coluans have always been green. Yes, I’m a comic geek.
The big confrontation with Indigo happens when she tries to launch nukes at National City. It also nicely explains why she was doing the hacking earlier. While the Supergirl/Indigo fight was great, my favorite part was Winn. Indigo shifts her arm through the DEO computer he’s using to try and kill him and show she’s so superior. While she’s busy boasting, Winn, even with her hand around his throat, keeps hacking and manages to shut her down and call her a glorified version of Windows Vista. More tension is added by Supergirl chasing down a missile that does get launched (shades of Superman: The Movie). There’s also an ugly reveal about how Fort Rozz got to Earth.
The drama flakes come out thick near the end of the show. Kara tries to help James with his problems with Lucy (remember that dinner? He didn’t). Her well intentioned meddling backfires in an ugly way. Siobhan, after having a really bad day at the office, has a very unexpected reaction to one of her co-workers. Kara finally admits she’s better with the DEO than without them, and accepts Hank’s help.
This led to a scene I didn’t like for a lot of reasons. After Kara’s acceptance, Alex admits she is the one who killed Astra. For one thing, that seems like a good way to cause more problems, not smooth them over. For another, it felt a bit to me like, “Oh, well if you’re ok with Astra being killed, it wasn’t him, it was me.” I’m sure that wasn’t the intent of the character or writers, but it did have a tiny bit of that vibe. It ends with a hug/handholding between Kara, Alex, and Hank. And we also see that Indigo isn’t gone for good, surviving apparent destruction like a proper villain.
What I liked: It was nice seeing Vandervoort again. The action scenes were well done. I really enjoyed the Fortress of Solitude and the Legion ring (maybe a memento of the past, in the comics, Superboy was a member). Winn had some great lines and was highly effective, not just comic relief. I’m glad the Alex secret is out, even if I don’t like how they did it.The Fort Rozz reveal was big and might have a lot of ripples in the future.
What I didn’t: Siobhan’s sudden shift from perfect to screw up was weird. National City having a single mainframe was a weird idea. The Coluan skin tone thing bothered me. I really don’t need, or care about, the Lucy soap opera. And I didn’t like Alex’s scene as I mention above.
Overall, much better than last week for all the flaws. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.