I’d argue “The Fanatical” could apply to several things on Supergirl of late, so it’s a good episode title. It opens with Lena diligently working to try and cure Sam of her Reign problem. It not only doesn’t quite work, it earns Lena a particularly nasty threat from Reign. Lena reveals another new trick she’s come up with, which sets off another hissy fit from Supergirl. Remember what I said about fanatical applying on a few levels? Lena once again gets the best line in the scene, and Supergirl comes across, in my view, as both whiny and paranoid. Not a good look for a hero.
Kara then decides she hasn’t whined enough and goes to James’ office. She complains that he told the truth to Lena about the mission Supergirl asked him to do. Think about that a moment. Supergirl is complaining about someone telling the truth. When did she get like this and how do we snap her out of it? Kara then complains that she can’t come clean with Lena now about her secret ID. This weird emotional crisis gets interrupted when Eve fails to stop a woman who bursts into the office with a dire warning about Coville’s followers.
Tanya, a defector from Coville’s cult, has stolen an important journal from them and wants James, well-known friend of Supergirl, to get it to her. Tanya provides some detail about her background and the cult’s plan, and it doesn’t sound good. Coville himself has been missing for some time and is believed to have died serving Reign, since he decided he liked worshipping her better than Supergirl. James offers Tonya protection, and Kara takes the book to “get it to Supergirl.”
Alex has ended up with Ruby in her care, because why wouldn’t you give a single, driven, government agent with a dangerous job who is never home custody of a minor? Alex tries to connect with Ruby and fails horribly. As they search for the cult, Mon-El tries to talk sense into Supergirl about her problems with Lena, but Supergirl is too busy being dramatic and then they find the supposed cult headquarters, marked with a Kryptonian symbol. They find some disturbing evidence that the cult is progressing with its plot.
James runs into Olivia, one of Coville’s cultlings who seemed like she was ok last we saw her. She’s drunk the Kool Aid since then and leads the mission to kidnap Tanya away from the crack security team… for a newspaper. Wouldn’t the DEO have been a better choice here? This leads into a car chase/gun fight as Guardian gives chase on his motorcycle. He catches up and gets Tanya back, but manages to get his helmet shot off in the process. The cops show up and pull guns and things get weird. The cult manages to get away, and James assumes the cops had their guns on him because he’s black, apparently ignoring the big car chase with heavy weapons fire and illegal vigilante facts. To be clear, racism is absolutely a problem in the country, and I get where they were going, but they established it really, really badly. There’s a lot of talk about racism, especially with law enforcement, through the rest of the episode.
Alex and J’Onn talk about the respective issues of caring for Ruby and M’Ryyn. They decide a visit to the local arcade (do they even have those anymore?) is the way to go. Mon-El and Supergirl bring their new finds to the DEO so Winn can go over them. Supergirl tries to talk to Lena, and even finally takes responsibility for the tension in their current relationship. It’s a bit too little, too late, as Lena makes some excellent counterpoints and is clearly not interested in mending fences.
Team Daycare goes to the arcade for more comical misunderstandings from M’Yrrn. Supergirl, James, and Tanya put their heads together to come up with a plan. They get more bad news as they find out the cult managed to get proof of James’ secret identity and are blackmailing him with it. They demand Tanya and the book back to keep quiet. Things go spectacularly badly at the arcade, but it at least gets Ruby interested in something besides being depressed.
The DEO comes up with no leads on Olivia, while Supergirl tries to figure out why the girl she met before has transformed into a hardcore terrorist. Mon-El tries to reassure her, which kicks off another bout of extestential grief and torment about the mess she’s made with Lena. Mon-El comes down on the side of not telling Lena, and Supergirl reluctantly agrees. Winn and Lena come up with some leads, which point to something called the Rock of Utica. Not only might this let them find Olivia and her merry band of terrorist blackmailers, but it might be what Lena needs to cure Sam. Utica was apparently a goddess of life back on Krypton, but one of the old gods that hasn’t been mentioned so far on the Krypton series.
Finally figuring out his own office isn’t the best place to hid her, James brings Tanya to the DEO. James has decided to hold a press conference and announce who he is, preempting the cult’s blackmail. James hopes this might jar them into making a mistake. After more movie references from Winn, Supergirl and Lena find themselves in rare agreement these days. They are both worried about James. Lena and James have a talk about James’ experiences with biased law enforcement from his childhood. James found being Guardian liberating because he was just judged on his actions. James is worried about how people will react to finding out he’s black. Tanya doesn’t like any of this, and tells James not to do it.
Alex and J’Onn lose track of Ruby and M’Yrnn because J’Onn had to go get the car and Alex… left. We don’t know why. The two are eventually found, bonding over mutual loss and foosball. Tanya goes to turn herself in and gets taken on the spot, their van somehow scan-proof to all the DEO gadgets. They do at least have a backup plan, in the form of a disguised Mon-El, who looks like he raided Clark Kent’s closet. Olivia forces Tanya to use the book to complete their ritual, and Olivia goes through some serious changes. Mon-El takes advantage of everyone being distracted to use his Legion Flight Ring to signal Supergirl. With the stakes so high, Supergirl rushes to the scene and J’Onn… had a dentist appointment or something. He had time to get there after the arcade bit. Supergirl manages to talk Olivia down, although we learn the Girl of Steel has a bad reaction to the Rock of Utica.
Later, the DEO shows up and contains the scene. James apologizes to Supergirl for the tough spot he put her in with Lena, and Supergirl lets him off the non-existent hook. James, after he gets over the initial terror, decides at some point in the future he is going to unmask. Tanya encourages him and admires him as a hero. Alex and Ruby have a sort of mini-girls’ night with Ruby clearly doing much better. They share worries and concerns, and Alex takes a kind but firm approach to some of Ruby’s questions. J’Onn lets Supergirl and Mon-El borrow his car/ship to go hunt down more of the element the Rock was made of, since Winn conveniently found some on a deep space scan. J’Onn and Mon have a talk about secrets that seems to echo some of what’s going on with Lena and Supergirl. Back at the scene where the cult was captured, we see someone pop up who has ben gone a while, which I think is bad news for the good guys.
What I liked: Despite her awesome powers, Supergirl’s most effective power is often her heart. I like it when they play that up, especially given some of the odd places the CW-verse is going lately. Guardian was actually (mostly) effective. Ruby and M’Ryyn bonding made sense, as did Ruby’s depression. Lena standing up for herself, caring for James, and standing her ground were all great. The last few episodes, Lena has felt more like the hero of the show than Supergirl to me.
What I didn’t: Sadly, a lot. Winn made the apparently indestructible Guardian shield, but couldn’t manage a helmet that can stand up to small arms fire? Why in the world does Alex have custody of Ruby? Supergirl seems to be both ready to take offense at everything Lena does and then not get why Lena doesn’t feel like being best buddies. I don’t understand why J’Onn was missing from the final fight. And, again, as I’ve mentioned before, with the menace of the World Killers being so serious, we at least need an explanation of where Superman is in all this. Also, while Olivia saw the light, unless something happened to the rest of the cult, James’ secret ID should be a thing of the past.
This was a really weird episode, largely due to Supergirl’s actions and attitudes. I’ll give it a low 2.5 out of 5.