The sixth and final season of Supergirl is heading for the series finale as the “Superfriends” clash with the evil Nxy and her alien sidekick, Mitch. The opposing factions are now racing to find special totems to give them what they need to defeat each other. But of course, nothing is easy, and even managing to find one of the elusive totems is just the beginning in “The Gauntlet.”
The episode opens at the Tower, with Supergirl grousing at not being able to find the Totems. She gets a bit of a boost when Lena returns from her trip looking into her mother’s background, and Brainiac provides some exposition to bring Lena up to date on the plot. Lena and Supergirl go to the Fortress to do some more research, and learn that their next step might be dealing with, of all things, Kryptonian witches. Vita, who we’ve seen before, gives Supergirl and Lena some pointers on the Totems, and the heroines return to National City. Elsewhere, Mitch cases a museum, we get hints about plot elements for the episode, and Nxy continues to fail to understand what it’s like to not get whatever you want with just a snap of your fingers.
Kelly and Alex talk about everything Kelly’s been through recently, and what Kelly is going to go do while the others deal with larger-scale issues. It’s nice to see potential, and needless, relationship drama avoided as Kelly encourages Alex to go help the team out while she works on her own projects. Healthy, mature relationships are rare on hero shows, and it’s a nice change to see it. At CatCo, where Supergirl and Dreamer supposedly work, William gets berated by Andrea for not making enough progress on the stories she’s assigned him, and we get a hint as to why that is. As he gets dismissed, Nia makes one of her rare appearances at the office. Brainy has the Tower’s computers run some estimates on where they might find the Totem of Courage, and gets a staggering number of possibilities. Fortunately, a conveniently timed alarm at the museum points them in the right direction. Getting the alert, Nia takes pity on William and gives him a heads up about something happening at the museum.
There’s a fight at the museum as Supergirl’s team clashes with Nxy, and the Totem gets triggered. The initial effect is a vague glow that hits most, but not all, of the people present, and then Nxy gets away, courtesy of Mitch’s well-timed teleportation. Back at the Tower, Lena tries to analyze the energies that were released by the Totem, and Brainy somehow has one of the crystals from the Fortress. I guess either Lena or Supergirl gave it to him off screen? At any rate, Brainy gets possessed by the witch Vita, which gives Jesse Rath a chance to use his comedic acting skills as the team gets a few more clues about the Totem. Didn’t the Legends spend most of a season chasing Totems a few years ago? Vita makes a lot of vague and ominous statements and eventually, Lena gets her back in the crystal, leaving behind a worried Supergirl and a confused Brainiac 5.
Supergirl tries to pass the test that will let her control the Totem, and relives a scene from several years ago. She is informed she has failed, but we don’t get a good idea as to why. Nxy, too, has to relive a big event from her past, and also fails. Chaos breaks out at the museum again, and we start to see some of the effects of the Totem’s energy. Some of what happens makes some degree of sense, but some of it is really stretching things and I’d argue at least one of them makes no sense at all. For whatever reason, Supergirl is not affected, and has to deal with the increasingly strange actions of her team. Back at the Tower again, Lena offers some insight into what’s going on, the team starts to realize they’re not acting right, and Dreamer pretty much takes herself out of most of the rest of the episode.
Aboard Mitch’s ship, Nxy complains about failing her test, and Mitch suddenly goes from comic relief and henchman to wise guru, offering insight that seems, at best, utterly uncharacteristic from him. Supergirl and Lena have a similar conversation, but don’t get useful results from it, and Lena continues to express her disbelief in magic, because she’s both a scientist and bound by Trope. Supergirl fails her test yet again, and things start getting ugly down at the museum, where some of the characters we saw earlier act out under the influence of the Totem. I’m not sure why a cutting-edge research project about energy is based out of a museum, but it makes the plot easier, I guess.
Lena summons up Vita again, who is disappointed she can’t molest Brainy this time. Vita mocks Lena about her not embracing her magic, and Lena continues to cling tightly to denial. A new danger threatens National City, and the heroes talk a lot and look worried before figuring out what to do. As the team debates what to do, Nxy tries her test again, and this time succeeds. This has an immediate effect at the Tower, which Supergirl resists as best she can. Lena helps Supergirl get that problem under control, and things get increasingly out of hand with less and less probable effects from the Totem. In order to help the team get back to normal, Supergirl makes a difficult decision that gives Nxy an edge in their struggle. The team starts being useful again, and gets some assistance from the Guardian, who can now apparently swat lightning bolts aside? I can see the shield resisting the lightning, but she’s pulling off things that should be well beyond human capability. Just as Supergirl is starting to feel good about her team being useful again, she and Nxy have mutual flashbacks and the Girl of Steel does a good impression of a rock someone dropped.
Supergirl wakes up in the medbay, and has a chat with Lena about what’s going on with Nxy and how the new link between them is beyond their machines and sensors. William has a breakthrough at work, and is apparently the only person in the city who had a beneficial experience with the Totem’s energy. Nia acts as a sounding board for his new resolve, and is very worried. Apparently, Nia not only knocked herself out of the action off-screen earlier, but made a recovery the same way. Alex and Kelly get another scene about their relationship, and Lena finally admits what she’s been hiding about her heritage to the team. Supergirl makes a dangerous decision about one of the side effects from the Totem’s trial. On the ship Nxy rages about things not being fair, and decides she’s going to use her new pain to succeed on the quest for the remaining Totems.
What I liked: While I feel it’s maybe getting more screen time than is called for, I like that Alex and Kelly seem to have a good relationship without manufactured drama. Jesse Rath did a great job with his turn as possessed Brainy. I’m glad Lena isn’t drawing out her denial over the entire season.
What I didn’t: I don’t get why that scientist was at the museum. The effects from the Totem made little sense most of the time, and the one it had on Brainy was utterly baffling. I’m really hoping they explain later why Supergirl failed her test, because it really seemed like she did everything right.
This was not one of their better episodes, and most of this final season has been erratic at best. I’m giving this a 2.5 out of 5, which may be generous. I’m hoping the Totem scavenger hunt doesn’t take the entire rest of the season.