Supergirl, ‘Both Sides Now’: Alex Steps Out of Character to Make a Bad Situation Worse

Supergirl, Season 3, Episode 13, “Both Sides Now”

The underlying theme to this season has been the notion that Kara’s greatest superpower is her humanity. And Alex has been a leading proponent for drilling that idea into Kara’s (and by extension, the audience’s) head. Yet this week, when Kara puts that idea into action, there’s Alex doing all she can to undermine Kara’s strategy. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Supergirl:

What’s the scoop:  Things start off tense as Kara, Alex, Mon-El and a cadre of DEO agents storm the suburban home of Julia Freeman, a suspected worldkiller and confirmed Lisa Loeb enthusiast. Of course, Julia is taken aback by Supergirl and her black-clad horde interrupting her 90s jam session. Things are tense, but Kara is doing her best to keep Julia calm. Inexplicably Alex starts acting aggressive toward Julia and triggers the scared woman to transition to her worldkiller alter-ego, Purity. Purity/Julia proceeds to use her scream powers to cause havoc until Kara and J’onn team up to slap the power-neutralizing cuffs on her. This dynamic of Kara’s appeals to Purity’s better nature, only to be undermined by Alex loops throughout the episode, making the situation worse with every pass.

Meanwhile in B Plot Land:  Things are not all blissful in Mon-El land. Sure, the drinks and shadetree spaceship mechanics with J’onn and Winn are fun, but Mon-El is troubled. His blissful marriage to Imra isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Mon-El explains to J’onn that he carried a torch for Kara for a while in the future. A situation arose where an arranged marriage between he and Imra would form an alliance between planets that would protect the galaxy. While he learned to love her, the feelings for Kara never went away, and being around Kara isn’t really helping. This is a distressing turn because we can’t help but like Imra; she’s always about helping the cause, friendly to Kara and just an overall nice person. Of course things take a twist at the end when Imra starts to explain to Mon-El what their “real” reason for going on this mission is.

Meet Me on the Balcony: No real time for pondering in the semi-outdoors today, but we did get a sisterly chat session.

What about the action:  Thanks to Alex’s aggressive actions (borne from the fact she misses Maggie – what?), Purity is brought out a few times, and damage follows in her wake. The activity from Purity and her magic crystal also causes Samantha to trigger as Reign — and abandon Ruby at a skating rink — which brings Lena into the loop. It leads to a big showdown in a crowded subway station. Purity easily shakes off the best Alex, Kara and Mon-El can throw at her, while Martian Manhunter is neutralized, because he’s trying to keep the station from collapsing. Alex finally comes around to Kara’s way of thinking and together, they bring the frightened Juila back out in time for Reign to appear on the scene. To avoid another destructive showdown, Julia volunteers to go with Reign.

What’s next: This episode acted as a sort of mid-midseason finale, so there’s a lot left hanging. There’s a third worldkiller out there, Julia’s fate is yet to be determined and Mon-El has to learn a Legion secret. That’s a lot of sheep to herd when Supergirl returns in a couple of months.

Last impressions:  Normally a strength in every episode, this time Alex dragged everything down with her out-of-character actions. It’s almost like the writers of this episode built their story off of a vague outline of what has come before. So Alex, who was still on crutches last week, is totally field ready. And while Alex has always acted like a soldier, there’s a difference between pragmatism and undermining the kinder strategy you’ve all agreed on. In the end, it smacked of Alex behaving that way because the plot demanded it, despite the fact that it is completely out of character and rings hollow, casting a negative shadow over the whole episode.

Craig Wack

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