Supergirl, Season 3, Episode 23 “Battles Lost and Won”
If the last handful of Supergirl episodes played out like a season finale, then the actual one played out like a series finale. In all honesty, with all the cast changes that took place in this episode, Supergirl is going to be a much different show next season. If that means a return to the relentless optimism of earlier season, then change will benefit the show. If it takes a few steps toward being more like Arrow and The Flash, that will make it #NotMyKara. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Supergirl:
What’s the scoop: The episode sets a tone right away with a feast for the eyes and a tug on the heartstrings. First, Kara and the summoned Legion do their part to stop a tidal wave and quote Star Wars. Second, M’yrnn and J’onn say their final goodbyes, exchange important memories, and then M’rynn uses the last of his power to counter Reign’s attempts to turn the Earth into New Krypton. That’s a full episode’s worth of action and pathos, all before the opening titles.
Meet Me on the Balcony: We get a couple of scenes on the balcony, both involve Mon-El and his destiny. The second between Mon-El and Kara is the more heartfelt of the two.
What about the action: It’s hard to get to this point without talking about the time-traveling elephant in the room. I’ve gone on the record on several platforms and on many occasions about how much I dislike time travel, because it’s too tempting of a crutch for writers who work themselves into a corner and can’t set things straight without the help of the Amazing Plot Device. So, Supergirl borrowed a page from the 1978 Superman movie to set a negative outcome for Kara straight.
Before the big showdown with Reign and the Kryptonain witches, Kara has to be convinced that despite her moral objections to the contrary, Reign might have to be killed. Sam emerges from her own bit of extra dimensional pathos to stab Reign in the back with her own sword. It gives Kara an opening to knock Reign into the cauldron and to her doom. In her death throes, Reign eye blasts and kills Sam, Alura and Mon-El. In her grief, Kara grabs Mon-El’s Legion ring, finds a disruption in space and travels back in time far enough to do things her way, which saves the lives of three people she cares about.
It’s a temporary happy ending, and the show decided to play Kara’s and the viewer’s emotions in a different way later in the episode, but having your main character use time travel when it’s not their normal thing, feels like a cheat.
What’s next? It’s a good question; things are going to be much different, so here are the bullet-point worthy changes:
- Sam survives, and is judged to be completely normal and free of Reign’s influence. She got closure from her Ghost Mom and is a hero in the eyes of her daughter, Ruby, who despite all speculation will not be adopted by Alex. Sam and Ruby walk out of the DEO never to be seen or heard from again.
- Alura promises Kara she will take the witches back to Argo City so they can stand trial for their actions.
- James outs himself as the Guardian to calm a woman during the disaster. Part of the reason he said he went public is that he doesn’t want to wear the helmet anymore, which is a terrible idea considering James is just a guy without superpowers of his own.
- Lena saved a chunk of the Kryptonain rock that looks like a shiny turd. She and Miss Tessmacher are going to commence Phase 2 of their experiments -– and anyone who has studied Fake Science knows that Phase 2 is always the evil phase.
- J’onn is changed by his father’s death, and decides to leave the DEO to become Jules from Pulp Fiction and just walk the Earth.
- Winn is asked to go Broadway the future to help save the 31st century’s AI from Brainy’s evil predecessor. He’s reluctant at first, but after Brainy shows that his force field design becomes the basis for much of the future’s tech, Winn knows this is his calling.
- Alex is ready to leave the DEO to pursue her dreams of becoming a parent. J’onn helps Alex have it all by leaving the DEO and passing the directorship over to her. She won’t be in the field and in danger as much, which should make single mothering next season’s Cousin Oliver a little easier.
- As much as the show and Mon-El has put into the relationship with Kara, Mon-El chooses to go back to the future to lead the Legion through its latest threat. Both Kara and Mon-El are of course heartbroken, but accepting of their duties. I know the CW doesn’t really do sitcoms, but I’d totally watch Mon-El and Winn in a futuristic, superpowered version of The Odd Couple.
- Then there’s Kara, who after struggling with the duality of being not quite human and not quite Kryptonain, decides not to return to Argo City with her mother because Earth is her true home, and protecting it is her calling — which is good because there’s now an evil clone of her running around Siberia. Expect some version of Red Son to play out next season.
Last impressions: For the most part, the finale stuck the landing and what has been a rocky end of the season. The action was good, the set pieces were grand, everyone was appropriately heroic or villainous depending on their roles. The time travel bit was a total cheat but also necessary, because seeing Kara have to pick up the pieces from the deaths of her mother, boyfriend and gal pal would make the series stray way too far from its optimistic core. All the changes and departures are sad, but they are not depressing because at least you know they are all still alive.
While change brings new possibility, it also brings great uncertainty. With as many changes behind the scenes as in front of the camera, there’s no doubt the new creative leaders behind Supergirl are trying to give themselves as open a canvas as they can. Season 4 is going to be different only time will tell if it’s going to be better.