Supergirl‘s “Both Sides Now” Emphasizes the Importance of Personal Connection
Aaaand we’re back! After a bit of a slump last week, this week’s Supergirl brought the show back to top form, allowing every character to wrestle with the important, but often challenging task of connecting with others. Welcome to Season Three, Episode 13, “Both Sides Now.”
Here’s the official synopsis from The CW:
THE DEO CAPTURES ANOTHER WORLDKILLER — The DEO captures a second Worldkiller, Purity (guest star Krys Marshall). Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) use very different methods of interrogation with Purity in the hopes of finding out how to defeat Reign (Odette Annable). However, Purity escapes and attacks the city’s subway tunnels. Meanwhile, J’onn (David Harewood), Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and Mon-El (Christopher Wood) band together to fix the Legion ship.
What I loved most about this episode is that it, in a truly nuanced way, took a look at the quality that is truly Supergirl’s superpower: interpersonal connection. Supergirl has always been great at finding a way into the hearts and minds of criminals in order to take them down with talking and emotion before resorting to using her fists or powers. What “Both Sides Now” shows us is that, whether one is Kryptonian or not, we all have the power to use personal connection as a way to do something heroic.
Supergirl, Alex, and Julie
We were treated to a brilliant guest performance by Krys Marshall in the role of Julie/Purity, and she was equally believable as the kind, confused Julie as she was as the uber-confident, god-like Purity. This episode also gave us some of Chyler Leigh’s best work as Alex, though she’s always amazing, so that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Supergirl and Alex were forced to navigate Julie/Purity’s dual personality, and while Supergirl caught a glimpse of Julie that she firmly believed in and wanted to connect to in order to save her and discover Purity’s secrets, Alex couldn’t see beyond the ravaging Worldkiller. While Alex’s point about “the rest of us” not being bulletproof and needing a certain amount of cynicism to keep us safe is certainly understandable, the fact is that each time that Purity got the best of them, it was thanks to Alex’s detached, cynical approach.
When they first apprehend Julie, Supergirl has the situation well in hand … until Alex gets hostile, prompting Purity to make her presence known. Purity then escapes the DEO, because Supergirl follows Alex’s lead in allowing Purity to get to them while ignoring the fact that Julia is still in there.
Yet it’s Alex finally acknowledging that her cynicism stems from her lingering feelings about her break-up with Maggie, and her finally being able to see and connect to Julie inside Purity, that gives Julie the strength and courage to force off Purity’s hold on her and let Supergirl go. Julie then does the most heroic thing imaginable. She allows Reign to take her in order to save Supergirl, the DEO, and the innocent bystanders in the train station.
Supergirl shows us that great things can happen, and we can be made stronger, when we have faith in each other.
Sam, Ruby, and Lena
This point is hammered home through Sam, as she continues to deal with trying to figure out whatever’s wrong with her. Lena, continuing to be the Best Boss Ever, orders Sam to take the day off to be with her daughter and take care of herself in light of her mysterious “illness.” Sam, however, is reluctant to take it. Despite the fact that her friends have told her over and over that they will be there for her and help her through it, she doesn’t like receiving help. It makes her feel weak and incompetent.
Except, you know what makes her actually incompetent? Not sharing with her friends, or her daughter, and putting everyone in danger.
On her day off, Sam takes Ruby out of school for a mother-daughter day of ice skating. She then turns into Reign at the rink and disappears on Ruby, who calls Lena for help when her mother goes missing. When Sam comes out of being Reign and goes to Lena to find her daughter, she becomes angry at Lena for allowing her daughter to know that there’s something wrong with her mother, even though it’s really, really obvious. This anger brings on Reign again briefly, giving Sam another “blackout.” Now that Lena’s seen a glimmer of Sam’s transformation into Reign, she says she knows what’s wrong with her and how she can help.
Supergirl shows us that when we’re vulnerable with the people in our lives, we also open ourselves up to receiving the help we need.
Imra and Mon-El
And then there are Imra and Mon-El’s marital troubles. Turns out that those two crazy kids started as a political marriage, a way to show solidarity between planets when they were forming the Legion of Superheroes. Though Mon-El respects and grew to love Imra, now that he’s back on Earth and around Kara, his old feelings for her are being stirred.
He tries to hide his complicated feelings, but Imra’s not stupid. She’s seen the way he acts when he’s around Kara. In a really great heart-to-heart between married dudes, J’onn takes Mon-El aside and advises him to be open and honest with Imra. Mon-El finally talks to her about how he’s been feeling and apologizes for being so strained around her, and she accepts his apology and thanks him for his honesty.
This then prompts honesty from her, and she tells him that she needs to tell him the truth about why they’re really on Earth in the first place. Whaaaat?!
Supergirl shows us that when we open up to the people in our lives, we receive even more truth.
“Both Sides Now” was a fast-paced and substantive episode that was a showcase for the best thing about Supergirl, both character and show: the relationships between people, and the power that can be found and harnessed when those relationships are nurtured and strengthened.
I’m curious to know what you all thought. Sound off in the comments below!
Supergirl will now be on hiatus until April 16th to make way for the rescheduling of Legends of Tomorrow after the addition of Black Lighting to the CW line-up. Supergirl will return in the same time slot of Mondays at 8PM ET/PT.
(featured image: Katie Yu/The CW)
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