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In Supergirl’s “Shelter From the Storm,” Lies Are Everyone’s Kryptonite

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" Pictured: Odette Annable as Samantha Arias/Reign -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

This week’s Supergirl is all about protecting Ruby from a Reign who’s determined to claim Sam by killing “her heart.” It’s also all about lies: the lies we tell each other when our relationships are strained, and the lies we tell to protect each other. Episode 18 of the season examines the idea that lying to those we care about never ends well, whether well-intended and “for good reason,” or not. [**SPOILERS AHOY**]

If you need a quick catch-up, here’s the official CW synopsis for “Shelter From the Storm:”

REIGN SETS HER SIGHTS ON RUBY — When Reign (Odette Annable) starts hunting Ruby (guest star Emma Tremblay), Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) work together to keep her safe. Supergirl and J’onn (David Harewood) look to Sam’s mother (guest star Betty Buckley) for advice on how to stop Reign and come away with some shocking news.

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kata/Supergirl and David Harewood as Hank/J'onn -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

One of the strongest parts of the episode was the way in which Kara had to face some real consequences for her treatment of Lena (not to mention having one of her best friends spy on Lena for her) last week. While I thought the writing of Kara was off last week, something I’ve always liked about the show’s take on Kara is that she’s plenty flawed and is continually asked to wrestle with those flaws. I appreciated that this week she had to answer for her unreasonable behavior.

James somewhat naively encourages Lena to tell Supergirl that she now knows how to make kryptonite, because he believes in his friend and that she will deal reasonably with Lena if Lena comes to her in a genuine way. HA! Does he know his friend? Lena knows better, but she takes James’ advice, and Supergirl acts exactly the way Lena feared.

She reprimands Lena, lecturing her on how harmful kryptonite is to her, and Lena reminds her that kryptonite basically makes Supergirl feel as powerless as humans feel all the time, and you don’t see us crying about it! (Except for the times that we totally do – ‘sup stronger gun control! No, seriously, we need stronger gun control in this country.) Supergirl insists that she has to be in charge of all the kryptonite…

…and then she ends up using Lena’s kryptonite to defeat Reign, capturing her and bringing her into the DEO. So…it was good that Lena came to her. She actually helped. Supergirl thankfully apologizes to Lena and thanks her, and Lena accepts her apology.

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" -- Pictured (L-R): Betty Buckley as Patricia Arias and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

But later, in a pretty amazing turn of events, she confides in Kara that the only reason she’s working with Supergirl is because she has to, but that Supergirl has completely broken her trust. As Kara stammers about Supergirl probably having a “good reason” for having James spy on Lena, Lena reveals that James didn’t go through with it, because he trusts her. Then she compares Supergirl to her mother (not a great comparison) and reveals that Supergirl has lost her trust.

Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath have been killing it performance-wise this whole season (sometimes working with some not-great material), and the look on Kara’s face as Lena was very honestly revealing her feelings about Supergirl was priceless. It’s as though it had never occurred to her that someone could not like Supergirl. Or rather, not like her for very good and warranted reasons. The comparison to Lillian Luthor hit really hard, and Kara was left having to bottle up her feelings because she’s still keeping something huge from Lena. Her biggest lie.

The only way I see this resolving is with Kara finally coming clean and telling Lena that she’s Supergirl. It will be huge for Kara to trust a Luthor that much, but I think that’s where this is headed, and I’m here for it. Lena has proven herself over and over, and she’s the last person who wants to help her family in any way. Supergirl’s identity would be safe with her, and I hope that Lena is fully pulled into Team Supergirl by the end of the season.

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" -- Pictured: Emma Tremblay as Ruby Arias © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

It seems that both Danvers girls had their lies bite them in the ass this week. Alex goes to Lex Luthor’s hidden mansion where Lena has Ruby stashed away to keep her safe from Reign. Ruby has been in this house alone, save for the household staff, with no one being honest with her about her mother. Alex insists that, despite still being “sick,” Sam is fine. Ruby, rightfully, doesn’t entirely believe her, and yet Alex deflects.

Obviously, Alex cares about Ruby, and wants to protect her, but her keeping information from Ruby puts her in more jeopardy than she would’ve been in had she known.

Since Alex wouldn’t tell her anything about anything, Ruby swipes her phone when she goes to get a movie night set up and calls her mother, leaving her a message asking where she is and if she’s okay. You know, the way any twelve-year-old might call their mom when they haven’t seen them in weeks.

Thing is, since Alex didn’t tell her that, oh, Your mom is Reign, or rather, has Reign inside her making her do stuff, and now Reign wants to come after you, which is why we’ve hidden you, she didn’t know that going outside to make a phone call was taking her life in her hands. Yet that’s exactly how Reign finds her. Because Alex wouldn’t tell Ruby the truth, Ruby ended up being in even more danger.

Now, Alex is going to have to work hard to earn back Ruby’s trust. It would’ve been easier to give her the information she needed in the first place. Lack of information never “protected” anyone.

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" -- Pictured: Betty Buckley as Patricia Arias -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lying, or withholding the truth, came up for some other characters, too. With Reign/Sam on the loose looking for Ruby, Supergirl and J’onn go to see her mother, Patricia (Betty Buckley), to take her somewhere safe. Patricia reveals to them that Sam has always been Reign, but because Patricia wanted to both protect Sam and wanted her to be “normal,” she went out of her way to punish Sam for the times that Reign peeked out through her drawings or certain behaviors.

She never told Sam where she was actually from, instead making her feel like a freak and yelling at her for things she couldn’t control. Eventually, she ruined her relationship with her own daughter rather than tell her the truth. And now Reign is on a rampage, coming to kill a granddaughter that Patricia has yet to meet.

And then there’s poor, mopey Mon-El, whose biggest torment is “having to choose” between two gorgeous, super-powered, morally upstanding women. (Can I have this dude’s “problems,” please?) In all seriousness, the person he’s not being honest with in this scenario is himself. He refuses to acknowledge that he still has feelings for Kara, despite being married to, and caring very much about Imra.

Imra, then, makes the decision for him. She encourages Mon-El to stay on Earth when she and Brainy leave to help Supergirl and the DEO defeat Reign. Imra refuses to be with a man who is only half-in it with her, and so she tells him that if he doesn’t come back to the future (movie reference!), he’ll have made his decision, and that if he does return to her, that she’ll be sure that he’s there 100%. Way to value yourself while also acting like a mature adult, Imra!

Now, Mon-El is staying until Reign and Sam are separated. We’ll see what happens after that.

But seriously, though: there’s a reason why the saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy.” Lying about stuff, whether outright or by omission, never helps. Even if it takes a while, it will always bite you in the ass. Learn from Supergirl’s mistakes. Don’t do it.

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" -- Pictured: Odette Annable as Samantha Arias/Reign -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

I’ve gotta say, the one thing that truly bothered me about this episode was the way things were resolved with Reign. Supergirl defeats Reign by taking a page out of Myr’nn’s playbook. All this time, she’s been focusing on trying to reason with Sam, getting her to fight Reign. But when J’onn brings Supergirl to see his father for advice, despite his degenerating mental state, Myr’nn helps them arrive at the idea that Supergirl should appeal to the Reign side of the equation, reminding her that she’s all about justice, and that killing Ruby would be killing an innocent, which is against her code.

What bothered me about this was that it’s taken this long for Supergirl to figure this out. And that she didn’t even figure it out, but had to have someone suggest it to her. Supergirl’s whole thing is talking villains down and appealing to their better motivations. This felt very much like the writers wanting to give Myr’nn something heroic to do so the script forced J’onn and Supergirl to go to him for this solution.

The fact that Reign got as strong as she got, and this much time has passed, and that this solution didn’t occur to Supergirl until now…and that after all this, it just worked…it felt really hollow and unearned, because the solution to the major problem of the season didn’t come from the protagonist of the show, the person who should be driving all the action in the story. While Supergirl and Mon-El were the “muscle” in the situation, the actual solution didn’t come from her nor was it, as Mon-El called it, “genius.” It was something that Supergirl, because of how she’s historically solved problems, should’ve come up with a long time ago, but didn’t. That felt weird.

Still, “Shelter From the Storm” was enjoyable overall, and sets up some interesting conflicts for future episodes.

Supergirl -- "Shelter From the Storm" -- Pictured: Chyler Leigh as Alex --© 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Random Thoughts: 

  • I can’t wait to see the fallout of James’ decision to not spy on Lena. Is Kara going to have the nerve to yell at him over it (and will he rip her a new one?), or will she apologize for putting him in that position in the first place? Waiting with baited breath.
  • J’onn and Myr’nn’s relationship is heartbreaking to watch, and Carl Lumbly’s performance continues to be poignant and wonderful.
  • I really hate Supergirl‘s tendency to have a random “cliffhanger” scene at the end of the episode. The entire point of a cliffhanger is to leave something about the current episode’s plot unresolved in a cool way so that we tune in next week. Introducing some random new character we don’t really get to meet, and having her steal a religious text with zero explanation at the end of the episode isn’t a cliffhanger. It’s a scene that got leftover and probably should’ve been the teaser of the following episode. As I said, this isn’t the first time Supergirl has done this, but it felt glaringly out of place this week.

What did you think of this week’s Supergirl? Let’s talk about it below!

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8:00PM ET on The CW.

(image: Bettina Strauss/The CW)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.