[This is a review of Supergirl season 2, episode 21. There will be SPOILERS.]
After moving from CBS to The CW for season 2, Supergirl underwent certain changes, some as a result of the network shift and some that weren’t. Since Supergirl moved its production from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Calista Flockhart didn’t return for season 2 as Cat Grant — Kara Danvers’ boss and mentor throughout season 1. Perhaps as a result of Cat Grant’s exit from CatCo and Kara’s new job as a journalist working for Snapper Carr, Supergirl season 2 has focused more on the superhero’s work with the DEO. Additionally, the show has introduced a number of new alien characters in season 2, like Daxamite prince Mon-El, as Supergirl has explored what it means for aliens to live the lives of refugees on Earth.
As Supergirl gears up for its second season finale next week, the show has been moving its various pieces into place. Last week’s episode, ‘City of Lost Children‘, spent time focusing on James Olsen wrestling with his vigilante persona Guardian while Daxam’s Queen Rhea was manipulating Lena Luthor into creating a massive portal/teleportation device. At the end of the episode, Rhea used the device to bring a fleet of Daxamite ships to Earth, and they swarmed over National City as Rhea declared Earth would become New Daxam.
In this week’s episode of Supergirl, ‘Resist’ — written by Jessica Queller and Derek Simon and directed by Millicent Shelton — Cat Grant returns to National City just as Kara needs her help most. Meanwhile, Supergirl struggles to obey the orders of President Olivia Marsdin (guest star Lynda Carter) in terms of how to handle the situation with Rhea attempting to conquer National City in Daxam’s image.
Everyone Needs to Be A Superhero
‘Resist’ essentially jumps right into the action, delivering on the promise of a full-scale alien invasion of National City with the Daxam ships firing on the city while soldiers launch a ground attack. The opening sequences – after a brief visit to Rhea’s ship, where she’s holding Lena – depict a city under siege, with Maggie Sawyer fighting soldiers outside the police station. Even the DEO isn’t safe, as Daxam fighters teleport into the organization’s headquarters forcing Alex to evacuate the building – and Chyler Leigh pulls off a fantastic action sequence dodging Daxam enemies and leaping off the balcony, only to be caught by Supergirl.
With Rhea launching her attack on every corner of National City, Alex and the others from the DEO are forced to set up a temporary base of operations in the unnamed alien bar that has become a staple of season 2. President Marsdin and Cat Grant attempt to reason with Rhea in a scene excellently written by Queller and Simon wherein the dialogue inspires all the excitement the fans, and no doubt the writers themselves, felt at seeing the three characters facing off. The scene is, of course, wonderfully – and playfully – acted by Carter, Flockhart and Teri Hatcher, bringing to life the compelling dynamic between three powerful women.
However, Rhea proves she cannot be reasoned with and the Daxam queen shoots down Air Force One, though Supergirl saves Cat Grant while the President survives – revealing herself to be an alien. President Marsdin tells the story of her home world, how her people didn’t resist when an oppressive force arrived and they were subjugated, forcing her to flee. As a result of her personal history, President Marsdin takes an extreme stance on dealing with Rhea, ordering Alex to use the DEO’s secret cannon to destroy the Daxam queen’s ship – despite the fact that Mon-El and Lena are on board.
The order forces Kara to confront a classic superhero question: Should she save those she loves or should she sacrifice them in order to save the lives of many? As has always been the case with Supergirl, Kara devises a way to save everyone even if it means teaming up with former enemies in Lillian Luthor and Cyborg Superman. Although they wind up betraying her, Kara was prepared for their callous move and still manages to save everyone from Rhea’s ship – everyone but herself, that is.
Cat Grant Returns to Help Save the Day
Of course, in order for Kara, Lillian and Cyborg Superman to infiltrate Rhea’s ship without being detected, they needed a distraction: Enter Cat Grant. The fan-favorite character returns in ‘Resist’ appropriately flying aboard Air Force One and attempting to broker peace between the President of the United States and the would-be Daxam conqueror. Still, while that scene is perhaps the best of the episode (in an episode that proves to make that determination exceptionally difficult), Cat Grant – and Flockhart herself – is in rare form in her return.
First, Cat gives Kara the much needed advice that the important thing in life is human connection. As she tells Kara, “It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you love.” Then there is her speech to distract Rhea – which starts conveniently before the Daxam queen can finish the marriage ceremony between Mon-El and Lena. With the help of Winn, Cat Grant is projected all across National City and the Daxam fleet as she implores the citizens to fight back against the invading forces – to resist. It’s a moving speech that reminds viewers just how much Flockhart elevated Supergirl in season 1.
Supergirl season 2 has superficially felt the absence of Cat Grant in the fact that the show has shifted its focus almost entirely to the Girl of Steel’s work with the DEO, but ‘Resist’ proves that Flockhart’s character brings a wealth of heart and humor to the series. Certainly Cat is excellent in her rousing speeches and her stories that offer advice, but the character also shines in the smaller moments, with Flockhart delivering unexpected one-liners to bring levity to otherwise dramatic or action-focused scenes. It’s bittersweet for Flockhart to return to Supergirl, but a welcome addition to the penultimate season 2 episode.
Superman is… Evil?
Just as it seemed as though Kara and Alex’s plan would go off without a hitch (relatively, since they planned for Lillian Luthor’s betrayal), Rhea throws them a curveball in the form of Kara’s cousin, Clark (guest star Tyler Hoechlin). He destroys the DEO cannon that would have defeated Rhea, and he appears to be working for the Daxam queen. Earlier in the episode, Kara mentioned she hadn’t been able to locate Clark either at the Daily Planet or at the Fortress of Solitude. That comment seems to indicate the Man of Steel was pulled into Rhea’s plan either before or shortly after she attacked National City, proving her to be an even more formidable foe than Kara expected.
Certainly, Rhea’s manipulation of Clark – whether through some kind of mind control or threats like those she used on Mon-El and Lena – will make Kara’s fight against the Daxam queen even more complicated. It brings the development of Supergirl season 2 to a compelling place, since the year started off with Kara turning to Clark for help in finding her footing as a superhero. Now, the Man of Steel and the Girl of Steel will go head to head in next week’s season finale, which should make for some exciting action and compelling drama.
Supergirl season 2 concludes next Monday, May 22 with ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ at 8pm on The CW.