Supergirl Reviews: Season 1 (Truth, Justice, and the American Way)

You know an episode is going to be filled with happy fun times when it opens with a funeral.

Yeah, this episode opens with Astra’s funeral. Non and the other Kryptonians ask Kara to say the Kryptonian Prayer for the Dead for Astra, since it’s custom for a woman in the family to lead the funeral rites. Kara does so, and then Non threatens that the next funeral will be hers.

When Kara goes to work at Catco, an unpleasant surprise it waiting for her. Cat has hired a new assistant, Siobhan (pronounced Sheh-vahn) Smythe, and to add insult to injury, Cat refers to Siobhan as “assistant number 1” and Kara as “assistant number 2”. Ouch. Kara knows that Cat is punishing her for Adam and for missing so much work. How hilariously petty is that? Cat went to the trouble of hiring a second assistant, makes a show of pronouncing Siobhan’s name correctly while still mispronouncing Kara’s, and is doing everything she can to make sure Kara feels belittled. I bet that when she was in school Cat was that person who ranked her friends and made sure all of her friends knew exactly where they ranked and when they moved up or down a spot for any reason.

About Siabhan. There’s not a whole lot to say just yet, in this episode she’s kind of just a typical mean girl archetype. She lays it on very thick when talking to Cat or James or anyone she deems important enough but she’s very snide toward Kara and makes lots of passive aggressive remarks and is just generally kind of unpleasant.

James and Lucy have been told to investigate Maxwell Lord’s disappearance, which is awkward because James knows exactly where Maxwell Lord has disappeared to and he’s not allowed to say it. So he confronts Kara about it.

James: You’re holding him against his will, without due process, without a trial. It’s just wrong.

Kara: He tried to kill me.

James: Nobody’s saying he’s a good guy.

Kara: Keeping Max behind bars is the only way we can prevent him from hurting more people.

James: That is what the justice system is for.

Kara: His army of lawyers would have him out in two minutes and you know it.

James: Kara, I know he’s dangerous. Okay, but he still deserves his fundamental human rights and protecting those rights and respecting those rights are what make us who we are.

I think I’ve made it clear that when it comes to Trashwell Lord and people like him, I’m firmly on the side of “do whatever it takes to stop them from hurting more people, laws and ethics be damned”. I guess that’s why I’m a Chaotic Good. So while I can acknowledge that what the DEO is doing to Max may not be technically ethical, personally I’ve got no moral bones to pick with what they’re doing. I have to agree with what Kara told Max earlier in the episode. The world is a better place without him in it.

I do understand James’ position, though. Doesn’t everyone deserve their fundamental human rights, even terrible people like Maxwell Lord? But Kara is also right about how if they played fair, Maxwell Lord wouldn’t get what he deserves. The justice system is flawed to say the least, and let’s be honest, a rich white guy like Maxwell Lord would be let off the hook in no time. Where’s the justice in that?

Speaking of justice, there’s another escaped Fort Rozz prisoner on the loose, but before the DEO can do anything about it, the alien is apprehended and killed by someone in armor. The armored man is referred to as the Master Jailer, and he seems to be hunting down and killing multiple Fort Rozz escapees. The DEO figure out that the Master Jailer is hunting down the aliens in a certain order, and Supergirl is able to confront him when he goes after his next victim. However, he incapacitates Supergirl long enough to escape with his victim.

Back at Catco, James is still conflicted about what to do about Maxwell Lord, and he has an interesting conversation with Cat about her early days as a journalist.

Cat: I finally was assigned a story to write an article about an up-and-coming actor. He was charming, he was gorgeous. He was married to an actress who was also gorgeous. And I interviewed everyone who knew him and they all told me how great he was. “Lovely.” “Talented.” And then I talked to the wife’s makeup artist, and she told me all about the bruises that she had to cover up every morning.

James: So, you did the right thing. You reported the story.

Cat: No. I didn’t. I caved. I caved in to the pressure from the studio PR hack. So I wrote a little puff piece on him. And, hmm, three months later, he shot his wife in the head.

James: Do you think if you’d… If you had published what you knew, do you think that you could have prevented her death?

Cat: I think that every day. See, James, that’s why we do what we do. That’s why we’re driven to tell the truth. Not only because we want to be good journalists, but because we also want to be good people.

Well, that’s a nauseating story with a good point. I think that even if it wasn’t as dramatic as Cat’s story, we’ve all had moments where we could have said something to stop something bad from happening, and we didn’t, whether because of peer pressure or because we were scared or because it was just easier.

And Cat’s story… I mean, she’s not the only one who knew. The makeup artist knew, and there must have been other people who knew too. And none of them said anything. If they had, could they have changed anything? Honestly… maybe not. It’s not like male celebrities have never gotten away with abuse in the past. Johnny Depp is a known abuser and he still got a fucking role in the Fantastic Beats movie. It’s a horrible, horrible fact that sometimes, even when you do speak up, people still don’t want to believe it or they just don’t fucking care. But if there’s even a chance that people will care, that some good can come of it… well, you should still try, shouldn’t you?

There’s still one issue, though. The person Cat didn’t save was an innocent victim. The person James is on the fence about saving is a terrible person who has caused massive damage and will probably only continue to do so. Not exactly the same thing.

James goes to the DEO himself to try once again to get Kara to see his side of things.

Kara: So you think that Max Lord actually has a real reason to hate me?

James: No. I’m sorry, no. What I mean is, he’s terrified by you. Because of your ability to do exactly what you’re doing to him right now. I mean, you could go in there and swat him dead like a fly if you wanted to.

Kara: I would never do that!

James: I know that. But look, when you have more power than any human army on Earth, you have to be better than this. Kara, it’s never gonna come down to just a battle of strength, or smarts, or even wills with you. Ultimately, it’s going to be a battle of values. Yours values versus your enemy’s. And if you’re willing to abandon those values, what makes you better than Max Lord? I mean, is this the kind of hero that you want to be?

Lots of things makes her better than Maxwell Lord, but I get your point, James. It’s like something J’onn said in an earlier episode (forgive me for not being able to remember which one exactly), about how people fear Superman and Supergirl because of what they could do if they ever lost control. They’re the most powerful beings on Earth, stopping them if it became necessary would be no easy feat. Superman and Supergirl have to be better than that. It’s probably against some rule to apply a quote from a Marvel character to a DC character, but with great power comes great responsibility.

Not long after this discussion, Kara gets taken by the Master Jailer and wakes up imprisoned along with the alien, who was a professor, that had been taken earlier. Due to the presence of a light that mimics the effects of the red sun, Kara is powerless and unable to escape. So, she starts talking to the professor, Luzano, who tells her how he ended up in Fort Rozz to begin with.

Luzano: After a strong storm season, one of my wives fell ill. The healing expenses were too much. And so a simple man entered the complicated world of interplanetary drug smuggling. Caught on my first run. And sentenced by Alura Zor-El to 18 years in Fort Rozz.

Kara: I suppose you hate my mother, too. Like all the other escapees.

Luzano: I did. At first. But over time, I understood. One tragedy cannot be undone by committing another. So, when I crashed on Earth, I sought only to lead a good life. Became a professor. Taught the one thing I knew better than anyone on this planet. The stars.

Well, that’s kind of an interesting revelation. Every Fort Rozz escapee we’ve seen before now has been evil and dangerous, but Luzano isn’t either of those things. He’s someone who did a bad thing, because he felt like he had no choice, but since then he’s only tried to live peacefully. We’ve seen multiple examples of characters being/feeling forced to commit crimes without actually being wholly bad people in this show already, and every time Supergirl has shown them compassion. It’s interesting that she gets an opportunity to meet a Fort Rozz prisoner like this.

Luzano is also interesting in how he fits into this episode’s theme of justice.  Luzano did something to get himself eighteen years in Fort Rozz, but when we actually get to know him it’s hard to imagine that he deserved it. He seems so nice! He’s so soft-spoken! He regrets his choices and now he just wants to live a good, normal life! But whatever his reasons were, he did commit a crime and he did so knowingly and willfully. He can’t be let off the hook just because he’s usually a good guy. He has to accept the punishment for his crime, which he did.

He certainly doesn’t deserve to be executed, but that’s exactly what the Master Jailer intends to do.  The DEO shows up just in time to stop it from happening and free Kara, who is able to defeat the Master Jailer for good.

When Kara and Alex return to the DEO, they decide to let Maxwell Lord go. However, Alex does warn Max that if he steps out of line again, she’ll send enough information to the police to have him taken to prison. That is, if his lawyers don’t get him off the hook, amirite? I’m not sure if I’m okay with Maxwell Lord being let go, but I do understand why they came to the decision. It wasn’t really right, even if if was well deserved.

Kara then tries to ask the AI about Myriad, the plan that Astra and Non mentioned. The AI is forbidden to talk about Myriad and starts to malfunction when pressed about it. Hm. J’onn shuts down the device when it threatens to self-destruct. Kara isn’t happy about that. Really, she’s unhappy about Astra, which she still hasn’t forgiven him for. She says that can’t work with J’onn or the DEO anymore.

So, this is another episode that’s centered around what Supergirl is supposed to stand for as a hero, and it’s a pretty good one. The issues of justice and morality and truth, and whether those are really the same thing or not, make for some interesting discussion in which I’m not sure there’s a right answer. Throughout the episode, James and Kara both make some good points, and while in the end Kara does come around to his way of thinking, it’s hard to say whether the decision really feels right. She lets Maxwell Lord go very grudgingly, and there’s nothing very pleasant about it

And now we’re left with an exciting prospect for the next episode. How will Supergirl function without the DEO’s support? The DEO has functioned for years without Supergirl, but will it be so easy for her to be on her own?

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