In the Season 4 premiere, Kara is on top of her game. However, rising anti-alien sentiment proves to be a big challenge. Our review of “American Alien.”
Supergirl kicked off Season 4 this week by previewing the major conflicts that Team Supergirl will face, as anti-alien hate crimes are growing (with a new set of villains on the scene). Yet, there’s reason for hope… let’s discuss the highlights of “American Alien”!
The double-edged sword of Kara’s optimism
Just as J’onn says in this episode, one of the things I adore most about Kara is her unflinching optimism and faith in humanity. It’s what makes her relentless and fierce in the face of danger and obstacles. However, in the case of “American Alien,” Kara’s optimism becomes a stumbling block and contributes to a failure of imagination.
“American Alien” begins with Kara in the height of her game. Supergirl is slaying villains across the globe and saving balloons for children. Then Kara is back to CatCo to as a kickass journalist asking tough questions of the POTUS. In her role as Supergirl, Kara has been receiving a lot of love and accolades, which energize her and convince her that the potential for peaceful coexistence between humans and aliens is totally possible.
So, when an alien doctor, Dr. Vose, is attacked outside of his lab by the Graves siblings (who then steal an EMP), Kara isn’t at all open to the idea that this is part of larger anti-alien sentiment. J’onn, now out of the DEO, has taken his promise to his father very seriously and has adopted a philosophy of pacifism and nonviolence. In his new life in the alien community, he sees the growing hate crimes and tries to warn Kara about it. But Kara believes she knows better. This attack is only about an EMP. Plus, she’s been around the world and received nothing but love. Then J’onn makes an incredibly profound point. Kara enjoys a level of privilege because she presents as human. Other aliens don’t receive the benefit of the doubt. Truest of TRUFAX!
Unfortunately, it isn’t until Kara breaks into the Graves siblings’ lair and sees a chat room with conversations about attacks and anti-alien sentiment that she believes. Basically, I’m glad that there are people in Kara’s life who check her. Next time, don’t be so resistant, Kara!
The student has become the teacher, AKA Kara = Cat Grant and Nia Nal = Kara
At CatCo, Kara dominates the reporter game and gets a new person to take under her wing. Nia Nal has arrived in National City, highly recommended by Cat Grant, herself. Nia is so enthusiastic about her work. She loves fashion, was an international relations major at Georgetown, and she’s all about community development. Nia is totally a girl after my own heart. Unfortunately, she lacks confidence in her work, and it actually prevents her from making a really interesting pitch to James. Kara sees this and puts on her Cat Grant hat to encourage Nia. And in this, we reach a full circle moment with Nia as Season 1 Kara (lattes and all!) and Kara as Cat (a mentor who’s all about girl power). I can’t wait to see more of the dynamic between these two, especially as Nia steps into her superhero role.
What won’t Lena do for love?
One of the most interesting parts of the episode is seeing Lena reach out to her mother Lillian in prison. Supergirl comes upon them playing a game of chess. (Incidentally, it’s so curious to see the lovely relationship between Kara and Lena, then the coolness between Supergirl and Lena. *SIGH*). Lillian is able to identity Dr. Vose’s attackers as Otis and Mercy Graves, who did have some dealings with the Luthors. In an off-hand comment, Lena asks her mother for information about others who may have been engaged in illegal dealings with Lex, purely to protect herself from any legal exposure. And in a fantastic twist, Lena takes that information to the DA, who promises to pursue those leads in exchange for dropping charges against James Olsen/Guardian. WOWSA. Lena keeps all of this a secret and celebrates with James when the DA makes her announcement on the news. However, James can never be Guardian again, or else the charges will be renewed. Damn.
Art imitating life
Supergirl is so spot on in its ability to connect with the real world political climate. This entire anti-alien hate crimes storyline links so closely to current events about the mistreatment and dehumanization of immigrants and refugees across the globe.
In the case of the series, you have a U.S. President, Olivia Marsdin, who is incredibly sympathetic… because she is an alien herself! When POTUS Marsdin’s alien summit at Camp David is attacked, Kara and the DEO are on hand to stop Otis and Mercy. Kara even succeeds in catching Otis! Damage has still been done because a video of POTUS Marsdin is leaked that reveals her to be an alien. YIKES.
A few other thoughts…
–At SDCC this summer, Chyler Leigh promised a fun relationship between Alex and Brainy and boy did we get one. There’s a lot of tension between these two… Brainy is pretty eager, to the point of upsetting Alex’s groove. Yet, Alex also admits that she doesn’t like losing Winn and thinking of Brainy replacing him. Now that they’ve had a meeting of the minds, we will see what happens.
–We’ve gotten a glimpse of Red Kara and Agent Liberty and I’m officially excited and scared.
–Give me all the lovely sister/sister couch time between Kara and Alex!!!
Supergirl airs on Sundays at 8p/7c on The CW.