Episode Title: Solitude
Original Airdate: 03-01-2016
Blue Braniac Rises? Okay, so one of Superman’s greatest nemesis arrives in National City, under the pseudonym Indigo, personified by previous Supergirl incumbent, Laura Vandervoot (from Smallville), and proceeds to make life hell on Earth. Oh, and we’re finally given the privilege of seeing the television version of the Fortress of Solitude (hence the episode’s title), Superman’s home-away-from-home that becomes something of a jaw-dropping Easter egg exercise from the franchise’s mythos. Cross-cutting Kara’s resignation from the DEO following the events of the previous episode’s dramatic turn, with Indigo’s insertion into the world’s communication network, the episode plays out with nuclear tension and one hell of a dramatic payoff.
The further Supergirl goes along, the more Kryptonian baggage come with it. With the death of Astra, Non rises to become the series’ premier villain, although he takes a backseat in “Solitude” to Vandervoot’s Indigo, a Braniac brand computer program with a complex about wiping out humanity. Indigo arrives through National City’s internet, taunting Supergirl and raising the stakes with an attack on one of the country’s nuclear silos, launching a nuclear missile strike that comes with echoes of Christopher Reeve’s Superman: The Movie. In terms of dramatic weight, there’s plenty of massive events in “Solitude” that would take up more discussion than we have room here today, but there’s two key story points that finally come to a head here: James and Lucy Lane’s relationship, and the dissemination to Supergirl that Hank Henshaw did not kill Astra – Alex did.
Okay, so we knew the James/Lucy thing was on the way for a while; the writing’s been on that one since minute one of this show, practically, and it finally plays out with less a bang and more a whimper, which was disappointing. Lucy’s realization that Kara is in love with James (and he with her) is delivered via a personable coup de grace thanks to Kara’s inimitable ability to stick her foot in things she shouldn’t, and the inevitable “it’s not me, it’s you” conversation occurs with barely a whimper from CatCo’s least impressive photojournalist. Now that Lucy’s been cast aside, at least from a relationship angle, James is free to pursue Kara with as much softly-hunky masculinity as he can muster – should make for compelling viewing, I guess.
The more interesting aspect to this episode is the resolution to the plot narrative that Alex and Hank are keeping the truth of Astra’s death from Kara. The flurry of dramatic hook-turns the episode gives us, with Indigo’s omniscient nature reduced to Winn throwing shade at Windows Vista for a cheap laugh, are credibly solid thanks to the casts willingness to sell the stakes, not to mention a pretty decent “nuclear missile flying towards National City” sequence in which Kara has to disarm it at-speed, with Hank in hear earpiece. It’s a breathless episode once again, for a show that refuses to slow down for barley a minute, although it barely seems to matter with so much character development thrown at the viewer. The revelation for Kara comes at the episode’s end, one of those pivotal moments in the show’s relatively infantile breadth that shakes the nature of what it can accomplish with solid writing, and some super acting by Chyler Leigh, as Alex Danvers. In keeping with the theme of the episode’s title, it also plays into the fact that Supergirl needs a team to combat the villains she comes up against, and without them, has a lot more trouble – hence, solitude.
Another interesting subplot I enjoyed was the revelatory one involving newcomer Siobhan Smythe (Italia Ricci), whose relationship with Winn is a possibly exciting one given their similarly parentally maligned back-stories. Here’s hoping it lasts the distance and offers up a side of Winn we’ve yet to uncover, because now that he’s out of Kara’s relationship radar I was wondering what the show was going to do with him.
But for this long-time DC reader, the best part of the episode came with the Fortress sequence, in which we’re shown a glimpse of a certain future flight ring (there’ll be a legion of rumours around that, I’m sure) and one of the Fortress’s long-time inhabitants, Kelex, given life thanks to some sweet CGI. It’s uber-cool to see the Supergirl team throw some of Superman’s mythos into the mix, not to mention give a hint at possible story-lines to come (oh come on, who wouldn’t want to see…. well, you know… come along in the future) so major props for the writers for giving me a thorough geek moment to savour.
“Solitude” is one of those episodes that pulls double duty as a resolution episode in one sense, and a set-up story for future events in another. While we’re witness to the end of James and Lucy’s relationship, and the arrival of yet more Kryptonian history brought to Earth in the form of Indigo (which, frankly, is a pretty rubbish name for something that should be called Braniac), the series’ seemingly endless supply of material gleaned from decades of comic book publication just raises the bar yet again.