Episode Title: Falling
Original Airdate: 03-14-2016
Yet another piece of the Super-mythology arrives in Supergirl this episode, with the appearance of Red Kryptonite. Traditionally, Kryptonite causes significant weakness, and even death, to Kryptonians, and for the longest time in the original DC universe there was only one kind – green – that Superman and his family had to avoid. Eventually, writers had to come up with different varieties of Kryptonite to affect Superman in different ways – blue, yellow, red, hell the entire rainbow of Kryptonite variants at some point gave both the Man of Steel and his cousin, Supergirl, problems.
While out on Supergirl duty, Kara (Melissa Benoist) begins to exhibit strange, unusually snippy behaviour. Flippant, cavalier towards her job, occasionally outright vindictive and mean, Kara loses her behavioural inhibitions; the reason, as it turns out, is synthesized red Kryptonite, created by Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) to combat the potential return of Non, and now inadvertently affecting Kara. As she continues to push people away, particularly Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) and Alex (Chyler Leigh), her reputation suffers (not that she cares) and eventually the DEO is forced to take her down. As the subsequent fight takes place in the skies above National City, Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) is finally forced to expose himself as a Martian.
“Falling” treats us to some nice character beats, between Supergirl’s obvious career-ruining actions including throwing Cat from the top floor of her building, letting an alien convict escape, and engaging in a brute-force brawl with J’onn J’onzz in public, most of which revolve around the series’ ongoing dramatic twists. Siobhan Smythe (Italia Ricci) finally gets what’s coming to her, Kara thrusts herself into Jimmy’s window of opportunity, and a few home truths are delivered to Alex in a scene that’s gonna take some beating before it’s forgotten. There’s a nod to one of the Chris Reeve Superman films where Kara sits at a bar flicking peanuts at the bottles behind the counter (which I enjoyed), and Kara’s transition to her “darker” self is overtly realized with a costume change to a form-fitting black suit without a cape (“NO CAPES” I hear Edna cry); the knock-down fight with J’onn is handled well, with plenty of tension in the scene as Kara actually threatens to kill Alex, and one hopes the writers will use this breakdown of the city’s trust in Supergirl as a way of furthering more conflict between both her and Lord’s antagonism.
This episode appears to be one of those ones where lost of stuff happens that will (hopefully) pay off in future episodes. One suspects the Siohhan Smythe sub-plot will come home to roost soon, given the way she’s spurned by Cat and wreck’d by Kara, and Jimmy’s recent break-up with Lucy Lane might seem to pace the way for both he and Kara to hook up (they don’t here, although Kara comes frustratingly close to saying “those words” out loud, before being cut off), and I would imagine the public’s reaction to Supergirl’s saving them in future will be met with at least some reservation or outright anger. It’s an interesting dynamic the show’s unleashed, probably the first real test of Supergirl’s public perception since her introduction back at the start of the season.
If “Falling” does one thing worth watching, it’s giving up a darker, fractious Kara Danvers. It forces her to confront the inner thoughts brought to the surface (a moment of abject torment over what she says to Alex is a crucially moving scene) and it plays on the fact that even superhuman alien beings walking among us aren’t immune from basic human emotions. Typically for the show, the story moves at a lightning pace (come to think of it, Maxwell Lord’s abilities to “reverse” the effects of his own creation are surprisingly easy to come by, even for a show as fantastical as this one) and although brevity does preclude dramatic moments getting their full exploration from time to time, with this episode the balance is exactly right.