Episode Title: Myriad
Original Airdate: 4-11-2016
The climax of a season’s worth of Supergirl plot-building comes to a head in “Myriad”, the show’s best End-Of-The-World scenario to-date and possibly the most impactful of all the episodes in Season 1. Grand, season-long arcs have become a staple of modern television, and Supergirl is no exception with Non, widower to Kara’s Aunt Astra (Laura Benanti), unleashing his Kryptonian world-ending Myriad program to devastating effect on National City. With the entire population under his thrall, National City becomes a virtual petri-dish of utopian perfection with which Non can plan the takeover of the entire world.
For the first time this season, Supergirl flexes her considerable franchise muscles and delivers a top-notch action-packed, multiple-dilemma episode stacked with returning guest stars, surprise cameos (Maxima!) and legitimately tense stakes to make it one of the show’s best. Driven by a furiously contradictory performance from Calista Flockhart (who delivers one of the series’ best in-jokes bar none, yet), a skittery Melissa Benoist and, surprisingly, a powerhouse one from Peter Facinelli as Maxwell Lord, who finally comes clean with his motivations for being a total douchebag all along, “Myriad” sets up the season for what is likely to be a grandstand finale. In reaching for its epic, widescreen plot-lines and grand Kryptonian lineage the show has often buckled under the weight of writer’s expectations; not this time. “Myriad” sees the fledgeling show achieve a level of action-y greatness akin to sister shows The Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow, a mix of serious drama and crowd-pleasing heroism that’ll keep the kids happy.
The episode’s narrative wrangles angst, anger, regret, heartfelt humanity and megalomaniacal resolve with delicate strength beneath its inhibitive television budget – about the only thing disappointing in this episode is the sudden disposal of Superman as an ally for Kara’s fight against Non, a hamfisted explanation for why he isn’t involved that alternatively makes one’s eyes bulge with annoyance – and brings to a head the multiple subplots the show’s dangled over the last half-season. Inigo (Laura Vandervoort) returns as the Braniac-ish female Kryptonian ally to Chris Vance’s Non, General Lane (Glen Morshower) provides cover for Supergirl to save the day, and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) and Kara’s adopted mother, Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater) reprise the death of Jeremiah Danvers (an unseen Dean Cain) and provide a catalyst for both Alex and J’onzz to get involved in stopping Non’s plan.
While the episode ends on one hell of a cliffhanger (here’s hoping the writers don’t cop out in the next episode!) there’s a sense of finality about “Myriad” that its high-stakes premise makes a claim for. If nothing else, one suspects this might be the finale of Non’s Earthbound antics once his inevitable defeat (oh come on, you expect Supergirl to lose?) is assured, but it’s the ripping open of Kara’s wounded spirit that makes this episode particularly fruitful for constant viewers. Although briefly dissected, the actions of Kara as Supergirl are once again philosophised about in vaguely comic-bookian terms, while both Maxwell Lord and Cat Grant get to bare more of their true selves against the backdrop of impending Armageddon. Sure, the hokey “global mind-control” plot device could be seen as something easy enough to defeat (although given what happens to the show’s resident mentalist, J’onn J’onzz, maybe not quite as easy as we think…) but the show bravely uses this element in a triple-catch twist for Kara to save not one, not two, but three people at once before they die, and to its credit actually commits to a heavy dramatic moment for the young heroine.
As the first part of a multiple-pronged powderkeg conclusion to Supergirl’s first season, “Myriad” sticks the landing perfectly. It sets up a ripping premise, delivers several (and I mean several) genuinely cool twists and turns, a multitude of heartfelt dramatic moments, and some honest-to-gosh excitement above the norm for network television shows. As fast-paced as this show typically is, “Myriad” manages to remain decidedly leisurely at times, delving into motive and emotional content in parallel to the action-heroic aesthetic on display. The Alex/J’onn-on-the-run story doesn’t get the payoff I expected several episodes ago, but no doubt this is going to go somewhere next season. As it stands, I’m really, really excited to see Supergirl become the series it aspired to be all season, and so long as next episode’s payoff… er, pays off, I’m gonna keep watching.