Supergirl has been a good show for its protagonists. It’s given us one of the most genuine and heartwarming heroes in Supergirl (Melissa Benoist). It’s provided us with depth with Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), and it’s given us personal discovery and growth with Alex (Chyler Leigh). Where the show often falls down, however, is with villains that just don’t stand up well against such a strong cast.
Whether it’s a villain of the week or an overarching nemesis, the bad guys of Supergirl are often the weakest element, leaving the show to rely on character development and growth to keep the audience entertained. Thankfully, ‘The Faithful’ seems to have stumbled upon not just a great villain of the week story, but one of the better superhero stories that we’ve seen in the whole of the CW DC Universe. Religion.
We’ve seen religion come into play in the previous episode, ‘Far From The Tree’, with it being a huge part of M’yrnn’s (Carl Lumbly) story of how he survived for centuries of torture. Whilst his faith did initially blind him to realising his son was still alive, it did give him the strength to survive. Here we see faith in another way, one in which it can be used to twist someone’s view of the world, even convincing them to do awful things in the name of their faith. Whilst never really delving into the realms of religious terrorism, the cult led by Thomas Coville (Chad Lowe) do put people in danger to reach their goals, ultimately making them bad guys.
However, by the end of the episode it’s very easy to see how they reached the point where they would worship someone like Supergirl. The story we hear at the cult’s meeting, where a young woman tells the group that she got drunk and fell off a roof at a party, only to be saved by Supergirl is genuinely heartfelt and effective, with the moment where Kara says she remembers saving them all being particularly strong.
The conversation she has with James (Mehcad Brooks) later in the episode, where he describes the first time that Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) saved his life has a lot of weight to it, and it’s easily one of the best scenes the two of them have shared together since season one. The way James describes the event, that he prayed for someone to save him, and then his prayers were answered by Superman goes a hell of a long way to convincing me that people would begin to see him and Kara as gods. This is easily one of the more complex and compelling bad guy of the week stories the show has done, and explores a very important aspect of the superhero mythology that is rarely examined.
The episode also manages to pack in some additional content with both Alex and Samantha (Odette Annabele). Samantha seems to be very much a part of the ladies club in Supergirl now, and whilst it initially felt very sudden to have her as part of the group, with all of the others wanting to her cool aunts to her daughter, she fits in very well. We learn more about her struggle this episode, not just as a CEO, but as a single mother.
It’s this look at Samantha’s motherhood that gives way to more development for Alex and her impending marriage to Maggie (Floriana Lima). We’ve known for a few weeks now that Alex and Maggie have had different views of children and being parents, but this is the first time we really see just how much it means to Alex. The scene where she breaks down in tears whilst talking to Kara, describing all of the experiences that she wants to have as a mother but knows she can’t is really tough to watch, not least because it’s becoming clear that this is an issue that’s going to lead to he end of her relationship.
It’s a shame that her and Maggie aren’t going to go on to remain a couple, and a very visible lesbian couple on television, but the series is making an effort to craft a very real, adult relationship. A lot of television relationships end over silly things, or with one side of the relationship being unfaithful or dieing. Whilst it’s good that the series isn’t going to be using one of these tropes, it’s also a good thing that it’s using a very real world issue as a catalyst for their end.
Supergirl is continuing to embrace the fact that it can tell complex and emotional stories without having to shoehorn in a wacky alien of the week for the heroes to fight, instead taking the time to make our heroes emotional journeys the main focus. With the Alex and Maggie story coming to a boil, hopefully this is a trend that will continue on in coming episodes.
Supergirl is now airing every Monday in the UK on Sky. Let us know what you think of the season.