"Medusa" - Supergirl S02E08

I have not been doing recaps and reviews of Supergirl of late, due to time issues, but we do need to have a pretty serious chat about what the show has been doing with Alex. And of course, "Medusa" was the introductory episode for this week's massive Berlantiverse crossover.

(spoilers beyond the fold)

"Medusa" opened with the Danvers family Thanksgiving, which this year includes Winn, James, and Mon-El (who is freaking adorable in his cluelessness, as he brings "stuffing" for dinner, which means he tore up his bed and brought a bag of fluff), in addition to Eliza, Kara, and Alex.

Easily one of the best scenes any of the Berlanti shows have written this season, this fabulously scripted dinner scene juggled the many agendas of the characters with ease. Mon-El clearly has a crush on Kara and sucks up to her mom, and James and Winn have decided to tell Kara the truth about their vigilante activities. Meanwhile, Alex shuts them down because she wants to use Thanksgiving to come out to her mom, but her difficult announcement is interrupted by a freaking Vibe portal. But nothing comes through, it's just a rip in the space-time continuum. Still, rude!

Beyond that, this fabulous episode grapples with a host of different problems for the various characters. Mon-El continues to struggle with how to tell Kara he likes her, and ultimately he "tells" her by kissing her in a classic scene where he's pretty much feverish and sick from Cadmus' alien virus before passing out again. Later, he pretends he totes doesn't remember what happened, and clueless Kara also pretends nothing happened, so in typical--but adorable--CW fashion, we have ship drama.

Last week we found out that back when M'gann gave J'onn a blood transfusion, it kicked in a virus of sorts of its own, wherein her white Martian blood is causing him to turn into a... thing. J'onn hasn't really told anyone he's having problems, but Supergirl notices his pain later. And during a big fight scene with the ridiculously-named Cyborg Superman (who is actually a cyborg Hank Henshaw), J'onn embraces his new monster form and morphs into a green white Martian hybrid. He still kind of gets his ass kicked by Cyborg Superman, though. Despite his fear of becoming a white Martian, Eliza ends up waving a hand and creating a cure at the end of the episode. And Cyborg Superman Hank gets away.

Not impressed by the show's version of Cyborg Superman
Meanwhile, Lena Luthor is struggling with mommy issues, because as her mother plainly tells her, yes I did love Lex more, but "that doesn't mean I don't love you at all."

Parents: please don't ever tell your children this, even if its true. It's really, really painful. Just some random parenting advice from the internet.

Later, despite her pain, Lena is pretty upset when Supergirl tells her that her mom is in charge of Cadmus and created a virus to wipe out all alien life. Still, Lena listens and ends up "helping" her mom by "giving" her the isotype thingie needed to complete the Medusa virus to wipe out all alien life on Earth. But Lena proves she ultimately trusts Supergirl (and that she herself is not a villain), because she gave mom a fake isotype that ended up making the virus inert, thus saving all the aliens on the planet from death.

I'm not one for cackling villains who seem to be evil for the sake of evil, so I'm not a big fan of either Cyborg Superman, Cadmus, or Dr. Luthor. But I can really appreciate Supergirl taking on a broken mother-daughter relationship, especially when held up in comparison to the parenting-done-right scene later where Alex and Eliza have their talk.

To be honest, Supergirl is only superficially in this episode. I mean she is important to every storyline present, but this episode was more about all the other supporting characters (except Winn and James, who got sidelined completely). Supergirl has a thing in this episode where she struggles emotionally after learning that her own father created the vicious Medusa virus to wipe out alien lifeforms in case Krypton ever got attacked. Last season she learned that her mother was a pretty hard-assed judge and executioner, and this season she learns that her father was perfectly willing to commit alien genocide if it meant the safety of Krypton. Definitely a message here about parents being human, making mistakes, and not able to live up to the perfect ideals that young children often have of them. Parents can do wrong, and sometimes they even do wrong when they think they are doing right.

We need to talk about the Alex development over the last few weeks though. Part of the reason I haven't done Supergirl reviews has been because I wasn't sure about this Alex storyline and how to handle it, and I'm kind of glad I waited to see how it played out. Alex, in case you missed out, fell head over heels for Maggie, her cop friend, and has been struggling for weeks with the idea that she is gay. Maggie encouraged her to tell her family, and Alex started by telling Kara, several weeks back. I'm honestly not sure why that coming out was written the way it was, because it somewhat seemed to suggest that Kara had some kind of stake in the story, and there was a bit of a cringey moment where Kara compares being in the closet to "being in the closet" as an alien.

I'm not sure you should be comparing the two, Kara. I mean, I guess hiding that you're an alien to avoid the potential social repercussions from asshole humans is sorta like hiding that you're gay to avoid the potential social repercussions from asshole humans, but still... I wish Kara had made that whole thing less about herself.

Still, there is something to be said, definitely, about a major television show even doing this story at all. Coming out is kind of a big deal to gay and trans people, because they are often scared of rejection by the people they love. Alex was scared to tell Kara, and she drank herself almost silly in "Medusa" to prepare herself to tell her mother. This is reality for a lot of folks out there. And certainly Eliza handled the news like a parent should: she was 100% accepting. Although there is a part of me that cringed a little about Eliza telling Alex that it was okay for her to be "special." I am not gay, but I kind of felt like the script was mildly suggesting that being gay was not normal. Maybe I'm being one of those over-sensitive allies who gets upset for someone else's sake. Please feel free to tell me so in the comments, and tell me what you think about Alex's story overall.

Sidenote: after this episode, my straight husband said, "I realize this is probably an important story to tell for some people out there, but to me, there is nothing weird or different about gay people, so this was just a story about a person loving another person and angsting about it, so this story just seemed trite to me."

And I replied, yeah that's the point of telling these kinds of stories. Normalizing them. Because ultimately, the goal is to normalize LGBTQ+ people, not treat them like outsiders or freaks or people who need to be "cured" (I'm looking at you, Mike Pence). I am glad that there are people out there who already see gay people as just people, but there's still work to be done, so yes, these stories still need to be openly told.

Ultimately, the show ties up things nice and easy by having Maggie decide that she does want to date Alex, so yay, happy ending!

Speaking of happy endings, we got like, two minutes of this. 

There wasn't nearly enough Barry and Cisco in this episode. After several Vibe portals distracted fights throughout the episode, a successful one finally drops our dudes into Kara's apartment. This is a super short scene where Barry pretty much says, we need your help. But I would like to point out that Cisco got a pretty dark jab in, because when Barry introduces Cisco as his friend, Cisco says, "naw more like business associates."

Ouch. I guess he's totally not over blaming Barry for his brother's death via Flashpoint.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.