The following article contains spoilers.
Superhero television on broadcast are inevitably more plot-focused than its rivals on Netflix or premium channels. Shocking twists and the dreaded character death sometimes take precedence over character — to Supergirl’s credit, that hasn’t been the case with Kara Zor-El, who has been tried and tested quite a bit, despite her show still being in its freshman year. As a result, Supergirl has been an unstoppable train of both exciting superhero stuff and rich character drama.
But this week the show’s momentum came to a halt when Kara is incapacitated, and upon her awakening is too distracted to save her aunt Astra from a kryptonite sword (?!) wound from Alex. This not only begs one glaring question —uh, why? — but also shows Supergirl isn’t immune to the storytelling weaknesses of superhero TV.
Toward the end of this week’s episode, Astra had the advantage over J’onn until Alex stabs her through the chest with a sweet sword made of kryptonite. Supergirl now has a pretty great tension between its principal character to elongate until the season finale, but it came at a cheap price. Did Alex really need to kill Astra? Couldn’t she have just non-fatally stabbed her? Why did Supergirl opt for this lazy route?
“For the Girl Who Has Everything” is an homage to the classic Alan Moore tale “For the Man Who Has Everything,” where Superman is in a comatose state from a parasitic alien called Black Mercy. Like Superman, Kara is also under the Black Mercy and hallucinates she’s living on Krypton again. The parasite’s effects are so powerful she begins to believe it, and that her life as Kara Danvers was nothing but a silly, vivid dream.
When Kara inevitably wakes up, it’s a rude awakening. Imagine having to say goodbye to dead, beloved relatives again after you believed so hard that they were alive. That’s Supergirl’s headspace when Kara goes haywire on Non, her evil uncle who subjected her to the Black Mercy. Supergirl wants us to believe this could be her Man of Steel moment: Is taunting Kara about her origin story where she crosses the line?
Unfortunately, Supergirl doesn’t explore that better path, and it’s a decision made worse when “For the Girl Who Has Everything” altogether lacks the emotional punch Moore’s comic had. Instead, Supergirl plants the seed for a new drama whose only benefit is that it can stretch for however many episodes are left this season. Alex must now not only live with the guilt of killing Kara’s aunt Astra, but also lying about it. As much grief as Astra gave Kara, they did love each other, and she was the last thing Kara had of her mother. Now that she’s gone, Kara is now the girl who lost everything. And when she finds out the truth, she may not hold back anymore.