This week’s Supergirl, “Solitude,” is neither mind-bogglingly awesome or mind-numbingly bad. It’s very average, and it’s a bummer when you remember CBS’ freshman superhero has, for the most part, been great — or at least tons of fun. Supergirl shines best when it bucks the genre’s general lean to masculine narratives in favor of something not specifically feminine, but more human. “Solitude” is one such episode as it tackles themes of trust, lies, and willingness to keep secrets for a greater good, but somehow a plot involving nuclear holocaust is uneventful sound and fury. Luckily, the DC mythology has no shortage of stuff to toss around that makes Supergirl worth watching anyway.
We’ll get the fanboy stuff out of the way. “Solitude” does its best to stretch its themes about companionship as much as possible to introduce the Fortress of Solitude, Superman’s ice equivalent to Batman’s Batcave. It’s unknown how much Kara will actually use Superman’s private ice loft, and it looks like she and Clark have agreed to a timeshare deal so no one should expect Superman to chill out —- I’m so sorry — in the corner while Supergirl advances her own plot. But the Fortress is a major part of Superman lore and for Supergirl to use it in all its glory is exciting, even if the show’s admirable girl-power thesis is once again undercut because her famous cousin’s shadow looms large.
The smaller, more significant surprise was the Legion of Flight Ring on display in the Fortress. More important than existing in the show is that Superman, a former Legionnaire who keeps the ring as a souvenir, has lived a full career. Sure, he was already Superman when Kara landed on Earth, but how much of Superman’s adventures has he been through? It’s an important question to consider as the anticipated The Flash and Supergirl crossover approaches, meaning the Arrowverse may be even bigger than anyone ever expected it to.
But that’s fanboy stuff. For general viewers, Supergirl satisfyingly wrapped up the tension between Kara and Hank/J’onn — and by extension, her sister Alex — that’s been going since the aftermath of Astra’s death. I was concerned we’d have to endure the chore of Kara and Alex at odds for umpteen episodes, especially since Kara’s grudge against Hank was already wearing thin. But in one emotionally-rich moment, Supergirl speeds through it without a moment wasted.
Unfortunately, the episode itself climaxed with a too loud, too busy plot, which is a regular sin Supergirl commits.
Indigo is this week’s big villain, and she’s introduced as a Kryptonian super computer who uses Ashley Madison doxxing as a path into a nuclear missile base. Yes, it’s real life news used a moment too late: It barely makes sense on paper and only sort of works in execution.
Despite Indigo’s wonderfully cheesy physical appearance (I like costumes that look more Halloween than military tech) and a strong performance by Laura Vandervoort (a former Supergirl herself from Smallville, another Easter egg!), the show is competently put together but lacks that extra oomph. Topping it all off, the groan-inducing techno babble from Winn and a few Bechdel test failures make Supergirl look a little too much like other superhero shows that have been on TV. Supergirl deserves more than settling for less than “super” or being another one of the gals to be worth the attention now, and hiding in the Fortress of Solitude can’t help her.