Supergirl episode 221, titled 'Resist' aired this week, the penultimate episode of the season. Given we have reached the boiling point on all plots, 'Resist' moves along at a very brisk pace, bringing together a number of subplots and characters that have been in the background of late. This episode really has a great combination of action sequences, suspense, and character progression. And it also has the return of Cat Grant, a return that made me remember just how important she was to this show last season on CBS.
In fact, the return of Cat was the high point of one of the most important efforts of the show. All the characters with agency in this episode are women. James, Winn, and Mon-El are really along for the ride and less important to plot progression. Supergirl, Alex, Maggie, President Marsdin, Rhea, Lillian Luthor, and Lena Luthor carry this story. And perhaps best of all, outside of one snarky Cat speech, it wasn't shoved down the audience's throats by corny dialogue. There was no 'why can't I? Because I'm a girl' cringe worthy lines here. Instead it just played out on screen. I was thankful for that.
I'll add here that the acting in this episode was stellar as well. As usual, Teri Hatcher just fills the screen with her diabolical Rhea, switching from loving queen to enraged sociopath in the blink of an eye. I already mentioned Calista Flockhart's performance as powerful. But there were small, subtle, powerful moments from Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, and Chyler Leigh that made this whole thing sizzle.
And we get a great cliffhanger to lead us into the finale.
There were some notes here that hearkened back to last season's ending, maybe a bit too close. But otherwise, this episode was fantastic. It even came with a great cliffhanger.
On to the show!
The show opens with Lena waking up on board the Daxamite satellite. Rhea is there and says she has nursed Lena back to health after Supergirl's bullheaded attempts to stop the transmatter portal nearly killed them both. As with last episode, Rhea talks of how she respects Lena's intelligence and wants Lena beside her in this new world.
The whole conversation plays out quietly. It is motherly and supportive. And then we reach the window of the ship where Lena can see the Daxamite fleet raining lasers down on the city while Daxamite infantry swarms the streets.
That flip of the switch - from calm conversation to outright bloody battle - was a great opening. It just showcased that duality in Rhea. Royal on the outside, but violent on the inside.
And we see how that battle plays out within the city. Rhea's messages of how National City is the New Daxam, how she will be the Queen, how the citizens shouldn't resist play everywhere, on screens on the street and broadcast in the sky.
But this speech about transference of power seems incongruous with what is happening. We see Maggie and the NCPD overrun. We see Daxamite troops teleport into and ultimately take over the DEO.
It was great to see Maggie kicking butt. But seeing Chyler Leigh taking on the Daxamites and jumping out of the DEO backwards (knowing Supergirl was nearby to catch her) was my favorite moment of the show. Alex is basically a video game character, wading into battle and doing it in a super-slick way.
But this reminded me of the Kryptonian invasion of National City last season.
Meanwhile, we see Mon-El just sullenly sulking on the ship. He hears his mother's words of the best of Daxam being on the fleet. He hears how his mother plans to rebuild the Earth in Daxam's image. He listens as she says she is planning to marry him to Lena.
And he simply acquiesces.
He does nothing.
Now I know there are a lot of Mon-El haters out there. I have taken his antics with a grain of salt this season. But this irked me. Why isn't he trying to escape? Sabotaging the weapons? Figuring out a way to get his friends on board.
Nope. He just mopes around. Irksome!
The surviving DEO agents set up a makeshift headquarters in the alien dive bar.
I guess the writers realized that J'Onn has too many powers and was too strong to keep on the chessboard. So the Martian Manhunter remains in the endless torture dream Rhea put him in last episode the entire time. He can't lead them. This reminded me of how Superman was taken out of last year's finale as well. (Remember his super-boots being visible in the background?)
James and Maggie show up there as well. For those of us worried that Alex has a drinking problem, it was chilling to hear Maggie say 'isn't it like us that when trouble arises we run straight to a bar'. I still worry.
With little tech to aid them, the DEO seems inept. But who should walk in but Lillian Luthor. Cadmus hasn't been seen for a while. I thought they were the big bad of the season. Lillian is there to help. After all, Cadmus hates aliens and this invasion is their worst dream realized.
But the DEO simply won't work with these villains. They kick her out.
We do see some humanism within Lillian here. She confesses that she has no idea where Jeremiah is. And she pleads with Kara to save Lena. She has real love for her daughter.
The scene is broken when the President (on Air Force One and flying to National City) and Rhea begin having an on-air negotiation. Well, it is more of a shouting match. The President yells for Rhea to stand down. Rhea laughs at the strength of the Earth military. The President says she isn't kidding. Rhea says she isn't either. In some ways it is laughable.
Luckily, Cat Grant is on Air Force One and tells them both how idiotic they sound, like boys 'measuring'. They are women; they can come to terms peacefully. Rhea still wants no part of it.
I like how Cat introduces herself as the Queen of All Media, making her the equal of Rhea. And I like how Cat bares her claws, telling Rhea that her tiara is overkill. No one puts Cat in a corner! I didn't realize how much I missed her acidic wit until it was back once more.
Rhea won't put up with the insolence though. The fleet fires on Air Force One, destroying it. Supergirl is able to save Cat but the President seems dead. That is, until she climbs out of the wreckage in her alien form.
I love Cat's response. "At least tell me you're still a democrat." Hilarious.
At the Dive Bar, Cat learns that Winn and Supergirl now work for the DEO.
The President reveals she is from Durla (yay Chameleon Boy!), a world that tried to accept invaders peacefully. But the invaders enslaved the Durlans and only a few escaped. She vowed never to let that happen to another world.
The President says the DEO has a Positron Cannon on the roof that must be used to vaporize the Daxamite main ship. Alex has a mission. She needs to infiltrate their building and fire.
I know the politics of the show skew pretty left. But this plot about Durla needs to be discussed a bit. Supergirl says that the President's past shows why she feels strongly about alien rights. And I get it.
And yet, couldn't we say that the fate of Durla is a cautionary tale. The Durlans accepted their invaders with open arms, trying to live peacefully, and yet were ultimately massacred, their culture erased. Isn't the dark side of outright acceptance and amnesty, that you open the front door for your enemies and invite them in.
I wish this was discussed a bit more.
As for the Positron Cannon, how can Alex not know about it? She's second in command of the DEO!
Anyways, if it anything like the Positron Rifle in Neon Genesis:Evangelion, it is a weapon to be reckoned with.
Rhea continues to move forward with her plans for a Mon-El/Lena marriage.
Initially Lena and Mon-El refuse to go along. But Rhea ups the ante. First off, she has stolen genetic material from them both, to create an heir. Second, if Lena won't go along, the Daxamite ships will fire on the Luthor Family Children's Hospital! (Hope I am not on shift when that happens!)
Unwilling to let sick kids be killed, Lena agrees to marry Mon. And Mon agrees as well.
This is infuriating.
Hey, Mon-El!! Do something!!!!
Despite Mon-El and Lena being on board, Alex plans to follow orders. The needs of the many ...
Kara can't believe it and so heads outside to get some air. And who is out there but Cat. This opening shot with Cat in the far back worked well for me. Cat's wisdom is in Kara but it isn't close by. Cat hasn't been close by. There is this distance.
But the real Cat is here now. She has one of those famous Cat inspirational speeches. It isn't selfish to want to save her boyfriend and best friend. If it is one thing Cat learned in her time away in Bhutan is that life is defined by who you love. Supergirl needs to save them.
The best way of doing that is for Supergirl to deal with Cadmus. She finds Lillian. The enemy of my enemy is my friend ... at least for now.
Again, this showed me how much I miss Cat's presence.
The plan is simple. Using the Phantom Zone Projector in the Fortress, Supergirl, Lillian, and the Cyborg Superman will beam onto the Daxamite ship. They will rescue Mon-El and Lena. Then Alex will blast the ship out of the sky with the Positron Cannon. To distract Rhea, Cat will broadcast a speech.
I loved how this scene played out. Alex reminds Lillian just how awful she is. How can Lillian say she loves Lena when she framed her daughter. How can Lillian be their friend when this was the bar where she released a poison gas? Alex just slays.
Alex also has this great moment where she acknowledges that
Kara is right to go after Mon-El. She'd do everything for Maggie. She
hugs Kara and tells her to be fast. There are tears. There hasn't been
enough super-sisters in this season, what with Mon and Maggie. This
showed how close they are. Great stuff.
At the Fortress, Kara asks Lillian why she hasn't told Lena about her secret identity. Lillian says Lena will learn on her own and hate Kara for hiding it. Brenda Strong just drips smooth evil. I love how cold, calculating, and conniving her Lillian is. She totally acts like a Luthor. And seeing her loading an assault rifle is awesome as well.
I said, there are great performances here. Strong is so understated in her Lillian portrayal that it speaks loudly.
The three beam up.
The wedding is on and Rhea is reading the vows. It looks like this might happen. Hey, Mon-El ... thanks for doing something!
Meanwhile Cat decides to do her part in the plan. She and Winn set up to broadcast in her old office. She is dismayed by what James has done with the place - free weights, sports memorabilia, and stench. Then she wonders where James and 'Kira' are. (Winn says they're cowards. Awesome.)
So the three prongs of the plan are in motion.
Supergirl, Lillian, and Cyborg Superman are on the ship, battering their way towards their friends.
Alex and Maggie infiltrate the DEO, dispatch some Daxamites, and are powering up the cannon. And Cat is ready to go live.
I appreciated how everyone had their role to play in this.
Cat's speech did remind me of both her own similar speech and Supergirl's 'hope' speech from last season. That doesn't mean it isn't good. In fact it's great. Just rang a similar tone.
Cat takes over Rhea's broadcasting capabilities and tells the citizens of National City she is back. She tells them to resist. The Daxamites promise to make the world great again (yes we get it). They threaten to beat the people into submission. But the city is united. They need to resist. After all, she's Cat Grant and she isn't going anywhere.
The speech is so infuriating that Rhea stops the ceremony to send troops down to kill Cat. I think all she had left to say was 'I pronounce you man and wife.' It seemed to convenient. She was one phrase away! (I couldn't help but think of The Princess Bride where Prince Humperdink yells at the officiant to say 'man and wife'.)
On their way back to their quarters, Mon-El finally does something and tries to beat up a guard. Lena grabs the guard's gun and blasts him. The two work their way from the ship and run into Supergirl who has been bashing her way through the guards herself. (I love how Lillian actually compliments Kara.)
Lillian activates the Phantom Zone projector and beams everyone except Mon and Kara away. 'Only humans', as ever.
I did like this look of surprise on Lena's face when Lillian showed up. It only turns to despair when her mother leaves Supergirl on board. That is one troubled relationship.
And I also liked how Mon and Kara have to act civil in front of Lena. After all Lena thinks Mon-El is Kara Danvers boyfriend, not Supergirl. This secret identity thing is a little ridiculous.
Supergirl however expected the backstab. Earlier in the episode, Winn bumps into Cyborg Superman. It's obvious. During that, he planted a device on Henshaw to make him reopen the portal.
Mon and Kara kiss but Supergirl insists on staying behind to try again and convince Rhea to work peacefully together. Help, hope and compassion for ALL ... remember. Mon-El beams down.
Supergirl being optimistic and still trying to reason with the enemy is one of the many reasons I love her as a character.
Meanwhile, the Daxamites beam into CatCo. Just when it looks like Cat and Winn will be killed, the Guardian shows up. Shooting lead dust (reminiscent of the K-grenades in BvS?), he is able to incapacitate the soldiers.
Cat instantly recognizes that it is James. After all she can see the eyes through the slit.
So how can she not see that Supergirl is 'Kira'??? I think she knows.
Alex stands poised at the trigger. The President is yelling at Alex to fire. But Alex knows Kara is still on board.
Kara pleads with Rhea to save herself and her people and work together. But Rhea is all Snow White Evil Queen. She says that she killed her own husband to do this. She can't have her heart strings pulled. And she still is going to win.
We see the Positron Cannon destroyed by familiar laser beams. And then someone appears on board and punches Supergirl away from Rhea.
Whew. The pedal was all the way down this whole episode. I had about 20 screen caps I wanted to use here. I am sure I missed a ton of great lines and moments. But this was a great set-up for the finale.