Supergirl "S1E15 Solitude" - Review: Deathcon blue
Solitude – When a hacker’s reign of terror turns out to be the alien living supercomputer Indigo things become much worse for Kara and the DEO, not helped by their lack of co-operation. Lucy finally figures out James’s secret while Winn acquires one of his own.
A lot of fuss and attention in the past week have been given to this episode’s inclusion of Superman’s iconic Fortress of Solitude location. That’s why it’s so great so to see that ultimately the episode was completely non-dependant of it. Yes, it was a great to see it. It looked stunning, capturing suitable feelings of grandeur and did fit into the episode with purpose as Kara needed a non-DEO alien information source (Did you spot the Legion flight ring as glimpsed in The Flash’s multiverse tease images?). Yet the episode could have easily functioned perfectly well without it, both in the execution of its story in entertainment value. This is exactly how Supergirl should be: incorporating its Superman features/references as the icing on the cake rather than the layers beneath it. It also plays well into the central theme which examines the problems of isolation: how it’s often the easiest option but not the right one. That flying solo removes the complications of you wing-mates but also loses their benefits. The whole confrontation with Indigo showcases Kara journey of accepting that she needs Alex, Hank and the DEO as much they need her. It comes across very well without feeling forced as the prior events (Kara believing Hank killed her aunt Astra) provide solid grounds for the separation. The points are kept simple and straightforward as the likes of James and Winn are forced to choose sides, and that dividing their knowledge and resources impairs both groups. The end resolution of being stronger together is rewarding despite being predictable, “Well the world almost ended because we weren’t a team”. What’s more it’s really great to see a clean cut ending as Alex comes out to Kara. Carrying such a secret has been an excellent arc for Alex but the longer it gets stringed on the more it deteriorates so cashing in on it now was the right call.
Indigo makes for a great villain. Visually, she’s like a cross between X-Men’s Mystique and Halo’s Cortana. The visual effects of her computer assimilation look convincing as her physical make up and costume. The variety of her powers also makes her more of a full team opposition; Kara can fight her physically while Winn can take her on as a hacker. In fact, Winn’s moment of mid-hack throttling is probably the most fun point of the episode (very Swordfish). Laura Vandervoort as well as being a great meta-casting (she was Smallville’s Kara Zor-El) choice really brings some enjoyable arrogance to the role, in keeping a character that views themselves as superior. She can drop back into town whenever she pleases. Her scene with Non also adds a curious dimension to her character and the show in general as Non implies Indigo is only taking such bold action in light of Astra’s death. Was Astra in fact the equivalent of a nuclear deterrent to many other alien parties hiding on Earth? It’s interesting to note Indigo’s disapproval of the Myriad master plan in the works for being too humane. That implies that Myriad is less of a weapon of mass destruction and much more selective in its impact. Could it be some form of selective virus, or maybe a genetic re-formatting system? We also get an eyebrow-raising Easter Egg concerning the mention of her alternative alias, “Brianiac 8”. Is this a confirmation that the Superman & DC mega villain, Brainaic exists within Supergirl’s Universe? It would make sense with Superman so established but either way, it seems highly unlikely we’ll see Brainaic on the show (he’s already rumored to be the main villain of several upcoming DC movies).
By far the most surprising character this week is Siobhan. After she was pledged last episode as Kara’s scheming office rival (“I could throw her into space.... I dream about doing that”), out of nowhere the episode humanizes her through her interactions of Winn. It’s a great mixture of humour and emotion as Siobhan flicks between sharing her pain with Winn and being even colder than the icy fortress. The idea of a romantic arc between them is surprising but ideal for both characters. It steers Winn away from endless pining over Kara and it gives Siobhan greater links within the cast. Her “pain of death” secrecy threats are a lot fun. That combined their mutual archetypes as a popular girl and geeky guy gives them a welcome familiarity to Buffy’s Xander and Cordelia in their early days. Siobhan still looks to be heading towards becoming Silver Banshee so making us invested in a Winn/Siobhan relationship will help increase the impact of that character change. In other romantic news, the James and Lucy arc is very satisfying in how it plays out for actually letting Lucy figure things out for herself. She’s supposed to be a gifted and intelligent character, so ending things with James by a classic “caught in the act” would have been awful. Instead we see a smart girl putting the pieces together herself and understanding what must be done. It does leave the future of her character unclear, but hopefully this isn’t the end. Jenna Dewan-Tatum has been a great addition to the cast and especially with her father still in the mix, has the potential to be an asset going forwards.
In many ways, this episode marks a chapter point on the season as several recent story arcs conclude. This supports the reports that the season length will total 20 episodes, making this the ¾ mark and we would assume it’s all big bad/Non & Myriad business from here onwards, which feels right in terms of structure. Supergirl may not have her own Fortress of Solitude but she does have a great TV show.