"Midvale" might very well be the strangest episode of Supegirl
ever. It's not as if the villains were especially wacky and weird. There were no aliens at all, except the ones in the main cast, and there was hardly any use of superpowers. The episode felt like a completely new show.
Present-day Kara and Alex Danvers were traded in for teenage versions -- teenage versions trying to solve a murder. "Midvale" almost functioned as a backdoor pilot for a spin-off featuring the younger adventures of Kara and Alex. While that's not happening (yet), it does beg the question if Supergirl is planning do more flashback-heavy episodes in the future, or if it even should.
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There were some obvious behind-the-scenes reasons why Supergirl
was so heavily focused on the younger versions of Kara and Alex and not their older counterparts. The annual Arrow
-verse crossover is a huge event every year in working out the cast's schedules. Since Melissa Benoist AND Chyler Leigh will be appearing in "Crisis on Earth-X," Supergirl
had to find a way to write their two leads out of the series, for at least an episode. "Midvale" telling an entire episode about just a teenage Alex and Kara was intentional but it probably wouldn't have happened under normal non-crossover circumstances.
Still, it does set a precedent for the series. "Midvale" wasn't the first time that Supergirl
has employed flashbacks in the series, not by a long shot, but it is definitely the most involved flashback story yet. In a way that's almost what begs for more stories set in the past.
Whether fans liked or disliked "Midvale," it's hard to argue that it didn't feel extraneous. All the episode really managed to do is establish that Kara and Alex love and depend on each other, which is far from new information. To make the episode feel more vital and less like a placeholder, it could open the door for more stories with the younger Kara and Alex.
The new young Kara and Alex started off on rocky footing as the episode began with the two bickering. However, by the end the two were more recognizably the characters fans have grown to love in three seasons. The journey from arguing teens to lifelong friends would seem more worth the time if Supergirl began to tell more stories with those specific versions of Kara and Alex.
Homage Gone Awry
At the same time, there were a couple more problems with "Midvale" than just feeling like a standalone padding episode. The show, right down to the episode's title, was clearly intended to be a bit of tribute to the last major TV series about Kryptonian heroes, Smallville. The episode not only mentioned Chloe Sullivan, one of Smallville's most popular (and original) characters (and gave Smallville actress Erica Durance her first speaking role on the show) but it functioned in a similar way too. Kara had to hide her powers, a bunch of "normal" characters were revealed to be secretly evil, it all took place in a high school, etc.
The episode was a faithful homage to Smallville but it also pointed out that that storytelling method doesn't really stand the test of time. "Midvale" was severely limited aspect because it was established in the pilot that Kara didn't suit up and become a hero until the series began. Smallville was enjoyable, in its time, but it's far less acceptable to see a comic book hero not be a comic book hero and just some proto-version in the current climate.
This is the problem with flashbacks in general because it's rare that they can ever be surprising or even all that interesting. The present day story almost always ruins the ending of the flashback.
This is why, ultimately, the past should probably stay in the past on Supergirl. The show could still do quick glimpses of the past, as they've done previously, but "Midvale" should exist as a side experiment of an episode, not a new beginning.
Do you agree? Would you like to see more flashbacks? Was one flashback-heavy episode enough? How did you feel about the episode itself?
(Image courtesy of The CW)