The best part of Supergirl has always been the relationship between Kara and her sister, Alex. In this episode, titled “Midvale,” Kara and Alex are front and center. However, it’s not quite in the way fans might be expecting or even want. Although the episode opens on Kara and Alex traveling back to their hometown in present-day, things quickly switch to an almost entirely flashback-driven tale. The result is … interesting. “Midvale” isn’t quite a bad episode but doesn’t feel much like Supergirl.
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The New/Old Danvers Sisters
The reason that Supergirl feels so radically different in “Midvale” is mainly down to the two actresses who are leading the episode. Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh bookend the episode as Kara and Alex, but mostly the roles are played by (younger) newcomers Izabela Vidovic and Olivia Nikkanen.
Neither actress does a bad job, but outside of the uncanny resemblance between Nikkanen and Leigh, there’s not much connective tissue. The characters might be called Alex and Kara, but they don’t have much in common. Personality-wise, there’s not much connecting to the character, and younger Alex and Kara’s dynamic couldn’t be more different to their adult counterparts.
This is because the young versions of Kara and Alex absolutely hate each other. It’s typical teenage drama between them, and it’s all very cliched. Kara is the outcast and loser, while Alex, in all her early ’00s glory, is the popular girl. It’s a story that’s been told countless times before and told much better.
Who Killed Kenny?
Supergirl does add a bit of a twist to the proceedings when Kara’s only friend, Kenny Li, who is so much like a proto-Winn that it’s painful, ends up getting killed. The murder of Kenny draws Kara and Alex closer together than ever before as they both had a connection to Kenny. The two sisters become determined to solve his murder.
This storyline allows Supergirl to feel a little more recognizable because Kara and Alex getting along works much better as a storytelling device. There’s still some (annoying) teenage angst, but Kara and Alex as teenage gumshoes is a lot more bearable than Kara and Alex as whiny teenage brats. Together, Kara and Alex discover that Kenny had dirt on quite a lot of Midvale residents. It turns that several Midvale citizens were up to illegal activities of varying degrees. The quarterback smokes pot, the prettiest girl in school is having an affair with the teacher, and the sheriff is a drug dealer, etc.
While it’s sort of fun to see all the dirty secrets come tumbling out of this seemingly perfect town, it’s not exactly shocking. The murderer is eventually revealed to be the sheriff, which is pretty much “the butler did it” of small town crime stories. Maybe most disappointing, the morally dubious person stalking the entire town is never even discussed.
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Space Dad is Always Watching
There’s only two real surprises in store. One is that in the middle of the episode, Kara drops a Smallville reference, mentioning Clark’s friend, Chloe Sullivan, and her “Wall of Weird.” The other is the sudden appearance of J’onn J’onzz.
When Kara and Alex first begin investigating the murder, they’re almost killed when the murderer runs them off the road. This prompts the arrival of J’onn, but he wears the face of Alura Zor-El, Kara’s mother. J’onn takes the appearance of Kara’s mother (though he/she claims to be just an FBI agent) and gives Kara a talk about why her powers are not something to be used casually. There’s a responsibility to them and what they represent. Kara’s not invincible because she has powers. Kara lives in a human world and she must act like a human herself, not just for her sake but also for the people close to her.
This is, by far, the best scene in the episode. It sets up the mindset of Kara in the pilot wonderfully and connects to Kara’s current headspace of wanting to do away with her “secret identity.” It also demonstrates, in a lovely way, that J’onn was looking out for Kara and Alex long before they ended up working for him. It’s a bit tricky to work the exact continuity of the moment, especially how J’onn took on the appearance of Alura, but it’s a beautiful scene.
Danvers Sisters Forever
While most of the flashback is underwhelming, it does end on a good note. It’s not quite as strong as the J’onn/Alura scene, but there are some heartwarming aspects. After fighting initially upon reaching home — Alex is still smarting over the Maggie break-up — Kara and Alex make-up the following morning. They remember Kenny’s death and their subsequent investigation into it. Alex even says it’s the first time they first felt like sisters and how it taught her that Kara will always be there for her.
It’s a clumsy and transparent attempt to justify why the episode matters (or even exists). However, Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh continue to have such a natural and easy chemistry that it hardly matters. (Sadly, it makes the lack of a natural connection in their younger counterparts even more obvious.) In any case, Alex and Kara are done reminiscing and decide that it’s time to go back to National City, where their mutual healing over their independent break-ups can continue.
What did you think of the flashback-heavy episode? Did you like the “new” Kara and Alex? Would you like to see more flashback episodes in the future? Did you enjoy Supergirl taking a new approach or was “Midvale” too different? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Supergirl season 3 airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supergirl Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of The CW)