Supergirl season 3 has yet to really form any solid season-long plots, even though the supposed villain Reign has been around since the very beginning. Supergirl‘s only real continuing storyline has been about Kara confronting her own humanity and trying to embrace just the super-powered alien part of her personality. In this episode, titled, “The Faithful,” Supergirl takes that line of thinking to its most extreme conclusion and has Kara worshiped like a god for her powers. Kara meets a cult devoted to her, and the result is perfectly creepy.
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The Terror of Belief
It doesn’t take long into the episode for Kara to discover that while she was busy saving people, a literal cult has sprouted up in National City about her. The cult is led by Thomas Coville, who is played Chad Lowe, a man who was on the averted plane crash from the pilot, Supergirl’s first ever public act. (This is a nice, clever twist, but it’s not the only smart move Supergirl pulls off.) In any case, being saved by Kara changed Coville’s life. And in the years since, he’s found other people who Supergirl has saved. Coville has convinced them all that Kara is the Kryptonian god, Rao’s agent on Earth, and she deserves to be worshiped like a deity too.
While Kara is (understandably) disturbed by this, she can’t really do anything because people are free to practice whatever they want. Coville is creepy (and Lowe does an amazing job portraying his fanaticism), but he isn’t actually impeding on anyone else’s rights. He’s (technically) not doing anything wrong.This is until members of the cult start putting themselves in harm’s way, all so Kara will save them.
This all leads to Coville doing what all cult leaders end up doing: having a public display that can possibly kill hundreds of people. Coville plants a Krpytonian bomb underneath a stadium in the hope that Kara will save everyone gathered there and they will also be welcomed into “the light.” Kara plans to save the people (because the alternative is mass murder), but the bomb is being powered in part by Kryptonite, which obviously weakens Kara.
This is the really clever twist of the story. Kara literally becomes human when faced with the Kryptonite. Kara is, therefore, able to give verifiable proof for Coville and his followers that she’s not a god. So much of season 3 thus far has been spent with Kara spouting how being a human sucks and she just wants to be Supergirl. But to defeat her latest villain, Kara has to embrace and accept her humanity.
Alex does arrive to destroy the Kryptonite, and Kara still saves the day with her powers, but that moment of vulnerability is so thematically important to Kara’s journey this season. It’s a moment that Coville even notices and seizes on. When Kara visits Coville in prison (somehow, crazy Coville is the only person besides Maggie to figure out Kara’s silly disguise), he tells Kara he still believes in her, but he will be praying for her as well. Even gods can stumble, and Coville believes Kara will make it through her latest struggles. Even in encouragement, Coville is chilling because of his blind and dangerous faith. Coville is such a delightful creep, and hopefully this is the first of many appearances on the show.
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Even More Single Mom Problems
“The Faithful” might introduce us to Coville, but it’s not perfect. The B-plot of the episode has very little to do with Kara, and it’s not fantastic. Supergirl continues to go all in on the Sam as a single mother plot line, which means Supergirl continues to go all in with Sam’s daughter, Ruby, and it’s borderline unbearable.
Supergirl does at least put Sam into serious contact with Lena, Kara and Alex. The four strike up an immediate and adorable friendship, but Supergirl is still spending far too much time on Ruby to seem reasonable. Sam feels guilty about being a working mother and “abandoning” her daughter. None of it is new or even remotely interesting.
While Lena gives Sam an awesome pep talk and tells her that she’s not neglecting Ruby but teaching her how to be a bad-ass by working and raising her, it doesn’t really connect. It seems more and more obvious that Supergirl is setting up a scenario where Ruby (or something horrible happening to Ruby) will be the impetus for Sam becoming the villainous Reign. This would be fine if Ruby seemed more like a character, but she’s really just a whiny plot device — a whiny plot device who looks 13 but acts more like 7. Between Ruby and William on Arrow, it’s clear no one over at The CW is aware of age-appropriate behavior for children.
There’s a chance that Ruby may be safe, though. The episode ends with Sam having another disturbing vision involving Kyrptonian lore. When Kara destroys the bomb, she once again jostles Sam’s hidden shuttle.
Even if Ruby doesn’t somehow ruin her mother’s happiness or life, she does serve as a wake-up call for another character, Alex. Alex, Kara and Lena all attend a school recital for Ruby in support of Sam. While watching Ruby perform, Alex breaks out in tears and runs away. Kara goes to comfort her sister, and that’s when Alex truly breaks down. Alex admits that despite Maggie’s wishes to the contrary, she still wants to be a mom. Alex doesn’t know what to do because she loves Maggie but she also wants a family.
Chyler Leigh is incredible in the scene, and it’s so unbelievably heartbreaking, especially as this seems to confirm the beginning of the end for Sanvers. Even if this whole situation is being contrived because Floriana Lima is leaving the show, it does fit that Alex would want to become a mom and Maggie would have no interest. This is a very tricky (and sad) situation, but Supergirl is pulling it off wonderfully so far. If only they could apply the same grace and heartbreak to whatever is going on with Sam and Ruby.
What did you think of the episode? How do you feel about Coville as a villain? How do you feel about Sam and Ruby? Are you connecting to it emotionally? Is Maggie and Alex’s break-up imminent now? 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)