Although its naturally optimistic and family-friendly energy would lend itself perfectly to a holiday theme, Supergirl has never had a Christmas-focused episode. Yet in season 3 — by far the darkest year of Supergirl yet — Kara and her friends finally celebrate the holidays, but there isn’t much cheer going around.

This episode, titled “Reign,” might be set right on Christmas Eve, but it’s all about the end of the world as Reign and Supergirl have their first face-off. Supergirl‘s season 3 villain is still in her infancy, almost literally, but “Reign” makes a terrifying and effective first impression with Sam’s alter ego.

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Holiday Drear

Supergirl does set up some very important things right off the bat with “Reign” before getting in the mayhem. Sam has not been completely taken over by the persona of Reign. Instead, it appears to be a literal Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (or Ms. Hyde) situation. During the day, Sam is her regular self, completely unaware of her dark destiny. But at night, or whenever the mood strikes, Reign comes out with her (ridiculous) mask and destructive powers. 

Reign’s arrival is coming at the worst possible time for Kara as well. To the surprise of exactly no one, Kara is not dealing well with Mon-El’s return and his new wife, particularly because Imra seems like a completely wonderful future person. (Naturally, this just seems to confirm all suspicions that she will “shockingly” turn out to be evil by the end of the season.) 

While Supergirl does slightly overdo the angst, this is still a much more emotive and interesting place for Kara to be than at the beginning of the season. Kara dealing with Mon-El and his wife is simply  more interesting than her just pining over Mon-El’s disappearance. Nevertheless, Kara is in a fair deal of emotional distress when Reign starts making her mysterious first appearances. 

An Alien Terrorist Really Brings People Together 

Reign announces her existence by burning her symbol in a fiery crop circle fashion. While everyone is initially confused by the symbol, Thomas Coville contacts Kara from prison to tell her the truth. While Coville’s appearance is little more than exposition, much of which we already know, Reign has been sent from a group of Kryptonians to conquer Earth; it’s just gratifying to know that Supergirl hasn’t completely forgotten the creepy Coville. Coville remains a great villain, despite being the puniest of humans. 

While Kara is getting some much-needed information on Reign, Supergirl manages to show that this villain won’t be all fire and brimstone. In fact, Reign appears to be nothing more than a much more violent (and horrifying) Supergirl. She breaks up a drug deal, murdering everyone involved. It’s a wholly original idea, even within the Arrow-verse, but Kara fighting her mirror image is an easy conflict for the season.

It’s because Reign seems so similar that Lena becomes convinced that Edge is behind it all and it’s just an attempt to discredit Supergirl. James joins in on Lena’s investigation because he’s got literally nothing better to do. The whole subplot is just an excuse to explore Lena and James’ chemistry because Edge obviously isn’t behind Reign. James and Lena’s sleuthing comes to a crescendo, with the two sharing a kiss near the episode’s end. Supergirl could do something better with both characters that doesn’t involve throwing them into a romance, but they do work well off each other and doing anything with James is better than just keeping him on the sidelines.

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Kara Falls (Literally) to the Power of Reign

Luckily, Lena and James beginning their romance becomes little more than a blip on the radar for the episode. The title fight is very much the main event. Eventually, Kara becomes convinced that she has to take down Reign immediately and in a very public fashion. While, again, not a wholly original idea, Supergirl milks the Reign and Kara showdown for all it’s worth. It really just becomes little more than a CGI slugfest, although Odette Annable is able to do some villainous swaggering, which she nails perfectly.

Yet even if Kara and Sam’s fight is just one big spectacle, it’s a very well executed one. Special effects have never really been Supergirl‘s strong suit, but there’s such a sense of power and weight as Kara and Reign trade blows. There’s even a bit of humor injected as the two break up a Christmas party with their literally earth-shattering fisticuffs. 

Ultimately, though, it’s a battle that Kara must lose. Eventually, Reign starts to beat Kara so much that Kara starts to bleed. This alone is shocking, as Kara has almost never bled on Supergirl, even when fighting her toughest foes. Reign eventually flies Kara up to the side of the building, as the latter is beaten, bloodied and bruised. Reign drops Kara from the skyscraper and she falls lifeless to the ground. The DEO manages to recover Kara’s body and take her to the hospital. And while Kara will obviously survive, she’s in serious trouble.

The image of a lifeless Kara is what Supergirl should’ve ended their episode for 2017 on, but instead there’s a very lame cliffhanger inserted at the last moment. Sam’s daughter, Ruby, wakes up on Christmas morning to find her mother standing motionless in the living room. The suggestion is that Reign is there and will attack Ruby, but the chances of that actually happening are slim to none. 

But what did you think? Was Supergirl‘s first real appearance of Reign a good one? Are you excited for the rest of the season? What did you make of the cliffhanger? Is Lena and James’ romance a good idea? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Supergirl season 3 returns Monday, January 15 at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supergirl Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.