The Supergirl episode “Alex” both introduced and took away an impressive new villain. Answering a question that no one was really asking, Supergirl caught up with a character that was introduced ever so slightly in a season 1 flashback, Rick Malverne. Though Rick began life on Supergirl as teenage boy crushing on Alex Danvers, he apparently grew into quite a villain, a villain who kidnapped and nearly killed Alex. Rick was a terrible creep but he was also a great villain and a type of baddie that Supergirl could use a lot more of in the future.
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A New Kind of Threat
Given that Rick had his memory wiped by the end of “Alex,” it is highly unlikely that we will see him again in a villainous role. This is probably for the best. While the actor did a great job portraying Rick, the character really played all his cards in his attempt to kidnap Alex. By Rick’s own admission, it took him years to come up with the scheme for “Alex” and we don’t need more than a decade for him to come up with a new way to defeat Supergirl. It’s also hard to think of a better end for the character than Alex punching him straight in the face. The idea of Rick, though, is something that Supergirl should consider imitating for future villains.
In seasons 1 and 2, Supergirl has presented physical threats for Kara to fight as her main baddies. In season 1 it was Non and Indigo and in season 2 Rhea appears to be stepping into their shoes. While these kinds of villains are good for some high-flying action sequences they don’t really play to Supergirl‘s strengths as a series. Supergirl is at its best when Kara is on the ground with her team, not flying solo, punching and shooting lasers out of her eyes. Kara’s biggest threats on the show haven’t been the ones who challenge her blow-to-blow like other aliens. It is the human villains who are forced to use their brains to oppose Kara’s insane powers. Rick is much better archetype for a Supergirl villain than Rhea.
With Rhea, the writing is on the wall of how Kara is going to take her down. Rhea is building some new, probably killer device, and Kara will be forced to fight Rhea. There will be action scenes but it feels sort of hollow. It’s nothing new and although Rhea is Mon-El’s mother, there isn’t even that much of an emotional stake to the fight. Kara’s villains being able to match her strength doesn’t make for an interesting conflict. Kara’s villains matching or challenging her mind, morals and emotions does make for an excellent battle. Supergirl shouldn’t make a habit of putting Alex in a damsel-in-distress role, but by targeting her sister and being prepared for every mistake Kara could make, Rick challenged our heroine in a way an alien never has on the show.
It’s a Team Effort
Supergirl is more than Kara Danvers. Kara has a whole team surrounding her and if a threat is purely alien it usually only ends up affecting her. The DEO is technically equipped to deal with otherworldly threats but when it comes down to it, it is Kara or J’onn who is doing most of the punching. Alex and Winn might offer up a well-placed gunshot or technology application, respectively, but it is usually Kara putting it all out on the line. The few human villains Supergirl has introduced have caused a widespread reaction from the team. Since Rick kidnapped Alex it caused Maggie to get much more in on the action than ever before but the same holds true for Supergirl‘s other main human villain, Lillian Luthor.
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Lillian Luthor, and Cadmus, really did challenge Kara and the DEO in compelling ways. Lillian wasn’t a problem that Kara could just throw a punch at, and not just because a punch from a Kryptonian would probably kill Lillian. Like a cockroach in sensible power suit, Lillian was able to survive Kara’s attempts to stop her. Lillian used her brain and resources to outsmart Kara and that was way more interesting to watch than Kara facing off against Rhea. Even though Kara eventually took Cadmus down, after half a season of effort, Lillian was still smart enough to escape with her life and ready to torture Kara down the line.
A human villain also gives more reason for the team to get involved. Winn can use his brain to try to outthink whatever threat is challenging them. Alex can use her leadership skills and tactical expertise. Mon-El can’t really help with a de-powered villain but that is more down to Supergirl not really knowing what exactly to do with Mon-El as hero than anything else.
Physical threats aren’t a real challenge for Kara. She is a woman who lifted an entire space station out of Earth’s orbit in season 1. If Supergirl really wants to put obstacles in Kara’s way and use every bit of their strong supporting cast, a smarter, devious and much more human villain is the way for the series to go.
But what do you think? Is Supergirl better when Kara isn’t facing another alien? What kind of villains would you like to see Kara fight in the future? Who have been your favorite villains on the series so far?
Supergirl season 2 airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supergirl Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of The CW)