Supergirl “Falling” Review (Season 1 Episode 16)

Is there a Super narrative more classic than seeing a Kryptonian hero get whammied by the effects of some rainbow-colored chunk of Kryptonite? From the classic comics to previous television adaptations like Smallville, it’s always a delight to see other sides of the characters, even twisted, warped ones. Tonight, Supergirl took its first swing at this type of story, as “Falling” put Kara under the effects of Red Kryptonite. Overall, it was an outstanding hour that went to some dark, difficult places by turning Kara herself into the villain of the week.

Before the fall, though, it’s important to see just how much Kara had to lose, and the episode did a great job of showing just how important and beloved Supergirl has become in National City. Seeing her instantly responding to every crime or accident that she can is what we expect of any superhero, but it’s the way Kara helps a young girl show up her bullies is a reminder of how good-hearted and kind Supergirl is. It’s the sort of scene this show does well, setting it apart from the darker heroes on TV and showing how Supergirl has become an icon to her world.

Equally important is how well everything is going in Kara’s personal life, romantic feelings for James aside. She’s back working at the DEO, having forgiven her sister, and her job at CatCo is better than ever. Even her friendship with Winn is fully back to normal, with her supporting Winn’s relationship with Siobhan despite how awkward the situation could be.

All of this is to say that Kara’s life was in the best place we’ve seen, so of course it was time for the show to tear it all out from under her. But for it to go down so brutally was hard to watch, as the Red Kryptonite brought out every dark impulse and feeling in Kara’s heart. While things started harmlessly enough, with Kara using Cat’s elevator and goofing off during a DEO briefing, it wasn’t long before she was doing serious damage to every relationship in her life.

The way she called J’onn a coward for living in the assumed identity of Hank Henshaw; the cruel comments she made about Lucy while trying to seduce James; her decision to throw Cat off a building as a demented proof of power: Kara’s transgressions started tough before growing harder and harder to watch. Of course, the hardest scene was between Kara and Alex, with Kara throwing some venomous insults at Alex before denouncing her as a sister. While everyone understood to varying degrees that Kara wasn’t in control of her actions, it’s clear that everyone’s been deeply affected by her words.

J’onn certainly has, as he had no choice but to reveal his true identity and become the Martian Manhunter in order to stop a rampaging Supergirl. In an episode so focused on character moments, it was nice to get a great, if brief, fight between the two. More importantly, while J’onn was able to stop Kara, he was left with no choice but to turn himself in to the DEO, leaving his fate in question as we move forward.

With everything this episode did well, the one part that didn’t really work for me was the way Maxwell Lord factored into the plot. When last we saw the show’s answer to Lex Luthor, he’d struck an uneasy truce with the DEO. However, it didn’t really seem that his feelings for Supergirl had changed that much. So, while I believed he would create the Red Kryptonite, it felt a bit out-of-character for him to so readily admit to it and join the effort to save Supergirl. Maybe it would’ve worked better if we’d seen Alex or J’onn having to convince Max to help, but it made for an off-moment in an otherwise flawless episode of the series.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!