‘Supergirl’ (Season 3): A Dark Opener

Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow both enter their third seasons this week. While I have no doubt that the merry band of reckless time travelers will remain as ridiculously fun as ever this season, I have at least a little worry that the Girl of Steel might be entering a down season. And while that’s not inherently a bad thing, the Arrowverse has a history of third-season slumps.

Arrow and The Flash both suffered from overly dark third outings, with each character being pushed to their ultimate low points. Though this did lead to a few interesting storytelling avenues, it also made for dour, grim seasons that are often ranked at the bottom for each show. And given where we find Kara at the beginning of this season, there’s at least some reason to worry what’s ahead.

Because this week’s episode showed us Kara at her lowest point in the entire series. In the wake of Mon-El’s banishment from Earth, she’s completely detached from herself and her friends. Instead, she’s putting all of her time and effort into being Supergirl, though with none of the passion and heart she once did. As we learn, she’s simply trying to do as much good as possible as Supergirl because she no longer can stand the human identity she created for herself.

Melissa Benoist does fantastic work capturing Kara’s sorrow, but man, it’s a dark episode. The immediate comparison point is Kara’s first season red kryptonite incident, especially in the scene where the acts so cruelly towards Alex. However, there’s no magic space rock affecting her this time around, which makes her lashing out at everyone all that much harder to watch.

It’s just a rough way to start the season off. After an entire summer away from these characters, it’s tough to come back and see our heroine so far removed from everyone else. We get some nice moments with the ever-adorable couple of Alex and Maggie, and Alex asking J’onn to walk her down the aisle is one heck of a tearjerker. But Kara’s mourning, while entirely appropriate, casts a dark shadow across the episode.

In complete fairness, it’s hard to judge an entire season’s trajectory by one episode. The third season of The Flash definitely can’t be mapped out from its “Flashpoint” premiere. And honestly, this episode’s conclusion goes a long way towards suggesting Kara is at least on the road to moving past Mon-El’s departure (especially with Mon-El’s return in the near future likely). Still, the joy of last year’s premiere episode was nowhere to be found this week, and I’m hoping we get more of that in the coming episodes.