Welcome back all you Supergirl fans! Things are getting interesting as the battle for the next totem commences in a way that’s not just a rehash of “The Gauntlet.” This change makes for a less fun episode but hey, it could be worse. We could still be fighting the Phantoms.
And as always, spoilers ahead.
1. Immense Totemic Powers, Itty Bitty Empathy
I missed a bit of exposition at the start of the episode – I know, hard to do – and so it took me a bit to catch onto what this totem was supposed to be. At first, I thought it was a violence totem or something but no, it’s the humanity totem. It’s a clever choice since it leaves the door open for broad interpretation in the same way the courage totem did. What I think I like most about this was the forgoing of the “gauntlet” as a test for making the simple act of holding onto the activated totem the test. Clever way to ensure Kara and co would have a win while still providing a challenge that isn’t just punchy punchy punch.
I have my gripes with how the effects of the totem are represented, mostly in that we get more generic chaos and mayhem and it’s pretty dull and surface level, but you know what, not everything has to be groundbreaking and new; sometimes functional is perfectly fine.
2. It’s My Story and I’ll Tell It How I Want
Clearly the good vibes I felt towards last week’s episode are spilling out into this one because I found myself having fun with the episode despite “Magical Thinking” being a return to, well, standard Supergirl fare. Nothing special but nothing really frustrating or exceedingly dull. Maybe it’s because there were enough standout moments and ideas to tide me over during the slow bits, like William’s attempts to report on the Superfriends.
It’s clear from the start where this storyline is going but I still enjoyed watching William get increasingly frustrated with the crew for basically asking him to do fluff pieces because the serious stuff would make them look bad. OK, that’s an oversimplification and a more cynical show would have made that the central axis for which this plot rotated around but it’s what was on my mind during this whole thing. I half expected William to prep a piece and go behind their back because the truth is the most important thing but, for once, the show actually did things right AND better.
See, William has scrupules and ethics and is a professional. He’s not going to burn his sources for his awful boss but he’s also going to challenge the people he has been tasked with reporting on. The piece he ends up publishing balances the competing interestings of pure information dumps for the sake of “true transparency” – TMI is a phrase for a reason – and unduly killing stories because the information is inconvenient or potentially makes the people within look bad. News and journalism don’t exist in a vacuum; they’re shaped by those presenting it AND those interacting with it, so care must be taken.
William showed what we should have been seeing from Kara and the whole of CatCo. Maybe we’ll see more of it now.
3. Like…Chill Out Nyxly
OK. OK. Did anyone else want to see the CW take the footage of Nyxly having her empathy freakouts and transform them into those weird anti-smoking/vaping ads but instead of regular vapes/smokes it’s Weed? I just…I couldn’t stop laughing at how much this felt like 3am shower thoughts. It’s like she ate a particularly stuffed edible but she didn’t feel it at first, so she had another two, and then it all hit her at once and she now feels at one with humanity and so she’s extra super huggy.
Damn. Now I want a fudge brownie.
4. I Put A Spell On You…Hopefully
Lena’s learning magic! It’s very predictable but hey, we all go through similar learning curves at the start of learning a new skill. She screws up a few times but in screwing up, she gets a good William pep talk, figures out that fresh herbs are better than frozen/dried herbs, and her failures are able to be transformed into successes thanks to some lateral thinking and Will shaming. Good shit right there, and Will really is the episode MVP, isn’t he?Continued below
Lena’s wholehearted embrace of magic here was probably the stand out choice of the whole plot, next to her confrontation of Kara, because it roots her frustration not in it being “unscientific” which is dull and boring but instead in her personal feelings of inadequacy and frustration. This is a part of her heritage she was denied and it’s a skill she’s not good at right away, unlike most other skills in her life.
That combination is hard for someone like Lena. By letting it drive the tension, we get a different perspective on a tired plot and it’s easier to connect to because I already care about Lena and this furthers her personal emotional journey. It’s not explicitly said too, the denial of her culture part, which is a breath of fresh air for a show that feels the need to vocalize literally every lesson and development in the most frustrating manners, as I say nearly weekly.
It’s all good shit and it affords Lena the space to tell Kara off for Kara’s constant pushing of her when she’s just started. Kara has to eat some humble pie, pushing her to reconsider her relentless focus on getting Nyxly at all costs. Kara, like Lena last season, has been acting with a single-minded focus but here, it feels more natural because Kara’s impatience is slow building and is simply being exacerbated by the lack of control she feels with Nyxly. It’s good stuff. I just hope they bring it all together rather than pasting over it.
5. ~In the Arms of The Angels~
I like that Kelly has an actual storyline that revolves around her, her desires, and her skills. I’m glad we have recurring elements that aren’t all Supergirl focused. I’m even glad we’re getting follow-up on the foster care system being dysfunctional, though it’s critiques still seem to be about the people rather than the people AND the system. I gotta say though: this whole thing was rather silly in a way I don’t think the show’s writers intended.
Like, this family is so comically BAD but in that rich white people way rather than the abusive, carceral way we saw in “Dream Weaver” that I couldn’t take any of it seriously. Plus, the show has no interest in actually sitting with Esme in that situation.
It’s kinda hilarious how we go from, things are perfect in the first scene to, SHE’S BREATHING FIRE oh right alien and the mom seems really accepting in the second scene to, locking the child outside to protect their house because she has flame breath in the third to, abandoning the kid back to the foster care system without even a mention of no one taking her claims she was thrown to a mob essentially seriously in the fourth.
Now, all this would make for a moderately funny but also frustrating C-plot if it weren’t for the absolute gut-buster of an ending we get. Turn the schmaltz up to 11, drink some of that Riverdale tonal juice, and strap in because this ending was a doozy. The gist is that Alex & Kelly decide to adopt the kid cause they know no one else would do a good job which, you know what, fair. Seems normal right?
Alex & Kelly are lamenting Esme’s new fate when they look at each other, then Esme, then back to each other and exchange knowing glances. Foster-care lady drives up in a mini-van and gets out, giving everyone a stink eye as the frame slows just a little bit as she throws open the door with the most menace I’ve seen. I half expected the camera to do a zoom like in The Office. Alex and Kelly smile at each other and then go to Esme. All of this is set to the loudest, most on-the-nose, power-ballady pop song I’ve ever heard.
I could almost hear the scriptwriters, the director, the cinematographer, the composer and even craft services yelling BE HAPPY FOR THESE CHARACTERS’ TRANSFORMATIVE CHOICE. Like, it’s a good move but damn, no need to go this hard. I get it. THough, if they hadn’t gone as hard as they did, I wouldn’t have spent 5 minutes laughing my ass off or writing this way too long thought so…Continued below
That about does it for now! What did you all think of the episode? Were you broken by that final scene with Esme like me? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you all again in a week for the hunt for totem #3. Dream a lovely dream for me in the meanwhile and until then, stay super y’all.
Best Paraphrased Line of the Night:
Will: “A revenge obsessed-imp is on the hunt for seven mystical totems and you’re trying to get them first. She’s responsible for what’s been going on in the city the last few weeks and Lena Luthor has magical abilities.”
Supergirl: “Just another Tuesday in National City.”