Supergirl Season 3 Episode 9 Review: “Reign”

Supergirl Season 3 Episode 9

After having Kara and Alex take down evil Nazi with Oliver, Barry, and the rest of the Arrowverse’s greatest heroes in last week’s “Crisis On Earth-X” crossover event, it’s back to business as usual on tonight’s Supergirl. Well, maybe it’s not quite as “usual” as we’re used to, given that “Reign” is Season 3’s mid-season finale, the last new episode of Supergirl that we will get until January 15, and it packs one hell of a punch, often times literally.

Tonight’s hour features some particularly great moments, from Lena and James finally acting on their feelings and kissing, to M’yrnn’s excitement over hot chocolate, to J’onn’s obsession with “Jingle Bell Rock.” But what really makes “Reign” a special episode of Supergirl is Kara’s storyline, which shows her continuing to struggle with Mon-El’s return and his marriage to Imra and concludes with an epic, bloody battle between her and Reign, who proves during this first fight that she’s probably the toughest and most dangerous foe that Kara has faced yet.

It’s not just the fight itself, though, that makes this confrontation special (although I absolutely LOVED the action sequence inside of the office Christmas party, set to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”). No, what injects so much energy and emotion into the battle between Kara and Reign is the journeys that both women have taken to get here. For Kara, Supergirl Season 3 has been about her attempts to detach herself from humanity and her attempts to rediscover her sense of it. With all the pain and heartache that Mon-El’s return brings with it, it’s easy for Kara to slip into the colder, more militant version of herself; Alex even encourages it, telling Kara to be cold, to be Kryptonian, to be alien. Unfortunately for both of the Danvers sisters, though, Kara turning off her humanity like a switch doesn’t transform her into a better fighter or a stronger hero; in fact, it actually weakens her. As we’ve seen countless times before, including most recently the Season 3 premiere, Kara’s true strength and fortitude comes from within–it comes from her heart and the love she has for everyone in her life. Right now, it’s difficulty for Kara to feel that love, to embrace it, because not only is the man she loves married to another person but she no longer sees the love he once had for her in his eyes. One of Kara’s greatest sources of love has been Mon-El, and with that currently missing from her life, she needs to readjust and reawaken the other forms of love she feels: love for Alex as her sister, love for both of her mothers, Alura and Eliza, and love for her all of her friends like Lena, Winn, and James.

One friend Kara might not be loving for too much longer, though, is Sam, whose transformation into Reign has been dark and sad but powerful. Thanks to the time Supergirl has spent with Sam and Ruby, getting us invested not only in their mother-daughter relationship but also in Sam’s friendships with Lena and Kara, we care deeply about what happens to the two of them, which is why it’s so tragic watching Sam slowly fade away into this Kryptonian “world killer,” a figure who thinks of herself not as a devil but as a dispenser of justice. “All I am is truth, judgment, and death, and I will reign,” she tells Kara during their fight, as she explains how she wants to cleanse this world of sinners and plans on being its judge, jury, and executioner. Will Ruby be considered one of those sinners? I certainly hope not, but judging by the final scene of tonight’s episode, it doesn’t look like much of Sam is left inside of Reign’s vessel. The fact that Ruby discovers her mom like this on Christmas morning, after they share their story of the “best Christmas we ever had” earlier on in the episode, makes it all the more devastating.

And despite how much Kara may want to stop Reign, she isn’t able to during their fight tonight. In fact, Kara is bloody and broken by the end of their confrontation, as Reign beats her with her fists and weapons before zapping her with heat vision and dropping her from the top of a skyscraper. Kara has been beaten down by Kryptonian threats in the past before but never this badly, and this defeat at the hands of Reign will hopefully serve as both a humbling loss for Kara (who states that no Kryptonian should be able to phsyically challenge her anymore since she’s taken down Superman) and as a wake-up call that she can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. Despite all the incredible powers that she possesses, the greatest and most powerful ability that Kara Danvers has is her humanity, her ability to love and be loved by others. It’s those people that surround her hospital bed at the end of tonight’s episode that Kara will need to turn to if she wants to defeat Reign, and hopefully, when she wakes up from this brutal defeat, she’ll not only realize that idea but put it into action.

Other thoughts:

  • Glen Winter does an excellent job shooting this entire episode, but I have to give him major credit for two sequences in particular: Reign’s take down of the 1-7 street gang, which is done in shaky cam, first-person point of view but never feels confusing or chaotic, and the entire episode-ending fight sequence between Kara and Reign, which is so grand in scale, spectacle, and emotion, especially for a television budget.
  • Mon-El, I’m a fan of yours, but you need to stop doing two things right now. First, stop bringing up fond memories of your and Kara’s past to her every time you see her. In “Wake Up,” it was the time you guys went and ate ribs, and then in tonight’s episode, you’re talking about the time Kara got drunk on alien rum in front of you. Not cool, dude. Second, stop doing things with Imra and taking her places that evoke past memories of you and Kara. It’s only going to hurt her even more (which you say you’re not trying to do) and make her feel like she’s being replaced.
  • I did love Kara’s response to Mon-El, though, saying that the three of them are good people in a crappy situation, where at least two of the people are happy. Such raw honesty from Melissa Benoist in that scene. She’s always been perfect in this role, but she’s doing some truly terrific work during this season of Supergirl.
  • Morgan Edge is still a pretty boring and bland bad guy to me (especially compared to the villains Supergirl has had in the past), but I’m a big fan of Lena and James, aka National City’s new power couple, taking him on together. Honestly, I’m just glad that both Lena and James are getting storylines that don’t have to do with Kara or Guardian, although I am quite curious what Kara will think about their kiss. I mean, she did encourage Lena to make a move on James, so I’m guessing she’ll be happy for them.
  • I know we’ve had photos of Reign’s costume for a while now, but I really love how it looks in live action. Also, Odette Annable is killing it as the evil Kryptonian. She’s got range, y’all.
  • I tweeted this out earlier, but “Reign” really reminded me of Arrow‘s Season 3 mid-season finale, “The Climb.” I see lots of similarities between the two, other than the fact that they’re both great episodes of television. Anyone agree?
  • More of J’onn and Winn nerding out over Star Wars, please. Thanks, Supergirl writers.
  • As I mentioned above, Supergirl won’t be back until January 15. I’ll see you all back here then, and hope that you have a very merry Christmas and happy holidays with your friends and family!

What did everyone else think about Supergirl‘s mid-season finale? What are your thoughts on Season 3 as a whole so far? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Colin Bentley/The CW]

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