Since next week’s episode of Supergirl will be the concluding chapter of the “Elseworlds” crossover with The Flash and Arrow, there is no proper preview to share. In lieu of that, let’s take a brief look at this week’s episode and consider some of its pluses and minuses.
The genuine plus here is the team-up between Kara (Melissa Benoist), Nia (Nicole Maines) and Brainy (Jesse Rath). The latter, realizing who Nia really is, gets super excited to help her develop her powers without messing up the timestream too much. Kara, for her part, wants Nia to use her predicative dream abilities to suss out the identity of Agent Liberty. It leads them to Collinswood, a town near National City which is a hot bed for the Children of Liberty. As a trio, they’re dynamite and the series should shift focus to them over the DEO — which it may do considering the President’s (Bruce Boxleitner) declaration at the episode’s conclusion. Besides the ongoing flirtation between Nia and Brainy, the three are all such goobers that watching them walk into danger feels more lighthearted than the show has been since Nia’s first scenes; which is great because the show used to have a light heart to it.
Which brings us to the major minus, the capture of Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer). On a scheduling level, it was necessary to put the plot in a holding patter for “Elseworlds,” but it drags the episode down because, ultimately, the Children of Liberty cannot be easily defeated. The episode itself actually gets to this point thanks to its final story moments. Ben may find he is more powerful in prison before the Children of Liberty inevitably stage a prison break. Whether that will be the mid-season opener or not remains to be seen. Either way, his current incarceration ends up feeling artificial.
Another plus: David Ajala as Manchester Black. He’s just so charismatic and his argument often feels valid — at least in the context of Earth-38. Defeating Ben Lockwood will not put out the fire he’s started and a bloody conflict may be the only solution. Unfortunately, Manchester played his hand too quickly and his storyline will remain in a holding patter until he somehow gets the powers from Lena Luthor’s (Katie McGrath) experiment. Maybe Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) will be The Elite’s secret benefactor. In the meantime, though, expect more scenes with J’onn (David Harewood) which just go in circles.
And that may be the overall problem with the Agent Liberty storyline: it can only go in circles. The show clearly does not want to an end to Lockwood, but defeating does not end the movement. For the show’s use of aliens as a metaphor for marginalized people to have any power, the Children of Liberty must be a permanent facet of the show from here on out; which means the show’s lighter heart must give way to a program grimmer than Arrow. Supergirl cannot walk away from this metaphor easily and as a result, people like Alex (Chyler Leigh) and J’onn get pushed aside for the obligation to the message.
Unless they can convincingly pin all of this on Lex and move on to something else, but that seems unlikely. But with “Elseworlds” forming the mid-season finale for Supergirl, it ongoing race metaphor will not be our worry until the show returns to its regular plot in January.