It was a moment three seasons in the making. Or was it? In this week’s Supergirl, “Dark Side of the Moon,” Kara and Mon-El traveled through space in a bid to stop Reign once and for all, only to discover a lost city of Krypton, and her mother alongside it.
It was a reunion full of tears, joy, and hugs, but as a viewer the scene barely left a dent on the emotional meter. It left me feeling more hollow than satisfied–but is it really all that surprising, given how the series has treated its titular hero lately?
Kara’s descent toward supporting character has happened gradually, beginning in Season 2 when she became a mentor for fledgling hero Mon-El. While Kara’s sidestep has opened the doors for powerful, emotionally storytelling such as Alex’s coming out, it has also meant a serious decline in Kara’s personal journey and development. As a result, it undermined what should have been one of the biggest, most emotional reunions in the series’ run.
Looking back to the first season, Kara’s relationship with her mother, and by extension her aunt Astra, was one of the major components of the season’s emotional through line. The more she learned from Astra, the more hurt, angry, and resentful Kara became toward her mother. By the end of the season she was forced to reckon with the notion that her mother wasn’t the wise leader she thought she was, or Krypton the peaceful and just society she remembered.
Unfortunately that story thread stagnated in Season 2, with only brief reminders that Kara could no longer trust her memory of her mother. Fast forward to this past week’s episode and we see a reunion that came out of nowhere. It breezed past Kara’s development from Season 1 and brushed off any notion that her mother was anything other than the good woman she built up in her mind.
Remember, this was a woman that not only sent her own sister to the Phantom Zone, but used her daughter to do it. The Alura we learned about in Season 1 was a woman of principle and duty above anything else. The woman we met in this week’s episode felt more like a remnant of Kara’s memory than the living, breathing Kryptonian leader.
The by-product of this was a reunion without nearly the same emotional resonance it should have. There was no conflict, no confrontation. Instead her mother’s presence feels like the gateway to an easy escape method for Kara, who has struggled to maintain her secret identity this season.
This shouldn’t be the case when it comes to Supergirl. From the beginning, the series has revolved around the complicated relationship children have their mothers—beginning with Kara, then branching out to Alex and Eliza Danvers, Lena and Lillian Luthor, Mon-El and Rhea, and moving to Sam and Ruby in Season 3. Supergirl has demonstrated how beautiful and complex that relationship can be, the heartbreak it causes when that relationship is strained or lost, and the selfless ways mothers will look out for their children.
Yet, somehow, that key message in the series has been told in the last two seasons through the series’ supporting characters rather than its lead. And why? There was so much emotional turmoil to mine for Kara, but instead the writers left it buried, only to be a distant memory when a climax was on the horizon.
By repeatedly sidestepping Kara into the shadows of her own story, Supergirl betrayed its own foundations, giving us a reunion that was neither satisfying nor earned. Our only hope moving forward is that the series will at least give Kara and Alura the breathing room—and screen time—to give this vital relationship the respect and consideration it deserves.
Do you have thoughts on the Kara and Alura reunion this week? Add them below!
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW and Showcase.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.