Supergirl season 4, episode 4 review: Ahimsa


Earth has been flooded with Kryptonite. To save the Girl of Steel’s life, Supergirl was placed in a special suit, but what does this mean for humanity?

Everyone is on edge in the latest episode of Supergirl. Melissa Benoist’s Girl of Steel is still trapped in a suit and susceptible to the Kryptonite the villainous Graves siblings unleashed into the atmosphere. With their strongest player benched, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) relies on the DEO agents to do their jobs, but how can she succeed when two of them have defected to join the Graves?

Meanwhile, J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) struggles with guilt over not listening to Kara and being unable to follow his father’s spiritual journey. When his friend Fiona’s (Tiya Sircar) fiancé appears, they set off together to locate her. Manchester Black (David Ajala) has a way of finding information and the two make for a great team. With their help, the DEO finally has some new leads, but it seems the bad guys are always one step ahead.

Not Much Ahimsa in this Supergirl Episode

For anyone not in the know, Ahimsa means non-violence and its most famous advocate was Mahatma Gandhi, who used the non-cooperation movement in India’s fight for Independence from the British Empire. While the episode is titled ‘Ahimsa’, there is plenty of action on display, more so than past episodes this season of Supergirl.

The only time Ahimsa comes into play is during a conversation Alex has with J’onn. Superhero shows and pacifism seem like an oxymoron, and this episode proves the theory correct. J’onn struggles with his innate anger, but instead of channeling it through alternate means, he turns to violence, joining fights that he shouldn’t be part of. He saves lives, but his actions defeat the purpose of the promise he made to his father.

During the episode, another supporting character talks about being introduced to Ahimsa and how it helped him. But the moment things turn sour, he appears to go back to square one, investing in weapons and seemingly hell-bent on vengeance. Neither the character, nor the viewer, actually imbibe the concept of non-violence. This important central message is undone by poor execution.

Alex Danvers takes Centre Stage

I’ll be the first to admit that season 3 of Supergirl really let Alex Danvers down. Her development was completely stunted by the writers’ contrived reason for breaking up Sanvers (Maggie Sawyer/ Alex Danvers) and she wasn’t given much to do at the DEO or out in the field.

Now that she is the Director of the DEO, she has plenty of responsibility, much of which is evident in this episode. Alex Danvers bears the heavy burden of worrying about her sister Kara’s safety, being the Director of the DEO, facing a furious President and dealing with the realization that several DEO agents are helping the Graves.

She is understandably an emotional wreck – weeping in isolation and lashing out at Supergirl for not following orders. But Alex’s leadership is never in doubt in this episode and she is fantastic when motivating her team and later, helping J’onn.

Chyler Leigh is brilliant, embodying the emotional rollercoaster her character goes through. And the portrayal of the Danvers sisters feels so authentic; I love it!

We Need More of Lena Luthor and James Olsen

Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor and Mehcad Brooks’ James Olsen are supporting characters on Supergirl, but in this episode it felt like the writers wanted to add more weight to their importance yet couldn’t squeeze in enough screen time for either of them.

These characters have so much potential, but are too often sidelined. James’ screen-time has decreased significantly, despite Mehcad getting second billing, which is a shame. Whenever he is in the spotlight, he shines. I found it really disconcerting when, in this episode, James enters a fight, most of his heroism takes place off-screen. We only find out the repercussions of his actions later, which is ridiculous because he’s an integral character on the show.

Supergirl -- "Fallout" -- Image Number: SPG402a_0262b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen/Guardian and Nicole Maines as Nia Nal -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Supergirl — “Fallout” — Image Number: SPG402a_0262b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen/Guardian and Nicole Maines as Nia Nal — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lena doesn’t fair any better. Despite saving Supergirl’s life in the previous episode, her work and contribution takes a backseat to Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath). I get that Brainy is super-intelligent, but the writers could have leveraged the Kryptonite-filtering suit as a great way for Supergirl and Lena to bond again, especially after they fell out in season three.

Super Sentiments

  • David Ajala’s Manchester Black is a flamboyant breath of fresh air. Manchester Black’s sense of humor undercuts the very serious nature of the season’s themes, and I hope there’s a resurgence of it over the upcoming episodes. Ajala has such a compelling screen presence and some killer moves that I cannot wait to see more of him this season.
  • Supergirl being encased in armor and at risk of Kryptonite poisoning is a great way to keep the series protagonist in the lead while also allowing Melissa Benoist a chance to broaden her horizons. We get some amazing point-of-view shots that break the monotony, and the close-ups of Supergirl’s face (ala Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), provides the claustrophobic perspective of her current circumstance.
  • I am intrigued by the Bizarro-Supergirl, her origins and what the people she’s with are planning. There’s been no build up for this character, so I am unsure where the showrunners are headed with her. She is bad news, for sure.
Next: Birds of Prey – Who exactly is Black Mask?

Just four episodes in and it seems that some of the threads have already been completed and several characters dispatched. I am glad to see the DEO are still using non-lethal weapons as per J’onn’s decision in the previous season, but for an episode titled ‘Ahimsa’ there was a great deal of fighting involved. I felt like this episode’s production was at times patchy, with slow fight choreography, poor rhythm and the occasional ham-fisted performance. Supergirl episode 4 was high on entertainment, but low on quality. Yet, new avenues for character stories have opened up and I can’t wait to see where the writers take us and the cast.



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