The Good: Good performances, Decent themes, Moments of character for J'onn J'onzz, Awesome villain
The Bad: Bad science, Moments of character for Alex and Maggie
The Basics: Supergirl makes a timely episode and gives Chyler Leigh a big chance to shine with her performance in "Exodus."
Despite having an almost entirely new formula from the first season, Supergirl has almost no dangling plotlines lingering into the second season. The major plotline and character thread that has been outstanding since the first season is the distant past characterization of the Danvers family and Hank Henshaw. Since the first season, the long lost father, Dr. Jeremiah Danvers, has been a narrative time bomb waiting to go off. In the first season, it was revealed that Dr. Jeremiah Danvers sacrificed himself to save the life of J'onn Jonzz while working for the DEO after leaving Kara Danvers in his wife's custody. His has been a story of self-sacrifice. Dr. Jeremiah Danverse returns again in the Supergirl episode "Exodus."
"Exodus" is directly preceded by "Homecoming" (reviewed here!), which saw Jeremiah Danvers returned to the Supergirl narrative. "Exodus" is impossible to discuss without some references to the events of "Homecoming." After all, "Homecoming" saw Dr. Jeremiah Danvers return and found him both cybernetically-enhanced and working pretty much directly for Cadmus. It also featured a delightful out-of-universe joke in getting the God's Not Dead star Dean Cain to play Jeremiah Danvers as accepting of his out and proud lesbian daughter Alex! "Exodus" continues the attempt of Alex and Kara to rescue Jeremiah from Cadmus as Jeremiah stole the U.S.'s National Alien Registry to give to Cadmus.
A family is on a vacation when they are stopped by the police and taken away for being extraterrestrials. Back at the DEO, Jeremiah Danvers is declared an enemy combatant and the organization works to let aliens know that the alien registry has been compromised. Kara attempts to get Snapper Carr to write an article on the threat to the aliens and has to offer him an interview with Supergirl. The alien bar is attacked and Lyra - Winn Schott's alien girlfriend - is abducted by Cadmus personnel. Snapper Carr interviews Supergirl and is frustrated when she is unable to give him any credible leads on her information.
When Jeremiah Danvers visits Alex at her apartment, he appeals to his daughter to save the aliens by stealing DEO tech. Unfortunately for Alex, she fails J'onn J'onzz's test and he suspends her from duty. While Kara turns to Lena Luthor for help, Alex and Maggie go rogue to find Cadmus. When Alex finds and infiltrates Cadmus, Jeremiah reveals that the aliens who have been rounded up are being deported from Earth instead of killed. As Alex and Lillian Luthor square off, Cadmus plays its power move against the extraterrestrials living on Earth.
The relationship between Alex and Maggie continues to be subservient to the plot. Maggie, unfortunately, seems unwilling or unable to stand up to Alex at the outset of "Exodus." Alex believes entirely that Jeremiah Danvers is good and being coerced. Maggie ought to be the voice of reason, who is able to point out to Alex that fifteen years in Cadmus custody is long enough to break anyone. Regardless of who Jeremiah is now, Alex only has emotional reasons to trust him at all and she has no proof that Jeremiah has not been turned or was even working for Cadmus all along! In fact, Maggie supporting Alex makes even less sense given that she was completely betrayed by her own parents when she came out.
"Exodus" is pleasantly surprising in that torture is not proven an effective way to get information out of the Cadmus prisoner and that the show addresses the fact that J'onn ought to be able to read the prisoner's mind. Unfortunately ridiculous is that Alex fights against her suspension instead of seeing clearly that she is far too close to the Jeremiah Danvers case to be an effective agent. It is frustrating seeing so many smart people who are so emotionally dumb that they just continue to make the worst decisions they possible could.
The Alex-heavy episode turns late when Alex finally encounters Jeremiah. "Exodus" is a very timely episode of Supergirl as it features a strong example of what happens when immigrants are forcibly rounded up and deported. It is not pretty at all. The writers of "Exodus" have some fun with irony in that Lillian Luthor's anti-alien plan relies upon using alien technology to deport the extraterrestrials from Earth.
Lillian Luthor rises to the occasion of being a truly great villain if for no other reason than she plans ahead and does not build a failsafe into her sinister plan. Lillian did not leave L-Corp in her daughter's hands without having fallbacks and her master plan to deport the aliens does not come with a stop code, making her a clever, determined, adversary for Supergirl! Somewhat ridiculously, the alien freighter is not outfitted with weapons that shoot Kryptonite, which would have made sense given that Cadmus has the Earth's remaining stock of Kryptonite . . . or the next best, synthetic, thing.
"Exodus" climaxes in a scene that hinges entirely on the audience being neither scientifically literate, nor being able to tell time (20 seconds lasts quite a bit longer than that), but the whole "woman power" aspect of the episode is refreshing and well-executed.
Chyler Leigh rises to every occasion in "Exodus" presenting Alex Danvers as incredibly well-rounded. Throughout much of the first season of Supergirl, Leigh had to play Alex and very stiff and often unemotional to a point that made hyperbole out of "professionalism." In "Exodus," Alex is flawed and smart, determined and dependent, all at once and at various times throughout the episode. Leigh plays Alex with impressive range in "Exodus."
"Exodus" makes some over-the-top political statements that are incredibly obvious for today's current environment. Snapper Carr stands up for journalistic integrity and makes a remark about how the media can aid in putting a despot in the White House. "Exodus" manages to work in that it illustrates well the realism of aggressive deportation and has a deeply flawed human character at its center.
For other DC movie and television works, please visit my reviews of:
Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice
The Flash - Season 1
For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.