The Good: Decent performances, Good themes, Clever resolution
The Bad: Pacing, Some of the technical details are a bit off
The Basics: Supergirl finds herself a reluctant deity for "The Faithful" in a generally good episode of Supergirl.
Supergirl has a lot going for it on the fundamentals. Despite being yet another super hero ensemble team show in the DC Television Universe, some of the characters in Supergirl have some genuine character conflicts and faults that could make for truly compelling television. But, for most of the episodes, Supergirl plays toward the masses with a light, fluffy, CW-type feel that keeps the show from ever getting too deep or two heavy . . . even when it is dealing with issues like genocide or (group) hatred (racism, homophobia, sexism, etc.). As "The Faithful" begins, Supergirl has been meandering into its third season without a decent sense that the show or its characters are going somewhere - the strongest elements of any of The CW's DC Television Universe shows tend to be the serialized ones, not the bottle episodes. "The Faithful" manages to do a good job of exploring its issue well and in a fairly adult manner as a Supergirl cult springs up in National City.
"The Faithful" follows on "Far From The Tree" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss the new episode without some reference to the prior one. After all, "Far From The Tree" found Samantha Arias coming to work at CatCo under Lena Luthor. While Alex has lied to Maggie about being okay with not wanting children, which also resonates into "The Faithful."
Flashing back to the plane whose near-crash led to Supergirl revealing herself, a drinking man criticizes the life a nearby - younger - passenger has. In the present day, Samantha is at her daughter's soccer game when she is approached by a woman who knows her daughter Ruby by name and gives her a pamphlet for a meeting. Kara sees the pamphlet when visiting Lena's office and she attempts to research the meeting it advertises. Kara, James, and Winn end up at the meeting of the Followers Of Rao (a Kryptonian god), which is led by the man from the plane. The room is filled with people Supergirl has saved, which leaves Kara unsettled.
At a girls' night in, Kara and her friends get to know Samantha better. During the event, Supergirl realizes there is a fire and a person who needs rescuing. In rescuing a young man from the fire, Kara learns that the Followers Of Rao are committing crimes in order to get rescued by Supergirl. When she attempts to interview the leader of the cult, Coville recognizes Kara as Supergirl. When Supergirl recognizes an object Coville gave her as Kryponian, she realizes that Coville has a probe from Krypton that he overloads in an attempt to bring thousands to his cause. With Kara poisoned by Kryptonite, Alex must rise to the occasion of saving the city.
"The Faithful" does a decent job of exploring how people can latch onto an idea or person and build a belief system around it. For a change, Supergirl does not pull its punches as the Followers Of Rao are characterized as zealots and hypocrites, willing to go against their beliefs to gain followers. "The Faithful" refocuses the third season of Supergirl by delivering some answers to lingering questions and satisfactorily infusing the new character (Samantha Arias) with some sense of importance and vitality. Sadly, Arias's importance only truly comes in at the climax of "The Faithful" and she is only tangentially-related to the a-plot.
The themes in "The Faithful" are important and well-executed, but the amount of attention paid to Kara is comparatively minor. In fact, the biggest emotional moment is an Alex moment and Chyler Leigh rocks it. Unfortunately for the larger arc of the third season of Supergirl, Alex's big moment is long-foreshadowed and telegraphed. Despite that, Chyler Leigh dominates the climax of "The Faithful."
Also odd in "The Faithful" is how the cult that springs up around Supergirl inexplicably does not shake Kara's faith in Rao. That seems like a pretty dramatic oversight on the character level within the episode.
It also seems odd that Coville can, apparently, read Kryptonian (albeit poorly) and that J'onn J'onzz sends Kara to deal with a Kryptonian probe instead of dealing with it himself. Why no one at the DEO would assume a probe from Krypton would have Kryptonite on it seems especially dense.
All that said, "The Faithful" does a good job of illustrating how destructive religion can be.
For other works with Carl Lumbly, please visit my reviews of:
Injustice: Gods Among Us
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.
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