The Good: Thematically smart, Moments of character, Good performances, Decent plot development
The Bad: Somewhat simple plot, Large character continuity issue
The Basics: "Both Sides Now" continues the Worldkiller plot on Supergirl by bringing Purity - and philosophical differences between the Danvers sisters - to the forefront!
The third season of Supergirl has come into perfect focus as the Reign storyline has picked up. Earth has housed Worldkillers for decades, with Reign having revealed herself and Kara Danvers having dreams of three Worldkillers coming to destroy Earth. With "Both Sides Now," Supergirl is focused on averting an impending disaster by getting to the Worldkillers before they become active and powerful.
"Both Sides Now" picks up where "For Good" (reviewed here!) left off. Kara Danvers had visions in "For Good" about the Worldkillers who came from Krypton and are moving to teaming up with Reign to bring destruction to Earth. Kara managed to identify one of the Worldkillers from her dream, Purity. "Both Sides Now" picks right up with the hunt for Purity, in her human persona of Julia.
Kara and the DEO team visit a suburban neighborhood on the quest to find the Worldkiller, Julia. The team finds her in her living room singing Lisa Loeb's song "Stay." When she feels threatened by Alex Danvers, she manifests her impressive powers, but Supergirl and J'onn J'onzz manage to subdue her. The team brings Purity back to the DEO, where Supergirl and Alex interrogate her. Alex instantly distrusts Purity, while Supergirl sees her as a victim of Kryptonian genetic manipulation. While Mon-El, Schott and J'onzz visit J'onzz's stored space ship, Samantha and Ruby Arias take a day off together.
While Mon-El attempts to get the Legion ship repowered by using a power source from J'onzz's ship, the Danvers sisters argue about the best approach to dealing with Purity. Kara is upset with Alex's cynicism, but Alex insists that compassion is not working on Purity and she is more harsh in her interrogation of the Worldkiller. But when Schott experiments on a crystal found at Julia's home, it activates Reign and gives Purity enough power to break out of her DEO prison! Outfitted with sonic dampeners by Schott, the DEO team attempts to recover Purity before Reign can recover her for her side.
"Both Sides Now" has an interesting foil of a-plot and b-plots. The a-plot puts Purity on a rise to power to destroy Earth; the b-plot finds Mon-El actually opening up with his marriage to Imra. As it turns out, Mon-El and Imra married to end a conflict between Earth and the moon Titan. The idea that Mon-El and Saturn Girl came together as an act to bring together planets plays off Purity and Reign's destructive streak surprisingly well.
The inclusion of the c-plot with Ruby being abandoned by her mother while they are out for a day dilutes the impact of Purity's arrival. Ruby is an excuse to bring Lena Luthor into the episode more, which is not a bad thing, but at this point, it is hard for viewers not to think that if all these people - Ruby, Lena, Alex and Kara - actually care so very much about Samantha Arias, they should be expressing that to one another and figuring out that Samantha is Reign. By this point, Lena Luthor is professionally worried about Samantha, Alex knows about her blackouts and all four people who supposedly love Samantha have a pretty decent timetable of incidents involving either Samantha or Reign . . . for a bunch of smart, concerned people, it seems like none are truly living up to their potential.
"Both Sides Now" is refreshing in that the character conflict between Alex and Kara is used for far more than melodrama. Kara and Alex have a philosophical difference as to how to approach Purity and the idea that compassion might be of greater use than violence in defeating the Worldkillers is a compelling one. While they are figuring the course of action out, though, episodes like "Both Sides Now" include some decent fight scenes.
On the Mon-El/Imra front, it is only in the episode's resolution that that becomes truly compelling. There is something hilarious to a super hero wondering why her spouse didn't call about an impending battle and it is well-delivered in "Both Sides Now." Chris Wood once again earns his pay by making Mon-El emotionally complicated. "Both Sides Now" does not have easy answers for the arranged marriage that developed into an actual romance.
Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist play the Danvers's sisters incredibly well in "Both Sides Now." Leigh and Benoist manage to infuse their fight scenes with a realistic tension that plays out like sisters who have learned to fight for decades. And when they resolve their conflict, they talk like sisters who love one another. The ease of the body language in their final scene together goes well beyond the lines; Benoist and Leigh have a wonderful realism to their performances.
Ultimately, "Both Sides Now" manages to be a decent introduction of a powerful new adversary that works well to highlight some of the strengths of the characters already in play on Supergirl!
For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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