“Reign” capped off the first half of Supergirl’s third season, and in the process encapsulated so much of what’s good and bad about this series right now. The series is really thriving on the strength of its new main villain at the moment, but some other, less appealing plot points dragged down what should have been a high point for the season so far.
First things first – Reign may well be the best thing to happen to this series since its move from CBS to The CW. She’s definitely the best villain Supergirl has had. The fact that I feel comfortable making that declaration so soon says a lot about how poorly this show has handled its villains in the past. But regardless, Reign is exactly the sort of imposing yet well-realized antagonist Kara has been needing for some time.
This episode reinforced how wise it was for the writers to spend the first half of Season 3 fleshing out Samantha as a character before diving into her corruption. The early holiday party scene reinforced how close Kara, Lena and Samantha have grown in recent months. That only added more weight to Samantha’s downfall this week. As Reign, she’s clearly a physical threat to the Girl of Steel. But more importantly, she has the deep, compelling connection to Kara that so few villains in this series have shared
In short, the main conflict this week was pretty swell, and a great way to leave things hanging for the next month. Unfortunately, the rest of “Reign” proved to be somewhat of a mixed bag.
The episode opened pretty strongly, at least. The holiday party captured Supergirl at its most charming. You had M’yrnn discovering the joys of the “other brown water,” J’onn and Winn geeking out over Star Wars and, in general, a lot of sweet, wholesome holiday togetherness. Nevermind that these characters were just celebrating Thanksgiving two weeks ago…
It was also nice to see the writers find time to do a little background work on Mon-El, Imra and the Legion of Super Heroes. If a little heavy on the exposition, that scene cleanly established Mon-El’s history in the 31st Century and the team’s reasons for travelling back in time. In the process, the writers offered their own spin on the notion of Superman (or Supergirl, in this case) inspiring the heroes of the far future. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the show diving deeper into the Legion next year.
That all being said, this episode did tend to go a little overboard with the Kara/Mon-El/Imra triangle. It quickly grew repetitive and increasingly felt out of place the more the Reign conflict came into focus. Between that and James and Lena suddenly becoming a thing, there was too much romantic drama in the mix this week. And while the notion of Superman’s Best Pal dating a Luthor holds some amusement, this new pairing doesn’t strike me as the second coming of Alex and Maggie.
Another big minus for “Reign” involved the return of Morgan Edge. Edge is about as lousy a villain as Reign herself is great. Rather than coming across as nefarious and complex, he’s merely obnoxious and one-dimensional. He’s basically a lesser version of Season 1’s Maxwell Lord, who was no treat himself. The hope is that Edge may gain, well, an edge once his connection to Reign becomes apparent (assuming there is one), but I’m quickly reaching the point where I don’t care. I honestly felt disappointment tonight when it became clear Reign wasn’t going to smash him.
One other thought about this episode – did it strike anyone else as weird that there wasn’t a single reference to the events of “Crisis on Earth-X”? If you only watch Supergirl and skip the crossover entirely, there’d be absolutely no indication you missed anything. Maybe that was the point – to avoid punishing viewers who didn’t bother with the crossover. But the complete lack of fallout this week was definitely disappointing. The fact that Supergirl takes place on its own, separate Earth has its definite disadvantages sometimes.
In many ways, this week’s Supergirl offered exactly the bold end-cap to 2017 the show needed. Reign has quickly developed into a formidable, compelling villain, and one who poses a clear threat for the remainder of Season 3. Unfortunately, there were a lot of other elements dragging this episode down a bit, not least of which being the return of the show’s worst current villain, Morgan Edge. Clearly, we need a lot more Reign and a lot less Edge in 2018.
001.- Television Productions > Supergirl > Seasons 3 > Stills > 3.09 – “Reign”