Supergirl -- “Dream Weaver” -- Image Number: SPG609fg_0049r -- Pictured (L-R): David Harewood as J’onn J’onzz and Melissa Benoist as Supergirl -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Supergirl is back for its final run before the series finale. The show was at its best in season 4, where the show gave its heroes a problem that required both Kara and Supergirl to solve. After too many episodes about sketchy pseudo-science last season and Spooky Prison this season, this feels like Supergirl getting back to its roots. Of course, being that this is a primetime CW show, the success is bumpy at times, but it still works. Spoilers follow for Supergirl Season 6, Episode 9, “Dream Weaver.”

“Dream Weaver”

Kara is getting back into somewhat of a groove after her terrifying adventure in the Phantom Zone, but editor-in-chief Andrea Rojas is going hard on her new idea of “lots of stories about superheroes.” Meanwhile, Kelly has a new assignment as a social worker with superpowered kids and Nia is struggling with her dreams.

Supergirl and Kelly’s stories intersect pretty early on. Kelly discovers that one of the children under her care has a brother in the prison system, and the younger brother is worried that the prison is mistreating his brother. The two women work together and Kara discovers that the older brother and a group of other prisoners are being used by someone to gather components for a dirty nuke, a nuclear bomb meant not to cause destruction, but to cover an area in radiation such that it becomes uninhabitable.

Supergirl is in her wheelhouse

There are some clumsy elements here, but it overall is the kind of story that Supergirl does best. Supergirl fights but does so with compassion, and Melissa Benoist does a great job of making Supergirl’s speech about trying to fight the system feel believable. It’s still a bit saccharine, of course, and oversimplifies a complicated, thorny issue. But it still gets the point across–that the prison system as-is is broken and often leaves people who committed minor crimes or who want genuinely to work on rehabilitation stuck in an inescapable system rife with corruption.

On Kara’s side of things, this also recasts Andrea’s request that Kara, William, and Nia focus on the Superfriends. Kara is reticent to do so throughout the episode for pretty obvious reasons but discovers that one of Supergirl’s powers can create some very real synergy with Kara’s special ability. For Kara, finding and exposing the truth is priority #1, something that has remained pretty consistent throughout the series. The interplay between Kara and Supergirl has always been one of the stronger parts of the show, too.

But while Kara is a mousey, bespectacled writer, Supergirl wears a colorful outfit and flies around. She punches giant robots. When she’s out in public, people pay attention. By letting Supergirl talk about the issues Kara wants to bring attention to, Kara realizes, she can get more eyeballs focused on her writing. She’s solving Andrea’s problem (ratings), Kara’s problem (exposure), and Supergirl’s (keeping people focused on issues rather than her personal life) all at once.

The system is broken

Throughout this, though, Kelly consistently finds herself sitting on the sidelines, watching her friends fight directly while she has to work within the bounds of the system. We know from previous episodes that Kelly, like her brother, has military training in her past, and we’ve seen her pick up shield-like gear to defend herself and her friends a few times. Her frustration with the corrupt foster home administrator pushes Kelly over the edge, and she ends up hacking into the foster home’s security system to make sure that someone sees how she’s treating the kids in her care.

At the end of the episode, Alex presents her with a gift from her and Jimmy Olsen: the Guardian mask. We’ve known for some time that Kelly would step into the role, and it seems a little late in the game to introduce a new superhero. With that said, the show didn’t rush it. They let us see Kelly as capable and caring for a couple of seasons and then let us see her get frustrated before opening that door.

Dreaming about better times

Finally, woven throughout the episode–pun intended–are scenes of Nia struggling with strange dreams of a foggy swamp, her mother, and an owl. And then, Nyxly, the imp princess. Somehow, Nyxly snuck into Nia’s dreams as a way to survive the trip out of the Phantom Zone.

Credit is due here to Nicole Maines, who does a good job of driving home how empty Nia feels without her mother there to guide her as she tries to understand her powers. With that said, this serves more as a setup for the next batch of episodes about Nyxly than it does an actual in-depth look at Nia. Hopefully, that is yet to come.

Overall, though, this episode is a solid Supergirl episode that focuses on the interesting parts of the show–Supergirl, Kara, social issues–while avoiding the pitfalls like goofy sci-fi science and crappy romance storylines. If this is what the rest of the show looks like, then I wonder where the writers have been for the last season and a half. This is solid, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season right now.