Six years, two networks, a pandemic, and some really bumpy seasons have led up to this finale. We’ve been promised a wedding, but it’s not for Kara. Will the last six season of television wrap up in a satisfying way, or will it remind us more of the series’ lowest points instead of its highest ones? Spoilers follow for Supergirl Season 6, Episodes 19&20, “Kara.”
THE EPIC SERIES FINALE BRINGS BACK FAMILIAR FACES AND FEATURES A BEAUTIFUL WEDDING — In the epic series finale, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) is joined by familiar faces from the past to help her stop Lex (guest star Jon Cryer) and Nyxly (Peta Sergeant) for good. Meanwhile, Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Kelly (Azie Tesfai) prepare to walk down the aisle. Mehcad Brooks, Jeremy Jordan and Chris Wood return for the series finale.
How do you wrap up six years of television neatly in two hours? Supergirl had a huge job in front of it just like Supergirl herself did going into the finale. The show ends up doing a pretty good job of wrapping things up in a way that feels authentic to the series and is even more saccharine than I expected, for better or worse.
Lex & Nyxly
The series’ climactic finale takes up the first episode and finishes out in the second. It’s in the second that the themes make themselves clear. Lex and Nyxly inevitably turn on each other and begin to battle using the power of the collected totems, each of which represents a core aspect of the best aspects of humanity. As they battle, they’re essentially turning those elements into fuel for their totem-powered wrist-laser-portal things, flying around National City wreaking havoc and, in the process, draining humanity of these aspects.
The people begin to turn gray, and Supergirl initially tries to fight power with power. Brainy tells them about a satellite used to amplify crop growth with focused sunlight. Putting aside the fact that this is not how agriculture works, the idea of a satellite that focuses sunlight like a magnifying glass isn’t a bad idea for a character like Supergirl. But that’s not what’s happening here. As the satellite hits her, the sun dims because, apparently, this man-made, shuttle-sized satellite can channel enough solar energy to make the sun dim.
The idea works thematically but it doesn’t pass the sniff test even for a superhero melodrama.
Much better, though, is when the team realizes that if Lexly using the totems drains people, the people being drained can reclaim their power to drain the totems. It’s cheesy but it fits Supergirl well. Especially with this sixth season–but throughout the series as well–Supergirl has been about empowerment, so having the finale focus on Supergirl empowering the people of Earth makes sense and feels right for the character and show.
It makes sense, too, that when Lex calls the fear-seeking Phantoms in from the Phantom Zone, they grab Lex and Nyxly and take them away. This, of course, also leaves Lex technically alive in case Superman & Lois wants to make use of him.
Before we continue, a word on time travel.
Any Story with Time Travel is a Time Travel Story
I want to stop for a moment to talk about time travel. Arrowverse shows especially love time travel; Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and of course Legends of Tomorrow all make generous casual use of time travel in their popcorn superhero stories.
What only Legends of Tomorrow seems to understand, though, is that once you introduce time travel, all other story logic goes straight out the window. Legends resolves this by making the characters and their growth the center of the show. Other shows, including Supergirl and the Supergirl finale, though, refuse to fully grapple with it.
One of the threads going through the last couple weeks of Supergirl was that Brainy would have to return to the 31st century to become one with the Big Brain to save the Coluan race. But the way the show talks about it, you’d think the 31st century was just a place with a really big locked door on it that no one can get through. Time doesn’t pass in the 31st century while time passes in the 21st.
Time is not a place, literally
This comes into play in the finale when Supergirl and the Super Friends are fighting Lexly. When one of the 5th Dimensional summons Nyxly created is about to attack Supergirl, suddenly Mon-El jumps in the way and says that Supergirl’s big emotional speech made history. That’s not how time works. Brainy found out he had to go back to his original time period because he called the 31st century–again, it’s not a place. But we’re to accept that Mon-El found out about the currently ensuing battle because Kara’s speech changed history? Not because Brainy said “yeah it’s getting pretty hairy here” before he hung up the phone.
Later, Brainy decides to stay in our timeline because the future hasn’t been written yet. It’s supposed to be this sweet line about how love conquers all. But Supergirl has established that everything is happening at once, in parallel, not that time is linear, and now wants to tell us that the future isn’t written in stone. You can’t have it both ways. The feelings between the characters were real and great, but this stuff was a huge distraction.
The show continues with its theme of empowerment once the Phantoms dispose of Lex and Nyxly. As Alex and Kelly prepare for–and then celebrate–their marriage, Kara is feeling adrift. She literally gave the power to the people, seemingly putting herself out of her other job not long after she quit her first job.
I’m disappointed in the show’s final twist in that I’d really like to see the fallout from it. Cat Grant returns and reclaims CatCo in the sudden Deus Ex Machina sort of way that only works with that character, and asks Kara to be her Editor-in-Chief. Kara initially turns her down, saying that she doesn’t want to split herself in two. Cat, it turns out, has known that Kara is Supergirl all along. Even if we accept that the other dummies on the show can’t tell who Kara or her Clark are in their civilian clothing, I absolutely believe that Cat knew.
Cat encourages Kara to unify herself, and the show ends with Cat interviewing Kara on national television as she has a “coming out” moment as Supergirl. That word is a bit loaded in the modern age, but it still feels like the right word for someone who felt torn about a secret life now living their (somewhat dangerous) truth.
A lot to like
The show brought in a bunch of old characters in different ways. Lexly summons a cadre of the Superfriends’ past enemies as 5th Dimensional magic. They’re not really Metallo or Overgirl or the Red Cyclone, but it’s a quick reminder of all the wild villains Kara has fought. On the hero side, Jimmy Olsen, Mon-El, and Winn return for the fight and the wedding that follow.
There are a lot of touching moments that hit home thanks to strong performances even if all the comic book silliness around them is whiffing. Lena and Kara have a great moment at the wedding (no, they never acknowledge the chemistry the two have), and Alex and her mom have their own earlier. The cheesiest moment, by the way, comes when Alex’s mom–played by Helen Slater, who starred in the 1984 Supergirl flop–makes a joke about being a superhero, and Alex tells her that that could only happen in the movies. Oof, guys.
Because the show, in the end, stays true to its themes, the somewhat messy storytelling kind of slips by the wayside. We get a clean ending for many of the show’s best characters that leaves them the possibility of returning in the future for appearances on other Arrowverse shows. Alex will be appearing on The Flash, for example. Lex, Brainy, Nia, and even Supergirl herself are all still there living their lives. No need to cut it off clean. It’s a properly optimistic ending for an optimistic show.