Martin Carr reviews the eighteenth episode of Supergirl season 3…
There are no Dylanesque overtones to this episode whatever that tagline might suggest. For the occupants of National City there will be no ‘Shelter from the Storm’ as Reign goes on a rampage looking for that final shred of humanity keeping Sam alive. However beneath the surface this is more about broadening character arcs, redefining relationships and uncovering Luthor related history. Ruby for all she represents is merely a diversion as Supergirl focuses on character over spectacle and parental role models over hand to hand smack downs.
Between the male bonding sessions, brooding mistrust and more serious social issues you get the impression Reign has taken a back seat. Annable is still effective within the dual roles yet her impact feels secondary to everything else. What does pique the interest however is an archetype of Gothic horror proportions as manifested through Lex Luthor’s country retreat. Cloaked by tech, dowdy and architecturally Addams Family in demeanour this is where you would expect criminal masterminds to reside. Rambling, clinical, furnished with antiques and overseen by creepy portraits this feels more like the family seat than an individual residence.
Secretive, suspicious, glacial and savvy the Luthor family are not accepting of failure. Driven by an overbearing matriarch their default setting is self-preservation. Success was never an issue as ruthless came with the character make-up and few dared go toe to toe with them. Trying to cast off that legacy and be accepted is Lena’s current mission. Coming from a place of neutrality she is burdened by family in both word and deed meaning people are quick to suspect, quicker to act but slow to question their own judgement. Which is why the combined powers of three World Killers somehow lacks that all important sense of drama.
Reign is all hard edges while Jonn’s father is frailty personified. Her arsenal of moves is effective but somehow feels diminished in the light of mental illness, male bonding or anything else vaguely real. At the heart of this episode stand Sam and Ruby who represent a dysfunctional mother and daughter relationship similar in many ways to Kara, Alex and Mrs Danvers. Elsewhere there is the crumbling dynamic between Mon-El and Emra, Alex and Maggie or Lena and Kara. These are all people who find it hard to function without the others, meaning there is friction, distrust and fractured bonds which need repairing. Amongst the Reign and thunder, slap fests and romantic resignations maybe everyone is looking for shelter of one sort or another.