Supergirl’s second episode of the season comes in with a lot of the same stuff from last week. “Fallout” touches on a lot of the same themes as last week’s premiere. True to its name, “Fallout” deals more with the growing anti-alien sentiment that comes from the President’s true identity being revealed. It’s a bit repetitive, but it tackles familiar themes in an engaging way.
The specific plot of “Fallout” is kind of weak, as the focus is mostly on the political parallels. The primary plot focuses on Mercy Graves, breaking into LuthorCorp for some classic “hacking the mainframe” shenanigans. While it’s fun to see Lena and Mercy go all Lazer Team on each other, it makes for an amusing story. Braniac’s discomfort after his identity revealed, and James’ struggle with writing an editorial, are also fine stories for Supergirl to continue exploring the show’s anti-alien conflict. The most interesting element was J’onn, as he prepares to go all BlackKklansmen in the movement run by new antagonist Agent Liberty. “Fallout” isn’t a groundbreaking episode, but while the plot is thin, the emotions are honest.
This episode also does a better job of integrating Nia. While her purpose wasn’t clear last episode, “Fallout” gives her a purpose. The dialogue between her & Braniac was awkward, but her plea to James was strong. It’s an example of Supergirl finding new ways to explore similar themes. The show has never been subtle with its political stance, but moving beyond platitudes into real emotional struggle is powerful. How Nia will keep providing this power – and whether she may have a relationship with Braniac-5 – remains to be seen.
The weakest element of the episode are the villains. While Mercy Graves and Agent Liberty are independently interesting, their union doesn’t seem concrete. They appear to have different ideals, particularly when it comes to tackling Supergirl. It’s also an example of how Supergirl has clear themes, but not clear narratives. We understand their fear tactics early on. What the show needs is more conflicts on the scale of Mercy’s assault on LuthorCorp. Agent Liberty will need to start actual fights soon for him to feel like a real villain.
Hopefully next week’s episode puts more of the plot into focus. “Fallout” is not a bad episode, but it needs a more substantive story. Especially with a potentially deadly cliffhanger, Supergirl definitely looks poised to bring in more action. The question is whether the series can better blend its politics with a superhero story. Supergirl’s politics aren’t a problem, and by no means should they feel pressured to drop them. All that’s needed is a better balance, especially now that it’s established its viewpoint so strongly.