Let’s start by acknowledging two of my favorite tidbits from this episode.
- The villain’s plot is almost exactly the same as the scheme hatched by the antagonists of the 2007 film Live Free or Die Hard.
- Kara’s retort to Winn about Siobhan Smythe is even more unbearable than usual: “I could throw her into space. I dream about doing that.”
I’m leading with these highlights because, unfortunately, there is not much else to get excited about this week.
“Solitude” is an episode that advances a few plots — James and Lucy’s relationship, Siobhan Smythe’s continued quest to become Cat Grant’s favorite, and the fallout from Astra’s death — but manages to do so in the least-interesting ways possible, with a villain that could’ve been great but ultimately proved to be a disappointment.
And that’s a huge disappointment. Although Supergirl had a few stumbles early out the gate, there hasn’t been a full-on bad episode yet. This one is pretty close.
“Solitude” kicks off with an anonymous package sent to Cat Grant, containing a flash drive full of names of people who used an Ashley Madison–esque site for cheaters. Some anonymous figure is hoping that CatCo will publish them. Cat Grant refuses to play ball, and as a result, the hacker takes over CatCo’s screens and makes herself known, claiming that she will punish National City for CatCo’s refusal to expose the cheaters. She turns all the city’s traffic lights green and vows to cause even more havoc, because everything is run by computers and whatnot.
Remember what I told you about Live Free or Die Hard? This is pretty much Live Free or Die Hard.
After helping motorists avoid serious accidents, Winn, James, and Kara go about trying to track down the hacker, but they didn’t have to, because she knows about them, and she takes over Winn’s computer — before coming right through it.
Here’s where we meet Indigo (played by Laura Vandervoort, who portrayed Supergirl in Smallville), who seems to be a living computer with superhuman strength. She knows everything about Kara, and seems pretty capable of fighting her off. She’s forced to run when Hank and Alex show up, guns blazing.
Indigo gets away, but something about the symbol on her head strikes Kara as familiar. She wants more information, but doesn’t want to work with the DEO. Luckily, Jimmy has an idea: Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
So the two of them fly off to the Arctic for what’s probably the episode’s best scene. It includes some of those details that, like Jimmy Olsen’s signal watch, indulge in a bit of Silver Age silliness that is utterly charming. Unfortunately, the rush I get from seeing the giant key or a ring from the Legion of Superheroes is undercut by the rest of the episode, which is not nearly as fun as any of this.
Kara and Jimmy find out that Indigo is a member of the Brainiac family (hence that familiar symbol on her forehead). She was the most dangerous prisoner ever sent to Fort Rozz, because she came close to achieving her plan to take out all of Krypton.
Team Supergirl figures out that Indigo is trying to do the same thing here on Earth, as all of her hacking was just a smokescreen. While all that chaos kept everyone distracted, she tracked down someone with the means to harness the nuclear arsenal held at the silo closest to National City.
It’s a pretty ridiculous plot for a pretty ridiculous episode, but it’s delivered with almost no cheek. “Solitude” would play so much better with just a shred of self-awareness, but if it was intended to be there, something got lost in translation. Laura Vandevoort’s Indigo is one of the more goofier looking villains — right up there with Red Tornado — but she’s a strong enough presence that I want to see her ham things up and chew scenery like nobody’s business.
Anyway, it all culminates with the launch of a freaking nuclear missile, which Kara stops easily enough. Winn shuts down Indigo by uploading a virus to her. (He also calls her “a glorified Windows Vista,” which, ouch.) All in all, it’s an underwhelming finish that doesn’t actually finish, because Non has the pieces of Indigo, and he seems ready to rebuild her by episode’s end.
Now let’s briefly talk about the other ways “Solitude” let me down.
James and Lucy: Throughout this season, Lucy has been a disappointing character. So far, she has only served to forestall the eventual hooking up of James and Kara. This week it comes to a head, as Lucy realizes that he trusts Kara more and places Supergirl over their relationship. She comes to the conclusion that he’s in love with Kara, and Kara with him.
Siobhan and Winn: The newest addition to CatCo is having a rough day, somehow unable to pull off being Cat Grant’s favorite as easily as she did last week. She does get a lot of scenes with Winn this time around, whom she first refuses to acknowledge because he’s not six feet tall. Then, she confides that the leaked names hit her hard because her father used the cheaters’ site (promising to kill him if he reveals this to anyone), and finally kisses him at the end of the episode (again promising to kill him if he tells anyone about this). It’s very Cordy and Xander from Buffy, and I don’t like it because Siobhan is the worst. Winn is smarter than this.
Hank, Alex, and Astra: This is the episode where Alex finally comes clean about killing Astra. The confession scene is handled really well. Kara — who begrudgingly rejoins the DEO after National City almost got nuked the day they stopped working together — beats back her initial rage and chooses to love her sister and embrace her, while reaching out to Hank as well. Unfortunately, this thread suffers a bit of jet lag from the last episode, in which Kara’s anger toward Hank was too rushed. The arc wasn’t allowed to play out at a pace that would allow any of this to sink in.
Episodes like “Solitude” serve as a good reminder of how many plates Supergirl is trying to spin. It wants to be all things to all people. Most weeks, it performs admirably. Lately, it’s even been great. But as the first season winds down, the show needs to set some of those plates down — and unfortunately, just like its lead character, Supergirl is a little clumsy. Something is bound to shatter.