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The Cold Loneliness of Being the Last Supergirl

It's good to see Supergirl is just like us every once in a while

Nick Campbell

Ask from Supergirl and ye shall receive.

Just last week I mentioned that, after a opening thesis to the season where Kara (Melissa Benoist) wanted to take time to find out who that inner Danvers is, Season 2 had drifted far away from the reflective trials and focused primarily on the punching and laser-visioning aspect of things. Journalism career? Only when it's convenient! Taking stock of your Earthling life? Who has the time? Not when the jaws of malevolent fiends need smashing!

And then the nuclear reactor that powers the DEO (?) almost blew up and it opened up the opportunity for Kara to really get her feelings out to her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh). Like you do when you have 15 minutes before perishing in a 16-block extinction event. And, sure, that Alex turned out to be a masquerading White Martian who accuses Supergirl of whining too much. But the feelings were real.

What Kara eventually figures out during her Moment of Danvers, sitting across a table from her real adoptive sister, is that she's sorting through some abandonment issues. And while it isn't something that's really come up in the episodes previous, it completely makes sense and adds some vulnerability to a woman blessed with a Superman problem (that is, the boredom that comes from physical invulnerability and impermeable righteousness).

Her abandonment issues are now part of a triforce of Kara's fractured psyche along with her survivor's guilt and a compulsion to service. You'd think they'd all be at odds with each other. How can you simultaneously feel guilty for surviving but also feel like everyone abandoned you? But it all comes together near the end of the episode as yet another DEO breach of security crisis is resolved and everyone else goes their own separate ways. Alex runs to meet her girlfriend for what's left of a Barenaked Ladies show (yeah, that's two gay women who are really into Barnaked Ladies. It's corny, but I love it). Winn (Jeremy Jordan) scampers off to see if James (a unfortunately absent Mehcad Brooks) needs the type of help that comes from a van. And J'onn (David Harewood) continues his underserved story with M'gann (Sharon Leal). I might need a spin-off arc or something to be satisfied. But there Kara stood, cape in hand, alone in the DEO cortex, just her and a couple of bickering humans who almost killed each other that day over some nonsense.


Kara's feelings of isolation and loneliness are nothing new. She's lived her whole life trying to fit in despite Earth's yellow sun forcing her to maintain a youthful glow and an ability to lift a car or three over her head. And finally she got to be herself as Supergirl and she gained a lot of friends who basically worshipped her. Suddenly they all have their own things. And Kara is alone again. Even Mon-El the Hound (Chris Wood) has moved on.

A quick note about Mon-El: The show made an overt effort to guide us down a road. Alex told Kara that the confusion over Mon-El is making her pour her efforts into other aspects of her life to shore them up and make up for the uncertainty. But, until that moment, it seemed like the other way around. Alex has a life outside of her sister, Winn and James are their own heroes, and the only person that was still willing to follow Kara into the dark was Mon-El. Kara likes to be liked and he likes her. So it makes sense that Kara would initially have no feelings for Mon-El until exactly the time he admitted to have feelings for her. Maybe it's just because I haven't bought into her and the Daxamite, but I like it way better when they're feuding siblings rather than awkward almost lovers.

The only way it makes sense is that these are two people that understand what it means to be among the last of their kind. It is a profound loneliness but Kara's seems so much more complicated. She didn't just narrowly dodge a space plague of planet fragments by happening upon an escape pod. She didn't make it off Krypton by her own wits and survival skills. She was elected to leave. She was rocketed out to space while the rest of her family perished together. There's a twisted way to look at that like your family thought you were the daughter and sibling no one needed to see in their final moments. She was left to rot in space while the rest of her family met their maker together.

In equal measure, she was also tasked with being helpful. Whereas Kal-El was given no instructions for what to do on Earth (it's really hard to engage with babies about truth and justice), Kara was given a mission as a dying wish. So she has this obligation to service while feeling this complicated emotional sting of being sent away. And, of course, she doesn't always think about her family the same way a daughter might feel about being sent to boarding school by cold parents, but the feeling of being the last daughter of Krypton is still there. She lived. They perished. She has a cousin who only knows Earth. She's alone with her memories of a place that has been wiped from time.

So it makes sense that her dedication to serving the squishy humans with powers she didn't ask for would be so strong and so wrapped up in this deep-seated emotional baggage. It's these kinds of things that make a Kryptonian character interesting. Through all their strength and invincibility, they can still be vulnerable. It's not all punching contests and unwavering self-righteousness. They're also fractured and struggling to understand the universe. And so, yes, the White Martian might accuse Supergirl of being a fragile little snowflake with her whining and her feelings but that frailty and honesty of character is what connects her to the world and connects us to her.

Also: screw a White Martian. Those guys are just the living worst.
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