Supergirl: Alex has been a mother since season one


Last week’s Supergirl episode officially established Alex as a surrogate mother to Ruby, but Alex was actually a mom to someone else long before she met her new charge.

On Supergirl, it’s an irrefutable fact that Earth-2 Alex Danvers is one of the best big sisters in the entire multiverse. Part of what makes her so incredible in that regard, though, is the fact that she has in many ways also been a mom to Kara for the better part of a decade.

As was established in season one, Eliza Danvers made looking after new-to-Earth Kara largely Alex’s responsibility, even though Alex was a teenager herself. After Jeremiah Danvers disappeared, Eliza was suddenly a single mom to kids, so she had to focus on work. However, Eliza’s decision still put a significant and arguably unfair weight on Alex’s shoulders.

"Eliza: You always make the hard choice. You look to help other before yourself.Alex: That’s what you taught me to do. So why hasn’t it ever been enough?— “Livewire”"

This season’s flashback episode, “Midvale,” showed that Alex and Kara were not very close for the first two years after Kara landed on Earth. Obviously, it was unfair of Alex to blame Kara for what disrupting her life and unintentionally playing a role in Jeremiah’s disappearance as Kara was only a kid. But Alex’s frustration and pain were legitimate and understandable, especially considering she was also a kid thrust into a new situation beyond her control.

More from Opinion

Eliza didn’t help matters by always going easy on Kara, and instead blaming Alex for Kara’s actions such as using her powers, as was seen in one of Supergirl‘s first flashbacks to young Kara and Alex in the powerful season one Thanksgiving episode, “Livewire.” 

At the end of the flashbacks in “Midvale,” though, young Alex finally took on her responsibility willingly and without complaint after she and Kara became bonded for life. However, as season one made clear, Alex went way past big sister mode and into mom mode. She devoted her life entirely to Kara’s care and didn’t allow herself to have a life of her own.

She literally chose her line of work both as a scientist and DEO agent in order to protect Kara, and then she didn’t even tell Kara about it for years in order to protect her. Additionally, joining the DEO had actually kind of saved Alex because she had pushed herself so hard for so many years to selflessly protect Kara that she had developed a drinking problem.

"Kara: Without me, you have no life, and that kills you. Deep down you hate me.— “Falling”"

Alex never felt like she was fulfilling her “duty” to Kara adequately, a pressure that was partially driven by Eliza. In the present-day “Livewire” storyline, as Alex had predicted, Eliza blamed her for having allowed her then 24-year-old sister to become Supergirl. It was only after Alex confronted Eliza about her constant criticism that Eliza finally realized the consequences of the undue pressure she had been putting on Alex for years.

Alex’s next confrontation with a family member was far more painful, if somewhat beneficial in the long run. In one Supergirl‘s best episodes to date, “Falling,” Kara was exposed to Red Kryptonite and was unable to stop herself from voicing and acting on every terrible thought and impulse she’d ever had. She hurt everyone around, but no one more than Alex.

Not unlike a spoiled child, she took every sacrifice Alex had ever made for her, twisted them to seem self-serving, and threw them back in Alex’s face. Like the selfless mom that she is, Alex readily forgave her, and to be fair, Kara was seemingly in just as much pain as Alex when she remembered what she’d said to her.

However, Alex acknowledged there was “some truth” to what Kara had said, which was addressed again in the season one finale. When Kara thought she was going to die in space, she demanded that Alex “do all the things that being [Kara’s] sister kept her from doing.”

In season two, Alex delivered on that promise, finding love, developing a life outside of the DEO, and learning how to not automatically put her own needs behind Kara’s. To an extent, she will always be a mother to Kara, but now Alex knows how to not let that role overwhelm her.

"Alex: What about us taking care of each other?“The Last Children of Krypton”"

It will be particularly interesting, though, to see how Kara’s move to Argo City in Monday’s episode, “Not Kansas,” will affect Alex. She did not react well when Kara talked about moving to Metropolis to live with her cousin in the early season two episode “The Last Children of Krypton.”

While Kara thought it would give Alex more freedom by not having to look after Kara (see: even Kara knows she’s Alex’s daughter), Alex pointed out that she relied on Kara to take care of her, too.

Obviously, Alex is now in a better place, having learned to live more independently of Kara, and she would never ask Kara to miss out on getting to know the mother she thought she’d lost forever. However, I would be surprised if the move were not still painful for Alex, who presumably doesn’t know when or if Kara will return.

Next: 50 greatest super heroes in comic book history

Turning now to Alex’s new role as Ruby’s guardian, my inspiration in writing this article was simply to show that while Alex may be viewing herself as a new mom, she’s much more of a veteran than she’s giving herself credit for.