Supergirl season 6 temporarily bows out with its midseason finale but does Kara finally escape the Phantom Zone and was the payoff worth the wait?
Supergirl has played the long game in its sixth season, taking Kara out of the equation (by sending her into the Phantom Zone) and placing the focus on her loved ones’ quest to find her.
On paper, it was genius, because it allowed Melissa Benoist to appear in a reduced capacity as she returned from maternity leave, while also allowing other cast members to shine in expanded roles. In reality, however, it all began to feel like one big missed opportunity as a series of episodes stuck in the same place, uh, firmly remained stuck in the same place.
The Super Friends’ endless battles against Phantoms and the drab aesthetic of J’onn’s new Tower made Supergirl‘s innovative new ideas run dry very quickly. And it made us long for the days of those cheery villain-of-the-week episodes to return and infuse the show with some life – which is part of what made the recent Midvale two-parter so enjoyable.
Nonetheless, it served its purpose and that was that, and it would all be worth it if the payoff was worthwhile. But was Supergirl season 6’s midseason finale worth it? Could “Fear Knot” bring it all together?
Supergirl season 6, episode 7 – A haunting tribute to Alien
The waiting game continued into “Fear Knot” as the main narrative picked up where it left off in the fourth episode (before the delightful Midvale two-parter temporarily reinvigorated the show) but there was instantly something different about the approach. There was urgency, there was haste and there were even some stakes to be had as the Super Friends prepared themselves for their trip into the Phantom Zone – something that imbued the episode with a season finale-like aura.
Another attempt to set itself apart from some of the previous episodes was its entire presentation. Centred on the Phantoms’ abilities to mess with their minds, the episode went a long way in using fear and isolation to craft an atmosphere that actually felt quite terrifying. And the repetitive nature of the experience as each character gave into that fear went a long way in intensifying that.
It was still joyless, but it was creatively joyless; joyless by design. Joyless so that it could channel Ridley Scott’s horror masterpiece Alien, isolating the characters on a ship in the middle of a realm they’ve never been in before; highlighting how the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of fear itself can drive you mad when you’re on your own.
It was this that allowed Kelly Olsen’s strength of character to really shine through as she proved that there are other ways to be a hero outside of fighting abilities, with Azie Tesfai delivering a stellar performance in the process.
The structure of the episode was perhaps its greatest asset, with each act devoted to a different character’s own fear-induced vision and that lent itself nicely to that overall feeling of dread that “Fear Knot” thrived on.
Like previous episodes, it was Supergirl‘s arc in the Phantom Zone that took the back seat here. Again, this was understandable but the promotional material for this one did make it look like this was finally going to be the Phantom Zone-heavy episode we had been waiting on. Instead, it was essentially just an opener and a closer set in the mystical realm as Kara began to lose hope after being attacked by the Phantoms.
It’s always nice to see more of the Phantom Zone and the bonding between Kara and her father, Zor-El, made sure that their brief moments together were fulfilling all the same. And this writer doesn’t mind telling you that he felt a little emotional when the Girl of Steel finally saw her family come for her.
The issue here, however, came with the resolution. After moving the story along at a slow pace for the majority of the season (again, understandably so), it felt like somebody just hit the fast-forward button here, robbing us of a longer emotional reunion between the Danvers sisters and all of the Super Friends. And this undercut a huge proportion of the season’s narrative because when one of the major driving forces behind separating the main characters is their eventual reunion (see: Legends of Tomorrow season 6), that reunion had better be worth it.
Unfortunately, Supergirl‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it conclusion fell a little flat. Yes, it was concocted to show us that Nyxly had escaped with them but that was hardly the most important thing here and, Alex and Kara’s hugs aside, it felt nothing like that show that was once so full of heart. Instead, it just felt like the story was going through the motions simply because it ran out of time.
Director David Harewood revelealed that a Super Friends hug was cut, so perhaps if The CW were to “Release The Harewood Cut”, yours truly (and a lot of other people it seems) might feel differently.
- David Harewood did a sensational job directing this episode. Like I said above, there were definitely Alien elements in the script and the boxed-in camerawork, invasive facial shots and the performances in general really highlighted that. I hope he directs again in the future because he’s so good at what he does.
- I don’t want to give off the impression that I didn’t enjoy this episode because I really did. Midvale two-parter aside, it might have been the best of the season thus far. The problem is that it tried it be two things at once, outdoing itself in one aspect and completely falling short in the other.
- Kara’s “That’s my family. They’re really here” made me very emotional. That was a moment of brilliance.
- The hug between Kara and Alex was also wonderful and carried real emotional weight. Cutting off this long-awaited reunion so quickly was not the right choice.
- The bonding moment between Nia and Lena was unexpected but it came off so well. We don’t often get the chance to see these two characters interact so this was really, really nice.
- This did feel like something of a mini season and I’m sure the writers will be happy to move on from it now that Kara is back, but it’s important to highlight that this didn’t feel anything like the Supergirl we know and love. Between the dull aesthetic, the singular narrative and the all-round grim episodes, the show’s heart was almost non-existent. That’s fine for an experimental season midway through its run but it isn’t how the show should go out. So when season 6 kicks off its second half, can we have more warm colors, more fun episodes and, most important of all, Supergirl‘s heart back.
- That being said, as a longtime fan of Supergirl, I can’t wait to see what my favorite characters get up to when the show returns for its final 13 episodes later this year.
What did you think of Supergirl season 6, episode 7? Will you be watching the rest of Supergirl season 6 when it returns? Let us know in the comments below!