Getting back to the best episodes of the Superhero shows, we turn to Supergirl. In 2017, the series was wrapping up its second season, but its first on the CW, and a lot of changes had been made with the move. It was a change from the CBS workplace drama style to the more superhero team CW series, and that included armor for James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and the introduction of Mon-El (Chris Wood). The second season was also about finding their place thematically in the Arrowverse, which they got pretty figured out by the second season finale when Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) had to make the choice to save the planet but at the cost of her relationship with Mon-El. And it was this decision that led to the best episode of 2017, from Supergirl’s third season: Wake Up.
The episode was directed by Chad Lowe, who also joined the series as Thomas Coville, a man who worshiped the Girl of Steel and found other followers. He’s been helpful in the main Reign story line as well, knowing bits of Kryptonian lore that even Allura (Erica Durance) doesn’t know. The episode was written by Gabriel Llanas and Ann Musky-Goldwyn. For Kara, it’s been seven months since she had to send Mon-El away and she’s still not over it. When J’onn (David Harewood), Wynn (Jeremy Jordan) and her phase down into an alien ship under the city, they discover Mon-El is there and alive. Except for him it’s been 7 years since he left. And there are five others on the ship with him in statis tubes.
It takes a while through the episode to really figure out what is going on, and even then we just get bits and pieces as we go. But when Wynn decides to help him and repower the ship so the statis tubes continue to function, it turns out one fails and Kara has to break it open to save the occupant. Inside is Imra Ardeen (Amy Jackson), otherwise known as Saturn Girl of the Legion of Superheroes. Which brings one of the most beloved team of heroes in comics. Unlike a lot of other comic based groups who are made up of heroes that work as solo characters as well, the heroes of the Legion are always a team, a family. When you introduce one, you know there will be more. Mon-El maybe the one exception in that he was created as part of the Superman comics before ever joining the Legion.
What makes this episode the best is the emotional beats. We’ve been seeing the pain and guilt Kara has been going through for months, and suddenly that can all be wiped aside when Mon-El returns — except this isn’t the same Mon-El. This is a guy who went off and live his life for another seven years, building a life in the future with the idea he would never get back to Kara. He eventually moved on and found love again. Kara is on a rollercoaster, come off horrible lows to suddenly see the highs again coming then to discover that Mon-El is married to Imra. The scene is played so well. Kara doesn’t breakdown and cry, she doesn’t get angry. She stands stoic, like a hero as you see the heartbreak in her eyes.
And while all this was going on, we learn that Samantha (Odette Annable) had a very similar origin to Superman, being found in an alien ship. And we watch J’onn trying to bond with his father M’yrnn (Carl Lumbly) and introduce him to some Earth things. Both of these stories played to a different set of emotions so when the final reveal hits, the audience has already been all over the place and feels the blow much stronger. It’s a very well-written episode — the best of 2017.