This article contains spoilers for Supergirl season 3, episode 21, ‘Not Kansas’.
I come to the Arrowverse series as a fan of both comics and their television adaptations. I am predisposed to liking them and at times have nitpicked certain aspects of the series, but rarely am I negative about a full episode. I am close to that here. This episode of Supergirl started immediately from where the last one left off — Mon-El (Chris Wood) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) have returned just as Reign (Odette Annable) has escaped her prison. They battle while Lena (Katie McGrath) smelts down the black rock into a liquid form that they are able to inject into her system, forcing a separation of the Reign entity from Samantha Arias. The good guys win, the Earth is saved, and we’re only two minutes into the episode.
There is no explanation of why, after Reign has been kicking everyone’s ass for the season, Mon-El and Supergirl are not able to pin her to the ground. Nor how Lena had an injector that could pierce Reign’s skin. But it’s all done up nice and neat so Kara can go back to visit her mother for the majority of the episode and J’onn (David Harewood) and James (Mehcad Brooks) could work a case involving criminals using DEO designed weapons.
The Supergirl story is pretty good. She goes home and discovers just how mundane life in Argo City is. She reconnects with her best friend and sees what life would be like in a place where she was just like everyone else. She brings Mon-El with he so he can contact the Legion to come get him, but this gives them the chance to reconnect and for him to explain how he feels. And she seems to feel the same, but they don’t get to act on that — a construction crane falls and nearly crushes them. But no one takes it seriously because there is no crime in Argo City. However, Kara sees someone running from the accident.
Kara sees her again later and confronts her, but is told by her friend — who is the head cop — that there is no way anything is going on. Mon-El gives Kara his Legion ring so she can fly if necessary. But when a security droid is sent to attack her, she saves herself and Mon-El, and this time they believe her and question the mysterious woman. She drops the names the Daughters of the Night and Selena (Anjali Jay). We then learn that she has taken their ship and headed for Earth, where she meets up with Thomas Coville (Chad Lowe) and creates a new fortress. Sam also reacts to her coming to Earth, but we don’t see to what extent… but it seems that Reign may be far from gone.
My problem with the episode is what feels like a squeezed in social commentary story about gun control, bump stocks, and assault rifles. Guardian steps in and saves a cop from a shooter during a potential bank robbery only to find out the weapon used is from a DEO design. James and J’onn visit the manufacturer and they learn that they make a non-military hunting version that might have been modified by a bump stock to act like the full-auto version. J’onn, upset by this, tells the manufacturer to stop making them, but he explains that stopping any of their guns would put people out of work and they were complying with the contract they had with the DEO.
They also help try to track down the weapons, which gets them to the retailers, but they can only find 10% of the purchasers because the lack of a data base. James is able to pick the guy out from the ones they did locate — a guy who bought four of them. They discover on his social media that he was angry with the company that fired him, in the same building as the bank that they thought he was robbing, and he posted a manifesto showing that he was about to go back and take out some of his former co-workers. The DEO races over and J’onn ends up confronting him and talking him down without firing a shot. J’onn then decides that the DEO needs to change, and Winn (Jeremy Jordan) is going to make a line of non-lethal weapons. A good number of agents walk out of the announcement, showing their disagreement with the move. But a lot stay.
I don’t have a problem with the series trying to tackle an issue like gun control. In truth I think it’s a discussion that needs to happen, and both sides need to listen to the other. I was impressed when Arrow addressed the issue in the episode ‘Spectre of the Gun’. The key to that episode was that both sides of the argument were presented equally and fairly without commentary or trying to tell the audience what is right. The episode felt like it was trying to start a conversation and give both sides, allowing the viewers to make up their own mind. However, this episode felt like the writers were angry and horrified about what had been happening in the last year in Las Vegas and in Florida and many other places. I get that and can see the desire to send a message that it needs to stop — but this was more on the preaching side, and when an opposing view was given, it was done so without emotion, more of an acknowledgement that an opposition exists. I think Harewood and Brooks did a great job in their roles, but it felt like this was wedged into the episode because of outrage rather than a natural part of the season.
There were some other very cool moments of the episode including James yelling for Miss Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) in the same way Gene Hackman did in the Superman movies, and it seems she is now working for Lena. The moment where we see Alex (Chyler Leigh) putting aside her drink and starting to look at adoption sites and of course the moments with J’onn and M’yrnn (Carl Lumbly) as we find out that the end for M’yrnn is growing near and J’onn isn’t ready for it. Overall I think this episode could’ve been very good if it wasn’t for the heavy-handed messaging.
Next week is the penultimate episode and I think there is a very good chance that Mon-El calls on the Legion for a ride back to Earth.