Supergirl: “Midvale” Review


By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

After a terrible break-up last week on Supergirl, it was time for Alex and Kara to head back to home sweet home. The sisters returned to their childhood house and took a trip down memory lane. Were the memories sweet, or better left buried? Read on for a review of this week’s episode of Supergirl.

The episode started with a relatable situation for many: reconnecting with mom for some much-needed love and advice after a life situation gone horribly wrong. In “Midvale,” Helen Slater portrayed a loving and compassionate mother as Eliza Danvers with the warmly delivered (and memorable) line, “…when your child’s in agony, you show up, regardless of the hour.” With a cup of coffee and some wise words, Eliza created a safe place for the show to explore “the feels.” After all the emotional drama, as a viewer, I was ready for some catharsis with the Danvers family at home.

Unfortunately, there was very little follow up to that motherly advice and space for “feels” as the Danvers sisters had a good ol’ fashioned sibling fight, which took them back down memory lane to sibling rivalry as teenagers. Before expounding on why the trip down memory lane might have been a mistake for “Midvale,” the performances of young Kara and Alex should be applauded. The casting of the teenage versions of the characters was impressively done. Too often, disbelief must be suspended with shows and movies portraying present and past versions of the same character, as they often look and, ultimately, act nothing alike. This was not the case with “Midvale.” Izabela Vidovic (as young Kara) and Olivia Nikkanen (as young Alex) not only looked the parts, they managed to capture the essence of the adult versions of their characters and bottle it for use in a flashback situation. The casting and acting choices were impressive, to say the least.

While the performances of Vidovic and Nikkanen in “Midvale” were entrancing and entertaining, the lack of time given to the adult/present-day performances of Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist was disappointing. Flashbacks are generally designed to be glimpses into the past to explain the present. Unfortunately, the storytelling method was not used to its best effect in Supergirl this week – which is as a supplemental tool to be briefly used. Instead, “Midvale” was more than 90% flashback, with very little of the present except an introduction and a conclusion. Without reminders of the present-day, the reason for the story of the past can get a little lost in itself. Simply knowing that the characters are younger versions of the show’s main characters is not enough to encourage relatability and connection to the characters. The episode felt like a prequel spin-off show rather than an episode in the third season of Supergirl.

There were some fun references to Clark Kent’s friend Chloe and her “Wall of Weird,” along with an undercover appearance by J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), balanced with a terrible South Park reference. Unfortunately, the fun Easter egg references were not enough to save the episode.

Overall, the major flaw with Supergirl episode this week was that it could be removed from the season entirely without impacting the season story arc at all. It may have explained how the two sisters found refuge in one another in their teenage years, perhaps even pushing them onto their career and life paths. But the same stories and meanings might have been implied (and in some cases have already been subtly introduced) with simple dialogue or comments in the present day, without dedicating an entire episode to the cause. “Midvale” instead became a one-off episode that did little to add to the season, coming across as a lazy filler for the season, lacking thought and connection (with almost zero superheroine content).

The episode closed with the Danvers sisters headed back to the city…emotionally lighter or heavier is difficult to say. However, we can only hope that the strong women will return to what they do best: crime fighting, world-saving, and positive messages for viewers.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Supergirl? Did you enjoy the trip to the past or were you missing living in the now?

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