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Supergirl - Not Kansas - Reviews: Missed the Mark

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Last week, Supergirl was praised for its string of excellent episodes since returning from their lengthy hiatus. This week in a race to the season finale it offers an uneven episode, rushing to wrap up storylines and a too heavy-handed handling of a major social issue. Handling social issues is something that Supergirl has done well in general in its three seasons, presenting solid and balanced sides to such issues as feminism, gay rights, and immigration. In their latest episode "Not Kansas", Ep. 3x21, they take on the weighty, hot-button issue of gun control. This time their social commentary on gun control was out of place with the momentum being built for the finale, misses the mark and delivers one of the weakest and most poorly written episodes of the season.

While the show is to be applauded for trying to present such a serious issue, something a lot of shows shy away from, theirapproach was too heavy-handed and somewhat one-sided. The heavy-handedness weighs down the entire episode and comes very close to overshadowing the focus on what should have been the main story of the week, Kara Zor-El's (Melissa Benoist) return home to Argo and her reunion with her mother. The best way to describe this episode is to liken it to a loaf of half-baked bread, crisp and well-done on the ends but the middle is thick and gummy and not quite done all the way through.

If you're going to do a show on such a controversial issue, you certainly shouldn't do it two episodes from the season finale and in anticipation of what is likely to be one of the DEO's biggest battles of the series. Instead, what occurred was J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood), the man who last season argued with Superman about removing all the Kryptonite that the DEO might need to help protect the planet, make a seemingly knee-jerk decision to destroy all the DEO's guns. He's essentially disarming his own team, the agents of the law enforcement agency on Earth that are tasked with protecting the planet from the most dangerous aliens in the universe. His snap decision made no sense and will likely turn out to be a decision he will regret the next time the DEO comes under attack (like next week when the three Priestesses and an apparently resurrected Reign arrive, at least according to previews). Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) is good, but even his genius is unlikely to be able to create the non-lethal weapons in time to help.

The writing in this episode was weak. Instead of spending so much time on this, including the totally unnecessary filler of Guardian (Mehcad Brooks) biding his time, in full uniform, playing basketball, they should have spent more time on the fallout of separating Reign (Odette Annable) from Sam. They've spent all season long building Reign as the strongest villain of the show's three seasons, and yet they neutralize her in the first five minutes of the episode in a standout fight sequence between Reign, Supergirl, and Mon-El (Christopher Wood). Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) synthesizes the black rock into a serum, and poof, Reign is gone and Sam is back. Not only is Sam back, but instantly reunited with her daughter and then sent merrily home to live happily ever after without the first hint of skepticism or test to determine if Reign is really gone. Then we find out at the end, surprise, thanks to a switch by the dark Priestess Selena (Anjali Jay), Reign is being resurrected.

Another miss was the usually dependable Danvers Sisters couch scene. Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist were outstanding together as always, however, something in the scene was just off. Once again, Alex buries her feelings in the best interest of her sister and wishes her well, telling her it was time for Kara Zor-El to take care of herself. Kara's mother later echoes Alex for the second straight week. Hopefully, this tells us that at some point in the finale or maybe even as a storyline next season, Alura (Erica Durance) will spend time getting to know the woman who was and remains Kara's heart and soul on Earth. Yet, some important things were missing. Where was any discussion about their mother, Eliza, and did Kara conveniently forget she's not the only Kryptonian on Earth who might have a surviving family member in Argo? Did she let her cousin know a part of their world survived? There were just so many missed opportunities in these moments.

Unlike last week, the strongest part of this week's episode took place on Argo. We saw Kara trying to re-acclimate to her home, spending quality time with her mother, reconnecting with her childhood friend, Thara (Esme' Bianco) and ultimately discovering that being just Kara Zor-El was not as exciting as she thought it might be. She was learning that it was hard being just the daughter of Alura instead of Supergirl.

The show continues to highlight Mon-El's growth and maturity arc by showing Kara's surprise at his helping the little boy, Val, and him finally admitting his feelings to her. This is done through a nice callback to the first episode of Season 3, "Girl of Steel" with the song, "Daydreaming", going so far as to have them wear the same clothing. Benoist and Woods' natural ease and chemistry with one another shows with them first comforting and then supporting one another. Later Kara thanks Mon-El for joining her in Argo with a hug, the most physical contact they've had since his return in "Wake Up" Ep. 3x07. He confesses to her he's been trying to sort out his feelings but can’t deny them any longer, that friendship isn't going to be enough. This scene between them was warm and touching and depicted a man in conflict with his duty and the woman he loves.

Other highlights of the episode were J'onn coming to terms with his father's M'yrnn's (Carl Lumbly) impending death. At the center of his anxiety is the ceremony called the Reach, where he will take on all of his father's Martian memories. Perhaps this will transform the J'onn J'onzz we know into the all-powerful Martian Manhunter of the comics, that would be a great storyline to follow next season. And finally, Alex, now essentially alone after losing both Kara and Ruby in the same episode, appears to be taking some of her own advice and realizing its time for her to take care of Alex Danvers. In a significant moment not lost on many fans, she puts down and pushes away her glass of alcohol while looking at selfies of her and Ruby, then she begins exploring ways to adopt on her computer.

Perhaps this was a case of trying to tie up too many storylines at one time in advance of the big season finale. Hopefully, many of these issues will be corrected before the big battle for Earth with the dark Priestesses of Krypton and Reign begins next week. What did you think of “Not Kansas”? Discuss your thoughts in the comments below. Remember, limit your discussions of events on the show.

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