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Supergirl - Fear Knot - Review: Facing Fears


Kicking off my first assignment as the new full-time Supergirl reviewer for Spoiler TV with a short series of articles to refresh everyone’s memory as to what has happened so far in season 6 prior to the show’s midseason premiere on Tuesday, August 24.

The seventh episode of Supergirl’s final season, Fear Knot, brings Supergirl’s torment inside the Phantom Zone to an end. However, before her friends and family can rescue her, they will have to battle their own internal demons brought to life by the Phantoms. Following Chyler Leigh (Alex)’s strong directorial debut of Prom, Again!, fellow cast member David Harewood (J’onn J’onzz) directed this powerful, at times darker Groundhog Day-like outing that gave each character an effective turn in the spotlight. In terms of getting from point a to point b - this was a tidy episode featuring a neat effect of turning the Tower into J’onn’s spaceship -as the episode went from mission prep to fear visions caused by the Phantoms, and, finally, to rescuing Kara. Overall, the character interactions and plot made sense -and it was exciting when it needed to be. It was an example of an ensemble episode that gave everyone equal time, with big moments for each character, while keeping to the same core purpose. The episode further highlights how the more focused storytelling benefits the cast and their characters and sets up future storylines including a return of Nyxly who hitchhikes on top of the ship as it escapes from the Phantom Zone.
The weight of responsibility has always weighed heavily on Alex and her worst nightmares explode during her fear vision of not being able to save everyone. Her vision begins with an argument with J’onn about who needs to make the dangerous trek into the Phantom Zone in order to provide Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) with a familiar touchstone. She becomes infected by a Phantom, which leads her to believe she’s the cause of the Phantoms attacking the ship. This taps directly into her guilt about not protecting Kara and as her character would always do, she prepares to save everyone by launching herself into space through an airlock. Although, there is some debate to be had as to whether her blasting herself into space was meant to be her overcoming her fear or dodging it by sacrificing herself.
Now that she is privy to Supergirl’s secret, Kelly (Azie Tesfai) is now aboard the ship as a full-fledged team member. Her presence is advantageous in that she counsels the team with fear management techniques. However, her fear of being powerless among the Super friends plays out as she watches in horror as her friends, Nia (Nicole Maines), Lena (Katie McGrath) and even her love, Alex, succumb to the Phantoms. She does manage to conquer her fears and fight back with pieces of the ship shaped much like the Guardian shield, which is a nice touch of foreshadowing her becoming a superhero herself later this season.
Nia’s fears are a continuation of a recurring theme in these episodes. She struggles with her dream interpretation and sees her hesitation cost those closest to her dearly. She may be one of the only crew members who did not overcome her fears in the episode. Brainy (Jesse Rath)’s fears were not explored as deeply as the others, as his coping mechanisms for his highly specific and unique fears were effective.
Lena’s fears, out of context, were a well-done sequence -with cool effects reminiscent of the movie, The Abyss. The scene was indicative of the whole "the show isn't quite sure who Lena is supposed to be now” dilemma. Her fears seemingly focus on Lena’s longing for her biological family, who have rarely been mentioned during the show. While it’s too soon in the season to be sure what the writers have planned for Lena, she has been reduced to a lowkey supporting character who provides tech help very quickly.
J’onn uses his Martian powers to beat back whatever the Phantoms had intended for him to guide the ship safely to Supergirl’s location in the Phantom Zone. Meanwhile inside the Phantom Zone itself, a beaten down Supergirl gives up her signature hope rapidly after a Phantom scratch. In another speedy turnabout from his previous behavior, her father, Zor-El (Jason Behr) takes up the mantle of hope. Bringing back Zor-El at all is an unusual decision, unless he proves to be the Phantom Zone’s biggest deception. Will the choice to bring him back make the show stronger or shake things up?
Very little was shown of how Supergirl was truly affected by the Phantom Zone. One more episode to show Kara coping with the Phantom Zone was needed, but likely not possible logistically. The show could have been very limited on what they could film with Benoist to catch up and stay on track for filming, so they likely couldn’t show all of her fear visions, due to limitations on who she could film with. Showing the lingering effects of the Phantom Zone on Kara and having Kara facing her fears could be a major underlying theme for the rest of the season.
No discussion of Fear Knot would be complete with mentioning the long awaited, albeit brief reunion of the Danvers Sisters in the final moments of the episode. Fans have waited six long episodes for this special reunion and although director David Harewood has said on Twitter, they did film a “Space Family” group hug, he cut it because the moment was supposed to be about the sisters. Although the moment Kara and her father fly up to the rescue ship and Kara rushes into Alex’s waiting arms was less than 10 seconds in length, it was nonetheless the strongest and most emotional moment of the episode. That moment was made even more special by an interview with Chyler Leigh that was published the night it aired, in which she said that not only was that the first season 6 scene she had filmed with Melissa Benoist, but it was also the first time they had physically seen one another since going back to work. The emotional impact of their reunion as characters, as actresses, and as friends is, of course, a testament to how the Danvers Sisters, as the heart, soul, and foundation of Supergirl, remain the show’s constant guiding star.
These powerful, often entertaining, episodes of the first half of Supergirl’s sixth and final season have demonstrated that the show focusing on its main character is unsurprisingly the best choice it could make. Better late than never.

The CW’s Supergirl returns tonight (Tuesday, August 24) 9pm Eastern/8pm Central with the aptly entitled episode Welcome Back, Kara. Watch for my review of this highly anticipated episode in the days following its airing. What are your thoughts on this first group of episodes of season 6 of Supergirl? Share them in the comments below.

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