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Supergirl - Welcome Back, Kara - Review: Relying on Strengths

Welcome Back, Kara was the perfect title for the 8th episode of Supergirl’s final season. Not only does it perfectly explain what the episode was about, Kara’s return from the Phantom Zone, but it also served as a much-needed return to the season 1 style and tones that made the show popular in the beginning. The episode was anchored by the wise decision by the writers to continue the theme they returned to in the first seven episodes, making the story and the show about their title character, Supergirl.

So many elements of this episode harkened back to the show’s season 1 greatness that until recently the show had forgotten was one of their greatest strengths. There was the major focus on Kara (Melissa Benoist) and how she is dealing with the trauma of her time in the Phantom Zone; there was great, long-missing Danvers Sisters moments; the show also addressed an important real-world issue without beating the audience over the head with it. Furthermore, there was drama brewing at Catco; and secondary characters were given the opportunity to grow and connect with one another. The quality of the special effects also enhanced the episode, particularly in the creation of Oscar the Garbage Monster. All in all, it was a solid outing that gives fans much hope for quality episodes throughout the remainder of the season/series.
Despite the episode rushing a few plot and character points, Kara struggling to move past her Phantom Zone experiences made for very poignant and impactful scenes. The episode was also successful in setting up some interesting storylines down the road while wrapping up a few others such as putting a friendly end to William (Staz Nair)’s role as a love interest and also having Zor-El (Jason Behr) recognize he was duplicating the rushed mistakes he made on Krypton. Kara’s father eventually decided he was ready to accept the consequences of his actions and returned to Argo to face his wife, Allura.
The Catco segments of the episode really began to take on the feel of season 1 as though Cat Grant was still there. Fighting to save her media empire, Andrea Rojas (Julie Gonzalo) displayed some very Cat-like traits. Andrea is very ambitious and ego driven and will go to great lengths to achieve supremacy in the media industry. Having her assign Kara to use her connections with Supergirl for press purposes was a smart storytelling choice, as is the possibility of having Kara interact with Phantom survivors (provided the show follows through with this just a little more). Andrea turning her focus on the Superfriends (her taking credit for coining the moniker was another Cat-like move) is somewhat comedic and could bring some levity to the season, although it was the source of a major plot hole. The Lex Luthor research she steals as Acrata on the Superfriends contained some very obvious clues to the heroes’ true identities, such as Kara Zor-El’s name at the top on one page, and an unhooded Sentinel on another. Odd that Andrea didn’t put the pieces together to note that her Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and Supergirl share the same first name, or observe that Sentinel bore a striking resemblance to Kara’s sister, Alex. And while on the subject of plot holes, another one in the episode is also Catco related, where Andrea mentions one of the reasons she published William’s article is the great photo he got of the Garbage Robot, the only problem was when, where, and how did William get such a photo?
The episode also has a continuation of the nice bond developing between Lena (Katie McGrath) and Nia (Nicole Maines) that began during their fear vision episodes. The two women have bonded over their mothers and are forming a close friendship that strengthens each character. They had some very nice moments in the episode. Theirs is a friendship that works well, as does the Brainy (Jesse Rath) and Lena one that has also been developing. It's just a shame that the show is just now recognizing that they had limited Lena’s character connections too much or these bonds could have been developed much sooner. Seeing where these friendships go will have to wait as Lena decides to leave to learn more about her birth mother and origins, taking the character out of two if not more upcoming episodes according to recently released synopses.
Another strong indication Supergirl is returning to its season 1 form is that it placed the emotional heavyweight of this episode into the hands of its greatest strength, the Danvers Sisters. Having touching, classic Danvers Sisters moments bookend the episode was one of the best decisions. An episode with just Benoist and Chyler Leigh scenes could easily become a ratings star. Tying both sisters into the storyline of Kara dealing with her Phantom Zone experiences is an extremely smart choice and is in very capable hands. Remember, no confirmation of how long Kara was trapped in the Phantom Zone has been given. Zor-El himself said he’d been in there 40 years as a reminder that time moved very differently in the Phantom Zone. So, there’s every indication that Kara and Alex were separated for a considerable amount of time.
It should also be noted that while Kara is having a difficult time dealing with what happened in the Phantom Zone, she is not the only one likely to be suffering from PTSD. Having Kara and Alex open up to one another the way they did in that beautiful final scene shows just how much the two characters have grown. There was once a time where Kara would have kept her feelings hidden, and Alex would never have revealed how her sister being lost had affected her. And the most powerful moment of Alex reassuring her sister that they would deal with their trauma by facing it together was the perfect example of why these two remain the emotional core of the show.
Season 6 episode 8, Welcome Back, Kara is a powerful return to Supergirl’s final season. All the signs are there that the show recentering it’s focus on Kara/Supergirl, can open the door to some interesting storylines. Who knows, maybe the now successful inventor, entrepreneur Kenny Li, will pay a visit to check in on his former girlfriend Kara Danvers and help her save Catco?

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