Supergirl S5E4, “Saying Goodbye is Hard to Do,” delivers a real gut punch while pushing the story forward in major ways. I’m really impressed with how tight the story has been so far this season. There’s a real sense of buildup in all of the multiple stories we’ve seen, and a few through lines that have developed since the beginning that have been given appropriate time to be impactful.
We have the conflict between J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) and his brother Malefic/Ma’alefa’ak (Phil LaMarr); the mystery of William Dey (Staz Nair) and why he is such a jerk; Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) and her plot to take down Supergirl and “enhance humanity” through any means necessary; and the development of contact lenses and its potential link to CatCo’s new CEO Andrea Rojas (Julie Gonzalo). We’re already getting to see all of threads connect and interact and it’s quite thrilling.
Supergirl has really found a good pace for itself and it knows where it’s going. The first two seasons were much more episodic, and the fourth season had to contend with the mysterious and nefarious plot of Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) which left it a bit disjointed and forced a lot of flashbacks to get a clear picture of what was actually afoot. This new season so far is very reminiscent of the third season, whose plot thread were very efficiently woven in the fabric of the show. I am extremely grateful that Supergirl hasn’t been derailed by the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline that will sweep all of the DC CW shows shortly.
Warning: Spoilers for Supergirl S5E4!
In this episode, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) is on the trail of William Dey and is determined to uncover what exactly is up with him. She’s suspecting that there may be ties to some criminal activities, but the revelation she receives is not what she expected. It turns out Dey may be more of an ally than she initially thought. His research and ongoing investigation of multiple disappearances and murders have led him to one clear suspect pulling all of the strings, and it’s none other than evil tech billionaire Andrea Rojas. We already knew that Rojas was a conniving, mean, union busting boss, but seeing a cork panel with tons of photos and paper clips and strings leading to her photo pinned directly in the middle of the board really sells it.
I really hope that Dey doesn’t turn out to be a love interest for Kara. William Dey as so far been nothing but a jerk to her. He stole Kara’s work and has put her down publicly at every opportunity. We’ve already seen her get involved in a toxic relationship with Mon-El (Chris Wood) in the second season and I really hope there’s no re-do of that.
The conflict between J’onn J’onzz and Malefic finally reaches a tipping point. So far, Malefic has been using his shape-shifting ability to deceive and get closer to completing his vendetta against J’onn. He’s also been unlocking powers from the Green Martians — such as mind control — and using them for his evil purpose. Team Supergirl also can’t seem to catch him even though he’s spent the last four episodes appearing in front of them to confront J’onn and then disappearing just as soon as he appeared.
There’s no denying that he’s now very dangerous and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) is willing to use “extreme tactics” to take him down. Unfortunately for her, this backfires spectacularly. J’onn and Brainy (Jesse Rath) still think he can be saved or at least, contained in the Phantom Zone. With the help of Lena Luthor, they begin working on way to power up a Phantom Zone Projector that can reach Ma’alefa’ak even if he’s phasing through the beam. By the end of the episode, Lena’s plans are moving forward and she’ll use Ma’alefa’ak to reach her goals.
The real gut punch of the episode comes from the story of James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and his sister. We knew before the Season 5 premiere that Mehcad Brooks will be exiting the show mid-season. There was speculation that he would die, or sacrifice himself in the upcoming Crisis, but “Saying Goodbye is Hard to Do” puts the pieces in place to give his character a fitting and emotional exit: James is taking is sister Kelly (Azie Tesfai) back to their hometown in order to keep her away from the clutches of Malefic.
What he sees back there horrifies him. See, it’s a small town in what appears to be the midwest, jobs are scarce and the town has suffered over the past decade. A large for-profit prison has opened at the edge of town, and while the town did benefit from a boom in employment from the prison, it’s gotten increasingly clearer that anyone caught doing even a small misdemeanor will end up locked in for decades. There’s a great injustice that Olsen feels he must address. Torn between the opportunities presented to him, to become a university teacher in the journalism field, or to run for a seat as a senator, Olsen ultimately decides to follow his instincts and help people.
This isn’t the end of his story yet, but it’s a nice way to wrap a bow around his character arc. He will be sorely missed.
Stay tuned for more Supergirl, and see you next week.