The title of this week’s super-special Supergirl episode, “Solitude,” gives more than a hint about the heavy-handed theme Supergirl’s producers will inflict on patient, understanding viewers. Kara Zor-El, aka Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) has to relearn an early season, Oprah-lite life lesson, that Supergirl might be super-strong on her own, but that “stronger together” isn’t just a motto; it’s a way of (superhero) life. With her close friends, family, and the might of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), she’s all but unstoppable – or at least should be – in the alternate Earth/alternate universe (not to be confused with the DC Cinematic Universe or DCCU) where her much more famous cousin, Kal-El (aka Superman) never makes an appearance, except the occasional text or the use of the Fortress of Solitude, not at Superman’s behest, but Jimmy Olsen’s (Mehcad Brooks) express invitation.
How and why Supergirl gets to the Fortress of Solitude isn’t particularly important (she flies, carrying Olsen under one arm like a small child), especially considering the ultra-contrived manner in which the need to visit the Fortress of Solitude in the first place – Supergirl’s estrangement from the DEO due to the unfortunate, if predictable, demise of her super-villainous aunt, Astra (Laura Benanti), presumably at the hands of Hank Henshaw/Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) and the appearance of a super-powered living computer, Indigo/Brainiac 8 (Smallville’s one-time, semi-forgotten Supergirl, Laura Vandevoort). The Super-Villain of the Week, Indigo makes a splashy appearance typical of an egotistical narcissist, not a living super-computer with a plan to shake up the status quo and blow up National City in the process.
Indigo initially claims she’s just doing the Lord’s work (though not in those exact words), exposing the high-level clients of an Ashley Madison-inspired dating service to all the world or at least at first, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), the CEO of CatGo Worldwide Media. Taking the high journalistic rode, Grant rejects publishing the site’s hacked info, briefly sidetracking Indigo’s master plan, a master plan that secondarily involves hacking traffic lights and messing around with the stock market, standard-issue cyber-terrorism, at least on television. So far, so routine, but at least Indigo feels like a super-villain who could give Supergirl a run for her Kryptonian currency (whatever that is). She’s supposed to be super-smart (being a super-computer and all) and almost as importantly, she can materialize and dematerialize at will as long as there’s an Internet/WiFi connection nearby. She also has a semi-personal connection to Supergirl: As an ex-prisoner of the doomed Kryptonian prison ship, Fort Rozz, Indigo played a minor role in Supergirl’s semi-timely arrival on Earth (the tortured logistics aren’t particularly worth detailing here).
While Supergirl struggles with whether to return to the DEO fold and work alongside Henshaw and her adopted human sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), again, she also keeps an eye out for Olsen and Lucy Lane’s (Jenna Dewan-Tatum’s) deteriorating romantic relationship. Instead of helping to repair their relationship, Kara does the opposite (inadvertently, of course, since we couldn’t have Supergirl intentionally breaking up a romance), revealing a secret Olsen shared with her about his late father that Lucy never knew, essentially establishing the episode’s secondary, if ultimately more important theme, secrets and keeping them (or not, given the potentially disastrous results). While Olsen and Supergirl keep their romantic feelings for each in check so he can pursue a long-term, monogamous relationship with Lucy (doomed because we know Olsen and Supergirl will eventually pair up), Alex keeps the identity of Astra’s killer from her sister.
Rather than continue to tease the will she or won’t she (the “she” being Alex) reveal that she actually killed Astra and not Henshaw regardless of the circumstances or the rationale, episode 15 saves the big, potentially divisive reveal for the final moments. Supergirl remembers the “stronger together,” “no I in team” motto that’s made her National City’s Number 1 superhero (also National City’s only superhero at the moment, not counting the still-in-hiding Martian Manhunter) in time to save her adopted city from Indigo’s master plan to destroy National City. Why Indigo, a living, if not breathing, alien super-computer decides to scale down her plan – she promises to unleash a Judgment Day (Terminator) style nuclear apocalypse at one point – but then does almost the exact opposite, attacking a nearby military base and setting off a nuclear warhead, suggests Supergirl’s writing team finally remembered they were writing for the small screen, not the big screen (and the big budget that supposedly comes with the later). No matter, Supergirl still has Non (Chris Vance), the de facto head of the escaped Kryptonian prisoners who periodically show up to remind Supergirl that they’re a threat to everything and everyone she holds dear, for the slow-building endgame of season 1’s final story arc.