SUPERGIRL Review 3.19 “The Fanatical”

"They're super, I'm just Guardian."

This post contains spoilers for Supergirl.
Check out our review for last week's episode here.

Identities can be complicated. Sometimes, though, they’re literally black and white. “The Fanatical” looked as if it would be filler at first glance, but instead it drove the story forward while still taking time to focus on a character that we don’t see nearly enough of: James Olson. We’ve seen Supergirl acknowledge racial struggles in the past, but this week took time to dive in a little deeper. News of black people being arrested for simply existing cross all of our respective feeds on the daily. That issue carries over even when you’re a hero.

“The Fanatical” brings Thomas Coville’s cult back to the forefront by introducing us to young Tanya. After Coville decided to join Reign and disappear, she found herself disenchanted with their ideals, and decided to steal the missing leader’s journal. Said Journal is written in Kryptonian, and conveniently contains the instructions on how to create another World Killer. Good to know we can just make those all willy nilly. In an attempt to protect her, James finds himself unmasked in front of both the cult members and the cops. And, despite the fact that one of the cult members is literally holding a gun, James is the one who is perceived as the threat to the police.

Later, James is given a choice: surrender Tanya and the journal, or have his identity revealed to all of National City. When met with the choice, James decides that he will tell the city on his own terms. Lena, trying to be the supportive girlfriend, tries to comfort him, but doesn’t quite have a grasp on what he’s going through. She points out that the city knows that Guardian’s a hero, but James counters with the fact that they don’t know he’s black. Instead of going the “I know what it’s like to be shunned, I’m a Luthor” route, the writers thankfully have Lena listen and offer support. The emotion that Mehcad Brooks brought to the scene was exceptional. Supergirl dipped its toe into a very real conversation this week, and here’s hoping they will continue to have it as the series progresses and Guardian (hopefully) becomes more involved.

Unfortunately, when you tackle big issues the way James’ story did this week, the rest of the episode often feels mostly empty. While the story between Alex, Ruby, J’onn and M’yrnn is exempt, the rest of “The Fanatical” falls into that trap. It does, however, methodically deliver the rest of the information it needs to, even if it’s not as interesting.

Lena and Winn are able to trace the signature of the rock that had the power to create a World Killer to something similar on a meteorite not terribly far from Earth. Grabbing that out of space gives them a hope to cure Sam, which is great, ‘cause Reign is growing immune to kryptonite and they’re all going to have a very bad time when she hops out of that cage. Mon-El and Kara are going on an away team mission next week, which will give everyone more time to agonize over their feelings and not tell the people they should be about them. Kudos to Supergirl for actually acknowledging what it’s doing, though.

You know what to do if you had thoughts on this week’s episode while you wait!