“Supergirl” Episode Review – S03E04 “The Faithful”

Superman Homepage writer Christopher Hart reviews episodes from the “Supergirl” TV series, airing on The CW.

Check out his review of the 4th episode of Season 3 in which Kara (Melissa Benoist) investigates a secretive new group whose leader, Thomas Coville (guest star Chad Lowe), has a mysterious connection to Supergirl. Meanwhile, Samantha (Odette Annable) feels like she’s letting Ruby (guest star Emma Tremblay) down, and J’onn (David Harewood) confesses an old secret.

Originally Aired: October 30, 2017
WRITTEN BY: Paula Yoo and Katie Rose Rogers

Melissa Benoist (Kara Danvers/Supergirl)
Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers)
Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen)
David Harewood (Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz)
Jeremy Jordan (Winslow “Winn” Schott)

Floriana Lima (Maggie Sawyer)
Odette Annable (Samantha Arias/Reign)
Katie McGrath (Lena Luthor)
Emma Tremblay (Ruby Arias)

Erica Durance (Alura Zor-El)
Carl Lumbly (M’yrnn J’onzz)
Chad Lowe (Thomas Coville)

3Rating – 3 (out of 5): “When you look into the eyes of God, you do not forget.” – Thomas Coville

Humans worshipping superheroes as gods is nothing new. In the real world these characters are our idols – they’re everything we want to be, or the person we’d most love to save us. In these fictional worlds, they quite literally snatch people from the claws of death, “answering” prayers that no god ever answers. James put this very atheistic sentiment wonderfully: “In this life, prayer normally doesn’t work. Nobody shows up. But Clark did. You do. Kara, you’re something that we can see, something that we can touch. How are you not a miracle?”

In the Marvel comics, Thor’s entire reputation is centered around the misconception that he’s a god. In the DCEU’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the world both despised and deified Superman. It also had that beautiful scene of a packed crowd reaching out to touch Kal at its centre, like they’re trying to feel some religious idol that they’re hoping will rub off, in some miraculous way, onto their lives.

“We’re here because Supergirl saved us,” leader Thomas Coville preaches to his followers and it’s true. The episode opened with a sly retconning of Supergirl saving the plane (Flight 237) in the show’s pilot episode. Here, it was revealed that Coville was on that plane (sporting a sour disposition at his lot in life) and that he saw a drenched Kara out of a window. Down the line, this led him to build this cult – one that worships the Krypton God Rao primarily, but also Supergirl.

I really love that idea – adoring the “hand out of the smoke” (to coin James’ phrase) to the point of worship. Pledging your allegiance to a tangible “God” who’s right in front of you, rather than the many imagined gods that humanity create for comfort. This episode was bold enough to outright imply that other religions aren’t true (or, at least, don’t have gods who listen), but it was also smart enough to state that faith is a good thing to have, whether the religion is real or not.

“What makes someone blind, just because they believe?” James at one point asks. Kara also says: “Our religion was so important on Krypton – not just spiritually; it was our community,” and James agrees. Kara even says she misses it. This writers did a great job here of showing both sides of the coin; religion’s soothing benefits and also its dangerous pitfalls.

The entire episode was littered with religious references – from Lena’s story about being asked if she’s baptized, to Kara asking how you fight someone’s belief (a certain reference to the world’s inability to defeat global terrorism), to J’onn choosing to pray with his father, to ‘Hallelujah’ playing towards the episode’s close (this one was more than a little on the nose).

The class of Supergirl-clad girls was adorable and it lead to an important comment from Alex: “Look at that – they’re not worshipping you, they’re inspired by you.” This implies that adoration to the point of worship is a step too far, which it is, in the context of the show, but I think in real life many fans take their obsessions beyond the line that crosses over into “worship”. Modern fandoms are heavily lilted towards the worship end of the scale and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Cue this week’s emotional scene, which saw Alex walk out of the school talent show and confess to Kara that she’s not OK with never becoming a mother. She really sold the joys of parenthood, right down to the little things. It’s been evident for a while now, but I’m certain that this is the smoking gun that will end Alex and Maggie’s relationship for good, which will lead to Floriana Lima taking a reduced role on the show.

It’s the tail of the episode where the quality dipped for me. Supergirl cutting her hand and showing it to Coville shouldn’t really have abolished his faith with such immediacy. This cult never thought that Supergirl was Rao herself (Rao was referred to as being female here, even though he’s male in the comics) – just that she had the light of Rao shining through her. So an imperfection (Supergirl bleeding) shouldn’t have had pulled the rug out from under him like it did.

This left us with Coville quickly trying to reverse his actions and accidentally making matters worse – both of these were clumsy moments that aren’t worthy of any villain-of-the-week, no matter how small. What his actions did accomplish (again, accidentally), was activating Reign’s sunken ship. This re-ignited Samantha’s transformation, turning her face into a mosaic of runes (which hopefully, isn’t her ultimate form, as Reign).

Underwater, we saw her ship activate a room full of pods and one individual inside. If you look carefully, all of the pods seem to have dark shapes, implying that they are all occupied. This is very likely to be one thing and one thing only – the other Worldkillers. In the comics, Reign is the leader of a group of Worldkillers (Deimax, Flower of Heaven, Perrilus and Worldkiller-1) and I’ve long hoped they’d accompany Reign in the show. Hopefully, this is our confirmation that the five Worldkillers (if Worldkiller-1 hasn’t left the group yet) will be the true rogues of this season.

This episode was a wonderful exploration of faith – of deifying your heroes and of the fallibility of gods (“even gods can lose their way”) both real and unreal. It’s just a shame that it fell apart a little towards the end.

Check out the “Supergirl – Episode Reviews” Contents page.

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November 1, 2017 1:19 pm

Pretty accurate right up. I find that Alex’s emotional state of mind pouring all over this episode was too intense and distracting. I thought they might have toned it down some this season but so far it’s been anything but. Look what Alex does for a living. And now having children becomes a major issue. Are you kidding me? An agent by day and a mom at night? I don’t think so. This is another episode that didn’t need Supergirl except for the very end. I for one think that they’ve taken (in MOS as well),heat vision to a ridiculous… Read more »