Supergirl, first on CBS and now on CW, celebrates its 100th episode with the return of a fan-favorite character. Thomas Lennon debuts as the (new) Mr. Mxyzptlk, an imp from the 5th dimension who can alter reality. As penance for his last appearance on Supergirl (in season 2, played by Peter Gadiot), he has to make amends to those he’s wronged. Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers is ready to forgive him, but she does decide to take his help. Since her dual identity was revealed to Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor, the two friends became enemies. Kara wants to fix that, and Mxy agrees to help. Thus, the 100th episode of Supergirl is able to revisit moments from throughout the series while still advancing the current season’s story. As with any good milestone episode, it looks back and forward at the same time.
A 100th episode is milestone for Supergirl, but not in the way that it used to be. Back in the old days of network television, 100 was the magic number for syndication. Basically, studios would sell the reruns of their shows to other channels, making money without spending any. Today, streaming rights replace syndication. (Well, not entirely. For example, my local CW network has Friends reruns, despite the streaming rights going to HBO Max.) Still, a 100th episode is a different kind of milestone since shows have shortened runs or shortened seasons. Also, it’s a nice round number. A 100th episode is a celebration, but for Supergirl it was an unpleasant walk in alternate realities.
The Do-Overs In the 100th Episode of Supergirl Are the Window to the Guest Stars
Image via CW
Chris Wood (Melissa Benoist’s real-life husband), Sam Witwer, Odette Annable, and Jeremy Jordan all came back to reprise their roles. (Calista Flockhart did not return but did get a shout-out.) The premise is that Mxy would insert Kara back into a moment in her past. While there she can do things differently. If she likes how things turn out, she can make it the “new” reality. The Crisis On Infinite Earths finale already gave the Arrowverse a major do-over, so this seemed redundant. However, savvy fans can probably figure out what goes wrong just from reading this description. Nonetheless, the do-overs provide fun moments for old characters to shine and quick-and-dirty action sequences.
More so than other CW DC shows, Supergirl has a strong “ship” community. So, if you enjoy Lena and Kara you will both love and hate this episode. If you enjoy her other relationships, say with Winn, Mon-El, or Mehcad Brooks’ Jim Olsen, you will be disappointed. We see these characters, but there really aren’t the individual, emotional moments between the action that this show does so well. Instead, the storytellers are laser-focused on Lena and Kara, which makes sense. Kara is the “Super” and Lena is the “Luthor” in this world. (Even though Jon Cryer’s Lex is out there goatee twirling as you read this.) Their rivalry or friendship is a huge point of tension for the series. It’s one that despite “Supercorp” fans’ lamentations, the storytellers would be foolish to wrap up so soon.
The Episode Did Fall Short Compared to Other CW Shows’ Centi-Episodes
Image via CW
With such a tight focus on the Lena and Kara relationship, we don’t really get to revisit all of Supergirl’s past. In the 100th episode of The Flash, the titular hero travels back in time to each previous season (including a time where he’d already time-traveled to). In the Arrow 100th episode, we get to see an alt-reality world where the titular hero never became the Emerald Archer. In taking their characters right back to the beginning, the shows were able to show how far they’ve come. Supergirl didn’t do that. (Though, I am wondering only right now if there were some rights issues with the first season, since it appeared on CBS?)
Supergirl really had an uphill battle for success. In the first season, they couldn’t even show Superman. This resulted in awkward text messages between the two super-cousins. This show had to go from being “not Superman” to one in which we accept and revel in the fact that Kara is the better Kryptonian. They could have easily retread old Superman stories, but instead it used the Superman mythology to build something unique. Supergirl is not just a Superman in a skirt (well, pants now), but honors everything that “S” is supposed to stand for. Supergirl, the character, truly is a paragon of hope. It shows that superhero series don’t always have to be action-heavy punch-em-ups. Instead, they can be just as human and emotional as any other more grounded drama.
What did you think of the 100th episode of Supergirl? Did it work for you or would you have preferred something even more retrospective? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via CW
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.