Hello and welcome to Supergirl FeelsFest 2017, the game where the ups and downs are so intense you’re not sure if anyone is winning or losing by the end of it!
We open on a high though, so let’s start there. Alex is lamenting how all-out Eliza is being about her, and I quote, “lesbian wedding shower” and Kara is just laughing because everyone knows that Eliza Danvers does not care if you’re gay or straight or whathaveyou; if you’re getting married, you’re getting a board with your baby pictures plastered all over it.
And one thing I have to say about this episode that surprised me in how much it surprised me, is that they said “lesbian” and “gay” so many times. Just casually, without hesitation, the way I use them, the way my friends do. I didn’t realize how rare it was on shows like this until these words I use every day took me by surprise when they came from my TV.
Anyway, Alex is pretending that Eliza going overboard about this bridal shower thing is embarrassing but in reality she couldn’t be happier.
But before Eliza gets there, J’onn shows up and tells the girls that he can’t come to the bridal shower because he has to go back to Mars to see what M’gann’s distress call was all about. Alex and Kara want Kara to go with him but he’s hesitant, especially because of the shower, which is adorable and very Space Dad of him, but Alex says if she could survive on Mars’ atmosphere she’d already be halfway there with him. So it’s settled: Kara will go with him. And miss her bridal shower. Which is upsetting but I guess the only way to make sure she stayed out of what was about to happen?
Anyway, J’onn has a sweet ride to Mars so Kara will be fine.
Later, Maggie and Alex are having dinner with Eliza and it’s sweet and cute and wonderful and ELIZA DANVERS PLEASE ADOPT ME, TOO.
Eliza is worried about Kara but is ready to celebrate Alex and Maggie. She asks about Maggie’s childhood photos — or rather, lack thereof — and Maggie explains that her parents kicked her out when she was 14. Alex gives Maggie an out, but Maggie wants to tell her future mother-in-law what happened. She says that after she was outed by that girl she liked, her father drove her to her aunt’s house and left her there. The last thing he said to her was, “You shame me.”
Eliza is HORRIFIED at the very notion and and says her father was the only one doing anything worthy of shame in that story and Alex seconds the notion with a hug snuggle. A huggle.
And okay I’m going to tell you the truth about Mars. I know the show is about Supergirl, but she’s secondary in J’onn’s secondary storyline in this episode, meaning she’s basically not in it, and also I don’t really understand the point of his storyline, other than to give us a much-needed visit with M’gann and to show that not all dads are monsters? It’s super unclear. Anyway a staff is missing and J’onn’s dad is unmissing and everyone is yelling. We’ll check back in on them when they get to the good stuff.
Later that night, while they’re getting ready for bed, Alex asks Maggie why she never told her the story she told Eliza at dinner. Maggie says she doesn’t like to dwell on it; he was a great father up until that day. Alex asks if she’s ever thought about reaching out again, and of course she has, OF COURSE. But her aunt that took her in told her that they didn’t even have any baby pictures left of her in the house. They erased her, so she did her best to erase them, too.
Alex suggests inviting them to the shower, as an olive branch, but Maggie doesn’t want to talk about this anymore. She says, “I love you, but drop it,” as they climb into bed. It’s all so blissfully domestic and yet another thing that is so NORMAL but still so rare to see on TV.
In the middle of the night, a hand reaches out for Maggie’s phone, and I have to confess, for a brief, hysterical moment, I thought it was Alex. I thought Alex was going to call Maggie’s father for her, I thought Alex maybe hadn’t learned her lesson from the ex-girlfriend thing, and I thought I was going to have to give Alex (read: the writers) a Lecture. I was scared and angry and sick about it for that millisecond. But then! It was Maggie! (When I watched the second time I saw the bit where Maggie was sitting awake and Alex was sleeping but I had missed it the first time around.)
Alex’s suggestion got her thinking so she called her dad, who is miraculously awake at this late-and-even-later-in-Texas hour, and invites him to the bridal shower she’s having for her wedding to a woman named Alex. She cuts the conversation short and looks a little like she just jumped out of an airplane but she did it.
And when she looks up, she sees Alex sitting up in bed, watching the love of her life make the hardest phone call she’s ever made, a tear streaming down her face that it’s one she even has to make.
In the parallel dad storyline, J’onn is having a hard time getting his father to believe he’s really his son and not a mind trick from the White Martians and time is running out because they really need that staff before the White Martians use it to blow up Mars. Probably. I’m genuinely sad they are doing Maggie and J’onn stuff in the same episode because I really like J’onn and I really missed M’gann but it was impossible to focus on their quest for Rita Repulsa’s staff while there was a Gay Crisis™ happening down on Earth.
Speaking of which, Maggie’s father has decided to come to the bridal shower after all, and by the way, he’s been Googling her lately and knows she’s a kickass homicide detective.
He asks her how she figured out one particular case, and Maggie says it was actually with help from a lesson he taught her when she was small. He’s pleased she can speak fondly about him at all after he ABANDONED HER but things seem to be going relatively well, all things considered.
At the bridal shower, a Barenaked Ladies song is playing, Maggie is killing the how-well-do-you-know-Alex trivia game Eliza concocted, everyone is cute and happy, everything is gay and nothing hurts. Maggie’s dad shows up while Maggie is still in the hot seat, so Alex welcomes him in and offers him a drink. As Alex explains that she’s the bride, Maggie’s nervousness about them talking to each other overcomes her and she rushes to her girl’s side.
Maggie’s father notices there are no pictures of Maggie on the bridal board so he takes a well-worn snap of a tiny Maggie out of his wallet, kisses it, and adds it to the Alex collage. They start to open presents, and before they do, Maggie tells Alex that she’s her greatest gift, and they share a kiss, a gift to us all.
Things are going great right? You feel good? All warm and fuzzy? Well guess what that warmth is from a flame that’s here to SET YOUR WHOLE WORLD ON FIRE because as soon as they kiss, Maggie’s dad storms out like he maybe thought this was just a gal pal party and this was a platonic wedding like how kids on the playground get married at recess.
Maggie storms after him and demands to know what his problem is. Her father then explains where he’s at. He says that he came to this country from Mexico, worked his way up to be sheriff, suffered through racism and other hardships to make it so that his children would not have to feel like they didn’t belong. Maggie echos Alex’s words to him, tries to tell him that the world is different now, that she has people who care about her and accept her for who she is, but he doesn’t see that. He sees the wall they’re trying to build to keep his people out, he says that the only thing worse to these bigots than being Mexican is being gay. (Actually he says “homosexual” which I’m sorry is a hilarious word.) It sucks because I think what he’s really feeling is scared. I think he remembers being beat up by the white kids on his way to work and doesn’t want anything like that to happen to his daughter. But instead of saying that or confronting that, he’s angry at it. He’s acting like it’s a choice she’s making to spite him, when it is decidedly not, and he’s pushing his daughter away because of it.
Up on Mars, J’onn is having trouble getting through to his own father, so Kara talks to him instead. She knows it can be hard being the only person like you, and that it can be hard to open your mind to things you don’t understand, but that he has the chance to make a difference, to make the planet better. And I dunno maybe Maggie’s dad could use a SuperSpeech right about now.
The speech works and J’onn is able to share his favorite memory with his father and his father finally believes it’s him, and tells them where to find the staff. Kara is pumped because people are finally paying attention to her in this episode of this show named for her, so she screeches into the scene in J’onn’s Ford Anglia, Britney Spears blaring, ready to save the day.
Kara is delighted to help and starts superpunching people and stealing the staff and zapping White Martians.
After the fighting is done, Kara bestows the staff to the Martian Resistance, but they want her to take it to Earth to bury it; no one should have that kind of power. They say goodbye to M’gann, and take J’onn’s dad with them, even though I kind of which they had all gone back together.
Down on Earth, Maggie meets her father at the bus stop, catching him on the way back to the airport. She gives him back the photo of her and says she’s realized now that she’s not that little girl anymore. She’s not going to wait around, waiting for her father to come back and love her. She’s happy in her own skin, she’s surrounded by people who love her. Maggie Sawyer is happy, and doesn’t need him anymore.
And as hard as it is to watch, I’m really glad this was the conclusion for this father-daughter storyline (at least for now). I’m glad it wasn’t tied up in a bow, because that’s not always how it happens. Sometimes parents kick their kids out for being queer or trans or both, and they don’t always change their minds. Sometimes they do, sure. Sometimes they realize they reacted poorly, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the hate and fear wins, even after a second chance, a second try. Especially if the homophobia is also entangled in race, culture, and/or religion, it’s not always as easy as seeing that your kid is happy to overcome all those biases.
My heart breaks for Maggie. It also breaks for everyone Maggie represents. But I hope she can serve as a source of hope for anyone going through this. Not everyone can have a parent like Eliza Danvers, but anyone can have a found family like the Danvers family. This show, at its heart, is about family, and about how who birthed you or sometimes even raised you isn’t necessarily the family you’re tied to; family isn’t this one pre-set, unchanging thing. Love makes a family. You can choose your family. And your family can shrink and grow and change a hundred times over in your lifetime. Sometimes your blood family chooses you and you choose them back. J’onn found his father again, and so did Maggie. J’onn’s father ended up welcoming him back with open arms, Maggie’s didn’t. But J’onn also has Kara, someone he speaks proudly of at the end of the episode, as if she’s his own daughter, calling her special.
And Maggie has Alex. She says so, later, back at Alex’s place. “You’re all the family I need,” she tells her, kissing her in the curiously shadowy apartment.
Alex is glad Maggie is finding closure, and wonders if maybe this will change her stance on being a parent. Maggie says it won’t; she just doesn’t want kids. All she wants is Alex. And their future dog, Gertrude. She says that’s all she’ll need, and needs to know if Alex feels the same way. And Alex says, “I do,” ironically, since something tells me they’ll never get that far. Because Alex isn’t being honest; I don’t think she means to be dishonest. I think she says it will be enough because she genuinely hopes it will be. I think maybe part of her thinks Maggie will change her mind and another part thinks maybe she’ll change her own mind. Because it’s hard to think about loving someone with every fiber of your being but there still being something that could keep you from being the perfect match. It’s hard to think that with a love this strong, there could still be a dealbreaker at play.
But that’s what this is, a dealbreaker. Something they should have discussed months ago. Something they should probably be discussing in more detail now. It’s hard but there are a few things I like about this turn of events. One, I like that Maggie unapologetically does not want kids. Some women don’t, and that’s perfectly fine. I also like that this opens the door for the impending breakup to be Alex’s decision. For it to be relatively mutual, for it to be more sad than angry, more inevitable than explosive. They will always love each other, but maybe they weren’t meant to spend their lives together.
Who knows where we’re going, but I can only hope that Alex won’t spend the rest of her days in the pits of despair. I know Alex and Maggie both survive, but frankly that’s not enough. To quote our girls’ favorite band, it’s all been done. That’s the bar, and it’s low, but Supergirl has proven it can do better than other shows—this relationship is the emotional crux of this episode, and has lasted longer/been more positive overall than any other on the show so far—so I want it to keep doing better. (It’s also proven it can make giant loaf-shaped mistakes, so this is why I plead.) I want Alex to find happiness again, even if it’s in being single, even if it’s in being a kickass DEO agent. I want her and Maggie to stay friends, even if Maggie is off-screen until a brief visit next season. I want Alex, in her sadness, to turn to her sister and not alcohol like a younger Alex might have. I just don’t want this heartbreak to define her.
Alex Danvers is very important to me; Maggie Sawyer is, too, and so is Sanvers, but it’s now an inevitable fact that Maggie is leaving and Sanvers is ending. So above all, I want Alex Danvers to succeed. I want her to thrive. I want her to be the beacon of hope for queer people, old and young, that Chyler Leigh wants her to be. I want her to break all the tropes and all the odds and all the glass ceilings. I want her to be happy.