“Supergirl” Episode 617 Recap: Love Hard

Hello lovebirds, and welcome to this recap of Supergirl, season 6, episode 17, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” aka the one that was somehow both the gayest and the straightest episode of all time.

Previously on Supergirl, Nyxly was on a quest for the totems but Supergirl threw the Hope Totem into the sun, Nyxly had a secret admirer who turned out to be Lex Luthor, and Alex and Kelly adopted little Esme.

We open with Nyxly, a little annoyed that her latest totem find spat out a human man, and when Mitch points out that the man is Lex Luthor, Nyxly immediately starts to rage. Supergirl might be her enemy, but she has no love for men who send women to the Phantom Zone. She rightly calls him arrogant and narcissistic, and promises they’ll never be friends.

Nyxly points a laser gun at Lex

Oh what an episode this would have been if Nyxly had just killed Lex right here!

Back at the Tower, Kara tells her friends that she quit being a reporter for CatCo. And her friends are very concerned. Lena perhaps most of all, knowing how important being Kara Danvers alongside being Supergirl was to her.

Lena and Nia look confused

“Wait you were still pretending to be a journalist?” “Yeah I thought you quit weeks ago. We’re using your desk as a snack table.”

But Kara insists this is the right choice, so she can focus on stopping Nyxly. Speaking of, Brainy needs three of his smartest gals to plan, so he pulls Lena, Kelly, and Nia away.

As they leave through one door, Alex enters through another and looks around to make sure Kelly isn’t around. Alex’s smile widens and she pulls out a ring to show an ecstatic Kara and J’onn. She tells them about how she’s going to set up Al’s bar for the proposal and Kara makes her tell the story of why again, because every time Alex excitedly tells Kara about how happy Kelly makes her, the further away those nights of Alex crying on her shoulder about past love lost feel.

And besides that, the story is cute. The moment she realized she was in love with Kelly is when they had the same Die Hard-related answer to a question.

Alex smiles dorkily

Alex being such a badass at work and such an unbelievable DORK in her personal life will never not delight me.

With her sister and Space Dad’s blessing, she rushes off to set up the bar with Esme, Kara promising to call her when they need her.

But when Alex and Esme get to Al’s, he has to apologize. The gaylien bar was already booked for the night in question. Esme tries to help, making her big eyes look as puppy-dog-like as she can, pleading, “Don’t you believe in love, Al?”

Esme looks up with pleading eyes

Me: Love is a lie.
Also me: I would do a murder for this fictional child because I love her.

It’s very cute, and I would have built an entirely new bar for her, but Al has to say no.

Lex goes back to his lair and tells Otis that he was hiding out in the future, where he and Nyxly are in love, which sounds fake since sociopathic narcissistic megalomaniacs like Lex aren’t the best in relationships but I guess technically Nyxly is no peach either.

Anyway, back to the important people. The plan is for Lena to make a fake love totem and draw Nyxly out into a trap.

Lena does magic in a cute white button down with stars on it

My question is, did Lena have all this business casual wear in one of her closets just waiting for someone to ask her to a cocktail bar someday or did she buy a whole new Tower wardrobe when she joined the SuperFriends?

They decide to set this trap on Lover’s Lane, so clearly the best option for the stakeout is Alex and Kelly. What’s hilarious is they go dressed as Sentinel and Guardian, furthering my headcanon that the city just ships two of their local superheroes and are just waiting for confirmation that they’re dating.

Guardian and Sentinel exchange loving glances

It’s like quietly and casually shipping two mutuals on twitter or the baristas at your local coffee shop.

Alex and Kelly talk about how lucky they are to have each other AND Esme, and Alex looks like she might propose right then and there, but Nyxly shows up to spoil the mood.

Lena does magic from the cover of night while the rest of the SuperFriends fight. They’re just about ready to take Nyxly to confinement when Lex shows up out of nowhere to save her.

Lena is so furious at the sight of her brother that she accidentally burns the fake totem and when her brother spots her in the trees and asks if she missed him, her rage burns brighter. Though honestly maybe it’s also because Lex blasted Kara with Kryptonite. Again.

Lena does some fury magic and holds up a fist

If Lena had flipped Lex off to spark that fire I would have thrown her a damn parade.

Nyxly is pretty pissed too; she didn’t need some MAN to save her. Especially when she finds out the reason he knew to save her was because of a creepy little drone he has following her around.

When Kara wakes up from her yellow sun nap, Lena is nervously standing by her bedside, relieved Kara seems okay, amused when Kara is barely conscious before asking if Lena is okay after seeing her brother.

Lena beams at the newly awake supergirl

What healed her faster, the yellow sun lamps or some subconscious Lena magic, who’s to say.

Lena admits to Kara that the reason she accidentally blew up the totem was because her magic is linked to her emotions and she lost control when she saw Lex again after thinking she was free of him after a full season of him tormenting us.

She tells Kara that it’s what happened to her mother, something she had held back for fear of being judged or worse, shunned, the way everyone Back East did despite once loving her mother. But Kara doesn’t blink before offering her genuine sympathy. And when Lena says maybe she should take a step back from magic for a while, Kara readily agrees; Lena was vital to the team before she knew she was a witch, and that hasn’t changed. The proof is in the tanning bed.

Kara smiles at Lena

You know that TikTok sound that’s like, “Yo bro? Who got you smiling like that?” That’s all I hear when I see this.

When Kara goes back to the war room in the Tower, Alex immediately greets her with a hug. It’s one of those moments that is so small but meant a lot to me, personally. Because of course at this point Alex is both at the point that she trusts Lena to watch over her and doesn’t need to be the one hovering over an unconscious Kara, but also is still going to feel full-body relief when she gets visual confirmation her baby sister is okay.

But Kara doesn’t want to waste any time, so Brainy dives right into the update. He figured out that Lex was hiding out in the future, which explains some of his new gadgets. Kara is stressed that her two most annoying villains are paired up, so Brainy suggests they use the totems they have to their advantage. But Kara and Alex don’t love this plan, considering all the havoc the totems have wreaked so far.

Alex and Kara frown

The way I would yell NEVERMIND if the Danvers sisters ever looked at me like this after saying an idea.

Kara says their job is to protect the totems, but considers the possibility that they could use the energy of the totems without weaponizing them, the way Nyxly did to shield herself.

Nia, Lena and Brainy talk through the science of it all, but Brainy is in his head about Lex. He feels like he should have known somehow that Lex would get involved, still beating himself up about the time he spent in Lex’s clutches. Lena asks if the Legion could help but Brainy is afraid that knowing anything about the future could mess things up again.

Lena looks nonplussed

“Would be a shame if your life’s work of separating yourself and your company from the Luthor name suddenly evaporated into thin air, wouldn’t it.”

Before they can even figure out how they would use the totems, however, they have to pass the courage totem’s gauntlet; and J’onn wants to try it this time. Going against my original theory that Kara was just supposed to face a moment she lacked courage and not try to change it, J’onn does indeed change the moment he lost his daughters, showing more bravery in the moment, but still losing them by fighting to the death. I’m unsure why, but this works and the courage totem unlocks for them.

Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to get Nyxly to trust (?) him, Lex kidnaps Mitch and sends a message to her through him.

But luckily for our intrepid heroes, the race is on, because Nia dreamed up the location of the real love totem.

Nia looks very cute dreaming


The team heads there immediately, but Nyxly drops in, too.

Supergirl uses the totems as a shield, but Nyxly is still too powerful and Kara is hit with weaponized dream energy, causing her to not only see Phantoms attacking her in her mind’s eye, but also imagining turning into a Phantom herself. J’onn talks her down from it and she recovers, but the totem is gone. The good news is, however, that Nyxly doesn’t have it. The totem seeks out true love, so with all that anger and fear flying around, it decided to find a new home.

After that encounter was not exactly successful, Brainy suggests maybe they should consider weaponizing the totems after all, an idea that Kara hates.

Kara looks distressed but her hair is on point

Nice of Lena to design a suit that is helmet hair resistant.

Kara walks out onto the feelings balcony to consider her options, where she runs into J’onn. She apologies for her plan not going well, and he tells her about his gauntlet, and how when she froze because of her nightmare vision, he was more able to recognize the feeling he’s been having for the past few years as the same feeling he had the night he lost his Martian family. He doesn’t want to lose Kara, or any of the Superfriends. They’re his family. Kara admits that she’s finding it hard to hold onto hope, especially with Lex being the one enemy she technically didn’t defeat, and his presence bringing up so much PTSD for her. Which is one of the bravest things she’s ever done, admitting she’s having a hard time finding hope. The paragon herself. But J’onn reminds him that they’re stronger together, and that he’ll fight like hell to not lose another family.

Realizing that she should follow suit, she decides then and there that she wants to use the totems as weapons. Anything it takes.

Kara looks torn and sad.

Melissa? Ma’am? There was no need to fill thine eyes with tears, I was already feeling too many feelings. And your sad eyes break my WHOLE HEART.

J’onn is afraid of Kara losing her humanity in the process, a Super without a conscience being the #1 concern of most anti-alien protesters and many volumes of various comic books, but Kara is going to have Lena protect her.

Lena, however, isn’t as keen on this plan. She doesn’t want to risk hurting Kara with her wild magic, but Kara levels with her; the nightmare she faced wasn’t just seeing Phantoms again, it was becoming cold and unfeeling. Hopeless. But the reason she’s changed her mind about not using the totems as weapons is because she realized she has something Nyxly doesn’t: her family behind her. Kara knows that the people she loves, the people who ground her, will pull her back from the edge if she starts to slip.

Kara holds out her hand to Lena

:Aladdin voice: Do you trust me?

(And, let’s be honest, she knows the only person who could and would kill her if it became absolutely necessary as an extreme last resort is National City’s resident genius, Lena Luthor.)

Lena is nervous about losing control of her powers again; the last thing she wants to do is hurt someone.

Lena makes a sad face at Kara

Sometimes Katie McGrath’s face makes me want to flip a table.

But Kara gives Lena something to ground HER. Kara reminds Lena that the reason Lex used to be able to shake her off balance so easily is that for a long time, he was her only family. But not anymore. Now he can shake all he wants, but Lena has solid footing now, thanks to the Superfriends. Kara says THAT is what can fuel her magic now. Her foundation may have been cracked by the family who raised her, but that doesn’t mean she’ll never stand tall. She has a new family now, one that is filling in the cracks so she’s stronger at the broken places, and building support systems around her so no matter where she turns, she’s being held up. By her new family. Her found family. Her real family.

Kara and Lena stand face to face

“Hand me a pen and we’ll rewrite the pain. When you’re ready, we’ll turn the page together.”

In another room of the Tower, Alex is sifting through papers, theoretically looking for an idea of where the Love Totem could have gone, but in actuality being distracted by the notion that she might have to postpone the proposal. Kelly and Alex were both engaged before, so she is putting a lot of pressure on herself for this to be right. Plus, Alex’s first engagement was a spur-of-the-moment decision, a rush of emotions, an impulsive response to her first real love. But that didn’t work out so this time she wants to get it “right.” She wants to plan the perfect moment. But the truth is, that one moment doesn’t matter, because what she and Kelly have is special. Their relationship is filled with millions of moments, so the moment of the proposal doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect, it just has to be the promise of a million more moments.

Alex looks thinky

“Glad I worked this all out all on my own. What a great solo think I just had.”

Also despite literally no one caring about Lex and those of us who do usually care about totems shmotems barely clinging to one last fuck to give to these literal totems, still those two villains persist, Nyxly going to Lex for help she doesn’t need to fix her crystal ball and find the Love Totem.

Back to the good stuff. Alex shows up to Al’s bar, and slowly she realizes the reason she couldn’t book it for her and Kelly’s anniversary is because Kelly had already booked it. Because it turns out that the moment Alex always says is the moment she knew she was in love with Kelly also happens to be the moment Kelly realized she loved Alex, too. Esme thinks this whole thing is quite hilarious, declaring the fact that they had the idea is fate, single-handedly attempting to get me to believe in love again.

Kelly and Esme walk in holding hands beaming with cuteness


Kelly starts a beautiful speech about how great Alex is, and how perfect their family is, and how very in love she is.

Kelly Olsen tells Alex Danvers how very much she loves her

I will forever and ever be grateful to Kelly Olsen for the light she brought to Alex’s life, and to the show.

But when she pulls out a ring to start to propose, Alex interrupts her. As delighted as she is that they are so in sync they accidentally participated in one staple of queer culture, the accidental tandem proposal, she wants to make sure her ring is out too. But when she reaches for her ring box, she finds the love totem there instead.

Which is both great news, because even a mystical alien artifact can tell how pure and beautiful the love these lesbians have for each other is, it’s also bad news because Nyxly shows up. Esme yells for Supergirl, and she’s there faster than The Flash could ever, and they go through with the plan to weaponize the totems with Lena in Kara’s ear telling her when it’s safe to blast Nyxly with the humanity totem.

Lena watches her spell burn

Me dropping tea in the group chat and watching the reactions light it up.

It seems to be working but in the fray, the love totem gets blasted with one beam of energy or another, turning it black.

When the coast is clear, the Superfriends wonder if the love in the world is diminished, but Alex doesn’t think so. She still feels love for them all; for her sister, for her girlfriend, for her daughter, for her family. She believes that love is not a lie, totems be damned.

Alex looks lovingly at her family

“No matter what they say, they can never take away what I believe in. I believe in love.”

She calls Kelly to her and holds her hands and admits that she wanted a perfect proposal but also one thing fighting alongside her again reminded her is that the proposal doesn’t matter, the relationship does.

Alex holds Kelly's hands

Alex Danvers out here living my dream life.

And with everything they’ve been through that only made them stronger, she knows she’ll love Kelly Olsen to the end of the universe and back. So Alex proposes right then and there, the dust from their fight barely settled, down on one knee.

Alex gets down on one knee

I know I said this already but jinx proposals are queer culture and I love that they did this.

And of course, Kelly says yes. And they kiss and it’s beautiful and with only three episodes left of this show, nothing makes me happier than the organic growth of Alex Danvers into a mother with a wife on the way.

Alex and Kelly kiss as a proposal acceptance

“Make this minute last forever. Somebody tell me what’s better than love?”

Esme rushes in to hug her moms and it starts up a big ol’ group hug that fills my whole heart right up. Moments like this are what this show means to me. These found family moments of joy.

Alex and Kelly smile at each other like love exists

I’m running out of sappy song lyrics for these two. All my playlists are broody. Or yearny. Or murdery.

They go back to the Tower to celebrate, I guess feeling more secure there than the literal bar they were in moments ago, and J’onn even makes Esme a Shirley Temple. It’s all very sweet. Brainy is hung up on Lex acting irrationally and knows something about him changed in the future, but Nia tries to reassure him that they’ll figure this out, together.

Back in the party, Kara stands around holding an extra glass of champagne, probably blowing on it ever so slightly with her freeze breath now and then to keep it cold, until Lena finally shows up.

Kara beams at Lena with two glasses of champagne in her hands

Just hovering by the door at her own sister’s celebration because she wants her emotional support witch by her side.

Kara thanks Lena for using her magic despite feeling uneasy about it, and Lena thanks her back for not only gently pushing her out of her comfort zone, but also for trusting her. Though, to be honest, that second thing is what made the first possible.

Lena thinks that the fact that she could remain cool and collected during a fight Lex was involved with proves she’s free of her trauma, but the thing is it’s probably not that easy. But at least now she knows that she CAN overcome it when push comes to shove. For Kara.

Lena positively BEAMS at Kara


Meanwhile, Andrea is so desperate to find out more information on Lex that she dusts off her Shadow spandex and sneaks into his lair, finding a journal with a love poem in it. I imagine she’ll use this against Lex somehow, which is fine by me. I was just happy to see Andrea use her powers again.

Shadow Andrea smirks as she read Lex's bad poem

Roses are red, pink is the lotus, Lex is Clark’s villain, send him to Superman & Lois

Lex isn’t in his lair because he’s busy giving Nyxly the Hope Totem, because turns out you can break the vessels all you want, but totem energy cannot be created nor destroyed, and it simply transferred into a new object. Nyxly realizes that this means the Love Totem turned into something new, and as they voice over that knowledge, we see a rose tattoo spread across the back of little Esme’s neck. She is the Love Totem now.

Alex, Kelly, and Esme read bridal magazines together

Can one die of cuteness overload? Asking for a me.

And joke’s on Nyxly if she thinks anything will come between Sentinel, Guardian, and their baby girl.

Next week, fancy dancy times?? An engagement party perhaps? If we get another queer wedding on the CW in this, the year of our Beebo 2021, I will have no choice but to believe in love again. Or at least believe that people out there really do believe in love and it’s not just a practical joke being played on me by Hollywood and Heather Hogan. Three episodes, two weeks, and one last hoorah left. Lezgo!

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 532 articles for us.


    • I hated the “William encourages Alex to seize the (proposal) day” scene, too . . . but it was explained: Kelly SENT him to snag Alex, once she learned (from Esme?) that Alex had tried to book the bar for the same night (same reason!) and was bummed being shot down. Really, it does make sense (especially considering that all the Super Friends were busy with The Troubles At Hand).

      Y’know, many weeks during this season, I am the one picking others up who want to jump off of (or lie down in front of!) the Supercorp Endgame Train. This week, *I* needed an infusion of Hope . . . and I’m so grateful to you, Valerie Anne, for providing it! [The picture, and captions, re Kara w/ TWO glasses of champagne? {Chef’s Kiss!}]

      So, 6×18 promo: Super Friends partying AGAIN (I think this may have been just as much the cast&crew repeatedly tearing it up after 6 season. Sob!). Couples, shaking their booties in a circle: counter-clockwise, Alex&Kelly. Nia&Brainy. Kara&Lena. 💙💗

  1. My guess/prediction is that Kara couldn’t pass the Courage Totem because they’re going for a true courage = sacrifice motif in order to lead up to Kara’s death in the finale. It wasn’t when she failed to save the dude from getting robbed when she lacked courage, but when she fled from the plane crash/landing to protect herself and her secret identity.

    I’d be more fine with it if Calista Flockhart came back to tell me about it, but whatever.

  2. “ Or at least believe that people out there really do believe in love and it’s not just a practical joke being played on me by Hollywood and Heather Hogan” this is gold – as is the whole recap

  3. Maybe Lena has been raiding Kara’s closet for all the slacks and button ups she stopped wearing in season 5?

    I love the juxtaposition of a team of superheroes camping out a location in… a Honda Civic and a Subaru. Obviously, the lesbians were in the Subaru.


    Alex, with her arms crossed; Kara, with her hands on her hips. Ah, yes, the two genders.


    So answering the question the same way at the same time is proof of romantic compatibility?

    Well, to that, I say, “train.”


    Alex: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf-”
    Kelly: “Alex, there is a child present.”
    Alex: “…friend.”


    Calling it now, Kara is the hope totem now.


    I … don’t like that they brought Lex in to up the stakes. They already said that if Nyxly could harness dream powers she’d be “nearly unstoppable”. But it gives Lena and Brainy a chance for closure, and an excuse to bring the Legion in from the future. And if that means we get a cameo by Nura Nal, I will tolerate his presence.


    Can someone tell the writers this is not early 2000s network television? You can, in fact, have lesbians in the text. You don’t have to use “I believe in you” or “Your magic can protect me” as subtext. I’m with you, Valerie – we passed there being a heterosexual explanation for all of this long ago.

  4. The two love birds… Are they perfect for each other, who knows. But they certainly make each other whole (again).

    Esme is the cutest little kid! I wonder whether she can somehow channel the live totem energy. If so, she will probably use it for good…

    Maybe she can give Supercorp a tiny little nudge 😏 Just sayin’.

    Nyxly’s almost getting rid of the most annoying male character of all times (closely followed by the other white bread). Alas, the writers chose to undermine another female character for the sake of that dude.

    Three more episodes til this little found family rides off into the sun. Only good things for them!

  5. I’ve watched every single Supergirl episode, and have been a fan. So I think I’m qualified and it’s permissible for me to say the following: this show has completely lost its way. SURE I agree with the gay lovers thread, the trans superhero, and all the other good this show tries to do. BUT….MAN! every 10 minutes we have a lecture, a feel-good moment, an encouraging missive on courage, individuality, and on and on. And in the middle of an episode wherein the superheroes are trying to avoid worldwide destruction…..we pause for an engagement party!?!?! AW come on! I’ll watch the rest of this show, but I’ve lost all emotional attachment to “Supergirl”. It’s become “Superlecture”.

  6. I may have missed something, but has the show ever explicitly said Andrea can’t use her Shadow powers unless she knows the location, or that the Tower has wards of some nature? Because I have been yelling at my TV for half a season now, “Andrea, you want the stories so badly, bampf yourself over there!”

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