Supergirl season 3 episode 16 review: Of Two Minds


The Worldkillers returned to the forefront on Supergirl this week, as Kara and Imra joined forces to thwart Pestilence. Suffice to say, things got messy.

For the past couple episodes, the Worldkillers of Supergirl have maintained a low profile. Lena quarantined Samantha (and, by extension, Reign) in an undisclosed location. Purity woke up but went into hiding. The DEO struggled to track down Pestilence, who manifests as disease and plague. In the meantime, our heroes reconnected with family members and showed off their karaoke chops.

This being the Arrowverse, however, you can only go so long before another apocalyptic threat emerges. Last week’s episode, “In Search of Lost Time”, ended with birds falling from the sky, Magnolia-style. Kara and Mon-El immediately identified the incident as the work of Pestilence.

In order to stop it, though, they need to know more. “Of Two Minds” opens in a DEO laboratory, as Alex studies one of the fallen pigeons. She finds no signs of a contagion, but Imra is confident that this is associated with the futuristic blight that devastates her home planet. Highly infectious, it starts in animals before spreading to humans, all the more dangerous because of the incubation period that delays its symptoms.

As a matter of fact, it has already made the cross-species leap. The team gets news that a sudden illness has hit city hall, infecting several people, including the mayor. Arriving at the scene, they notice scratch marks on the victims and form two conclusions. First, this is the same illness that’s afflicting the pigeons, and second, the illness spreads through physical contact. But a commotion outside interrupts their examination: Imra has conjured a force field around the building, causing cars to crash.

Imra isn’t interested in treating the symptoms of the disease; she’s too impatient to wipe out the disease, namely by finding and killing Pestilence. Naturally, this brings her into conflict with Kara, who believes it’s possible to turn off the Worldkillers, so to speak, by reaching out to their human sides.

“You don’t get to pick and choose when you live by your ideals,” she insists.

It’s a noble sentiment, as Kara’s tend to be. Yet, doesn’t it sound like something a villain might say — the Worldkillers, perhaps? Reign, Purity, and Pestilence will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of total annihilation, driven partly by biological instinct (they were, after all, created as weapons) and partly by a warped sense of righteousness. They see themselves as gods, punishing humanity for its wickedness.

In short, the Worldkillers suffer not from a lack of morality, but a surplus of it — an inability or refusal to consider shades of gray. Taken to an extreme, certainty can turn into myopia. As Mon-El says in a rare moment of profundity, some problems can’t be solved with a math equation.

Anyway, each woman dismisses the other as irrational. Kara, according to Imra, is too naïve, while Imra, according to Kara, is too emotional. Unfortunately, they don’t have time to debate. After the visit to city hall, Winn and Alex succumb to the sickness. Only a temporary antidote that Brainiac-5 extracted from Mon-El and Imra’s DNA saves them. (It’s a little convenient that the normally cautious DEO agents went into a contaminated zone without wearing protective suits. But they’d assumed the sickness was airborne.)

With some detective work (i.e. a search on social media), Kara deduces that Pestilence is Grace Parker, an EMT that they bumped into at city hall earlier. They track her to a boardroom, where she chastises executives for profiting off people’s suffering. Kara’s attempts to reason with her only lead to more speechifying (“I won’t have to save people anymore because I don’t want to”) and, eventually, a fight. Although Imra manages to inject Pestilence with a lethal serum, Purity intervenes, restores her strength, and whisks her away.

Meanwhile, Lena continues to secretly run tests on Samantha. She learns that the transformation is triggered by an enzyme, which suggests that it can be isolated and removed. However, in order to do so, she has to force Reign to emerge. And in order to do that, she has to hurt Samantha.

“If we had more time, we could find another way,” she assures her friend. “But we don’t, so we have to do it.”

The pain, it turns out, isn’t the breaking point. Whenever Reign takes over, Samantha goes to an alternate dimension where her fears haunt her like a shadow. There, Reign tempts her with power and, when she refuses, threatens to harm Ruby. Each test not only drains Samantha’s physical strength but also weakens her confidence in Lena. After the last one, she begs Lena to get more help.

Lena explains that if the government finds out about Samantha’s connection to Reign before they have a cure, they’ll treat Samantha as a problem — a disease. It’s an understandable concern and among Supergirl’s subtler hints at Lena’s family history. Still, as “Of Two Minds” demonstrates, Supergirl gives people the benefit of the doubt; it’s kind of her thing. Wouldn’t Lena know that, given the closeness of their relationship? Though a definite upgrade over whatever she was doing with Morgan Edge, Lena’s decisions here still feel contrived.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. Purity and Pestilence find the quarantine zone, with Kara, J’onn, Mon-El, and Imra on their heels. Before Kara can even process what is happening, Samantha completes her transformation into Reign and escapes with the other Worldkillers. With that, the apocalypse draws one step closer.

Related Story: 20 TV shows with the best soundtracks

Bullet points:

  • Not sure if “National City City Hall” is a clumsy mistake or an ingenious bureaucracy joke
  • The first transition into the alternate dimension, with the camera tipping sideways, gave me definite Stranger Things vibes. Samantha calls it the Dark Valley, but I like “The In Between.” Lena guesses Reign goes there because she can’t fully appear in our world.
  • That moment when I shipped Alex and the doctor who turned out to be Grace was brief yet so sweet.
  • Speaking of shipping, James has more chemistry with Winn than Lena, and Lena has more chemistry with Samantha than James. Just saying.
  • “Of Two Minds” draws a parallel between the Legion and doctors with the use of oaths, but it’s underexplored. I guess both of them strive to do good?
  • Similarly, I wish the show would delve into the feeling of helplessness James expresses in his phone call to Lena.
  • James and J’onn’s random fist-bump in the background of a very serious scene gave me so much joy.
  • J’onn to Kara: “You break through impossible.”

Supergirl airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.