Photo: Diyah Pera (The CW)

Between the big Arrowverse crossover episode, its normal winter hiatus, and its more abnormal late winter hiatus, Supergirl has had a bit of a wonky third season. To its credit, the show has maintained a palpable sense of forward momentum and a pretty solid season-long arc—perhaps its most solid one yet, in fact. But the stop-and-go pacing has definitely been more of a hindrance than a help. For people binge-watching the season later via a streaming platform (hi future readers!) those breaks won’t matter as much. But for those watching in real-time, diving into the fantastically titled “Schott Through The Heart” feels like returning to a book you put down far longer than you intended. (In case you’re understandably a little fuzzy about Supergirl’s season-long storytelling, Bleeding Cool did a nice recap of the season so far.)

Rather than jump right back into all the Worldkiller stuff, Supergirl eases its audience back in with a mostly standalone episode that still has some larger implications for the rest of the season. And it really eases its audience in with a charming karaoke cold open that serves as a reminder of how fun it can be to spend time with Supergirl’s core cast. Soon, however, we’re thrust into the main plot of the episode: Winn’s supervillian dad “Toyman” is dead but his violent legacy lives on.

“Schott Through The Heart” is a spiritual sequel to the first season episode “Childish Things,” which introduced Winn’s dad and proved that Jeremy Jordan is a far better actor than he’d ever been able to show on Smash. (That’s also the episode that introduced Emma Caulfield as Cameron Chase only to never return to her again. Oh Supergirl.) And this episode is once again a really great showcase for Jordan as a dramatic actor. Particularly since his move to the DEO, it’s easy for Winn to get pigeonholed as the comic relief one-liner guy, but it’s always nice to see Jordan given something more to do. And in this case that means grappling with his father’s legacy, which includes not only some posthumous toy-themed attacks, but also the 20-year rift between Winn and his mother Mary (Oscar nominee Laurie Metcalf).

Metcalf is more than game to play in Supergirl’s sandbox, lending a sort of daffy joy to Mary’s amazement at Winn’s career. (I particularly loved her reaction to learning that flying monkeys are merely a two on a 1-10 scale of Supergirl’s daily challenges.) But Metcalf is also capable of handling the weightier material of Mary’s past too. The highlight of the episode is Mary’s devastating monologue about trying to flee with Winn to a domestic abuse shelter only to be run off the road by Winslow. Metcalf skips the histrionics and gives Mary the direct tone of a woman who’s spent a long time to grapple with the difficulties of her past. And while Supergirl is more often than not pretty heavy-handed with its dialogue, the monologue effectively captures the way children can have a limited perspective on the struggles their parents are going through. Toyman is an out-there villain, but Supergirl tries to take the idea of being married to a supervillain seriously and mostly succeeds, at least on an emotional level.

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That being said, this episode feels like it’s going through the motions with its actual villain-of-the-week stuff. There are fun images—like Metcalf battling a mechanical flying monkey and Kara getting trapped in action figure clamshell packaging—but the payoff is pretty rote: Toyman has an apprentice named Jacqueline who’s determined to follow her teacher’s final wishes. The reveal and wrap-up happen far too quickly for Jacqueline to land as a character. But it does allow Brooke Smith—who got her start playing Buffalo Bill’s kidnapping victim in Silence Of The Lambs—to be referred to as “Buffalo Bill” by Mary, which is a fun meta reference.

Photo: Diyah Pera (The CW)

It doesn’t help that “Schott Through The Heart” pairs a dramatic, dialogue-heavy A-plot with two talky, dramatic subplots: M’yrnn’s burgeoning dementia and Mon-El’s conflicted feelings over Imra. The former works better than the latter, if only because it’s less needlessly drawn out. Alex quickly picks up on M’yrnn’s pattern of forgetfulness (the moment he forgets his own granddaughters is especially devastating) and tries to navigate being an advocate for him without overstepping in his relationship with his son. It feels like an out of left field storytelling decision designed to give an underutilized Carl Lumbly something to do. But there’s definitely the potential for some resonant and relevant storytelling there.

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The Mon-El/Kara stuff feels even more clunky, both on a character level and a plot one. It takes the entire episode for Mon-El to reveal the Imra-related cliffhanger from the previous episode: Brainy and Imra intentionally traveled back to Kara’s time because the as-yet-undiscovered third Worldkiller Pestilence will eventually evolve into Blight, the creatures responsible for the 31st century destruction of the planet Winath (and perhaps the 25th century “extinction phenomenon” on Earth too). Stopping Pestilence will not only save the present but the future as well. The time travel stuff continues to feel pretty nebulous, and on a character-level, having Kara set an emotional boundary with Mon-El only to immediately realize she has to work closely with him anyway feels a bit like the show having its cake and eating it too. No matter how incrementally the show moves toward it, I’m really not a fan of this impending Kara/Mon-El/Imra love triangle. Cape tricks, however, do intrigue me.

In the end, “Schott Through The Heart” feels a bit like Supergirl in a nutshell: Scattered and unsubtle, but with its heart mostly in the right place. The show will be airing straight through for the next nine weeks, which will hopefully give the rest of the season the chance to fully find its tempo.


Stray observations

  • The karaoke stuff is all great, but my two favorite moments are Winn yelling, “Take your shirt off!” at James, and Alex drunkenly singing “I Drove All Night.” (Okay, Mon-El immediately apologizing for his rendition of “Carry On Wayward Son” was also a pretty great.) That being said, I’m mad we didn’t get to hear Jeremy Jordan full-on belt “Take On Me” at the end. Here’s a video to make up for that:

  • It’s a rather on-the-nose conversation and perhaps a little too neatly wrapped up, but it’s interesting to see Supergirl engage in a discussion about what it’s like for Martians M’yrnn and J’onn to live in human form as black men.
  • All things considered, this was a pretty good episode for James. His friendship with Winn is the one area where the character most consistently works.
  • So where were Brainy and Imra during all of this?
  • “When was your last tetanus shot?” “Mom, recently. I’m very cautious.”

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