This SUPERGIRL article contains spoilers for Season 6, Episode 14, “Magical Thinking.”
Supergirl Season 6 Episode 14
For half a dozen episodes now, Supergirl (both the hero and the show itself) has told us that Nyxly is unlike any other threat that the Super Friends have ever faced. With this episode and a confession to Lena, Supergirl finally makes their case. Nyxly, with all her magic abilities, leaves Kara feeling helpless, able to be defeated – like most people are in the face of danger, without someone like her to come save them. Nyxly renders Kara something like human.
There’s been an assumption that the totems don’t affect Kara, though her connection to Nyxly does. Stressed out Kara is reminiscent of Wanda from WandaVision when she’s at the end of her rope in the Malcolm in the Middle Episode. But in the same way that pursuing the totems briefly turns Nyxly into an empathetic person, might the pursuit of them be turning Kara into someone just a bit more ruthless, more Machiavellian? She and Lena had a straightforward “Do the ends justify the means?” argument and in the end they apparently went with “Yes, as long as you tell everyone what you did.”
It’s a path that’s rooted in their very specific history, as made clear by Lena’s declaration: “I don’t want to hurt anybody with my magic…or deceit.” That pause before “deceit” is an emotional one, and Katie McGrath conveyed how hard it was for Lena to bring up Kara lying to her about being Supergirl, even without naming it, even as the wronged party. Her quiet refusal is a powerful one, and it doesn’t quite jibe with the end result, where Lena and Kara simply went ahead with Kara’s plan to drain people of their humanity anyway, to the point where it felt like the other shoe was going to drop and we would be let in on their real, less dangerous plan, the one they were keeping hidden from William.
That said, seeing Kara and Lena go back and forth about what’s best ethically and to save the people of National City feels long overdue. Supergirl and Lena have had conversations like this in the past, but never on a level playing field, with full transparency. Like any hero, Kara needs people who can call her out and tell her when she’s making a mistake, and Lena is one of the few who can do that. Seeing them hash out a moral conundrum with the clock ticking is great, but it’s also a reminder that this could have been part of the show much earlier, if Kara had been written to be honest with her best friend earlier on.
William was a great lens for telling the story of this episode. He was genuinely useful and charming for the first time in ages, calling J’onn “Mr. Manhunter” and helping Lena overcome her own self-judgments to get out of her magical rut. The journalism on Supergirl has always been hit or miss, and while that’s still true, during the most important beats, it’s on target. Andrea having no meaningful journalistic knowledge or sense of ethics is actually right on track for a tech billionaire who bought a media outlet on a whim.
It’s good to see William actually make the journalistic argument for following the conditions Supergirl laid out, rather than rolling over or being enamored of his sources, as Andrea claimed. He doesn’t want to burn a legitimately skittish and unique group of sources, and he knows that it’s better to play ball on a few things and get the bigger story that takes longer to report. William agreeing to run all his articles by his sources like it’s nothing is eyebrow-raising, but so much of the rest of this plot works, including his later pushback against both the Super Friends and his boss, that it’s not worth getting too worked up about.
This episode was full of many small moments full of warmth, the kind of economical character beats that have made Supergirl feel like home over the years. Nia jokingly telling Lena and Kara off for underestimating her intelligence as the three of them worked together. Alex and Kelly catching up on each other’s day during battle. Lena knowing Kara’s ETA while everyone plays Jenga. Even Nyxly wanting to save the snow leopards while momentarily filled with empathy.
Alien foster kid Esme made her fiery return in this episode. Kelly settled her with new foster parents who did not pass their own metaphorical gauntlet, locking her outside to take on the roving, violent de-humanized mob once they realized she could scream fire. While it’s not stated outright, obviously Kelly and Alex, who rescued Esme in-costume, will be taking Esme home instead of sending her back to the group home and yet another foster family who won’t understand and appreciate her and her powers. It’s the kind of arc that even though we can all see it coming from a mile away, it still feels good to watch it play out.
It’s unclear what, exactly, this totem is meant to teach whoever attempts to wield it. Should they harden their heart in order to keep it? Was the dispersal of humanity only so bad because of the clash between Supergirl and Nyxly? There’s a lot more to learn, and apparently a Kaznia-Corto Maltese joint summit in the Hague to crash, as the hunt for the totems continues, though it also appears the Super Friends aren’t in on the correct order and will pursue the dream totem instead.