Supergirl returns from its long, unexpected hiatus this week and delivers a well-written, well-acted episode that does little to further the central plot of the season, but holds up as one of the best episodes in quite some time.
In "Schott Through the Heart," Winn (Jeremy Jordan) is put through the emotional wringer after his father dies, his mother (played by Laurie Metcalf) returns to him for the first time in years, and a Toyman imitator bent on punishing the Schott family for failing to love Winslow as much as she did launches an assault on National City.
Like last night's season finale for DC's Legends of Tomorrow, the episode features toys that came to life in a CG battle scene. Don't expect to see fans sharing this one around for the rest of the week on social media, though; it is not the culmination of anything, but the start of the episode...and the imagery is neither as absurd nor as well-executed as Beebo.
There is an emotional honesty and an earnestness that permeates Supergirl, and it sometimes prevents the humor from landing. This has, increasingly, become a difficulty for Winn's character, so it is interesting to see that in an episode where Jordan finally gets to wear his heart on his sleeve, it's other characters who fail to carry the comedic water when called upon.
Giving us a sense of purpose for James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn, and a truly tragic backstory for Winn, the episode carries some of the most emotionally effective beats that Supergirl has had since Cat Grant left. That saves it from feeling like, as Jordan described it in our interview, a "filler episode."
There are marginal movements on a number of larger plot points, but frankly the success of the episode lies in making Winn's very real pain and his attempts to cope with it the biggest, most important thing in National City. The villain plot wisely centers on "punishing" Winn and his mother, rather than something more world-threatening, and so does not allow the season-long A-plot to dwarf the best part of the week's episode.
Besides Metcalf and Jordan, both of whom turn in stellar performances, Chyler Leigh deserves a lot of kudos. In the other "big" story from the week, Alex has to deal with a surprising and painful truth that puts her between two characters. The writing in this subplot is sharp, but Leigh elevates the material, and it is given exactly the right amount of screen time so as not to overtake what is going on with the Schotts, while still setting up what is clearly a longer-term story.
Another long-term story that is more likely to be somewhat controversial is what the writers are doing with the Legion of Super-Heroes. There are secrets that have been kept not just from the DEO but from Supergirl as well, and while it makes a lot of narrative sense, a lot will hinge on the execution. Tonight, we get little more than a tantalizing look ahead.
Supergirl airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT, tonight on The CW.