'Supergirl': Why Livewire's Death Was Unnecessary

On the most recent episode of Supergirl, Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) assembles an [...]

On the most recent episode of Supergirl, Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) assembles an all-girl team to go with her to Fort Rozz in the hopes of obtaining information that will help her stop Reign (Odette Annable). Unfortunately, the mission doesn't go quite as planned, resulting in the death of one of the women -- a death that was completely unnecessary.

In the episode, the only source of information Supergirl has on Reign is Jindah Kol Rozz, a Kryptonian priestess imprisoned in Fort Rozz. Supergirl threw the prison deep into space back in the show's first season, placing it somewhere in space that is poisonous to men, but will also render Supergirl powerless due to orbiting a blue star. In order to safely go on this mission, Supergirl recruits Saturn Girl/Imra Ardeen (Amy Jackson) to go with her, but also brings along two villains: Psi (Yael Grobglas) and Livewire (Brit Morgan). Not much is done with Psi during the episode or the mission -- other than Psi still being a little bit of a psychopath with telepathic powers -- but the episode invests a good bit of time on Livewire.

As fans may recall, prior to becoming a villain, Livewire was CatCo shock jock Leslie Willis. After getting her powers in a helicopter crash, Leslie became the villain, ending up in prison for her crimes. However, in prison Livewire was kidnapped by a scientist who wanted to use her to create super soldiers. Supergirl freed her and ultimately let her go after a little bit of reasoning with the villain. Supergirl later tracks her down working as a waitress and reasons with her again, this time to ask for her help, but also to encourage her to be more than just a villain.

The pep talk works. When Reign shows up on Fort Rozz and attacks the girl squad, Livewire sacrifices herself to save Supergirl's life. It's a heroic act that redeems the character and emotionally rattles Supergirl, but it's a death that didn't need to happen. It served no real purpose other than to provide even more angst for Supergirl this season, making Liverwire's death not so much a noble sacrifice or redemption, but, instead, a case of fridging.

Fridging is a term that refers to a trope in comics called Women in Refrigerators that describes the death, injury, or depowering of women as a plot device for the story. Women in Refrigerators itself was coined by Gail Simone and refers to Green Lantern #54 where Kyle Rayner comes home to find that his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, has been killed by villain Major Force and stuffed into the refrigerator for no other purpose than to forward the plot. While fridging is often seen with women characters suffering for the angst of men, in last week's Supergirl, it was Livewire who died for Supergirl's angst and to provide an emotional moment between Supergirl and Mon-El where he tries to cheer her up by telling her she managed to change Livewire's life before she died.

While battling Reign is most assuredly a situation where characters could be hurt or even killed -- after all, Supergirl herself nearly was -- Livewire's death didn't have the same feeling. Instead, fans got to spend a portion of the episode getting emotionally invested in the anti-hero only to have her taken away. The character could have had so much more impact had she survived the battle and taken up space within Supergirl's general world as a witty, sarcastic ally giving the perpetually optimistic Supergirl the reality check she needs. Livewire, unlike Supergirl, had a sharp understanding that the world could be a difficult place and good guys don't always win. It's a balance the show has been lacking since the departure of another straight-shooting, realistic character -- Maggie (Floriana Lima).

The only positive thing that appears to have come from Livewire's sacrifice is that Supergirl seems to have a little more empathy for her enemies. She's seen showing compassion for Psi by asking that the villain receive better prison accommodations for her help and that compassion and sympathy is something Supergirl will need once it's revealed to her that her ultimate nemesis Reign is also her close friend Samantha Arias.

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.