Supergirl (S03E04) "The Faithful"

It is a commonly known fact about me that I love the home planet of the last two Kryptonians, the one and only, the forever-blows-up planet: Krypton and so it was a major disappointment for me when season 2 didn’t really delve deep into the Krypton side of things. We did get the occasional shout out to Rao (the Kryptonian sun god) but that was pretty much it. So when I saw the promo for this episode last week, I was really excited- if a cult which worships Supergirl was involved then it was sure that Krypton would definitely be in the midst of it all as well and the episode didn’t disappoint a bit, instead it exceeded my expectations a lot. The episode deals with a lot of heavy themes and also hints very very subtly to its future intentions.
The inter-relation between gods and the Supers is ingrained into the Super mythos. It’s very common to associate Superman with christian mythology and here too, Thomas Coville associates Supergirl as god’s messenger or more specifically Rao’s messenger after being saved from a plane crash which he was in two years ago- of flight 237. This is the same flight which Kara saves in the pilot episode (the very same night she becomes Supergirl) but she saves it only because her sister, Alex was on that flight. So Thomas just got lucky, but Coville doesn’t know that nor does he show any inclination to rationalize his experiences in a logical way, he idolizes supergirl, prays to her and even encourages others to put themselves in dangerous situations so that Kara can save them and in this way they can reaffirm their belief. It’s a common tactic used by people to brainwash others and thus, indoctrinate them into their own self serving agendas. While most other gods are not physically visible, Kara is, and no matter what, she will definitely try to save as many people as she can. But Kara is also deeply unnerved by a person co-opting her religion and twisting the teachings of her god to something monstrous. Sounds familiar right.
From the other side, its easy to see why Coville would feel so influenced to worship Supergirl even though it was not a one-on-one rescue, like Olivia’s, and was instead a mass rescue. The opening of the episode sheds light on Coville’s personal problems, which are later reiterated by Winn. He generally led a perfect life but the moment he was cheated and divorced by his wife, his life started to go downhill and that downward turn took away his job, public dignity and along the way he also lost a sense of purpose. Kara’s appearance in his life gave him a purpose and his confidence. This confidence spurred him on to search about Krypton and he found out about it when he got a hold of one of Krypton’s small ships which were sent out to different planets to let others know about krypton, its history and religion. There is nothing inherently wrong about practising a faith, as Maggie says, everyone has the freedom to practise their religion. But the problem arises when people start holding extremist views about their religion and start putting people in danger to get others to join their religion. Coville’s plans ultimately involved putting 15,000 people in danger by activating the self destruct option on the Kryptonian ship and through this incident, allowing Kara to save them. Thus, this was his major plan to recruit more people into his cult. Obviously Kara foils it when she cuts her hand open (after being affected by the kryptonite present in the soil sample attached to the ship) to demonstrate others that she is a mortal and no messenger of any god. It’s just as Kara said earlier, her biology allows her to absorb more sunlight at a different rate which in turn gives her, her powers. There is nothing miraculous about them. But James’s counter argument of:
‘In normal life, prayers are rarely answered but Clark does and You (Kara) do. You are something we can seen, we can touch, how is that not a miracle’
This shows us why even after being shown that Kara is no god, Coville stills looks on with wonder and awe as Kara uses heat vision on the ground to burn a deep hole to detonate the ship. Her ‘proof’ of not being a god doesn’t stop him from believing in her, instead as he says in prison, he will continue to pray to her and will also pray for her to Rao because he sees that her eyes have become clouded from pain and loss.
The whole episode certainly has several layers to the subject of worship. Some things are pretty clear- you can worship anything as long as you don’t compel others to harm themselves in the name of your faith. Supergirl has been very proactive addressing the pressing issues of the times and has shown that comics will always be and always were socially significant.
Apart from juggling the protagonist’s storyline, this season of Supergirl has been fleshing out the conflicts and personal journeys of the other characters as well. Alex is still struggling with telling Maggie that she wants children because she ultimately knows that this revelation will not take their relationship anywhere permanent or positive. Her last words to Kara at the end of the episode: ‘what am I gonna do?’ as she breaks down crying in her sister’s arms really hammered home her deep dilemma and the ultimatum she is facing.
The buildup to the conversion of suburban soccer mom/L-Corp CEO Samantha Arias into the Worldkiller Reign had my attention from the moment it was announced and the slow development is like relishing a five star meal. The Kryptonian symbols on her body, that shadowy woman telling her that she was forged from Rao’s fire and telling her about her destiny has intrigued me a lot. The ending scene with the hand-on-the-glass from the stasis pod person has already prompted a lot of online discussion and debates but intuition tells me that those are the rest of the Worldkillers who will be awakened pretty soon.
Also, a shoutout to lena for finally making more friends.