The Supporting Casts
If your show’s any good, you have a supporting cast the viewers also love, and they’re going to want some sense of closure on them as well. Arrow knew this, and while for seven episodes the focus was, rightfully, on Oliver, they still had subplots for his friends and allies, and then the actual series finale was entirely about his friends and family. Oliver had been dead for two episodes, so Diggle led us through a look at Oliver’s legacy and how those close to him intend to move on.
Preacher was never just about Jesse Custer, but in addition to wrapping up Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy, they also found satisfying conclusions for Starr, Humperdoo, and even… can’t believe he was a credited regular for three years… Adolf Hitler (his satisfying end was being strangled to death by Jesus Christ, no iteration of Preacher could be accused of being even a little pro-Hitler).
So how did these two address the squads? Just enough and way too much.
Lucifer: An Early Bow
There’s an episode of BoJack Horseman’s final season where BoJack, as he’s leaving LA, finds a way to improve the lives of all his closest friends. It’s a very sweet episode that’s an absolute mislead because we still had over half the season left so you know things are going to get worse. Lucifer did something similar without the mislead of it all.
Sure our A-plot is all about Lucifer and Chloe and Rory, but everyone has their own subplots throughout the season. I’m not going to list them, but they’re all effective, and gave me the moment I’d been wanting since Netflix saved the show: someone being walked through all the events of the series and realizing how much weird celestial stuff had been happening.
The finale was, as it should be, entirely about the family Morningstar, so in the previous episode we find what I’ve called the Lucifer farewell tour. Knowing that his last day on Earth might be coming up, Lucifer visits everyone close to him, and ensures that they know how important they are and what they mean to him. It’s a touching sequence that’s all the better given how adversarial some of these relationships once were. He brings gifts, overt or accidental, and helps everyone get to a happier place. So that when the next episode comes, and none of them are around until the “life goes on” montage towards the end of the finale, it’s fine, because we’ve had closure on the gang and can spend our last hour on the leads.
I’m not saying it’s the only way to handle the supporting cast, I did just mention Arrow’s approach, but it was a good way to do it.
As opposed to…
Supergirl: Who’s Kara?
Here’s a quick list of plotlines that came up between episodes seven and twenty.
Lena Luthor discovers that her mother was a witch, and despite being devoted to science for four seasons, begins learning magic. Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, is uncertain how to interpret her dream visions and makes mistakes trying to have a moment with her late mother to get some sort of advice. Then has to reconnect with her sister, who was last seen lashing out in a very transphobic way. Kelly Olsen decides to follow in her brother Jimmy’s footsteps as the street-level hero Guardian, as she feels National City in general and the SuperFriends in specific have been neglecting the lower-income, majority black parts of the city. Kelly meets an alien girl abused and rejected by foster homes, who she and Kara’s sister Alex decide to adopt. Kelly and Alex get engaged, which seemed inevitable ever since they let us know Kelly was gay and thus had solely been introduced to give Alex a girlfriend. CatCo CEO Andrea Rojas (still on the show somehow, still has shadow powers, good for her) decides that the SuperFriends are what sell papers, and so reporter William Day embeds himself with the team.
(Fans of the show will notice I didn’t mention a storyline for Brainiac Five or series stalwart J’onn J’onzz. Neither did the writers.)
(I can complain that they spent too much time on the supporting cast instead of Kara and complain that of all the SuperFriends, Martian Manhunter ended up with no story, thank you.)
None of these are bad stories, done well… even if super-scientist Lena becoming a witch is a weird flex. But… couldn’t we have done any of this while Melissa Benoist was on maternity leave? Kelly becomes Guardian over halfway through the final season, and I’m looking at the clock thinking “Isn’t it a little late in the day to be doing a superhero origin story for one of the squad? We have eight left.” Yes, it’s an important story for the BLM era, but why now? It’s not like they were doing much with Kelly last season. And it’s not like Kelly can bring Guardian to Legends of Tomorrow, that’s way too close to an actual DC character for late-period Legends.
The weirdest one for me is Alex, Kelly, and the kid they adopt whose name I don’t remember and refuse to look up. See, Alex and Kelly already felt a little forced to me. Kelly turned up in late season four, before her brother James/Jimmy had left the show. They let slip that Kelly was gay, and we all thought “Oh. I get it. Alex hasn’t had a girlfriend since they wrote off her first girlfriend in season three so that she could go be the worst character on The Punisher.” And that’s… kind of it. Noticing they were the only two lesbians on the show, they hooked up and that was that. Kelly became a regular in season five, but I never got a firm grasp on Kelly Olsen as a person. She was “Mechanism to explain the VR lenses that are part of the alien scheme to end humanity why not” and “Alex’s perfect loving girlfriend apparently.” And so when they met an alien kid being bounced from foster home to foster home, the writing was on the wall. Every step involved in Alex finding a soulmate and daughter felt so unearned. They just happen because that’s what’s next.
And this wouldn’t be a problem except that Alex’s Family is such a huge part of the last two episodes. Alex loves this alien moppet she met like a month ago so much that when Lex and Nyxly kidnap her (of course) Alex is willing to risk literally the entire universe by trading all missing pieces of the Allstone to Lex and Nyxly in exchange for her. Your kid is in the universe, Alex.
And then once the villain plot is done, our big emotional finale is Alex and Kelly’s wedding. Sure, fine, Alex has been a key part of the show since the pilot, do the wedding, but it still feels like it’s happening at the expense of anything happening with the actual title character. Kara doesn’t get a love interest, because…
Oh no. We’ve reached the SuperCorp tangent.
SuperCorp is a ‘shipping term, used by fans who thought the friendship between Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor was clearly meant to be much more than friendship, despite neither character having being written as anything but heterosexual. The writers gave the women a close and very supportive friendship, an incredibly vocal portion of the viewership said “NOW KISS,” and got pissy and frankly harrassy any time the writers tried to go in a different direction.
The SuperCorp pairing of Kara and Lena was forbidden by the showrunners or the network or maybe Corporate Daddy, I don’t know, but despite the fact that it could at very best be described as “buried in the subtext if anything,” the writers refused to pair Kara with anyone else, either for fear of SuperCorp fans harassing the actor (which they did every time Kara or Lena had a boyfriend, they even came for living jewel Rahul Kohli for playing Lena’s ex for one episode) or out of a desire to keep said fans invested, hoping it would actually happen. If it’s the second one, and I’ve heard rumours it is (of course I have, rumours tend to fly in these situations), then yeah, I guess you can’t be mad at people for throwing around accusations of queerbaiting.
Honestly I never bought that ‘ship anyway. Half of what they claim as proof these two are soulmates just looks like friendship to me, and the other half is just stuff like “Kara sits in chairs bisexually.” It’s not the most desperate reach I’ve ever seen from ‘shippers, ask me about Due South fandom sometime, but… two women can have a close friendship without it being queerbaiting; a lesson sections of the ‘net had to be taught when they leveled similar accusations at Falcon and the Winter Soldier for doing standard issue buddy-cop stuff. But YouTuber Sarah Z’s explorations of how Sherlock and Supernatural ‘shippers reacted to their queer ‘ships not sailing gives you a sense of how well SuperCorp fandom is taking Kara and Lena ending the show as “just” best of friends.
So no, Kara has no endgame love interest. Kara’s best actual, canonical love interest, Mon-El, comes back just long enough to help with one fight and then say “Gotta go back to the future, we’re never getting back together, goodbye forever.” Mon-El is played by Chris Wood, and while their characters were dating, he and Melissa legit fell in love, and are now married and have a kid and seem a charming family. That seems sweet and nice and it’s a shame people got mad at Mr. Wood because they couldn’t watch Kara and Lena be friends without demanding smooches.
Next Page: Final Season Stuff