The Super Friends finally got it together and headed to find and rescue the long lost Girl of Steel, who has been trapped inside the Phantom Zone with her un-dead father Zor-El since the end of the season 6 premiere of Supergirl. They were successful in “Fear Knot,” the midseason finale, but the big moment of saving Kara was rather disappointing.
After returning from 2009 Midvale with Kara’s blood in tow, the Super Friends were finally able to hone in on Supergirl’s exact location in the Phantom Zone. They fly out (since the tower is also a ship) to save her, but they succumb to the phantoms’ visions, with each character playing out a scenario in their minds that scares them the most. It’s like the Scarecrow’s fear toxin or the dementors in Harry Potter. For Alex, it was that she was ultimately unnecessary to the rescue mission and sacrificed herself to save her sister. For Lena, it was drowning the way her mother did, and so on for everyone aboard, including Kelly, Nia, and Brainy. The good news is that the mission was ultimately successful, but the rescue of Supergirl didn’t last very long.
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The moment Supergirl was saved from the Phantom Zone and was back with her friends didn’t exactly meet expectations, with fans and critics alike commenting about it being rushed, boring, and underwhelming. Some assumed Kara would be joining her team much earlier in the episode, but her rescue was relegated to the final moments of the Supergirl midseason finale.
Supergirl’s Rescue Itself Was Anticlimactic
Supergirl’s rescue and reunion hug with Alex lasted a few seconds (maybe a minute) at the most. The hug was sweet, but the act of saving Supergirl, and in the Phantom Zone no less, was lackluster and anticlimactic. Kara didn’t interact with anyone else and there was no time for other emotional reunions. The rescue just happened without any buildup. Suddenly, the ship was there and Kara was boarding alongside her dad, and then they were flying back to Earth. The Phantom Zone itself didn’t give anyone any trouble, the phantoms didn’t attempt to attack again, and no one approached the ship in an attempt to escape. It also felt like Kara and Zor-El were just waiting around until the Super Friends showed up to save them. For a big moment that was episodes in the making — rescuing Kara is the only thing the Super Friends were focused on doing for a long time — Supergirl, quite simply, didn’t deliver on the momentum that had been building since the end of the season 6 premiere. The rescue left a lot to be desired, especially since they were rescuing Supergirl of all people.
Fear Visions Undermined The Phantom Zone’s Own Threat
The Phantom Zone is a scary place, but no one would really know that based on Supergirl season 6. The Arrowverse series set it up so the phantoms themselves were the most terrifying things to come out of the space prison. The fact that this led to the Super Friends having to contend with their own fears while outside the Phantom Zone undermined the threat of the dimension itself. The location had long been established as somewhere no one wanted to ever end up — Supergirl, who had been stuck there for years before her pod finally arrived to Earth, was chief among them — because of the dangers that lurked and the desolate landscape it promised its prisoners for eternity.
After all, the Phantom Zone was more than the home of the dementor-like phantoms and where fear wasn’t the only thing that was weaponized. It’s a wasteland where isolation is often the key to driving one to the brink of a breakdown and hopelessness. It’s also the home to criminals who have been locked up there for ages, so relegating the overarching menace of the Phantom Zone to that of the phantoms’ fear visions heavily lessens the overall impact of the location.
There Wasn’t Enough Of Supergirl Herself
After surviving an explosion that destroyed the only portal from the Phantom Zone back to Earth, Supergirl disappeared in the following time travel episodes that saw Brainy and Nia visiting Midvale in 2009 to obtain Kara’s blood. Past Kara was getting in on all the action, but the Kara of the present was still woefully trapped in the same place and frankly not doing much. Considering “Fear Knot” was Supergirl’s last midseason finale ever, it was expected that the Girl of Steel would have gotten a meaty subplot while waiting around for the Super Friends to finally find her.
But, all Supergirl did was tell her dad that her friends would die if they tried to save her (and they almost did) before showing back up at the end of the episode to board the ship and reunite with Alex. Kara could have played more of a crucial role in the episode and also in her own rescue. She was barely in the episode at all, which is frustrating considering Supergirl is her show and she’s been around so little in season 6. What’s more, Kara could’ve gotten more screen time with her dad, which would have deepened their relationship and bond after all this time, thus making the rescue with him in tow all the more emotional.
Supergirl’s Fear Visions Were A Waste Of Time
Each character got to shine on their own due to the nature of the episode, but there was very little excitement to be had. Despite everyone having to live through their own fears, there was surprisingly little in the way of character development. It felt like a filler episode that didn’t advance the characters’ emotional arcs. In Supergirl’s case, fear was the perfect vehicle to explore their traumas further or advance their storylines in some way. However, the fears were more of a waste of time than anything else.
There was no interesting or new information to be gleaned about the characters beyond things fans already knew. In the case of Nia, the audience knows she’s been grappling with the fear of being unable to interpret her dreams, but it’s an issue that was much better handled in the time travel episodes that aired right before. Even the scenes delineating the fears of the characters were subpar at best. Though occasionally chilling, Supergirl’s “Fear Knot” kept repeating the same tactics with each character instead of changing things up. This affected Kara’s rescue, which was the result of a disappointing lead-up.
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