Alex Danvers: an analysis
I think the most curious thing among this amalgam of reactions about the fact that Supergirl is moving to The CW is the generalised fear fans have for Alex’s future. Yes, there’s the whole thing about Vancounver not being the same as L.A., and that the change of locations will affect a lot of details of the storytelling, but in a story where pretty much all the characters have a definite identity and morality, Alex is absolutely the cinnamon roll to protect. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have an identity, boy does she have one, but hers is by far the most complicated, and the way she has been written so far makes it the most delicate.
When CBS was in charge, we were this close to seeing a Change.org-style petition to have them simply acknowledge that Alex is gay af (she is, guys, no one will convince me otherwise). Now, with The CW, who knows if that acceptance would be the best. Because yes, with The CW Alex has a lot more probabilities of being acknowledged as gay, but precisely because of that her chances of getting killed become exponentially higher (Lexa, anyone?).
And yet the other option that CBS tried to force onto us was trying to set up Alex with Maxwell Lord, something even more alarming considering the psychopatic, manipulating, megalomaniac, blackmailing, feminicide features of this dude. Who knows what The CW is planning, but with this adjustment we’re at the point that in order for Alex to survive she almost, almost -has- to end up with Lord. Him or some random guy they’ll summon out of thin air. She’ll have to be straight to stay alive.
On the level of character psychology, Alex is unbelieveably complex, maybe the most complex of all, for she holds several moral ambivalencies and a very singular code of honor. Alex is the only one of the ‘good guys’ who has never had any hesitation when it comes to killing for her loved ones. She has killed for Kara, she has killed for Hank, and she assimilates this soldier duty in an extraordinary way. She has also been willing to die for them a lot of times, an idea she accepts with the same impeccable stoicism.
I’d really love to go deeper into what’s going on in Alex’s psyche when it comes to her kills. She has come to accept them, she doesn’t regret them but she also doesn’t celebrate them, they’re just something that needed to be done. Does she mourn them in any way? Did she use to do it, and then became desensitized to death? Did her hand ever hesitate? Or maybe she always knew what her duty was and simply fulfilled it? Or maybe, much like when it first became her duty to look after Kara, she started out complaining about it, trying to avoid it, until she finally grew used to it? Until she started to enjoy it? To love it?
Astra was a special case, of course, but not just because of the connection with Kara: Alex herself had begun to bond with her in a really beautiful way, like Astra said, as 'a fellow soldier’. They could have done amazing things together and probably the one point I regret and criticize about the show is that they did not allow for that relationship to develop. Of course, I understand the situations that made them take Astra out of the picture, but they destroyed what could have been a really big storytelling opportunity.
We didn’t even get to see Alex mourn Astra or reflect about the meaning of that death for herself -she worked it all around Kara, felt bad because it would affect Kara, was filled with regret because that kill would hurt Kara. It would have been very interesting to see the impact of Astra’s death on Alex’s own persona, taking a step away from her sister.
Because Kara is a whole different level of Alex. Thanks to 'For the Girl who has Everything’ and 'Falling’, we got a good look at Alex’s entire 'I love you more than anything and you’re the most important person in my life and also I have this deep envy about everything you are and have and still sort of resent how you changed my whole world and took a lot of what was mine’ dynamic with Kara.
That Kara is Alex’s one love and priority must never be doubted. Alex has always been willing to kill and die for her sister. But Kara had a point when she brought up all the resentment and bitterness that Alex has suffocated for so many years. That the one person who adores Kara the most, the one person who worships her, protects her, cares for her, might also be the one person who holds the most against her, is an exquisite conflict that I hope we get to see more of throughout season 2, when, as Alex herself said they need to do, the sisters work on their issues.
Alex grew up with huge pressure on her. Even before Kara, she had shoes to fill and a name to live up to. Her parents were obviously raising her with incredubly high standards around a scientific career, and though she was of course genuinely passionate and talented, they were already making her feel that she had to reach a certain level to be worth something. After Kara… well, we’ve seen, they kept making Alex think that she had to be the best in order to count, all the while constanly letting her know that there would always be a certain someone better than her.
Alex she was also burdened with taking care of Kara at a point when Alex herself needed to be taken care of, protected, guided. We don’t know exactly what was happening during her rebellious years, but she did seem to be extremely lonely. She had lost her father, and her mother was seeking refuge in the apparently perfect daughter, the one who 'could touch the stars’, once the other child had seeminly not lived up to her expectations.
Alex can communicate all of these emotions and weight on her with just one look of her eyes, one flash of the cynical, cold charade she has built for herself. We can see she’s deeply hurt and in need of healing. She needs care and affection, lots and lots of love. She’s been crying out loud for years and only now people have begun to notice.
And so much of this comes from Chyler Leigh’s terrific acting. She’s just stunning, always on point with her performance, always keeping Alex exactly where she needs to be, grounded, human, fragile and yet stronger than anything or anyone. To see Chyler perform, to see just how perfectly she understands Alex, is a true privilige and huge happiness.
I can only hope that Alex’s future is as amazing as Alex herself. She deserves it. She’s the best.