Supergirl’s Azie Tesfai Takes on Race and Privilege as Guardian, Episode Writer

As a writer, Tesfai wisely put Nyxly’s hunt for the totem and Lena’s magical journey largely on hold, allowing this emotionally complex story the breathing room required for a subject matter of this heft. The conniving councilwoman preaching gentrification and pulling oneself up by their bootstraps from the previous episode turns out to be just as viewers suspected. Here, she gets a fifth dimensional power-up that essentially grants her the ability to make her dreams reality – at the expense of those nearby.

While at first that may seem like a plot borrowed from Pedro Pascal’s villain in Wonder Woman 1984, during the climax the writers reveal that the councilwoman literally steals her power from the injured BIPOC folks in a low-income neighborhood she was elected to represent. As her power grows, she goes full-on eugenics and wants to “sweep away the useless and the weak and make it perfect.”

The councilwoman is bad, but she’s on obvious bogeywoman. More impressive is the way the writing pulls no punches as it specifically and accurately portrays nice white people who think they “get it” as they very much do not. Seeing Alex brush Kelly off is rough, but it tracks. She tends to be singular of focus, and she had to be forced to get on board with accepting Kara. Alex doesn’t quite come out and say it, but in her soul-searching conversation with J’onn after she realizes her mistake, Alex talks about how much the couple have in common and comes right up to the “but I’m gay so I get it…” talking point.

Building on the relationship they’ve fleshed out this season, Kelly calls out Supergirl on her blind spots and the way she misses things outside of her own experience. Viewers have been saying this for seasons, and it’s great to see it play out on screen between two characters who clearly both care for one another. Pushing it a step further, Kelly won’t let Supergirl wallow in her guilt, saying, “Guilt isn’t an active emotion. It’s about what you do next, how you change going forward.” Go Kelly!

The episode is littered with small details that will have some viewers nodding their heads going “of course” and others perhaps googling in shock, like equipment shortages in hospitals, prioritizing white and wealthy patients, and the delay in 911 response times. Kelly’s reading materials trended last summer and her Say Her Name shirt is on point.

The episode features some important firsts. It’s Kelly’s first time suiting up fully as Guardian, of course, and the detail that Brainy had already created a suit for her feels like a sweet, preemptive vote of confidence. (It could even be seen as a moment of solidarity from a non-Black person of color, though Supergirl doesn’t seem all that inclined to acknowledge that Brainy isn’t white.) Some smaller firsts are also worth noting, and likely only happened because a Black woman wrote this episode. After a very long day, Kelly ties her hair back in a headscarf, perhaps the first time we’ve seen her care for her hair in any way. At the end of the episode, Alex and Kelly have what appears to be their first conversation about race, in spite of being in an interracial relationship long enough to live together.


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