The search for a missing teenager sends Kara and Mon-El through a portal to an alien world where Roulette has set-up shop as a slave-trader. Unfortunately the red sun of the alien world leaves both of them totally powerless! Meanwhile, back on Earth, Alex blames herself for Kara's disappearance, feeling she's been slacking off on her big-sister duties since falling in love with Maggie Sawyer and Winn suffers from PTSD after his near-death experience while aiding The Guardian.
Doctor Who (rock quarry and the same two hallway sets used to replicate alien world/alien foretress, mention of transmats), Stargate (the appearance of the portal used by the alien slavers, Winn specifically calls it this), Star Trek (the quarry set for an alien planet, Winn tries to psyche himself up by saying he is not a Red Shirt, Winn's take-down of a Maaldorian soldier with a thrown rock is vintage Shatner Fighting 101)
Kara using her heat-vision to create an explosion that flips a van carrying ordinary jewel thieves seems horribly out of character.
How the heck did the two jewel thieves in the back of the van survive the van flipping and remain in good enough condition to run away when the driver, who had a seat-belt on, appeared to be injured from the impact and barely conscious?
For that matter, how did they get out of the van without Supergirl seeing it when she was flying right behind them?
Granting that Roulette in the comics was a consummate capitalist who would do anything to make a profit, it seems odd that the DCTVU version - who was previously established as an anti-alien racist - would be involved in any operation that involved her exploiting fellow humans to benefit alien slavers.
Throwing Winn - a DEO tech support agent with no field training or weapons training that we're aware of - into a hostile alien landscape seems incredibly stupid, even if he WEREN'T showing signs of suffering from PTSD.
It gets worse when Alex leaves Winn behind to guard the star-gate without a partner.
The effects used to create Slaver Moon are nice, from the subtle filtering of the light to create the red sun effect to the digital effects to create "the murder castle".
This episode was directed by filmmaker Kevin Smith - famed for his View Askewniverse and his work writing various Marvel and DC Comic books, including a critically acclaimed run on Green Arrow.
The actress playing the missing girl Izzy is Harley Quinn Smith - Kevin Smith's daughter.
The title of the episode - Supergirl Lives - is a reference to a canceled Superman film titled Superman Lives, which would have been based on The Death of Superman comic story line. Kevin Smith was famously hired to write one draft of Superman Lives.
In the comics, Kryptonians and Daxamites gain super powers under the light of a yellow sun and become like ordinary humans under the light of a red sun. Different stories, however, have depicted the loss of power after moving from a yellow-sun environment to a red-sun environment differently. In some stories, they change back to normal instantly. In other stories, the change is more gradual.
In the DCTVU, Kryptonians and Daxamites lose their powers almost immediately under the light of a red sun.
Reference is made to the creature that Jo is eating as a Thanagarian Snare Beast. This was a term used by Kevin Smith in his Superman Lives script to describe the giant spider-like monster that Superman would have fought at one point. This was due to producer Jon Peters' demand that Superman fight a giant spider at some point in the movie and DC Comics' demand that - if this happened - that the giant spider be called something other than a giant spider.
The alien slavers are referred to as Maaldorians. While there is no alien race known as the Maaldorians in the DC Universe, there is a cosmic villain known as Maaldor The Dark Lord.
We are told Maaldoria is in the Arcturus system. In the real world, Arcturus is a red giant star, located some 36.7 light years from our sun.
In the Superman novel Last Sun of Krypton by Elliot S! Maggin, Arcturus was revealed to be the Earth name for Rao - the red star which Krypton orbited.
The cover story used by the slavers at the clinic is that they are testing a new-to-market supplement and examining the effect of the supplement on base metabolic rates.
James refers to hearing about a 10-37 code on the police scanner. This is the police code for a suspicious vehicle.
Kara refers to the Bismuth Mountains on the planet Sedenach, where one could have a crystal staircase grow under your feet and lift you up. Bismuth is Atomic Element 83 on the periodic table. It is a non-toxic heavy metal, weakly radioactive with a half-life more than one billion years times the age of the universe and it is the heaviest element with a stable nucleus. Though rarely occurring in nature, pure bismuth can form a variety of colorful crystals.
J'onn identifies the "star gate" the slavers use as a transmater portal - a way to travel instantaneously between worlds.
Winn is able to track the Transmat's terminus by following the ionization trail.
The air on Maaldoria is toxic to Martians due to some kind of silicate in the atmosphere.
J'onn develops a "yellow sun grenade" - a flash-bang capable of giving a Kryptonian's powers a jump-start in a red-sun environment.
Alex: Oh! Hey, what happened to you?!
(Winn forces a smile to his face.)
Winn: I got mugged. And I'm fine...
(Winn winces a bit.)
Winn: And it hurts to smile.
(Kara and Mon-El hear a noise like a plane taking off in the distance.)
Kara: What's that?
Mon-El: Sounds like a short-range shuttle. (tilts his head a bit) That's a troop transport... but where is it going?
Kara: It's probably heading there .
(Kara points to a rather intimidating looking building/ship in the distance.)
Mon-El: Oh. Um... yeah, so we're going...?
Kara: After it.
(Kara starts walking away, resolutely.)
Mon-El: No! No. No. No. We are going away from Murder Castle because we don't have our powers anymore!
(Kara and Mon-El watch as their captor prepares a meal.)
Mon-El: That's Thanigarian Snare Beast. And we're the next course.
Jo Gunraf: (shuddering in disgust) Jo Gunraf does not eat bipeds!
(Kara's jaw drops in shock. Mon-El looks surprised as well.)
Mon-El: ... so you speak English?
Jo Gunraf: Oh yes. Jo dissected a human once.
Mon-El: Of course you did.
Jo Gunraf: Learned your tongue. (shudders in disgust again) Hideous pink thing!
Kara:What's more important than a mother finding her daughter?
Snapper Carr: My coffee, my danish and the five minutes of peace and quiet you stole from me.
Mon-El starts working as a bartender at the alien bar. He refers to the 208 and notes there was a job opening following Lillian Luthor's attack there.
Roulette was last seen in 204.
The planet Barvex has two-headed cannibals.
Kara and her family spent solstices on the planet Sedenach, which hiad Bismuth mountains that would grow under your feet into a crystal staircase that lifted you up. Mon-El also went there once with a girlfriend.
Maaldoria is also known as The Slaver's Moon and Planet 51-Arc-B.
We are are told that carbon-based life forms are sold like animals on Maaldoria. This suggests that the Maaldorians are not carbon-based life-forms.
Some kind of silicate in the air renders its atmosphere toxic to Martians.
The Daxamite royal family bought slaves on Maaldoria, according to Mon-El.
Slavery was legal on Daxam, though Mon-El claims to have been personally against it.
Maaldoria is in the Arcturus system.
Diamonds are incredibly common on Maaldoria.
The alien who buys Kara's party is a Dominator, last seen in the Invasion! crossover.
For some reason, The Dominator gives the order for Mon-El not to be harmed. Indeed, he even bows to him as Mon-El tries to hold off the Maaldorian soldier who is trying to shoot the escaping slaves.
Maggie Sawyer figures out that Kara is Supergirl. Partly because of Alex's reaction when Supergirl went missing and partly because "the glasses don't help."
Mon-El decides he wants to be a superhero.
The hooded aliens from 208 make an appearance, learn Mon-El is on Earth after questioning the slaver posing as a doctor and then kill him.
Maaldoria a.k.a. Slaver's Moon
Supergirl stopped a bank robbery one week before the events of this episode.
The Fridge Factor
Alex fears she is off her game because she is in love.
Supergirl is kind of an idiot through this episode
The Bottom Line
Cheap, stupid and not in a fun way. You know it's going to be a rough episode when the best aspects of the episode are the comic-relief guest alien and Winn making knowing references to all the other franchises the writers ripped-off. One suspects they got Kevin Smith to direct this episode because whatever else you may say about him, The Smith does know how to work on a budget and all of this episode's money clearly went into the CGI for the aliens and alien ships.
With the same three hallways being used to simulate an alien fortress and a rock quarry simulating the surface of an alien planet, this feels like a classic Doctor Who episode with modern CGI added in. The script has everyone acting out of character, with Alex and Kara being uncharacteristically stupid. The subplots involving Alex and Winn's respective losses of confidence don't ring true and not even Melissa Benoist can't make Kara's speeches here sound inspiring.