1:00 pm EST, June 19, 2018

‘Supergirl: Red Daughter’? Explaining the season 3 finale ending

By Caitlin Kelly | Edited by Karen Rought

What was up with those final moments of the Supergirl season 3 finale?

In the final moments of the Supergirl season 3 finale, we rewind to moments after Kara grabs the Harun-El to trap Reign. We then see “Kara,” wrapped in a blanket, walk up to a military base in Siberia. So, what just happened?

Executive producers Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller explain:

“For fans of the comics, I think they might recognize that the story we want to tell is inspired by the iconic DC Comics’ Red Son, which told an alternate origin story for Superman,” Rovner tells TVLine.

“What happened if — as a baby — Superman landed in Russia and became a hero there instead of in America. It’s an homage to that,” Queller adds.

So, let’s dig into that. What exactly happened in Superman: Red Son?

‘Superman: Red Son’ comic

Published in 2003, Red Son is a three-issue miniseries that was nominated for the 2004 Eisner Award for best limited series. Written by Mark Millar, the series starts in the 1950s and runs through the early 2000s then jumps into the distant future for an epilogue. Rather than his ship landing in Kansas, Superman’s ship landed in Ukraine, and he became a Soviet Union asset during the Cold War.

After Stalin’s death, Superman becomes the head of the Communist Party and spreads the Soviet Union’s influence across the globe. Peace has spread but at the cost of individual rights and liberties. Dissidents are surgically altered into Superman Robots, or obedient drones, and Superman reigns with Wonder Woman at his side.

In the United States, meanwhile, the country is falling apart. Lex Luthor, a former scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs, now runs LuthorCorp with the goal of destroying Superman.

He makes several attempts to destroy his enemy, including working with Brainiac and supporting Batman, though they fail. Eventually, he is elected president, with James Olsen as his VP. He brings prosperity to the United States but still pushes for conflict with Superman.

Eventually, Superman apparently sacrifices himself to save the world from Brainiac and Luthor. Peace envelops the world, and Luthor cures all disease and helps colonize the solar system. He goes on to live for more than a thousand years. At his funeral, though, it is revealed that Superman survived; however, he has decided to live among the people rather than rule them.

The comic then looks billions of years into the future as the Earth is being destroyed by the Sun, which has become a red giant. Luthor’s descendant, Jor-L, sends his infant son, Kal-L, into the past. Kal-L’s rocket lands in Ukraine in 1938, showing that Superman is actually Luthor’s descendent from an evolved Earth, not an alien from a distant world.

But how will this story tie into Supergirl?

The Harun-El or Black Kryptonite

The Harun-El, or Black Rock of Utica, is actually Black Kryptonite. This form of Kryptonite can split Kryptonians into separate beings: their good and evil halves. While it first appeared in Smallville, the concept eventually made its way into the comics as well.

At one point in the comics, Luthor exposes Supergirl to Black Kryptonite, splitting her into good and evil selves (he had intended to corrupt her rather than create another being entirely). This version of Supergirl believes she had been sent to Earth by Zor-El to kill her cousin.

Though she is eventually reintegrated into the original Kara, Doctor Fate eventually diagnoses Dark Supergirl as a symptom of Kara’s survivor’s guilt and PTSD from the destruction of Krypton. Once she is able to start forgiving herself, the Dark Supergirl persona begins to fade.

Thus, in the Supergirl season 3 finale, when Kara grabbed the Harun-El to imprison Reign, it seems likely that she inadvertently split herself into another being. And when she traveled back in time, the other Kara ended up in Siberia.

With this other Kara making her way to a Russian military base, it looks like we will see the Russian influence of Red Son on a present-day Kara.

A modern Cold War

Supergirl has never shied away from tackling real-life political issues, and considering the current political climate with Russian interference in world politics, it should come as no surprise the show would tackle a story that could comment on those issues.

Of course, the current POTUS on Earth-38 is Lynda Carter’s Olivia Marsdin, also an alien, so the echoes of our own world can only go so far. This would be a perfect opportunity to see her again, though.

It should also be interesting to see how Lena, who has broken her friendly ties to Supergirl and secretly kept a bit of Black Kryptonite to run tests on, will play into this story, considering the heavy influence of Lex in the original comic story.

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