Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for the Supergirl Season 6 premiere.
Supergirl’s Season 6 premiere was supposed to be an ending, not a beginning.
Star Melissa Benoist has confirmed that the show’s final season’s premiere was actually going to be the season 5 finale and that Kara’s original fate was really a unique way of keeping Benoist off-screen for a while.
The premiere exile
Like many shows, Supergirl saw its fifth season cut short when the coronavirus pandemic caused an industry-wide shutdown. Thus, like other CW series, its “premiere” is actually what the season finale was meant to be.
Riverdale spent its first three episodes of Season 5 with what was going to be the Season 4 finale before moving into the planned six-year “time jump.” Likewise, The Flash’s first three Season 7 episodes were what the season six final arc would be.
In the case of Supergirl, the Season 6 premiere has the team rescuing Brainiac from Levithan’s ship. They then faced off against Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer), who is using the special Obsidian virtual reality world to brainwash half of Earth into loving him.
In a pitched battle, the team overcame the superpowered Luthor but not before he managed to send Kara into the Phantom Zone, the dark other-dimensional prison for monstrous aliens.
In the aftermath, Lena (Katie McGrath) used a device to erase the memory of Kara’s secret identity from both Lex and their mother Lillian’s minds. Dreamer (Nicole Maines) put out the story Kara was on a secret assignment while Alex (Chyler Leigh) was obsessed with rescuing Kara, surrounded by Phantom Zone monsters.
The need for the exile
It appears sending Kara into another dimension was the show’s explanation for Melissa Benoist being absent for the first few episodes.
Even before the shutdowns, Supergirl was announced as not returning until early 2021 because Benoist was pregnant (she gave birth to a son in September 2020). As the current season began filming just a month later, Benoist still would have been on maternity leave.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Benoist confirms that Kara sent to the Phantom Zone was always in the cards as an excuse for her needing a little more time before getting back into super-shape.
There were so many iterations of how season 5 was gonna end and season 6 was going to go because of the pregnancy and my maternity leave, and because of the pandemic. I know they changed it quite a few times. So, I don’t remember to be honest. [Laughs] It feels like ages ago. I was always going to be sent to the Phantom Zone, but I don’t think I was ever going to stay as long as I did, for the amount of episodes that I’m there.
Set photos show Supergirl back in National City, so a rescue is likely although, as time passes differently in the Phantom Zone, it may feel much longer for Kara to get back to her friends.
The delays making improvements
Ironically, the Flash saw its own pregnancy-themed exit cut short by the pandemic. Originally, Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost would have been absent for the season six finale and the first Season 7 episodes due to Danielle Panabaker being pregnant.
The long delay due to the shutdowns meant Panabaker was able to return full-time for Season 7.
Showrunner Robert Ronver spoke to ComicBook about the Season 6 delay and how he believes it may have helped the writers better craft storylines.
So, it impacted it in a big way. We weren’t able to finish our season finale so that our season opener both completes Season 5 and launches Season 6, but it also at the time knowing that it was going to be our last season, really allowed us to really take a lot of time with the writers and Melissa [Benoist] and Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter and really craft a season that really would speak to the series as a whole, and really, feel like we had completed… that it was all of a piece, and that really spoke to the important message of Supergirl, which at the end of the day it’s about living your authentic life and about empowering people. So, I think we were excited we have the time to do that.
The key plot for the first few episodes will be the rescue of Kara. Jason Behr will guest-star as a Kryptonian stuck in the Phantom Zone for centuries who helps Kara out.
The rest of the Super Friends will be trying to pick up the slack protecting National City, with Alex choosing the name Sentinel for her new super-hero identity. Also, her girlfriend, Kelly Olsen (Azie Tesfai) will take on her brother Jimmy’s old mantle as the armored Guardian.
Other plots will include a flashback to Kara and Alex as teenagers, which also features a young Cat Grant.
As she faces an epic challenge for her final season, the Girl of Steel is ready to fly into the sunset as only she can.
Supergirl airing Tuesdays at 8/ on The CW.