Change is inevitable. Evolution, whether marked by a dramatic genetic mutation or a subtle shift in perception, is how we’ve survived as a species. But it can be hard. Making sense of an ever-shifting, chaotic universe can leave you with the kind of intergalactic hangover that’ll make you wish you’d stopped at the fourth drink sent to you at an alien bar. Because no matter how hilarious a drunk Supergirl is, actions still have consequences, and making sense of the results is the most important step of all.
So, armed with the knowledge that knowing is way more than half the battle—I’d say it’s a solid 86%—let’s go back to fourth grade science. Back to the scientific principles we once knew by heart. Forgive yourself for forgetting this vital elementary education, because our brains can only store so much, and those Mariah Carey lyrics are important damn it! And forgive our beloved Supergirl cast, too, as we take a look at how the steps of the scientific method could have brought some serious clarity to tonight’s ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.
You’d think this would be the easy part: a simple thought experiment. And sometimes it is. Sometimes the response to your observation is common sense. Like, let’s say you’re working at an isolated research facility in Norway, and someone brings in an ancient frozen wolf corpse, an ancient frozen wolf corpse that just so happens to have the same body temperature as a living creature. You might observe something along the lines of: Well, this is strange.
Maybe don’t stick your hand into something you’ve just observed is a natural anomaly, Dr. Jones. Especially one that you most closely equated with a disease. I mean, come on! Quarantine procedures were invented for a reason. Please excuse my side eye to Alex, Hank and the DEO here, as well.
Observation in hand (or hand in wolf), you’re ready to move on to the next step. But don’t just glide into the question phase. This isn’t your eighth grade science fair, and Ms. Baxter isn’t going to accept “Do magnets affect plant growth?” from a fifth student this year.
Make sure that what you’re questioning and what you’re observing is the same thing. For example, you might be asking, “Can I train my troubled fellow alien to become a hero like myself?” And that’s perfectly noble. But what you may have missed in your rush to do more is the very simple observation that your fellow alien has no interest in being a hero. Maybe his interests lie in getting free drinks at bars and roughing up debtors. Maybe the observations you’re making should lead you nowhere near the question you’re asking. And starting your experiment with the wrong question isn’t going to get you very far, Kara. A B- at best.
Observations gathered and question (hopefully) well asked, it’s time for an answer. Not the ultimate answer, obviously, but an educated guess at the very least.
Observations: “Drinking is the fastest way to get drunk.” Mon-El is unhappy with his life and wishes to be drunk.
Question: What should Mon-El do?
Hypothesis: Mon-El should go drink, preferably in a very obvious location where he can be found out by another character and move the plot along.
There are no guarantees here. No way of knowing if your results will be the same as the hypothesis you propose. So try not to get too wrapped up in trying to prove this. Think of it as a guideline. You may not be right, but it’s a start.
Now comes the need for a little bit of courage. After all, it’s not the alien parasite that’ll kill you. It’s the landing. But you’re never going to get the results you need without taking a risk. So here goes: Come out to your family, kiss the girl, put on the suit, or just show up. Conducting an experiment isn’t about making the easy choice. It’s about deliberately making the hard one. Chasing the unknown and hoping the results turn out for the best.
Do this knowing that they may not, because you don’t really have a choice. This is what change is. This is what life is. A thousand little experiments repeated over and over each day. And sure, it gets easier after the first time, because the first time is the scariest, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying to find the patterns. Because, if you’re brave enough, sometimes you’ll save a life. Other times, you’ll get your heart broken.
“I regret this already,” is not a conclusion. It’s a gut reaction. The difference is mostly in how much thought you put into the results of your experiment. This can be the hardest part for many of us, so it helps to have friends with you. You know, someone to point out that even though you want to be a superhero, going out unprepared will result in nothing but death. Seriously, so much applause for a fledgling hero actually listening to his tech genius.
It’s getting a good handle on your results that will help you move forward, so don’t rush this part. Know the costs and the benefits of your results. Take time to process any emotional trauma, because being wrong can hurt a lot more than you expect. And do not, do not resort to the Wile E. Coyote school of discovery-naming because no one will take you seriously, Wynn, no one.
Katherine Siegel is a Chicago-based writer and director, and a regular contributor to Paste. You can find out more by checking out her website or follow her on Twitter.