Maggie Sawyer and Alex Danvers have broken up. The sad event took place on this week’s SUPERGIRL, but the build-up had been happening for several weeks. After Alex realized that she wanted children in her future — and Maggie didn’t — they both saw no way for them to go forward as a couple.
During a visit to the set of SUPERGIRL today in Vancouver, we spoke to Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers) about the big breakup and what it means for Alex and the LGBT-focused story.
Learning About the Breakup. “I found out about it during the hiatus [before season 3 began],” Leigh said. “I had a conversation with Andrew [Kreisberg] and really broke down a lot of what was going to be happening in the season. And obviously that being a big part of it, there’s so much that needed to go into it to be done as delicately as Alex’s story coming out story was. You had to approach it with the same delicacy to sort of end this particular chapter in Alex’s life. It doesn’t mean that Alex isn’t still a lesbian. It doesn’t mean that Alex’s journey ends there. It means that this is a loss, but also a gain for herself and understanding who she is. And no relationship is ever going to be guaranteed. They’re a hell of a lot of hard work. And regardless, there’s ups and downs.”
The Reasons Behind the Breakup. As the show explained, it was the issue of children that really drove the women apart, even though they still desperately love one another. “[Maggie and Alex] did come to an impasse,” Leigh explained. “There are certain things that you’re either always going to want or you’re never going to want. In this case with kids, that’s a pretty big deal. It’s not getting a dog, it’s not getting a pet, it’s not fighting over what bird you want to have. This is a life-changing thing one way or another. When you have decisions like that, when you come across obstacles that are that big, you really have to choose what’s going to be best for you individually. Alex would never wish anything but the absolute best for Maggie and vice versa. That’s really where, I think, you kind of see what is most heartbreaking about the ending of their relationship is how much they love each other and how much they want the best for each other. It’s not like you have this screaming [match where] you’re throwing vases around the room. It’s like you really see that the intention there is to allow them to be their best selves no matter what. I feel like we did a really good job with that.”
The Cast Felt the Emotion. “It’s a heavy episode, Leigh said. “It is a breakup. And honestly, in a lot of ways, it felt like a genuine breakup. I love Floriana [Lima] to pieces. She’s amazing. What we were able to do together for the community — but also for our friendship and being able to establish such strong characters — I mean that goes beyond how many episodes we do together, you know what I mean? I’m incredibly grateful for that. So tonight’s episode, yeah, it was heavy. The great thing was Kevin Smith [the director] kind of approached she and I. Initially, when we had the table read, we actually separated all of our stuff from the rest of the [cast’s] table read. So [we] didn’t sit in that one. Kevin really liked to make sure that we [did] this really well, and so he took Flo and I aside, and we did the table read just with us and Andrew Kreisberg and Jessica Queller. We wanted to make sure that the words were right, that the intention was right and the heart behind [it all] was right. Either way, any way you roll the dice, it’s not going to be easy, and it’s something that everybody felt. Not only that, but Kevin also said he thought it would be really great – and I totally agreed – to do all of the scenes in one day. So it was a hell of a day. It really was. But I really feel like we can only do our best with what we’re handed, right?”
Coping With the Loss. How Alex deals with the breakup will be a significant part of her story going forward, at least for a little while. “Because of the significance of it, it’s not like you can sweep it under the rug, you know what I mean, and just try to be chipper and move on,” Leigh said. “At the same time, Alex has a very hard time of really dealing with things. So the episode that we see after tonight’s episode is when Kara and Alex go back to Midvale, and it’s a really, really cool flashback episode where you see the initial dynamic between Kara and Alex and how that was really difficult for them in the beginning and sort of what the catalyst was for the turn in their relationship. But with that, you kind of see Alex going back and really having to figure some stuff out. But that’s just the beginning of it. From there, I think in some ways we try to busy ourselves, and you sort of put things off a little bit. I think there was a fine line. I think there was a balance that we really had to establish in kind of saying, ‘OK, we don’t want to be Debbie Downers all the time. But at the same time, there’s a reality of that’s an incredibly significant relationship.’ I mean this is the first time Alex ever really said ‘I love you’ to anybody, let alone get engaged and have wedding talk and all that stuff. So you see her sort of like go forward and go back, and then go forward and go back. I think there’s a pretty good balance with that.”
The Sisters Bond Over Their Shared Heartbreak. Kara is still reeling from the loss of Mon-El when her sister ends her engagement. How will the Danvers girls bond over the loss of their relationships? “Ice cream, pizza and the couch scenes are my favorites,” Leigh said. “It is interesting because in the very first few episodes [of the season] when Kara’s really dealing with the loss of Mon-El, Alex has sort of been the one saying, ‘Hey, it’s been six months. We need to kind of help you move on a bit.’ So it’s interesting because of how the tables have turned in that way, but it’s not like now Kara is all happy and fine. They’re really kind of in the mud together. The great thing about the sister dynamic is that regardless of what circumstance they’re facing, they’re always going to be each other’s champion. They’re always going to be the one that’s like, “Hey, it is what it is. We’re going to walk through this together.” You really see that true dynamic. And that was a big part of what Andrew [Kreisberg] talked to me initially about before we started the season — [that] we really want to see that relationship come back as the heartbeat of the show. So you do get to see a lot of that really, really sweet scenes with Melissa [Benoist] that I’m just gratefully appreciative of.”
The Future of Sanvers. As for whether there’s any hope for Maggie and Alex in the future, Leigh said that “As of now, what we know is we got these five amazing episodes [this season], based on [Floriana’s] availability. I know that just sounds like words, but it really does just come down to that. If she can come back, I know we would all love to have that happen. So if she’s available, that would be fantastic. I don’t know what that would look like. I don’t know how that would [be] incorporated, but that’s not my job. My job is to do the best with what has been handed to me.”
“I’ve kind of been avoiding social media today,” Leigh admitted towards the end of our interview, “only because I’m still trying to figure out how to really answer this for a lot of fans that I know personally and that I’ve come across that might not totally understand it. Dnd I want to make sure that people know that regardless they’re loved and that they matter and that the story that they have to tell is just as important as the story we told on the show and that that continues for them as well. Nothing ends tonight. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve been so worried about — that I don’t want people to think that this is the end of something really, really significant and important. It is really just the beginning in a lot of ways. I hope people can really latch onto to that and hang onto that. Almost like Alex in this situation, you can’t ask people to sweep it under the rug because what we did, I feel – maybe I’m biased – but what we did, I feel was pretty groundbreaking, and to have such a strong relationship, I feel, portrayed as well as we did, I think we did a very great justice to that storyline and for the community. The hope, honestly, is just that people can see what it was and celebrate that just as much as I do and I know Flo does, and really be able to grow from here and just see what comes next for Alex. That’s my hope.”
SUPERGIRL airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.