Badass Women Archive: Maggie Sawyer (Supergirl, The CW)

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In the DC universe, Maggie Sawyer is a police officer, born in Star City, who worked in Gotham (Batman land!) and Metropolis. Frequently interacting with Superman, Maggie was drafted into the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit and became the head of that unit. Then she transferred to Gotham, working closely with Batman. It’s safe to say that she’s seen her fair share of superheroes. She’s worked under the legendary Commissioner Jim Gordon (that’s Gary Oldman for you Batman film fans) and famously is an open lesbian, being part of a committed relationship with Kate Kane—that’s Batwoman.

ComicVine lists her impressive skill set as:

  • Intellect
  • Leadership
  • Marksmanship
  • Tracking
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Weapon Master

As a side-note, Maggie is famously one of DC’s first open lesbian characters. It really isn’t a big deal, apart from the fact that her relationship—the most famous one—is with Kate Kane herself. Rather romantically, they met at a dance—and that was when Maggie asked for her number. Ahhh.

According to the DC Wikipedia page, she’s also described as:

As Superman’s primary police contact and a no-nonsense cop, she was a source of constant aggravation for the Man of Steel when she tried to prove that the police were more efficient than vigilantes. Eventually Superman rescued her during a terrorist plot and things were smoothed out between the two. Still, as a Captain, Maggie often overstepped her rank by ordering around officers who were above her, angering some.”

Sounds like someone you really don’t wanna mess with…

Perhaps the most famous depiction of Maggie ‘Margaret’ Sawyer is on The CW’s Supergirl, played by Floriana Lima. Yes, we saw a snippet of her in Smallville, but it’s arguably Lima’s dimpled, charming NCPD detective that won hearts on the television show. Thrown quickly into a romance with Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh, who plays Supergirl’s sister) she cemented herself as a leather-jacket-wearing, permanently smiling, stupendously clever heart-throb on the show. It certainly would not be a stretch to say that the audience fell for Maggie (‘Margarita’) Sawyer as quickly as Alex did.

But if we’re going to profile Maggie Sawyer (The CW one…) let’s break down why she worked:

img2 Fearlessness: “YOU GUYS ARE FUN…”

From Maggie’s introductory episode, she did numerous things, ranging from sassing Alex at her own crime scene, to getting kidnapped by a heat-blazing villain, to knocking said villain out with a pipe and a smirk on her face. Maggie Sawyer’s introduction was nothing if not quietly epic. Clearly amused in the face of danger, she showed no qualms about decking a villain in the face (much to Alex’s surprised “oh”).

In the space of an episode, the writers showed us what comic book fans likely already know: Maggie Sawyer can handle herself. She isn’t a damsel in distress. As much as we’d probably like to see Alex Danvers swinging in with a Kryptonite sword with a leg holster for her gun, we know Maggie doesn’t need it. In fact, the first meeting she has with Alex, she has the gall to criticise—who she believes is a Federal Agent at the time—their technique of bagging evidence.

Maggie: “I thought the Secret Service would pay closer attention to detail…”

It’s practically dripping with sarcasm.

The point is, Maggie isn’t afraid of Alex—or the Secret Service, if she even believes Alex’s credentials. This is really the core of Maggie’s characterisation: she is a bloody brilliant cop, and she knows it. Just because some tall, very pretty lady briefly flashes her important-looking identification in her face, it doesn’t mean Maggie’s the kind of person to back down, hold her hands up and relinquish her access to the crime scene. And it doesn’t stop there.

Maggie Sawyer refuses to not be involved. Even when the President’s under attack, Maggie is the one to point a measly gun at the alien and utter an even cheesier line of “put it out or I’ll put you out”.

This is key to Maggie Sawyer’s personality. When it comes to work, she is fearless.

When she decks the villain to unconsciousness, she is fearless.

There are a lot of downsides to Maggie’s headstrong character, but fearlessness in the face of danger—laced with a slight cockiness—is certainly a strong point.

img3Lesbian: “HEY, BABE…”

This is more of a personal detour than anything, but Maggie has never hidden the fact that she’s gay. True to the comics, where she is openly lesbian and does not give a flying ‘eff’, Maggie a bit of a shameless womaniser. Alex asks her for drinks; she’s already got a hot date. Alex stitches her up at the DEO; Maggie has to rush off for a date. It’s rather sweet, the way she puts it: “I don’t want to keep the lady waiting”. And Chyler Leigh’s face is remarkable in how quickly she can plaster jealousy all over it.

Refreshingly, this isn’t some strange catty way of Maggie trying to make Alex jealous. She is literally just that open about her relationships. Why not? It’s further exhibited by the fact that she shows Alex the dive bar, and confesses she prefers aliens over humans because:

Maggie: “Growing up a non-white, non-straight girl in Blue Springs Nebraska…”

She’s had to deal with her fair share of abuse before. And yes, there’s always going to be controversy surrounding Floriana Lima’s heritage and ethnicity. But the point of the story is that Maggie felt like an outsider, and so she sort of behaves like one too. Why else would you go to a dim dive bar (aside from M’gann’s peach mojitos…) if you had free choice over any other bar in the city? Why would you claim to relate to aliens, ostracised by the general public (despite the President’s new amnesty law) if you were seen as ‘normal’?

Maybe the world has progressed in terms of bisexuality and homosexuality. But for Maggie Sawyer, who has always sought solace in the arms of aliens and their ‘outsider’ status, this is surely the place to be. To feel normal. And you can tell it’s abnormal simply by watching Alex’s initial reaction to realising that the bar was surrounded by aliens. Maggie calls it a safe haven. There is no better word for it.

So when she begins to work cases with Alex, hang out with Alex after work, and awkwardly explain to Alex how the bartender learned English via tongue contact, it’s all very direct. Maggie’s into girls, and there is literally no problem.

Before Alex even considers the possibility she may be gay as well, rather refreshingly, Maggie doesn’t really hint at it. She enjoys Alex’s company, plays pool (and sucks badly) and they converse like normal friends. It makes you wonder: why can’t all friends, gay or straight, do the same? Why must there be such focus on sexuality?

Alex’s realisation that she may not be straight comes naturally—and without provocation from Maggie. Maggie does not intend to make her jealous when she kisses her girlfriend outside of the precinct: Alex witnesses the kiss and Chyler Leigh’s subtle change of expression explains it all. Maggie’s honest mistake into thinking Alex was ‘angling’ at something, upon asking her out for drinks, does not mean she pushes Alex into thinking of homosexuality. It is, later on in the episode, Alex’s realisation when she approaches Maggie at (their clearly new favourite) the dive bar and confesses that there may be some truth to Maggie’s assumption she was gay. Maggie was surely the subconscious driving factor. Why wouldn’t she be?

Maggie’s good-looking, charming, friendly and patient. From the start, it’s painfully obvious Alex fell hard for her. But at no point does Maggie push Alex into thinking she’s gay. Alex comes to that realisation all on her own. Yes, Maggie was the inspiration for that; Maggie is the woman she wants to be with. But is Maggie the catalyst for her sexuality?

Of course not.

img4I’ll be there for you: “YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF.”

Hands up: who thought Maggie rejecting Alex after their first kiss was a dick move?

Hands up: who thought Maggie would kiss Alex back and they’d live happily ever after?

Oh, come on.

To be fair, the script-writing was not excellent. Maggie’s ‘fresh off the boat’ line was insensitive to say the least—and incredibly jarring, considering Maggie’s sensitivity towards Alex’s situation over the past few episodes. Having said that, apart from the atrocious ‘fresh off the boat’ line, I really cannot find anything else to say about Maggie’s rejection other than to admire how selfless it actually was.

Let’s be real—because we all have eyes—Maggie Sawyer was attracted to Alex Danvers. Full stop. There’s absolutely no denying it. Yet because Maggie was insecure in her own feelings about being rejected by Alex, and also insecure because she wasn’t certain if this was—and I hate this phrasing—a “phase”—she rejected Alex. And that’s fair enough.

Let’s take some perspective here. Alex’s first kiss was Maggie, and if you are still with your partner after your first kiss, then I seriously applaud you. As much as Maggie’s words may have implied Alex’s lack of readiness for the GayaThon, it definitely read more as uncertainty over whether Maggie was convinced Alex was acting out of impulse and adrenaline, or genuinely because she liked her. Of course, we find out later that Maggie really was the one for Alex.

That’s if you exclude that chump of a kid Ruby, because why is she in the story, man?!

How did you read into Maggie’s rejection of Alex? The way I read it was incredibly selfless. To me, Maggie Sawyer was essentially hoping for Alex to experience this brand new world—for herself. Not just to be with her. The idea that Maggie, who—and I’m still convinced of this—clearly fancied the pants of Alex didn’t take advantage of Alex’s hopeless puppy-dog eyes speaks volumes. Easily, and most people probably would’ve done this, Maggie could’ve reciprocated the kiss and began a relationship from there. Why not? Both are attractive, intelligent and decent women. They’ve hung out regularly after work. Why not?

When you include Maggie’s history and her story of ‘coming out’ and plug that into the equation, it does actually make sense. Maggie didn’t want Alex to have a rushed, spontaneous coming out. Like she says later on in the season, it’s possibly the most important thing to happen to Alex.

Maybe part of her is scared Alex will go into some sort of gay frenzy and dump Maggie within five seconds, but the way Lima phrases the issue and assures Alex she’ll be there for her indicates anything but. She doesn’t want Alex to have a non-special coming out, even though the act of coming out should not be some massive scandal. She wants Alex to experience this fully, explore ‘the world of gay’ and enjoy it.

Just because Maggie’s the one to delay the Sanvers ship from sailing, does it really mean she’s the bad guy for this simply because she wants Alex to feel special, because coming out as gay—to her family, her friends—is a big deal? Is it so much to ask?

Considering Maggie’s experience was less than friendly, is it really that nonsensical that Maggie wants Alex to be loved and supported through this life-changing process?

img5She’s a Detective: “YOU’RE A GOOD EGG, SAWYER…”

Maggie Sawyer, at least in the Supergirl universe, is perhaps the best example of work-life balance. Completely dedicated to her job (and never failing to wear a bulletproof vest…) Maggie is widely regarded as one of the best detectives within the NCPD. In the episode ‘Alex’, we see her almost successfully take control of a hostage situation.

When Alex, Supergirl and Maggie are investigating Roulette’s alien fight club, Supergirl stands and looks pretty whilst Alex and Maggie use their deduction skills to try and find a new lead. In fact, the entire episode revolves around their effective team-up as if the show’s telling us: hey, look at these two and how well they work together!

Despite Maggie’s new-found closeness to the DEO team, she is still a cop at heart. She will arrest Lena Luthor, not because she’s a jerk, but because it’s her job. She arrests Winn, because there really is no other option: Winn, unfortunately, is the only dancing fool on the CCTV footage. Lastly, she shines in the episode ‘Alex’ in which she not only manages to nearly dismantle a hostage situation, but proves to Supergirl that actually being a cop is pretty frickin’ handy.

There’s a difference between vigilante justice and good old police work. One involves smashing walls in and accidentally sticking your beloved sister in more danger. Maggie, on the other hand, takes a much more traditional approach. She questions Alex’s kidnapper and refuses to be broken. She reads through his cocky demeanour, despite her immense love for Alex.

Ultimately, that is what differentiates her and Kara. Maggie Sawyer is a brilliant Detective.

Where Kara recklessly decides to go after her sister, Maggie haplessly warns her that their suspect in question seems to be playing them. The suspect knows how to manipulate both girls, yet Kara falls for it and Maggie, the seasoned cop, doesn’t.

In the DEO, Kara, Winn, J’onn and everyone else asks the wrong questions. Maggie, having worked with the NCPD for years, is the only one to think outside the box. It’s not about Alex being kidnapped. It’s about the kidnapper himself, and what his demands truly mean.

In the interrogation room, Maggie follows proper procedure and questions the suspect brusquely. Kara, with no experience of police interrogation, commits police brutality (effectively) and allows her simmering rage to boil over. What does this lead to? Two things: Maggie’s exasperation, and the suspect’s smug realisation that he has Kara Danvers where he wants her. Vulnerable, emotional and weak. Maggie, as a cop, will not allow that.

Frustratingly, it is in this episode—or at least the first half—that everyone forgets Maggie is Alex’s girlfriend. And of course, that isn’t the case. The point is: Maggie is the only one in the room capable of multi-tasking—as a detective and as Alex’s girlfriend. Kara, on the other hand, can only function as Alex’s sister. When they are asked who loves Alex more, it is clearly Kara who is rattled more than Maggie. But why?

It’s a testament to Maggie’s skill as a cop in order to resist this. Maggie may heavily be promoted as Alex’s romantic partner, but at heart, she is a detective. For all the faults Supergirl displayed in season two, we’re not allowed to forget that. Granted, her screen-time was borderline minimal, and quite often she truly was reduced to ‘just Alex’s love interest’—but if ‘Alex’ proved anything, it was that Supergirl can smash through walls and lift buses, but it is Maggie Sawyer who can solve criminal cases.

Leave Supergirl to smash through glass. And leave Maggie Sawyer to solve cases.

img6The Past is the Past: “The only family I need…”

Since Floriana Lima’s departure from the show, there has been uproar everywhere. To be honest, there is no avoiding it: if Lima wanted to leave the show, then good for her. We imagine one of the clauses was ‘I don’t wanna see my buddy Katie make out with James Olsen, dude…

Ever since episode 3×03 arrived, aka ‘The One Where They Crammed In Every Single Bit of Maggie’s Past Into The Episode’, we’ve been scratching our heads. Firstly, we did not know Donald Trump was President of Metropolis (hey, where did Wonder Woman go?) and secondly, we did not know Alex Danvers wanted to adopt Sam’s kid (seriously, you could’ve picked a better kid, man).

There’s been a lot of criticisms and stupidity in season three, and about 0.5% of the storylines make sense. Granted, the introduction of Sam/Reign has been spectacular, because Reign is one of the best things to happen to the show. Having said that, a childless Reign would’ve been cooler, if only because she could start spitting fireballs at nurseries and such…

Since season two (the Valentine’s Day episode, The One Where Alex Finds Out Maggie Cheated on an Ex) it’s been clear that Maggie’s past has been riddled with secrets. Which, to be honest, is great! A complex, layered character with severe faults and imperfections is endlessly appealing. Perhaps the appeal of Alex Danvers as the polished, badass, woman-loving agent is also attractive, but for me—and this is just a personal opinion—the more damaged the soul, the more interesting they are. Then again, I could just be a masochist.

We’ve established that Maggie cheated on her ex, non-yoga Emily (which she openly regretted) and we’ve also established that she hates Valentine’s Day, though she never really told Alex why. In the end, she did, and it was mush galore. We also know she dated the bartender from her favourite dive bar (and taught her English—now isn’t that a Good Samaritan deed?). To summarise: Maggie Sawyer is a bit of a lady’s lady, and she’s been around. Now, this isn’t surprising, because Maggie Sawyer looks like Floriana Lima. So.

The kicker is: she doesn’t want kids.

If I’m gonna get personal, I’m gonna say I agree. Screw kids, man. I don’t want kids. So I see where Maggie is coming from. However, where I’m blunt with this and I will literally just say “no, ew, bye”, Maggie offers a legitimate reason. She quietly tells Alex that Alex is all the family she needs. When you think about her awful upbringing, and the fact that her father is still a homophobic pube, then it makes sense.

For Alex, who has grown up looking after Kara, who longs for her missing father, who loves her mother very much—it makes sense that Alex wants a family. Maggie not wanting kids compared to Alex who does is not the issue. Both of them have the right to want (or not want) what they want.

The problem is: neither of them communicates this. Granted, Maggie flat-out jests that she doesn’t want kids…but when the hell did Alex become a passive piece of parsnip? Why didn’t she just say that she wanted kids, instead of elongate this ridiculous disagreement? Because if she hadn’t, maybe they would’ve had an adult discussion about it rather than drinking whiskey and dancing to shitty music.

I guess that’s the scriptwriter’s fault. But still. Respect real life situations a bit, won’t you?

There isn’t much to add to this section other than a) I don’t want Alex to adopt Ruby, because that kid can go off and just fly away; b) if Alex adopts that kid, I swear to God, she’d better be a good mother—but she has far too much stuff to do. If she’s dropped from the DEO to look after some kiddo, I will kick off; c) if Alex adopts the kid, I hope Maggie never comes back, because Maggie doesn’t deserve this.

img7In conclusion…

In conclusion, Maggie Sawyer is a pretty awesome character.

I’m sure people won’t like her because Floriana Lima is not up to their ethnic standards. I’m sure people won’t like her because she turned down Alex’s first kiss. I’m sure people won’t like her because they envy her leather jacket and they want one for themselves.

I’m not saying I’m the biggest Supergirl fan, although I think my favourite character may be Alex Danvers (“here comes the suuuuuun”). However, discounting Maggie Sawyer as an influential, important game-changer would be ridiculous.

She proved to Supergirl that police work is important in National City—despite her vigilante escapades. She proved that she was equally as good as police work—alien or not—as the DEO.

To Alex, she proved she was a reliable friend whenever she needed one; she proved that she could love with all of her heart, and encourage Alex to be brave and take the leap when she was ready. She proved to Kara and the DEO that she had the police knowledge to bust Alex out of her capture, by asking the right questions. She proved that even as a girl from Blue Springs, Nebraska, she could make a successful life here in National City and become one of the most respected cops in the area. She reminded us that she is chock-full of faults and mistakes, but she is always willing to go back and correct them. She proved to us that she loved Alex beyond anything else. She proved that she could move past her homophobic father and learn to be happy…for herself.

Maggie Sawyer does not wear a cape; she cannot fly, and she certainly doesn’t have the stupendous fight-training Alex Danvers has. But she is a hero in her own right. She’s a female detective who is widely respected; not once is she disrespected and to be frank, she likely wouldn’t give a crap. She is a good cop, even when she wishes she “weren’t a good cop” after letting Roulette go. She is imperfect, insecure, lovable, mistake-prone, gentle, considerate and rash. She is the hero of the DC universe without a hero’s name, or a costume. She’s Detective Maggie Sawyer, and she is a badass woman.

I’ll leave you with some pearls of wisdom from the detective herself:

“Life is too short, and we should be who we are, and we should kiss the girls we want to kiss.”

One Reply to “Badass Women Archive: Maggie Sawyer (Supergirl, The CW)”

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