“Less Girl of Steel, more Girl of Stucco.”
Last week, Kara bled.
Last week, National City lost their Supergirl.
The fight with Red Tornado, according to A.I. Mommy Alura, drained Kara of the energy provided by the sun.
It’s not like Kara’s been exposed to Earth’s sun since childhood or anything, nbd.
It happens to Superman too, they say. And it’s a nice way to show off Supergirl‘s supporting cast, between Alex searching for answers about her father, Hank’s leadership of the DEO, or Winn’s friendship.
Hank and Alex get to interrogate an alien this episode, a rough-and-tumble man-alien with mind control and laser-beam powers… named Jemm. It has a gem in its forehead. And its name is Jemm. He manages to escape when an earthquake shocks National City. A.I. Mommy tells the DEO that Kara is their only way of defeating this Jemm and the Holograms, and Hank isn’t exactly pleased to hear that.
But he trusts Alex, even if he’s hiding something.
James and Lucy, by the way, are finding a place together. I’m not exactly sure why, given that it’s pretty obvious James and Kara have feelings for each other and James was reluctant to get back with Lucy in the first place. But hey, we get some eye candy when the earthquake comes around, throwing Kara to the ground and breaking her arm; James strips off his outer shirt to make a sling. Kara doesn’t have time to admire the sight, though, because the city’s in a panic: smoke’s billowing from skyscrapers and people are running for dear life.
Of course, Maxwell Lord is still on an anti-Supergirl tirade. Now that Supergirl is out of commission—and keep in mind, the city doesn’t know that—he’s criticizing her for not helping during the earthquake. The good news is that pretty much all of CatCo is rolling their eyes at his branding opportunity. Lord sees it as the opposite: it’s Cat who puts Supergirl on everything she can to make money, where Lord himself is only trying to help, and to let everyone know it’s him helping when they need it most.
(That’s still self-serving and egotistic, but to be fair, Supergirl isn’t around to help right now. He’s right that the citizens of National City need to be able to help themselves—and that’s the theme of the episode—but he tries to make his point by calling out welfare. Not exactly a shining role model. And he knows Supergirl’s powers are gone.)
Jemm manages to kill the DEO’s Head of Security, meaning he can do pretty much anything he wants. Ruh-roh. Alex doesn’t trust Hank to do the job, not when he was the sole survivor of a mission like this one once before.
And Kara, well, she’s doing what she can to help… which isn’t much. Without her powers, she can’t help find injuries beneath peoples’ skin, she can’t stop or move vehicles, she can’t go and help the DEO. She’s powerless and, though she’s trying to do what she can, borderline helpless.
Meanwhile, we finally get to see Cat and Winn interact. She still doesn’t really know who he is despite being right next to her office, and she’s not happy because he can’t instantly get a live broadcast going, but she’s hellbent on having Humble I.T. Guy help her spread positivity through National City to counteract Lord’s pessimism. She’s ready to spread the story of people like Winn: ordinary people doing things to help in extraordinary circumstances. “Isn’t it human,” she asks, “to face our fears and rise above them? To act like a superhero, even if you aren’t one?”
It’s a way Supergirl is keeping its humanity, and it’s something I really appreciate. I know I compare it a lot to the other DC Comics television shows, but even without arguing the quality of all three of them, it’s simply a breath of fresh air to see Supergirl keeping itself grounded in relatively normal human beings compared to the vigilantes of Arrow and the metahumans and scientists of The Flash.
It’s also worth mentioning that the events of Supergirl thus far have only taken place within a few weeks in-universe. Even with only a few weeks under her belt, Kara’s insistent on helping people, and, without her powers, she goes to stop people from robbing National City during its time of crisis. She’s a superhero through and through, and the scenes of her stopping a robbery are interspersed with Cat’s speech.
Of course, things are going wrong at the DEO too. Henshaw claimed their devices to prevent Jemm’s psychic powers were broken, but Alex and ally Donovan find that he lied…. but before Donovan can get his neural inhibitor on, Jemm takes control of him and aims his gun at Alex. I almost wonder why Alex didn’t just run in and force the neural inhibitor on, given that Donovan was able to delay the control for a while, but it’s looking like, as enjoyable as Supergirl is, logic isn’t exactly its strong suit.
Another case in point: Alex decides it’s a good idea to interrogate Hank about her father in the midst of the Jemm problem. She doesn’t wait and do research, she doesn’t let Winn hack further into the files… she interrogates her superior at gunpoint while an alien is coming to murder them.
None for you, Glenn Coco.
She chains him down and goes to confront Jemm by herself. She knocks the gem from his forehead, guns him down… and gets knocked across the room until Hank appears and goes all Hulk Smash, snapping Jemm’s neck.
After the holdup, James gives Kara a pep-talk and holds her close… until Winn comes in and awkwards the moment up.
And berates her. James has a girlfriend and Kara has powers, even if they’re temporarily gone. She’s never going to have a typical boy-meets-girl relationship, and that means she— blahblahblahblahblah, I really can’t stand Winn half the time. “The superhero never gets the guy!” he tells her. She’s on a different level and can’t be with a normal human.
No, Winn, you’re just bitter because she doesn’t like you. You’re not hurt, you’re not sad or angry that your feelings aren’t returned, you’re going full-on brony friendzony.
At least he’s interrupted by a gas main explosion. James goes to save the people on the floors above him, bringing them through the elevator shaft down to Cat’s floor before trying to evacuate the building. Another aftershock shakes the building, and he nearly falls down the shaft until the adrenaline pumping through Kara’s veins kicks in, giving her powers back so she can save him.
And finally we find out: Hank Henshaw is not Hank Henshaw. The alien that was involved in the mission Henshaw survived was a target, and Henshaw and Dr. Danvers were sent to terminate it. Danvers realized the alien was innocent and not from Fort Rozz, but the real Henshaw didn’t want any of it, and Danvers sacrificed himself.
But the alien Not-Hank was a shapeshifter and took Hank’s form to protect Alex just like he promised he would.
AND HOLY CANNOLI WE HAVE THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER, J’ONN J’ONZZ.
I definitely thought he’d appear in one of the other DC shows first.
So now we know what’s up with Henshaw and the glowing red eyes: he’s not evil, thank god. The DEO isn’t an evil organization, and though Kara doesn’t get to know what’s up with J’onzz, we have another superhero in town.
And of course, Winn complains about Kara’s feelings for James.
But it doesn’t matter. Supergirl is back to help, and in times when she can’t, Cat is there to give hope to the city. To Supergirl herself.
Even when evil aunt Astra confronts her.
“In times of crisis, we choose who we want to be,” says Cat Grant. None of us are superheroes. None of us have the ability to bend steel with no effort; we can’t fly; we don’t have laser-vision. But what we do have is courage. We have the choice to be better than we are, whether in a natural disaster or in our personal relationships.
And that’s why I watch Supergirl. Its quality may waver, but it’s unflinchingly positive in a time where our media is cynical. That’s not a bad thing. Seeing Jessica Jones fight her way through PTSD, watching the world question the Arrow and Superman, or standing in line to see Captain America realize he’s lost without war aren’t inherently bad. Deconstructions and closer looks at the human psyche even through superpowered lenses are things to be valued.
But there’s something to be said about positivity.
Image courtesy of CBS