Hello there. I knew in my heart nothing could compare to last week’s episode of Supergirl, so I kind of feel bad that James was at the center of this one, since he deserves a little spotlight now and then, but any episode would have paled in comparison to last week’s. Overall, I think the real James — the one we loved from season one — is finding his way back to us. Though I do wish they had tied his story into Kara’s a little more. I hate episodes where Kara feels like a tertiary character. The show’s named after her, people!
We learn right off the bat what James’ whole thing is this week when he saves a woman from some bad guys and she scurries away from him in fear. He’s a little shaken; he saved her! Why was she afraid of him? And I get it, what a horrible feeling, to reach out to someone to help them to have them shrink away from you. But maybe James has never seen his helmet in the mirror or maybe he forgot his voicebox is on the Serial Killer setting. But he tells Winn that even though he’s saving people, he doesn’t feel like he’s helping them, because he’s not as inspiring as, say, Supergirl.
And what inspiring thing is Supergirl doing today? She’s on a lunch date with Lena talking about *NSync like the good children of the ’90s they are. Lena explains that she’s been super busy lately but that Kara is AND I QUOTE “worth the extra effort” which is why they’re having lunch today. She promises Kara the exclusive when she’s ready to talk about her new project and partner, rambles some science words that are over Kara’s head, and then they giggle, hug, and part ways, Kara saying next time lunch is on her.
I’m trying so hard to be like, “It’s female friendship! Just two gals! Being pals! Not talking about boyfriends! How great!” But. The looks they give each other. Even I’m not THAT good at projecting. There are VIBES HERE and I don’t understand if it’s the writers intentionally teasing us, natural chemistry between Katie and Melissa, or if I’ve finally really and truly lost my mind.
In a nearby park, a woman goes all glowy-eyed and starts wreaking havoc. James saves a few citizens but Supergirl swoops in to stop the major damage from happening, earning her applause from the crowd and a pout from James.
Back at the DEO, as they discuss the fact that the type of alien that woman seemed to be is usually a peaceful people, Alex mentions she’s glad Supergirl was there, threatening to make James’s pout permanent. He wants to help, but J’onn says this is DEO business — and even says that if he needs Guardian’s skills, he’ll call him, which all seems very reasonable, but James skulks away.
Which isn’t a James issue; it’s a writing issue. It’s hard to read the news and see an entire university shutting down because young black man owns a glue gun and not feel weirded out when you see people shirking away from the black superhero on a TV show where a white man has been acting similarly (and less deservedly) entitled but is allowed to fight alongside Supergirl. The people he’s saving aren’t afraid of James because he’s black; they don’t even know he’s black. Inside his suit, he looks like someone who escaped from ComicCon. But it’s still hard to watch James being written in this weirdly entitled way, watch him being feared, and reconcile that with his character last season and what’s happening with young black men in the real world.
I get it, James; I also don’t think it makes sense that they put you in charge of CatCo instead of incorporating you into the DEO somehow. Get you properly trained. But I think we’re on the road to fixing that, hold tight!
Anywho, at dinner somewhere, Lena is lamenting to Rhea that her first test didn’t work; she’s super bummed about it. Rhea really leans in with this whole mommy-issue-manipulation thing and says all the right things with all the right tones of voices and even lifts Lena’s little chin right up the way moms do in fairytales and even *I* started to believe that maybe Rhea was trying to make up for the mistakes she made with her son.
Her son, by the way, happens to pass by the restaurant as she’s exiting, but loses her in the crowd and assumes he’s hallucinating. He has Winn double-check, but the Daxam ship is gone, so he’s sure it’s just his own issues bubbling to the surface.
Meanwhile, Guardian is on the job, trying to find the alien woman, shaking down Brian (of “Go away, Brian!” fame) for info. Guardian goes to her apartment, looking for clues but instead finding her son. He takes him to the DEO, where Alex tries to coax some information out of him with kind words and the temptation of burgers.
But the boy isn’t having it. Alex leaves the room and realizes that the boy is tracking James through the wall, so she convinces J’onn to have James take him somewhere less sterile and get the boy to talk. And when J’onn realizes that a lot of the things his best agent is saying to him are the same things James had been saying moments before, that maybe his instincts are solid, so he agrees to let James talk to the boy.
At L Corp, Lena is still having a hard time getting her portal to work. She’s feeling defeated; she’s sure her brother could have solved this by now. But Rhea tells her earnestly that Lena is smarter than Lex. She encourages Lena to stop trying to think about how Lex would solve this, and solve it like LENA.
Lex was obsessed with power, so that’s how he would approach this. But Lena is more about balance, so after saying some sexy science things, the pronunciation of which she learned from an Irish professor, she figures out a solution.
Across town, James takes the little alien boy, Marcus, to CatCo and bonds with him – both of their fathers were soldiers, both of their fathers have died. He finally admits that he thinks he knows where his mother is but can’t get more out than that because his eyes glow purple and chaos swarms around him, much like his mother at the beginning of the episode. Kara Supergirl’s him out of the building before he takes the whole thing down, and coincidentally as Lena powers down her machine at L Corp, Marcus’s eyes go back to normal.
Back at the DEO, Kara explains to Alex about how Marcus wasn’t in control of the chaos, and how as soon as the purple left his eyes, he was just a scared little boy being held up hundreds of feet in the air by a girl in a cape.
They put him in a cell for his own safety, and try to get James to talk to him again, but James is still a little shaken; when Marcus went haywire, James didn’t know what to do, so he froze while Supergirl flew him out to safety. He’s doubting himself, so he starts to leave. J’onn stops him and tells him that he’s the only one who can get through to Marcus now. James asks if it’s because he’s black but J’onn says that has nothing to do with it. He tells a story about how it took him until he had his daughter to realize what he wanted to do with his life. That it wasn’t until he had a family to protect that he discovered how good he was at it, how important to him it was. And James is obviously trying to figure out what kind of hero he wants to be, so maybe helping Marcus will help him, too.
It was a really good father-figure pep talk, lemme tell you. And, unlike the really good pep talk Lena’s mother-figure gave her, J’onn’s pep talk came from a pure place of hope and admiration, zero ulterior motive.
Alex and Winn are looking for energy spikes and say some nerdy science words that Kara recognizes as the ones Lena said at her earlier.
So Kara calls Lena, but it’s Rhea who answers.
Kara immediately launches into IF YOU HURT LENA but Rhea is calm and cool and delivers a speech about how everything horrible she does on this planet will come down to Supergirl because she didn’t give Rhea what she wanted when they first came here.
The Prince of Daxam takes the phone from Kara and asks his mother why she’s doing this, and she admits it was mostly to get his attention.
After she hangs up, Lena looks back and is a little confused as to why Rhea has her phone at all, but she’s so far gone that she doesn’t question it further.
At the DEO, James goes into Marcus’s cell to talk. Marcus admits he liked Earth the best so far of everywhere they’ve been, and James talks to him about being bullied, about friends and trust. And Marcus gets the message and admits that he can telepathically sense his mother, but she’s in an unfamiliar place. So he leads James and Winn there, where he finds a mother glad to see her son, scared of what’s happening to her…and not alone. Turns out there are lots of aliens who are being affected by Lena’s portal. (This is not a euphemism BUT IT COULD BE.)
Lena, unaware of how her machine is ruining lives, is excited because now she can start real trials of her portal. But then she gets a little sad because she knows that getting this to work means her new friend, mentor, and mother-figure will be leaving soon.
Rhea says more things Lena has always wanted to hear, including that “any mother” should be proud of her. And Lena looks at her like Rhea is handing her a bandage for a wound she long thought incurable.
But then, Rhea ignores the wound entirely and wraps the bandage around her neck and pulls tight. Metaphorically. Literally what she does is pump up the volume on the portal, and Lena can sense something is horribly wrong. Rhea insists her affection for Lena was real, but she’s taking over, and letting hundreds of ships full of thousands of Daxamites to Earth.
Lena gets knocked unconscious, Rhea puts J’onn in a mind-trap made of his own nightmares, Mon-El threatens to shoot his mother but ends up not being able to, and Supergirl gets to the portal only to find there’s not much she can do.
Rhea calls Earth the New Daxam, and beams up unconscious Lena and her son to her ship, while Alex and the rest of the DEO look on as helpless as Kara feels.
Basically what I’m saying is WE’RE ALL DOOMED. But don’t worry because next week CAT GRANT IS BACK!!! I have no idea in what capacity or for how long because I saw her in the promo for next week and my brain shorted out and that’s all I know about the next (and penultimate of the season!) episode of Supergirl.