Hello and welcome back to Supergirl recaps here on Autostraddle dot com! I’m relieved to tell you that despite the majority of last season being… tough, the kernel of hope the finale gave some of us seems to have grown into a little plant. This episode reminded me more of Season One, when Supergirl was about hope and truth and the battle between optimism and reality.
I mean, we open on Supergirl saving the world AND a little kid’s balloon in one fell swoop. Superman is reportedly “off-world” so Supergirl has been working extra to save people everywhere from National City to Kasnia, and hey! Kara even started actually being a reporter, asking President Wonder Woman questions about the alien summit she’s holding for the anniversary of the Alien Amnesty Act. For once, Kara feels like she has a handle on the balance between her two roles in this world.
And funny how this balance just so happened to be achieved when there wasn’t a huge caped wad of soggy bread weighing her down. JUST SAYING.
Meanwhile, at the DEO, Alex has leveled up her gayness with a badass new haircut, and is training her agents by wrestling them to the ground.
Brainy tells Director Danvers that the President is arriving, only moments before she arrives. But it’s not a huge deal, because President Wonder Woman thinks Alex is doing a great job and thinks J’onn made the right choice in promoting her.
Updates from CatCo include that there’s a new batch of junior reporters coming in that James wants Kara to help mentor (but hopefully not edit??) and Lena just got back from settling Sam and Ruby into their new hope at a different branch of L Corp. James is still in some legal trouble because of the Guardian thing, but has faith things will work themselves out and doesn’t want Lena to pull any strings for him.
And worry not, J’onn hasn’t gone all that far. He’s joined an alien support group at the Gaylien Bar, and there is some debate re: “passing” as human vs being proud of their arm tusks and pointy ears. Unfortunately, the man on the side of the second argument soon finds himself without arm tusks as part of a targeted attack by a Mommi and her brother, who were ready with all kinds of high-tech gear for when Supergirl arrived.
Brainy zoomed out and saved Supergirl from the gravity cuffs Mommi & Co threw at her, and while she was able to save one civilian, she didn’t manage to stop the baddies from stealing an EMP from the lab.
J’onn arrives on scene to check on his friend and tries to tell Kara this was a hate crime, but Kara says it was a targeted robbery and probably it’s just a coincidence that the victim happens to be an alien. J’onn tries to tell her about the fresh new wave of anti-alien attitudes but Supergirl brushes it off and assures J’onn everything is fine.
Back at the DEO, Alex lays into Brainy and demands he get better at listening to her; he can’t just zip out and fly to a scene to help Supergirl when she really needs him at HQ. She’s in charge now, and he has to respect that, even if he is, on paper, smarter than her.
When Kara gets to CatCo the next morning, a girl runs into the elevator and Karas all over the place while Kara looks on with a cool, amused smile. And then they both realize who the other woman is, and we learn that the adorable, rambling girl is Nia Nal, the reporter Cat Grant told Kara about and recommended.
Later, Kara asks her what her first pitch will be, and Nia mentions wanting story about the fashion industry in National City. Kara is skeptical, wondering why this Cat Grant blessed reporter would want a fluff piece, but when she starts to elaborate, Nia is overcome with this confidence and passion and talks about what this upcoming fashion movement will do for the community, and pitches it as a story about hope.
Kara knows now why Nia was sent directly to her, and encourages her to pitch to James just like that in the upcoming meeting.
Brainy tells Kara that the folks who stole the EMP were a duo named Mercy and Otis. The siblings used to work for Lex, so Supergirl goes to pay Lillian Luthor to visit. Much to her surprise, Lena Luthor is there to visit Lillian as well. At first I was genuinely confused as to why Lena was making such a disinterested face when earlier she all but ran into Kara’s arms, but then I remembered they’re still playing this “Lena doesn’t know” dance and Lena is in a fight with Supergirl.
Lillian swears she’s reformed and prison has changed her, and she offers to help Supergirl, not out of revenge, but out of the kindness of her heart, and tells her what she knows about the sinister siblings.
J’onn goes to attend the alien support group, but it’s just the leader of the group now, Fiona. She wants to start a neighborhood watch, and the reason for it becomes clear when as she’s speaking, the Gaylien Bar is attacked. This attack Supergirl has no doubt is a hate crime, but she’s not feeling so quick to link the two instances as J’onn seems to be. She keeps insisting that the world is different now that humans and aliens have equal rights, this simply cannot be happening.
So J’onn tells her to check her privilege. Kara’s natural form is stunning by human standards, and also appears human, and her powers allow her to help save people’s lives on the regular, making her a hero in their eyes. There are hundreds of other alien races with hundreds of other powers that maybe aren’t quite as publicly useful to humans, and whose appearance differ enough to make the weak uncomfortable. Supergirl gets defensive and storms away, but we all know Space Dad is right on this one.
Alex and Kara have a sisters’ night in the loft, which is genuinely a relief and an excellent way to start the season. Even though Alex is stress eating.
Kara asks if it’s because of a bad date, but Alex says that she hasn’t found that one special woman yet but that dating has been nice so far. She’s stress-eating because she can’t stand Brainy and he’s supposed to be her right-hand guy. Kara asks her to open her mind a little to him, because he has it a bit rough, coming from a different place (literally and figuratively) than Alex. Ironically she doesn’t hear her own advice, because she immediately starts talking about how she’s annoyed with J’onn for trying to shatter her everything-is-fine narrative with his pesky truths about how the world isn’t as open to diversity and acceptance as she is. Alex, a known lesbian, sees her sister’s blindspots and gently suggests Kara try listening to J’onn and trying to understand.
Alex calls her courageous and says she can conquer anything, no matter how scary.
Lena goes back to play chess with her mother, claiming it’s just a journey of rebuilding relationships she’s on, all while asking Lillian questions about an old criminal buddy of Lex’s under the guise of keeping L Corp safe.
So far, Lillian seems genuinely willing to help her daughter, but we all know that woman is never what she seems.
At Catco, Kara peeks in to the cub reporter meeting just in time to have a woman brag about her many contacts in the fashion world to snag the fashion beat, even though she plans on taking it in a much fluffier direction than Nia pitched to Kara. Kara smiles when she realizes Nia’s pitch is going to blow it out of the water, but fades when she realizes Nia isn’t going to say anything at all and the pitch is given to the first girl.
In the land of villainy, it turns out Mommi Mercy and her brother are working from someone slightly scarier and way more dramatic than themselves. Brainy finds their lair and sends Supergirl, but they’re gone by the time she gets there. All she finds is a bunch of computers open to alien Reddit, where everyone is saying things like “Earth First” and calling aliens cockroaches. A woman calls, a regular-sounding woman, a mom with kids running around in the background, casually talking about bombing some aliens. And Kara. is. shook.
Supergirl’s eyes are open now, and she doesn’t like what she sees.
Kara goes back to J’onn to apologize and admit she was wrong. She tells J’onn she doesn’t know how to fight this, when it’s not a bemasked bad guy she can punch. These are the regular citizens, the people she saves, hating on each other. She wants J’onn’s help, but he’s not a fighter anymore. He can only be a voice for change and emotional support.
Supergirl goes to the President next, trying to get her to postpone the summit, but the President will not be swayed. There’s always a threat, she says. They can’t cancel every time someone might be mad or progress would never be made.
So the DEO and the Secret Service team up to protect the summit, meaning they had a plan for when the EMP inevitably went off. Alex finds herself face to face with Mommi Mercy and uses her new high-tech suit to protect herself from a bomb Mercy threw at her.
The siblings take off on motorbikes and Mercy talks to Supergirl, calling her a cockroach, telling her that she’s dedicated to her racism. So dedicated, in fact, that she turns around and shoots her brother off his bike, forcing Supergirl to save him, allowing Mercy to get away. He has a bulletproof vest on, so is fine, and is quite amused despite being taken into the DEO for custody.
When they get back to the DEO, Alex is surprised to find Brainy in his best Winn Schott cosplay. It’s then that Alex realizes she pushed him too far, and she apologizes. She says she had been projecting her sadness at losing someone she worked so well with onto Brainy and it wasn’t fair; he lost friends too. They just have to find their own groove and everything will be just peachy.
Surprise surprise, Lena Luthor wasn’t chatting with her mother to try to solve some of her mommy issues, but instead was using her to get leverage with the DA to drop the charges on James. Which technically works, but the catch is, James can never go out as Guardian ever again. Also if James ever finds out, he’s going to be pissed at Lena, thinking she did the wrong things for the right reason, even though I would argue she did the right thing for the wrong reason. When Lillian sees the news and realize she got got, she smiles to herself, almost proud of her little minx of a daughter.
At CatCo, Kara checks in on Nia and asks about the dropped pitch. Nia says that when the other woman pitched first, she found herself afraid to make waves. Kara understands this feeling — after all, she did her best to be Cat Grant’s invisible assistant for years — but she says they have to face the things that scare them. What she literally says is, “Acknowledge the fear, then kick its ass.” Which I love very much.
Kara goes to the Gaylien Bar to apologize to J’onn for not recognizing her privilege and white-womaning all over the situation. The thing is, she thought the world was moving forward, and the idea that there’s still all this hate and anger out there hurts her heart. And the truth is, that both can be true. Things can be getting better and worse at the same time; better on a large scale, worse on a small scale. And J’onn understands her desire to see the good and ignore the bad, but that’s not the solution. What she needs to do, and what J’onn knows she CAN do, is acknowledge the bad while never losing sight of the good.
J’onn implores her not to lose her sense of wonder, because her optimism can still inspire change, just not at the expense of reality.
Kara admits that she feels like she knows nothing, which J’onn points out is the first step to really understanding.
While they’re sitting at the Gaylien Bar, a third case of convenient-news-viewing in one episode occurs, and they find out that the President was outed as an alien because she tried to save her people during the attack on the summit. The flame of hatred had never died, but now this new wave of baddies are actively fanning it, and the fire is spreading.
J’onna asks after Fiona but sadly she is being sacrificed to the plot by none other than Mommi Mercy.
The person who has been giving Mercy and her brother orders is a deep-voiced being sheathed in metal who kills Fiona while calling himself an Agent of Liberty.
Oh and also, because one monster racist wasn’t enough, there’s also another wee problem: there is another Supergirl in Kasnia being used to punch a tunnel that surely can’t be leading anywhere good…
What did you think of this episode? I think it’s such a strong start to this season, and I hope they keep it up. I think Nia Nal is the early-season-Kara energy we desperately needed, a perfect mirror for Kara to realize who she is now that there’s nobody holding her back. I also love that they made it clear that they haven’t forgotten Alex is hella gay, so even if someone was starting this show with this episode, they would know the deal.
See you next week, for another Supergirl recap, AND for a recap of the Legends of Tomorrow season four premiere.