“Supergirl” Episode 404 Recap: Itty Bitty Boxes

Previously on Supergirl, Mercy and Otis Graves were racist jerks who recruited an even more racist jerk who calls himself the Agent of Liberty on their mission to rid the earth of aliens. They also newly recruited DEO Agent Jensen, who has released Kryptonite into the atmosphere, grounding Supergirl until the air is safe for her to breathe again.

This week, Kara is still stuck in the suit, and Alex is worrying over her. In fact, the gang’s all here to check on Supergirl. Director Danvers assigns Brainy and Lena to work together to get the Kryptonite out of the air, and before they leave, Brainy tells Kara to tell Streaky he says hi while she’s trapped in her mind palace. It’s very sweet.

As everyone starts to leave to get back to their jobs, Alex notices J’onn having a hard time controlling his anger (in the form of him smooshing one of her tables) and pulls him aside to talk to him.

Alex looks at J'onn sternly

“I didn’t see you smooshing tables when it was YOUR budget.”

He blames himself for not getting involved sooner, but Alex reassures him that this isn’t his fault. He asks her about leading the DEO through all this, but she looks at his state of distress and decides this isn’t a good time to talk about her own feelings. She tells J’onn to channel his anger into helping and asks him to search for the Graves siblings telepathically.

Alex tilts her head at j'onn like a sad puppy

You know how some people use a higher percent of their brain than others? I think Chyler uses a higher percent of her face muscles. MAXIMUM EMOTION.

Cut to a DEO Desert Facility The World Forgot, where a rogue DEO agent gathers some of the prisoners there, for what one can imagine will not be a tea party.

At our regular DEO Facility, Kara finally wakes up and is feeling a little claustrophobic. Which I get; she’s basically in a computerized coffin.

Kara is in a digital cage

“I do not feel like a natural woman!”

She wants a full update. She’s down but she’s not out.

But the thing is, as Alex explains to her, the suit isn’t like Alex’s supersuit was. It was just designed to protect her, it doesn’t have enough juice to keep her Kryptonite-free AND help her fight. But they get interrupted mid-disagreement, because Alex needs to know about the break-in at the other DEO site, and that the rogue agent was killed. Poor Director Danvers has a lot going on and leaves her sister to stew.

J’onn goes home and finds someone lurking in the shadows. It’s a British gent, Fiona’s fiance, and he knows J’onn knows her, so he demands to know where Fi is right now. J’onn eventually convinces him that they’re on the same side of this fight, so the bloke introduces himself as Manchester Black, and they decide to work together to find Fiona.

Step one, Manchester is going to see if he gets further with the cop Fiona was looking into than J’onn did.

In his little shop of horrors, the Agent of Liberty tortures the aliens he kidnaps, then uses a glowy tube he also stole from the DEO and hooks it up to something in his truck. Then he puts on a fancy bluetooth headset, and suddenly he can mind-control the aliens. Which includes one with a truly disturbing plantface who I shall henceforth call Audrey II (Twoey for short).

Back at the DEO, finding a quiet room to herself, Alex Danvers cries.

Alex looks upset

Even her sadness is badass.

She has a lot on her shoulders and J’onn has his own shit going on and her sister is down for the count. She’s feeling overwhelmed and alone and frankly, probably a little scared. Her sister could die any minute, or have to leave the planet, and she barely has time to worry about her because there are domestic terrorists afoot and traitors within the DEO. But she knows she has to keep going, keep fighting. So she marches out to her team and gives them a rally speech.

She tells them that they shouldn’t be doubting themselves, that they should remember why they signed up for the DEO in the first place. She says they’ll lean on each other. Because they’re better together.

Alex's hair is on fleek as she gives a pep talk

I personally was inspired by her haircut before she even started talking.

Manchester uses his charming ways to chat up that Earth First loser cop and finds out that something is going down sooner than they thought, tonight at a police precinct, so they tell Alex and the team.

Kara is feeling up for fighting but Alex reminds her that the suit might not be. They argue some more, and Alex orders her sisterbot to stay.

Alex looks sternly at Kara

I get this, my little brother stopped listening to me as soon as he got stronger than me, too.

As foretold by the drunk man, the precinct was indeed the target of the evening, and it was taken over by a controlled duplicating alien. The team swoops in to fight, and Alex is a badass, but Kara is quickly overpowered as the suit glitches.

Luckily J’onn shows up and takes a brief vacation from his pacifist ways to help his girls. Also Manchester is extremely effective and I’d rather like to keep him around.

Even Alex thinks so.

Alex sizes up Manchester

“Your name’s a little on the nose but we don’t have a Cisco around here, so.”

The running theory now is that they’re using Fiona’s psychic abilities to control the other aliens. Which… feels like cheating. But then again, they’re xenophobes, so I’m not all that surprised.

Back at the DEO, Alex gets a call from the new president, who SCOLDS her. Like somehow it’s Alex’s fault an agent was brainwashed by the Graves siblings. An agent, mind you, that I doubt she hired her own self. He screams that he’s doubting her capabilities as director, when someone leans in from behind him and whispers something, which stops his shouting but still leaves Alex feeling decidedly Not Good.

Alex looks upset by the president's call

Frankly I’m proud of her for not crying. That guy is a jerk.

Meanwhile, down in the lab, Brainy is getting frustrated because he can’t figure out how to save Supergirl and he’s starting to feel like all hope is lost. Lena notices he’s crying, which surprises even him, but he protests that he’s not a robot, he has feelings too. And also his tears are logic tears; the only reasonable thing to do in this situation is cry. But Lena is more angry than sad. The technology she built is being used in ways she didn’t intend, and she wants to set things right. Brainy doesn’t like these pesky new feelings because they’re getting in the way of his processing, so Lena teaches him how to compartmentalize. Put all your feelings in tiny boxes and deal with them later. After they do some science and save the day.

Lena cocks an eyebrow at Brainy

Lena loves boxes, pass it on.

And as soon as all of their feelings about Supergirl are packed away neat and tidy, it hits them. Nanites! Nanites are these little bits of tiny tech that are going to eat up all the Kryptonite in the air for them. And I don’t even care that this is kind of a convenient sciencey wave-of-the-hand solution to this problem, because I’m so happy Lena and Brainy are working together, and I hope Lena becomes a more regular fixture at the DEO.

Kara once again shows up in her Power Rangers: Space Force suit, ready to fight, but once again Alex tells her to stay put. But this time, Alex is mad. She lets some truths slip — like that she’s the director now and that if anyone gets hurt, it’s on her conscience — but mostly she’s just trying to get Supergirl to stand down. Alex reminds her that she’s talking to her as her boss and the director of the DEO now, not her big sister, so take orders for once… or else.

Alex looks distraught

I have 100% taken work frustration out on a coworker I’m close with who I inherently know will forgive me faster.

J’onn and Manchester bond some more, Manchester talking about he was a bit of a rebel before Fiona put him on the straight and narrow. But that when people found out she was an alien, things got unsafe for her, so he convinced her to move to the States, where he assumed she’d be safer since Supergirl and Superman are lauded as such heroes. Alas. Two alien superheroes can’t cure nativism any more than one black president can fix racism.

J’onn uses Manchester’s ring, the one he has that matches Fiona’s, to enhance his telepathy and connect to her a little easier. He gets a projection of her to appear and Manchester gets to talk to her a bit to get some clues as to where she is before J’onn’s anger at himself for not listening to Kara earlier breaks his focus.

At CatCo, Nia is asleep at her desk again, and I’m starting to worry about her. She wakes up and goes to talk to James with a purpose, very decidedly telling him that he shouldn’t go out as Guardian again.

Nia looks pleadingly at James

“I know I’m new here but so far I’ve been right 100% of the time, so…”

When he won’t listen to her about the laws she read up on, she tells him that she has a bad feeling about him going out as Guardian again, but he pats her on the head and tells her to stop worrying and let the heroes handle things. I understand where he’s coming from of course, but in his line of business, you’d think he’d pay a little more attention to “bad feelings.”

J’onn heads to the DEO to talk to his Earth-daughter because he’s having a hard time meditating through his anger and he’s feeling a little off, like he’ll never be the wise leader his father wanted him to be. But talking to Alex always helps him feel grounded. But the thing is, Alex isn’t very grounded herself right now, because she feels like she’s doing everything wrong. J’onn can’t believe she’d even come close to believing such a thing, and tells him to trust her instincts. “You will soar,” he says to her, and Alex looks so scared and sad in a way she doesn’t feel safe looking around too many other people.

Alex looks SO SAD IT HURTS


She smiles through her tears at her mentor and reassures him that he’s everything his father would want him to be and more. Together they decide to forgive themselves, give themselves a little slack. And Alex tells J’onn that pacifism doesn’t have to mean passivism. There are other ways to fight besides with your fists.

Using the clues Fiona gave them, Brainy tracks the Agent of Liberty and his crew to the National City Fair. (Also this tracks with something the Agent of Liberty said about wanting to scare people by attacking their children.)

Alex assembles her crack team and asks Brainy to be honest about her odds with vs without Supergirl. He tells her what she already knows, that their odds are significantly higher with Supergirl, but the thing is, the air isn’t clear yet, and the solution he and Lena came up with isn’t a 100% guarantee.

Alex goes to talk to Kara and apologizes for yelling earlier. They need Supergirl. And Alex needs Kara. Alex explains that she was afraid of letting people down so she tried to lean on the rules, but she knows now that some rules are meant to be broken and she has to trust her instincts. She tells Kara the stakes and the risks, and of course Kara is ready for the fight.

Alex looks apologetic

I know this should be a pic of Kara’s face but you’ve seen one robo-Kara you’ve seen them all.

At the fair, Audrey II is terrorizing a child, stealing his stuffed Beebo, one of the cruelest things you can do. Team Supergirl moves in, and back at CatCo, Nia watches James storm out with purpose.

Supergirl fights Twoey and Guardian runs a few aliens down with his motorcycle. Lena tries to tell Supergirl to conserve energy because she’s walking a tightrope with this whole suit-nanite situation, but Supergirl wants to take Twoey down first.

Audrey II shoots little spore needles at Supergirl, making her suit act up, so Alex supercharges her with an energy gun so she has just enough energy left in the suit to knock Twoey out. But then the suit starts locking down, and Supergirl is stuck.

The Graves siblings want to use this opportunity to take down Supergirl, but while they’re taunting her, Jensen is having troubles with the truck so he’s unhooking the psychic machine.

While Otis points a gun at Supergirl, and Mercy points one at Alex, Lena is talking over Supergirl’s coms, telling her how clear the air is. Mercy doesn’t understand why Alex is so Team Alien, since she’s a human, and asking this question wastes just enough time for the aliens to all become free of their mind control and for Audrey II to shoot a deadly spore at Mercy and Otis before offering his wrists up for handcuffs.

And just then Lena tells Supergirl that she’s free too: the air is 100% clear of Kryptonite.

Lena looks deservedly proud of herself

“See? Super smart.”

So Kara dramatically removes her helmet to reveal that beautiful face and hair we’ve missed so much.

Kara and her majestic hair are revealed

Nice of Lena to include a blowout feature in the suit.

Less free, unfortunately, is Fiona. J’onn and Manchester find her in the back of the truck, but the psychic sucker the Agent of Liberty had her hooked up to sucked her energy right up and she doesn’t have much time left.

Fiona looks weak and pale

I was SO excited she was still alive…alas… :refrigerator emoji:

Manchester has just enough time to say goodbye before she dies, and after wailing in despair for a moment, he gets a fierce look of determination. Something tells me he’ll be down for the boss battle against Mr. Liberty.

Back at the DEO, Brainy leads Alex to the main room, where all of her people are there to give her the round of applause she obviously deserves.

Alex smirks at the applause

“Be honest, how many of you are just applauding my haircut?”

Of course, she immediately thanks her team, and tells them she couldn’t have done it without them, even though I’m almost positive she could have.

And then a woman marches in, wearing military garb, and introduces herself as Colonel Lauren Haley. The president sent her to… keep an eye on things. Indefinitely.

Colonel Haley is very attractive and smiling but still looks like she means business

Is there a more formal version of Mommi? Maybe “Ma’ammi”?

At CatCo, Lena is telling James what a stupid idea it was for him to be Guardian again, but he’s proud as a peacock, saying his lawyers said that everything looks fine, and that the mayor is even considering deputizing Guardian. He doesn’t understand why, but he’s not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Meanwhile, Lena would dismember a gift horse to make sure it wasn’t a trap.

Lena looks SO SERIOUS it's v attractive

Lena wears angular dresses the way some animals wear bright colors to signal they’re dangerous.

James doesn’t get to float on his river called denial very long though, because Nia comes in and shows James that Guardian is trending… as a hero for the Earth Firsters. A Guardian of Liberty. Because of how he, a human vigilante, smashed up all those aliens.

And bless Nia’s heart because she just showed James the articles on her phone and didn’t do what I probably would have done, which is shout, “I TOLD YOU SO.”

Nia and Lena both look at James like he's made bad choices because he has

Honestly this picture wasn’t entirely necessary I was just excited Nia and Lena were on screen together because I love them both.

This episode felt like a turning point away from whatever last week was and back toward what the first two episodes promised, which is punctuated by this scene of the Danvers sisters eating pie out of the tin and promising that no matter what, they have each other’s backs.

The Danvers sisters lean on each other, quite literally

Their dedication to eating brings me great joy.

Except not literally because Kara has an itch and Alex likes to watch her squirm. Because sisters.

Kara squirms and Alex looks on amused

I’m so glad the heart of the show is beating again.

The final tags:

Manchester buys some shady guns so I think he’s officially given up his pacifist ways.

Kasnian Kara is released from an obelisk now that the air is safe for her to breathe (meaning she’s really Kryptonian/of Kara, and not just a Superbot), and she wants to get back to her “training.”

And last but not least, the Agent of Liberty takes a creepy crawly glowy bug and lets it crawl into Jensen’s ear. Which I imagine isn’t just to help him get that baby shark song out of his head.

It looks like Kara is finally back for good, maybe doubly so, and I’m kind of excited to see what kind of trouble this Colonel stirs up. I do hope Manchester at least pretends to be playing by the books for a while, because I do rather enjoy him, and I really, really want Lena and Brainy to science together some more.

I also kind of hope they wrap this Agent of Liberty stuff up by mid-season but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 574 articles for us.


  1. honestly i would not have complained if beebo hadn’t appeared on this earth but here we are.

    i was like. 100% ready two episodes ago to hate the replacement pres but i didn’t want to and i wish that alex didn’t have to have her neck breathed down. potential good outcome i can hope for: she and col. haley fall in love and take down that asshat man
    also, i’d like to quickly acknowledge that alex has stepped back from Must Babby to focus on the rest of her life and i’m so so glad about it.

    finally: i’m glad that the danvers sisters and their couch are back together, i’m in love with chyler’s hair in that scene, and i can’t wait for them to introduce the andalites

    • (also, i’m looking forward to “fuck me up nicole maines” joining my weekly tweets of “fuck me up katie mcgrath”)

    • I think it was inevitable that we’d hate the new POTUS. It’s unfortunate but true that they no longer have an ally in the White House and that will drive the story now.

  2. Poor Nia’s powers keep knocking her out, so people think she’s sleeping on the job. I don’t think she’s even aware that she has powers yet, so she has no control over them. I’m thinking soon they may knock her out in front of someone, hopefully Kara (or J’onn might be better with his telepathic abilities, maybe he can sense them when he’s near her) and then she’s taken to the DEO. I had been hoping for a moment where she might tell Kara she’s Supergirl because she has a vision of her, but since they’re knocking her out it’s not likely.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure where they’re going with that. Originally Dream Girl had prophetic dreams but not narcolepsy. Not a good thing for fighting baddies. Maybe she just needs sleep?

  3. I really appreciate the fact that Lena Luthor steals circa 3 minutes of screen time and still doesn’t waste any second of it by being the smartest person in the room AND having at least 4 different outfits and looking great in every one of them.

  4. Hi, you requested a hug for Alex? If you’re still looking for candidates, I would like to apply. I am prepared to supply a list of references if needed.

  5. I found it jarring that the logical Brainy ended up getting schooled about logic by Lena. Kinda like James teaching Alex to punch things.

    Kara is Alex’s “employee” now? That seems new.

    I’m glad someone else noticed the pattern of Nia sleeping at work. Maybe they’re touching on Dream Girl and her prophetic dreams but it feels awkward. Did she read up on law *at work* and decide to sleep on it?

    Pretty sure Lena is the reason James/Guardian isn’t in trouble. But he’s just dumb enough not to connect the dots.

    Any episode that includes pie in the Sofa Of Solitude can’t be all bad.

    The scene with Red Kara in Whatsitstan reminded me of the implausibly of kryptonite saturating the entire atmosphere in such a short time and Lena and Brainy’s nanites cleaning it out of the air similarly quickly. I do think we’ll see the last of Agent Liberty and company no later than mid season to make way for Red Kara.

  6. “Lena would dismember a gift horse to make sure it wasn’t a trap.”

    50 points to Hufflepuff for that vivid imagery.


    …and then I’ll put those emotions in a box, and then I’ll put that box inside of another box, and then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives I’ll smash it with a hammer!


    The dark and rich cinematography of this episode is a metaphor, you see. Kara’s hair is full of sunshine, that’s why the show is usually so bright.


    I’m disappointed that Fiona was fridged and was only here to give J’onn and Manchester some Man Pain to spur them into action as foils for each other. Both are questioning whether pacifism is the right solution, and it seems Manchester has decided to go full Punisher.

    It is an argument worth exploring, though. Even if pacifist doesn’t mean passive, at what point are you doing more harm than good by not standing up and fighting back?


    I dig Manchester’s style, though. Reminds me of Spike.

    • Lena would dismember a gift horse because she understands how the world works. If their roles were reversed she’d figure out James had pulled strings to make the problem disappear. Lena comes from a place of finagling because she knows the rules don’t always work in her favor and things don’t always “work out;” James comes from a place of trusting the rules and assuming a positive outcome, which strikes me as odd for a black man to do.

  7. Everytime I read a Valerie Anne recap I prepare myself for photo captions and yet everytime they make me cackle like an old witch AND I LOVE IT.

  8. There’s a Beebo cameo in this episode which automatically makes it fabulous. Praise Beebo!

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