Hello and welcome to the first Supergirl recap of 2019! They really went all in on this first episode back, with some great Alex looks, some Supercorp fanfic fodder, intense action scenes, and a real heart-punch at the end. Despite the Feelings (and certain other things I’ll get to) I really enjoyed this episode, maybe because absence makes the heart grow fonder, or maybe because the back half of this season has potential to be great. Only time will truly tell.
Some story beats you might have forgotten about over the hiatus that will become relevant: Nia came out to Kara as an alien with prophetic dreams, Supergirl was fired from the DEO after refusing to share her true identity, James and Lena fought on Thanksgiving when he realized she bought his freedom and lied about it, and Lena channeled all her extra time into creating supergenes for humans to try theoretically eliminate hate by leveling the playing field.
Oh also there’s a Kasnian Supergirl for reasons we don’t quite know yet. Mostly she’s just been training, and this episode is no different; she’s flinging missiles from the sky and fighting drones and looking good in a tricked out tracksuit.
The Kasnians say they’re working on controlling her, and that she needs to train harder because she’ll be fighting something bigger than tanks.
And then. Kara and Lena. Take a spin class. Together.
Kara is doing her best to pretend this is a good workout for her and resist the temptation to pedal this bike into the sky like Elliot from E.T. and her and Lena catch up after almost two months of not seeing each other. Kara recommends Lena talk to James to make up after their fight FROM THANKSGIVING (which implied to me they’re broken up so why Kara is jock-blocking her own self I’ll never know) and Lena asks what will happen if James doesn’t forgive her and Kara offers to beat him up for her.
Kara hears a distress call so she fakes a leg cramp and flies off to save some military folks on a ship. She saves one officer from an underwater force only to find everyone else on the ship is already dead. She stops a bomb from going off and destroying the boat, and is there when Col. Haley, Alex, and Brainy show up to take over the scene.
Supergirl shares what little information she knows, considering all she saw of the alien was a shimmer, and Alex and Brainy obviously appreciate her help. Col. Haley, not so much.
Stubborn Haley sends Supergirl away, and though Supergirl makes it clear that just because she’s not sanctioned anymore doesn’t mean she won’t be saving people as often as she can, she does leave respectfully enough.
Brainy finds J’onn to ask him to be Supergirl’s Girl Friday and J’onn says he’ll always have Supergirl’s back but until she calls on him, he’ll be setting up shop as a PI. And here I was like, “Oh this is perfect, now James can join him and use his resources to help and not have to date Lena anymore to be connected to the superhero business.” But alas.
Back at the DEO, Col. Haley is still hell-bent on finding out Supergirl’s identity to use as blackmail, so she’s going to interrogate everyone who works there. Alex pulls aside the people she knows could blow this whole thing up and they all promise to stand strong and protect Supergirl’s secret. Alex is very grateful for their dedication.
Alex wants to go talk to the Seal officer Supergirl saved but she’s nowhere to be found. Brainy also can’t find any record of McAllister, one of the dead officers, anywhere.
Alex knows something shady is going on here, so she takes this info back to the Danvers Sisters Feelings Couch, and tells Kara all about the coverup and that Haley is out for blood, so Supergirl should probably stay off the DEO’s radar for a little while.
Alex suggests asking J’onn if he’s ever heard of a shimmering alien, since he was at the DEO longer, and Kara does just that.
Lena goes to CatCo and tells James she feels bad for low-key ghosting him over the past few months.
James, like many men before him, couldn’t empathize with Lena’s situation until something extremely similar happened directly to him, finally understands what Lena tried to tell her with her own mouth last time they really spoke, and apologizes for giving her such a hard time about it.
Meanwhile, Brainy continues his mission to build up an underground Supergirl team and calls Nia and asks her to meet him for dinner. Though it’s awkward and roundabout and Nia thinks he’s asking her on a date, and she accepts, amused, albeit a little confounded, as most people are after an interaction with Brainy.
When Kara gets to J’onn’s PI office, after admiring his new digs, she explains to him that she thought Supergirl being unaffiliated with the DEO would be better for Alex in the long run because she wouldn’t have to protect her anymore, but she’s still having to do it. Kara feels bad about it, but J’onn says something that at first I just accepted as a universal truth, but now I think might become important later: Protecting Kara is in Alex’s DNA.
Kara and J’onn look through the files J’onn somehow has from his time at the DEO even though I’m pretty sure that’s not the kind of thing you can pack up and take with your desk succulent and dog calendar. But Kara learns that the aliens were called the Morae (or the Moirai? I’m getting conflicting reports), and that someone named General Tan had handed this project off to General McAllister, so he’s probably who they need to talk to next. Oh and also involved in this very same secret project? Col. Haley herself.
Alex joins Kara and J’onn on this mission (via motorcycle :fans self:) and they catch him trying to flee; he has already heard about the attacks and knows they’re after him next. They aliens were children when the military found them, and they were trained to be weapons. When the new President stepped into power, he ordered the military to cut ties with all aliens, so they tried to neutralize them. But the aliens were too strong and they fought back. Supergirl (sweet, naive, ever-hopeful Kara) can’t believe the military would turn on their allies so quickly just because they’re aliens, but even as he flees for his life, Tan seems to feel fine about their decision.
The aliens attack Tan, and Alex and Kara team up to face off with them.
But the aliens seem to be able to adjust once they realize Kara’s x-ray vision can see them as a glimmer, and it’s not until Alex shoots one in the leg that the alien becomes fully visible to them. (They don’t… NOT look like mini Dominators.) Kara tries to talk to the alien but as soon as they hear that she wants to take them back to the DEO, the alien claws at its own heart and kills itself on the spot.
Another alien succeeds in their mission though, so they take off leaving J’onn standing over Tan’s dead body.
Alex marches back to the DEO and confronts Haley about this secret project. She says she’s innocent, and frankly looks a bit startled that Alex is bringing it up, and freely admits to having been part of a project that traumatized baby aliens into being obedient. She says she just didn’t think of it because Supergirl described them as a shimmer, and she had only known them to be fully invisible. And can’t understand why Alex is looking at her like she just admitted to being A LITERAL MONSTER.
Alex can’t believe Haley could be so nonchalant about torturing another sentient being, but Haley doesn’t see aliens as being worthy of respect. The one thing they can agree on is that they don’t really have time to argue, because the aliens in question are probably going to come after Haley next.
Nia and Brainy go out to dinner and when Brainy calls it a meeting, Nia is a little disappointed to realize they weren’t on the same page about this being a date. Brainy states simply that he hadn’t even considered the possibility she would like him because she’s so beautiful, and she admits she’s not sure she does, though there’s the unspoken notion that she wanted to find out for herself. But anyway, she’s also curious about this meeting he called, and so she lets him pitch his idea of her joining Team Supergirl and becoming a superfriend (I hope she’s ready to learn an amazing song).
Nia is hesitant though, because the whole Collinwood situation was pretty intense. Brainy gets a call that he has to go back to the DEO, but leaves her with a story and a binder. The story is of how he once was also faced with two paths, and chose the path of helping, and hasn’t regretted it since. And the binder is costume and code name ideas, because of course it is. Brainy knows Nia has the potential to be super, and wants her to consider it.
At what I imagine is James’ apartment, James is baking for Lena while she works and makes fun of him for attempting challenging desserts.
She confesses that she’s working on something he’ll need to be open minded about and tells him about how close she is to figuring out how to give humans superhuman abilities. She wants James to be her moral compass and help her figure out practical applications and how to keep it from falling into the wrong hands, and he says she has his support, but something tells me that Mr. The-City-Needs-Guardian isn’t going to be the most unbiased party.
At the DEO, Alex is so frustrated working with Haley, and says as much on the phone with Kara. It can be extremely demoralizing when a new boss steps in and is suddenly questioning your every move, doing things you don’t agree with, undermining your authority at every turn. And now without her sister around, Alex is finding it harder to cope. Alex wants to quit right now and go rogue with Kara, but Kara insists that she needs to stay. Without her, Haley goes unchecked. Alex can’t let Haley win. Alex is a bit calmer now; she says that even when Kara isn’t literally by her side, Alex knows she has her back. Always.
So Alex goes to confront Haley again, but when she gets into the interrogation room, one of the agents is sitting there looking guilty as all get out. She cracked. Haley is furious that Alex has not only been keeping Supergirl’s identity from her, but also keeping Alex’s own relationship with her a secret. Alex looks a little scared about what Haley is going to do next, but there’s no more time to discuss it, because the aliens are here.
The DEO agents use a combination of lasers, mist, and paintballs to try to identify where the invisible creatures are. Alex shouting orders is pretty great, but the aliens are very strong and very good at being invisible. Eventually they take one down, but Haley goes off in search of one on her own. She gets attacked but Supergirl saves her, tossing the alien into a containment unit and helping Haley up despite everything.
But instead of being grateful, offering a momentary truce, or anything a person with a heart would do in this situation, she full-on starts blackmailing her. Haley says she knows Supergirl’s true identity, and she’s going to work with the DEO the way the DEO wants her to, or everyone she loves will be put in danger. Watching Haley directly threat her baby sister pushed Alex past her breaking point though, and Alex clocks her one. She immediately looks guilty, but I can’t help but feel like it was a bit cathartic.
Kara and Alex go see J’onn and tell them their predicament, and ask him to erase Haley’s memory of Supergirl’s true identity. He doesn’t really want to, because violating someone’s mind goes against his new pacifist ways, but he realizes desperate times call for desperate measures and agrees to do just this. The sisters are grateful.
Unfortunately, in no time at all, Haley is already back on her bullshit and has what Brainy calls a Truth Seeker. J’onn erased the answer, but couldn’t erase her ever-burning question.
Based on the fact that even Brainy, who can literally forget things for a pre-determined amount of time, seemed a little shook to see the Truth Seeker, they realize they need to take more steps to protect Kara’s secret. They get all the agents who know about Kara to consent to get the knowledge removed from their brains, which is great. But the thing is… they have to remove this knowledge from Alex’s brain, too.
Kara and I both hate this plan a lot. Kara says, “I just came back from a world where you didn’t know who I was. And I say, “Alex you’re a lesbian so I know you’ve seen Season Six of Buffy, surely you can’t think messing with your memory is a good idea!”
Kara tells her to just quit, but Alex knows Kara was right the first time; she has to be the call coming from inside the house on this one.
Alex looks at her little sister, her strong, superhero of a little sister, and asks her to let her do the saving this time. Also, it’s not like she’ll forget her altogether! She’ll still know her sister Kara, and she’ll still know her coworker Supergirl. She just won’t know they’re the same person. Kara still hates this plan, because she’ll have to lie to her sister every day.
Also they reference the first time Kara took Alex flying like once a week, surely it can’t be good for their relationship for Alex to forget it. I understand why Alex wants to do this, but like Kara, after seeing an Alex who didn’t know Kara or Supergirl, I’m nervous for one that doesn’t know Kara IS Supergirl.
The final montage shows Lena and James are back together, Nia getting a phone call from her sister while flipping thoughtfully through the binder Brainy gave her, the agents getting brain wiped and Truth Seeker in action.
Then comes the time for J’onn to erase Alex’s memory. And even though this isn’t goodbye in the traditional sense, Alex and Kara’s relationship as they know it is ending. Their lives as they know them are changing. And there’s no way to know if this is a temporary fix or a permanent solution. As humans, forgetting and being forgotten are often two of our biggest fears. It’s why we take so many pictures, it’s why we try to leave our mark on this world. It’s why we make and tell stories. We don’t want to forget. We don’t want to be forgotten. And here’s Alex, choosing this, for Kara.
Kara can’t watch Alex forget her, so she leaves as J’onn prepares to carefully pluck memories from Alex’s brain. Of flying with her sister when their parents were asleep. Of her and Kara solving their first crime together. Of Kara risking everything to save her when her plane was going down. Of all the times Supergirl was in danger and Alex used their sisterly bond to give her the strength to keep going. And the song sings:
I’m holding on
I’m holding on
I’ll wait until you’re really gone
And try to find another way
But I cannot stay