Previously on Supergirl, Lena was offered a military contract which caused James to break up with her, Nia finally suited up as Dreamer and asked Brainy to help her train, Menagerie got a letter in prison from Manchester Black, and Lockwood got out of prison on a presidential pardon.
The episode opens with a man collecting change in a bowler hat attacking the man who put coins in it, presumably because he’s a prison guard. It’s kind of a strange cold-open, I won’t lie to you. It wasn’t until I revisited it just now to write this that I realized it was to establish how the man I believe is called…The Hat??? got into the prison to break Manchester out.
ANYWAY more importantly in a few minutes, at CatCo, Kara is in James’ office when she realizes she accidentally double-booked with Nia and Alex.
She rain checks with Alex, who will be busy moving Lena into the DEO anyway, and takes Nia to secretly train with Brainy.
After everyone leads, Mackenzie comes in to tell James about more evidence she found of an L Corp subsidiary being shady, and this time, since he’s not dating Lena anymore, he entertains it.
Nia asks if she did okay asking about training without saying training, and Kara says she did great and it’ll feel more natural in time. It’s all about subtlety.
Cue Brainy with the least subtle disguise ever because he’s a precious bean. Kara and Brainy take Nia to the Fortress of Solitude and introduce her to Kelex, Brainy’s arch nemesis. Nia is so happy to be looped into this side of the Superfriends and to start to learn about what her powers can do.
Back in National City, J’onn gets a call to visit Manchester in prison, and Manchester and The Hat zap him and make him watch as they break out. I guess it was just to taunt him? It’s unclear. Also, apparently The Hat’s hat is some kind of portal because he can pull swords and other weapons out of it and bamf to anywhere he’s seen before. When Supergirl gets there, she realizes it’s not just Manchester and The Hat, but also Menagerie and a Morai. They’re going to pop off and kill all the alien-haters that have been popping up lately, but Supergirl knows mass murder isn’t how justice is served.
It turns out Nia is pretty naturally good at fighting while she trains with Brainy, though she of course still has work to do. She wants Brainy to tell her more about the descendent he knows so she can understand the full extend of her powers, but he’s afraid of breaking the space/time continuum by telling Nia too much about her future.
The Fortress of Solitude then gets an alert about Manchester and his buds livestreaming and Supergirl watches as they talk about an alien torture base where they just killed thirteen humans. They’re vigilantes on a mission, but it directly goes against the message Supergirl is trying to spread, so she knows she has to stop them.
Alex and Col. Haley see this same stream at the DEO, so Col. Haley goes off to deal with higher-level stuff while Alex gets the lucky job of checkin in on Lena Luthor. Lena has taken over Alex’s old lab and before long, they’re sciencing together.
Alex takes one peep through a microscope and immediately knows that Lena is doing what she mentioned hypothetically at Thanksgiving; she’s figuring out how to make humans super. Lena is impressed and says that management is a waste of Alex’s talents, and frankly I had never thought about that before, but Alex SHOULD kind of be doing more science-y things… but, as long as Alex is happy, I’m happy.
Alex wants to up Lena’s security and lock down her reports, but Lena explains that her deal with the military is pretty one-sided, giving her access to their equipment and them access to the final results, but not the process, so they can’t go off and do any of it without her. She doesn’t trust the government.
Alex winces a little at this, saying she is the government, but Lena knows that’s not as true as Alex thinks it is. Lena insists it’s not personal and Alex leaves her to her science.
Another livestream comes through of Manchester & Co. but this time they’ve named themselves: The Elite. They don’t like Supergirls “they go low, we go high” method and instead wants to put the low even lower… six feet lower to be exact. Manchester then looks right in the camera and asks Supergirl to meet him, alone, even using her platform of hope against her in his taunts.
He sends her a secret map only she can see, so she knows he wants her to meet him in Manchester.
Meanwhile, Lockwood goes to DC, where he meets a follower that wants him to know that the Children of Liberty are getting a bit restless since their leader isn’t really making any moves lately. The Agent of Liberty was a threat, a force to be reckoned with. But Lockwood is just… a man. Lockwood tries to shake this off but his self-doubt is re-inforced when he goes to meet with the President and realizes he’s just there for a photo op, not to actually make any decisions.
Supergirl is getting ready to go to Manchester when J’onn confesses he’s having a hard time figuring out if he’s supposed to join her in this fight or not. He wants to be a man of peace, but he also wants to be a man of action. He wants to live up to his father’s name, but he also wants to help his friends save this planet. Supergirl tells him that whatever he chooses, she knows it will be what’s right for him, and that either way, his father will understand. He’ll find clarity. And he’ll have some time to think, since she has to go see Manchester alone.
While on a break from training, Nia finds Kelex and asks about her planet, Naltor, and what her ancestors could do. Technically this isn’t breaking Brainy’s rules RE: learning the future, so I say she found a loophole.
When Supergirl gets to the meeting in Manchester, everyone in The Elite is there. He wants a truce in which she lets The Elite kill all the Earth First assholes, because Supergirl’s way isn’t working anymore. In fact, the good ol’ US-of-A has a spaceship-shooting satellite about to launch. Operation Claymore.
Not willing to risk it not being a bluff, Supergirl immediately flies to the Oval Office to ask what gives.
She tries to reason with the President, but he stands firm in thinking they need this satellite. In fact, when she storms off, he makes a call to move up the launch in case she gets any ideas about stopping it.
What the President doesn’t realize, is that the Elite Morai was hiding invisibly in his office, so he’s able to go back to Manchester and tell him everything.
In the Fortress of Solitude, Brainy walks in on Nia nearly astral projecting, so he knows she learned more about her powers without him.
She starts to apologizing for pushing things too far, but he tells her that not accepting limits someone else put on her and going above and beyond to better herself is hero activity, so he’s actually more impressed than upset.
Feeling a bit like she’s out of options, Supergirl flies to a porch I didn’t realize Alex had and tells her about Project Claymore. When Alex hears about this, she’s surprised and appalled. Both that she wasn’t briefed about it but also that they would go to such extreme anti-alien measures. Supergirl is feeling torn because she thinks if she stops the satellite, it’s like saying she sides with the Elite, but if she doesn’t, it will feel like siding with the Children of Liberty. Something Supergirl says about feeling lonely and helpless is reminding her of her sister, and her heart goes out to the Girl of Steel. Alex assures Supergirl that Supergirl will do what’s right. Supergirl asks her to come with her, but Alex can’t put the DEO in jeopardy, though you can tell by her face she truly does want to help.
Supergirl understands though, and flies off to face the Elite.
The Elite think they have Supergirl outnumbered, but she has Superfriends. And sure enough, Nia, Brainy, and J’onn are right behind her. Fighting ensues, and Dreamer is kicking Menagerie’s butt with dreamblasting gloves Brainy made her.
The fight seems almost too even when like an angel from above, Alex busts in, taking Manchester down with some epic badassery. Supergirl is surprised to see her, but it turns out Alex took her own advice and did what she thought was right.
More fighting ensues, and Nia and Brainy make a good team against The Hat, excepting the part where The Hat stole Brainy’s Legion ring.
Somewhere in this fight, Manchester villainsplains that he pointed the satellite back toward the White House to teach the government a lesson. Alex channels her badassiest voice and locks eyes with Supergirl and says, “Fly,” tossing her the super spacesuit.
The Hat tosses Manchester the Legion ring, which means he can fly too. But before he can stop Supergirl, J’onn swoops in and takes him down with a few swift punches. I guess he found the line someone has to cross for J’onn to break from his peaceful ways; don’t fuck with family.
Supergirl redirects the satellite away from DC and into the water just in time, and is about to fly back down to Earth when she hesitates. She looks back at this weapon designed to attack spacecrafts on sight, even if it was just a pod that got knocked off course. And she decides to destroy it.
Down on Earth, Brainy is upset that his ring is gone, but Nia gives him some words of encouragement; she’s sure they’ll get through this, together.
When Supergirl arrives, she finds Alex fixing up her own damn wounds and Supergirl thanks her for helping. Supergirl is stressed that the Elite is still out there wreaking havoc, but Alex has a newfound trust in Supergirl, especially now that she’s less sure her own bosses are fighting on the right side of all this. Before Supergirl flies off, she sort of shyly says that if Supergirl hypothetically wanted to maybe continue to show up at her apartment and ask her for help, completely off the record, she hypothetically would be down to secretly kick ass alongside her. Like they used to.
And let me tell you, I will never, ever get sick of the “love will find a way” trope. Whether it’s alternate timelines, memory wipes, curses, I don’t care. I love when love defies. And Alex and Kara’s love for each other, that sisterly bond that blood didn’t form and nothing can break, is doing just that.
Supergirl flies to the White House to get yelled at by the president for destroying his satellite. He’s sure she could have saved the nation’s capital and spared the really expensive satellite, but Supergirl’s face remains steely (pun intended) and she insists, “There was no other way.” Because for her, there wasn’t.
Alex goes back to the DEO to talk to Col. Haley and demands that next time something like this is going down, she be informed. But Haley says that the President broke protocol and didn’t brief her on this either. Which is even more concerning than Alex originally thought.
So Alex marches into Lena’s lab and subtly shuts off the security cameras, saying that she isn’t the government after all, not this government anyway. She’s just Lena’s friend, and she trusts Lena more than her bosses at the moment, so she wants to help in any way she can. Lena trusts Alex, THIS version of Alex, and says that if Alex comes back tomorrow she’ll give her the “real tour.” And like, I know what she meant, but also Katie McGrath makes everything sound sexier than it has any right to, so now I’m back to accidentally shipping AgentCorp. Dammit, McGrath! You and your magnetic energy!
Kara goes back to work to give James a rundown of her day, and honestly I don’t think anything important happened during their conversation, and literally the only reason I’m mentioning it here because I was really into Kara’s hair/shirt combo.
After Kara leaves, it becomes clear that James is still working with Mackenzie on investigating these L Corp shenanigans, which I hate a lot and wish he would stop. I’d much rather see his brunches with Brainy than him tear down his ex-girlfriend boss. But maybe that’s just me.
The episode wraps up with Lockwood feeling emboldened by the President’s support and beating the snot out of one of his followers who was questioning his leadership skils.
Next week things seem to escalate, with the Children of Liberty and Elite on opposite extremes of the spectrum inciting the same level of violence for different reasons, and still no sign of that Kasnian Kara they occasionally tease us about.