Previously on Supergirl, the battle between the alien-hating Children of Liberty and the alien-hater-hating Elite seemed like it was coming to a head, Dreamer was coming into her powers, Lena got locked in the DEO lab, and Alex was forced to forget her sister to protect her super-secret, impossible-to-decode identity.
The episode begins with The Elite doing a slow-mo walk of badassery, talking about a small task they need to accomplish before they can continue with their larger mission. Menagerie decides to take a detour to hunt a woman before doing their part, but Dreamer and Supergirl stop them before they hurt anyone.
They cuff Menagerie and before they take them to the DEO, they try to get answers. But when Dreamer starts yelling in Menagerie’s face, Supergirl suggests more of a “hands on hip” approach. It’s very cute.
J’onn ruins it by screaming in Menagerie’s face, but it was apparently effective because Supergirl is able to use the intel to save the Children of Liberty from the Elite, including Aaron Samuels himself.
At CatCo, James calls Eve Teschmacher into his office to prove she’s a real, independent person who can say more than one line at a time. She brought James his old coffee order because she’s the best, and James asks her plainly about L Corp’s black budget he found. Eve assures him that it’s all above board, and it’s just to protect themselves from outside eyeballs. She says she’ll try to get Lena to release the budget to him to prove it, but pinky swears they’re the good guys.
Speaking of good guys, Lena is sciencing in her lab when Haley comes in yelling about how Lena won’t let her start the human trials yet. But Lena says the power potion isn’t ready yet and she’s not willing to risk lives, no matter how eager Haley is to do exactly that.
They cross arms at each other but Lena is firm in her stance. She will not rush the science. So she wins the stand-off and Haley goes off in search of another win.
She finds it in pushing Alex to do security detail for Lockwood, a task she’ll do so she doesn’t have to fight with the literal President about it, but a task she’s not very excited about.
J’onn and Kara are in J’onn’s office watching Nia dream. While they wait, they talk about Nia’s enthusiasm (e.g. never taking off her supersuit) and the way Manchester gets under J’onn’s skin. As always, Kara knows just what to say to make J’onn feel better.
When Alex and Lockwood get to his press conference, Alex gives him updates in the flattest voice possible. He touches her arm and she looks at it like she wants to bite it off his arm. He assures her that she’ll see that he’s on the right side of history, but Alex remains rightly unconvinced.
Lockwood announces at his press conference that he wants to repeal the Alien Amnesty Act and is hosting a rally the next day. Kara knows this will put a target on his back for the Elite and make her job all that much harder. But Nia wakes up and tells them that their next step should be to go to a balcony, so off Kara and J’onn go. They don’t find the Elite there, literally, but they do find the Morai’s claw, which will help J’onn track them.
Back at the DEO, Haley tells Brainy to keep an eye on an online activist called #AmericanAlien who is organizing a march to protest Lockwood’s rally. Haley wants Brainy to try to find this person’s identity and make sure they’re not planning anything more malicious.
That night, Alex goes to Kara’s loft complaining about her new security detail. Kara is sure Supergirl will take care of it but Alex is just not sure how she’s supposed to protect a man she hates. Kara assures Alex that she’s a hero, and heroes do what’s right, even when it’s hard. Alex wants Kara to enjoy the Chinese food she brought home and at first Kara claims to have a deadline despite just last week feeling very deadline shmeadline because of her superspeed, but she eventually succumbs to Alex’s pout and the promise of potstickers.
Manchester, The Hat, and the Morai go to the Fortress of Solitude, and The Hat pulls the Gloves of Convenience out of his magic bowler hat to lift the key to open the door. They poke around and find some shiny whoosits and whatsits and talk about their plan to kill the alien haters, but especially Lockwood.
J’onn and Nia work together to track the Morai, and they find her in the Fortress of Solitude, so they get Supergirl and head there right away. Right away, Supergirl sees the Morai’s footprints, so Supergirl and Dreamer tag team her.
And of course, J’onn goes after Manchester. Manchester seems to escape through a too-bright door that may or may not have had tentacles in it, and The Hat had peaced out before Supergirl even got there because of a fight he had with Manchester, so all they have left is the Morai, who they bring in to the DEO.
Brainy tells Haley that he can’t find the identity of the #AmericanAlien, and since Haley is constantly underestimating our friends, she doesn’t find this suspicious at all, despite Brainy never before running into a dead-end technology-wise. He suggests they back off, because there are plenty of well-known peaceful protests, but she points out that for every successful peaceful protest there’s a march that turned into a riot. She wants to be prepared, so she sends Brainy to coordinate with Alex in the field.
And frankly I thought it was a set-up. I thought she was trying to wipe out all the aliens and allies on her team in one fell swoop. I’m still not entirely sure I’m wrong on that instinct, but as Alex and Brainy say later, she is a walking conundrum.
Once they get back to J’onn’s office, they realize they can’t track Manchester anymore. In fact, J’onn can’t even sense his rage anymore, the rage that linked them. He feels almost… relieved. Nia understands, saying that you don’t always know the hold someone has over you, good or bad, until they’re gone.
Franklin, known alien employee of CatCo, is assigned to cover the rally and he’s putting on a brave face but he’s a little nervous about it. He gets off the phone with a loved one who warns him to be careful, and it reminds me of how my dad always tells me to be careful at the Pride parade every year. (It’s the opposite thing since Franklin’s going into the belly of the beast, but the fear is for the bigoted actions of the same type of people.) James assures him that they’re doing the right thing by covering this, sure that the truth will set them all free. He says good journalism is heroic, which is a far cry from his I’M NO ONE IF NOT THE GUARDIAN days, and I’m into it. In fact, he’s so excited about this gig, that he offers to be Franklin’s photographer and get back to his roots and hit the pavement.
Brainy goes to see J’onn, Kara and Nia and realizes that probably his Legion ring disappeared into another dimension with Manchester. But that’s okay, because he’s realized that the power was within him the whole time. And he harnessed that power to become #AmericanAlien and organize the peaceful protest. On their way, he pulls Kara aside to ask her to walk with him in the march, but she thinks Supergirl needs to patrol it instead. He reminds her of her own mantra, stronger together, and that just because she’s a hero, she can’t forget she’s part of all this too. She’s a symbol sure, but she’s also an alien citizen of earth.
But she still feels the urge to protect, so when the Rally and the March start, she’s outside hovering above the march, keeping an eye out for violence. She sees some hecklers and recognizes that one of them looks sexy with his hair pushed back, so she flies down to talk to him. Aaron Samuels is happy to see Supergirl, and she asks him how he can look at her with such reverence while also slinging insults at these peaceful protesters just marching for their right to exist. He insists that they’re not like her, that she’s a superhero. He’s like the homophobes who love Ellen or the racists who love Beyoncé. They think they love them despite their queerness or race, but in fact they’re who they are BECAUSE of those things. Kara realizes Brainy is right; she has to show these selective bigots that she’s just like these people marching. She has to use her visibility and platform to humanize her people, to set an example. To put a face to the blind hatred.
So Kara puts on her Kryptonian robes and marches as Kara Zor-El. Dreamer sheds her suit for the first time all episode and marches as Nia Nal.
They lead their fellow aliens in their peaceful protest, right into the room where the rally is being held. The Children of Liberty shout and throw things, but the aliens stand strong and stay silent and peaceful.
Alex takes this opportunity to strong-arm Lockwood off the stage to get him to stop talking, hissing in his ear that he’s the real threat in this situation.
And things might have fizzled out when the Children didn’t get the reaction they wanted from their tantrum, but turns out Manchester didn’t dive into the Door of Death, and is here with the sonic screwdriver that allows him to be as many Manchesters as he wants. He makes a rallying cry encouraging violence and chaos ensues.
The Hat is quickly taken down and locked in DEO cuffs by Supergirl and Brainy, while Alex breaks up one-on-one fights by knocking Children of Liberty on the kneecaps with her nightstick. Dreamer saves Franklin, who says it’s nice to have another hero in town.
James photographs the whole thing, including Supergirl reuniting an alien woman who got separated from her daughter, people from both sides starting to realize the fight is ridiculous and helping each other out. Aaron Samuels included. He thanks Supergirl for showing him the truth, the light, and the way.
And Kara learns an important lesson then, and not a moment too soon: people can change. They have to want to, they have to do the work themselves, but it’s not impossible. Standing up for the right thing and having hope are not futile tasks, even in these dark times. Like Kara and Alex said last week, sometimes it can feel like shouting into the void. But even the small wins matter.
As things start to die down, Director Danvers and Supergirl share a meaningful glance from across the room; this could have been a lot worse but they worked together to keep things from getting too out of hand.
After all is said and done, Nia is feeling pretty “the battle’s done and we kinda won” about the whole thing, but Kara wants to officially give them a tick in the ‘win’ column for this one. James’s photos of the protest are changing the conversation, and even though Nia isn’t a huge fan of Dreamer being called Supergirl’s sidekick, overall everything is feeling pretty positive for the first time in a long time.
As if to prove it, the TV flashes to Lockwood holding another press conference, this time to announce that he and the president are shelving the appeal of the Alien Amnesty act for now. A small win, to be sure, but an important one, and enough to fuel the fires of hope a little longer. As the wise and powerful Rosa Diaz once said, “Two steps forward, one step back is still a step forward.”
James, Kara and Nia celebrate the power of the press and the power of the people.
At the DEO, Haley talks to Alex about Lockwood being dangerous and appreciating Alex putting her politics aside to do her job well yesterday. Alex decides not to tell her about the unnecessary roughness and accepts the compliment.
Haley almost smiles at her and Brainy and says #AmerianAlien was even a good guy after all, and Brainy and Alex don’t know what to do with this strange shift in character.
Haley goes to talk to Lena in her lab and says that while she can sense a civil war brewing, the immediate threat is quelled for now, so Lena has more time.
Lena doesn’t look so sure, though, and when Eve says something about tomorrow being a new day, Lena says tomorrow might be too late with the dramatic flair of an angsty teen.
For the penultimate scene in the episode, we return to my favorite thing this show ever does, which is Danvers Sisters Couch Bonding. Kara has Alex tell her stories from the rally as if she wasn’t there.
Alex admits that watching Supergirl today fight for what’s right and march on the frontlines with her people, Alex felt inspired.
Kara says what she took away from today, which I hope we can all take away because we’re fighting a fight not unlike our friends in National City here in these United States, and we might go days or weeks without anything that feels like a win, but we’re not shouting into the void either, so listen close. Kara says, “No matter who you are…every action counts. Every voice matters.” Alex agrees and is starting to feel, finally, like maybe things will turn out alright.
In the final tag of the episode, James is leaving work for the day, rightfully proud of himself and his team for a job well done, when his phone rings. He pauses to turn back and answer it and gets shot. The episode ends with him lying on the ground, bleeding.
Now, I don’t believe James is dead. Because if I did, I would be having a three-paragraph rant about how they did James as dirty as TV has been doing lesbians over the years, taking a character who started off great, then fumbling around to try to give them more than one storyline and practically annihilating their character until eventually giving up and unceremoniously killing them to further another character’s plot. HOWEVER, I will save my rant, because like I said, I don’t think he’s dead; I think probably he’ll be Lena’s first human trial and finally get the superpowers he’s always wanted. But if I’m wrong and he’s dead for real, you better believe I’ll be back here with a good and proper rant.
Next week, Lex Luthor comes to town. :sad trombone: