Previously on Supergirl, James got revived with Harun-El and also is suffering from PTSD, Kasnian Kara pretended to be Supergirl and attacked the White House, making Supergirl Public Enemy #1, but Alex and Lena believed that the Supergirl they know and love didn’t do this.
This episode opens the day after the attack with the president issuing a curfew and martial law. Everyone watches, either scared, confused, angry, or some combination thereof.
Alex and Lena reiterate that they will do everything they can to clear Supergirl’s name, but Supergirl interrupts their meeting because she hears someone who needs her help. They try to tell her to lay low but she can’t just sit around and NOT help people. So she goes and saves a man trapped in his car, and while she’s pulling him from the vehicle, random people try to put her under citizens arrest. The one guy just keeps shooting at the bulletproof woman, almost causing some serious collateral damage, so Supergirl whisks the guy she was saving away. But even he isn’t particularly happy to see her; his daughter’s heart was broken when she saw the footage of Supergirl attacking the White House, and being on the ground and seeing that these people who used to respect her think Supergirl’s a terrorist hurts Kara way worse than the president being pissy.
She goes back to Alex and Lena and says she can’t believe the president’s lie is spreading like this, but Alex points out that it’s not this one lie, that Lockwood has been planting the seeds of this for months, and Lena says that Lex has been manipulating people toward this for even longer.
Lena is sure that the three of them working together is the solution, and I can’t help but agree.
So Alex heads back to the DEO and Lena and Supergirl go to Stryker’s Island to talk to the warden who was letting Lex come and go at will all this time.
The two women use their knowledge of Lex’s bribes and the promise to protect warden’s husband to convince him to let them search Lex’s cell; he’s not HAPPY but they backed him into the corner so he leads them there and gives them a few hours to do as they will.
The prisoners taunt Supergirl as she walks through but Lena talks her through it and eventually they get to the madman’s lair.
Lena recognizes the chess board, which means she knows where to look for a hidden note in a chess piece, and on one side of the paper is a photo of her first human trial who died, though she hides that fact from Supergirl. On the other side is a date, which references Anastasia because that’s what Lex used to call Lena, which leads her to put the chess pieces a certain way and reveal a secret cubby where Lex kept all his journals.
Across town, Lockwood and some suits storm into the DEO and demand all the alien tech that will help them bring down Supergirl, but Alex thwarts him with red tape. Col. Haley supports this choice in the moment, but as soon as the men are gone, she tells Alex that they’re going to follow these orders when they do have all the right paperwork, starting with giving over the watch that summons Supergirl. Alex grumbles a bit then hands it over, saying to tap twice to summon Supergirl.
As soon as Haley is out of earshot, Brainy says he’s impressed that Alex lied to Haley to protect Supergirl, and says that he’ll do his part by deleting the alien registry from the DEO’s servers so the president can’t use it as a deportation list.
After dropping James off at the therapist like the good sister she is, Kelly gets a call from Alex asking her to meet her at a cute little diner.
Alex asks her advice, as a therapist, on how to deal with Haley following orders even when they’re wrong. Kelly tells her to stop getting angry and get smart instead, which is honestly really valuable advice. She tells Alex that the best way to deal with a commanding officer is to appeal to who they are; everyone cares about something.
Alex quietly regards Kelly and there’s a moment where Kelly is worried Alex didn’t like that answer, but it’s actually the opposite thing. Alex is very glad Kelly stayed in town. And so is the soft tinkly music behind them.
Lena and Supergirl are trying to read all of Lex’s diaries but it’s really not great for Lena’s mental health. She found a whole journal detailing what Lex perceives to be every fault of hers and every mistake she’s made since she was four years old. Lex knew she’d find these journals and that it would make her emotional, and the fact that he was right is making her mad.
But since they seem to have hit a bit of a dead end, Supergirl decides to go talk to the man in the cell next to Lex’s to see what the nosey neighbor has to say about all this.
The cell neighbor is Steve Lomeli (played by Willie Garson who was in Sex and the City but also at least one episode of literally everything), who is mad because he tried to help people just like Supergirl but since he’s not “above the law” he’s serving time for it. He tells Supergirl she’s a malignant narcissist and that she ruins everything she touches. And you can tell it’s breaking Kara’s pure, sweet heart. And since she’s Kara, she can’t just brush it off. This criticism has latched itself onto her heart with its claws and it’s going to stay there ’til she deals with it.
Meanwhile, Brainy is having a hard time deciding whether deleting the alien registry is actually a good idea or if it will cause more problems in the long run. His predictive statistics are failing him, since it’s a 50/50 chance this is a bad idea, so he goes to Nia to ask her to dream about it for him.
She calls out the hypocrisy of him telling her she can’t know anything about her predecessors but also wanting to use her dreams to make a decision, but he’s so frantic she decides to help him anyway. But instead of dreaming for him, she uses the tried and true method of telling him to do one thing to see what his gut reaction was. Based on these very scientific results, he knows he has to delete the registry.
Alex takes Kelly’s advice and goes to talk to Col. Haley, talking about how you have to be willing to bend the rules when morality is at stake, and the state of the country, and invokes Haley’s daughter as motivation to do the right thing. Col. Haley takes this as a threat and is highly offended Alex would use her daughter against her and also she knows Alex lied about the comm, and overall this plan just did not go well at all.
Supergirl goes back to Lex’s cell feeling really shitty about what Steve said to her, and Lena of all people understands what it’s like to have people turn on her for something she didn’t do.
The ladies are interrupted by Otis Graves coming over the loudspeaker and being annoying; he releases the prisoners in Cell Block D and sends them after Supergirl, so Supergirl is going to deal with that and lock Lena in Lex’s cell to keep looking. Lena gives her a kryptonite shield she had in her pocket just in case and they split up.
Supergirl easily takes down all the men in her way and finds her way to the warden’s office, where she regretfully finds him hella dead.
Lena keeps reading more of Lex’s journals, being triggered by old memories of Lex making Lena do things like steal from their asshole father. Lex writes condescendingly about how Lena craved Lex’s attention and says if she knew how brilliant she was she wouldn’t need it, which is about as backhanded as a compliment can get. But the memory does spark brilliance, and Lena follows the coded message and finds a secret door.
Supergirl faces off with Otis and with his kryptonite beams he has an advantage on her and between that and soldiers surrounding the prison, Supergirl knows that she, like her sister, is going to have to stop getting angry and get smart instead. So she changes back into Kara Danvers and pretends she was here on official reporting business when the riots broke out, and Otis buys it.
In fact, so does inmate Steve, who is a big fan of Kara Danvers and CatCo, and is much more willing to tell an intrepid reporter about what he saw Lex get up to than he was Supergirl.
The soldiers threaten to storm the prison and Kara is worried about the riot and prisoners getting hurt while they soldiers look for her, so she gets back in her super gear and claps all the prisoners to the ground to help guarantee their safety. She goes back to get Lena, and finds her in Lex’s secret lab.
Inside the lab is Amertek and video from the DEO desert facility and a camera facing into his cell, which is how Supergirl and Lena see Otis about to be detonated and allowing Supergirl to fly Lena out of there just in time.
When Lockwood comes back to the DEO for the anti-Supergirl weapons with his papers in order, Col. Haley presses the Supergirl comm twice, knowing full well it won’t summon her. When Supergirl doesn’t show, Lockwood takes the weapons and leaves, and Haley turns to Alex to make it clear that she didn’t do this for Alex. Haley’s daughter is scared of the martial law and curfew and her favorite alien teacher disappearing and so even though she’s still mad that Alex used her daughter against her, that is why she made the decision to bend the rules to do the right thing.
Alex doesn’t care if she doesn’t get credit for Col. Haley’s change of heart, she’s just happy Haley made the right choice.
Col. Haley is having a crisis of faith when it comes to her government, but she’s finally starting to examine the entity she’s been dutifully taking orders from; it’s time to make a stance that comes from a deeper place than tradition or obligation, and Haley is ready to examine those feelings and take a stand.
The media uses the riots at the prison against Supergirl and more lies are spread about her, and Kara is starting to think that Steve was right and that Supergirl is making everything worse.
Supergirl is going to lay low; Kara knows other ways to help suss out the truth. Alex and Lena have their concerns, but they trust Supergirl. And probably will just keep hanging out without her.
While all this was going on, James gets help from his therapist with some coping mechanisms to pull himself back from his panic attacks, but it’s starting to become clear it’s more than PTSD with the black veins and eventually, in his office at CatCo, enhanced senses and accidental super strength. So James calls Kelly and asks her to talk to Lena; this might be a side-effect of the Harun-El.
The bad guys are knocked down but not backing down, because the President gives Lockwood the power to deputize his Children of Liberty, and Eve put Humpty Dumpty (aka Otis) back together again. But know who else isn’t backing down? Kara Danvers, Sometimes Reporter.
Kara interviews Steve and gets Lex’s hard drive from him; she makes a cute joke about the pen being mightier than a cape, and is pleased to have found a way to help that isn’t putting anyone in harm’s way.
Next week is all about Nia! I can’t wait!