Previously on Supergirl, James was having some PTSD from being shot which was making his Harun-El react strangely, Supergirl became Enemy #1 and decided to help as Kara for a little while, and J’onn headed to the desert to do some Martian-y stuff.
Actually I’ll just get J’onn’s storyline out of the way now since it was just a scene at the end: He went to the desert and Martian-ed around and made a Mufasa cloud of his dad who told him to go rejoin his family. And also one reason he probably wasn’t in this episode is because David Harewood directed it! So hopefully we’ll have him back in a regular way eventually, but for now, he’s just behind the camera.
Okay so we open with Kara Danvers, tip-tapping away and full speed about Lex Luthor while outside some Children of Liberty take enforcing the alien curfew into their own hands. But who will stop them with Supergirl on the bench?
Dreamer, that’s who.
She has an endless supply of dream-energy rope and sleep-related puns and is well and truly badass before Brainy instructs her to get out because the DEO is on their way in.
When she gets back to base, Brainy says he’s worried about Nia because masked vigilantes are a target right now while aliens are under attack. But Dreamer wants to pick up Supergirl’s slack. Brainy can’t fight her on this anymore though because he’s needed back at L Corp where Alex and Lena are looking over James, who is suffering from the side effects of the PTSD triggering his Harun-El.
Lena is trying to extract it but it’s not helping, nothing she’s doing is helping.
Lena is so frustrated; she stole the Ameritek and is following the plans from Eve’s lab, why isn’t this working? Kelly doesn’t like that this seems like it’s making her brother be in even more pain so she asks them to think of a different solution. Which is when Brainy suggests the mind palace route.
Back at CatCo, Kara is journalisting and making a murderboard trying to solve the mystery of where Lex could be next. She’s using her superspeed, which I appreciate, because I think she underuses that particular skill. Kara overhears someone say Amertek and since that’s one of the points on her board, she zips over there and finds her coworker Franklin on the phone under his desk. He was talking to his sister who works at Amertek, and Kara asks him to ask her to call her. Nia comes in and realizes, based on the toothbrush in his hand, that Franklin must have slept at the office. He confesses he was afraid to go home because of a raid on his street, so Nia pulls Kara aside and asks Supergirl to help.
But Kara assures her she had done more harm than good trying it that way, so instead she’s focusing her efforts on finding Lex.
Back at Lena’s lab, Brainy explains the idea of the mind palace and manifesting your trauma and facing off with it, while Alex and Kelly listen, unsure if this sounds like a good idea.
Brainy tells James that if they succeed, not only will he stabilize, but he will be able to control his powers. James seems surprisingly neutral about the fact that his powers are forever, but I guess he has more pressing matters at hand than dealing with how he feels about this news.
Across town, Ben Lockwood and his Children of Liberty and also his literal child George have burst into a lovely suburban home and are dragging a man out of it. The man’s wife begs Lockwood to leave him alone, but Lockwood takes him anyway. George is a little unsettled, watching all this unfold, since this family could just as well be his, but Lockwood tries to reassure him that this isn’t a man, and he doesn’t want George to humanize them. Calls them roaches. But George still looks a little unsure.
Kara meets up with Franklin’s sister, Edna, at Amertek and Edna talks to Kara about how Edna has been low-key taking alien personnel files to protect employees but that they’re rounding people up and Edna is afraid to shake things up too much. Kara finds a name — Sebastian — that she needs more information on, but Edna is too scared because accessing those files would mean logging on with her PIN and they would know it was her if anything happened. She accuses Kara of not knowing what it’s like to be hated for who you are, and runs off.
In Slow-Burn City, Kelly earnestly and emotionally thanks Alex for being there for James through all this. For being there for her.
Brainy takes James into his mind palace with every intention of going right to the Lex Luthor parts of his trauma. So they start off at the Daily Planet, where James worked after he met Superman, when Lex kidnapped him for the first time. But then something goes wrong and he ends up watching his younger self at his father’s funeral while his body out in the real world shoots heat vision, stressing the fuck out of Alex and Kelly.
Up in her office, Lena has improvised a lab since hers is currently occupied, and is sciencing as hard as she can. She apparently has an endless supply of human hearts and is trying to test it but ends up exploding it so I’m glad she didn’t try whatever she did on James. She’s still so frustrated and she’s feeling pretty helpless.
So even though Brainy thought he knew which trauma they needed to tackle first, it turns out James and Kelly’s father’s death is a true source of his pain he needs to deal with first. James says the memories can’t be real because he was locked in the bathroom at the diner across the street during his father’s funeral, and Kelly confirms by reiterating that she was at their father’s funeral alone.
Brainy is sure this memory is real based on the metaphysics and Kelly gets so overwhelmed she storms off, Alex close on her heels.
Kelly tells Alex that even though they’re trying to work through James’s trauma, talking about the funeral is triggering for her own trauma. She was eight years old and her father was dead and her mother was broken and all she had to cling to was her big brother promising her that they could get through this, together. But then the funeral came and went and little Kelly was all by herself the entire time.
Alex listens with her generous heart and her expressive face and says she understands.
She says that Kelly and her share the trait of taking care of everyone else before themselves, and that Alex is willing to do that for her right now. Alex will stay with James if Kelly can’t do this. And if she can’t, that’s okay. But Kelly looks up at Alex and is reassured; she thanks her, but she’ll stay.
Kara is back at her murderboard, trying to piece together who this Sebastian fellow could be, and how he’s connected to all this, when she remembers seeing his name in the L Corp records Eve gave James. So she knows her next stop has to be Lena.
Kara finds Lena drinking alone in her office, and Kara tells her about the article on Lex she’s writing.
Kara has a question about Amertek but Lena is too busy to give Kara a quote. She’s trying to save James. You know, Kara’s old pal? Lena says Alex is here, did Kara even know that? How could she, she’s been MIA all this time. Lena laments that even Supergirl has been a better friend to her. Kara is frustrated, which is partly her own fault for not telling Lena she’s Supergirl, and says the whole reason she’s writing this article and trying to find Lex is for her. Kara’s doing all of this for Lena. Lena scoffs and says Kara only cares about her right now as a source.
Kara wants to explain but knows she can’t, so she leaves instead. Lena is so upset that she can’t even relish winning an argument.
Meanwhile, Dreamer is on the prowl with more sleep-related puns but she ends up following who she thought were baddies into a makeshift alien shelter. She’s about to leave them be when there’s a raid so she takes them on while American Woman plays on the jukebox. It’s one of the most badass fight sequences we’ve ever seen and it was well-deserved.
Mid-fight, the aliens scatter, and George Lockwood starts to chase one down that’s about his size. But when he catches up to the alien, he realizes it’s his friend Charlie. He lets Charlie go, and is, as they say, shooketh.
After Dreamer finishes dream-whipping the Children of Liberty into shape, she turns back to the aliens and tells them they’re safe now.
They look back at her with empty eyes; nowhere is safe now. Their hopelessness breaks Dreamer’s heart.
When George gets home he asks his mom if she ever has doubts about what his dad is doing, but she stands firm in her bigoted beliefs, even though it’s clear that Little Lockwood is starting to wonder if they’re on the wrong side of this.
Back at CatCo, Kara is looking forlornly at a photo of her and Lena because they had a straight almost-fight like all normal gal pals do.
Nia comes in and tells Kara about the shelter and the Lockwood raid and how everyone feels hopeless and she doesn’t know how to help. Kara admits she also feels a little hopeless because she keeps making things worse every time she tries to help, plus she’s been a horrible friend to Lena because she can’t keep up the Supergirl/Kara balance. Nia is fed up. She wishes a thing I’ve wished so many times: she wishes they could all get to know ONE person of this group they think they hate so much and see that they’re not the threat they think they are.
Of course, you should be able to have empathy without experience, but I’ve found that sometimes, just sometimes, someone raised on a diet of bigotry and lies just needs one person to help them start seeing the truth. This gives Kara an idea: she wants to interview Nia, someone who is part human and part alien, and introduce the world to Dreamer. Let Dreamer be the person they get to know so they can see aliens aren’t out here trying to take over the planet. They just want to live their lives.
Back at L Corp, Brainy leads James back into his mind palace to confront what really happened on the day of his dad’s funeral while Alex and Kelly look on worriedly.
It turns out he was at the funeral, but then was told to wait outside, and while he was there, some bullies chased him into the basement and locked him in a casket. James starts to freak out and breaks his connection with Brainy, so Brainy asks Kelly to go in there, because their emotional bond will help him more. Alex stands up for Kelly and says it’s not fair for Brainy to ask Kelly to do that much emotional labor, especially not phrasing it like it’s their only hope. Kelly is inspired by Alex’s defense, and, knowing Alex will be right here waiting, agrees to do it.
While in his memories, Kelly finally understands what really happened. She spent all these years so upset with him, and James had told the diner story so many times even he believed it. James apologizes, and Kelly forgives him.
It wasn’t his fault. So Kelly encourages him to take control of this memory, so James waves the bullies away and helps his younger self out of the casket. He wakes up, and he’s free.
Brainy goes to tell Lena the good news, that James is okay and they didn’t need her help after all. Her drug won’t kill her ex-boyfriend. Everything is fine.
Then they look up at the TV and see that Kara Danvers is interviewing Dreamer. I feel pretty sure that journalists for print don’t typically do their own on-air interviews but it was definitely more impactful that way so I’ll let it slide.
In this interview, Nia Nal proves once again that she is all the best parts of Season One Kara/Supergirl but with more confidence. Nia talks about how she is half-alien and half-human, but was born in America. She talks about how she’s also a trans woman, and these three facts about her made her different, but that everyone is different. She says being your authentic self is a gift to those around you, and that she’s more than just half-human, more than half-alien, more than a trans woman. She’s also a Gryffindor. She likes s’mores and salty snacks. She lost her mom but her dad helps keep her strong. She’s INFP (which is also what I am and I’m honored to share this trait with her) and she loves April and nerdy boys.
Dreamer is proud of who she is, and Kara asks if she’s afraid after giving this interview. Nia admits she is but that she’s not letting the fear define her. She looks into the camera and says that they don’t have to wait for a new day for things to get better. She says, “We are the new day.” And aliens around the country cheer.
Back in Lena’s office, Brainy is wondering what love feels like and Lena is crying. Lena thought she was strong and brave, but seeing this woman living her truth live on national television makes her feel like maybe she isn’t either of those things.
She’s so hung up on the past, and nothing she’s doing is helping. But Brainy reassures her that she can and will move forward. But that it’s going to take a little trust on her end. She’s going to have to stop shutting people out.
Lockwood is furious about this message of hope and sends a team after Dreamer, but Alex has a man on the inside and has her team head her way too.
Alex cuts the power at CatCo and allows everyone to fight without risking exposing themselves, especially Kara, who is using her peacoat to do cape tricks. (And didn’t need anyone to teach her how.) Kara even lets sweet Franklin think he saved her at one point. It’s very cute.
James shows up and smooshes Lockwood’s gun and also his hand and tells him to leave, and Lockwood is confused as to how the man he knew to be human is doing this. He storms out, still determined to get Dreamer eventually, and now also determined to find out how James got powers.
Inspired by Dreamer’s speech, Edna comes to see Kara with the files she asked for, not caring anymore if she gets caught. Hell, she’ll even be a whistleblower on the record if Kara needs her to. Kara thanks her and heads off to try to figure out what Sebastian was doing buying a military base.
Lena shows up at Catco, and locks eyes with Kara from across the room. They exchange a meaningful glance and they decide to meet out on the balcony to clear the air.
Lena apologizes for snapping at her earlier, and Kara apologizes for treating her like a source instead of a friend. But Lena admits that even if Kara had tried to be a friend to her when she needed it, it wouldn’t have worked, because Lena is bad at letting people be there for her. And for as much as I’ve always loved Lena, I never felt I had much in common with her besides her love for pretty ladies. But I’ve never felt more connected to her than I did in that moment. Lena decides that in order to be a good friend to Kara and let her be there for her, she has to come clean. So she confesses that she had been working for Lex for months when he called and said he was sick, and she considers this a weakness and she’ll never forgive herself. Kara almost laughs at her as she folds her into a hug.
Kara tells Lena she is a brilliant, kind-hearted, beautiful soul and that she would never fault her for being there for her brother. Because sometimes a bond like family is hard to break, even after all the things Lex did.
Kara then apologizes to Lena that she didn’t feel like she could tell her this, that she ever thought Kara would judge her. Lena feels almost silly for crying (ALSO very relatable) but is so, so grateful for Kara’s friendship.
And now, this feels to me like a perfect moment for Kara to have also shared HER secret. But I suppose Lena’s been through enough, and I guess Kara’s original reasoning for not telling her (that it would make her a target) is still true.
Oh and while this conversation is happening, George Lockwood has had enough. He throws his dad’s mask across the room and reaches out to his alien buddy, saying he’s there for him if he ever needs a friend. Realizing your parents don’t have all the answers is tough, but I’m hoping this kiddo is gonna help turn this ship around.
Back at CatCo, Kara tells Lena about her research, because why wouldn’t you loop the smartest person in National City in on your crime-solving?
Lena immediately realizes that the name Kara’s been chasing ips a pseudonym of Lex’s, which means probably the name of the military base’s location is a code. Lena quickly breaks it and realizes it’s in Kaznia. Road trip!
When Lockwood comes home from a long day of terrorizing innocent aliens, he’s surprised his wife isn’t at the door with a hot dinner and two fingers of whiskey so he pushes his way through the house to find her. He spots the woman whose husband he took away earlier leaving and knows his worst nightmare came true: Lockwood’s wife is dead.
And if that’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy, I don’t know what is. It’s just like earlier in the episode, when he accused Dreamer of inciting violence when he was the one storming into a peaceful setting with weapons. He traumatized these aliens and is going to blame them for being monsters when he drove them to this violence. Granted, I don’t condone this violence, I’m just saying, if he had chilled the fuck out and stuck to writing about his xenophobia in his journal instead of forming a hate group, this wouldn’t have happened.