G’day and welcome to this recap of Supergirl episode 607, Fear Knot.
Previously on Supergirl, Kara got trapped in the Phantom Zone where she found her Kryptonian dad and a 5th dimensional imp named Nyxly, Team Super captured some Phantoms that got loose, and Brainy and Nia went back in time to Midvale to get Kara’s DNA so they could go on a mission to save Supergirl.
After two delightful Midvale episodes, we finally pop back into the Phantom Zone to check on Kara, who is dragging her dad away from the explosion she caused during her fight with Nyxly. As soon as they’re out of the danger of burning to a crisp, they find themselves in the wake of a phantom that scratches Kara, causing her eyes to cloud over in fear. She starts to feel hopeless, and loses the will to keep going. Her dad tries to pull her back to her feet, to tell her that her Earth family is surely looking for her, but she’s suddenly convinced they’re all going to die and it’s going to be all her fault.
Back on Earth, Nia and Brainy return from the past with Kara’s blood to find that Brainy missed the mark a little again (sounds like he needs some time travel lessons from AvaLance) and they were gone for three days. The good news is, Team Super was busy in their absence and everyone – Kelly, Lena, EVERYONE – is ready to go to the Phantom Zone immediately. (Except M’gann who is patrolling National City.)
Brainy is about to finish repairs on his Legion ship but one of the things J’onn has been busy doing is turning the Tower into a spaceship. Alex. is. THRILLED.
Kelly hops onto the controls, using Lena’s q-waves, and the DNA Nia and Brainy got, and the Tower J’onn commandeered, and under Alex’s leadership. Truly a team effort as they head for the Phantom Zone. J’onn warns them that when they get there, they might be plagued with their worst nightmares; think Dementors that create Boggarts. So Kelly uses her therapist skills to give them grounding techniques any of us who have had panic attacks or a need to walk back anxiety fainting already knew: Ground yourself. Name things you can see, touch, hear, smell. Things you know beyond a shadow of a doubt are real.
Lena gets it right away because she’s super smart and probably has suffered her fair share of waking nightmares. Alex is worried about Kelly coming on this mission with them, but Kelly is ready. She knows how important Kara is to Alex, and she’ll do anything for Alex.
They plan for the scenario where they show up and Kara doesn’t believe the rescue is real, which leads J’onn and Alex to fight about who should be the one on the ground when they get to the Phandom Zone. J’onn continues to be his Season Six pushy self and says Alex needs to be a leader to the rest while he’s on the ground, and she’s annoyed by this presumption but doesn’t press the issue further…for now.
They all have their roles; Dreamer will be on Phantom lookout, Lena made a sun grenade that will recharge Supergirl and scatter the Phantoms, but there’s only one so they have to time it just right, then Brainy will be the getaway driver. Plus, they only have so much power, so the countdown is on.
J’onn asks Lena to do the honors, and she sets them on course to find
They do their final checks and hit a bit of a turbulence and a power surge but then it seems they’re in the clear.
Once the turbulence settles, Alex works up the nerve to demand J’onn let her come with her on the ground mission. J’onn barks that he doesn’t want to risk losing both Alex and Kara but Alex wants to do whatever it takes to protect her baby sister. Before they have to officially make that decision, they get an alert that the Phantom broke out of containment so they go down to fight it. They swiftly get it back in its cage, and J’onn is about to tell Alex she’s earned the right to come with him to save Kara when he realizes she’s been scratched by the Phantom, and if she doesn’t get to the med bay soon, she could become one.
Alex, desperate to save her sister, kicks J’onn into a containment cell of his own, pulls up her hood, and heads back to the rest of the team. When Phantoms start banging up against the side of the Towership, Brainy realizes that Alex has been scratched and her transformation is attracting more Phantoms like New York City mice to exposed packets of Ramen.
Alex starts to panic that she made the wrong choice. And I think this is where I should have realized this was Alex’s nightmare scenario playing out, but I’ll admit I didn’t see it yet at this point. But of course Alex’s worst fear is her making a leadership decision that hurts more than it helps. That the consequence will be that she not only doesn’t save her sister but she also loses Kelly and the rest of her found family, too. So in this scenario, Alex realizes the only way to save everyone is to go out into the Phantom Zone and act as bait while she waits for the transformation to take hold.
Then the clock reverts and we’re back to final checks again. Nia compliments Lena on her ability to harness the literal sun, and Lena is impressed by Nia’s ability to harness dream energy. And then they both bond over losing their moms and missing them dearly.
They’re both so, so grateful for their new found family, but it does always feel like a little part of them is missing. But Lena has a book of folk tales from her mother, and Nia has her mother’s powers, so they’ll always be connected to the women they lost on some level.
Then the power surge happens again, and Lena notices something wrong with the coolant and goes to check on it. When she gets there, she sees a monster made of water rise up and traps it in the control room and calls for backup, but no one answers.
When she gets back to the main room, most of her friends were killed by what Lena recognizes now as a kelpie; only Nia is still alive. Lena remembers her mother drowning and feeling so guilty for not doing anything to save her, and reading her mom’s storybooks and specifically torturing herself with the one about the kelpie. Nia wants to know how to defeat a kelpie, but before Lena can give her the answer, the kelpie appears and drowns Nia, right in front of Lena.
But Lena is very clever and when she realizes this is a nightmare scenario, she also realizes it’s probably literally a nightmare. So she takes Kelly’s advice and starts listing things that are real. She starts with physical things, like the Martian steel she’s standing on, but she then goes into the things that really matter, like her friends. Her friends! There was a while she had distanced herself from considering them her friends, so the fact that they’re her touchstone now in this moment of sheer terror is very important and lovely.
And this is what she clings to as the kelpie gets all up in her face and she stands strong.
And then we’re back to the final checks again, this time following Brainy as he goes to Kelly and tells her that he appreciates her presence on this mission, especially as a new processor of feelings himself. The power surge happens again, and when it’s done, Kelly and Alex notice something going haywire with the q-wave interface.
They head deeper into the ship and find Nia and Dreamer near the Phantom’s containment unit…only they aren’t trying to re-contain it. In fact, it seems they’re trying to release it. As they turn around and start to speak in unison, Kelly realizes that they have been infected.
Kelly turns to look to her girlfriend for help but Alex is turned, too. Kelly tries to talk to Alex through the Phantom’s thrall, but the trio keeps speaking as one, calling her weak and human, saying that they are heroes and they got taken over, so what chance does Kelly have of overcoming it?
And Kelly is so close to realizing what happens, but instead of realizing it’s happening to her and taking her own advice, she uses her grounding tactics on Alex. She reminds Alex of what’s real, of what adorable little things she remembers Alex liking, reminds her of how much Kelly loves her. She says Alex has called her her rock in the past, so let her be her rock now.
“Come back to me,” she pleads. And for a moment, it works. The kindness returns to Alex’s eyes and she leads Kelly to an escape pod. Alex says the rest of them are too far gone, and that Kelly has to leave to save herself. And then Alex Phantoms out again, and Kelly starts to panic.
And I think it’s really interesting, and almost sweet, that even though they were different scenarios and for different reasons, both Alex and Kelly’s fears involved them being separated from the group and, specifically, from each other. To not be able to save everyone. The key difference being, in Alex’s, she was a danger to everyone, and in Kelly’s, she was too ineffective. Different pieces of the same puzzle.
And then we cut back again to the power surge. But this time, it’s Nia’s fear, and at first she ends up in a dream. But also it’s a dream within a nightmare? This poor girl gets yoinked from reality enough, you’d think the Phantoms would have left her alone, but alas. Her nightmare dream is of the Phantom’s containment unit no longer having a Phantom in it, but instead a thimble with an image of the Tower, but with a crack in it.
When she comes to, Brainy tells her that everyone had fear visions, so for a minute it’s truly unclear what is real and what isn’t, which ironically is MY biggest fear. But then when they go to check the containment unit together and a big ol’ crack appears in the side of the Tower, it becomes clear this is Nia’s fear when Brainy starts speaking her real life doubts back at her in a way her supportive boyfriend never would. She tries to use the clues from her dream to fix things, but Brainy gets sucked out of the window because she couldn’t interpret in time.
And then we check out what’s happening in actual reality. When J’onn comes to post power surge, he realizes ten minute have passed he can’t account for. When he looks around, he sees his team all gripped by the fear visions, except Brainy who manages to come to despite being surrounded by balloons. I refuse to believe that this ninth level intellect who only just recently realized the depth and weight of his feelings is only encountering the admittedly terrifying anticipation of a balloon popping, but fine. Brainy helms the ship while J’onn gets the Phantom back in containment so that everyone can find their way out of their waking nightmares.
J’onn uses his brain powers to get into the Phantom’s head, and sees everyone’s fears, including Kara’s, but pushes them back until the Phantom is locked up again. Then one by one, everyone ends their own nightmares. Some just let it play out, like Alex telling Kelly to hug Kara for her as she sacrifices herself for the good of the team. Some face their fears like Lena and her Kelpie, who turns into a watery version of her mother when she looks at it straight on.
Kelly uses her burgeoning Guardian skills to protect her friends, Nia watches Brainy slip away.
Alex comes to first and hears Brainy and J’onn say they have a lock on Supergirl, but she isn’t sure she can trust this is real. And as someone who has had lucid dreams before, I understand this disorienting feeling.
The rest of the team slowly comes to and takes up their posts again, Lena readying the sun bomb.
And the team can’t arrive a moment too soon, because Kara is still sitting, alone, sad, crippled by something more insipid than just generic brand fear: hopelessness.
But the thing is, she fought off that hopelessness so long that her own relentless optimism rubbed off on Papa Zor El. He shows her that he made himself a crutch to prove he’s ready and willing to keep going, to keep trying. To keep fighting. She feels guilty for giving him hope for nothing. For making him believe everything will be okay when it simply won’t. And that’s so true to Kara, that her deepest fear is that someday her hope speech will be wrong. That someday her optimism will prove unwarranted, that someday her belief in herself and her team will get someone hurt, or worse. She calls herself naive and arrogant, and she laments that her friends will likely die trying to save her.
But her dad keeps returning that same hope speech right back into her and eventually she hears it, and her eyes turn from the cloudy blue of sadness to her regular bright hopeful baby blues.
So even though things look bleaker than they have in a while, with destruction from the explosion behind them and a horde of Phantoms in front, Kara is ready to fight her way out, to never give up. She’s ready to be Supergirl, til the bitter end if that’s what it takes.
Then all of a sudden, a bright light fills the space and Kara and her dad feel stronger; Kara recognizes Lena’s handiwork and knows this means her family is here to save her.
And it’s real and it’s true and it’s happening. Kara flies up and directly into the arms of her sister. Alex says, “I got you,” which I think is almost as much for herself as it is for Kara. It’s “I found you, I saved you, I got you back,” and it’s also, “I’m here, you’re safe, you’re home.”
As they fly back, presumably having a raucous reunion that we will hopefully see some of in the next episode, we see that they have a little hitchhiker, the imp known as Nyxly.