Hello and welcome to my Supergirl recap for Episode 609, “Dream Weaver,” aka the one where Guardian rises.
We open this week in the woods where Lena poked Alex with a stick that one time. Oh wait, no, it’s not the Reignforest, it’s Nia’s dreamscape. She’s in a pretty blue dress and following a woman in white with a snowy owl on her shoulder.
She recognizes the woman as her mother and calls out to her, but she gets her dress caught on a stick and gets thwarted by an unkindness of ravens. She wakes herself up before she sees what we see: Nyxly lurking in the shadows.
Out in the world of the waking, it’s my favorite night of the year: GAME NIGHT! Alex and Kelly are on a team and absolutely killing it. Just totally on the same page the whole time, with shorthand that surprises even them. Kara is delighted, J’onn jokes that they’re cheating, and it’s all very cute and wholesome fun. They even quote Frozen.
J’onn says that living together suits them, and I agree. Nia and J’onn are up next but Nia is having a hard time keeping her eyes open; she hasn’t been sleeping well lately. She thinks it’s because Brainy is gone, which is sweet, but I have a feeling something imp-ier is afoot.
Kara is keeping score because Lena is still “Back East” (which would mean, like, Boston to most people, but apparently means the Mysterious European Country Lena is from to National City) and if she can’t team up with Alex or Lena, she won’t play at all. Kara says that she hopes Lena finds peace and they all take a moment to think about how dirty Lena has been done by the family that took her in.
They ask about Kelly’s new job as a social worker and she tells them about a new case she has with a 10-year-old alien orphan with EMP powers. Alex knows this will be the perfect gig because empathy is Kelly’s superpower.
While the Superfriends were having a lovely game night together, it seems Andrea was making a murderboard wondering what the Superfriends do for fun together. She calls Kara, Nia, and William to her office to demand they find the answers, but I think she’s asking the wrong questions. MY question is, does Andrea have any friends? Can Lena hang out with her more when she’s back in town? This obsession with the Superfriends is starting to worry me.
While Andrea is giving them their next assignments, Nia falls asleep standing up. It’s truly impressive, and I say this as someone who has watched a friend fall asleep sitting up on a backless stool during a New Year’s Eve party. Andrea is displeased by this, but instead of berating her or belittling her, she sends Nia home for a mental health day to sleep.
She turns her attention to Kara and William, and warns them that if they don’t get an interview with Supergirl soon, they’ll be stuck writing obits. Pulitzer shmulitzer.
Knowing she has a head start on finding out how to access the Superfriends, Kara zips off to help J’onn on a mission instead. When she gets to the scene, she sees a truck that has been opened like a sardine can. After a brief investigation, they realize that two different types of alien worked together for this gig. Kara is a little confused. “Since when do those two types of aliens work together,” asks a Kryptonian who dated a Daxximite to a Green Martian who dated a White Martian. But the important thing they DO know is that the stolen goods are bomb ingredients, so that can’t be a good thing.
When Kelly shows up for her first day with her new case, the foster mom says she’s been having trouble with the boy Kelly is here to see, Joey. He used to be a sweet kid but the last time he went to visit his brother in prison, he started acting out, getting so emotional his powers surge. She’s worried someone will get hurt.
The women are interrupted by a little girl running through the room on a quest for justice, specifically re: her stolen bread roll. It reminded me of all of us who stood up against the misogyny of teachers asking only the boys to help carry things in grade school even when you hit puberty first and have a good three inches on all the boys in your class and the leg strength of a dancer. Eh hem. Anyway, Kelly and I are both amused by this little ball of energy.
As the little girl (Esme) scampers away, Kelly realizes that all the kids are wearing power dampening cuffs. As the foster mom defends that choice by saying it’s the only way to keep all the kids safe, Kelly notices that there are also high-tech security cameras installed. And suddenly Kelly has even more concerns than ever.
When Kelly goes up to Joey’s room, he’s reading a Captain Carrot comic, which is apparently a real DC comic about a superhero who is also a bunny, and she bonds with him about having a big brother to look up to and worry about.
Understandably soothed by Kelly’s calm, understanding tone Joey admits that he’s worried about his big brother because when he last saw him, he had bags under his eyes, a clear sign of overusing his powers. He’s in a work release program in prison, and he’s worried if he uses his powers too much he’ll die. The only reason Orlando is in prison in the first place is because their parents died and he needed more money to help take care of Joey than a minimum wage job could provide so he robbed a store.
Kelly looks at this scared little boy and promises she’ll do anything she can do to help.
Back at the Tower, Kara, Alex and J’onn are making a plan to stop the aliens from making a bomb when Kelly comes in looking concerned. She explains Joey’s predicament and Kara says she’s familiar with the work release program; it’s called Second Chance and she wrote an article on it once. The jobs are all with a clothing manufacturer so she doesn’t understand why Orlando would need to use his EMP powers, but that’s what Kelly wants to find out. She asks for Kara’s help and she IMMEDIATELY leaves Alex and J’onn in charge of the bomb mystery to help her future sister-in-law.
And what I loved most about this moment is how uniquely Supergirl it is. (Both the hero and the show.) Oliver Queen or later-seasons Barry Allen would have been like THERE ARE ALIENS MAKING A BOMB WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR SIDE MISSION and would only help later when things got desperate/it became obvious it was related to the main mission. But Kara loves teamwork and friendship and she loves her sister most of all and thus she loves the woman her sister loves. So it wasn’t even a question. She not only prioritized Kelly but also trusted Alex and J’onn to handle the main mission in her stead. No convincing needed.
Trying to relax during her mental health day, Nia is looking at pictures of her mom to prepare to go back into her dreamscape. When she gets into her dream forest, the same thing happens. Her dress gets caught on a branch, the birds swoop…but this time, Nyxly saves her from the birds. And Nia is surprised to see her.
Nyxly apologizes for dream crashing and explains how during the rescue from the Phantom Zone she ended up trapped here, and she can be sentient/corporeal here because she’s a fifth dimensional imp. And she needs Nia’s help.
You see, she wants Nia to use her powers (the same powers that accidentally conjured a pink panther back in Midvale) to materialize her in the real world. She promises she’ll go straight back to the fifth dimension to see her father and brother who she “dearly misses” despite having told Kara her father was a “mad king” who killed her older brother and sent her to the Phantom Zone to keep her from being queen. Whether either of these stories are true is anyone’s guess, but the fact that it’s such a different story proves she’s lied tremendously at least once, either then or now, if not both.
Nia is wisely hesitant, until Nyxly tells her what she’ll do for Nia in return: She’ll bring her mother back from the dead. Interestingly and importantly, Nyxly doesn’t add this next part until Nia seems against this plan; the caveat would be that she could only bring her back for 24 hours. And again it’s unclear how much of this is a lie. Is it true she can only do it for 24 hours and she just wasn’t going to mention it until it was clear she wasn’t one to bend the rules of magic for personal gain, is the whole thing a lie and she just thought the caveat would make it seem more believable when she saw Nia’s reaction…it’s anyone’s guess!
Nia is suspicious but it’s hard to fully write someone off when they just offered to make your wildest dreams come true.
Just as Nia seems on the edge of agreeing to the trade, the white owl swoops down to attack Nyxly and Nia takes this opportunity to leave her dream, like when you’re trapped in a conversation in a party and they’re finally distracted enough for you to slip away to the bathroom. (At least, that’s how I remember them being. It’s been a while.)
While Nia naps, Kara and Kelly go to see the prison warden and ask him about the Second Chances program. He is so proud of it, and credits Kara with giving it positive publicity that attracted more donors. They ask about why a prisoner might be using his EMP powers, and the warden can’t think of a reason so he promises to look into it. They want to see him but there’s a two week waiting period for visitors so they’re simply out of luck.
Just kidding, Kara uses her Super powers to distract a guard and check the computers and realizes Orlando is already being transported to his job so they decide to just catch him en route.
When they go outside, they see what Joey was talking about; Orlando looks worn down and tired and he hasn’t even gotten to work yet. Kara senses something hinky going on so she flies to the job site and does a little x-ray spying. She notices the workers getting sorted into two groups; most prisoners go to the manufacturing job as expected, but she notices some men being pulled out of line, put in a van, and taken to a second location.
When Kara gets to said location, J’onn shows up, and they realize their two cases are connected. Kara can see that Orlando and the other men don’t want to be doing this, don’t want to hurt anyone, but the guard who pulled them aside is holding them at gunpoint and forcing them to use their powers to help him steal bomb supplies.
Valerie Anne’s Supergirl recap continues on the next page!
Supergirl and the Martian Manhunter jump in to stop the guard but he has his band of aliens use their powers to help them get away.
The warden holds a press conference saying that the guard had been kidnapped by rogue prisoners, and Kara, who apparently hasn’t been paying any attention, assumes the warden simply doesn’t know the truth. Kelly feels bad, like she did the opposite of what she promised Joey, but Kara promises her they’ll fix this.
After Kara leaves to talk to the warden, Alex sees her girlfriend go out onto the Feelings Balcony and promptly follows.
Kelly is worried she made things worse for Orlando, but Alex reassures her that she did the right thing. They exposed something bigger and now they can try to fix it. She knows Kelly won’t give up.
Kelly tells Alex something she had been apparently holding onto since Kara got home; when they all had their fear visions on the way to the Phantom Zone, Kelly’s anxiety that she wasn’t a useful part of the team manifested as everyone on the team turning into Phantoms and telling her that she had nothing to add to the team, that she was weak, and that she started to think she was right.
Alex reassures her that the real her doesn’t believe that at all and asks how the vision ended. Kelly says she realized that she might not have any powers or super strength but she could do the one thing that comes naturally: she could protect her friends. So she used some shrapnel like a shield and stood between the Phantom and her friends.
Alex smiles like this turn of events doesn’t surprise her at all. She calls her girlfriend smart and strong and powerful, because she is, in her own way. She says taking risks and pushing at the limits of our boundaries and fears is how we figure out who we are. Alex also says that Joey is lucky to have such a fierce protector in his corner, and knows the kiddo will be better off for it. Then she hugs her girlfriend tight and it’s a beautiful thing.
At the prison, Kara explains the real situation about the missing aliens and guard, and the corruption, and the bomb, and surprising literally only Kara, the warden wants to sweep it under the rug. Despite everything he said earlier about believing in the Second Chances program, he keeps showing his cards by calling them “dangerous alien criminals” and tells her he’ll handle the situation and that she should stay out of it.
The next time Nia goes into her dreamscape, she hears Nyxly out again about her offer. Freedom for a day with her mother. The white owl perches nearby and uses some fantasy riddles to warn her against believing the imp; and Nia says that her mother loved owls so when Nyxly tries to shoo it away, Nia is dubious of her intentions.
Over at CatCo, Kara is doing more research about the prison and asks William for his CIA contact’s help. Just regular journalism folks, nothing to see here.
Andrea stalks up and demands to know why there’s not so much a Which Superfriend Are You quiz on her desk yet and in a rare moment of Over It, Kara snaps. “Who cares about the ratings?” she asks with a defeated sigh.
Kara says that there are real issues and real stories and a puff piece about local celebrities isn’t what they should be focusing on. But Andrea points out that all the important stories about real issues won’t matter much if no one is reading them, and the way to get people to read them is to attract them with shiny Superfriends interviews.
Kara, lucky she didn’t get fired on the spot, says she understands and gets back to work.
Across town, Kelly heads to the foster home to check on Joey, and when she gets there she sees Joey’s powers surging and watches as the foster mom turns from Stef Foster to Miss Hannigan and zap Joey with his power dampener. Kelly is FURIOUS.
Kelly gives Miss Hannigan the what-for and says she’s going to report her and protect these children her damn self. Miss Hannigan knows full well that the system will rule in her favor because it’s not worth the fuss but her brush-off isn’t going to stop Kelly from trying. She storms off to start making waves, and the little justice-loving girl, Esme, watches her go with hope in her eyes.
Also doing things her own way is Kara, who is ignoring Andrea’s orders, is following a lead about a suspicious donor to the Second Chance program, Cyprus Holdings. It’s a shell corporation that is actually owned by Bruno Mannheim, the least creative man in the world. Which I say because he named his gang Intergang. He puts gang right in the name! Bad marketing, if you ask me.
In the dark of the night, Kelly borrows Alex’s motorcycle and creeps up to the side yard of the foster home and uses some fancy spy equipment to steal the security camera footage of Miss Hannigan zapping Joey. And I knew it was Kelly, there was no doubt in my mind it was Kelly, and yet, when the visor flipped up and revealed it was Kelly, I still got chills and smiled so wide. I love this journey for her already and it’s only just begun.
Alex tracks the missing prisoners and sends Supergirl to the scene. The guard has told the prisoners that this is their last job and that they will be released when this is over, but WE know that the Warden has instructed the guards to kill them after the job is done because Kara is on their heels and they don’t want any loose ends.
Supergirl and her Space Dad show up and fighting ensues and there’s this one brief moment when the guard has a gun pointed at Kara and she pauses to deliver a line and doesn’t even flinch about it and just casually takes him down and it’s very beautiful to watch.
Supergirl releases the prisoners from their power dampeners and wants to take them back to the prison (??) to clear their name but the prisoners would much rather gtfo tyvm. They stand in the prisoners’ way as they try to escape, holding their ground but only using the powers on the defensive, trying to show that they don’t mean them any harm.
Orlando explains that the system is broken, and Kara doesn’t disagree, but she knows that if he goes on the run now, that broken system will haunt him and will keep him from being able to see his brother again.
He says that he really believed the lie they sold him about the work release program, he really thought it was his way out, but it was just another way to exploit people like him. Kara says she understands, that she’s seen the injustice in the world, that she’s dedicated her life to fighting it. She does try to empathize by saying she’s an alien on this planet too, but I do wish she had qualified it with something like “and I can’t imagine how much harder it is for you.” Something that acknowledged that despite being marginalized as a woman in America, as a pretty, straight-passing, cis white person with a Pulitzer and a loft apartment, she doesn’t face the same struggles as a poor Black man with a child to take care of just because they’re both aliens.
Kara does say she wants to use her privilege to help them. She wants to help their voices be heard. Orlando considers this but luckily deems Supergirl more trustworthy than the Warden and has the prisoners stand down.
And, feeding two birds with one scone, Kara also gives William a CatCo exclusive Supergirl interview to appease Andrea.
And Andrea is, in fact, delighted by this.
Kara is still frustrated that Andrea cares more about Supergirl than the story but William says that Andrea has a point. When Supergirl speaks, people listen. And while it would be nice if people paid as much attention to news stories without a hook, the truth is, a respected celebrity is a good way to get the message out to more people. And my suspicions were right; William bothers me a hell of a lot less when he’s not trying to court Kara. I like Kara and William as coworkers.
Later that day, Kelly joins the NCPD at the foster home to watch Miss Hannigan get dragged away. Joey is so happy that his protector kept her word and she has another surprise for him: Orlando was pardoned and released from prison, so now the brothers get to be together. Kelly watches these boys run to each other and sees for the first time what Alex has been telling her all along: you don’t have to have superpowers to make a difference in someone’s life.
Kelly feels a little tug on her sleeve and looks down to see Esme aka Little Lady Justice smiling up at her. She knows Kelly was behind all this. She calls her their Guardian Angel and my heart swells nearly to bursting.
When Kelly gets home, Alex welcomes her with a glass of wine and a kiss.
Kelly tells Alex about her day and how empowered she feels, like she finally knows how to make a real difference in the world, her own way. That she’s not a fighter, she’s a protector. And so she wants to do just that. She wants to join the Superfriends in a more official capacity, picking up her brother’s mantle. She wants to become Guardian.
Alex goes to the closet and luckily doesn’t a) go in b) pull out a tiny umbrella to make us all cry, but instead brings out a giant box that I have to imagine she got out of storage today while Kelly was at work in anticipation of this conversation. When Kelly opens it, she sees the Guardian helmet gently placed inside. Alex knew this moment would come, but also knew it had to be Kelly’s idea. Rushing her into it or asking it of her wouldn’t have been the move. But Alex had been hoping this is where her road was leading her ever since she saw her use a shield during CRISIS. Kelly, who probably was worried on some level that Alex would be against Kelly putting herself in more danger, only to have her be above-and-beyond supportive, is so, so happy.
And I love this so much. It makes me even more sad that the show is ending (even though I have many pitches for a Sentinel & Guardian: Supergirlfriends spinoff) because I feel like these two are only at the beginning of their journey, as individual heroes and as a couple. But luckily for us, Chyler and Azie are so talented and so thoughtful that even though we don’t get to see every step of their relationship or evolvement on screen, every conversation they have makes it clear that they are happening. Some shows have their queer characters and couples develop painfully slowly because they only move forward while they’re on screen, but Alex and Kelly kept the train rolling even when the cameras weren’t. And as much as I love a teen coming out story full of relationship drama, I am also loving this trend we’re seeing of adult queer women with their healthy relationships whose drama and storylines have nothing to do with interpersonal tension, but external situations or individual growth. (Also looking at you, Legends of Tomorrow!) As someone who is considered Old by the social media apps I frequent, this soothes me.
We end the episode where it began, in Nia’s dreamscape. She reiterates the terms of the deal: If she lets Nyxly out, Nyxly will bring her mom back for 24 hours. And because apparently Nia never saw that one episode of Buffy, she zaps the owl away and accepts Nyxly’s terms.
Nyxly grins wickedly and I have a feeling her tricks will be far less mundane than Mr. Mxyzptlk’s antics.
I have no idea what’s in store for next week because apparently the CW has given up on putting together promos for this show and I don’t want to read the description on TV guide or anything because they’re always too spoilery, so I’ll see you for my next Supergirl recap and we can find out together. Maybe Lena will be back, maybe Nia’s mom will be a zombie, maybe we’ll get an Alex/Kelly training montage, who knows!