Happy Wednesday and welcome to this recap of Supergirl season 6 episode 16, “Nightmare in National City,” aka the one where Dreamer levels up.
We open this week with an old school intro, where we’re reminded about Kara’s pod getting knocked off course, and get flashes of Lena doing magic and Guardian guarding while she talks about her friends. It made me a bit nostalgic.
But then we jump right into the previously-ons, where we’re reminded that the Superfriends are in a race against Nyxly for 7 totems; they had 3 of them but yeeted the Hope Totem into the sun in an attempt from keeping Nyxly from ever being able to make the
infinity gauntlet All Stone, but Nyxly received a Lexosuit as a gift from a “secret admirer” to help her. Also, a little longer ago than all that, Nia’s sister Maeve was a bitch to her because Nia became the Dreamer of the family.
When Nia returns to National City with no Dream Totem in hand, she explains to Brainy that the reason she hit a dead end is because she went to her dad to go through her mom’s things for clues but turns out Maeve took it all and ditched their dad for taking Nia’s side and disappeared into the ether. Brainy suggests looking for the answers vis dreams so she does, getting a vision of a name that might lead her to the next clue.
Up on the glam rock spaceship, Nyxly is fiddling with her new suit when she realizes it comes with an AI…of herself. It’s not only her own voice, but also knows about her 10-year-old self’s secret crush, so she’s confused, but it promises her it knows how to help her find the Dream Totem so she decides to trust it. And honestly giving a narcissist an AI with her own voice is the fastest way to get it to do what it says.
Meanwhile, in the tower, Alex shows up to work with a stack full of drawings from Esme for the Superfriends.
She’s so proud of the drawings, and everyone is delighted to get them, and it’s all very cute and pure. Alex tells them that Kelly took Esme to meet the Olsen family and she’s going to join them as soon as things calm down a little; aka as soon as they find the Dream Totem.
Kara tells the team that her plans for today involve doing an interview with international leaders to try to promote peace and healthy communication skills, and Lena loves this idea.
When Kara pitches it to Andrea, and it’s the most passionate we’ve seen Kara about her day job in a long time. Andrea finds it endearing but thinks the topic is boring so she decides to make it a multimedia spectacle, which misses the point of what Kara was trying to do but isn’t a no, so Kara will take it.
Across town, Nia follows her vision all the way to her sister, much to both of their horror.
Maeve starts to apologize but Nia interrupts her and says that’s not what she’s there for. She’s just there to talk about the Dream Totem. Maeve wasn’t even sure it was real, the research all mentions an artifact in the dream realm that can give anyone dream powers so of course she was intrigued by it, but never found any proof of it. Nia asks Maeve to tell her everything she knows about the totem but Maeve says it’s not like she can distill all the research she’s ever done on the topic onto a post-it note for her. She opens a closet full of old books displayed rather haphazardly for someone who supposedly cares about this topic, and basically tells Nia good luck.
Meanwhile, Nyxly crashes a sleep lab to use her AI to steal technology from a doctor who learned how to access the dream realm. She uses her new toys to borrow some dream energy and as Supergirl arrives to try to stop her, she opens a dream portal and sends them a nightmare monster for their troubles.
Alex and Lena hold down the Tower and try to guide their flying friends and help them keep the nightmare monster from getting to the power plant.
Since J’onn’s brain powers and Supergirl’s heat vision aren’t helping, Kara asks Lena if there’s a spell she could do, but it’s more complicated than that…or she doesn’t believe in herself yet. Either way, she decides to rely on the original source of her usefulness to the Superfriends and uses her big beautiful brain to offer the solution of using satellites to create a dome over part of the city; the bad news is, it would trap the monster in with half the people in National City, the good news is it would keep the monster from getting to the power plant. Alex is torn but Supergirl is desperate so she makes the call and tells Lena to do it. And the dome is straight up from a Stephen King novel, splitting food trucks in half and separating people from who they were sharing a taco with mere seconds before. And then, as icing on the stressful cake Supergirl is being served, the monster turns invisible.
Back at Maeve’s office, the Nal sisters work together to look for clues about the Dream Totem. Maeve tells her about a tapestry with a maze on it that might be instructions from the Oracle who hid the totem. and how it has a symbol that was also on the necklace their mother gave her, the symbol for purity. As Maeve picks up another stack of books, news clippings of Dreamer saving the day fall out. Nia is surprised but Maeve tries to shrug it off like this isn’t the sweetest thing; she says they might be fighting but Nia is still her sister.
When Nia realizes there are too many tomes to tote to the dream realm for one person, she decides to take her sister with her. Maeve is delighted by this prospect and smirks as her baby sister brags about her boyfriend as Nia texts him to tell him she’ll be back on this plane of existence in a jiffy.
Back at the Tower, Supergirl reports that she can’t find the monster anywhere. She checks on Lena, who tells her that she found out about the sleep lab and that Nyxly was probably there to steal dream energy, which means she’s already on her way to the Dream Totem.
But Brainy arrives with good news; they’re not as far behind as they thought. Nia is already on her way to the dream realm to get the totem; they just have to hope she can find it before Nyxly.
While wandering through the dream forest, Maeve tells Nia about a dream expanse somewhere past this forest, but Nia has never figured out how to leave. As they wander, Maeve’s necklace starts to glow and points Nia toward a tree with a knot that is also a button, and when Nia presses it, it opens up a door to the aforementioned dream expanse…a door that closes behind them.
Since the action is happening in the dream realm, Kara runs off to do a mock interview to prepare.
But she’s distracted. Kara can see on the news that the town doesn’t approve of the Superfriends’ decision to put a dome over half the city, and the governor is speaking out about it. And so even though she’s wearing Kara braids and glasses, her head is in a Super space.
Alex is at the Tower trying to talk the governor down about the dome, trying to convince her that it’s for everyone’s safety, but the governor is still pressed about it, because the people are separated from their jobs or their loved ones.
The governor gives them 12 hours to take the dome down before she takes matters into her own hands. While Lena and Brainy get to work on a machine that they hope will contain the nightmare monster, which would be going better if Brainy wasn’t so in his head about things.
In the dream expanse, Nyxly wanders around through spires, guided by her AI, until she finds a lighted path. And when she does find it, she sees that Nia and her sister are already on the path, and is delighted by this turn of events.
Not knowing they’re being followed, Maeve and Nia try to use the tapestry map to find the totem, but they’re surrounded by too many dream spires. They know the necklace can guide them but they need a better view, so Nia uses dream energy to fly them up.
They see the golden spire they need and clasp hands in excitement before remembering they’re in a fight and quickly letting go.
When Supergirl returns from stopping a mob from hurting themselves trying to get through the dome, Alex says she’s going to try to hold the governor off a little longer but for now they’re in a holding pattern, so Kara is free to take a call from Andrea yelling at her for missing a meeting she set up for her in preparation for the big interview…that was Kara’s idea in the first place. Andrea finally speaks the unspoken things: Kara is a bad employee. She’s a good enough writer that Andrea was willing to look the other way; she can excuse the odd hours and random disappearances if her articles show up on time and impeccable. But this? Bailing on meetings with important world leaders? Embarrassing Andrea and making CatCo look bad? This she can’t excuse.
Kara heads back to Alex with her tail between her legs and confides in her sister that she feels so…overwhelmed. Ever since she got back from the Phantom Zone, she’s felt one step behind. One step behind her to-do list at work, one step behind Nyxly. The stakes feel higher than ever and she can barely cope. And she doesn’t say this part, but I have a feeling that with one hand in each of those pots, she’s forgetting to check on the trauma of the Phantom Zone she left in the oven. That metaphor got away from me but you know what I mean.
Alex tries to remind her that yes, she has a lot on her plate, but also she is not Oliver Queen and can and should rely on her team to have hre back. She tells her baby sister to just go be Kara while the Superfriends deal with the nightmare monster, and promises her that together – together – they’ll take down Nyxly.
J’onn and Alex check in with the governor and try to buy themselves more time but they only have an hour before she takes things into her own hands and has the air force take down the dome, nightmare monster be damned.
When Nia and Maeve get to the golden spire, Nia says they have to be ready for anything this totem could throw at them, so she suits up as Dreamer.
But before Nia can lead the way, Maeve rushes forward to try to take it for herself. The Totem Games Color Commentator tells her that she’s not pure of heart and scolds her, so Maeve admits to Nia that she’s still bitter about Nia getting her dream powers. She acts like Nia stole them from her, but that’s simply not how it works. Just because someone has something you want, doesn’t mean a) they don’t deserve it, or b) that you WOULD deserve it if they didn’t have it. It’s a fine line, but while it’s one thing to wish you had something someone else has, it’s petty and childish to wish they didn’t have it. Who knows how these powers work, maybe they knew that Nia would be good at the job and take it seriously and appreciate it as the gift that it is, and that Maeve would let the power get to her head! The powers chose Nia for a reason, and Maeve should respect that instead of throwing an entire tantrum.
And Nia knows this. And she’s done being hurt by her sister. She says she no longer cares if Maeve thinks she deserves the powers or not, or even if she believes Nia is a “real” woman. Nia knows who she is, knows that she is the Dreamer, and that’s all that matters.
Nyxly interrupts and a fight breaks out, and since Dreamer chooses to protect Maeve over the totem, Nyxly gets her hands on it. Seeing the fight is now uneven, Maeve gives Nia their mother’s necklace to help amplify her powers, giving her enough of a boost to scare Nyxly off and save her own and her sister’s lives.
Back in National City, Kara is getting ready for her interview, and while the world leaders are running a little late, her mind has time to wander to the other things she’s stressed about.
When she sees trouble on the news, Alex tries to reassure her that they’re handling it, but Kara is too worried about her friends to just sit and wait so she flies off to fight the nightmare monster.
The device Lena and Brainy made is working but the air force helicopters threaten to ruin the plan. Supergirl does end up helping a lot and getting the nightmare monster through the realm, and Lena is thrilled.
But when Kara gets back to her interview, she’s too late. She missed the window. And just as she realizes she dropped that particular spinning stack of plates, she hears from Brainy that Nyxly has the dream totem and her other plates come crashing down, too. And it’s all just…so much.
Kara goes out on CatCo’s Feelings Balcony and thinks about how she feels like she’s drowning and it’s getting harder to tread water and she feels like she’s causing a whirlpool with all her flailing and bringing the people closest to her down with her. She can’t afford to have a bad day, not when her ability to do her job is literally life and death.
Kara remembers something Cat Grant once told her. You can have it all, just not all at the same time. So she realizes she has to decide what her priorities are right now, and instead of putting part of herself into many things, put her all behind one.
She goes to Andrea to apologize for missing the interview, but Andrea reassures her that she covered her ass and she’ll have a second chance at the interview. Her last chance.
But Kara doesn’t think she should be the one to do the interview anymore. In fact, she doesn’t think she should finish any of the articles she was working on. And so, Kara Danvers quits CatCo.
And I know a lot of people were upset about this, and I do get it; Kara loved being a journalist, it was a dream of hers for a long time. But the truth is, dreams change. Priorities shift. I wanted to be a teacher for a long time but then I discovered writing. I wanted to be a TV writer once but I prioritized my friends and family Back East over moving to LA. I have plenty of friends who switched careers entirely because their passions, feelings, dreams, and/or goals shifted. I don’t think it’s unreasonable, or uncharacteristic, for Kara to want to put her whole self into being the best Supergirl she can be. CatCo isn’t what it was when she signed up; for better or worse, Andrea has changed the company pretty drastically from what it was when Kara worked under the mentorship of Cat Grant. And neither Lena NOR Kelly works in the building anymore, plus she gets to see them both, and also Nia, at the Tower whenever she wants. So there’s very little keeping her here right now. So it makes perfect sense to me why she quit, and I stand by her decision, even if it’s temporary.
Before Nia and Maeve part ways, Maeve apologizes for being selfish and causing her baby sister so much pain. She admits that she didn’t even mean what she said, it was just the cruelest thing she could think to say. She was hurting and in her selfishness, wanted Nia to hurt, too. She could never deny it before, but she certainly can’t deny it now: Nia is wonderful, and undeniably the Dreamer.
She asks for Nia’s forgiveness, but Nia bravely, boldly, and calmly says, “No.”
Maeve was Nia’s best friend and she said the vilest thing just to hurt her then ran away to leave Nia to grieve her mother and figure out her new powers all alone. That can’t be forgiven with a simple apology. Nia can’t give her a clean slate, she can’t assuage Maeve’s guilt for her. But she can give Maeve a second chance. A final chance. Which Maeve gratefully accepts.
At the Tower, Lena updates Alex and J’onn on their totem situation, because they used science and Earth Magic to re-conceal the humanity and courage totems.
They talk about how the city is still pissed at them. They then see Supergirl appear on their TV, in an interview with CatCo, apologizing for the dome and promising to do better by them in their quest to stop Nyxly. She says “failure is not an option” which is a lot of pressure to put on herself and her team, but at least she’ll have more time to dedicate to this venture.
Up on the glam rock spaceship, as Nyxly fixes her suit, the AI asks for the dream totem before it dies, and when she does so, what’s left of the suit transforms into a literal nightmare monster: Lex Luthor.
I, for one, am furious that he’s back even though I knew it was coming. We have four episodes left and I don’t want to waste a single minute on this asshat, but at the very least hopefully it leads to some lovely Lena content. We’ll see.
Next week, the quest for the Love Totem results in some cupid-esque shenanigans! See you then! (And don’t forget, our fundraiser is still going, and we could still use all the help we can get! Until our friendly neighborhood Lena Luthor donates billions of dollars to impress her gal pal, we rely on A+ memberships and reader donations to keep doing what we do.)