This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
Welcome to National City! Every week, I’ll be recapping the adventures of everyone’s favorite Maid of Might, Supergirl! This week, Kara’s lack of powers leaves her quaking, while Alex and Henshaw go on a little Manhunt.
DEO. As we saw last week, Kara’s battle with Red Tornado has left her powerless. Everyone’s sure her powers will come back soon – this happens to Clark too – but this is a chance for her to find out what it’s like “for the rest of us,” as Henshaw OH SO SUBTLY puts it. He is human, you guys, did you know? The humanest.
CatCo. Kara’s got a cold, which gobsmacks Winn, who promises to use the DEO files Alex snuck him to try to figure out a way to help her. Germaphobic Cat notices Kara sneezing, backs up hastily, and sends her home.
DEO. An alien with a glowing gem in his forehead paces his glass cell. This actor clearly just left his makeup on from the episode of Buffy he filmed 15 years ago. Anyway, his name is Jemm, and he is, of course, totally outrageous.
Henshaw and Alex walk in, and Henshaw taunts Jemm for his inability to use his psychic powers from inside his neural-shielded cell. “I will grind your loved ones into dust,” Jemm says, and Hank sadfaces as he murmurs, “There are none left to grind.”
Downtown LA – I mean, National City. Kara runs into Jimmy, and if they haven’t changed the mural since I was there in August, they are actually walking under a giant, unseen painting of Supergirl spread out over three buildings, which is pretty delightful. She tells him about the power loss and he dubs her huge explosion of heat vision/solar energy last episode “solar flare” – or rather, that’s what Clark, who “likes to name them,” calls it. “He is such a nerd,” Kara drawls, and I laugh forever because #accurate.
Jimmy assures Kara she’ll be all right until her powers come back, and she agrees: “The world can survive without Supergirl for one day.” Of course, there is then immediately a huge earthquake. Cars careen off the road; Jimmy pushes a stunned Kara out of the way and she hits the ground hard.
DEO. The earthquake momentarily disables the power and Jemm escapes. “Seal the base!” Henshaw demands. Alex gives him a suspicious look, but obeys.
Downtown. Kara’s arm is hurt, so Jimmy whips off his overshirt to make her a sling.
I’m just gonna let you bask in everything I just said for a minute.
Okay. Kara refuses to go to the hospital, since her arm will heal when her powers return (but will it set properly? This is dumb), so they return to CatCo. She checks in with Alex, who says they’re on lockdown and hey, if Kara’s powers come back, can she come help with the murderous mind-control alien? (Even though I’m pretty sure Jessica Jones taught us that you don’t give the mind controller access to your heaviest hitter if you can help it.)
Cat tells anyone who needs to be with their family in this time of crisis that they’re free to go, but when one guy leaves, she discreetly takes a photo of him on the way out. Hee! I love you, Cat. Sorry, soon-to-be-fired dude.
Cat then tells a non-Winn tech dude to get them back online, but Not Winn says it’ll be four hours at best.
DEO. Hologram Alura warns Henshaw, Alex, and a bunch of redshirts that Jemm is dangerous and only Kara can save them. They do have headset neural inhibitors, but only three, so Henshaw takes two redshirts to look for Jemm. Alex isn’t pleased, since she’s far more experienced, but Henshaw says he needs her to guard the others, which is entirely patronizing but whatever.
CatCo. Winn gets their systems back up; Cat is pleased, but still, hilariously, doesn’t have the foggiest idea who he is. Also, Max is on the news talking about how Supergirl has clearly bailed on them in their time of need. Annoyed, Cat tells “Wit” (hee!) to help her get a broadcast going from her office so she can counter Max’s negative spin on “my girl” (aw).
Kara, meanwhile, is more concerned that Max’s fear-mongering will make the crisis worse. She can’t fly up to him as Supergirl and make him stop – but she can use her Pulitzer-winning buddy to get up close to media hound Max.
DEO. We get some subpar horror movie-style suspense as Henshaw’s team hunts for Jemm while Alex’s team watches via security feeds. The lights go out, Henshaw disappears, Jemm attacks, lots of screaming, you know the drill.
Downtown. Jimmy photographs a very pleased Max at the relief tents where he’s handing out Lord Tech bottled water and Lord Tech blankets. Kara suggests that his speech about Supergirl was irresponsible and unfair, but Max doesn’t want National City relying on non-human saviors: “[Supergirl] fools us into thinking she’ll save us and renders us incapable of saving ourselves.” Boy, someone is really gunning for the role of Best Supporting Lex Luthor, huh? Sorry, Eisenberg.
Max goes on to suggest very accurately that Supergirl lost her powers fighting Red Tornado. I guess he reads my recaps. Also, Superman’s powers have never cut out this long – if Supergirl’s aren’t back yet, they probably never will be.
DEO. Alex is suiting up to go after Jemm. The one redshirt with his SAG card protests, because it’s against Henshaw’s orders, but Alex says they don’t even know if Henshaw’s alive, and opens the door – and there’s Henshaw.
He tells them the other redshirts are dead, the inhibitors broken, so he’s the only one who can go back out after Jemm. Also, Jemm read one of the dead redshirts’ minds and now knows how to open all the other prisoners’ cells. Alex seethes.
Downtown. A young woman comes running up to Max for help – they were in a car accident and her father is dying. Max starts first aid while the woman babbles something about if only Supergirl were here, yadda yadda.
Max announces that something something medical something, they could save this man’s life if only they had an X-ray machine! (I suspect freeze breath or super-hypnotism would work too.) As he comforts the daughter, Kara squints furiously at the father: “Come on, come on, come on…” But nothing happens. Her face crumples.
DEO. Alex tells Red Shirt With A SAG Card that Henshaw’s sketchy so they need to go out there, even without inhibitors. RSWASAGC agrees.
CatCo. Winn’s not doing a great job setting up Cat’s broadcast, but she doesn’t have time to fire him, so she gives him an inspirational speech about how great she is instead, calling him “Wick” and “humble IT guy” in the process. I adore her. Anyway Winn finally gets it working, and Cat tells him that’s what crises like this are all about: ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Downtown. Kara’s heartbroken over the man’s death, and her general feeling of helplessness. Jimmy tells her that no hero can save everyone, and she has to keep trying.
Suddenly they see some dudes looting a store across the street. Kara starts to charge off, but Jimmy reminds her “the bullets won’t bounce off this time.” “They don’t know that,” she snaps.
DEO. Alex and RSWASAGC find the dead redshirts, but the inhibitors are working fine. Alex puts one on, but before RSWASAGC can don the other, Jemm takes over his mind. He draws his gun but is able to fight Jemm long enough for Alex to flee.
Downtown. Kara walks into the store in her Supergirl costume, her broken arm shaking as she tries to hold it normally. “You don’t want to do that,” she tells the terrified gunman.
Meanwhile, Cat’s broadcasting from her office. These scenes are crosscut rapidly but that’s too hard to recap, so we’ll do Cat first: Cat tells her viewers that it’s human to be afraid, but it’s also human to rise above that fear, and even if Supergirl isn’t there, her insistence in seeing the best in people remains. Do what’s right, and share your stories of heroism with Cat, who will broadcast them to inspire the people.
Kara steps forward slowly as she tells the gunman: “I know you’re scared. We all are. You want to save yourself, your family…but don’t you see that we are all in this together? There’s about a dozen ways that I could stop you right now, but I don’t think I have to. Because this is not you. It isn’t any of you. I believe that we are better than this. We choose who we want to be. And I know you’re gonna choose to be a better man.”
Stunned, Jimmy snaps a picture as the gunman places his gun in Kara’s outstretched hand.
There’s this thing with Superman adaptations where they lean hard on the Jesus metaphor, which…fine, I guess, if that’s your ball of wax, but I kinda suspect it’s not what the two Jewish kids who created him had in mind when they gave him that Hebraic name and had him work to pass as a WASP. For me, Superman – and Supergirl – has never been a metaphor about a savior removed from humanity, but about the inherent ability in all of us to do better. To do good. Kara (and Cat), standing there with her life in this man’s hands, broken arm trembling with pain, just summed up in 80 words why I love superheroes, and particularly this superhero.
Thanks, Supergirl. I love you too.
DEO. Henshaw jumps Alex and pulls her into a room. She demands to know why he lied about the inhibitors and he says he didn’t want anyone else getting hurt. As he tries to leave, she draws on him, makes him drop his weapon, and asks why he didn’t tell her about her father. He says Jeremiah believed in him and was a great man, and Alex snaps, “YOU DON’T GET TO TALK ABOUT HIM!” even though she just, like, asked.
She makes Henshaw cuff himself to a bar and, knowing Jemm’s in RSWASAGC’s mind, uses her headset to basically invite him to a shootout at high noon in the control room.
CatCo. Kara’s still riding her high from the last scene. She asks how Jimmy got into photography and he tells her his father gave him his first camera before he left for the Gulf War, from which he never came back. To Jimmy, a photo is a moment of something he loves that he can keep, forever. GUYS I’M MISTING UP HERE.
They hug and it’s sweet and lovely – and Winn walks in. They spring apart. Everything’s awkward as Winn says that Kara’s powers might be reignited by “a Kryptonian version of extreme adrenalin,” then walks out.
Kara follows, but Winn angrily tells her that Jimmy has a girlfriend, and also Kara’s a superhero, so she’s not allowed to have human things like romance. Um, what? “Wow, you’ve given a lot of thought to my future love life, or lack of it,” Kara says witheringly, and walks away. THAT’S RIGHT, GIRL.
The fight’s interrupted by an explosion that rocks the building – the gas line, Winn surmises. People are trapped upstairs and the stairs are blocked, so Kara, Winn, and Jimmy run to the elevator shaft.
DEO. Jemm walks into the control room – and Alex shoots the heck out of him from her hiding spot, driving him back into the grenades she’s planted. Aside from shooting off his face jewel she doesn’t do much damage, but I still want Alex to be a playable character in the Supergirl video game because she is badass.
Jemm disarms her and is about to kill her when Henshaw crashes through the ceiling, grapples with him, and finally snaps his neck. “I told you, Alex. I’m not the enemy.”
CatCo. Jimmy hauls the elevator doors open but the people on the upper floor tell Winn over the phone that they can’t get theirs open, so Jimmy climbs up the ladder inside the shaft and opens that one too. He hands people through the open doors and down the ladder to Kara and Winn.
Once everyone else is safe, another tremor rocks the building. Jimmy slips and is left dangling from a fraying elevator cable. Just as it snaps, Kara clenches her first…AND SUPERGIRL SAVES JIMMY! Kara apparently took the time to change into her costume, which is hilarious.
“There’s a city out there that really needs you,” Winn says once they’ve all finished beaming at each other. “Go get ‘em, Supergirl,” Jimmy adds. They both gaze at her in adoration as she flies away. This is the best show.
Montage time! Kara flies around saving small children while everyone cheers. Did I say this is the best show? This is the BEST SHOW.
DEO. As the redshirts put the base back in order, Alex tracks Henshaw down. He tells her not to tell Kara this…but he’s not Hank Henshaw, who died the same night as Jeremiah. They were tracking down an innocent alien stranded on Earth; Henshaw wanted to kill it, but Jeremiah gave his life to save it. “Your father died a hero.”
Alex, no dummy, realizes “Henshaw” is the alien…but how? He’s a shapeshifter, he explains, and what’s more, he promised a dying Jeremiah to protect Alex as if she were his own daughter.
“If you’re not Hank Henshaw, who are you?” she asks.
“Henshaw’s” eyes glow red. “I am the sole survivor of my planet, the last son of Mars. My name is J’onn J’onzz.” And then! And then! HE TRANSFORMS INTO THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER, MY MOST-FAVORITEST SEVEN-FOOT-TALL OREO COOKIE-LOVING TELEPATHIC SWEETHEART, AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER TO HAVE BEEN WRONG! Farewell, beep boop jokes; I abandon you with no regrets!
CatCo. Kara apologizes to Winn, for some reason? And he’s still mad, because he’s a dick? Gross. Set it on fire. Jimmy also leaves awkwardly…but then Kara sees Cat, working late.
She changes into her costume and hovers outside Cat’s window. Cat demands to know where she was. Kara tells her that it was a good thing the city had Cat instead, because she inspired people – including Kara. They smile at each other. I love that Kara explicitly rejects stupid love triangle angst to have a positive conversation with her female mentor.
Kara flies off – and is attacked by Astra and her henchmen! Good thing the show remembered Astra exists in time for the mid-season finale.
Nerdiest Hat Tip: Jemm, Son of Saturn is a hell of a deep cut, my gosh. (Not to mention a tipoff to Henshaw’s real identity, as he’s a Martian Manhunter character.)
Best One-Liner: “That was better than the time I stopped a holdup at a pizzeria and the owner gave me 12 pizzas.” And Kara makes it onto the board!
Worst Thing: Winn’s reaction to Jimmy and Kara’s hug, and the fact that the show made Kara apologize for it. GROSS.
Best Thing: THE CONVENIENCE STORE SCENE!!! Although the J’onn reveal was also stupendous. Also, the true MVP of this episode: Jimmy’s tank top.