Comics/Graphic Novels

Recap: Supergirl 1×05 – How Does She Do It?

Jessica Plummer

Contributing Editor

Jessica Plummer has lived her whole life in New York City, but she prefers to think of it as Metropolis. Her day job is in books, her side hustle is in books, and she writes books on the side (including a short story in Sword Stone Table from Vintage). She loves running, knitting, and thinking about superheroes, and knows an unnecessary amount of things about Donald Duck. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_plummer.

Welcome to National City! Every week, I’ll be recapping the adventures of everyone’s favorite Maid of Might, Supergirl! This week, Kara’s overloaded to the Max! Her life’s in loco-motion! Let’s hope she doesn’t fall on her caboose! (I’m so sorry.)

Kara’s joyously flying around Metropolis when she notices some kind of drone tracking device following her. She takes it out and brings it back to the DEO, pissed that Henshaw’s spying on her – but it’s not his. Alex assures Kara that she can trust Henshaw. I hope they put these episodes in the right order on Netflix/the DVD, because after last week that obviously plays weird.

"Ah yes, this was my cousin Albert. I mean, I'm not a robot. Beep boop."

“Ah yes, this was my cousin Albert. I mean, I’m not a robot. Beep boop.”

CatCo. Cat’s won “the Siegel Prize for Women in Media.” Kara’s sweetly thrilled for her, but Cat can’t go to the ceremony in Metropolis unless she finds someone to watch her son Carter, so Kara volunteers.

That's how I feel about your lack of presence in this episode too, Cat.

That’s how I feel about your lack of presence in this episode too, Cat.

Restaurant. Lucy and Jimmy are sharing a dessert and a somewhat defensive conversation. There’s a cover of “Time After Time” playing in the background and between that and last week’s “Take Me to Church” I’m amused that the soundtrack to this show appears to just be like some all-female-covers “ladies rock!”-style compilation album the producers bought at Starbucks.

Lucy wants Jimmy back. Jimmy blows her off, which appears to be 50% anger and 50% staring longingly at Kara, who’s stepped in to pick up food. (He also says Cat’s put him in charge of digital marketing while she’s away, so apparently they have both forgotten that he’s the art director.) Lucy leaves and Kara says it sounds like she really wants him back. “She wants to win everything,” he explains, including him.

Suddenly an explosion shakes the block. Kara zips off to deal with the building that was hit; she holds it up as people flee and uses her heat vision to weld some support beams back together. As the crowd applauds, another drone records it all, then flies off.

"Strength: 2300% human level. Costume: totes cute."

“Strength: 2300% human level. Costume: totes cute.”

DEO. Henshaw figures it’s industrial espionage and thus not their turf, but Alex disagrees – some of the components of the bomb match components from the drone Kara brought in. “I think I have a lead,” she adds and, hilariously, shows them a glamor shot of Max Lord on her iPad. Henshaw says they’ll go ask Max about it, and we learn that, also hilariously, there’s a button (???) on their DEO badges that turn them into Faux-B-I badges. Why a button, why not just make more badges, I have so many questions.

Henshaw leaves and the conversation turns to Jimmy…and Lucy. “She’s gorgeous, she’s smart, she smells nice…hell, I want to date her,” Kara declares, which, YES YES YES. Alex warns her not to talk about Lucy with Jimmy or she’ll end up in the friendzone. Nope, gross, do not approve, kill the friendzone with fire, even if the cultural context is slightly different with the genders changed.

Suddenly Cat calls, wanting to know how Carter is. WOW, Kara is a bad babysitter. She’s late picking Carter up from school, but she zooms off, crashes behind a bush on school property, and pops out a second later in street clothes. I love that it makes no logical sense for her to have her clothes with her; it’s such a funny, comics-y gag.

Luckily, she’s barely late – thanks, super speed! – and here’s Carter, who turns out to be a gangly and painfully shy tween, though Kara’s goofy banter does manage to wring a smile out of him.

Lord Technologies. Max smarms that he’s not a suspect because the lab that was blown up is actually his – one of his subsidiaries, to be precise. Alex asks who might want to target him who has access to the bomb materials. Henshaw bails, to Alex’s obvious distress at being left alone with this yahoo. I feel you, girl.

CatCo. Carter lights up when Supergirl shows up on the news, and when Kara asks if he’s a fan, gleefully rattles off her list of accomplishments. I love that he thinks she’s amazing and heroic first, and pretty as an afterthought. Also, I’ve never heard anyone say “and she shoots lasers out of her eyes” with such besotted tenderness. It’s great.

"When is Perd gonna be on?"

“When is Perd gonna be on?”

Winn tries to brag about knowing Supergirl, but Kara ecret-say identity-ways him and he shuts up. Then they spot Jimmy freaking out over an empty stapler in Cat’s office; turns out he’s in a tizzy over trying to handle just a fraction of Cat’s workload – and also because of the Lucy situation. He starts to rant about Lucy, but Kara, hearing “friendzone” echoing in her head like a Reddit-y gong, shuts him down.

Lord Tech. Alex studies the plans for Max’s electromagnetically powered train. He flirtily asks why she’s wasting her scientific mind working for the government, and she says it’s because “there’s no higher calling than helping people.” Also, she gets comped so many black polo shirts from work, you have no idea.

Suddenly, an underling reports that they’ve found a bomb in the building! Alex tells everyone to evacuate while Max confidently attempts to disarm it – and only succeeds in speeding up the countdown clock. Ruh-roh!

" wanna get coffee later?"

“So…you wanna get coffee later?”

Alex calls Kara, who leaves Carter with Winn and zooms off to Lord Tech. Max hands her the bomb and tells her to get it at least 20 miles from the city. She flies it out over the ocean but is caught in the blast and knocked out.

DEO. Kara wakes, groggy under sunlamps, and sees Henshaw examining a sample of something. His eyes glow red at her before she lapses back into unconsciousness. BEEP BOOP.

BEEP BOO...yeah, you get it.

BEEP BOO…yeah, you get it.

Later, Kara wakes up, shaky and unsettled. Alex comes running in and hugs her. If she’s had time to polo up and get to the desert, how long has Winn been watching Carter?

Henshaw’s conveniently narrowed down their suspect list offscreen to former employee Ethan Knox, fired for erratic behavior and now missing. Kara wants to take him down – and also belatedly remembers Carter. Alex suggests she’s stretching herself too thin, which…I like the idea of Supergirl helpfully over-committing herself, but she’s not actually doing that much, especially since she’s personal assistanting to someone who is currently absent. She’s just a terrible babysitter.

CatCo. Winn and Carter are playing video games. Kara returns, in a new outfit for some reason? That no one comments on, for some reason? She thanks Winn, then bails on him again to get Carter some lunch. How could it possibly be only lunchtime? She picked Carter up from school. Is it the next day? Did Winn take Carter home overnight? I’M SO CONFUSED. BEEP BOOP.

Restaurant. Kara runs into Lucy, who tells Kara she feels frazzled. Kara’s skeptical, and Lucy says, “Just because I look a certain way on the outside everyone assumes it matches the way I feel on the inside,” as humans say, often, to people they barely know, when they’re not bolstering a strained theme about Having It All.

I think you two should DEFINITELY have a Dance-Off For Jimmy's Love.

I think you two should DEFINITELY have a Dance-Off For Jimmy’s Love.

Lucy asks if Jimmy’s dating Supergirl. Kara awkwardly denies it and Lucy admits that she dumped Jimmy because he loved Superman more than he loved her. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Anyway, in Lucy’s mind (and probably Jimmy’s, let’s be honest), Superman + skirt = Jimmy in love.

Lord Tech. Alex stands weirdly close to Max as she urges him to cancel the train…launch? Gala? Whatever, it’s happening tonight and Knox will target it. Max is like “I HATE THE GOVERNMENT” and Alex is like “why” and Max is like “THE GOVERNMENT KILLED MY GOVERNMENT SCIENTIST PARENTS” and it’s all very silly. “I’m an orphan. We don’t get over things easily,” he adds, the truest statement ever said in/of the DCU.

"Yes, Father. I will become a train."

“Yes, Father. I will become a train.”

CatCo. Kara stops by Jimmy’s office to tell him Lucy still loves him, because…she loves meddling, I guess? GIVE CARTER HIS LUNCH, HE’S A GROWING BOY. Anyway this is a very contrived way to stop Kara and Jimmy from kissing and I’m frowning at it.

Later, Lucy tells Jimmy she’s going back to Metropolis. They fight a bit about their different perspectives on why they broke up, then she tells him she just wants what’s best for him, kisses him, and walks away.



Train launch. Neither the DEO nor Kara sees any sign of Knox.

Office. Winn and Jimmy are apparently sharing a pizza? Aw. Winn very belatedly realizes that Carter’s gone, and guesses that he went to the train launch to try to meet Supergirl. YOU ARE ALL TERRIBLE BABYSITTERS. CAT SHOULD FIRE EVERYONE.

The DEO reports a bomb…at the airport, of all places. It might be a decoy, but Kara zips off to handle it.

A CatCo underling tells Jimmy he needs to send all the reporters to the airport, because the NCPD found a bomb there. HE IS THE ART DIRECTOR. He calls Lucy, who’s at the airport, but she’s not picking up, so he runs off. I hope the airport is literally next door – Mehcad Brooks’ legs are gloriously long but come on.

Train station. Carter wanders around, dazzled, and tries to board the train; he’s stopped by security because he doesn’t have a ticket, but Max sees him and ushers him on board to “find his parents.” (Fun fact: I’m pretty sure Max has slept with at least one of those parents.) Neither of them notice Knox, also on the train and wearing a bomb.

"Maybe someone at this train station will feed me or remember my existence for longer than two minutes at a time."

“Maybe someone at this train station will feed me or remember my existence for longer than two minutes at a time.”

Winn comes running up, but since he looks slightly less like a lost urchin than Carter, he doesn’t get a free pass onto the train. He does, however, spot Knox. The train pulls out of the station.

Winn calls Kara and tells her Knox and Carter are on the train. She tells the DEO to handle the airport and returns to the train, since she’s the only one who can catch it – and quite easily, as she drops into Max’s cabin immediately. Carter’s eyes light up.

Kara tells Max that Knox is on board and he needs to stop the train. He can’t – it’s automated – so she tells Max and Carter to get everyone to the back of the train, and X-ray visions until she finds Knox skulking towards the front.

Airport. Jimmy and the DEO arrive simultaneously, and Henshaw tells Jimmy (how do they know each other…?) that Supergirl’s not coming. Jimmy spots Lucy helping an old lady out of the building and races over to her. They hug.

Henshaw and Alex find the bomb, but something something a scanner’s not working and Alex can’t “see” inside it to disarm it. Henshaw orders her out of the room, to her dismay.

Train. Kara wrenches the metal doors of the engine open and confronts Alex, who has the bomb on a dead man’s trigger. Instead of fighting him, she tells him there’s always hope, and to think about his daughter.

Airport. Henshaw pulls the bomb open with his bare hands, reaches inside…and emerges a moment later with the defused bomb, claiming it was a dud. BEEP BOOP.

Today, that bomb. Tomorrow, Coast City. Too soon?

Today, that bomb. Tomorrow, Coast City. Too soon?

Train. Knox says he’s blowing up the train to help his daughter, but now that they know it’s him it won’t work. Kara’s confused but begs him not to kill all the passengers. “I won’t,” he says, and presses the detonator. “You’ll save them. But you better hurry.”

Horrified, Kara steps out of the engine and heat visions the coupling that attaches the rest of the train to it, then jumps down onto the track and braces herself against the train until it stops. The engine speeds off down the train. We get one last despairing shot of Knox, and the bomb goes off.



DEO. Alex is confused because the defused bomb doesn’t seem to be a dud. Kara’s still puzzling over why Knox would kill himself…and then belatedly remembers Carter. FOR THE LOVE OF RAO, KARA, GET IT TOGETHER.

CatCo, the next day. Carter flings himself into Cat’s arms. She was terrified for him but he’s just overjoyed to have met Supergirl, who “is even prettier in person.” “And smart and brave and kind and she saved you,” Cat reminds him, because Cat is the best and is teaching her son to respect women.

Carter heads off to school, and Kara immediately starts babbling an apology. But, she excuses herself, she was so busy with work, and “all this crazy stuff going on around the city,” and nope, sorry, first of all there’s no reason Ordinary Human Kara Danvers should’ve been involved in that, and second of all, he is a child and he was your responsibility and he nearly died on your watch and this is so not the time to plaintively ask Cat how she juggles her life. This is the time to get fired, and rightfully so.

Cat, fed up, tells Kara that women can have it all, but not all at once – she learned to be a businesswoman first and then a mother. This…is nonsense, and not an option for everyone, and not the actual answer to the issue here, which is that Kara neglected and endangered Cat’s child. This episode is infuriating.

Kara, unfired, leaves Cat’s office and sees Jimmy and Lucy kissing. She sads.

On the news, Max is talking about Knox. Kara, suspicious, asks Winn to hack into the hospital records.

They're bad babysitters, but darn if they aren't snappy dressers.

They’re bad babysitters, but darn if they aren’t snappy dressers.

Lord Tech. Max is pouring scotch when Kara appears in his window in an angry Peter Pan pose. This is…Luthorian, to say the least.

Kara reveals that Knox’s daughter, who is sick, is being treated by a doctor hired by Max. She theorizes that Max made him set the bombs in exchange for his daughter’s medical care, but she doesn’t know why. Max replies that hypothetically, whoever set the bombs – and sent the drones – might be testing Supergirl, and the fact that she chose to save the train instead of the airport, with its comparatively fewer passengers, meant that someone on the train was important to her and could provide a clue to her secret identity.

"LUTHOR! I mean...shoot. What is your name again?"

“LUTHOR! I mean…shoot. What is your name again?”

Kara says he may have fooled the city, but she’s watching him now. THIS IS JUST EVERY POST-CRISIS LEX LUTHOR INTRO, COME ON. Can we get back to Astra, please?


Nerdiest Hat Tip: The Siegel Award, of course.
Best One-Liner: “Winn, you’re dying.” “Every day, kid.” I am not into Winn’s pining in a general sense, but Jeremy Jordan’s delivery there was superb (and Cat wasn’t around to easily win this category this week).
Worst Thing: Honestly, I found this episode to lean way too hard into its incoherent, cutesy “Can Women Have It All?” Marie Claire-style nonsense theme, and it required Kara (and Winn, and to a much lesser extent Jimmy and Alex) to be unforgivably irresponsible and blase about the safety of a child. It rang deeply untrue to me and made me like the characters less. No thank you.