Be careful what you wish for, Supergirl! When we last saw her, our heroine lamented the fact that she would very likely never get the chance to live her life like an ordinary person, and yet, by episode’s end, Kara Danvers found herself in the very non-Kryptonian position of having a bloody cut on her finger. Picking up from there, Supergirl’s mother (or rather, the holographic representation of her that’s currently housed at Department of Extranormal Operations HQ) tells her that, in her battle with the android Red Tornado, Kara basically used up all of her body’s stored yellow sun energy. For all intents and purposes, Supergirl is just a regular human, with none of the powers and all of the weaknesses. Once she’s absorbed enough yellow sun radiation, her powers should return…emphasis on “should”.
Kara arrives at her other job at CatCo with a sniffle, much to the horror of her germphobic boss (Cat: “You never get sick–that’s the best thing about you!” Kara: “That’s the best thing?”). James does his best to reassure Kara that this type of thing happens to cousin Clark on a semi-regular basis as well, but it’s not much comfort…especially when an earthquake hits National City, triggering multiple “This is a job for Supergirl”-type scenarios all over town.
Things aren’t much better at DEO headquarters, where the quake has freed an evil, psychic-powered alien named Jemm from his holding cell (in DC Comics, Jemm, AKA Jemm, Son of Saturn, is a heroic character, but here he’s been repurposed as the “Master of the Faceless Hunters”, a race of marauding extraterrestrials from the publisher’s Silver Age comics). The timing for this crisis couldn’t be worse, as Kara’s sister Alex is still investigating her boss Hank Henshaw’s possible involvement in her father’s death. Now, trapped with him in a lockeddown secret facility with a killer alien on the loose, the truth may come out.
At CatCo, tech wiz Winn has managed to get all the media giant’s communications systems up and running (just in time for everyone to see Max Lord once again trash-talking Supergirl on TV, this time for mysteriously not being around to help victims of the earthquake). Cat Grant has previously never noticed Winn’s existence, but now she wants him to set up a live feed in her office so she can counter Lord’s anti-Supergirl message. Kara and James take to the streets to confront Lord and his fear-mongering, saying that maybe what the people of National City need now more than ever is not mistrust, but hope. The smarmy Lord counters that Supergirl has lulled the people into a false sense of security only to abandon them in their time of need; privately, though, he has also deduced that Supergirl has lost her powers. There’s no way Lord can know this, but he gives voice to Kara’s greatest fear–in studying Superman, he’s noticed that he also blows out his own abilities from time to time, but that he usually gains them back within 48 hours…a time span that, in Kara’s case, has already passed. As far as Lord’s concerned, Supergirl’s powers are never coming back. As if on cue, a cardiac arrest victim that might otherwise have been saved by someone with flight capabilities or x-ray vision succumbs to his ailment before a helpless Kara’s eyes.
The DEO remains locked down and plunged into darkness, while agents wearing neural inhibitors designed to protect their thoughts hunt Jemm down. Field agents start dropping like flies, in a sequence straight out of Aliens (all that’s missing is for one cowardly agent to scream “Game over, man! Game over!”). Curiously, Alex loses Henshaw in all the confusion. When he does turn up, he claims that all but one of the neural inhibitors are destroyed, and that one of Jemm’s victims, the head of DEO security, has been psychically scanned by Jemm for all the details of the facility. Jemm may now be working to free all of the other imprisoned Phantom Zone criminals. Hank prevails on Alex to trust him and work with him before he heads back out into the fray, but trust is in short supply. Alex recruits Donovan, a fellow agent, to join her in following Henshaw to see what he’s up to–after all, this isn’t the first time he’s been the sole survivor of a sketchy alien encounter.
On the streets of National City, Kara is giving in to despair. After several weeks of being a hero and making a difference, she’s convinced that her days of saving lives are over after her failure to help the heart attack victim. “No hero can save everyone,” James tells her, “but a real hero never stops trying.” This may be the most poorly-timed inspirational speech ever, as the powerless Kara spies a robbery in progress and decides to bluff the looters–after all, they don’t know Supergirl isn’t super anymore. Changing into her costume, Kara talks down a would-be convenience store thief (while, with Winn’s help, Cat delivers a televised editorial that mirrors Supergirl’s message of hope). Once again, Kara proves that Supergirl’s capacity for compassion is her greatest superpower, and it’s the one power she can never burn out.
Alex and Donovan find the bodies of the downed agents and are surprised to learn that their neural inhibitors aren’t nearly as destroyed as Henshaw claimed. Alex puts one on, but Donovan isn’t quick enough–Jemm gets inside his head and forces him to turn his gun on Alex. He fights Jemm’s influence long enough for her to get to safety, but Alex is now on her own. She finds Henshaw, who claims that he lied about the inhibitors to keep her from doing anything stupid (like coming after him). A mind-warped Donovan tries to bait the duo, but Henshaw knows better. He insists on finding a secure location, but Alex isn’t convinced of his motives– pointing her gun on her boss, she accuses him of blackmailing, and ultimately murdering, her father. Alex leaves a handcuffed Hank behind and heads out for a final confrontation with Jemm.
At CatCo, Kara and James’ tender post-robbery moment is interrupted by a heartbroken Winn, who has theorized that a burst of Kryptonian adrenaline might re-ignite Supergirl’s powers. Cue the exploding gas line, damaged in the quake, that endangers the people in the CatCo skyscraper’s higher levels. This looks like a job for…Kara, James, and Winn! While helping to rescue a group of trapped CatCo employees, James finds himself about to take the plunge down an elevator shaft. Luckily, that adrenaline Winn mentioned earlier kicks in, and a rejuvenated Supergirl is able to fly him to safety, before zipping around National City performing various acts of superheroism for a still-recovering populace. In your face, Maxwell Lord!
Deep underground, Alex goes full Ripley on her alien enemy, assaulting Jemm with grenades, a shotgun, and twin .45’s. Even though she manages to take out the crystal in his forehead (not merely decorative, this crystal seems to power Jemm’s psychic abilities), it isn’t enough. But a mysteriously freed Hank Henshaw arrives in time to overpower Jemm, using a strength and speed that implies he has more secrets than even Alex suspects. When the dust settles, “Hank Henshaw” confesses that he’s not who he claims to be. The real Henshaw, and Jeremiah Danvers, had been on the trail of an alien visitor–not one of the escapees from Fort Rozz, as it happens, but “the sole survivor of a lost world”–a refugee, like Supergirl. Henshaw had been obsessed with neutralizing this harmless alien, but Jeremiah gave his life to save it. Both Danvers and Henshaw died, but the shapeshifting alien survived to take Henshaw’s place, after promising to protect Danvers’ daughter (this is why he recruited Alex to work for the DEO in the first place). The DEO head reveals himself at last to not be “Hank Henshaw” at all but another alliteratively-named DC Comics mainstay…long-time Justice League of America member J’onn J’onzz, AKA the Martian Manhunter. The Supergirl series continues to dig for cameos from DC Comics’ endless pool of extraterrestrial characters. Fingers crossed for an appearance by Ultra, the Multi-Alien!
And, at CatCo, Kara’s triumph is short-lived, as Winn is still smarting from seeing her and James snuggling during the crisis. “I’m never disappointed in Supergirl. I was disappointed in you,” says Winn. Harsh! Supergirl drops in on Cat to thank her for her inspirational words to the city during her absence, and while Cat scolds her for vanishing in National City’s time of need, Supergirl thanks Cat for being the real hero of the day. Our heroine flies happily away, but once again, her triumph doesn’t last, as she is ambushed by General Astra and her Phantom Zone thugs–remember them?
Supergirl airs in Canada on Global Mondays at 8 pm et/pt.
What does Aunt Astra have in store for Kara? Who is the “one other living person” who knows Hank’s true identity? What’s up with that big pink cat statue in the CatCo lobby? Tune in next week to find out!