We open with a toy-assisted jailbreak, as a mystery man with a creepy doll in his cell escapes with the aid of a razor-edged yo-yo. Longtime comic fans will recognize the playfully evil trademarks of the Man Of Steel’s old enemy, Winslow Schott– AKA the Toyman. It’s unclear if Supes ever went up against the Toyman in the TV show’s continuity, but since he’s the father of Team Supergirl member Winn, a confrontation with the Maid Of Might is inevitable.
Speaking of Supergirl, our heroine is getting a lesson in defensive flying from J’onn J’onzz, AKA the Martian Manhunter, AKA DEO director Hank Henshaw. Kara does her best to extol the virtues of flying free and being your true alien self to J’onn, but he’s not so sure–he’s been on Earth for fifty years and, having been hunted and hounded for most of that time, he feels he can do more good hiding in plain sight as Hank Henshaw. However, as far as NOT being in plain sight is concerned, Alex and Hank hatch a plan to look into the mysteriously wellguarded Room 52 at Max Lord’s Lord Technologies; while Alex distracts Max on a dinner date, Hank/J’onn will (reluctantly) use his Martian super powers to infiltrate the lab and find out what alien-killing secrets are kept within. At CatCo, Kara’s boss ambushes Lucy Lane with an offer to bring her on as her general legal counsel. Lucy is uninterested at first, but Cat insists that career women who put love before their own ambitions wind up hamstrung by existential crises (and the sharp-tongued Cat has, as usual, some other critiques to offer, dropping a scathing mention of the currently-unemployed Lucy’s ability to show up for lunch on little notice wearing “glorified yoga pants”). Outside Cat’s office, Kara’s ethical dilemma to use her super-hearing to eavesdrop on the interview on James’ behalf is interrupted by a news item about the Toyman’s escape; Winn is understandably upset, especially when FBI agent Cameron Chase (Emma Caulfield–Anya from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, playing a character who was actually a DEO agent in the short-lived, cult favourite DC Comics series which introduced that very organization!) arrives to question him. Despite Chase’s suspicions, Winn hasn’t had any contact with his father since the old man killed six people with a bomb-rigged teddy bear– Schott Senior’s actual target was his idea-stealing toy company boss, Chester Dunholtz, but an unlucky assistant opened the murderous package instead. Kara is shocked to learn that, despite his denial to the Feds, Winn has in fact heard from his dad, in the form of a talking stuffed toy (modeled after the cartoon incarnation of Toyman from the 1970s Challenge Of The Super- Friends animated series!) that implores him to “meet at our favourite place”. With some prodding from Kara, Winn reluctantly tells Agent Chase that his father has, in fact, reached out to him.
Winn arranges to meet his father at an arcade they used to frequent together, under heavy surveillance from the FBI and Kara; Agent Chase says that the only reason Kara is there is that Winn wouldn’t do it without her–presumably he senses that his deadly (but eager to reconcile) dad might outwit the Feds. Winn’s impulse proves correct–when the Toyman (Canadian character actor Henry Czerny) is ambushed by the agents, he reveals himself as a hologram. The whole meeting is booby-trapped, and Winn and the FBI are nearly taken out by a poison gas attack. Thankfully Supergirl intervenes, inhaling the toxins and exhaling them harmlessly in the upper atmosphere (“I don’t normally inhale,” a coughing Kara admits to Winn afterwards–Bill Clinton would be proud). There’s another deep cut reference in this scene–the talking doll that welcomes Winn and warns him to run when the gas is released looks an awful lot like the Toyman’s creepy incarnation on the 1990s Superman animated series (that underrated show is often overshadowed by its forebear from the same creative team, the alsoexcellent Batman: The Animated Series, but it’s well worth seeking out). Kara offers to help Winn find his dad and incarcerate him before the FBI tracks him down, as it’s unlikely he’ll be taken alive. Kara wants to be there for Winn the way he’s always been there for her, and he finally agrees. At work, Cat is hoping for a TV interview with “the spawn of Toyman”; she figured out, briefly, that Kara is Supergirl, but didn’t realize that one of her employees was the son of a supervillain, even though they share the same name? Let’s chalk this up to the fact that she barely notices most of her employees until she’s mad at them. Kara says that Winn will never agree to be interviewed about his father, and Cat swears that if she sees him talking to Diane Sawyer, he’s fired. Cat also asks Kara to fetch Lucy’s offer packet from HR, but not before making mention of Kara and James’ non-professional connection (her intuition here goes a long way towards making up for her missing out on Winn’s connection to the big news story of the day).
That night, Alex is wined and dined by Max Lord. Max tries to find out Alex’s connection to Supergirl, while Alex gets Max to admit that the Kryptonian interlopers from the last episode didn’t actually end up stealing anything from the lab. On that subject, Hank/J’onn infiltrates Room 52 using his Martian shapeshifting powers, finding the severed arm of the Red Tornado android and a mysteriously comatose woman. An overzealous security guard intervenes, and Hank is forced to use his psychic powers to erase the man’s memories of the incident. Unfortunately, as we’ll learn later, Hank is out of practice, and he’s erased more than just the man’s memories of the break-in–he’s erased his memories, period. The mystery of “Code Phoenix” (the coma patient) will have to wait for another episode.
Examining the stuffed toy his dad sent, Winn finds a clue that leads him to believe Schott Senior is hiding out at one of his old toy factories. Supergirl flies off to investigate, and right into a trap. Kara is almost taken out by the ol’ giant-building-block-full-of-quicksand trap, and Schott escapes again. At the DEO, Alex hears about “Code Phoenix” and its mysterious patient, but she’s unable to learn what Hank had to do to escape unseen. At Lord Technologies, Max vows to get to the bottom of whoever infiltrated his lab. And at Kara’s apartment, Winn is horrified to learn how his father almost killed Supergirl. Even more so, he’s terrified that he not only shares his father’s blood, but his potential for evil. Kara tries to reassure him that they’re both capable of rising above the mischief in their genetic makeup, using her Aunt Alura as an example, but her pep talk has the unfortunate side effect of emboldening Winn to finally act on his feelings and kiss her. Awkwardness ensues, and Winn flees Kara’s place…right into the chloroformed embrace of his old man.
Waking up, Winn learns his dad’s master plan; he plans on using his own son to assassinate his former boss at the National City toy convention. Winn is to enter with a toy gun whose true, lethal nature will be undetectable to security, and take Dunholtz out during an award acceptance speech. Obviously Winn would never do this, but he has no choice since his dad has planted ten bombs around the convention, ready to go off and kill countless innocent civilians if Winn won’t go through with it. Winn makes it all the way to the stage, but, finding he isn’t a killer like his dad, he fires harmlessly into the air. Chase and the FBI arrive, and Supergirl shows up in the nick of time to shield Winn from going down in a hail of bullets. After that, it’s a cinch for Supergirl to use her powers to stop the bombs and apprehend the Toyman.
Playtime may be over for Toyman, but the emotional effects of his rampage still linger after he’s been carted off to jail. Things are weird for Kara and Winn now after he tried to kiss her, but he has no regrets–after all, keeping things bottled up inside contributed to his father losing control, and, come what may, all his cards are now on the table. He confesses his love for Kara, but that love’s unrequited nature puts their friendship in a place of uncertainty. The only thing that can ease Kara’s pain is a night of pizza and Game Of Thrones with her sister, but the Danvers sisters have no idea that they’re being watched; Max Lord has had a spy camera planted in Alex’s apartment, hoping to learn more about her and the DEO’s connection to Supergirl, and he has struck jackpot in record time.
I mentioned at the top of this article that “Childish Things” referenced a lot of DC Comics history across various platforms, and it does–in addition to showcasing characters from comic book continuity like the Toyman, J’onn J’onzz, Max Lord, and Cameron Chase, it also drops references to not one but two DC animated series. On a lesser show, these details might have been distracting at best, and alienating to newer fans at worst, but they’re carefully layered in so as to be more like treats for veteran DC fans–bonus gags for paying attention, if you will. The ease and confidence with which these details are used showcase the strength of Supergirl the series–if you’ve got these toys in your toybox anyway, you might as well play with them, but thankfully the writers also know you’ve got to let the new kids (i.e. new or casual viewers who aren’t already steeped in comic book lore) play as well.
Supergirl airs in Canada on Global Mondays at 9 et/pt–tune in next week for more fun and games!