In a time when many monthly superhero comics can’t even manage to fit a single action scene into a 24-page story, Supergirl is currently averaging two of them before the show’s title reveal! In the newest episode, the first such scene occurs at DEO Central, when a hulking alien prisoner busts loose and has to be taken down by our hero (after the creature is detained, Hank Henshaw reveals that it’s a female, prompting an impressed “Respect!” from Supergirl). The second action scene gives birth to Supergirl’s latest super-powered nemesis. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Kara’s adopted mother, Eliza Danvers (played by the original big-screen Supergirl, Helen Slater!) is coming to National City to spend Thanksgiving with Kara and Alex. Alex is on pins and needles, thinking that her mother is going to be ticked off at her for allowing her adopted sister to “come out” as a superhero before the world. Kara is also fending off criticism of her own, in the form of an acidic radio host named Leslie Willis (Brit Morgan) who has decided to target Supergirl–casting aspersions on her wardrobe, her intentions, even her sexuality. Kara, James, and Winn are all annoyed, but able to shrug it off; Willis’s employer, however, happens to be Cat Grant, and Cat doesn’t want her media empire’s meal ticket being trash-talked on a radio station she owns. Cat believes that Leslie’s negativity and cynicism is passe, and that the optimism Supergirl represents is more in tune with the current zeitgeist (a handy bit of meta-commentary on the Supergirl series’ place on the spectrum of live-action superhero representation? Take that, Man Of Steel!). Leslie is banished to the traffic chopper…just in time for a lightning storm, which nearly kills her. It’s Supergirl to the rescue, but a well-aimed bolt of lightning passes through the Maid Of Might and puts Leslie into a coma.
But enough of that, it’s turkey time! Eliza arrives and the tension is immediate and agonizing for Alex–after all, not only did she “allow” her sister to take flight publicly, but she hasn’t even come out to her own parents as a DEO agent yet. An incredibly awkward Thanksgiving dinner ensues, one that sees Kara’s heat vision pressed into service to heat up the turkey before Alex and Eliza rip into each other following Alex’s revelation that she is not, in fact, a bioengineer, but a secret agent. Kara is relieved to get a call from James, but she would probably be a lot more relieved if he wasn’t taking a break from his romantic getaway with Lucy to do so. Alex storms out on Eliza, and Kara is called into work by Cat, who finds her communications network down… a mishap caused by the vengeful Leslie, now electricity-powered and calling herself Livewire (this should come as no surprise to fans of the underrated Superman animated series of the 1990s, where the character made her debut–her origin story is more or less intact here). A Thanksgiving throwdown is on the menu, and Supergirl is barely able to save Cat’s life.
Livewire is thwarted for now, but Kara is stuck in the unenviable position of having to be in the same room as both of her bosses at once when the DEO shows up to investigate the aftermath (“Agent…Mulder, is it?” Cat asks Hank). On the sly, Hank informs Kara that since the lightning bolt traveled through her before hitting Leslie, she is the X-element that transformed Willis into a quite literal shock-jock. Kara isn’t pleased to find herself responsible for the creation of National City’s newest supervillain, but Hank thinks that some confiscated alien tech back at DEO HQ might be used to trap Livewire. After the DEO departs, Kara and Cat get as close as they have yet to actually bonding–Cat shares stories of her own overbearing mother, who shaped her into the woman she is today, while Kara actually garners Cat’s sympathy when she claims that her real parents died in a fire (well, Krypton did explode, so it’s technically true…). Soon after, Kara’s superheroic alter ego also finds herself working with Cat, when the media mogul proposes they team up to catch Livewire together.
Hank, Alex, and the DEO equip Supergirl with a sort of energy trap for use in imprisoning Livewire (“Cool, it’s like Ghostbusters!” Supergirl blurts out, before the viewers at home have a chance to say it first–nerd alert!), while Cat takes to the airwaves to challenge the villainess to a showdown in the streets. A tense standoff follows, with Cat taking responsibility for what happened to Leslie, while promising that they can still reconcile (“You and I got through you not supporting Hillary in 2008, we can get through this”). Supergirl arrives to save Cat from getting cooked, but Livewire is wise to her trap–presumably she’s also seen Ghostbusters, like everyone else on the planet.
But Supergirl’s X-ray vision reveals an underground water main, and we all know how well water and electricity go together.
The next day sees Cat turning over a new leaf in her reportage, choosing to focus CatCo’s headlines on positive stories of hope and charity for Thanksgiving instead of the usual celebrity gossip. One imagines this won’t last long, but it’s encouraging to see that even Cat can be given surprising dimension from time to time rather than just being a cartoonishly evil boss. To make up for having invited him to what was quite possibly the most awkward Thanksgiving ever, Kara brings several tupperware containers full of leftovers to Winn, prompting him to reveal that his own father is in jail–surely a setup for a future Toyman appearance?–before confessing that he’s thankful for a friend like Kara. And, back at the Danvers home, Eliza is finally preparing to depart, but not before revealing that the girls’ father, Jeremiah (played by Dean Cain–every parent on this show is a Super-somebody!), did not, in fact, die in a plane crash years ago, but was killed in service to… Hank Henshaw of the DEO, hence Eliza’s anger over Alex’s career path. The episode ends with the Danvers sisters making a grim promise to find out what happened to their father. Side note–with references to Ghostbusters, The X-Files, and Winn’s planned Thanksgiving Orphan Black binge-watch, this may have been the nerdiest episode of Supergirl yet–possibly since it was co-written by comics scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Spider-Man, Afterlife With Archie). Superhero action main course, with a side plate of gender empowerment and geeky shout-outs for dessert? That’s something we can all be thankful for.
In Canada, Supergirl airs Monday at 8 et/pt on Global. Tune in next week for more Kryptonian craziness!