If the classic Simpsons episode Marge Vs. The Monorail has taught me anything–and it has taught me plenty–it’s that the splashy, public debut of a new high-tech transit system is always going to have the potential to go horribly wrong. This time around, it’s Maxwell Lord’s new high-speed SuperRail train, briefly glimpsed in an earlier episode. Leonard Nimoy may not be around to kick off the maiden voyage, sadly, but Supergirl is there to try and help save the day (there’s no Bart Simpson, either, although there is a plucky youngster along for the ride to offer assistance).
But I’m getting ahead of myself. How Does She Do It? opens with our hero enjoying a peaceful flyover of National City, only to find herself being followed and recorded by some sort of high-tech drone device. She gives chase, and is only able to capture the gizmo by destroying it with her heat vision. Supergirl immediately suspects Hank Henshaw, but an analysis of the device’s fragments reveal it to be composed of a technology beyond even the DEO’s capabilities. Meanwhile, at CatCo, we’re starting to learn more about Kara’s other boss, Cat Grant– specifically, that she has a still-unseen, ultra-critical mother, and a young son named Carter. Also, she apparently thinks her assistant’s name is “Kira”. Anyway, Kara offers to look after Carter while Cat accepts her Siegel Award (a nice name-check for Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel) for Women In Journalism, an altruistic gesture that she’ll come to regret.
Elsewhere, James Olsen and Lucy Lane are still trying to work things out. She’s in town on duty as a Judge Advocate General taking part in a military trial, but also to try and win James back after dumping him. James is ready to move on, but she wants to try and fix their relationship. And speaking of fixing things, Supergirl is pressed into duty once again when a bomb goes off in a nearby building, forcing her to use her heat vision once again to spot-weld the structure back into place before it collapses (all under the watchful eye of yet another drone device).
At DEO HQ, Alex studies the bomb fragments, and learns that both it and the drone contain a familiar tech signature–one that has its origins in the technology of Maxwell Lord. Seeing as how he’s not an alien (that we know of, anyway), Lord falls outside DEO jurisdiction,but using some handy ID-masking technology, Alex and Hank are able to pose as FBI agents to question the tech billionaire. Before that, though, Alex checks in on her sister’s burgeoning relationship with James, and the threat posed by Lucy’s arrival (Alex tells Kara that she’s spent “more time in the Friend Zone than the Phantom Zone”–zing!). With all this drama–superheroic and romantic–Kara forgot that she was supposed to pick up Carter from school.
One quick flight and wardrobe change later (one that raises the question–does Kara keep civilian clothes hidden in bushes all around National City?), Kara meets Carter, who it turns out is quite the Supergirl fanboy (something he and Winn are able to bond over).
Over at Lord’s lab, where Alex is keeping a close eye on the tech mogul, a suspicious delivery turns out to be yet another bomb. Lord tries to disable it and mistakenly accelerates its countdown. Alex calls in Supergirl to get rid of it, meaning she has to leave Carter with Winn. Supergirl flies the bomb out over the ocean to detonate, but is caught in the explosion and hurled unconscious into the water below. Kara wakes to find herself in a rejuvenating yellowsun tanning bed at DEO HQ, but not before catching a semiconscious glimpse of Hank Henshaw’s glowing red eyes. Kara is horrified to realize that she’s once again neglected Carter, and Alex warns her about spreading herself too thin between her responsibilities as both Kara and Supergirl. Running off to get an apology milkshake for Carter, Kara has a run-in with the heartbroken Lucy, who really wants to talk about her breakup with James. Lucy reveals that the reason she dumped him was that James’ world-saving activities with the Man Of Steel often took precedence over their relationship. Now, in National City, she finds herself worried that James and Supergirl might be an item. Of course, Lucy has no idea that Kara is the last person who wants to hear any of this, but Kara being Kara, she can’t not lend a sympathetic ear. And despite her own feelings towards him, Kara finds herself in the unenviable position of coaching James to reconcile with Lucy, or at least to decide once and for all if it really is over between them.
Alex has reason to believe that a disgruntled ex-employee of Max Lord’s named Ethan Knox is behind the bombings, and she urges Max to cancel the launch of the SuperRail, as it will no doubt prove too appealing a target for another attack. Max plans to go ahead anyway, not liking to listen to advice from his government–his parents were bio-weapons researchers who died in the employ of said government, and now he doesn’t trust any lawmakers or military types at all. Despite the danger, Lord won’t delay the launch of the rail system, so Supergirl and the DEO will have to be on their guard. Complicating matters further, Carter has snuck away from CatCo to attend the launch, in the hopes of meeting Supergirl. While all of Supergirl and the DEO’s efforts are going into finding and stopping Knox at the launch of the SuperRail, security at National City airport finds a bomb at the Lord Air terminal. Is it the real thing? Or a bluff to try and draw everyone away from the real threat on the train? Hank alerts Supergirl, and she jets off to the airport (and when the news hits CatCo, James does likewise when he realizes that a heartbroken Lucy is preparing to fly back to Metropolis). But then Winn, in pursuit of Carter, spots Ethan Knox at the rail launch, confirming that it’s a bad day to be any kind of commuter in National City. He lets Supergirl know that Knox and Carter are both there, and once again Kara finds herself quite literally pulled in multiple directions at once; she proposes that Alex and Hank get the bomb at the airport, while she apprehends Knox on the train. Supergirl deputizes Carter and Max Lord to get everyone to the back of the train, while she pursues Knox to the front. The DEO arrives at the airport alongside James, who is reunited with Lucy; nothing like the threat of a mad bomber to bring an estranged couple back together. Inside the airport, Alex is unable to disarm the bomb, so Hank orders her out of the building. Once again, his eyes glow red, and he uses some kind of super-strength to pry open the device and disable it, claiming afterwards that it had been a dud all along.
On the train, Supergirl confronts Knox, urging him to think of his sick daughter before doing something he’ll regret. Knox reveals that his daughter the reason he’s doing this, and that he himself is beyond saving–but Supergirl better act quickly if she’s going to save the passengers. He arms the device, and Supergirl separates the rest of the train from the first car before the bomb goes off. The only casualty of the day ends up being the bomber himself. Examining the device from the airport, Alex discovers the bomb was less of a dud than Hank said, and Kara remembers that, once again, she’s abandoned her boss’s only child in a city of mad bombers and Phantom Zone escapees. The kid’s fine, of course, and now even more smitten with Supergirl (“Did you notice any of her other attributes?” Cat asks, when Carter declares her to be even prettier in person). Kara arrives at work to face a wrathful Cat, who offers some much-needed, and typically self-promoting, advice on juggling multiple responsibilities, most of which amounts to taking things one challenge at a time instead of tackling them all at once.
Superhero adventure as metaphor for the struggle of a working woman in the 21st century has quickly become the backbone of this show, and viewing that struggle from both Kara and Cat’s ends of the spectrum is proving to be fertile ground for exploration–even though she can be almost cartoonishly nasty, Cat actually does have some wisdom to offer. The mystery of the bomber deepens when Kara learns that Lord is paying for Knox’s daughter’s medical treatments. Supergirl confronts Lord, who, while admitting nothing, concedes the drones and bombs would have been ideal for someone who wanted to test her abilities (and, in the case of the double-jeopardy scenario with the airport and the train, her priorities).
Max Lord’s true motives remain shrouded in mystery, but if we are to take anything away from this episode, it’s that Supergirl may be a capable, compassionate hero, but Kara Danvers sure is one lousy babysitter.
Supergirl airs in Canada at 8 et/pt on Global. Tune in next week for more action!