Wow! This week's midseason return of the CW's Supergirl is back with a bang, and some pretty tough times are coming ahead for The Girl of Steel. As a reminder, we last left her [pre-"Elseworlds"] with the President of the United States demanding that Supergirl tell him her secret identity. With her refusal, she also quit the DEO.
Before we go any further, there are some pretty big spoilers here. In this episode, we have three main storylines, with the main one revolving around Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), the DEO, and her secret identity – but especially Kara's relationship with her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) and the tension between being sisters and her duty to the DEO amid increasing interference by Colonel Haley (April Parker Jones). In the secondary storylines, we have Lena (Katie McGrath) trying to patch up her relationship with James (Mechad Brooks); Nia (Nicole Maines) and Brainy (Jesse Rath)… going on a date???
But we begin with a rather interesting appetizer to open the show…
Kasnia, Not Russia
The first two minutes of the episode reveal the clone of Supergirl we first saw at the end of last season – but now she's flying around above a military base fighting drones, tanks, and other various artillery as a team of soldiers observe her. "Train her harder" are words that will definitely come to haunt Kara.
It's worth noting here that while the writing in the bunker and the conversation is 100% Russian, the credits reveal that the conversation is taking place between "Kasnian General" and "Kasnian Soldier." Setting the scene in Kasnia, longtime DC stand-in for an Eastern Bloc country, makes things interesting. With Russia no doubt occupying a large part of the news for the next several months, this is a smart move. It is also very on-brand for DC television, especially how much Kasnia is currently playing a role in this new season of DC Universe's Young Justice: Outsiders.
Lena Mends Some Fences
We cut to Lena and Kara in a spin class, with Lena venting how they haven't done anything like this in a long time. They talk about how things have been strained with James ever since Thanksgiving–but when Kara hears an SOS, she fakes a cramp in order to fly off into the main story. Meanwhile, Lena finds James at work and tries to mend things. For his part, James feels he may have overreacted to Lena stepping in to get the charges dropped against him, and they make up by James cooking dinner at his place. We learn three important things on this date: James can cook a mean souffle, he was in a progressive, co-ed frat-ority ("Kappa Pi Tau") in college (where he won the charity bake-off)… and Lena confesses to James about experimenting on humans to give them superpowers.
While James says he is ok with this, we can tell he is troubled.
Nia and Brainy Sitting in a Restaurant
A lot of the comic relief in this episode comes from Brainy, who attempts to set up a rendezvous with Nia and is quite terrible at it. As much as we want to ship the two of them, it seems Brainy just wanted to drop off a binder of ideas for a super suit for Nia so she can join Team Supergirl.
Nia isn't sure she's ready for that–and also a little heartbroken, as she thought this was a real date. He asks her to please think about whether she'd like to be a hero or not, and she promises she will. We later see her studying the binder, but she tosses it aside to take a call from her family.
When Kara flew away from spin class, she found herself on a small shipping freighter, discovering a team of dead Navy SEALs and a literal ticking time bomb. Tossing the bomb to explode harmlessly over the side of the boat, Supergirl sees a "shimmer" of light that pulls the SEAL team leader overboard. When the DEO comes to investigate, Col. Haley scolds Supergirl for contaminating the crime scene. Kara tells her of and says that while she may have stopped working for the DEO, she will never stop being a hero.
Back at the DEO, Haley seems far more intent on exposing Supergirl's identity than tracking down what happened to the SEAL team. Thanks to some sleuthing work from Alex, Brainy, and J'onn, they figure out the "shimmer" Kara saw was the natural cloaking ability of aliens called Morae who are completely invisible to humans. The DEO turned three Morae children into assassins, and the team in charge of them just happened to be the leader of the SEAL team on the ship, another man named General Tam…and Col. Haley.
When J'onn, Alex, and Supergirl go to confront General Tam, the Morae attack and he is killed. Kara tries to communicate and reason with them, but their rage is too great. Their next target will be the DEO and Col. Haley. Unfortunately, Haley has been interrogating staff about Supergirl back at the DEO and gotten one of them to crack. She confronts Alex and tells her the game is up.
At that very moment, the Morae attack the DEO. Brainy has devised countermeasures for their cloaking involving mist, lasers, and paintball guns to tag them. Yes, so let's just take a moment to reflect that the most intelligent being on Kara's earth's answer is to basically run a laser light show and shoot paintballs. I mean, sounds like a fun Saturday night–not sure if that's really effective against trained alien assassins out for vengeance.
Luckily, it mostly is–but not before a final showdown between Col. Haley and the last of the Morae in the bowels of the DEO. The smoke and lasers give it a real Alien vibe, which is always fun. When they finally fight, Alex tries to intervene as well, but they are outmatched by Morae. Supergirl intervenes at the last minute and the day is saved…or is it?
Colonel Haley immediately begins reading them the riot act, telling Kara and Alex that their lives as they know it are over. Supergirl will immediately be conscripted into the DEO and will follow every order she is given. Unfortunately for Haley, Alex doesn't like the sound of that too much and knocks Haley out, placing her in a holding cell. She then has J'onn come and erase her memories of discovering Kara's identity.
However, their reprieve is only temporary. Colonel Haley is just as intent as ever to find Supergirl's identity, going so far as to bring in a vertullarian–a "truth seeker" alien–to aid in her interrogation. She believes she will find out Supergirl's identity by the end of the day with its help.
Alex and J'onn then hatch a desperate plan. He will erase the knowledge from the minds of everyone at the DEO who can connect Supergirl to Kara. Unfortunately, this also includes erasing Alex's mind.
This is potentially the most important event that has ever happened in the show, and that's not an exaggeration. Imagine losing part of your identity, part of your family, and having it lost forever. There have even been philosophers who have posited that our identity is little more than our collection of memories.
This painful reality leads Kara to question, "Who am I without you?" She became Supergirl to save her sister. She joined the DEO largely, if not entirely, because of her. This is monumental, and will likely lead to even more tension down the road.
What happens when a memory-less Alex Danvers has to hunt down Supergirl and her identity and has no reason to want to protect it? How does Kara deal with not being able to talk to her older sister? This seems incredibly hard, even for The Girl of Steel, and it's these sorts of stories that cut to the heart of these otherwise invulnerable near-gods that make them so interesting.
We'll see what happens to Kara Danvers next week in next week's new episode of Supergirl, "Blood Memory":
Supergirl airs on The CW on Sunday nights.