Ahead of the big Supergirl–Flash crossover, Supergirl slows things down and delivers a pretty even flashback episode that fills in a couple blanks and adds one more thing to the show’s to-do list as it starts wrapping up its first season.
Last week’s incredibly fun episode left a few things dangling: How will National City treat Supergirl after treating step to the bad side? What will happen to J’onn J’onzz after he revealed himself? And what’s next for Siobhan Smythe. Thankfully, “Manhunter” doesn’t spread itself too thin trying to address all of these questions in 42 minutes. It opts to focus on J’onn J’onzz and to let the others weave their way into the episode when there’s time.
In the wake of her Red Kryptonite-fueled rampage, National City has become afraid of Kara. “Manhunter” opens with Kara eating her feelings on the couch while she watches a news report about how people were scared of her when she tried to save them recently. Kara needed some me-time, so she took the day off, slightly inconveniencing Cat Grant, who orders Winn and James to man the phones in her absence.
However, Kara’s personal day is interrupted when Lucy Lane and Col. Jim Harper show up as part of a military task force to investigate the DEO. Jim is particularly upset by J’onn’s charade because the Hank Henshaw was his best friend and he hates the thought of J’onn having been in his home and around his daughter (he’s a bigot). So, Lucy and Jim decide to start by questioning J’onn. They take him to an interrogation room, and Jim is more than happy to show off the little toy that was built to jam J’onn’s powers. Unfortunately, Jim has also blocked Kara from being able to listen in with her super-hearing.
Lucy and Jim’s first question for J’onn is what happened to Hank Henshaw. So, we flash back to 10 years ago and we meet the real Hank Henshaw. David Harewood does a good job of distinguishing the real Hank from J’onn as Hank. The real Hank is more bloodthirsty, kind of ruthless, and very eager to take his DEO team down to the Peruvian Andes to capture Martian Manhunter, despite Jeremiah’s pleading with him to reconsider because they could learn a lot from an alien who has been alive for 300 years.
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The DEO team heads down to South America. Eventually, Jeremiah gets separated from the team and is almost killed by a snake, but Martian Manhunter saves him. During their time together, Jeremiah and J’onn start to trust each other and bond over their love of their families, though J’onn reveals he lost his on Mars. Unfortunately, Hank finds them and attacks J’onn. Jeremiah tries to stop him, but in the struggle, Hank stabs Jeremiah right before Jeremiah pushes him over a cliff. With his dying breath, he asks J’onn to look over his girls.
Back in the present, Lucy and Jim don’t believe a word of J’onn’s story and decide to take him away to a secret location. When Alex objects, Jim and Lucy decide to interrogate her next. During her interrogation, we flash back to three years ago and learn that Alex was a party girl, wasting her science-inclined brain before Hank recruited her. You remember that “what if” episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Lexi is bad girl and drug addict? It’s kind of like that. Anyway, she meets Hank/J’onn when he bails her out of jail after she was arrested for trying to drive drunk. In his recruitment pitch, he tells her that she’s just as special as her superpowered sister and that’s enough to convince her to join the DEO.
“[He] gave me a home, a purpose,” she defiantly tells Lucy and Jim as she lies and says she didn’t know he was an alien. However, they don’t care and decide to take her where they took J’onn: Project Cadmus.
NEXT: Siobhan gets her revenge
What makes the first half of this episode work so well is that it’s very limited in scope. It’s squarely focused on what’s happening at the DEO. The episode doesn’t feel distracted by any other story lines. Supergirl tends to have trouble serving multiple story lines, but that’s not the case here. (Watching this show improve on a weekly basis is pretty great.)
Anyway, Kara runs to James to tell her what Lucy did, and it turns out he knows about Project Cadmus. It’s the reason Superman refuses to work with the government. As he explains it, if the DEO is the alien prison, then Project Cadmus is where aliens are autopsied, except the government then turns around and uses whatever they discover to build weapons. Yeah, it’s twisted.
Seeing no other option, Kara decide the best course of action is to reveal her identity to Lucy Lane in the hopes that it’ll move her to help Kara save Hank and Alex. Lucy is upset at having been lied to for so long. “You and Hank, why do you lie?” Lucy says. But Kara explains that lying seems like the only option when you’re an alien who arrives on Earth right after losing your family.
We then flash back to Kara’s first day of school. It’s a very overwhelming experience for her, and all of her senses are overloaded. Her classmates think she’s weird. However, the one moment of relief is when she saves a mother and child from a car crash before the car explodes. This speaks a lot to the type of person she is and how hiding herself goes against her nature. Some of her classmates witness this amazing feat, but Jeremiah lies and says she was just lucky. Later, Jeremiah warns Kara about using her powers and suggests she focus on just getting used to living. “The world already has a Superman. All you need to be is Kara Danvers,” he says. It’s hard to critique his good intentions. He also gives Kara special glasses with lead-lined lens that’ll suppress her vision.
Next, we jump forward in time to Kara’s job interview with Cat Grant. The interview starts with Cat complaining about how all millennials think their special, but Kara surprises her by saying the complete opposite. “There is nothing out of the ordinary about me,” she says, “except that I am extremely committed. I care. I am a hard worker.” This little speech combined with Kara using her powers to figure out what Cat Grant needs gets her the job. However, it’s a bittersweet moment because the TV is showing reports of a huge forest fire, but Kara is unable to help.
This is enough to convince Lucy to help Kara rescue Hank and Alex. After being saved, J’onn uses his powers to wipe Jim’s memories of that night. However, while inside his head, he sees Jeremiah is alive and at Project Cadmus. This is news to everybody and also gives fugitives Hank and Alex a new purpose: rescuing Jeremiah. Alex and Kara’s goodbye is touching and reminds me how much I love their relationship.
The next day, Kara and Lucy return to the DEO and find out that Jim has resigned as director and appointed Lucy as his successor. “You’re going to help me do this, right?” Lucy nervously asks Kara, who says yes. I love that this episode ignores the romantic stuff between Lucy, Kara, and James and allows for Kara and Lucy to develop a relationship independent of that. A report comes in that someone needs saving, and Lucy tells Kara to go out and do what she does best because she believes Kara can win back National City’s trust.
The Siobhan of It All
Tonight’s episode humanizes Siobhan, albeit slightly. We first see her despondently drowning her feelings in mimosas, which might be the most human-like thing she’s done on this series. But, then what little goodwill I had for her quickly disappeared when she decides to send an nasty email to Cat Grant from Kara’s work computer. Thankfully, Cat doesn’t fall for this trick because Winn helps prove that Kara didn’t write it.
So, Siobhan heads to a roof to keep drinking her feelings. Winn comes up and tries to comfort her, but she doesn’t care. At the moment she’s at her most spiteful, she accidentally falls off the roof, but her hypersonic scream manifests itself, and she uses it to slow her fall and save herself. Yep, Siobhan is going full Silver Banshee — and just in time to team up with Livewire and take on Supergirl and the Flash next week.
What did you think of the episode? Are you as excited about next week’s crossover as I am? Hit the comments, or find me on Twitter @chancelloragard.