Let’s just start with tonight’s big reveal: Hank Henshaw is J’onn J’onzz, a.k.a. Martian Manhunter! Did this reveal excite you? It should! Martian Manhunter is actually a great character, despite what some (cough, David Goyer, cough) might tell you. How can you hate an Oreo-loving alien? But, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a lot to go through before we get here.
“Human for a Day” tackles one of the biggest tropes of the superhero genre: a powerless superhero. The point of stories like this is to show that being a superhero doesn’t just mean having powers, and the show’s exploration of this theme is quite effective. A powerless Kara also allows for characters like James, Cat, and Alex to shine.
It’s been two days since where we ended last episode, and a powerless Kara has spent most of that time being poked and prodded by the DEO. Hologram Alura informs Kara that her fight with Red Tornado has drained her Kryptonian cells of all the solar energy they stored and they’ll need some time to recharge, you know, like battery. So, in the meantime, Kara will receive a crash course in what it means to be human, like suffering through the common cold.
When Kara arrives at work sneezing, Cat sends her home because if Cat gets sick, the world will fall into a deadly recession — she’s that important. On her way home, Kara runs into James who is on his way to check out apartments for him and Lucy. But, thankfully, he has time for some exposition to explain Kara’s power loss: In her fight with Red Tornado, Kara unlocked a new power that her cousin calls solar flare; it usually puts Superman out of action for about 48 hours. (ASIDE: This is a recent addition to the Superman mythos, making its appearance in the New 52 right before the June relaunch, and I’m so glad the show is already incorporating some of the best parts of the current Superman run.)
An earthquake hits National City as Kara and James are talking, and in the confusion, Kara breaks her arm. The shockwave temporarily knocks out the DEO’s power, which isn’t good because they are currently holding Jemm, an alien with telepathic powers who is very keen to escape this underground cell. On Hank’s orders, Alex reluctantly locks down the base. (She isn’t looking forward to being trapped in there with the man who probably killed her father). Using neuro-inhibitors to block the alien’s powers, Hank and two other agents head out to recapture the alien, and Alex stays behind on Hank’s orders, which further annoys her and makes her suspicious of his motives.
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Meanwhile, National City is kind of struggling without Supergirl. Maxwell Lord takes advantage of the disaster to further smear Supergirl by calling her “the world’s most unreliable superhero.” Wishing to protect Supergirl’s name and brand, Cat orders Winn, who she found out works for her, to set up a live feed in her office for her to address the city.
Kara can’t stand doing nothing, so she asks James to come with her as she goes out to talk to Maxwell. She wants to convince him to stop spreading panic and to offer a message of hope, but he refuses because he thinks Supergirl actually isn’t coming back. Turns out Maxwell knows about the solar flare and knows it usually takes Superman 48 hours to recharge and assumes that Supergirl is a permanently dead battery because it’s been longer than that.
Back at the DEO, Alex and another agent named Donovan monitor Hank and his team’s progress via video feed. Hank disappears during an attack by Jemm, and the two agents die, further raising Alex’s suspicions. Alex decides to go looking for Hank, but Hank shows up at the locked door and tells them that the two agents’ neuro-inhibitors were destroyed in the struggle. They figure out Jemm is planning on using the knowledge he stole from those two agents to free the rest of the aliens being held captive and use them to escape the facility. Because Hank has the only working inhibitor left, he decide to go back out on his own.
NEXT: The show’s best scene to date