By Sara Netzley
November 05, 2018 at 12:15 AM EST
Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW
S4 E4

There’s self-blame aplenty tonight as our Super-friends struggle to settle into their new roles for the season. J’onn, especially, blames himself for Fiona’s disappearance and for sticking to his pacifism when Kara asked for his help.

How convenient, then, that he arrives home to find Fiona’s fiancé waiting for him. Manchester Black (David Ajala, equal parts charm and menace) wants to know where she’s gone, and J’onn points him in the direction of the corrupt cop he investigated two weeks ago.

While Manchester cozies up to the cop by complaining about “roaches,” J’onn tries to pray the way his father taught him, only to be blocked by his anger and an image of Fiona.

He tracks Manchester down telepathically and learns that the cop gave up the location of the next Mercy/Otis/Agent Liberty attack: a police precinct overrun by a mind-controlled replicating alien.

Alex, too, is blaming herself for the defections from the DEO and the string of high-profile setbacks they’ve suffered at the hands of the Graveses. And then there’s the fact that the only thing keeping her sister alive is a Daft Punk suit. On the upside, this means we get both Iron Man-esque shots of Kara speaking inside her protective helmet and Hardcore Henry-esque shots of her POV as she interacts with the outside world, both of which are delightful.

When J’onn calls the DEO about the station invasion, Alex orders Kara to stay put, as every bit of the suit’s energy needs to go toward filtering out the Kryptonite. But Kara, who can’t abide sitting by while people are in danger even if the tiniest bit of suit damage could kill her — disobeys Alex’s direct orders and crashes in to assist. Naturally, her suit is almost immediately compromised, and she becomes a super-liability.

J’onn and Manchester capture one of the replicant aliens, who tells Manchester, “Ahimsa.” Manchester explains that he used to run with a violent gang until Fiona taught him about ahimsa, or non-violence, and he vows to save her. Good news, then, that J’onn notices Manchester’s ring and realizes he can use it to make a telepathic link with her.

When the media report about a possibly injured Supergirl, the new president calls Alex to rail at her and insist that Supergirl now only leaves the DEO on his orders. Yiiiikes, it didn’t take him long to escalate into a shouty, angry man. Alex, in turn, berates Kara and, as the director of the DEO, gives her one last chance to straighten up.

Brainy’s also having a bad day, venting to Lena over his frustration with not being able to help Supergirl. When she points out that he’s crying, he says, “What? I’m not a robot. I’m techno-organic. I have feelings. These are tears of logic.” Awww! I love a techno-organic who’s in touch with his feelings!

Lena, though? She’s just feeling rage at her technologies once again being stolen and misused, so she teaches him how to stuff his feelings into imaginary boxes and shove them deep, deep down so they can do the science necessary to purify the air. Although the box technique doesn’t sound healthy in the long term, it works for now, and they’re soon making plans for Kryptonite-eating nanite.

Good thing Lena’s boxes are in place because James is itching to get out there as Guardian, especially with Supergirl incapacitated. Nia, who’s getting a lot of boss time for an incredibly junior reporter, reminds him of the possible legal ramifications should he do so. And I’ve gotta agree with Nia here; use your media empire to be a hero, James. As we covered two weeks ago, you’ve got power and influence enjoyed by an elite few. No need for masks when you buy ink by the barrel, my dude.

The week’s mystery is unraveled when J’onn holds off his anger long enough to allow Manchester to get through to Fiona, who says the Graves siblings and Agent Liberty are using her telepathy to control the aliens via parasites and that she’s being held somewhere crowded that smells like a pick ‘n’ mix.

J’onn arrives at the DEO to brainstorm with Alex, and they both confess that they’re struggling mightily under the weight of their self-flagellation. They decide that forgiveness is the way to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. So J’onn needs to learn to fight without raising a sword, while Alex needs to own her HBIC-ness. (Next page: Kara destroys pies)

Using the clues Fiona provided, Brainy directs the DEO to the National City Fair, which makes sense as earlier in the episode, Ben suggested that the way to turn people against aliens was to make them fear for their children. And where do you find children? Where there are rides, snow-cones, and Beebo dolls, of course!

When Alex asks Brainy what their odds are of winning without Supergirl, he’s all, “Not great, Bob,” so she orders him to chop chop on clearing the atmosphere already. Then Alex heads to where Kara’s brooding in her bubble girl suit and confesses that she was scared about letting everybody down, including the president and the country. (I dunno; I think that president could stand to be let down a bit.) They agree that the Danvers sisters are best when they trust each other’s instincts, so it’s into the fray for both of them.

At the fair, one of the mind-controlled aliens goes all Blade 2 vampire on the fairgoers, which spurs James to suit up and join Alex, Supergirl, and the DEO in the fight, while Brainy and Lena monitor the air quality.

While J’onn and Manchester track Fiona, Supergirl uses precious suit resources to toss a bad guy into a display of pies — tonight’s true collateral damage. She gets a power boost from Alex’s electro-gun, but it sends her suit into full, motionless lockdown, allowing Otis to hold a gun to her head.

Mercy tries to talk Alex into joining them and fighting for freedom. Thankfully, they speechify long enough that the Kryptonite levels drop to zero and Supergirl’s able to disengage the suit and turn the table son Otis.

At the same time, Jensen realizes the danger posed by J’onn and Manchester and disengages the mind-control parasite. This frees the aliens, one of whom shoots his darts into Mercy and Otis, killing them both.

Alas, it’s too late for the weakened Fiona. All J’onn can do is take away her pain, and with her dying breath, she begs Manchester not to turn to anger. My immediate suspicion that he is, in fact, going to turn to anger is confirmed when he purchases a small weapons arsenal by the end of the episode.

At the DEO, Alex is greeted with cheers, and she gives a speech thanking everyone’s teamwork. Then she’s rewarded with a president-mandated babysitter, Col. Lauren Haley, who’ll be overseeing her to curb any future disobedience. Naturally, this requires a meeting on Kara’s couch for sisterly bonding, pie, and apologies. Also, Kara has an itchy spot on her back from her full-body cast.

James, meanwhile, is exultant that not only did his actions as Guardian not result in more legal problems, but they were actually celebrated by the police. Alas, they were also celebrated by anti-alien groups online, who see his fight against the mind-controlled aliens as proof that he’s their “Guardian of Liberty,” out to crush the roaches. Sooooo, it’s definitely not the kind of PR he was wanting.

In other bad news, the Super-gänger’s handlers stashed her in a thick metal containment pod, and once the air is clear, she’s released and immediately asks in Russian if she can continue training. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to see how this story will continue to play out.

Finally, with the Graveses dead, Ben has to turn lemons into lemonade all by his lonesome. He does this by sticking the mind-control parasite into Jensen’s ear. I’m less excited to see how this storyline plays out, mostly because ear invasion stuff is terrible.

Snaps of the cape

  • Making the visor on Kara’s protective suit solid black was an incredibly ominous design choice. Sure, it allowed Melissa Benoist’s stunt double to finish up her Broadway run while this episode was filmed out of sequence, but the result was deeply unsettling. That said, an entire episode featuring Kara-in-the-suit POV would’ve been a lot of fun.
  • Bless Brainy for the Streaky reference, and bless Manchester for comparing Supergirl’s containment suit with Daft Punk.
  • How is Ben not sweatier when he takes off the mask? He should definitely look worse, with crease marks and a visibly shiny forehead, no? Maybe a rash from the metal rubbing against his skin? I guess some people are just genetically gifted, no matter the circumstances.
  • All in all, this episode felt a little rushed as Alex and J’onn struggled and found resolution in 44 short minutes, particularly on a show that often plots its characters’ emotional arcs over weeks or even months. Perhaps it’s because this episode was filmed earlier than the ones that came before, and the actors and writers were settling into the new status quo. Let’s hope it got the back-to-school kinks worked out, and this season will continue to soar.

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