Kara faces off against the Master Jailer, and James receives an ethics lesson from Cat Grant
Supergirl isn’t a perfect show. It’s far from it. But it’s a show that’s hard not to love, especially when it does episodes like this where it reveals just how much it understands about what makes the characters Supergirl/Superman so special and unique. Yes, at times it can be a little cheesy and blunt with the point it’s trying to make about heroism, but those qualities ultimately make the show more endearing.
“Truth, Justice and the American Way” spends most of its running time asking what Supergirl is supposed to stand for, which leads to one of my favorite scenes on the show to date. While the villain of the week isn’t that compelling, the questions and issues his presence raises make up for that. So, let’s dive into tonight’s episode.
While Kara and Alex are enjoying some much needed sister-sister time, Non shows up and demands Kara come with him to say goodbye to Astra. The two enemies fly off into the sky where Astra’s floating casket is waiting, and as is Kryptonian custom, Kara leads the prayer over Astra’s body. There’s something very human and intimate about this entire scene. Once the ceremony has ended, Non tells Kara that he will observe the mandatory two-week mourning period, but then he’ll back to kill her.
By the way, things aren’t great between Kara and Hank since he took the blame for killing Astra. Kara is rather salty and snaps at him every chance she gets. Alex tries to tell her the truth multiple times, but Hank stops her because he thinks he knows best. However, by the end of the episode, Kara decides she can’t work alongside him after what he did because there’s always another option instead of killing.
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To be honest, thing aren’t great in either of Kara’s workplaces. When she arrives at CatCo the next morning, she finds out that Cat Grant has hired a new assistant, Siobhan Smythe and that she has been demoted to Assistant No. 2. And when Cat calls a meeting with Lucy and James to figure out what’s happened to Maxwell Lord, Siobhan is allowed inside to observe and takes notes while Kara is forced to sit outside and man the phones.
James’ new assignment to do some investigative reporting into the whereabouts of Maxwell Lord creates some internal conflict for him because he knows exactly where he is — you know, being held by the DEO — and hates that he can’t do anything to really stop this gross violation of Max’s civil rights. He tries talking to Kara about it, but it doesn’t work. To make matters worse, Lucy, who uncovered the DEO’s involvement in Max’s disappearance on her own, also finds out that James has been lying to her when he lets slip that he knows about the DEO, too, and has been working “closely” with Supergirl, which hurts her feelings. So, he feels even guiltier
Needing some advice and an ethics lesson, James turns to Cat Grant of all people. Sharing a story from her early days as a reporter where failing to report the truth led to someone’s death, Cat reminds James that, as a journalist, he’s devoted to uncovering the truth because it’s right thing thing to do. I’m glad the show is still finding someone else for Cat to mentor while she and Kara are on the outs because she’s such a good mentor.
(By the way, Siobhan overhears bits and pieces of all of these conversations between James and everyone else because she’s this weird little fly who is everywhere and likes to eavesdrop and has no chill whatsoever.)
NEXT: Supergirl vs. the Master Jailer
With his chat with Cat on his mind, James shows up at the DEO to talk to Kara again and tell her why her support of the DEO’s Guantanamo operation is worrisome:
When you have more power than any human army on Earth, you have to be better than this… It’s never going to come down to just a battle of strength or smarts or even wills with you. Ultimately, it’s going to be a battle of values: your values versus your enemies’. And, if you’re willing to abandon those values, what makes you better than Maxwell Lord? Is this the kind of hero you want to be?
What I love about this chat is it’s one of those times when the show digs deep into what it means to be Superman or part of the Super-family. Superman and Supergirl are superheroes first and foremost because of what they stand for, which includes truth, justice and the American way (protection of civil rights etc….) By constantly embodying and defending those three things, they (hopefully) inspire the people they save and others in the world to be better, or to at least strive to be. Telling Maxwell Lord that “without him, the world is a better place” is so un-Supergirl because the more Super-thing to believe is that the world would be a better place if Maxwell Lord was inspired by her (or something) to use his intelligence for the good.
Furthermore, having such a set moral compass is also a way for Supergirl to keep herself in check. It places limits on what she’s willing to do to save the world and ensures that she’s using her powers responsibly. This would no doubt give people like Maxwell Lord, who are scared of what she will do with her powers, some peace of mind.
Kara has all of this on her mind as she heads into her fight with this week’s baddie, the Master Jailer. For some time now, the Master Jailer, the sole surviving Fort Rozz prison guard, has been hunting Fort Rozz escapees and executing them French Revolution-style. He crosses DEO’s radar this week when the DEO goes searching for a prisoner but fails to apprehend him because the Master Jailer intervenes. Later, Kara faces him as he goes after another escapee but is unable to stop him from kidnapping another Fort Rozz prisoner when she encounters him the first time.
However, they manage to trace one of the weapons the Master Jailer used back to a Natoinal City PD detective, and it’s revealed that the Jailer has been masquerading as a detective while dishing out his perverted form of justice. When Alex and Kara confront him, he manages to subdue Alex long enough to kidnap Kara and trap her in a prison he’s building underneath a cabin in the woods, you know, like a weirdo.
In the time Kara spends in the cell, weakened by red sun radiation, she learns that Master Jailer is an Alura Zor-El stan and believes he’s carrying on her great, just work. Right now, he’s planning on executing a prisoner who, after arriving on Earth, has devoted himself to cleaning up his act and doing good to make up for his crime. But that’s of little importance to the Master Jailer because, as he told the first prisoner he killed tonight, “by breaking the law, you have forfeited your right to exist.” (Hearing the Master Jailer say this further drives home how scary what Supergirl said to Max earlier in the episode was.)
Thankfully, Alex and the DEO manage to find Kara in time and stop the Master Jailer from executing his latest prisoner. Once the day is saved, Kara flies her new prisoner friend back to a school where he’s been teaching about the stars as part of his self-imposed rehabilitation.
Her experience with the Master Jailer inspires her to free Maxwell Lord, much to his surprise, and she hopes Maxwell will listen to his better angels and not out her identity to the world. But just in case he lets Kara down and reveals her identity to the world, Alex lets him know she’ll hand over a huge file on all of his misdeeds to the authorities.
As the episode ends, James asks Kara if he can tell Lucy about her secret identity because she caught him lying earlier and he knows that their relationship won’t work if he can’t be completely honest with her. However, Kara doesn’t give him an answer. From there, Kara returns to the DEO to question hologram Alura about Project Myriad, but the hologram threatens to self destruct if she continues asking questions, so whatever that is is very serious.
Wall of Weird: