Non takes Hank prisoner, and James starts to investigate Maxwell Lord
Credit: Darren Michaels/CBS
S1 E9
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What separates us from them? Who’s the us, and who is the them? Are we more alike than it seems at first? These are some of the questions that Supergirl touches on in tonight’s episode, which finds Kara incredibly stressed out in the face of all of these mounting odds. All of this pressure tests Kara’s resolve to continue embodying “the best of us.”

“Blood Bonds” opens right where “Hostile Takeover” left off with Kara and Non flying toward each other. Their battle in the sky features some very unconvincing CGI and cheating close-up shots before they come crashing back to Earth. Hank runs out of the building to help Kara, but Non takes him hostage and flies off.

The DEO still doesn’t know why the Fort Rozz prisoners attacked Lord Technologies, and Maxwell, or Max as Alex calls him, isn’t any help. Remember, he doesn’t trust the government or aliens. So, Alex and the DEO will need to figure out things on their own. With Hank out of action, Alex is put in charge and becomes known as Director Danvers, which kind of feels right when you say it. Kara tries getting answers out of Astra but fails because she’s not willing to cross the torture line. Astra continues to tease her niece with the memory-ruining knowledge she has about Alura, but Kara tries to not fall for it.

Eventually, Alex receives a message from Non with an offer for a prisoner exchange: Hank for Astra. This puts Alex in a tough position, but Gen. Sam Lane storms the DEO base with an order from the president that he’s taking over command because the DEO needs someone who isn’t emotionally involved. Director Danvers willingly acquiesces to the coup.

Maxwell Lord told reporters that last night’s incident was a matter of corporate espionage, you know, like a liar. So, James decides to pay him a visit to find out why he lied. Their conversation doesn’t go too well because Maxwell takes issue with James’ close relationship with Supergirl and accuses him and the media of obscuring the real threat they pose. Although he doesn’t say what exactly he has in store, it’s clear he’s planning a major move against the Kryptonians.

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Meanwhile, Kara tries and fails to convince Cat that she’s not Supergirl. Cat interrogates Kara about her past, and Kara’s ability to answer every question correctly further confirms Cat’s suspicions. This is apparently how Cat caught Lance Armstrong in his lies.

Back at the DEO base, Gen. Lane decides to use a Kryptonite liquid to torture answers out of Astra because he clearly doesn’t under the whole “letter of the law” vs. “spirit of the law” thing and believes the Geneva Accords (and tons of other international agreements) don’t apply to aliens. Kara barges into the room to stop him but can’t do anything because she’s weakened by the Kryptonite lined walls.

Unable to do anything at the DEO, Kara returns to work where James lies to her about what he found at Lord Technologies. When Kara is called away, Winn lets James know he knows he’s lying, and James explains he did it to protect her (because that always works) and convinces Winn to help him break into Lord Technologies to find out what’s afoot. So, medium-yay for James-Winn bonding time?

NEXT: What is Maxwell Lord up to?

Fed up with Kara’s lies, Cat gives her an ultimatum: Either she proves she’s not Supergirl, or she’s fired. Cat’s reasoning is that every minute Kara is working for her as her assistant is another minute she’s not saving someone.

But, there’s no time to dwell on this because Astra gives up Non’s position, and the DEO decides to follow up on the intel, and Kara accompanies them. Let’s just skip past Gen. Lane’s “humans only mission” nonsense and the details and get right to the obvious: It’s a trap. Instead of finding Hank, they find a bomb and most of the army dies — because torture never works!

Meanwhile, Winn helps James infiltrate Lord Technologies by typing really really quickly. (ASIDE: The accurate depiction of hacking on Mr. Robot has ruined every other show for me. END ASIDE). James finds a suspicious door with a biometric scanner, but he’s knocked out by Max and his men. To teach James a lesson about opposing him, Maxwell ties him to chair and punches him a lot, which is his way of “settling this like men,” and breaks his camera.

Supergirl is exploring issues related to alterity. The ways in which Maxwell and Gen. Lane imagine this struggle with the Fort Rozz prisoners — us vs. them, i.e. the other — means that anything goes. The Fort Rozz prisoners and Supergirl’s otherness mean that they’re less than human and that usual decorum doesn’t matter, which leads to Gen. Lane and Maxwell stooping to the aliens’ supposed level to beat them. Sadly, this twisted worldview ends up extending to those who work with these others, like James.

But, I digress. Back to Kara, whose world is falling apart. Kara goes to Cat and tries to reason with her by saying that she needs Cat because she’s the one she turns to when she’s confused and overwhelmed. But, Cat is unfazed by her plea, so that leaves Kara with no other choice but to resign. She goes down to their secret lair and finds a bloodied James and loses her chill when she realizes they lied to her and that Maxwell is behind this. She starts to storm off to handle Max like Astra would, but Winn and James remind her of her humanity and that she’s not completely powerless.

With their pep talk in mind, Kara pays Astra another visit and says she’s ready to hear about what happened between her and her mother. Turns out, right before Alura sentenced her to the Phantom Zone, she assured Astra that she believed Krypton was doomed. However, she planned to save the planet through hope instead of fear and explained that she’s imprisoning Astra for her crimes, which are unforgivable no matter the intentions. Believing there’s still some good in her, Kara agrees to go through with the trade. Astra is surprised by Kara’s faith in her, which makes you think she’s definitely going to betray her.

But, Astra doesn’t! After trading Hank for Astra, Non summons the Fort Rozz prisoners and prepares to attack the DEO, but Astra orders them to stand down. It’s a touching moment and further reveals this show’s optimism. In the end, Astra ended up showing a bit more humanity than Gen. Lane and Maxwell did, which serves to undercut their weak criteria for what distinguishes the humans from the Kryptonians. Furthermore, their similar capacity for evil (and good) means humans and Kryptonians are more like alike than some initially thought.

Once they return to the DEO, Hank kicks Gen. Lane out of there and assures him that Supergirl’s idealism will save the planet, not doom it. Then, Hank comes clean to Kara about his identity, which blows Kara’s mind at first, but she quickly realizes she can use this to save her job. Posing as Supergirl, Hank pays Cat a visit and Kara walks into the office at the same time, thus convincing Cat she’s not Supergirl. It’s a slightly disappointing moment because I liked the possibilities presented by Cat being in the know. It kind of feels the show chickened out.

While the heroes rejoice at a job well done and Kara, James and Winn make plans to stop Maxwell the right way, Maxwell visits his top-secret room, where a woman named Jane Doe is strapped to the table. Right before the episode ends, she opens her eyes, and they’re black like a Supernatural demon.

Do you have any theories about Maxwell Lord’s plan or what’s up with The Woman in the Secret Room With the Dark Eyes? Let me know below or on Twitter @chancelloragard.

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