Kara has a bumpy return home, and James and J’onn tackle the gun debate

By Sara Netzley
June 04, 2018 at 10:48 PM EDT
Dean Buscher/The CW


S3 E21
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All the earnest dialogue in the world can’t smooth over Supergirl’s clunky attempts at a social debate this week in “Not Kansas,” an episode that nevertheless moves us a few steps forward on a number of this season’s story lines.

We open mid-fight, as Lena coolly sciences the crap out of the black rock while Supergirl and Mon-El keep Reign busy. They succeed in injecting the liquified rock into Reign’s neck, and Reign’s body peels itself away from Sam’s body. For a second, I hoped they were going the Void Stiles route, but no, the Reign body explodes into ash, leaving behind a naked, scared Sam.

Herself again, Sam is thrilled to see Ruby and her blue hair, and she thanks Alex for taking such good care of her munchkin. It’s clearly bittersweet for Alex, who’s googling adoption agencies by the end of the hour.

Before that, though, the Danvers sisters retreat to Kara’s apartment, where Kara explains that she wants to return to Argo City indefinitely. “It just felt like… home,” she explains, assuring Alex that she’ll always carry her sister in her heart. Although Kara feels guilty and selfish for leaving Earth, Alex insists it’s time for Kara to take care of herself after a lifetime of taking care of others.

Kara’s next goodbye is to Mon-El, who asks her to use Argo City’s gravity-manipulation tech to send a beacon to the future asking them to pick him up. Instead, she invites him to come along on the journey, and he accepts.

Then we’re treated to a montage of Kara laughing and toasting and saying goodbye to her friends, both at the DEO and at CatCo, where a banner wishes her good luck “on assignment,” which is not at all how journalism works, in case anyone was wondering.

She tells the DEO that it’s been an honor both protecting and being protected by Earth, and that she knows they’ll hold down the fort until she’s back. “This is not goodbye; it’s see you on the flip side.”

At first, things are quiet on Earth, and it’s a testament to how moved I was by James’ last big episode that I’m not mocking his solo basketball playing here. But when a fleeing suspect opens fire with a DEO-style gun, he and J’onn are alarmed.

They interview the president of the company that manufactures their weapons, and the man informs them that it was probably the civilian version of the DEO weapon, but modified by a bump stock. He declares, “Our guns bring families together.” The threat of the DEO pulling its business has him complying with their investigation, but they still struggle with not having a national registry. Also, why did the company president not ask why the DEO and CatCo are conducting a joint investigation? It seems worth noting.

Also worth noting is the head-scratching conversation that James, a vigilante, and Lena, a gun owner, have, which concludes with them agreeing to disagree, being open to listening, and then sitting down to eat pizza because sure, why not. It’s all a bit too shallow and after-school-special to be truly effective.

Thanks to the information the DEO is able to cobble together, James identifies the shooter as a man who passed his gun-show background check and has no history of mental instability. But he’s got an ax to grind with his former employer, and that’s where the DEO finds him, packing and prepared to inflict his pain on others.

James is concerned about the danger of the DEO going after the man with the same kinds of weapons he’s planning to use, but in the end, J’onn is able to talk him down using his steady, patient kindness. A bad guy with a gun was stopped by a good Martian with a message about second chances.

This leads J’onn to announce a new policy: The DEO will phase out its guns in favor of the non-lethal weapons being developed by Winn. A chunk of agents walk out in protest, but J’onn insists this will be a lasting and important change because, he says, “We are agents of peace.”

Look, I’m always impressed when a show decides to tackle a current social issue head on, but… well, it’s hard to do it well, isn’t it? An episode like this isn’t likely to change anyone’s minds or bring an already prominent issue any more to the forefront, and they tend to veer toward polite vagueness on both sides. Still, if the message that we take away from it is to listen when people offer different solutions, it’s not all bad. (Next page: Start listening to Kara, people!)

Meanwhile, Kara’s struggling in Argo City. She may have adopted the flowing dresses of her home planet, but she’s not quite in sync with the people there, including her childhood best friend, Thara Ak-Var, who’s now Argo’s chief peace officer.

Kara wanders the market with Mon-El, whose Argo-approved gray pajama-ish outfit is way less cute than her gown, but their reunion with the now-healed Val is interrupted when a crane drops massive beams near them.

Kara insists that she saw a suspicious woman in a cloak lurking near the scene, but Thara blows off her concerns. Still, Mon-El lends her his flight ring so she’s prepared for attack.

That night, Kara and Mon-El join Thara and her salt-and-pepper husband for dinner, where the Kryptonian duo channel every upper-middle class, “I’d like to speak with your manager” couple ever to complain about how the workers are ruining the construction of their home.

Kara’s not enjoying herself, and when she spots the cloaked woman lurking outside the restaurant, she gives chase and demand to know why the woman is following her. The woman, Felra, insists she’s innocent, and Thara vouches for her.

Concerned, Alura sits her daughter down to discuss Kara’s difficult adjustment period after being forced to live as a warrior on a foreign planet. Alura repeats Alex’s words that Kara needs to look after herself for a change.

So Kara takes the opportunity to stroll through a garden in a flowing white gown. Mon-El, who’s traded his gray jammies for white and khaki linens, joins her. I was so pleased with how well this setup echoed Kara’s dream from the season premiere… until she literally says, “Hey, this is just like that dream from the season premiere!” Way to spell it out for us, show.

Kara worries that she’s not cut out for the kind of happiness that Thara has and thanks Mon-El for his friendship on this journey. Then Mon-El tells her he didn’t just stick around to help fight Reign; he’s also there to sort out his feelings, which right now tell him that he can’t just be her friend even though she’s moved on.

Kara says that in her dream, all she wanted was to have him there with her. “And now you are,” she says, stroking his beard. But before their conversation can progress, one of Argo’s drones charges at them. Kara uses Mon-El’s ring to fly them to safety, and then they discover Felra lurking, again. Wow, is she bad at lurking.

Felra announces that she’s one of the children of Juru, and Selena is their high priestess. “Nothing is as it seems,” she announces. But it’s too late; Selena’s already swiped Kara’s space ship and left the Worldkiller sigil burned into the grass in her wake.

Selena lands in a field, where Thomas Coville is waiting for her, and when she plunges a crystal into the ground, a fortress springs up around them.

And Sam might not be as Reign-free as we’d imagined. While she and Ruby watch Singin’ in the Rain (ha!), she suddenly goes rigid and drops a glass. Although her eyes don’t go red, it’s… well, it’s troubling.

Snaps of the cape

  • Heartbreak lurks in our near future; J’onn has finally accepted that his father is ready to say goodbye. Myr’nn wants to begin the Reach, which will pass down all his memories to his son, and J’onn’s on board by the end of the episode. I’m already buying Kleenex in bulk because these two have been the emotional center of Supergirl season 3.
  • Miss Teschmacher studied nuclear physics! And now she’s working for Lena! That’s almost as exciting as Lena agreeing to Supergirl’s request that she manufacture black Kryptonite for Argo City — and discovering something potentially revolutionary in its makeup.
  • Not only did we get a Clark Kent/Daily Planet reference this week and James hollering “Miss Teschmacher!!!” but that Thara introduction was a treat for comic readers. I’m smelling a SupergirlKrypton crossover…
  • So, what’s up with Sam? How was Kara going to respond to Mon-El? Do you prefer your escapist television to not mention bump stocks? And how devastating will next week’s Martian storyline be? Let me know in the comments!

Episode Recaps


Kara (Melissa Benoist) steps out from her super-cousin’s shadow to become Supergirl and defend National City in the third Arrowverse show.

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