Supergirl‘s midseason premiere raises big questions about control: What will we do to get it and to keep it? Does a big payoff justify questionable means? And how far will our heroes go to avoid the wrong kind?
We open with Red Daughter in her enviable Eastern European athleisure wear, engaging in a practice skirmish with missiles, tanks, and drones. Her military handlers watch through binoculars, remarking that their “friend’ is working on how to control her so she’s ready to go up against more than just tanks.
Kara’s training, too—in spin class with Lena. They agree that it’s been too long since they hung out. (The viewers think so, too!) Lena laments that she’s been working alone without a sounding board, and Kara agrees it can be tough, although her cousin has positive things to say about it.
She encourages Lena to work things out with James, and then her ears pick up a distress call. She fakes a cramp and leaves class, which seems like a pretty solid way to get out of spinning, TBH.
Before we get into the freelance superheroics, let’s check in on the side plots, starting with Lena, who takes Kara’s advice and visits James at CatCo. He tells her that he now understands Lena’s ends-justify-the-means approach to life, having been willing to blow up the Shelley Island monument to protect someone else.
They reconcile, and as they cook dinner together that night, Lena admits that while trying to rewrite DNA to cure diseases, she had a penicillin moment and discovered that she can use her findings to enhance human powers. She asks James to be the angel on her shoulder, helping her determine the right course. He agrees, but by the end of the episode, he’s sitting up in bed looking troubled as Lena sleeps peacefully next to him.
Brainy’s also busy this week, first visiting J’onn at his new private investigator office, where he plans to help humans and aliens who can’t turn to the police. Brainy tries to hire J’onn to work as Kara’s Girl Friday since she’s no longer with the DEO, but J’onn says he’ll do that regardless, no money needed. As he leaves, Brainy tries to leave behind a fat bankroll, but J’onn sends it with him. How does Brainy have so much walking-around money?
Next, Brainy rings up Nia and announces, “I am calling to find out about food, and your interest in it.” That…would work on me. After some expected Brainy awkwardness, they pick a place and time. Once there, though, Brainy informs her this isn’t actually a date, as he assumed someone so beautiful wouldn’t be interested in him. Instead, he invites her to join Supergirl as a friend — “a super friend.” Ha!
Nia begs off, saying her heroics at Collinwood were a one-time thing. Brainy explains that after his own brush with the authorities, he had to choose to use his intellect for good, and he’s never regretted it. Then he leaves her with a superhero costume look book and an assurance: “You are a hero. I know it.” She eventually pages through the book at home, but she quickly tosses it aside when she gets a call from her sister to discuss their mother’s birthday.
Aaaand that’s it for these stories this week. Tune in next week as those planted seeds continue to grow.
Okay, now to Supergirl, who races to the source of the mayday call, where she finds the bodies of Navy SEALS scattered on the deck of a large ship. She’s able to save a SEAL, then IDs one body as Col. McAllister before a shimmering figure pulls his body overboard. When she discovers a bomb on board, she tosses it overboard, preserving the scene for Col. Haley and the DEO.
Haley blames Supergirl’s freelance efforts for letting the murderous shimmer alien escape and orders her to leave. Well, that’s gratitude for you. Haley orders Alex to ID and neutralize this mysterious alien while Haley interrogates the rest of the DEO to uncover Supergirl’s identity.
Naturally, this worries Alex, who pulls together the half dozen agents who know Supergirl’s real identity, asking if they could find it within their moral code to protect Kara. They agree to use their Resistance to Interrogation Training and/or silence, as necessary.
Not Brainy, though; he has brain compartmentalizing tech to make him forget Supergirl’s identity for his interrogation. Afterward, Alex has to remind him that it’s Kara, and he scoffs, “Your sister with the glasses? They don’t even look anything … oh!” as the tech switches off and his memories come back.
When Alex and Kara compare notes on the investigation, they learn that there are no records of the ship or Col. McAllister, and the surviving SEAL disappeared after a transfer. Something’s afoot!
Kara heads to J’onn’s office, which he’s decorated with a framed picture of himself and the Danvers sisters as children. Awww! True to his word, he agrees to help her, and they dive into the DEO files he kept, eventually finding a reference to invisible aliens in top-secret Project Morae, which a Gen. Tan handed off to McAllister in 2012. That’s not all, though; the third name on the paperwork is Haley herself. (Next page: Alex makes a wrenching choice)
Supergirl and J’onn ask Alex to join them at Tan’s house, where he’s preparing to leave in a hurry. (Which was more awe-inspiring: Tan’s incredibly posh digs, or Alex’s extremely cool entrance on her motorcycle?) They force him to admit that the Morae were discovered as children, and because of their incredible cloaking abilities, they were trained to be assassins in defense of the nation. But the president ordered them to cut all ties with alien personnel, and the Morae saw the hit team coming. They fought back and killed the SEAL team.
Supergirl’s horrified that the government killed its allies, but Tan argues that they’re only aliens, after all. Then the Morae arrive to murderize Tan. Honestly, I’m team Morae at this point. One of them kills Tan, despite J’onn’s efforts, and Alex is able to shoot one in the leg, disabling its cloaking. Supergirl tries to reason with it, but it gasps out, “No DEO, no Haley,” before killing itself.
Back at the DEO, Alex finds Haley and demands to know about Project Morae. Haley says she hasn’t been involved in years and claims there’s no coverup; since Supergirl reported a shimmer, Haley assumed they were dealing with a different alien. (Kara’s x-ray vision allowed her to view the Morae differently than humans do, for the record.)
Alex asks what Haley did to the Morae that would drive one to kill itself rather than return to her custody, and Haley says they employed “standard protocol for tender-age aliens,” using trauma and fear to create discipline and obedience. (Daaaaang, I see you, Supergirl writers.) Alex is horrified, but Haley doesn’t apologize for the terrible things she did in defense of the country, particularly since the Morae aren’t human.
As Haley’s likely their next target, the DEO battens down for an assault, filling the hallways with mist and laser beams to make the Morae more visible, while Brainy positions himself on the second floor with a phosphorescent paint gun. Haley orders them to use real guns, in opposition to the DEO’s standing order of no lethal force order.
Alex is livid and calls Kara. She doesn’t want to be part of the DEO when it has an amoral leader like Haley at the helm. She threatens to resign, but Kara urges her to stay. “You are its moral center,” she says. “Without you, Haley would go unchecked.”
Unfortunately, Haley’s just broken one of the in-the-know agents, and she gloats to Alex that she knows all about Kara. But blaring alarms interrupt their standoff, and everyone scrambles into defense positions. Alex orders that the Morae be taken alive if possible, while Haley orders Alex to stand down and sends in other agents, all of whom get tossed around by the invisible assailants.
They bring down one of the Morae, but the other gets Haley by the leg and starts to drag her down the hall. Then Supergirl bursts in to toss the Morae into a holding cell, saving Haley’s life. She pulls Haley to her feet, and the woman has the audacity to stand between the Danvers sisters and blackmail them: Now that she knows Kara’s identity, Supergirl will be conscripted back into service or else her family, friends, and day job will suffer.
Alex has just about had enough and knocks Haley out with a punch. They toss her in a cell and summon J’onn, who hesitates only momentarily before wiping Haley’s memory to keep Kara and Alex safe.
That doesn’t solve the problem, unfortunately. Brainy, nursing a bruised tailbone following the Morae fight, spots Haley wheeling in a Vertullarian. Haley brags that she’ll use the truth-seeking alien to uncover Supergirl’s identity by the end of the day. Knowing that no one can defeat a Vertullarian, all of the in-the-know agents agree to let J’onn wipe their memories to protect Kara—including Alex.
Kara’s heartbroken, but Brainy warns that it’s 100 percent certain Haley will learn Kara’s identity if Alex’s mind isn’t wiped. Kara, who just came from a world where Alex didn’t know her, begs her sister to quit the DEO, but Kara’s earlier pep talk was too effective. They’ll still be sisters, but Kara will keep her secret, allowing Alex to stay and fight from the inside.
“Let me save you this time,” Alex says, hugging Kara as she cries.
Everyone lines up at J’onn’s office to have their minds wiped. Alex is the last to go, but Kara can’t bear to watch. Thankfully, it cuts to the credits so we don’t have to, either.
What a heartbreaking ending, and what sharp writing to get us there. Of course this is the only way to keep Kara safe, and of course, it’s what noble, brave Alex will volunteer to do. Love and sacrifice is the Danvers way.
Snaps of the Cape
- Ooookay, let’s keep these upbeat to counteract the gut-punch of an ending, hmm? Here’s a good place to start: Alex’s magnetic suit will never not be awesome.
- J’onn’s office is downright swoon-worthy. Tall ceilings! Natural light! Ample floor space and seating! The rent must be killer, though. Brainy’s bankroll probably would’ve come in handy.
- Preeeeeetty sure Nia flipped past this little number in her binder …
- For the record: Brainy’s ideal date is paintball or an Escape Room, and I’m left wondering if he’s the best or worst possible person to be in an Escape Room with. Both, maybe?
- My wild prediction: Red Daughter’s “friend” working on controlling is one Lex Luthor, hoping for a weapon to use against his nemesis, Superman. What say you—could that be a possibility? Let me know in the comments!