By Sara Netzley
April 21, 2019 at 11:06 PM EDT
Bettina Strauss/The CW
S4 E18
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One day has passed since the world believes it saw Supergirl attack the White House, and Kara is horrified to realize how sharply public sentiment has turned against her. President Baker himself addresses the nation to announce a sundown-to-sunup curfew and to urge Supergirl to turn herself in.

Even though she’s America’s most wanted, when Supergirl hears someone calling for help from a burning vehicle, naturally she flies to lend a hand. But her efforts are interrupted by a man with a gun trying to make a citizen’s arrest. Her attempts to deflect the bullets end up causing an explosion in the car and even the man she pulls to safety says his daughter was crushed to watch Supergirl turn into a terrorist.

To rectify things, Alex and Lena set out to help Supergirl in their own ways. For Alex, that means subverting Lockwood’s demand that the DEO turn over the signal watch and any weapons that could capture Supergirl. Haley sends him away to secure proper presidential approval, but while he’s gone, she sets about gathering the goods he asked for because “orders are orders.”

Alex hands over the watch and instructs her to press it twice to summon Supergirl. (Ah, but once summons Supergirl; twice is the Akbar warning.) To get her chain-of-command-loving boss fully onboard, Alex asks for Kelly Olsen’s advice on what to do. Kelly tells her that you can’t change people, but you can appeal to what they care most about.

So Alex tries to convince Haley that following an immoral order makes you complicit and begs her to think of her daughter. Haley is furious at having that bit of personal information leveraged against her. Also, she knows that Alex lied and it’s actually a single press to summon Supergirl.

Brainy, too, is facing a conundrum after he and Alex agree that Lockwood’s next step will be to use the alien registry to start rounding up aliens. Declaring that “no one is more clandestine than I. NO ONE!” Brainy sets out to delete the registry, relying on the subterfuge techniques of Ethan Hunt, “master of the impossible mission.”

But when the time comes to delete, he realizes that there’s a 50/50 chance that deleting it will cause more harm for the alien community if he’s discovered. He freaks out and finds Nia at CatCo, even though they haven’t spoken since their “incredible yet devastating romantic encounter at the hospital.” Since he can’t use logic to decide, he asks her to dream the future to find out what he decides so he can just do it.

Then she plays him by pretending to dream that he doesn’t destroy the registry. He says that’s ridiculous, and she explains that she tricked him into listening to his gut. But that night, she for-real dreams that he’s apprehended by the Children of Liberty for destroying the registry and calls him in a panic to warn him not to do it. Too late, though; he deleted it but downloaded a copy of his brain, calling the potential danger “the cost of being a hero.”

Okay, now, to Supergirl and Lena, who follow up on Lilian Luthor’s tip that Lex has been coming and going from his prison cell for months. They strong-arm the Stryker Island warden to let them toss Lex’s cell by promising to keep his husband out of his Lex-related legal mess. He agrees, and Supergirl takes the long walk past a row of penned inmates chanting her name and calling her a terrorist, with a supportive Lena by her side. Lena, after all, knows all about how awful it is to be a good guy accused of being bad.

In Lex’s cell, Lena declares his Hannibal-crossing-the-Alps etching pretentious and solves his puzzle to unlock their childhood chess board to reveal stacks of Lex’s journals, including one recording all of her faults and mistakes since she was four. What a monster he is. Lena settles into the painful task of reading her brother’s journals, even though just looking at his handwriting is like needles in her eyes, while Supergirl talks to his cell neighbor, Steve Lomeli (Willie Garson, a welcome presence in whatever show he pops up in).

Steve, who’s locked up for stealing classified DOD documents about illegal drone warfare, calls her a malignant narcissist, taunting that, “Everything you touch, you ruin.” Then things get worse when Otis shows up to kill the warden and free all the inmates from their cells to help capture Supergirl.

Knowing that Otis has Metallo’s powers, Lena gives Supergirl a Kryptonite shield for her S-insignia. Wait, so Lena made a K-shield and brought it with her on the off chance that  Supergirl might need it? That’s certainly thoughtful of her.

Then Supergirl turns to fight her way through a long line of inmates, none of whom stand a chance against her, and honestly, Supergirl effortlessly batting around a cellblock full of numbskulls is exactly why I watch this program, so thank you every so much, writers.

Then Otis appears to sneer, “if it isn’t Lee Harvey Supergirl.” They blast each other through walls and hit each other with prison gym equipment, but eventually, his Kryptonite blasts destroy her shield, and Supergirl’s forced to change into Kara Danvers. In her human guise, she tells Otis she saw a red blur going that-away, and for a second, Otis looks suspicious. C-could he possibly be…?

Nah, he just wants to know what a woman’s doing in an all-male cellblock. She tells him she’s a journalist doing a story on prison reform. But he doesn’t care to give her a comment: “I don’t trust the press. They always parachute into crises like this without any context for the larger systemic issues at play.” Y’ALL. I may be a little in love with Otis now because, by God, he’s not wrong.

When he heads out, Kara recharges in the sun and then bumps into Steve, who turns out to be the editor of Stryker’s one and only newsletter. He’s delighted to meet the famous Kara Danvers, who writes the Aliens of National City column, and apologizes for having his muscle pull a shiv on her.

Then the National Guard pulls up outside and makes plans to come in shooting if Supergirl doesn’t give herself up. Steve predicts that the prisoners are acceptable collateral damage in this scenario and drops to the floor, placing a comforting hand over the trembling fingers of his scared bodyguard, which was a nice little character moment.

To minimize the casualties, Kara changes into Supergirl again and uses a super-clap to knock all of the rioting prisoners off their feet and out of the line of fire.

Then she races back to Lex’s cell, where Lena has discovered that the etching isn’t of the Alps, but the mountain peak where a young Lex promised a young Lena that he’d build a house to keep them both safe forever. (Is…is that a touch of humanity, or another long-ago Lex trick?) When she touched that section of the drawing, the wall lifted to reveal his secret prison lab.

But before the women can explore its secrets, Otis steps into the cell as he talks on the phone with Lex, who directs him to the center of the room. Once he’s there, Lex engages a device that revs Otis’s Metallo implant and causes him to explode. It destroys the lab, and Lena and Supergirl barely escape thanks to Supergirl punching through the back wall.

But the danger isn’t over yet; Lockwood arrives at the DEO with the proper presidential order and starts handing out big guns to his men. He tells Haley to summon Supergirl, and Haley. presses. twice. Heck yeah, scary boss lady!

A frustrated Lockwood realizes that Supergirl’s not coming, so he takes all the big guns with him and leaves. Haley tells Alex that she didn’t do the double-tap for Alex but for her daughter, who’s scared of the martial law and is sad that her favorite alien teacher has gone into hiding. Suddenly, the complicit thing didn’t look so appealing, huh?

Also unappealing? The president allowing Lockwood to deputize the Children of Liberty, which should make everybody’s blood run cold. Oh, and Eve’s able to put Humpty-Otis back together again after his detonation.

Finally, when the news (but not CatCo, of course!) spins the Stryker Island visit as Supergirl’s attempt to free prisoners, Supergirl realizes she’s doing more harm than good right now and flies away to lie low. And in her Kara Danvers duds, she heads back to Stryker to interview Steve, who’s honored to help bring Lex Luthor to justice. He slides her a jump drive with the contents of Lex’s secret prison lab hard drive before it was destroyed.

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” he says, and she replies, “Maybe even mightier than a cape.”

Snaps of the cape

  • Tonight’s important Olsen development: James is suffering from something more than PTSD. Although the therapist he’s working with teaches him about bilateral stimulation, a widely used calming tool, his eyes and veins turn black when he’s upset, giving him super sight, strength, and hearing. Stay tuned for the possibility of a turbo-charged, midnight-eyed Guardian.
  • Not only did James fill Kelly in on what’s going on, but didja catch that smiley little moment she shared with Alex? I bet they’re both glad she stuck around National City.
  • My word, but Otis is a pop-culture quip machine: It’s easy being green, his heart growing three sizes, heeeeeere’s Otis. Supergirl is killing it with the recurring villains this season!
  • Gosh, remember when both Alex and Lena were not at all Supergirl’s biggest fans? And then Supergirl won them both over through her bravery, loyalty, and friendship? A million heart emojis forever, show!

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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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