We’ve got four separate storylines this week, so let’s start with—ugh—Ben Lockwood, who’s lost his flair for rhetorical dazzle in recent episodes and has devolved into a bit of a one-dimensional shouty bad guy. The Children of Liberty (and his actual child, George) have all donned armbands now that they’re deputized by the president, and they’re setting out to round up known aliens.
George expresses uncertainty about their actions when the wife of one target objects to her husband’s arrest, and Lockwood warns, “We can’t humanize them, son. Don’t ever mistake them for anything but the roaches they are.” Bad parenting, exhibit A.
Meanwhile, Brainy, Lena, and Alex work together to help James, whose PTSD is being exacerbated by the Harun-El in his system. Lena’s frustrated because she can’t get the tech scavenged from Lex’s prison cell to work, so Brainy proposes entering James’s memories to find the root of his trauma, reasoning that if James can control his anxiety attacks, he can control his powers.
Brainy assumes the trauma is Lex-based, but the source is actually his father’s funeral when he and Kelly were children. James didn’t attend because he was accidentally locked in a bathroom, which Kelly tells Alex was upsetting for her as well, as she really needed her big brother. Brainy gently (for him) suggests that James has told himself this story so many times that he now believes it, and we eventually learn that in fact, two bullies found him that day and locked him into a casket in the basement. Yiiiiikes. I’d suppress that memory, too.
When Brainy pushes him to work through the memory, James ejects him from his mind palace, so Kelly agrees to slap on a forehead amplifier thingy and give it a try. She finds James and urges him to fight back and change the narrative. James pulls a Thanos on the bullies in his memory and helps his younger self out of the casket. When he wakes up in the lab, he’s levitating. Success!
Kara, meanwhile, is committed to bringing down Lex Luthor through a journalistic exposé that finds her flipping through the L Corp black budget and trying the “investigator tapes up photos and scrawls manic notes on a window” approach. She quickly realizes how central Amertek is to the mystery and that Franklin the Dryad 1) has been sleeping at work for safety and 2) has a sister, Edna, who works at Amertek.
After some convincing, Edna agrees to let Kara look through the Amertek files for a Lex link. She finds paperwork on a suspicious Rubnia missile base tied to a Sebastian Melmoth, but Edna refuses to look further because she’d have to use her personal ID number. “You don’t know what it’s like to walk around with a target on your back because of who you are,” she tells Kara.
The Amertek visit pays off when Kara realizes she saw the name Sebastian Melmoth in the L Corp budget, so she pays Lena a visit. Lena, though, isn’t pleased that she’s seen more of judgy, judgy Supergirl than her actual best friend, who now wants to use her as a source. To be fair, though, Lena’s super frustrated that her attempts to remove Harun-El from her test hearts keep causing them to explode, so she was already on edge.
While Kara’s doing journalism, Dreamer steps in to fill the Supergirl void, even though Brainy warns there’s a 63.6 percent chance she’ll be apprehended. During her patrol, she discovers that several terrified aliens have taken refuge at the alien bar.
Then the Children of Liberty goons bust in, and George Lockwood is shocked to see his friend Charlie hiding there. This armband-wearing child has the audacity to ask, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Thankfully, Charlie’s got enough spirit left to serve some attitude when he replies, “Why do you think?”
Then the episode jumps into campy overdrive in a way that may have worked for you but didn’t quite work for me. In the melee, the jukebox starts playing American Woman, and Dreamer fights off the Children with her light powers and her quips. She’s impressive, and I get what that song means for her on a number of levels, but it was a little *jazz hands* in its showiness. Cool but jarring, I guess. Anyway, the encounter leaves George wondering if they’re doing the wrong thing, but his proud mother assures him that he’s helping save the country.
Nia and Kara agree that they feel hopeless and helpless, so Kara hatches a plan to give the public a hero who can inspire hope as both an alien and a human. Nia suits up, and Dreamer and Kara sit down in the deserted CatCo office for a live, unscheduled interview that takes over the airwaves somehow, with Franklin running the camera. What follows is definitely not journalism, but it is emotional.
Dreamer explains that she’s a trans woman, born in America to a human father, who became her spine, and a Naltor mother, who became her heart. She says she prefers salty over sweet, that she’s a Gryffindor with a gray stallion Patronus, and that she likes nerdy boys who think too much. (Watching with Lena, Brainy asks, “What does love feel like?” Ha!) She urges viewers not to fear their differences and concludes by saying, “We don’t have to wait for a new day. We are the new day.”
While the speech is lovely, it’s kind of weird that Kara has the authority to air this non-journalistic interview just willy-nilly. But whatever. A good portion of the viewing audience is moved by Dreamer’s bravery and honesty. This includes Lena, who tells Brainy she feels paralyzed by being unable to fix James or find Lex. Brainy advises her to give trust in order to receive it.
Also touched by Dreamer’s message is one of Lockwood’s troops at the DEO, who texts Alex a warning that his boss is on the way to CatCo. By the time Lockwood arrives to arrest Dreamer for “seditious violent speech,” Alex’s team has shut down the lights, allowing Kara to use her super-powers in the dark alongside the other heroes.
Things that are awesome in the ensuing fight: Kara using her pink jacket as a weapon, Brainy and Dreamer battling back to back, Franklin jumping into the fray and Kara pretending he saved her, and a powered-up James arriving to break Lockwood’s hand and crumple his gun. “All I see are journalists exercising their rights of free speech,” James satisfyingly bellows. “Get. Out. Now.”
Edna also watched Dreamer and was inspired to use her ID to access the records Kara needs, even volunteering to go on record. Then Lena shows up to apologize and admit she worked with Lex for months, despite knowing he was manipulating her. Kara hugs her and tells her she’s strong, kind, and brilliant. Then they work together to decipher the Amertek clues.
Lena remembers that Sebastian Melmoth was an Oscar Wilde pseudonym Lex enjoyed using, and it leads her to pick apart his cipher, which reveals “Rubnia” to be code for Kaznia. And since L Corp transferred out $5.8 billion the same day that Amertek paid $5.8 billion for the missile base, Kara says, “Guess we’re going to Kaznia.”
George Lockwood, meanwhile, tosses aside a Children of Liberty mask in disgust and texts his friend Charlie that he’s there if Charlie needs him. But that might all change soon; Ben Lockwood catches sight of the woman who objected to her husband’s arrest at the top of the hour fleeing his home. Inside, he finds his wife’s body on the floor with a wound to the chest.
And the episode concludes with J’onn in Martian form on T’ozz, where he deposits his ancestors’ memories and spear for safe keeping. He smiles wistfully, and a huge Myr’nn face appears in the sand and tells him to go home to his family.
Snaps of the cape
- What a strangely disconnected ending beat. Was it only there to answer the question of where J’onn was for the Earthly action?
- So. James has powers. And if he wields them with the controlled ferocity we saw at the end of the episode, this could be interesting to watch unfold.
- I cannot get enough of Kara secretly using her powers to stop the bad guys, whether it’s a purse-snatcher or a xenophobic jack-booted thug. If we have to be Supergirl-less for a while longer, I’m glad we have that to look forward to.
- Dreamer’s also a lot of fun in action, although some of her quips are better than others. “I’m your worst nightmare” and “Sweet dreams”? Okay. But “Sleeping beauty” and “Try this reverie” might need to go back to the drawing board.
- Where does Lena get all those experimental hearts? Do … do we want to know? Also, Katie McGrath is one of the best criers on television. Change my mind.