By Sara Netzley
October 27, 2019 at 10:00 PM EDT
S5 E4
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This week on Supergirl, Lena continues to plot, J’onn continues to stew, William continues to confound, and James says goodbye.

A DEO trap for Malefic fails when he phases through their Phantom Zone generator and overpowers their psychic inhibitors. A frustrated Alex wants to pull out the Green Martian-killing blaster. J’onn is (understandably!) reluctant for fear of Alex being incepted and turning the weapon on him, but Alex feels responsible for putting Kelly in harm’s way and insists on being prepared.

Brainy, eager for a distraction from his fight with Nia, offers to throw himself into fixing the nonfunctioning tech with a little help from Lena Luthor, who uses this opportunity to sneak around for her evil-genius purposes. Lucky for her, Brainy’s no longer able to keep his emotions shoved into his little boxes and is too distracted to notice her tinkering with his equipment. She shows a flash of the old Lena by suggesting that he might need to try something radical like asking for help. It pains him, but he’s willing to try.

Lena and Brainy were adorable together, but guys, I want her to be good again. This cuddly-Lena in public and shifty-eyed-Lena in private hurts my heart.

Naturally, Malefic finds his way into the DEO despite the Martian-screening protocols in place and manages to incept Alex. With Malefic in her head, Alex accuses J’onn of letting her take the blame for putting Kelly at risk when he created the bad guy. She yells at him for stepping aside and letting his found-family suffer the consequences. I mean … where’s the lie? J’onn continues to marinate in the guilt and shame he’s been feeling all season.

Now let’s hop over to James and Kelly, who’ve taken refuge in Calvintown, where they lived with their Aunt Vi after their father’s death. But they barely recognize the place, which has been overrun with vandalism, poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. It’s all thanks to the new prison at the edge of town. They find a teenage squatter in Aunt Vi’s home, rescue him from a shoplifting charge when he’s caught stealing a can of ravioli, and invite him to dinner. The kid, Simon Kirby, knows all about James’s role as Guardian and tells them that his mom was sentenced to ten years in prison for stealing a space heater.

James is surprised that his old journalism mentor Nelson Stuart, the publisher of the town paper, isn’t taking on the bloated sentencing deals that line the pockets of Calvintown’s most powerful. Nelson explains that it’s complicated; if he exposes the corruption at the prison, the advertisers being kept afloat by the industry will pull their money and the paper will fold.

This doesn’t’ surprise Simon, who glumly says that nobody’s willing to risk their own necks to speak out against injustice. James hires the best lawyer in National City to take on Simon’s mom’s case, although the kid is crushed to learn that James himself isn’t staying in Calvintown. But James has places to be, kid! Senate seats to run for! Smithsonians to spearhead!

The third plot of the night uncovers the mystery of William Dey. Turns out, his whole life is a lie, including a wife who’s nothing more than a stock photo. Thanks to an investigation by Nia, Kara follows him to Mexico City and witnesses what seems to be him carrying out a hit on a woman named Elena Torres. “This is starting to get a little ‘international assassin,” Nia says. Dreamer’s a fan of The Leftovers! This is canon now, don’t @ me.

Elena was the lead accountant for Obsidian Worldwide, and when Kara enters Elena’s Mexico City apartment to investigate, she foils a super-powered assassination attempt. Too late, hired killer whose powers briefly turned Supergirl’s face an alarming shade of blue from lack of air!

But back in National City, Kara and Nia discover that the body identified as Elena was actually someone who’d died of natural causes a few weeks earlier. Furthermore, Elena’s linked to an offshore bank account with ties to an anonymous person with an encrypted address. Nia’s reluctant to ask Brainy to help, and Kara urges her to give him time to deal with those pesky human emotions.

Toward the end of the hour, our stories start to converge when Kara finds J’onn down about his conversation with incepted-Alex. He admits that he was the one who wiped his brother’s mind and blows off Kara’s reminders of how many people he’s helped in the past. Their conversation reveals that Nia didn’t tell Alex about J’onn performing the mind-wipe, which means Alex only knows about it from being incepted. Alas, she’s missing, and she took all the DEO’s anti-Martian tech with her.

J’onn reaches out psychically and answers Alex-fic’s challenge to come to the planetarium. When J’onn arrives, he finds the planetarium theater playing an anti-J’onn propaganda film for a sparse crowd of viewers. Alex-fic hits him over and over with the blaster while J’onn tries to convince his brother that he never made peace with what he did to him. His pleas stall Alex enough that he’s able to put a psychic inhibitor on her.

Malefic’s frustrated that J’onn learned about love and forgiveness too late to make a difference to him, and he incepts all the audience members to unleash their anti-Martian weapons on J’onn. Oh, and also, Malefic strapped a bomb to Alex’s chest. Thankfully, Supergirl’s there, too, and James and Kelly also show up. (Kelly’d been seeing what Malefic was seeing thanks to their Obsidian-link and insisted that James use his portal watch to take them back to National City.)

Guardian provides cover while Supergirl shores up the about-to-crumble planetarium and J’onn removes the bomb from Alex’s torso. Supergirl wraps herself around it to absorb the blast, and then they hit Malefic with their Lena-enhanced Phantom Zone generator and send him back from whence he came.

Ah, but not so fast! Kara awards Lena “super friends” status, but Lena turns down the offer to join them for drinks. Instead, she returns to her lab, where she secretly transported Malefic for further mind-control experiments. Dang it, Lena!

At their celebratory drinks, Alex chides J’onn for believing she could ever say those things about him and then happily welcomes Kelly back home, while Brainy gives Nia an apology flower and asks for her help in limiting the obsessiveness of his true nature. Then James makes an announcement: He bought the Calvintown paper and will serve as its publisher since his noncompete bars him from reporting. Again, that is NOT how noncompetes work OH MY GOD. Still, it’s a powerful statement of his intent to try to improve the situation at the local level.

His friends all lift their drinks in a toast, and upon James’s return to Calvintown, he walks into a far-less-grand office than the one he occupied at CatCo. He begins his tenure by authorizing a story on the overcrowding and over-sentencing at the prison. Then he gives Simon the camera that his own father once gave him and tells Simon to call him “Jimmy.” Awww!

Okay, let’s end this week with the truth about William. The encrypted address leads to a mostly empty apartment that has a Wall of Weird connecting people like Jarrod and Elena with Awful Andrea Rojas. As Kara’s studying it, in walks William, who admits that he’s undercover on assignment for The Times to gather evidence implicating Andrea in a massive criminal conspiracy.

He helped Elena fake her death when Andrea became suspicious of her, and furthermore, he’s been faking his awful personality to suck up to Andrea and keep the rest of the CatCo staff at a distance. He tells Kara it killed him to be rude to her and asks for forgiveness. Kara’s not sure she can do that, but William compliments her work, telling her he could never write the way she writes. “I have craft, you have art.”

Then he asks her to let it go so she doesn’t get hurt. She assures him she can take care of herself, and he agrees that she can. It’s still not clear whether he knows her secret identity, although I’m leaning toward no at this point. If Lena didn’t figure it out on her own, let’s assume William will take a little more time, too.

Snaps of the cape

  • So long, James — sorry, Jimmy — Olsen! This show rarely served James well, which was absolutely not the fault of Mehcad Brooks. Despite how frustratingly aimless his character arcs were over the years, this closing storyline feels good. He’ll be making a difference in small-town journalism, and he leaves National City knowing Clark’s cousin can take care of herself. Here’s hoping we can check in on his progress from time to time.
  • Question: When did Malefic commission an entire anti-J’onn propaganda film to be screened on the planetarium screen? I am here for such an impressive level of petty.
  • There’s suspicion brewing in many corners of the internet that William’s being set up as Kara’s new love interest, and this week’s episode will likely only fan those flames. And while I’m agnostic about that pairing, I will admit that, as a writer myself, I gave a happy little sigh when William called Kara’s work “art.” Any writer would be flattered by that!
  • Were you satisfied with James’s farewell? And what did you think of the William reveal? Let me know in the comments!

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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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