Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
S5 E1
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You could say that Supergirl season 5 starts with a bang. Well, bangs. And a pair of pants.

Yes, the Maid of Might’s sporting a new look, and she’s got a new enemy in her life, although she doesn’t know it yet.

We open with said enemy, one Lena Luthor, running a simulation on her fancy new VR simulator contact lenses, courtesy of tech giant Obsidian North. Her new AI, Hope, points out that Lena seems to be gearing up to kill Supergirl and offers to help, but Lena assures Hope she’s not a villain. She just wants Kara to feel the same hurt that she did.

Lena’s more comfortable chatting with an ambitionless, drama-free AI these days because humans are so full of pesky emotions, and to further drive home the theme of season 5, pixelly bits zoom in to create Supergirl’s S in the title sequence.

A coffee date at an Obsidian North-sponsored coffeeshop lets us catch up on events in National City since the finale. Kara won a Pulitzer for writing the story that brought down President Baker and exposed Lex, although she despairs that civic engagement is lower than ever thanks in part to the VR users all around her in their silver-eyed contacts.

Kelly’s got a new job using tech to heal dementia and PTSD patients at Obsidian North, and she and Alex have settled into happy coupledom. Alex wants Kara to be honest with Lena about her secret identity, but Kara’s afraid Lena won’t forgive her for lying.

Brainy and Nia, cute new couple No. 2, argue over cinema’s best villain, leading Brainy to declare, “I am as serious as the pursed lips of Miranda Priestly.” Then they say goodbye with an awkwardness that makes them look like a pair of birds that just grew hands and don’t know what to do with them.

At CatCo, Kara and James discover Andrea Rojas (Julie Gonzalo), the daughter of Obsidian North’s CEO, is the new owner and editor-in-chief. Shocked, Kara hustles to Lena’s office to find out what the heck. Lena hugs her and apologizes for being too cowardly to tell Kara that she sold the company to her old school friend Andrea. “I hope you don’t feel I’ve made you out to be too much of a fool by keeping you in the dark.” Gah, Lena is SO GOOD at this.

Kara opens her mouth to confess her secret but she’s interrupted by news that a Lost World of Krypton museum tour led by Kate Micucci (guest star on everything I watch, you comedic delight!) has been highjacked by a little girl shapeshifting into a T-rex. Supergirl shows up to punch it in the jaw, but it tosses her into a banner of Lex (“Eww!” she exclaims), hits J’onn with a psychic whammy, and escapes in the pod that brought Superman to Earth.

Brainy’s concerned that the pod’s antimatter engine could be turned into a bomb that could destroy all life across three solar systems — but more importantly, Supergirl’s cape was damaged, and that “sartorial disaster” will make flying difficult. This proves true when Kara joins the team at the site of a massive energy spike. The shape-shifter spent weeks building a Phantom Zone projector, turned it on, and abandoned it for them to find. They realize it’s a trap just when a mysterious figure named Midnight (Jennifer Cheon Garcia) steps through the portal, there for revenge on J’onn. They manage to drive her back into the void, but J’onn warns that Midnight, who fought for the White Martians, will return to try again.

More bad news: Andrea paid $1.3 billion for CatCo as a favor to Lena, who promised Andrea a blockbuster story that presumably has a little something to do with Supergirl’s secret identity. Lena’s not happy that Andrea revealed the ownership switch before the agreed date, but Andrea’s too eager to destroy journalism on the altar of profit. The woman who wants Obsidian tech in every household within the year gathers the CatCo staff to announce that CatCo is now all about consumer cross-platform engagement with news that’s fun to read and easy to digest. Ethics, schmetics, she wants to monetize everything and brand them away from their dull, pedantic reputation earned by Kara’s Pulitzer. CAT GRANT WOULD NEVER.

When James warns Andrea that this isn’t what anybody in the newsroom signed up for, Andrea points out they’re all on new three-year contracts with non-competes that’ll drive them out of the journalism business. And okay, I’m not a contracts lawyer, but you can’t just… assign people to new contracts like that, can you? I feel like you can’t. They could either sign a new contract or be let go, but it’s not like they’re indentured to CatCo or anything.

Anyway, Andrea’s not done with the changes. She hires journalistic chameleon William Day away from The Times of London Day, and he’s happy to shift from reputable journalist to a rubbishy tabloid reporter to fit Andrea’s vision, even rewriting one of Kara’s pieces to fit the tone of the new CatCo. Kara’s horrified that William stripped out facts and inserted bias, and she hotly tells Andrea that she’ll strive to write shorter pieces but she won’t compromise her journalistic voice. Her new boss assures Kara that she’d never dream of asking her to do that, but none of us believe her.

That night at the party celebrating Kara’s Pulitzer, Brainy presents Kara with a new microscopic motion-activator that attaches to her glasses and unleashes her brand-new suit when she whips them off. Clever! Then she notices Lena lurking in a hallway alone and goes to have a difficult conversation.

She comes right out with it: “I’m Supergirl. I’ve always been Supergirl. I should’ve told you so long ago.” Her eyes well with tears as she explains that she made excuse after excuse to keep her secret, but she didn’t want to hurt Lena the way others had, and when Lena got angry with Supergirl, she wanted to just stay Kara so Lena would keep loving her.

Melissa Benoist is dynamite in this scene, full of fear and regret and earnest hope, and I can’t be the only one praying that Lena will just forgive her. Looking stunned, Lena walks away and takes the podium to introduce Kara to the waiting crowd, leaving Kara to shakily wipe away her tears and stand tensely in the audience.

In her CatCo office, Andrea waits for Lena to upload video of the mystery groundbreaking story, but instead of spreading video proving that Kara is Supergirl, Lena delivers an emotional speech about how in a world full of lairs, Kara relentlessly pursues the truth. And when she falls, she picks herself up again and offers the truth even when it’s hard.

Melissa Benoist
Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

The women embrace, and Lena whispers that Kara will always be her best friend. Then Midnight appears, and while the civilians get hustled out, Lena says, “I guess that‘s your cue, Supergirl.” Kara whips off her glasses, and we get to watch her new suit materialize over her body. “Pants!” an enraptured Supergirl breathes as Lena watches in awe, and it’s funny and emotional and I AM SO SAD when we learn that Lena was faking the whole thing.

Supergirl joins the rest of the team to face down Midnight (Alex arrives last and wants to know, “How do you guys change so fast?”), and Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” plays as Midnight creates a black hole in the ceiling, which is a way better use for the song than vampire baseball.

Long story short, J’onn gets sucked into the event horizon, Brainy warns Kara about the poor odds of her rescuing him and saving the day, and she announces that fear won’t stop them from doing what they know is right. She rescues J’onn, and Alex blasts Midnight back into the Phantom Zone while the little girl shapeshifter watches from a distance.

The little girl then waits for J’onn to return to his PI office, where she shifts into a Green Martian claiming to be J’onn’s brother, there to accuse J’onn and their father of great evil. J’onn shouts that he has no brother, and when they charge at each other, they’re thrown in opposite directions.

Andrea, who was left high and dry without Lena’s promised story, is still fuming in her office when James rolls in and quits. She warns him that because of the non-compete, he’ll never work as a journalist again, but he just says that’s part of the adventure. Cool, but you know what that’s not a part of? Non-compete clauses, which I’m pretty sure don’t bar you from an industry for life.

At the alien bar, Nia finally asks Brainy why he gets weird every time they touch. He assures her he’s had plenty of romantic experience, thank you, but he felt like he turned into a cold, unfeeling Miranda Priestly when he left the woman he loves at the alien internment camp last season. Nia assures him that he’s not a Miranda, and they kiss. Aww!

Kara-in-Supergirl clothes lands on Lena’s balcony, where our favorite Luthor’s chilling in jeans. (It’s rare enough that it feels worth a mention.) Kara gives her a watch with a Supergirl beacon and promises that there’ll be no more secrets between them. Lena accepts it gratefully, but the instant she’s alone, she tells Hope that she’ll never forgive Kara for breaking her heart because she’s a Luthor. “We’re scorpions. When someone betrays us, we sting.” You see, when Kara revealed her identity, Lena changed plans, realizing that she could achieve her larger goals if Supergirl thinks Lena trusts her. Then she asks Hope to load a VR simulation that opens with a punch.

Finally, we see Eve in waitress garb get black-bagged in an alley. Poor Miss Teschmacher… I think. Still not quite sure. We’ll see how this storyline plays out.

Snaps of the cape

  • Welcome back for season 5, Supergirl! As is often the case with this show, the feelings driving the action are stronger than the logic of the plot McGuffin of the week. But if you can come away from that emotional Kara/Lena confession scene unmoved, well… you’re in possession of an extremely stiff upper lip.
  • Loving Supergirl’s new look. The pants play!
  • Is there anybody that Katie McGrath doesn’t have mad chemistry with, other than poor Mehcad Brooks, whose woefully neglected character was just handed his ticket off the show? And did anybody else notice a prominent shot of new journalist William’s wedding ring? I’m wondering if that’s the showrunners’ way of saying “don’t bother shipping him with anybody.”
  • In terms of cinematic villains, it goes Hannibal Lector < Hans Gruber < Miranda Priestly < Voldemort < Cruella De Ville. I welcome your own rankings in the comments.

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