One thing you can count on with comic book superheroes: if they have powers, they will lose them at least once, probably more. Supergirl takes her turn at this trope in “Human For A Day.” The episode has a few surprises from her supporting cast, as well as showing what kind of hero she really is.
As we saw at the end of last episode, Kara isn’t exactly Super at the moment. The show opens with her at DEO headquarters, getting tested and scanned and such as Holo-Mom more or less says these things happen and it should pass. James, later, also assures her that this has happened to Superman and he’s recovered. What’s making Kara nervous is that from all accounts, her powers should return in two days, and it’s been longer than that now.
When she’s done at the DEO, Henshaw and Alex tell her to go to work and see what life is like “for the rest of us.” Privately, Alex and Kara confer about their recent information regarding their father’s death and Henshaw’s role in it. Alex plans to keep digging, carefully. Kara is a bit worried, especially since she can’t exactly play guardian angel for Alex right now.
By the time she gets to work, Kara has caught a cold. Winn is worried about her and her powers, and promises to do some research. Cat hears Kara sneeze, and reveals herself as borderline germophobic to go with her colossal ego. Kara gets sent home, looking frustrated.
Also having a bad day at work, Alex and Henshaw are dealing with a prisoner. The red- skinned alien is eventually revealed as Jemm, Son of Saturn. Jemm was a very minor hero in the DC Comics Universe, but is apparently now a bad guy, at least on the show. He’s evil, ruthless, and possesses mind control powers. They have him safely locked away in a cage that negates his powers. Guess how long that’s going to last?
On the way to work, Kara goes by The Restaurant ™ and runs into James. James is a bit less worried about her power loss, but that sort of makes sense. He is, at this point, the most experienced of the cast members regarding powers and their ins and out through his friendship with Superman. James makes her day even better by telling her he’s been out looking for a new place for him and Lucy. Then, just to show that Kara is really maxing out her luck, National City is rocked by an earthquake. James shoves her out of the way of an out of control cab, and she breaks her arm in the fall. James is a big guy after all.
The quake also, of course, freed Jemm. Henshaw has a few “neural disrupters” that block Jemm’s mental powers. Much of the DEO’s part of the episode is hunting Jemm through the locked-down base, as well as the cat and mouse game between Henshaw and Alex. It’s a tense show for the DEO.
Back at CatCo, Cat announces that whoever wants to can go be with their families. The fact that she takes pictures of those leaving doesn’t bode well for their future. Among the things that don’t quite make sense this episode- Kara’s cold is magically gone (just as well, can you imagine sneezing with a just-broken arm?), staying in a skyscraper during an emergency, Kara’s magically appearing sling, and Cat continuing to not know who Winn is. I get that her employees aren’t that important to her, but she’s been told twice now who he is, and she’s starting to just look foolish.
Max Lord wastes no time getting on the air and, while not quite blaming the quake on Supergirl, saying she has eroded the people’s ability to rely on themselves. He’s very negative and anti-Supergirl, and annoys James, Winn and Kara. Cat takes offense, but more because she feels some kind of ownership for Supergirl. Cat drafts Winn to help get her on the air to rebut Lord’s rantings.
Kara decides to confront Lord about what he’s saying. Why Cat is ok with her assistant wandering off during a crisis, I’m not sure. Then again, maybe she doesn’t notice. She’s too busy getting Winn’s name wrong, and managing the difficult combination of being inspiring and condescending all at once.
Lord smirks at Kara’s concern about his negativity. Then, when an accident happens nearby, he shows that he does care about people, just not Super-people. He also apparently did med school in just a year. The man is gravely injured, and Lord can’t help without knowing precisely where his internal injuries are. This would be a great time for X-Ray vision to come back, but it doesn’t, making Kara feel even worse.
She gets a pep talk from James, which he then thinks works a bit too well. After she listens to him talk about being a hero even without powers, she sees looters breaking in to a nearby store. Kara changes to her costume, which I don’t even want to think about with a broken arm, and talks the looters down. James gets a great picture of the end of the confrontation.
Kara feels amazingly good after making a difference, even sans powers. James shows her the picture he took, and she is very excited. They share a long hug, maybe a bit too long all things considered, which is when Winn walks in, of course. There’s a very awkward exchange among them before Winn says she might get her powers back if she gets a major adrenaline jolt. Winn is clearly not happy, and I don’t blame him.
As an aside, are they trying to drive Winn down the road to being a supervillian? His boss doesn’t know who he is, he has a criminal for a father, and the girl he likes is not only interested in someone else, she’s being really willfully blind (or stupid) about him. Add in the fact that he shares a name with one of Superman’s foes, and I really wonder where he’s going to end up.
The day isn’t over yet, as people are trapped in the upper floors of CatCo. Remember what I said before about not hanging out in a skyscraper during an emergency? Kara, James, and Winn work together to get the people free. James nearly gets killed, providing the earlier mentioned adrenaline jolt and the return of Kara’s powers.
Supergirl flies around the city, doing assorted good deeds, making up for lost time. Everyone is glad to see her back, except Max Lord of course. They are really going to need to do something different with him soon to prevent him looking like Lex Luthor-lite.
The show ends on several interesting scenes, most of which I’m going to go easy on detail with to avoid spoilers. Alex finally gets the truth about Hank Henshaw. It’s a big reveal that should please a lot of DC fans. I have a few problems with it on a conceptual level, but that’s for a later time. Kara tries to make things up to Winn, who is clearly not happy with her. He actually manages to sting her feelings a bit, which might be good because she might actually notice he’s a person, not an accessory for her work- and super- life. Supergirl pays a visit to Cat Grant that I think is one of the best written scenes of the episode. And then, as she’s literally riding high, Supergirl gets a nasty surprise to end the episode.
What I liked: The Henshaw reveal was something I’d been waiting for and was glad to see them finally do it. Kara’s scenes with the looters and Cat were really well done. James trying to reassure her and drawing on his experience with Superman made a lot of sense to me.
What I didn’t: I hate the way everyone, Kara included, is treating Winn. It was nice to see Jemm again, but I don’t see why they needed to make him a villain, since there are so many they could have chosen. Lord is starting to become a Lex-clone. Kara and James need to either do something about their mutual feelings or decide not to. This half and half thing isn’t fair to anyone, especially Lucy.
I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5. It would have gone higher, but for the negatives I pointed out above.
Next week should be the winter finale, probably having to do with the final scene I alluded to above.