Falling back on what I really think is becoming an overused trope, Supergirl starts off fighting what appears to be Hank Henshaw. He’s clearly intent on beating the hell out of her, and she’s very confused. Then, of course, we get a different scene and “24 Hours Earlier.” The writers really need to come up with something else for us to open their shows with. This is getting old.
The earlier scene is most of the cast hanging out at the Alien Bar With No Name. Kara, Alex, James, and Winn are at one table, talking about the Guardian. Kara is being hugely hypocritical, finding the Guardian suspicious since he wears a mask. Well, Kara, do YOU have a secret ID? You do, don’t you? Maybe he wants one, too. Alex has deduced that Guardian has some kind of “sidekick,” a term Winn takes exception to. Kara also makes a passing reference to a vigilante her cousin worked with who had a mask and tons of gadgets. Sounds like a subtle Batman reference to me, and the closest we’ve come to a direct one on any of the CW shows since Smallville.
J’Onn is at the bar, chatting with M’Gann, happy he’s not alone anymore. Of course, we know it’s only a matter of time until he finds out her secret. The crew wonders where Mon-El is, and Kara blithely dismisses their concerns, saying he’s out womanizing and having a good time. Maggie shows up and wants to make sure she and Alex are “ok.”
Well, Mon is definitively NOT having a good time. He’s a prisoner of Cadmus in some kind of weird glowing cell. He manages a pretty clever escape, especially considering he keeps insisting he’s not a hero. He almost gets away, but he gets confronted by Cadmus Lady/Lena’s mom, who has a very special hostage she threatens to kill if he doesn’t give up. He does.
J’Onn and M’gann have another brief visit where she brings him the equivalent of ginger ale for his recent injuries. After a hint of all is not well with J’Onn, we see Guardian in action. He’s doing well as a hero, having gained some really impressive fighting skills from places unknown. Yes, I know he said he was a black belt recently, but this is different, and a marked improvement since his last few appearances. He deals with the criminal easily enough, and rides off triumphantly. Unfortunately, someone with a vaguely (but not really) similar look comes along behind him and makes things a lot more complicated.
As far as “hero being framed stories,” this one is really badly done. The video that turns the whole city against Guardian in moments shows Guardian leaving, then someone off camera from another direction doing the shooting. This is really sloppy. They either needed to shoot this better, or not have everyone so convinced he’s gone bad. James and Winn have a quick conference, Winn panicking. James insists he’s going to keep going and capture the impostor.
J’Onn is hiding away in some unused stairwell doing what appears to be Tai Chi. Supergirl finds him and they talk, comparing their experiences about being alone on Earth. As this goes on, Guardian fights more crooks and then the impostor shows up. He has some kind of Deadshot-style wrist gun, and they argue about Guardian not going far enough. The cops show up and both Guardian and the other guy run off.
Supergirl is on her way to take down Guardian. Again, she’s far too easily persuaded that he’s a bad guy. But she gets interrupted by a sonic message from Cadmus, kind of like the way Lex Luthor contacted Superman in the first Christopher Reeve movie. Cadmus lady tells Supergirl that Cadmus was the first Greek hero from myth, and he killed monsters. And oh, by the way, they have Mon-El, so show up or he dies. Ya know, in the comics at least, Daxamites are just as powerful as Kryptonians. Mon is really getting the short end of the stick in his television incarnation.
Supergirl gets another surprise when she gets there. At first she thinks it’s J’Onn, but it’s actually the real Hank Henshaw, long believed dead. No, he’s back, and he’s been enhanced. A lot. Like, go toe to toe with Supergirl a lot. He calls himself the Cyborg Superman… which requires some more geek explanation.
Ok, back in the nineties, there was a huge event, “The Death of Superman.” Superman gets killed by Doomsday, an unstoppable monster. Superman is gone a while, and in his absence, four “new” Supermen show up. One looks like the original, but with cyborg parts. To be clear, while he was occasionally called the Cyborg Superman (usually on comic book covers) he never called himself that. And his name… was Hank Henshaw. Comic book history lesson #1 over (yes, there’s another one coming).
Maggie goes on the news, calling for Guardian’s arrest. Winn proves he’s horrible at keeping secrets, and caves when Alex starts asking him questions after he accidentally drops some really broad hints. Me, I’d wonder if he’s cut out to work at a classified government agency after that.
Supergirl wakes up in a cell next to Mon-El. He explains where they are. She tries to break out and can’t, and Mon-El explains the cells are made of Nth Metal from Thanagar, and indestructible. This is kind of interesting on a few levels if you’re a comic book geek. So here goes lesson #2.
When you have a character around a long time, they will probably get rewritten/rebooted a few times. One of the ones with the most confusing history at this point is Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman. In their original versions, they were reincarnated from Ancient Egypt. A version of this was seen on Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow on the CW shows last season. But, a later version of the characters were law enforcement from the planet Thanagar. So, since Supergirl is still off on her own Earth, maybe she’ll get her own Hawkman eventually. Or maybe it was just a nod to the comics. Oh, in the comics? Nth Metal is antigravity and helps the Hawks fly. I don’t know anything about it being indestructible. But since Supergirl’s Earth seems focused on aliens, it at least makes sense they’d use the Thanagarian Hawks, not the Egyptian ones. The Hawkgirl popularized on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon was the alien version.
Armed with her knowledge of who the Guardian is, Alex goes to Maggie and tells her to back off on the Guardian manhunt. Reasonably, Maggie wants more than a “because I said so.” What she gets is Alex going off on her about their recent emotional issues. I’m sure it felt great to get it off her chest, but maybe another venue and not in the middle of so much chaos would have been better? About this time, Alex notices Supergirl is missing, and Hank starts having some serious hallucinations.
Cadmus lady finally gets a name, as she reveals herself to Supergirl as Lillian Luthor, mother of Lex and Lena. Boy, the Luthors have a fixation on the letter “L.” Lillian lurches off down delusion way, spouting off about Superman infecting the country with propaganda, and framing her good boy, Lex. Yeesh. Denial runs in the family almost as much as L. Lillian is very well informed, and uses a device to replicate Kara’s power loss after fighting Red Tornado. She forces Kara to go along with this by threatening Mon, playing up the Daxamite lead weakness that’s a big part of the comics. They put Supergirl under what looks like a red sun lamp, further draining her powers, and then take a blood sample.
James and Winn play detective, trying to figure out who the new vigilante is (not to be confused with the Vigilante currently appearing on Arrow). They narrow in on Phillip Karnowsky, who seems to be targeting killers that beat the system. In the comics, he’s known as Barrage, but he never even gets a codename here. While they play Hardy Boys with a serial killer, J’Onn figures out M’Gann’s secret and shows he’s not exactly as open minded as some might think. They have an ugly, knock-down, drag-out fight over several blocks worth of National City. M’Gann ends up in a DEO cell for the crime of… saving J’Onn’s life?
Mon-El and Supergirl share notes on their imprisonment and being scared. Then they get rescued by a really unexpected returning character- Jeremiah Danvers, Alex’s father and Kara’s step-father, played by Dean Cain, who was Superman/Clark on The New Adventures of Lois and Clark. Jeremiah gets them out, saves Mon-El, and stays behind for reasons unclear. Kara and Mon get out due to largely to Cadumus’ men shooting like Star Wars Stormtroopers.
Guardian manages to defeat Phil (not an impressive villain name), and tosses him at the feet of just-arriving Alex and Maggie. Maggie, not utterly stupid, agrees to let Guardian go. J’Onn learns he’s sick and has more changes coming. Then, most of the cast has a dinner party at Kara’s: Kara, Mon-El, Alex, James, and Winn. On the Guardian situation now, Kara doesn’t know it’s James, Alex does, but James doesn’t know she knows. Mon-El probably doesn’t care. Oddly, Maggie shows up at Kara’s place looking for Alex so they can have another talk. She and Alex are supposed to talk “tomorrow night.” Kara tells Alex she saw Jeremiah. Mon-El seems to be developing a crush on someone.
Wondering what Cadmus wants with Supergirl’s blood? Well, I had several cool ideas about that. I was wrong on all of them. Hank uses it to fool the Fortress of Solitude’s sensors into thinking he’s Kara. Among the things wrong with this are that we’ve seen how to get in and I’m not sure Hank could do it, and the sensors apparently have no visual component at all. He’s asking about “Medusa,” and I don’t think he means either the Gorgon of myth or the Queen of Marvel’s Inhumans.
What I liked: The veiled reference to Batman was a nice touch. Guardian is coming in to his own nicely, although I don’t know how he’s doing in that fast. The Hawkman nod was interesting. It was good to see Jeremiah again. Mon-El tried to do the right thing a few times. Cadmus Lady finally has a name.
What I didn’t: Sadly, more than I did. Hank calling himself Cyborg Superman makes no sense. The whole scene in the Fortress really didn’t work for me. The city turning against Guardian was stupidly quick. Kara’s being a hypocrite about secrets bothered me. Why was Maggie looking for Alex at Kara’s place to have a quick chat that could just as easily have been done on the phone? Why did Jeremiah stay behind? Winn caved in to Alex way too quick about James’ secret.
I’m giving this one a 2.5. It had a few problems. Well, more than a few. I hope they start getting better again. I sadly think the quality has gone down since they switched from CBS to the CW.
Next week is the big team up with all four CW hero shows, which I’m looking forward to.