Things get particularly difficult for Supergirl and her friends in “Alex.” While the writers manage to keep things tense throughout, they also fall back on a few crutches that don’t ring true (more on that shortly). Unusually for the show, they didn’t introduce any new aliens, or major characters with ties to the DC Comics Universe.
They open with a bank robbery turned hostage situation in National City. Maggie is on the phone with the criminals, trying to negotiate their surrender. As often happens, Supergirl swoops in and wraps it up her way. This is where that crutch I mentioned comes into play. Maggie is annoyed with Supergirl for the help. It is suggested that Maggie has been feeling this way for a while, but we haven’t seen any hint of that on the series. So, to generate more drama, they invent an ongoing situation that hasn’t actually been ongoing. Later at dinner, these tensions are heightened when Alex, Maggie, Kara, and Mon-El talk about the day’s events. Maggie suggests that Supergirl is great when there are monsters around, but that maybe the Girl of Steel shouldn’t involve herself in police work. The best exchange is Maggie saying Kara never looks before she leaps, and Kara retorting that she can fly. Kara leaves early and abruptly, Mon accompanying her. Alex goes after them to smooth things over, after Maggie says she has no problem with Kara, it’s Supergirl she’s having issues with. Alex gets into the elevator with someone ominously lurking in back with baseball hat pulled low. Is that ever a good thing on any tv show or movie? You’d think Alex’s instincts would have kicked in.
The next morning, Lena Luthor gets an unexpected visitor- Rhea, Mon-El’s mother and recent widow by her own hand. Rhea is posing as a businesswoman/inventor, and brings a deal to Lena for a spectacular new machine. It will supposedly be useful for such diverse fields as climate change and transportation, among others. The ladies agree to discuss this further over dinner.
Maggie shows up at CatCo, where Kara is directing someone about layouts, which is an odd job for a reporter. Then again, James is inexplicably absent, so maybe Kara is covering for him. At any rate, their initial coolness from last night’s dinner fades when they compare notes and realize neither of them have heard from Alex since the end of dinner. Clearly, this bodes ill. Kara’s attempt to maintain a positive attitude pretty much gets shut down when she gets a call full of unwelcome news. Someone is holding Alex prisoner, demands Kara free a criminal from prison, and knows Kara is Supergirl.
There’s a brief scene of Alex in a largely featureless cell, ranting at her kidnapper. Wisely, Maggie and Kara call in all… well, most… of the help they can get. They go to the DEO and bring in J’Onn and Winn. James, as Guardian, continues to be off screen and never referenced. The prisoner is Peter Thompson, in Albatross Bay Prison, and doesn’t sound familiar to anyone. Maggie decides to research Thompson, since they don’t have a crime scene to investigate.
Apparently the day has flown by, as the next scene is Lena and Rhea at dinner. They talk about their respective family situations. Lena calls her relationship with her mother “apocalyptic,” which is fair enough. Rhea gives a very biased version of Mon-El’s relationship with Supergirl, carefully not naming names. Rhea does slip up a bit as they toast their new venture.
Hank, Maggie, and Kara go to see Thompson, who is a bit confused at an “FBI” (Hank’s cover) agent, a cop, and a reporter dropping by. He also seems genuinely surprised at someone working so hard to free him. Kara loses her temper a bit, and Hank ends the interview. When Kara protests in the hall, Hank tells her he used his telepathy and Thompson really doesn’t know what’s going on. Winn, meanwhile, has run a facial recognition scan of all Thompson’s visitors, and found out that one of them is Rick Malverne, Thompson’s son. In the comics, Malverne was a very minor character in Supergirl’s past.
Supergirl speeds off to Malverne’s place, at first not finding anything except monitors showing Alex in her cell. Malverne himself shows up finally (how he was hiding from her X-ray vision I have no idea), and is incredibly cocky and annoying. He shrugs off Supergirl’s threats, commenting that her eyes glowing with heat vision look really cool up close. He also knew the Danvers family from all their school days. I guess people going from Midvale to National City must be almost as common as folks from Smallville ending up in Metropolis. They take Malverne in to the DEO, but he won’t back down on his demand that they free his father. He continues to ignore tough talk from Supergirl and Maggie. What I find really odd is that he somehow “blocks” J’Onn’s telepathy, which they never follow up on. Seriously, did he buy a psi-scrambler at Walmart? All they learn is how long Malverne spent planning this, and how much time he spent stalking everyone involved.
Lena tricks Rhea into revealing herself via a nice bit of misdirection on a scanner. Lena then confronts Rhea, who at least doesn’t deny the fact that she’s an alien. Lena won’t do business with her and tells her to get out before security gets there. That’d be a short fight, although Lena has no way to know that. Rhea goes peacefully.
The team tries to con Malverne into giving up Alex’s location, but he really has prepared well. He figures out that his dad in this scene is really J’Onn. Malverne is annoying, but he’s pretty clever, I have to give him that. During all this, Alex tries various ways to escape that don’t work, then cuts her DEO tracker out of her shoulder. This, too, Malverne has been blocking. Winn manages to trace the signal when Alex gets it working, and Malverne warns them not to go. They do, finding that Malverne scrambled the tracing signal. In reprisal, Alex’s cell starts to fill with water.
Malverne sets up a video chat with Alex, using a computer that wasn’t on the table in his cell last scene. Alex can’t give Kara any clues about where she is, tells Kara not to give in to Malverne, and then Maggie takes the computer into the hall for a private, tear-filled conversation with Alex. The signal cuts out, and Maggie and Supergirl argue some more. Granted, it’s a rough situation, but those two have never shown any signs of the animosity they apparently have this episode.
Rhea returns to Lena’s office to tell some half-truths. She claims she hid the fact she was an alien because Lena’s mother Lillian is so famously and rabidly xenophobic. Rhea makes an impassioned plea to not let a great opportunity slip by because of a “lapse in judgement.” Lena then calls Kara for some advice, but Kara is a bit too busy at the moment.
Kara has a scene with a lot of self-blame, as J’Onn tries to make her feel better. Maggie confronts Malverne again, who won’t change his goal but shifts his focus. Alex, meanwhile, is in increasingly desperate straits as the water rises. Maggie falls for this, and does something desperate. She gets confronted by Supergirl, and tensions flare again. This time, Supergirl manages to get through with an emotional appeal to Thompson, who gives them a possible lead on where Alex might be.
The rescue is, of course, very last minute. It’s also not done that well. Supergirl and Maggie get to the new location, and Supergirl just walks in, looking around. I guess she forgot she had super-speed? Then, when she finally finds the cell, she smashes it open but then flies upward when the water flows out. Was she afraid the water would do something to her costume? The three women have a very teary reunion scene. Back at the DEO, Alex recovers, exchanges I love yous with Maggie, and then gets a small measure of revenge on Malverne before J’Onn mind wipes him.
The final scene doesn’t look good, especially when you watch the previews for next episode. Kara calls Lena back to apologize for earlier, and Lena says it’s fine, she worked it out. Then, as she hangs up, Lena turns to Rhea and asks if she’s ready to change the world. Rhea responds that Lena “has no idea,” which really should be setting all sorts of alarms off in Lena’s head, given her own past with maniacs like Lex and Lillian.
What I liked: The overall plot was decent, and they did a good job of making it a very tense, thriller-sort of story. Malverne was a clever foe, and Alex did everything she could to not be the damsel in distress. They were smart enough to tone down Mon’s usual comedic presence. Rhea is being very slick in what she’s doing and how she’s going about it.
What I didn’t: As I mentioned before, the tension between Supergirl and Maggie felt very forced and out of nowhere. I get that if they didn’t do it, there wouldn’t have been much of a plot, but the never explained blocking of J’Onn’s telepathy was something I really wanted some detail on. I already went over the multiple if not outright flaws, things that didn’t hang together during Alex’s rescue.
I’ll give them a 3 out of 5. It would have been higher without the issues I mentioned above.