The battle against the racist (speciesest?) hate group Children of Liberty rages on in “Rather the Fallen Angel.” I get trying to be politically correct and inclusive (even a hate group, I guess?), but have we seen any female Children of Liberty? I can’t remember any, certainly none that were major characters.
The show opens with Manchester Black continuing his vendetta against the Children of Liberty. When he almost gets himself shot, Supergirl swoops in at the last minute to save him. Manchester’s methods, which are growing less like the supervillain he is in the comics and a lot more like Marvel’s Punisher, cause some friction with Supergirl, but she continues her choice to be blindly optimistic about everyone. That’s both a strength and a weakness in her.
Speaking of being blind, James gets his meeting with Agent Liberty, thinking he’s going to change the man’s mind and get a story out of it. Instead, he finds out his options are very limited, and Agent Liberty very much has his own agenda. Agent Liberty makes demands and threats, James refuses, and the racist in charge leaves to go gloat with his followers about their next plan.
Lena is continuing with her own really questionable agenda, trying to perfect the process of turning humans into metas. She and Eve debate methodology and execution as Eve briefs Lena on their test subject. It’s unclear if they somehow got amazingly fast approval for human tests or are going totally rogue. I suspect the second, but it’s odd how much paperwork she’s keeping on the project if it’s as illegal as it should be. She meets her guinea pig and refers to him only by subject number, much like Oliver over on this season’s Arrow. Lena does set him straight on a few assumptions, and he makes his own preferences known for terminology.
Supergirl gets to the DEO to be greeted by some bad news from Alex about Ben Lockwood. J’Onn calls in, relaying a message from Manchester Black that piques Supergirl’s interest. James tries to escape from the Children of Liberty when Regular Guy Tom comes in, apologizing to James. Tom claims he also thought this was going to be an interview, not a hostage situation. Tom slips him the Guardian gauntlet and a COL mask, and the two mount a highly ineffective escape. They do manage to find out they are on Shelly Island, the alien equivalent of Ellis Island long ago, and a key plot point is dropped.
The Girl of Steel and Manchester find an empty shipping container, which gives them a few clues about what might have been in it and where it went. While Supergirl uses her powers to retrieve a clue, Manchester goes after a potential informant, highlighting how different their methods are. Supergirl decides she’s done with the vigilante, and flies off.
The lab rat and Lena get to know a bit about each other, despite Lena’s best efforts. Kara demonstrates that super doesn’t mean perfect in all areas while Alex brings her up to date on developments with the missing Children of Liberty. J’Onn stops by, showing how well he knows Kara, and the two aliens chat about Manchester Black. As a result, Supergirl flies to Manchester’s place, bringing food and talking about working together. They find out via Brainy that the bad guys have something really, really powerful, which isn’t good.
There are more developments with Lena and the lab rat. Lena really sucks at the “I will keep you at a distance” thing. Tom realizes he made a mistake joining the Children of Liberty, and James makes some bland, and blind, statements about his reputation and the stakes involved here. How the man has seen so much with Superman, then Supergirl, then as Guardian, and remained this naïve is beyond me.
Supergirl and Manchester play detective and figure out the Children must be on Shelly Island. She wants to call the DEO and lets herself get talked out of it. Does Manchester have the Jedi mind trick? It seems to be the only explanation for how he’s getting away with some of this. She shows him her ace in the hole and they go to the island. Manchester has a few surprises in store, and Supergirl learns a few things she’d rather not know. They argue and there’s an ambush by the Children, which captures Supergirl and features some really weird version of self-adhering chains. They make a cool visual but no real sense.
Lena and the lab rat, who we learn is named Adam, chat more, and we learn of a dark event form Lena’s past and why she’s always seemed so driven, guilty, and haunted. Lockwood makes his own preparations for his fiendish plot. James continues to be ridiculously naïve and doesn’t catch it when the Children (gasp!) lie to him. Supergirl tries to escape her own situation and makes very little progress, with the heavy overuse of panting to show her difficulties. She spends a lot of this episode sounding like either she just ran a marathon or a hot dog. Manchester makes his own progress on his agenda.
James finally figures out what’s going on, and there’s a big fight involving Guardian, Tom, and Manchester. Supergirl is finally freed and saves the day, or at least a statue. Lockwood fumes about being foiled and Manchester slips away in the chaos, off to hunt more of the Children.
Lena’s experiment goes on and it doesn’t look pleasant. J’Onn catches up with Manchester, disappointed in his friend’s choices. Manchester upgrades from Punisher to Batman, having just the right gadget to both make his point and let him get away from the amazingly powerful Martian.
Wrapping up various points on the show, Lena makes notes about her experiment and we learn the results. James and Kara discuss the events of the day and talk about only seeing what other people want you to. Despite this hugely unsubtle bit of foreshadowing, James drops by to visit Lena and doesn’t get the reception he hoped for. A distraught J’Onn visits Kara, shaken by his failings. The last thing we see is Manchester having made a major step towards hunting down Agent Liberty.
What I liked: As I said, Supergirl’s choice to be so optimistic is both strength and weakness, but at least she’s consistent. Say what you want about Manchester’s methods, he’s effective and getting better results than the entire DEO. The Children are hateful critters, but they do have some smarts, making them better foes for the heroes. I admire Lena’s drive, even if I think she’s on the verge of making a horrible, horrible mistake. Any episode without the incredibly annoying Colonel Haley wins points from me.
What I didn’t: Supergirl’s capture made little sense, logistically. She, James, and J’Onn are competing to see who is most willfully blind. Lena’s big reveal from her past seemed contrived. Shelly Island, if it’s so important, seems like a really late reveal. Shouldn’t it have been at least mentioned before this point? Brainiac 5 had such a great scene last time, it was disappointing that he was reduced to essentially Supergirl’s Felicity this time. Not that Felicity isn’t a great character, she is, but Brainy has resources and abilities she doesn’t.
It was a bit uneven, but I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. Despite the fact that it goes against the tone of show, I’m really rooting for Manchester’s success.