Supergirl is usually about her protecting the world. This time around, a lot of people are trying really hard to protect her. The fallout from Supergirl’s refusal to reveal her secret identity to Colonel Haley is getting really bad, and rocking the DEO and its allies. Things are getting to be a mess in “Suspicious Minds.” As an aside, I’ve never been clear why so many people assume Superman and Supergirl have secret identities. Masked heroes like Batman or Flash, sure, but those two don’t wear masks, are in the pubic eye a lot, and have even been seen in public with Clark and Kara, at least in the comics.
The episode ends with a different secret, as the Russian version of Supergirl we’ve seen a few times before gets trained. It’s a pretty grueling routine she’s put through, and the officers monitoring her seem to think she’s going to be fighting something powerful down the road. Maybe the “real” Supergirl?
In National City, Kara fakes her way through a spin class, which Lena apparently invited her to since they never hang out anymore. She’s saved from pretending this is hard when she overhears a distress call and fakes a cramp. Supergirl finds a cargo ship with a lot of downed soldiers aboard. In short order, she also finds the commander, Colonel McAllister, some stealth aliens who seem to cloak like the Predator, and a big bomb. She loses one of these things while dealing with another.
During cleanup afterwards, Supergirl uses her powers to brief the medics on the condition of one of the wounded. The DEO shows up, led by an increasingly hostile and belittling Haley. Alex and Brainiac 5 try to mitigate their leader’s growing hostility. I’m finding Haley more and more like a one-dimensional villain whose goal is to be evil because she’s evil. Supergirl states her determination to be a hero with or without Haley’s approval, and flies off.
J’Onn has set himself up as a private investigator, one of his most-used identities in the comics. Brainiac pays a visit, and is impressed with the (improbably) large office. After some banter, Brainiac gets to the point of his visit. The hero from the future is concerned about Supergirl no longer having the backup and resources of the DEO, and wants to hire J’Onn to look out for the Girl of Steel. It’s actually rather touching, although I can’t help wonder if part of this is to protect some kind of destiny Brainy knows about from his time. He and J’Onn both agree to look out for their friend, and there’s a bit of low comedy about payment.
At the DEO, Haley goes on an anti-Supergirl rant. She’s now obsessing over the matter of Supergirl’s identity, and plans to begin interrogating DEO agents for any clues. For obvious reasons, this worries Alex. Alex and Brainiac talk to a small group of agents who know Supergirl’s secret, and worry about the powerful hero being controlled by the ruthless colonel. They all agree to do what they can to keep the secret. Brainiac refers to some mental disciplines of his own before bringing Alex up to speed on some troubling developments in the aftermath of the incident on the ship earlier.
Kara and Alex meet at Kara’s place. They talk over the strangeness about the incident on the ship and Haley’s crusade against Supergirl’s secrets. After exchanging some worries, they realize they need to talk to someone who predates them both at the DEO. Lena goes to see James, following some of Kara’s earlier advice, and they have a good talk that goes a ways towards patching things up with them. Brainiac calls Nia for a horribly awkward scene about getting together to eat just before he gets pulled in to Haley’s interrogation about Supergirl.
Kara goes to see J’Onn in his ridiculously large office, and he says this case sounds like a spy novel (I don’t think I’ve read one of those that had aliens in it). They find a few fun things in Alex’s background file before moving on to more serious matters. They finally find a few answers linking the missing McAllister to a General Tan and Colonel Haley herself. I’m sort of wondering how J’Onn got so many boxes of files out of a secured secret agency, but maybe he used his powers. Brainy comes out of the talk with Haley and there’s a joke about his mental techniques. Alex takes off to answer a call from Kara.
J’Onn, Supergirl, and Alex meet up to go talk to General Tan. Alex is furious about Haley’s self-righteousness, which gets amusing as this scene goes on. He refuses to answer their questions, citing national security, and they prevent him from finishing up packing and running. So essentially, they are kidnapping a man for doing his job and following orders. What was that earlier, Alex? Tan shows the same utter lack of concern and empathy about the aliens Haley seems to have. The aliens show up and attack. To normal, they are invisible, it’s only Supergirl’s senses that let her get as far as the shimmer. For the first time in a while, J’Onn uses his powers in combat. They manage to capture one alien, but he kills himself at the prospect of going to the DEO. Clearly, the agency’s reputation has suffered lately.
A very angry Alex confronts Haley, who is unruffled and unapologetic. She casually mentions that she essentially tortured the aliens in question and then ordered their deaths when they got hard to control. They argue over motivations and methods, and Haley, convinced the aliens are coming for her, tells the DEO to get ready for an attack.
Next up is easily the most awkward scene of the episode, if not the season. Brainy and Nia have lunch, and nothing goes well. After a lot of misunderstandings and some self-deprecation, Brainiac reveals why he asked her there. He is continuing his one-alien effort to make sure Supergirl gets support now that she’s cut off from the DEO. James and Lena get together for a meal, teasing, a new small detail from James’ past, and Lena letting him in on what she’s up to. She actually has a very responsible motive for telling him besides their relationship, and I heartily approve.
Brainy was saved from his train wreck with Nia to help prepare the DEO, and he has taken an interestingly low-tech approach. It’s also the second mention this episode of his love of paintball, which seems to have come out of nowhere. It’s either a writer trying too hard, or this is going to be a plot point down the road. Alex and Kara have a hurried phone conversation about how hard Alex is finding it to keep working for Haley. Kara warns Alex if she loses control the way she wants, she’d end up flattening Haley. Alex goes to check in, gets really bad news from Haley, and has probably never been happier to find out their facility was under attack.
Haley and Alex clash on the capture versus kill issue. It can’t be good for the agency as a whole to keep seeing their Director and the political flunky above her clashing so often and openly. For that matter, I’m surprised Haley, who is very biased against aliens, keeps relying on Brainiac. Does she not know his secret, either? Parts of Brainiac’s plan work very well, and Haley shows she’s also largely indifferent to her agents’ safety. The aliens are smart, and one gets the drop on Brainy, whose flight ring fails him this time out. Eventually, as the alien wades through the DEO, Supergirl shows up to save the day. Haley repays the good deed with threats and Alex finally snaps and takes her own direct action.
In desperation, Alex and Kara call on J’Onn for some help. He gives a big speech about how altering someone else’s memory is an act of violence, and then does it anyway. Brainy is bruised from his alien encounter, which Alex finds amusing. Poor Brainy really needs his signature force field belt that he uses in the comics. Brainy is then surprised to see an alien called a Truth-seeker, which can’t be beaten apparently. Once again, Haley is inconsistent about apparently despising aliens but relying on them. I get she finds them useful, but she seems to be trusting them a lot. All the agents who know Kara’s secret, which seems like a small number as casual as they’ve been about that, agree to have their memories wiped. In a big dramatic moment, Alex decides she needs to have hers erased, too. After a highly emotional discussion, Kara reluctantly agrees. So now the only ones still around who know her secret are Kara herself, J’Onn, Brainy, and James if I have this right. It’s a big status quo change to end the episode.
What I liked: Supergirl has a great support network, which is both touching and believable. I’m impressed at how much effort Brainy is making on her behalf. I’m glad Lena and James are getting back on track; I like them as a couple. I don’t care how many problems it may cause down the line, I’m glad Alex did what she did with Haley near the end. The agents agreeing to have their memories wiped shows how much they believe in Supergirl. I think her real power is inspiring others. It was good to see J’Onn actually being effective again, but…
What I didn’t: J’Onn is being really inconsistent. His pacifism comes and goes, and his attitude about memory alterations seems to change within the same scene. Nia and Brainy’s meeting was painful to watch and I think they could have played it better. Haley is very inconsistent about aliens as well as just moustache-twirlingly evil. I have this sinking feeling the whole newly reinforced secret ID thing is going to get played for a lot of cheap laughs as the season goes on.
I didn’t like all of this, but I liked more than I didn’t. I’ll give it a solid 3.5 out of 5.