Supergirl’s season of political strife continues with “Stand and Deliver.” This is another season where the good guys can’t seem to quite catch up and the bad guys pull one nasty surprise after another. And due to Colonel Hayley’s earlier obsession (which seems to have utterly vanished), Alex still doesn’t remember that Kara is Supergirl. Fortunately, Alex’s bizarre hostility towards Supergirl seems to have faded, too.
The episode opens with the Elite coming out of a diner and even getting some cool musical accompaniment (Stuck In The Middle With You, great song although the group is pretty far to one side, not at all in the middle). They split up for a bit, and Supergirl’s team gets the drop on Menagerie. It shows some nice teamwork, and that J’Onn is undergoing some changes.
Loathsome Ben Lockwood, now Director of Alien Affairs, holds a press conference. His hate speech is interrupted when Hat takes a shot at him, somehow managing to hit the lectern and not the man. Either Hat wasn’t trying that hard, or he’s a lousy shot. Supergirl shows up to fight the bad guys, but they teleport away. James Olsen asks Eve in for a friendly chat about a story he’s researching. Eve is absolutely sure she and her boss are doing the right thing, and the way the interview goes, it seems like James has taken over junior reporter McKenzie’s story, which is not cool. I’d expect James to be a better boss than that.
Colonel Hayley drops by Lena’s lab to pressure the genius to speed up her experiments. In the name of good science and safety, Lena refuses, once again showing how different she is from most of the Luthors. Supergirl and J’Onn can’t find the rest of the Elite, which troubles them both. Menagerie arrives at the DEO with a note from Supergirl, pleasing Brainiac and annoying Hayley, which is a win-win in my book. Alex gets temporarily reassigned by order of the President, and is far from happy about her new job. Her complaints fall on deaf ears, and Hayley pretty much tells her to shut up and deal with it.
Dreamer uses her powers to search for the Elite, while Supergirl and J’Onn talk about the Martian’s reactions to the Elite and the “always in costume” phase of being a hero. Lockwood continues to be obnoxious, and makes a very disturbing speech at his next press conference. Dreamer fortunately slept through that, but wakes up with a clue to follow up on. Hayley gives Brainiac a morally dubious assignment that troubles the alien genius, while Supergirl and J’Onn follow up Dreamer’s lead and get another clue to help hunt the Elite.
Manchester Black and the Hat teleport to the Artic, which in the Super-books tends to mean only one thing. Through very improbable means, the two break into the Fortress of Solitude. Kelex, the robotic caretaker/guardian of the place, never shows up and is never mentioned. Do robot servants get vacations? And the Fortress doesn’t have any kind of alarm system? Alex and Kara share Chinese food and Alex vents about her new assignment, while Kara plays cheerleader to her troubled sister.
Manchester and the Hat argue over the future of their group as they wander the Fortress at will, totally unimpeded in any way. They open one large, vault-like door and slam it immediately as brilliant light cascades out. After more argument, Hat teleports away, making me wonder how Manchester is getting home when he finishes pilfering things. J’Onn and Dreamer combine their powers to find the Morae, which leads them to the Fortress. Oddly, the Legion Flight Ring we’ve seen several times in the past is missing from the displays, I guess so Brainy can keep moping about his being gone. Supergirl provides some guidance to Dreamer and the pair manage to capture the Morae. J’Onn goes after Manchester, who seems to use a drastic method to avoid capture.
The Morae, now captured, is also brought to the DEO, where Hayley pushes Brainy on the assignment she gave him, and they debate the need for agents at an alien unity march. J’Onn, Supergirl, and Dreamer talk about Manchester’s seeming suicide, and Supergirl tells them about the Sun-Eater, ominously described as a “living bomb.” I thought this would lead to a very dangerous situation, but apparently no one but me figured that out. Or at least none of the characters did. J’Onn comments on a feeling of relief in the wake of Manchester’s disappearance, and J’Onn’s inability to find Manchester.
James Olsen watches news about the march, and decides to accompany Franklin, a reporter we’ve seen before, previously identified as an alien. Seriously, how many aliens are living on this Earth? More than I’ve ever seen in any superhero Earth from any company, with the sole exception of the Legion of Super Heroes in the 30th and 31st centuries. James also seems to make a passing comment that might explain why we haven’t seen Guardian in a while.
Brainy goes to visit J’Onn, Supergirl, and Dreamer, and also comments on Dreamer wearing her costume all the time. He invites them to join him at the protest, makes a confession I saw coming a mile off, and is disappointed at Supergirl’s decision. Brainy also talks about the loss of his ring, and what makes a hero. It’s actually a nice speech from the alien genius.
Lockwood holds a rally that serves no real point but to rile people up and whip up anti-alien sentiment (Hmm… why does that sound familiar?). He makes a proposal that angers, saddens, and sickens Supergirl, J’Onn, and basically all the good guys. Supergirl has a brief conversation with a man she’s saved before which isn’t exactly heartening, and then changes her mind about something she said earlier. Lockwood’s mob and the counter-protestors come face to face (seriously, who thought THAT was a good idea?), and a long few tense moments get broken when some idiot hurls a bottle and starts a riot. Any chance at peace gets trashed when Manchester shows up bearing his various stolen gadgets and fans the flames of hatred and fear on both sides.
General chaos ensues, as J’Onn charges off after Manchester. With her combination of powers, Supergirl could have ended this very quickly, but didn’t, for dramatic effect I guess. Brainy squares off against the Hat, and wins with a little help from his friends, although he doesn’t get his ring back. Alex breaks up a few fights here and there, and James decides photography is more important than heroics, apparently. J’Onn loses his temper with Manchester, but doesn’t manage to capture him as things don’t go the way the Martian Manhunter expected. The riot finally stops and some from both sides help deal with the wounded and scared, while James takes pictures and Supergirl poses dramatically.
Afterward, at CatCo, Kara muses that the march might have succeeded if not for Manchester. James talks about progress from the people bonding on both sides, and mentions Supergirl and her “new sidekick,” which doesn’t thrill Nia. Lockwood’s new initiative has failed, at least for now. Alex and Hayley have a conversation, where Alex gets some unexpected compliments. As Hayley leaves, Alex and Brainy agree the Colonel is confounding. Hayley eases some of her demands on Lena, but Lena is in obsessive scientist mode and keeps pushing. J’Onn meditates on Manchester’s brass knuckles and vows to find him, taking off in his alien form. Green and full of rage, where I have seen this before? Alex comes to Kara’s loft and they commiserate about their rough days. They end on a note of optimism. The episode ends with one of the characters getting a surprise phone call and something even more surprising happens after that.
What I Liked: I’m glad Brainy showed he could still fight even without his ring. James wanting to talk to Eve before moving ahead on his story made sense. I’m also glad J’Onn is putting aside this weird pacifism stint of his. Dreamer’s enthusiasm for being a new hero made sense and was fun to watch. Brainy had some good scenes and made some great choices.
What I didn’t: The break-in at the Fortress made no sense, from how they got in, to the lack of alarms, to Kelex and the Flight Ring being randomly missing. Supergirl could have ended the riot at superspeed without everyone being at risk for so long. Her posing at the end of it instead of fighting brought to mind unfortunate comparisons to Man of Steel, a movie that failed on the heroic front in many places. I’m not sure, but if this is the end of James as Guardian I’m not sure I either like it or buy it. They built the Elite up as big bad guys, and then had them all captured remarkably quickly and anti-climactically.