This season of Supergirl has been ugly, mirroring a lot of what’s happening in current American politics. After last episode, Kara decided that Supergirl might be doing more harm than good, and has put her cape away for a while to focus on “exposing” Lex Luthor. Since the world knows he’s an escaped convict, murderer, and generally evil son of a bitch, I’m not sure what she’s trying to expose, but she uses the phrase a LOT this episode. With Supergirl out of action, someone has to take up the slack, as is strongly hinted at in the title “American Dreamer.”
The show opens with an attack on a guy working on a truck, yelling he’s out after curfew. Dreamer steps in and drops the thugs with yet more new powers. Her comic book counterpart has dreams about the future, is a skilled fighter, and talented Legionnaire. Dreamer seems to be gaining new powers every time she puts on the mask. Later, Brainiac 5 is going over some of his concerns about operating without Supergirl, when Dreamer discovers he’s taken a shortcut on some of what he’s doing and get annoyed with him. Personally, I’d think she could cut him some slack since he’s risking the only post he has when he’s on an alien world and not even in his own time, but that’s me.
The reason for Brainy’s shortcut is that he, Alex, Lena, and Kelly are hovering around James Olsen’s bedside. Lena’s current plan to get the Harun-El out of him isn’t working, and James gets another panic-attack induced flash of superpowers. He seems to be developing Kryptonian abilities, but erratically and way out of control. They talk about tech scraped up from AmerTek, and then Brainy makes a suggestion about a mind palace, but this is a completely different use of the term than I am familiar with.
Kara uses her superspeed to go through files as she tries to figure out what Lex is up to. Knocking over some of the files gives her the idea to make a conspiracy theory “crazy wall” as she starts sticking things up and making notes. Hope janitorial doesn’t come by while she’s out. She overhears a co-worker, Franklin, who has a sister at AmerTek, and pushes on him to let her talk to the sister for more leads. Nia comes in to ask Kara about resuming her Super duties, but Kara feels she can’t until they get Supergirl’s name cleared.
Brainy outlines his new plan, and we learn that James might end up keeping his powers but being in control of them. Super-Guardian, anyone? Lockwood observes a really twisted version of “take your son to work” day, and brings George along as they break up a family. George seems to be having doubts, while the woman left behind glares at Lockwood. By the way, if any of the characters were as smart as they like to think, they could use this to undermine Lockwood’s position. Either the aliens aren’t that dangerous, since he’s bringing his son along, or he should be charged with child endangerment.
Kara goes to meet her source, and “accidentally” helps break up a mugging, using her powers in secret, but in such a way the cops definitely should have talked to her, but didn’t. She and Edna meet up and talk about AmerTek, where the paranoia is so high they are putting “alien detecting” devices on the doors next week. Since aliens come in an amazing variety in this world, I can’t imagine how that would work, but it’s never really touched on. Edna works in HR, and is helping hide information about alien employees. Kara appeals to her to do more, and help her “expose the criminals.”
In Lena’s lab, Brainy starts his treatment for James, which skips around his memories to his father’s funeral. The big problem is both James and Kelly insist he didn’t go this father’s funeral, but Brainy insists this memory shows that he did. James’ reaction to some of this is so strong he displays a new trick as he suddenly uses heat vision to blast part of the lab. Kara has gotten Edna to help her get into the file room at AmerTek. They hear voices in the hall, hide, and Kara again uses her powers to keep whoever it is out of the room. The way she did it would leave behind a lot of question-raising evidence, but this, too, doesn’t seem to happen. Panicked, Edna decides she can’t do this anymore and won’t help or go on record.
Lena keeps experimenting, and what we see really makes me wonder where she’s getting her raw materials. Brainiac and the Olsen siblings disagree about the issue of the funeral, and James tells an unlikely story about why he missed it. Brainy makes what I think is a great analogy about memories and watercolor painting, but when Kelly flees, he doubts himself. Alex goes to reassure Kelly, and they bond a bit over not taking care of themselves like they should. Kara makes another connection, and goes to see Lena about it. Lena is snappish and unpleasant, Kara is sorry but can’t explain why, and they part.
Following some suspicious people on the street, Dreamer gets a big surprise when she discovers one of the frequently used locations on the show has been repurposed to an alien shelter. Some random young girl, apparently untroubled by a stranger in a costume and mask, asks her to help with chores, but the domestic scene gets interrupted when Lockwood’s thugs show up. Dreamer drives them off. George Lockwood goes home and has some doubts, which his mother does nothing at all to help with.
Nia drops in on the job she sort of has (they are amazingly understanding about missing work at CatCo), and she and Kara commiserate on their current difficulties. Nia makes a random comment, and Kara gets a brilliant idea. She’ll make everything better by interviewing Dreamer. I will point out that print reporter, which Kara has been up to now, and television interviewer, are not necessarily the same skill set, but that doesn’t matter here, either. Brainy helps James uncover some memories, and some really twisted stuff happened the day James is fixated on. It’s so messed up that James get trapped in the memory, and Brainy has to bring Kelly in to help free him. This is not the first time he’s done it, but Brainy has never been telepathic before this show. Maybe he got the mind powers Saturn Girl oddly seemed to be lacking when she was around.
The bad decisions about Kara’s interview keep piling up. It’s not only going be on video, but it’s live, and in front of a big CatCo sign. “Hey, anti-alien guys, this is where we are if you want to come attack us or anything.” Brainy visits Lena and tells her about the progress with James. Lockwood and his goons see the broadcast, but can’t shut it off because someone hacked their system. Who did this and why, we never learn. Kara does a great job humanizing Dreamer, who talks about her heritage, likes and dislikes, and works in that she’s trans at least twice. Personally, I think she gives out so much information that it wouldn’t be that hard to figure out who she is, especially with that fairly distinctive hair. Various characters watch this exchange with different reactions. Alex has a mole in Lockwood’s agency, and he warns her Lockwood and company are coming after them.
Lena has a very strong reaction to the interview, and Brainy is put in the odd spot of comforting her, something the genius is really not good at. The interview should be corny but the actual substance of it works, even though the stuff around it doesn’t. When Lockwood’s team shows up to raid CatCo, a fight breaks out. Alex hides and kills the lights. Brainy and Dreamer fight off the strike team, with help from Kara, still disguising her powers, Franklin the reporter more or less by accident, and a suddenly healthy and powerful James Olsen. Lockwood bizarrely claims Dreamer has been inciting violence in her interview, which any half-awake lawyer could tear apart in defense. But it’s a superhero show, so problems are more punched than planned for. Also, for the record, while they are loathsome, Lockwood and his agents are current authorized representatives of the US Government, doing their duty. So, technically, everyone fighting them is committing a criminal act, and there should be warrant sworn out for all of them. That doesn’t happen, either, and the bad guys are driven away.
The ripple effects from the interview keep coming, as Edna comes in to say she’ll help and go on record, and Lena drops by to mend fences with Kara. They have an emotional scene on the Cat Grant Memorial Balcony of Important Conversations. George Lockwood seems to be turning against his father’s crusade and reaches out to someone. Lena and Kara go over Kara’s crazy wall. Apparently Ace Investigative Reporter Kara hasn’t heard of Google, because figuring out who someone is proves vital to the next step in the investigation, and this information is easily available on that site. Lockwood goes home to find some of his sins revisiting him in a nasty way which isn’t going to help anything for anyone.
The episode ends with J’Onn completing his quest on Mars. His sudden departure and leaving both his friends and new business in the lurch becomes a tiny bit more understandable when you learn David Harewood, who plays J’Onn, directed this episode. For his quest completion award, he gets a brief conversation with a loved one and then told to go home. Yay?
What I liked: The message of the interview was a good one, despite what it was surrounded with. It was nice to see Brainy in action again, and his scene with Lena was entertaining. I’m glad George is seeing what a madman his father is, and hope that survives this episode’s ending. I’m glad James had a good reason for sorta missing his father’s funeral, but seriously, who wrote that? Hopefully, that end scene means J’Onn is on his way back. Now if Clark would just end his paternity leave…
What I didn’t: There were so many plot holes and odd choices here. Doing the interview live from an easily recognizable location was foolish. Kara’s various “undercover” power uses should not have worked that smoothly. The bit with the mystery name was just sloppy, both investigating and writing.
The episode was a good interview wrapped around some weird writing. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5.