The disappointing season of Supergirl gets a bit better here, but that’s not much of an accomplishment. There are still a lot of questionable choices and weird character moments. It’s not just that the show isn’t that good at this point, although it’s not, it’s that it was so much better than this not long ago. I’m not sure what happened. Considering there’s so much shadowy business and hidden things this episode, I also question the “In Plain Sight” title.
The show starts off with Kelly walking down the street, looking nervously around. After a few paranoia-inducing stare downs, Malefic, who has been so careful to be shapeshifted and hidden, drops out of the sky to confront her. Maybe that’s the bit they get the title from? All of this is a carefully crafted ambush that goes horribly, as Malefic gets away from the combined might of Supergirl, Alex, Brainy (who once again does nothing useful), and some DEO agents. The real Kelly, off with James, gets a vision of the battle through her poorly defined or explained sudden link with Malefic. The siblings get to Calvinville, the hometown of their aunt who meant so much to them that I don’t think she’s been mentioned before now. Driving through town, they can see the place has gone through some changes.
At the DEO, there’s an elaborate screening process underway to stop Malefic from sneaking in while shapeshifted, although he can still walk through walls and mind control people. Upset at the ambush failure, Alex takes her frustration out on Brainy, instead of, oh I don’t know, the superhero who supposedly is the strongest hero on this planet who did absolutely nothing? Brainy tries to explain, Alex keeps snapping at him, and J’Onn is lying and hiding secrets. You’d think as a shapeshifter who has been undercover for 300 years and helped run a secret government agency for a while, he’d be better at lying. Alex decides it’s time to dig out the heavy duty anti-Martian weaponry Hank Henshaw created a while back, which worries pretty much everybody. Brainy acts like a teenager, snapping back about his broken heart, and Supergirl decides it might be time to call some scientific backup in the form of Lena Luthor. Nia calls Kara with an update on the mysterious William Day, and Brainy acts even less mature. How in the hell did he function as a Legionnaire?
Speaking of Lena, she’s having some trouble with Lex’s journals (you know, the ones Supergirl stole for her that no one seems to have noticed are missing?). Lena and Heve talk about ways to further their mind control project, and Lena clearly gets an idea that’s not good. James and Kelly get to their aunt’s place, to find homeless kids camped in the living room who run away when the Olsens come in. Following Nia’s lead, Supergirl flies to Mexico City, then changes to Kara to nose around. Because when you’re investigating a skilled reporter and you have a secret, the thing to do is show up somewhere inexplicably with no trail of plane tickets or passport usage. She finds a suspicious car accident with William leaving the scene. Kara checks in with Nia and they find a few more disturbing links behind the scenes.
They’re testing some of Brainy’s gear upgrades, which is apparently a very painful process for J’Onn, who is playing target/Guinea pig. Alex comes in, worried about what she’s hearing, and there’s more argument about how to proceed. James and Kelly walk around the town, seeing good things happened for at least someone they knew. The run into they kid from their aunt’s place again, and we get a name, Simon Kirby. This is likely a combination of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, early comic book creators who are best known for Captain America, but also created the Guardian, whose identity James has taken on. Kelly bails Simon out of some trouble, and then James makes a surprising offer. Ok, guys, there’s nice and there’s utterly unbelievable.
Supergirl follows up on more leads, changes to Kara when she hears someone, gets blasted out a window by the new arrival, changes back to Supergirl, barely wins the fight, and captures the new supervillain. Not only are they abusing the hell out of her new insta-change via Brainy’s magic glasses, but I guess it comes with makeup applicators, since Supergirl now wears a lot more blush and mascara than Kara. And if I’m notice make up changes, something’s wrong. Supergirl calls ahead to tell the DEO to prepare a cell for her new buddy, so now she’s taking people across international borders. One of the DEO agents has fallen under Malefic’s sway, and is apparently being used as a broadcaster to get others. Yep, Brainy’s psi-tech sucks. I’d expect it to be better, but then, Saturn Girl in this world was apparently telekinetic instead of telepathic, so maybe he doesn’t have the experience with that power?
The Girl of Steel arrives with her new prisoner, now wearing some kind of sci-fi restraints, presumably to dampen her powers, but I have no idea where those came from. The prisoner is handed off and we never hear from or about her again. No name, no idea who they’re working for, where her powers came from. I guess none of that’s important. Supergirl makes sure Alex is ok and then flies off. James and Simon talk about the state of the town and what’s happened to change things for the worse. Simon and some of his friends are homeless because of what’s been happening. The kid laments that no one here stands up for anyone. Gee, what could they possibly be hinting at?
Cranky Brainy is cranky as he fiddles with the Phantom Zone projector, while Lena works on the psi-blockers. After some teasing about his little boxes, Lena offers some advice and helps with the projector after making him actually ask. We can see she’s clearly up to something besides helping. Out in the sticks, James pays a visit to his former mentor and the place he got his first job as a photographer. As he speaks to his old friend, he’s very disappointed in what he hears. Kara and Nia follow up on more leads and unravel more of what’s looking like a complicated conspiracy. We also get to hear more about the Nia/Brainy soap opera. Kara gives out sage advice, since her love life has been so good, and Nia calls her boss. Speaking of, I guess Kara can play hooky easier this episode since Andrea Rojas has gone from omni-present annoyance to appearing in the credits only this week.
J’Onn is hanging out on the balcony at the DEO, because a super secret organization should have a lot of ways to get in, right? He and Alex have a nasty conversation that really upsets him, but he deserves to get called on some of this. James does some good deeds to help Simon, but it’s not enough and the kid pedals off dejectedly, leaving James to ponder his choices. Returning to the DEO because… well, we never do find out why Supergirl came back, but she did, and she and J’Onn have a heart to heart (do Martians have hearts?). immediately after this, we find out the next series of unfortunate developments.
While J’Onn tries to help matters, James and Kelly discuss events in Calvinville and what they can do. For about the third or fourth time this episode, Kelly gets another vision of what Malefic’s doing, and finally decides to mention it. They argue about what to do, but you know they’re heading back to National City. J’Onn gets an ultimatum from Malefic regarding one of the people J’Onn is closest to.
The stage is set for the big showdown, in a planetarium that, in a nice touch, is being funded by Obsidian Tech. On screen is a documentary about how J’Onn betrayed his family and people. I guess Malefic has a production company somewhere? J’Onn tries to reach the possessed DEO agent, arguing with his brother in the process. At least he wasn’t stupid enough to come alone, as the directions said, and Supergirl is there to fight by his side. Remember how effective Brainiac 5 and Dreamer were last season? The writers don’t, since neither one takes part in this big fight. Some missing DEO weaponry turns up in the wrong hands, there’s a hostage situation, a bomb vest, and a lot of destruction. Eventually, the heroes win and Malefic gets sent off by the Phantom Zone generator.
The wrap up goes over several scenes. J’Onn recovers in the medbay at the DEO where he and Alex have a talk. Our heroine gushes over how much help Lena was, and they what could be a nice friendship moment if we didn’t know Lena’s agenda this season. At The Bar, most of the friends gather. Brainy and Nia hopefully make up, and James arrives at his shocking decision we didn’t see coming at all to leave National City and go back to Calvinville, where he is going to buy the local paper he once worked at. I guess he got a great severance package from CatCo. Weirdly, he says Rojas can stop him reporting but not from publishing. Alex and Kelly have a nice little reunion.
After getting a lead from her never-named friend, Nia shares info with Kara, who takes off to follow up on the clue. Supergirl flies in and instant changes once again to Kara when someone comes in. Kara has a confrontation with someone where we hear an alternate version of one of this season’s subplots that at least has me mildly curious about the truth of the matter. James gets set up at his job and gives his camera to Simon. In the comics, the original Guardian had sidekicks that were homeless newspaper boys called the Newsboy Legion, this seems like a nod to that. And for our very last scene, we see the next step on Lena’s journey to villainhood.
What I liked: The initial ambush was decent, even if it didn’t work. The final fight wasn’t bad. At this point, any episode without Andrea Rojas’ smirking face is a step in the right direction. I don’t like where she’s going, but Lena is good at what she’s doing and running rings around everyone. The nods to the original Guardian (OG?) were nice.
What I didn’t: Alex was grumpy and out of character several times, but then, Brainy was way off from normal, too. James and Kelly both made really weird choices. Kara’s getting mighty careless with her secret identity. What the heck happened with this new prisoner? Why are Brainy and Dreamer benched? This felt more like the set up for a Guardian show than the departure of the character, and James and Kelly did some really weird things. I’m not sure I buy the story Kara was told, and why is she of all people giving relationship advice?
Like I said, better than it had been, but that’s not great. I’m giving this a 2.5 out of 5. C’mon, guys, you can do better than this.