The race for the totems is on, and Supergirl and company must beat evil imp Nxy to them all in order to save the world. Or something. They seem to feel the need to keep recapping that first line, so I thought I should throw it in as well. The next totem up is Hope, in case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway. There’s a big peace conference, random good deeds, and a new subplot that I think is an absolutely horrible idea. With this being the final season, maybe there is, in fact, “Hope For Tomorrow.” Due to a few things that happen, there will be some spoilers in the “What I Didn’t” section. Avoid that if you haven’t seen the episode, I guess.
We start off with Alex painting a mural in the Martian tradition on the wall of their place. Where she learned Martian history, or learned to paint for that matter, isn’t revealed. J’Onn looks on as she works, and Kara flies in at superspeed, having brought food and toys. We get a passing explanation as to why Dreamer isn’t in this episode. I guess she and Brainy are time-sharing? Finally, after some nervous Alex babbling, Kelly arrives with Esme, and they try and settle her into her new place. Almost immediately there’s a problem. Esme’s fire-breathing last time was just a hint of what she can do; apparently she can mimic the powers of any other alien around her. I’ve heard of individuals doing that, but an entire race that has that as an ability is new to me. Everyone is a bit freaked out by her sampling J’Onn’s power, possibly Esme most of all. On Mitch’s ship, Nxy reads a CatCo article by William about the “Super Friends,” and shows her utter inability to see other people’s point of view. Mitch isn’t really listening to her self-pitying whine as he’s tinkering together a new gadget for her to get some of her powers. Or let her get some of the Totems’ powers. Or something. It’s unclear. I really don’t like the whole “technology can channel magic” trope they seem to be into on this series, but that’s a personal bias, I admit. After she gets it working, she cackles like the supervillain she is.
While Esme sits solemnly on her bed, Alex and Kelly talk about what happened before and how bad they feel about it. This is a recurring theme of the episode. Alex vows she’s going to help Esme get a handle on her powers. Personally, if you’re dealing with someone with that particular powerset, and know they have trouble controlling it, I don’t think having one of the most powerful, and multi-powered, beings on the planet hanging around when she arrives is a great plan, but what do I know? William brings the baked goods he’s so good at to the Tower, swats Lena’s hand away when she reaches for them, and say they’re for Esme. Brainiac talks about the search for more totems, and finally gets a hit on Nxy’s aborted robbery last time. He explains why it took so long to get the information as Supergirl speeds off the Hague. J’Onn joins her as they confront Nxy, after the imp has tossed around some security guards and ignored the orders of Bureaucrat Woman, who plays a decent part in the episode but doesn’t get a name. Nxy escapes, but without the Totem, and Supergirl receives this week’s challenge. Alex brings Esme to the Tower, because the kid hasn’t had enough stress for one day, and she’s going to go through training and go somewhere she’s not allowed to talk about. No pressure, right?
While Supergirl tries to figure out what’s going on with the Totem, Bureaucrat Woman comes and fusses at the heroes about Nxy disrupting her peace conference. Supergirl and J’Onn agree that he should stay there and see what he can do. Bureaucrat Woman is not exactly thankful for the offer. Returning to the Tower, Supergirl chats with Lena about the Grimoire from her mother, and Lena shows she’s still clearly not comfortable with this random change in her character the writers decided on this season. After another “You can do it!” talk from Lena, Alex comes in talking about how Esme’s attempt to duplicate Brainy’s powers went awry. The writers show the inability here to distinguish between a power and learned knowledge. Alex decides to keep pushing Esme, and brings her Supergirl, the only other being I can think of that might be more overwhelming for the little girl than J’Onn. They make a really, really poor choice of what power to start with (Superman and Lois handled the difficulties with this power spectacularly well in their first season) and, to no surprise at all except for Alex and Supergirl’s, this goes badly. In addition to the power not working out well, Esme’s abilities let her figure out a big secret, and get even more pressure put on her.
On Mitch’s ship, Nxy tests some of her new powers and ponders her new challenge. Mitch unhelpfully babbles about tacos. Nxy gets an idea and embarks on a classic villain gambit. At the summit, J’Onn does his best to keep a lid on things while Bureaucrat Woman has unrealistic expectations and makes some really disturbing demands, then tries to justify them when J’Onn doesn’t agree. Supergirl is at a loss how to either help Esme or pass the challenge of the Totem, and gets another pep talk from Lena, as well as an interesting suggestion. Kelly tries to comfort Esme over her difficult day, and Alex bemoans what’s been happening so far. She and Kelly talk, and Alex gets an idea.
Kara puts in a rare appearance at work and argues with Andrea about her newest article. Andrea continues to be a horrible boss and really unpleasant person. I really miss Cat Grant. I’m hoping she shows up before the series ends, but I’m thinking she won’t. Nxy pops up, takes a prisoner, makes demands, and has a brief tussle with Supergirl before leaving with a new toy. After this, Supergirl zooms around doing random good deeds while Nxy and William debate the free press. Lena tries a new spell to help out. While it doesn’t work, at least it doesn’t go catastrophically badly. She and Brainy discuss next steps, and then Supergirl arrives, ranting about her inability to get the totem. Alex and Kelly try something new to convince Esme she doesn’t need to be as worried as she is, and the writers forget how something that’s been on the show several times works.
The peace talks break down, and that makes this as good a place as any to point something out about them. The two nations in conflict are DC made-up countries of Kasnia and Corto Maltese. The episode treats them like neighbors, when it’s been established in both the comics and the Arrowverse that Kasnia is in Eastern Europe while Corto Maltese is a Caribbean Island. At any rate, things are sounding bad and Supergirl, like last episode, starts slipping into really dubious, murky moral territory, and, once again, Lena questions what she’s doing. The situation grows even more dire, and the heroes leap into action. Supergirl and J’Onn do things that should bring assorted governments and law enforcement agencies down on them, and Brainy uses his Flight Ring in a way I’ve never seen on the show or in the comics. Somehow, this series of actions lets Supergirl master this week’s Totem. Kelly and Alex worry more about their new role in life but are happy they’re doing it, however badly. Finally deciding on a course of action, Supergirl makes a wardrobe change that makes no sense at all. She does what she set out to, Nxy is furious to learn about it, and then gets an unexpected gift to close out the show.
What I liked: Brainy got in some good lines. I’m amused that Lena seems to be the moral center of the group now, but at least they’re sticking with it. William did some good stuff throughout the episode. I’m glad Lena, at least, is trying to keep the heroes, well, heroic.
What I didn’t: Again, spoiler warning.
Ok, you were warned. How in the world are Kelly and Alex qualifying as Foster Parents? They’re not married, can’t prove a stable home life, work unpredictable hours, and what is Alex putting down for her background? “I used to run a secret government agency that kidnapped people, quit, and am now a superhero that somehow pays the bills with no paycheck?”
That to one side: Alex handled about everything with Esme wrong, I don’t know when Alex became an artist, Flight Rings don’t work that way, Supergirl didn’t need what she had on at the end, and what were they thinking with how they started Esme on Supergirl’s powers? And why was J’Onn there at all? And I get why they wrote him off, but did they forget Jeremiah Danvers existed?
This season has been bad, and this may have been the worst individual episode. I’m giving this a 1.5 out of 5. This was painful. I really hope things get better between now and the end.