Previously on Supergirl, ‘Stronger Together’
Having avoided spoilers and, really, any kind of hints as to what might come next, there were two “oh, dang, let me rewind that” moments for me during this episode: the first was when Superman showed up, and the second was when Kara spoke to him.
Of course, she didn’t really speak to him, she texted him, but still… what might feel to some like a way around the show’s self-imposed “no Superman” rule really worked for me. Superman is such an incredible, epic, and mythical figure, that by definition he seems unreal. So to see him correspond so casually with a character we’ve come to know added a certain weight to a scene that felt very real, and probably wouldn’t have had they just shown him talking in person.
Speaking of talking in person, Cat and Supergirl finally get to do just that. She has been granted her exclusive interview with Supergirl, and she commences it with a line of questioning that seem kind of trite. What took you so long to reveal yourself? Any plans to start a family? Granted, Cat may have been caught off guard, but the answers to these questions don’t seem to me like Pulitzer-winning material, and, as Supergirl says before she ends it and flies off, nobody would ask her cousin questions like that.
But I guess that’s what makes Cat Grant so special, because she intends to turn that two-minute conversation into a special edition exposé that she says will eclipse even Vogue’s cover story about Caitlyn Jenner. She hops on the Millennial-bashing bandwagon and paints Supergirl as a vapid, self-absorbed narcissist who has to call her cousin at the first sign of trouble. Naturally, this upsets Kara, who has been tasked with coordinating a reception for the unveiling of the issue’s cover.
Speaking of magazine covers that feature Supergirl, can I just take a moment and give a shout out to the DeviantArt artist Artgerm, who had an idea ahead of its time?
Kara isn’t the only one upset by the interview. At the DEO, Henshaw voices his displeasure to her even as word comes in about a multi-car pileup. Supergirl flies away before Henshaw can say anything else, and that is where she encounters this week’s villain-of-the-hour: Reactron, a nuclear-powered Iron Man knockoff disgruntled employee with an axe to grind for Superman. He blames him for failing to save his wife, who died in the same accident that gave him his condition, and wants to take it out on Supergirl.
Supergirl and Reactron get into a little tussle and, after shorting out his gear using a car door, Supergirl turns to her own personal watchtower, Winn and James, for help. The DEO doesn’t really want to have anything to do with Reactron, since they don’t mess with turbo-charged humans, only aliens.
Winn has commandeered an office nobody wants on a floor nobody visits and set it up as their own crime-fighting HQ. Winn had written an algorithm that would sweep the city for spikes of radiation. James isn’t completely on board with the idea, and warns her to call for help before she goes, but Kara says that if she does that, it will let every bad guy out there know that National City is a target, because Supergirl can’t do anything without her cousin.
She makes a good point. Oh, and James accidentally let it slip in front of Winn that Clark is Superman.
Elsewhere, Max Lord is overseeing construction of his special train at Lord Technologies. Lord seems to be an amalgamation of Steve Jobs (he later mentions to Cat that he released a tablet) and Elon Musk (what with the whole train thing). There is an explosion, and Reactron shows up. He’s looking for somebody with a background in nuclear fission and thought that Max might know a guy. Max says he does know a guy, but he knows more than the guy who he knows, and so Reactron abducts him and orders him to repair his Iron Man suit or die.
A whole day passes before Kara and the gang can track his whereabouts, and in the meantime Kara is trying to put together Cat’s magazine cover unveiling party. Alex shows up and tells her that she did some research and has determined that Reactron’s suit could only have come from materials located at Bakerline Nuclear Power Station. That’s when they put it all together… Reactron isn’t so bad, he’s just a sad guy who lost his wife and blames Superman.
Now that they know his story, Supergirl wants to try to talk to him. Olsen pleads with her to just rescue Max and get out, but she stands firm. When she arrives, she is able to free Max but can’t stand up to Reactron’s onslaught. He isn’t interested in talking. In a daze, it looks like Supergirl’s short stint as the protector of National City might be over, but luckily, just as she’s about to pass out, Superman arrives.
Kara awakes in her apartment, where she sees Max Lord on the television thanking Superman for rescuing him. This makes her feel bad, but Olsen makes her feel worse when he admits that he was the one who let Superman know she might need rescuing by way of his trusty Super-watch.
At this point, we finally see James ultra-cool and suave demeanor crack. This scene changed my mind about Jimmy “James” Olsen as he is portrayed on this show. Over the course of the last two episodes, I never said it out loud but I found him kind of annoying. He always seemed to have that smug, suave kind of attitude and seemed like the kind of guy who never really gets caught off-guard, so this particular arc kind of humanized him to me.
Anyway, Kara accuses him of not believing in her before she kicks him out. Despite the day she’s had, Kara remembers she still has to go to the launch party.
James shows up there and recites a suave speech about how the safety net is more for him, not her. He presses the button whenever he gets scared, and he was scared he was going to lose her. They exchange some contrived but ultra-cool and suave lines about how she isn’t scared of “falling” (in omg love?!?!?!?!). Just then, Reactron shows up and burns the magazine cover to show everybody that he is serious.
Kara tells James not to do anything stupid and runs away to change right quick. While she’s gone, James steps in and introduces himself to Reactron as Superman’s best friend, and so if his goal is to hurt Superman, he should kill him.
The DEO calls Kara and tells her that in order to stop Reactron she has to remove the core from his suit and encase it in lead, otherwise it will blow up. Luckily, the reception is at a museum with lots of sculptures, and one happens to be lead. So she melts it with her heat vision and coats her hand with the molten metal.
Meanwhile, James has lured Reactron outside. When ol’ Lead Hand catches up with them, she grabs Reactron’s reactor, and saves the day.
At the DEO, Supergirl thanks Henshaw and Alex for helping out. Henshaw relents, and says that since the threat of prison doesn’t stop Alex from helping, they’ll have to do what they can. The DEO is officially on team-Supergirl.
The next morning, Kara is excited to see James but notices that he has a visitor. It’s Lucy Lane, his ex-girlfriend from Metropolis (and sister to Lois). Using her super hearing, Kara hears James agreeing to have dinner with her.
Winn asks if she wants to do some super-sleuthing, but Kara, bumming out, sulks into her desk chair, where she receives an instant message from Clark Kent.
“Thanks for saving my life,” she types.
Back home, Alex and Kara have dinner. A siren wails outside, and Supergirl goes off to save the day, but not before warning her sister to save Homeland for when she gets back.
I would have bet money that the action sequences would have let up by now to offset what they probably spent on effects for the prior two episodes. I can only conclude that the budget for this show must be huge. Otherwise, as tired as the monster-of-the-week trope is, I like how it served to advance the story and tied-in to a larger narrative–in this case, Supergirl’s ability to do something Superman could not, and why–and it was awesome how Superman’s on-screen absence amplified the effect of the IM conversation at the end. I’ll deduct one point from Performances simply because I noticed, for the first time (but perhaps not surprisingly) that they’re reusing footage of Supergirl flying. It’s a minor issue to be sure, but noticeable just the same.