Note: Out of respect for the victims of the recent attacks in France, CBS aired this fourth episode one week after the originally scheduled fifth episode. We decided to keep the original episode order numbering, which is why this S01E04 recap is posting one week after S01E05.
Friend Zone vs. Phantom Zone
I feel for the people who weren’t told about last week’s episode airing out of order, because they were undoubtedly confused by how disjoined James and Lucy’s relationship is and probably blame it on the showrunners. Luckily, most everything else seemed to hold up pretty well, other than one of Alex’s first lines being that they “can trust Henshaw” which contradicts one of the last scenes from the previous episode.
Alex’s line about trusting Henshaw came after Supergirl delivers the remains of a stealthy drone to the DEO after it interrupted her morning flight through the skies of National City. Henshaw promises to find out who made the drone after convincing Kara it isn’t one of theirs.
While he and Alex look into it, Kara shows up to work and learns that Cat will be accepting a Women in Media Award and needs a babysitter for her son, Carter. When Kara volunteers, Cat thinks she is only doing it to gain favor from her boss, which is something she admires… just not enough to give her a break from going to fetch her lunch.
At the Café, Kara bumps into James, who had just met up with his ex-girlfriend from Metropolis, Lucy Lane. Lucy, it seems, is very much interested in rekindling her and James’ relationship, which James explains to Kara as just being her way of trying to win everything.
After a bomb blast from a few blocks away interrupts their conversation, Kara arrives at the scene as Supergirl and stops part of a building from collapsing. Supporting an almost unfathomable amount of weight on her shoulders, she uses her eye-beams to weld the steel back together and saves the day.
The bomb, Alex learns, has some of the same properties of the drone, and both implicate Maxwell Lord. After a quick warning to Kara about the dangers of being friend-zoned by James, she and Henshaw pose as FBI agents and pay Lord a visit while Kara flies off to pick up the very quiet Carter Grant from school.
Taking Carter to CatCo’s offices, Kara tries talking to Carter but is only able to get a reaction from him when Supergirl comes on TV. Carter, it turns out, has a crush on Supergirl. When Winn comes over and says that he actually knows her, Kara notices James in Cat’s office filling in for her but pounding on a stapler in frustration. He doesn’t know how Cat can do it all. He starts opening up to Kara, but before he can get too far she puts a stop to it, not wanting to venture too far into the friend-zone.
Meanwhile, Alex and Henshaw show up to speak with Lord. He claims he has nothing to do with the bombs, but has a huge list of enemies because such a list would include anyone interested in maintaining the status quo. When Henshaw walks away, Alex and Lord discover another bomb set to detonate soon, and when they attempt to diffuse it the timer only starts going faster.
Alex calls her sister, who leaves Carter in the care of Winn to go rescue them. Supergirl tries to fly as fast as she can with the bomb, but it goes off just as she is trying to throw it into the distance. The force knocks her out and sends her plummeting into the ocean.
She groggily wakes up inside some kind of supped-up tanning bed and has a vision of a red-eyed Henshaw standing over her. When she regains her full capacities, she learns that the DEO has ascertained the identity of the bomber… a guy named Ethan Knox, who used to work for Maxwell Lord. Kara wants to go get him, but remembers her responsibility to Carter.
When she arrives at the office, she sees that Winn has converted Cat’s office into a video arcade and is keeping Carter occupied, so she decides to pick up lunch at the Café. She bumps into Lucy there, and tries to brush her off but Lucy would really like to know if James is seeing anyone… like, Supergirl. Kara can hardly believe it is a real question, but looks satisfied when she realizes that Lucy is just as intimidated by Supergirl as Supergirl is of her. She also learns her reasons for leaving Jimmy aren’t as straight-forward as he’d have her believe.
So, back at the office, Kara decides to risk going head-first into the friend-zone to let Jimmy know that he has it wrong about Lucy. When he says he’s still unsure about whether or not he wants to go back to her, Kara says that he better decide before starting another relationship, because it wouldn’t be fair to her that person.
Across town, Alex confronts Lord about Ethan Knox and voices her concerns about him going ahead with his maglev train unveiling event, which is scheduled for that evening. Lord is undeterred and says he won’t give in to terrorists. So Alex enlists the help of Supergirl, who agrees to watch over Lord’s event.
On patrol, Supergirl sees no sign of Knox at the event, which is good because it means she can head to the airport, where the DEO has just learned that a bomb has been found. Meanwhile, Winn has lost track of Carter during all of this, and figures that he must have gone down to Lord’s event to see if he could meet Supergirl. Unfortunately, his suspicious are proven correct when Winn witnesses Carter board the train with Lord… and Knox, who is wearing a suicide vest. And at the office, James learns about the bomb at the airport and races off to try to stop Lucy from getting hurt.
How She Does It
Winn calls Supergirl and tells her that there is indeed a bomb on the train, because he saw it. Alex asks which task she’d rather take on–the airport, or the train? Kara decides to go back to the train, so Alex and Henshaw head to take care of the situation at the airport.
James is also there, and has found Lucy. When she asks why on earth he’d run toward a bomb, he tells her it’s because she was there. Nearby, Alex and Henshaw find the bomb but can’t diffuse it in time. So Henshaw orders everyone else out. When they’re gone, his eyes glow red and he begins peeling apart the bomb. When he emerges minutes later, he tells everyone that it was a dud.
On the train, Supergirl breaks in and instructs Lord and Carter to move everyone to the back. Supergirl races toward the front and pleads with Knox to not kill all of the innocent people on board. He says that he won’t… because Supergirl will stop him. When he sets off the bomb’s timer, Supergirl has thirty seconds to split Knox’s car away and stop the rest of the train from moving.
Kara remembers she has once again neglected her responsibilities toward Carter and heads off to accept Cat’s wrath. But while she is indeed upset, she doesn’t fire Kara, and in fact imparts a bit of wisdom on her when Kara admits she doesn’t know how Cat can do it all. The secret, Cat says, is that she doesn’t. Not all at once, anyway, and not right away. You start by juggling two balls, and then add one more, and when you’re comfortably jugging three you add a fourth, and so on.
At the DEO, Alex has dissected Henshaw’s bomb and wonders aloud why there would be a failsafe on a decoy. What’s more, something about Knox’s motivation doesn’t quite add up. So Supergirl pays a visit to Lord, in a scene somewhat reminiscent of Superman’s first one-on-one encounter with Lex Luthor in Lois & Clark.
Supergirl accuses him of framing the whole situation… but for what? Lord says that it kind of sounds like a test. If the flying drone measured her agility, the falling building her strength, and the bomb in his office her speed and also her invincibility, the results of the last test would be most intriguing because she’d chosen to save hundreds of people on the train instead of thousands at the airport. Lord surmises that that must mean that somebody important to her was on that train, and if he can find out who that person was, he might be able to determine who she really is.
Thus, Maxwell Lord establishes himself as Supergirl’s own Lex Luthor.
Ignoring the inconsistencies introduced by CBS’ decision to air this one out of order, I’m hard-pressed to find anything I didn’t like about the episode. James’ struggle to maintain the ultra-cool and suave aura that got on my nerves in the first couple episodes is fun to watch, and Cat continues to grow as a character even in an episode in which she was barely featured, mostly due to her son outing her as a good Settlers of Catan player. Otherwise, the “race against the clock” threat mirrored the “how can you do it all?” subplot well, and Lord’s big reveal at the end was kind of a surprise to me. By the way, has anyone heard from Astra lately?