Previously on Supergirl, ‘Human For a Day’
The tagline for Superman (the 1978 movie) was “You’ll believe a man can fly.” After the latest episode of Supergirl, I’m inclined to go one step further… not only do I believe Kara can fly, I also believe she’ll be able to fight a group of stronger Kryptonians and come out on top.
We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see whether or not that’s true, but at this point what I’m really trying to say is that I think Supergirl as a TV show has gone from being “extraordinarily unbelievable” to “extraordinary, yet believable.” All season long—but particularly toward the beginning—we’ve been asked to accept a lot and enjoying the show has required a certain amount of eye-rolling.
After “Hostile Takeover,” I feel a bit of that burden shifting.
For instance, we get a more insight into what is driving Astra and it turns out there is more behind those cold eyes than just exacting revenge on her “dear niece.” As it turns out, the Kryptonians were a little too eager in harnessing the core of their planet for energy which made it destabilize to the point of structural collapse. Astra would just like to avoid seeing humans make the same mistake.
While her methods are undoubtedly questionable, her heart seems to generally be in the right place. She even wants time to try to get Kara on their side before they have to kill her for what they think is the greater good.
Luckily Astra isn’t the only one thinking about killing. Alex tells Kara during a sparring lesson (in which Kara performs a very Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat-esque leg throw) that she shouldn’t attempt to take on Astra if she isn’t prepared to kill. This prompts a series of flashbacks to Krypton in which Kara remembers how close she was to her aunt, and therefore how impossible it will be for her to actually kill her if it came to that.
When Astra calls out Supergirl, though, things don’t go that far. Astra is subdued rather easily and gets taken to the DEO where she tells Kara that her mother is not everything she thinks she is.
It was fun to see Kara and Astra struggle to maintain their hate for each other even as both recalled fond memories of each other on Krypton, and the fact that Elura used Kara in order to take down Astra was a slight twist that I really wasn’t expecting.
The Cat Hack
In the midst of the Kryptonian family drama, somebody hacked into CatCo’s servers and threatens to release Cat’s personal emails. In an effort to stay ahead of the faceless attackers, Cat orders Kara, James, and Winn to sift through every email she’s ever sent to see what might cause the most damage.
When the group uncovers a series of money transfers to somebody named Adam Foster, Cat admits that Adam is actually her firstborn child whom she chose to walk away from because the best thing for him was not a workaholic mother.
With mommy issues fresh on her mind, Kara asks if she’d make a different decision knowing what she knows now, but Cat doesn’t really answer the question. Instead, she says that she’ll step down from CatCo before dragging her son into a media firestorm, which seems to cement Cat as a good mother, one way or another.
Before she resigns, Kara, James, Lucy, and Winn (whom I really want to start referring to as The Super-Friends) are able to not only reveal the source of the hack—a member of CatCo’s board of trustees—but also uncover enough damning evidence to turn the tables and get the hacker to stop.
With her job, company, and son secure, Cat goes to have a drink on the balcony and starts pondering upon just how lucky she seems to have been since Kara entered her life. Meanwhile, James tells Winn he should definitely pursue Kara even as it is clear he is really just trying to create a barrier so he is forced to stay close to Lucy.
Uhh, did I do thaaat?
Here are two examples of extraordinary things, one on the side of the fence that requires an eye-roll from us, and the other on this new, brighter side that is actually pretty awesome.
On the eye-roll side, Alex figures out that Astra’s capture was just a diversion so something bigger could happen while they were looking the other way.
On the other side, Cat has figured out Kara’s secret. When Kara interrupts her ponderings on the balcony, Cat asks Kara to remove her glasses, and… yep… it’s Supergirl.
This reveal was well done and happened at just the right time. They couldn’t have passed off the “glasses as a disguise” excuse for much longer without going into that “extraordinarily unbelievable” territory I keep talking about. Cat is far too intelligent a character to believably miss the fact that her life-saving assistant is also the hero she professes to have helped create.
With the truth revealed to Cat, I am most curious to see how she will fit in with The Super-Friends (will she pay Kara a bigger salary just for being Supergirl? will she hire another assistant so Supergirl can go save the city on a weekly basis?), but the most immediate benefit is that she doesn’t have to think up excuses to run away from work anymore because when Alex calls to tell her that Astra’s gang is attacking Lord Technologies, Cat just tells her to go and save the day.
There, Maxwell Lord himself tests out some kind of super-blinding gun on one of the Kryptonians, but all hell breaks loose immediately thereafter. The DEO shows up, but are quickly overtaken by Non’s henchmen. Hank keeps them at bay and goes just short of revealing himself as the Martian Manhunter long enough for Supergirl to show up and face off against Non and the surviving Fort Rozz prisoners.
We’ll have to wait two weeks to learn what happens next.
The inspiration behind this episode—hostile takeovers, particularly by an alien who seems to know better—seemed to be appropriate given what else was airing on TV at the same time, SyFy’s adaptation of Childhood’s End. I won’t say too much about that series, except that it’s about what happens when superior beings show up and tell humans to behave, or else.
Astra can be said to have similar motivations. Could her ambitions actually be benevolent? Is she really just trying to set herself up Overlord of Earth just because, frankly, she has the power to do so?
A similar idea gets explored in the ongoing Injustice comic from DC—which you should absolutely check out, if you’re looking for something to fill the gap between now and the next episode—in which a chronically depressed (with good reason) Superman can’t stand to watch any more bad news and simply says, “Enough.” He declares an immediate worldwide ceasefire, and says that if anyone doesn’t comply they’ll have to answer directly to him.
Honestly, I’d be okay with that idea, just as I’d be okay with the situation depicted in Childhood’s End. Because if a super-hero can step in and get us to knock off our childishness, they absolutely should. Right?
Well, “power corrupts” and all that, so humanity is never really let off the hook. And in a world full of superheros, that’s where the drama is, right? How can Kara possibly sleep at night, knowing that at any given time there are probably thousands of people dying due to circumstances she can directly control?
I think we excuse the behavior of superheros for two reasons: one, everybody needs a good rest and can’t be expected to save everybody everywhere; and two, the planet is still ours. Whatever happens here is ultimately up to us. We can’t depend on a superhero to save us any more than a family who lives next to a fire department can justify playing a little extra freely with their matches. If their house burns down, it won’t be the fire chief’s fault.
Anyway, Supergirl is on hiatus until January 4. See you then, Super-Friends.
The show seems to have outgrown a lot of what made it so awkward in the first few episodes. I like where we are in terms of James’ and Cat’s relationship with Kara, but it’s the Astra/Kara relationship that has shown the most improvement. But in light of those developments, as I begin to hold this show up as “extraordinary, yet believable,” part of me wonders if it will last. For instance, I can’t help but wonder where the magic line is drawn that takes situations from “meh, let Supergirl handle it,” to “Superman, we could use a hand.” At what point does it become unreasonable (and extraordinarily unbelievable) to expect Superman to stay hands off? At what point does it become okay for him to disregard the promise he made to Kara to leave National City completely in her hands? For me, a group of super eco-terrorists declaring their own martial law would seem to qualify. And can you believe we’re only a third of the way through season one? The pace of this show is incredible.