Synopsis: Kara must convince Cat she is not Supergirl, while the DEO tries to rescue Hank. Meanwhile, James and Winn break into Lord Technologies.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

A thing about Supergirl that is unfortunate, but also to its benefit, is that the bigger arcs and the underlying mythology of the show are its weakest links.

The whole setup involving the political destruction of Krypton, coupled with pre-packaged villains and moral placeholders like Astra, Alura, and Non, is both bland and difficult to follow. It’s oversimplified thematically and relies on monologues and VFX reserved for Disney Channel movies, and I have to actively work not to tune those scenes out.

Having said that, the rest of the show’s narrative – Kara’s struggle with her identity, the DEO and their cool gadgets, sisterly bonding scenes, James and Winn being awkward as hell, and especially Calista Flockhart, is incredible. It’s lighthearted and earnest and utterly delightful. And having a basic backdrop to set them against, just makes them shine more. The ridiculous supervillain arc is there, and it serves a purpose, but it’s so far removed from the compelling, character-driven aspect of the show that it does not taint it. For which I am grateful.

An antagonistic storyline that I DO, surprisingly, find compelling and character-based, is Maxwell Lord. We all knew that asshole was up to something, and now we know for sure. The episode opens with Kara losing the fight with Non we left her in before the hiatus. He gets away, taking Henshaw with him, and Lord Technologies is nearly destroyed. In the aftermath, Max refuses to let anyone search the area or the building, he tells Alex that she and the DEO are no longer welcome in his business, and generally acts totally shady.

Kara is forced to put her concerns about Max’s plans and the search for Hank on hold though, because Cat has not stopped badgering her about being Supergirl. This little running gag was actually great, but I despise the false cliffhanger. It happens frequently with midseason finales: our hero is shot and left hanging off the side of a building, but when the next episode airs, it’s months later and business as usual except for a throwaway exchange about how physical therapy is going and “try not to fall off any buildings this time.”

It’s a common and effective practice, but it’s cheating – presenting an exciting arc or conflict that isn’t followed through, just for ratings. At the end of the last episode, Cat literally confronted Kara to thank her for saving the world and called her Supergirl to her face. Now it seems, Cat still believes it, but doesn’t know for sure and Kara’s been trying to talk her out of it. Which she ultimately does. I was thrilled at the idea of Cat trying to become one of the Scooby gang, and CBS betrayed me.

Rude. [CBS]
Rude. [CBS]
Something wonderfully unexpected about it though was Cat’s reaction. She told Kara that if she couldn’t prove she wasn’t Supergirl, she was fired. That Supergirl had no right to be hanging out in an office all day and fetching coffee when there were people who needed saving. I think that’s objectively a little unfair – superheroes have to be able to eat and file tax returns, too – but it belies the good in Cat that she inherently embodies, but we rarely actually see.

Speaking of goodness, everyone’s favorite precious cinnamon rolls James and Winn decide to take on Maxwell Lord together. Their theory is that they don’t want to involve Kara until they have to, but if she finds out in the meantime, they’ll get in less trouble than if she found out one of them let the other do it alone. It’s hysterical.

They break into Lord Technologies to try and find whatever Max is protecting. They don’t find it, and James is caught in the act. In a notably perfect antithesis to Cat, Max, despite his charm and philanthropy, belies the evil creep underneath. He ties James to a chair and beats him, insisting James has no idea who he’s dealing with. He lets him go though, and his bruises give him away to Kara.

She’s furious and wants to kill Lord, but James and Winn remind her that if she kills someone in anger, especially someone less powerful than she, she’s only stooping to Astra’s level. This is the push she needs, and when they finally rescue Hank, he asks her why she won’t just tell Cat the truth and work for the DEO full time instead? She tells him that she needs her friends and her “normal” job. It keeps her grounded and safe, so she can be a better hero.

Back at the lab, Max is relieved that his secret project stayed hidden. He’s doing some kind of experiment on a girl with no known family or ties. She’s on a table, full of needles with her skin peeling off. When she opens her eyes, they’re pitch black.

For the record, show me Maxwell Lord and I will fight him with my bare hands – see if I’m kidding.

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