Spoilers are coming at you faster than a speeding bullet
Regular Cast: Melissa Benoist (Kara Danvers/Supergirl), Mehcad Brooks (James Olsen), Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers), Jeremy Jordan (Winn Schott), Chris Wood (Mon-El), Floriana Lima (Maggie Sawyer), David Harewood (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter); Guest Starring: Lynda Carter (President Olivia Marsdin), Katie McGrath (Lena Luthor), Nadine Crocker (Scorcher), Ian Gomez (Snapper Carr); Written by Jessica Queller and Derek Simon; Directed by Rachel Talalay
There are aliens among us, and, given the events of “Welcome To Earth,” they’ve apparently been here for quite some time. Evidence of that comes from the fact that they have something of an underground society (exemplified by an aliens-only secret bar) and that the President Of The United States, Olivia Marsdin, twice attempts a very public signing of an amendment granting amnesty to extraterrestrials — and quite literally comes under fire for it. The belief is that the attempted assassin is the escaped DEO prisoner who had arrived in a Kryptonian pod in the season one finale, and has been in a coma for most of the first two episodes of season two. Eventually, however, it’s revealed to be an alien named Scorcher, who is very much against the idea of amnesty, believing that it’s about as close as you can get to an alien registration act. For her part, Lena Luthor has developed and is ready to market a thumbprint scanner that can determine whether or not someone is human, her belief being that humans have a right to know who walks beside them.
Each of these things are worthy of exploration, but given the mythos of Supergirl to date, it feels like we’re actually missing a season’s worth of storylines. In year one, the DEO was largely centered on capturing rogue Kryptonians like Astra and Non, and the occasional random extraterrestrial. Somehow between seasons the presence of aliens has grown so prominent, even if they are hidden from plain site, that all of the above has come into play. On many levels it just doesn’t make sense and actually feels (though this could ultimately be proven wrong in subsequent episodes) like the writers are making sure that Supergirl has an even playing field to fight someone each week. In essence, the aliens on Earth could very easily fill the role of the meta-humans created by the explosion of the particle accelerator on The Flash.
On a character level, it’s a significant episode in that Kara is proving herself to have a tendency to rush to judgement. First she’s assigned an interview with Luthor regarding the alien-detecting technology. There’s a bit of tension between them as, in a nod to the current political climate regarding immigrants, Luthor reveals herself to be decidedly pro-human whereas Kara, naturally, is defensive of aliens on Earth. This point of view is readily apparent in the resulting news story she writes, which is rejected in its original form by editor Snapper Carr for not being objective enough. Fair point.
More importantly, Kara, after learning about Scorcher, discovers that the DEO escapee (Mon-El) is not Kryptonian. Instead, he's from the neighboring world Daxam, whose people had been engaged in a long, bloody war with Krypton. When initially confronting him following his recapture, she’s talks pretty condescendingly until recognizing he’s innocent of attacking the president. She begrudgingly admits she doesn’t know him at all, and should not have judged him simply from being a Daxamite. Identifying with him as being a refugee on this planet, she sadly reveals that in Krypton’s destruction, his homeworld, which he’s been trying to contact, was turned into a wasteland. They are both planetary orphans. Strong moment.
Introduced into the mix is Detective Maggie Sawyer, effectively played by an ass-kicking Floriana Lima. A character from the comics, she announces to Alex that she’s on the NCPD’s Science Division, handling all things alien and, as she says, “things that go bump in the night.” Right from the outset it’s obvious she’s very knowledgable of the underground alien society, and brings Alex to the aforementioned bar. She’s also pretty straight forward with the fact that she’s a lesbian, and there seems to be some mild flirtation between she and Alex, which is an unexpected direction for that character to possibly go. In the end, Maggie plays a significant role in Alex recognizing that, despite her prior way of thinking, not all aliens should be caged.
Lynda Carter, forever remembered for her portrayal of Wonder Woman in the 1970s, is fun as the president, managing to slip in a couple of WW-related asides (which accompany a couple of cute visuals). She reveals to the audience that she just happens to be an alien as well.
For the regulars, Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen is still finding his place at CatCo (and, no, we have not yet accepted him taking Cat Grant’s place), but he does gets an upper hand on Snapper Carr that’s applaudable. Ian Gomez does well as the veteran journalist/editor, though his views of journalism’s role in society today probably seem antiquated to much of the 2016 audiences. Sadly.
One area the writers still need to hone is balancing superheroics with the private lives of the characters, particularly Kara. For instance, the opening sequence has Mon-El breaking free of his bonds and disappearing into the city. Supergirl doesn't go after him, but what she does do is engage in a conversation with J’onn J’onzz and Alex about the president’s amnesty act, and her giddiness over the fact that she'll be meeting the commander-in-chief. All very cute, although it does raise the question why they’re all standing around chatting when this guy has just fled the DEO.
And then there’s the final scene. J’onn investigates the underground alien club, and while there seems particularly intrigued by a female waitress, who is equally startled to see him in his natural Martian Manhunter look. He follows her outside and confronts her, causing this woman to morph into her Martian form of M’gann M’orzz, the last daughter of Mars. For J’onn it’s an incredibly significant moment — for the first time since he’s been on Earth he realizes he’s not alone — which begs the question of why it would be thrown into a final tag before the end credits, out of left field, as opposed to being something that is properly set up.
There is so much of Supergirl as a series that’s applaudable, but one wishes that the writers would slow things down a bit and perhaps make it a little more nuanced. Theoretically, the audience’s attention span isn’t so short that it can’t deal with a slightly more gradual reveal.