Dec 9, 2019
Supergirl: Adventures and Babysitting (THE REAL EPISODE 4 RECAP)
Previously on Supergirl: Rich businessman/scientist guy Maxwell Lord was against the whole concept of Supergirl, worrying she would give National City the same problems as Metropolis. Also, he’s building a big high-speed maglev train! Cat thought Supergirl was spreading herself too thin. Supergirl was super into Jimmy Olsen, but then Lucy Lane, Lois’s sister, suddenly reappeared in his life. Will they be able to rekindle their romance? Er, yes. We already know they will, thanks to these episodes being aired out of order.
Well, I have to walk back something I said in the previous week’s recap. This episode, “How Does She Do It?”, which was delayed a week due to the terrorist attacks in Paris, actually does deviate from the “Supergirl punches obscure Superman villain until he stops being evil” formula for the very first time in this series. So it would seem having four episodes in a row that follow the same general plot outline was the result of some unfortunate real world issues. Still, I don’t think that entirely excuses the lameness of the Livewire episode, but this week’s episode is almost good enough to make me forget all about it.
Also, I see now why they had to reschedule this episode. Oh, man, do I ever. In fact, even now it seems a little too soon. I’m a bit surprised they only delayed it by a week, though I would guess one of the major plot points revealed here has an impact on episodes coming up soon.
This episode opens with Supergirl exuberantly flying around the city, until she spots a high-tech drone keeping pace with her. She chases after it and hits it with her heat vision, and it explodes. She then takes a piece of it back to the DEO, where Alex notes it’s highly advanced and Henshaw takes it to be analyzed.
Over at CatCo, Kara answers the phone and learns that Cat Grant has won the “Siegel Prize for Women in Media!” (A reference to Superman creator Jerry Siegel, of course.) The ceremony is in Metropolis, but Cat says she won’t be attending because she has no one to watch her son Carter. Her mother refuses to help, even though accepting this award is a huge deal for Cat’s career. Cat asks Kara, “Does your mother give a damn about your career?” Which may sound incredibly insensitive, considering Kara told her last week that her parents died in a fire, but of course, this episode is supposed to be taking place before that.
Kara starts to stutter that her mom is not “around,” but then Cat orders her to go get her a salad. But before she leaves, Kara volunteers to watch Carter. Cat thinks this is a devious ploy to make it so that she’ll owe Kara a favor later. But Cat is actually a fan of devious ploys, so she’s all for it. She warns that Carter is gifted and “shy” and needs “special attention.” Fun fact: Cat Grant is a single mom in the comics, too, but there, her son’s name is Adam, and he eventually (maybe a spoiler for this series?) gets killed by the Toyman.
Cut to James and Lucy having a meal, as Lucy says the real reason she came to Metropolis is because she missed him. He brushes this off, saying he has to get back to work, and Kara is there to hear all this, though she assures James she used her “regular hearing” to eavesdrop this time. Which is… better? They have a conversation where it comes out that Lucy is the one who dumped him.
And then the restaurant is rocked by a shockwave, and Kara sees a bomb has gone off in an office building a few blocks away. Smoke and fire pour out of the building, and people run out as Supergirl arrives to, um, hold up a section of the building that doesn’t even look like it’s about to collapse. She uses her heat vision to fuse some exposed metal beams, which… stops something from happening, and the office workers all cheer.
She decides to take a moment to soak up the applause from the workers below, before she finally flies up to use her super-breath to put out the fire. But unbeknownst to her, another one of those high-tech drones is watching her.
Back at DEO HQ, Henshaw says that the building that got bombed was a laboratory developing “cutting edge” lithium batteries. He suggests it was “industrial espionage.” Does he mean sabotage? Because blowing up a building isn’t very spy-like. Then Alex enters, and she’s figured out that whoever planted the bomb also built the drone that was following Supergirl. And they both use technology that was developed by Maxwell Lord, indicating he’s the prime suspect.
Henshaw and Alex plan to pay Maxwell Lord a visit, but Supergirl points out they can’t just walk in as DEO agents. So Alex shows off how she can push a button on her DEO badge, and it instantly transforms into a FBI badge.
Supergirl then talks about how James’s ex Lucy is in town. Alex sternly warns Kara not to talk to James about his ex, because it’s a “first class one-way ticket to the friend zone!” Wait, so people other than fedora-wearing “nice guy” types worry about ending up friend-zoned?
Alex knows Kara hasn’t had much luck in the romance department. “You spent more time in the friend zone than the Phantom Zone!” Wow, that’s actually a funny line. Way to go, show! The point is, Kara should not under any circumstances listen to James’s girlfriend problems.
Then Supergirl gets a call on her invisible earpiece phone, and it’s Cat, and she suddenly remembers she was supposed to pick Carter up from school. Cut to Supergirl blasting through the clouds to get there in time, and Cat wonders what all that noise is, and Supergirl pretends she has her car windows down. She lands in some shrubbery near the school, then emerges a half-second later dressed as Kara.
Kara meets Carter, who refuses to talk her and just stares at the ground the whole time, while sensitive flutes on the soundtrack try to convince us this is a touching and not at all ridiculous scene. She tries to talk to him about school, and how she used to love school, and how she was a total nerd. He finally speaks up, saying his mom told him it’s okay to be a nerd. Yeah, I’m sure this kid is a total social outcast. He looks like he’ll be in the 2025 incarnation of One Direction.
Cut to Maxwell Lord Industries, where Alex and Henshaw are questioning Max. They find out he can’t possibly be the suspect, because the building that was blown up was secretly one of his company’s subsidiaries. Henshaw says that Alex will remain here to “protect” Max, much to her surprise.
Over at CatCo, expository news reports inform us that Maxwell Lord’s new “Super Rail” high-speed train is taking its maiden voyage tonight. Kara has Carter at her desk and is trying and failing to connect with him. But then he sees a news report about Supergirl and is enthralled. And now Kara is asking him if he thinks Supergirl is “pretty” and wonders if Carter has a “little crush” on Supergirl. Is she flirting with a 12 year old? Sheesh, Kara, I know James isn’t paying any attention to you, but this is no time to get desperate.
Then Kara sees that James is all stressed out as he tries to do some of Cat’s work while she’s out of town. We get the first of many title drops when he wonders, “How does Cat do it?” Then his cellphone rings and it’s Lucy, but he decides to ignore it. He starts to talk some more about how Lucy dumped him, but Kara follows Alex’s advice and says they should just focus on work. Kara walks out, whispering, “Take that, friend zone!”
Over at Maxwell Lord Industries, Alex is hanging around and asking Max science-y stuff about his train, like if he uses “liquid helium” to keep the “mag coils from overheating.” Max wonders why she’s wasting her smarts on working for the FBI. She says she likes to help people, and Maxwell says he’s the same way, and suggests he’s a new kind of hero, but not like Supergirl, who he calls a “glorified fireman.” No, he’s going to save the planet with his technology. And of course, this scene has a bit of sexual tension between the two of them, because why not?
But then he gets called away by an employee, who shows him something his security team just found. Oh look, it just happens to be a silver cylindrical device that’s beeping and has an LED timer on the front that’s counting down the seconds. Did they really have to call in Max to figure out it’s a bomb?
Alex tells everyone to clear out as Maxwell tries to defuse the bomb. He cuts a wire, and the countdown stops, and they both look relieved. And then comes the moment you knew was coming, when the bomb whirrs back to life and now the countdown is going even faster.
Alex calls Kara over at CatCo to tell her about the bomb that’s about to go off. And with only a minute left on the clock, Kara actually wastes time telling Winn to watch Carter while she’s gone. He says he’s “not good with kids,” but then she points out “You eat cereal for dinner, and your desk is covered with toys!” He turns around to say they’re “adult collectibles,” but she’s already gone. Funny. And also, I assume the presence of toys all over his desk is a callback to his father being the Toyman.
Supergirl shows up at Lord Industries, and Alex tells her the bomb could “level 30 square blocks” so she has to get it clear of the city. Supergirl rockets away toward the ocean at mach 2, but then Henshaw sees she won’t be far enough away by the time the bomb goes off. He actually has to tell her to fly straight up, though I’d hope Supergirl could have figured that out on her own. Unfortunately, she waits too long to throw the bomb away and gets hit with a massive explosion that knocks her out.
She wakes up back at the DEO under some solar lamps. And then she looks over in a daze, and there’s a nice creepy moment where Henshaw is staring at her with his glowing red alien and/or cyborg eyes. And then she wakes up a moment later, likely thinking it was just a nightmare, but why exactly was Henshaw deliberately starting at her with his red eyes in the first place?
Henshaw tells her his men pulled her out of the ocean, and now they’ve got her under lamps that provide “concentrated solar waves,” which “recharge your Kryptonian cells!” Also, the DEO has determined who planted the bomb, and it’s a guy named Ethan Knox, who’s a disgruntled former employee of Maxwell Lord. He’s out for revenge because he got fired, and then his daughter got sick, and now he can’t afford her medical treatments. But I guess he can still afford to build several massively destructive high-tech bombs.
Supergirl wants to spring back into action to stop him, but Alex says she needs to rest. And then Supergirl panics, because she remembers she’s supposed to be babysitting Cat’s son, and Alex warns her she might be spreading herself too thin. Again.
But it’s all good, because back at CatCo, Winn and Carter are playing video games on Cat Grant’s wall-o-TVs. Winn starts to say, “I do this all the… never. I have never done this before!” Kara shows up and thanks Winn and offers to get lunch, so I guess the bomb only knocked her out for, what, an hour or two?
While she’s at the restaurant, Lucy Lane walks in. She supposedly left her phone here, and now she’s all frazzled over it, but Kara says she doesn’t look it. Lucy replies with an awful line about how “just because I look a certain way on the outside, everyone assumes it matches the way I feel on the inside.” Oh… kay.
Lucy then asks if James is “seeing anyone,” and she’s worried in particular that he might be interested in Supergirl. You see, the real reason Lucy broke up with Jimmy is because he put Superman first and would always run off whenever Superman needed his help. Wait, Superman actually needed Jimmy’s help for something? I thought Jimmy Olsen’s entire reason for existing was to constantly find idiotic ways to almost get himself killed. Lucy worries that now it’s going to be even worse, because this time the superhero “wears a skirt.” In other words, if he loves Superman, he’s going to really love Superman as a woman!
Over at Lord Industries, Alex is warning Max about his former employee Ethan Knox. She knows Knox is going to target the launch of Maxwell’s super train tonight and wants him to cancel the event. He says “sure” and the episode immediately ends. Nah, just kidding. He’s not going to be intimidated by terrorists, blah blah blah.
Then there’s an awkward segue into Max talking about how he’s not interested in getting protection from the government. He says his parents worked for the government, developing vaccines for “bioweapons,” and the government told them they were safe. But then there was an accident, and they were both infected, and “their internal organs melted,” and there wasn’t “enough left to bury.” So… happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Alex responds with the especially clunky, “Rejecting our help is not rational! You are a man of logic, Max!” Unfortunately, Max still refuses to call off the event.
Over at CatCo, Kara has decided against her previous hardline anti-friend zone policy and talks to James about the conversation she just had with Lucy. She knows Lucy is still in love with him, but he insists he’s put all that behind him. However, Kara says he has to be sure that he’s not still in love with her, because that’s only fair to “whomever comes next.” Meaning Kara, obviously, so in other words, she’s into James, but she still doesn’t want to get in the way of true love.
And now it’s time for the launch of Max’s train. They’re keeping watch at the DEO, and Supergirl is hovering over the train station looking for any sign of a bomb. Meanwhile, Lucy goes to James’s office to say she’s flying back to Metropolis tonight. She’s disappointed that things didn’t work out, but she only wants what’s best for him, and kisses him and runs out.
Meanwhile, Winn can’t find Carter anywhere in the office, and he quickly figures out that he went down to see the launch of Maxwell’s train. And this is supposedly because Carter wanted to go and meet Supergirl. Except, there’s no way he could possibly know Supergirl was there.
Cut to Carter having worked his way into the crowd waiting to board the train. He doesn’t have a ticket, but Maxwell Lord comes along and takes an interest in Carter for no apparent reason and takes him aboard as his special guest. Um. Seems like it would have made more sense for him to recognize him as Cat Grant’s son, especially since Cat and Max were shown in a previous episode to already be well-acquainted.
Supergirl sees no sign of a bomb on the train, but the DEO gets word that there’s a bomb at the airport. They worry this might be a decoy attack, but Supergirl heads to the airport to deal with it anyway. Meanwhile, James hears about the bomb at the airport, and he tries to call Lucy because she’s supposed to be flying back to Metropolis tonight. There’s no answer, so he totally freaks out and drives over there to find her.
Cut to Max showing Carter around the train, and they just happen to walk past Ethan Knox. Hilariously, Knox has his shirt open, and everyone around him should be able to easily see he’s wearing a suicide vest. Also: too soon, show.
Winn shows up at the train station to find Carter, but he’s too late, and the train is pulling off. And as the doors are closing, he just happens to catch a glimpse of Ethan Knox. He calls up Supergirl on her earpiece phone to tell her the bomber is on the train, and even worse, so is Carter. I’m not sure how Winn even knows who Ethan Knox is, but let’s just assume Supergirl told him off-camera, and move on.
Henshaw thinks Supergirl should stay the course and continue to the airport, because they have no way of knowing if Winn saw what he thought he saw. Supergirl says, “I trust my friend!” Oh, sure, you say that now. But I’m guessing you won’t trust him enough to be alone in a room with him after that weird post-Thanksgiving dinner kiss.
And so, the DEO will handle the bomb at the airport while Supergirl goes to save the train. She lands on the roof of the train and gets inside somehow, and lands right in front of Max and Carter, who looks stunned to see Supergirl in the flesh. She wants Max to stop the train, but of course he can’t, because it’s “automated.” And this is that thing they do in every superhero story, where everything seems to be built without basic safety features (like, you know, an emergency brake), just to give the hero something to save.
Supergirl talks to Carter, saying he looks “brave,” and asks him to help Max get all the passengers to the back of the train. “Are you ready to be a hero?” Yeah, are you ready to… ask people to move out of the way while I do something actually heroic?
At the airport, James is there in a panic, but is soon relieved to see that Lucy is okay and coming out of the terminal. And obviously, the point of all this is that James still cares enough about Lucy to run to the scene of danger to make sure she’s okay. But the show doesn’t trust us enough to make the connection, so Lucy gets the awkward line, “Why would you run towards a bomb?” And he replies with, “Because you’re here!” Who talks like this?
Meanwhile, inside the airport, Alex can’t figure out how to defuse the bomb. Henshaw orders her to get out of here and let him deal with it. As soon as she’s out of the room, his eyes glow red, and he uses his cyborg and/or alien strength to rip open the bomb and reach inside. Moments later, he comes strolling out of the airport, holding the bomb aloft and claiming it was just a “decoy” to draw them away from the train.
And then it’s back to the train, as Supergirl tracks down Ethan Knox in the locomotive and tries to convince him not to blow himself up. She mentions his sick daughter, and how he needs to be around to help her. But he says, “That’s what this is all about! It’s her only hope!” He says a few other cryptic things that imply he’s doing this to save his daughter, and then he tells Supergirl she has 30 seconds to save everybody and triggers his bomb.
Supergirl jumps into the train car behind them and uses her heat vision to uncouple the train from the engine. As the engine continues ahead on its own, Supergirl jumps in front of the rest of the train and plants her feet on the track and brings it to a stop. And then Ethan Knox blows up in one last big explosion.
Back at the DEO, Alex discovers that the supposed “decoy” bomb from the airport may not have been a decoy, because it’s armed with a kill switch to disable it remotely. Supergirl is trying to understand why Knox killed himself, because he didn’t seem crazy, and he said he was doing it for his daughter. Then Supergirl remembers she’s supposed to be taking care of Carter and thinks she’s about to get fired when Cat finds out Carter was on that train.
She races back to CatCo, just as Cat Grant is getting back from her trip. Cat wants to know if Carter is okay after what happened, but he’s just excited that he got to meet Supergirl, who’s “so much prettier in person!” Then there’s strange dialogue between them as Cat asks if he got a good look at her, and if he saw what “makes her a hero.”
Carter replies, “I’d say her legs. Definitely her legs!” Geez, try not to get all worked up in front of your mom, kid. But he’s only joking, and it’s really her “heart” that makes her a hero. I literally have no idea what this conversation is about, but Cat is thrilled that her son knows how to make jokes now.
Carter heads off to school, and Kara shows up to apologize profusely for allowing him to get away from her and get on the train. She says there was so much going on, and she doesn’t know how Cat does it. Finally, Cat provides an answer to the question in the title of the episode: A woman can “learn” to juggle it all, but she has to “start with two balls before adding another.” So to do it all, a woman needs a pair of balls. Got it. And then she makes fun of Kara’s hair.
Kara walks out and spots James and Lucy making out, and gets all sad. She then sees Max on TV talking about how he built “fail-safes” into his technology, and she suddenly figures it all out.
That night, Supergirl goes to Max’s office to confront him. She knows that Ethan Knox’s sick daughter is being treated by a doctor paid for by Max. She thinks that Max himself planted all those bombs and made Ethan blow himself up in exchange for saving his daughter’s life.
Max laughs this off as an “unproveable” theory, but hypothetically speaking, he knows whoever planted those bombs must be curious about Supergirl. “What is she made of? How does she do it?” He talks about how each bomb was a “test” designed to measure her agility, strength, speed, and invincibility. And he finds the last test “intriguing” because she chose to save the hundred people on the train instead of thousands at the airport. This must mean there was “someone on that train that you cared about.” Uh, gee, could it be the boy she made a point of personally speaking to right in front of you?
So basically, Max is really a corrupt businessman in the vein of post-Crisis Lex Luthor, in that he’s willing to kill people and endanger the lives of thousands just to learn about Supergirl and find out who she is when she’s not being Supergirl. Of course, she can’t prove that he’s behind the bombings, but she promises she’ll be “watching” him and flies off, and that’s the end.
Well, I wasn’t expecting the twist where Max turns out to be evil, though I probably should have, since it comes straight from the comics. In fact, Maxwell Lord’s very first appearance involves him getting a guy to pretend he’s a terrorist and take on the Justice League. It’s later revealed Max was under the influence of an evil computer at the time (we’ve all been there, right?), which may end up being the case here.
And with that, Supergirl finally shows itself to have all the ingredients for an exciting, fun superhero show, except for the awkward dialogue, which rarely sounds like anything actual human beings would say. Also, this show is still trying too hard to set Kara apart as a “girl” superhero, like giving her a babysitting subplot, because that’s a thing girls do. Instead of making a “female superhero show,” they should just be trying to make a superhero show where the main character happens to be female.
But other than that, I have no complaints about this episode, which had real tension and suspense for once, and they really pulled out all the stops here, with lots of spectacular (for a TV budget, anyway) special effects. Though, I would imagine it’s a lot easier to generate suspense when you have a literal ticking bomb to deal with, so we’ll see if they can pull off this off again next week.