Dec 2, 2019
Supergirl: Double the Torture (S1 E9 RECAP)
Previously on Supergirl: Maxwell Lord was dead-set against National City relying on Supergirl’s help. General Lane is Lois and Lucy’s father, and he, um… existed. Hank Henshaw confessed that he’s J’onn J’onnz, the shapeshifting Martian Manhunter. Cat Grant finally picked up on all the obvious clues that Kara is really Supergirl. General Astra was captured by the DEO and led Supergirl to believe her mom Alura ignored Astra’s warnings about Krypton’s fate. And finally, Maxwell Lord Technologies came under attack by an army of aliens, led by Astra’s husband Non.
The episode picks up right where the big non-finale left off during the attack on Lord Technologies, with Supergirl and Non rushing directly at each other. They fly up through the ceiling and take their fight high into the air, where they have to dive to avoid getting hit by an airplane.
The two come crashing back down, cratering right outside Lord Technologies, and Non has Supergirl on the ropes. So Hank Henshaw comes running out with his Kryptonite gun, but before he has a chance to use it, Non disarms him, takes him prisoner, and goes flying off with him.
Back at DEO headquarters, no one’s sure who’s in charge of the DEO in the wake of Hank’s disappearance. So they activate his “emergency protocols,” and a screen displays a message that the “emergency director-in-charge” is… Alex. Well, there’s a shock, considering I couldn’t name another DEO agent besides Hank or Alex if my life depended on it.
Supergirl decides to go talk to Astra, who’s still in custody, to find out why they took Hank. But Astra knows about the fight with Non, and she knows Non didn’t kill Kara when he had the chance. Astra says she ordered him to spare her, “because blood bonds us all!”
This triggers another lens flare-heavy flashback to Krypton “one year before its destruction,” per the caption. We hear Alura repeat that “blood bonds us all,” and it turns out to be an ancient Kryptonian proverb. She’s presiding over the trial of Astra and Non. Supergirl’s dad Zor-El is also in attendance, but just like in the pilot, he gets no lines here, either.
As established in previous episodes, Astra and Non are on trial for terrorist activities, supposedly conducted in an attempt to warn people about Krypton’s impending doom. So people knew about Krypton’s imminent destruction over a year ahead of time, and they were only able to build enough rockets to save two kids?
Alura reads the sentence, and it’s “lifetime imprisonment in Fort Rozz” for both Astra and Non. Non says she’s just sealed the fate of everyone on Krypton. As he’s yelling, Alura hits a button on her podium that turns Non into a beam of energy that shoots up to Fort Rozz, which is hovering above them.
Back in the present, Kara’s at work and she sees Maxwell Lord on TV again. She’s terrified that he’s about to go public with the news that his company was attacked by aliens. Instead, he simply says they were the target of “industrial espionage,” and she and James and Winn wonder what he’s up to. Jimmy plans to go investigate under the guise of being an actual reporter.
Kara hears Cat coming up in the elevator and says they all have to act “really, really normal,” because Cat thinks Kara is Supergirl and they have to convince her otherwise. Yes, she’s still trying to maintain her secret identity with Cat, which is a major backtrack/copout from the previous episode, where it looked like Kara had all but confessed to being Supergirl.
Kara brings Cat her coffee and starts to leave, and Cat asks if she’s leaving because she has “a building to leap in a single bound?” Kara just tries to laugh this off, and Cat recalls a conversation she once had with Paul McCartney where he claimed to be friends with Yoko and “he was more convincing!” Kara still denies being Supergirl, so Cat says they can keep up the “silly charade” for now.
Supergirl then flies over to DEO base camp and gets there just in time to see Non hack into the big viewscreen. He’s proposing a prisoner trade, Henshaw for Astra, and they have 48 hours to comply or else Hank dies.
Alex is trying to decide what to do, when she and Supergirl come across General Lane setting up shop inside the DEO with several soldiers. He’s got a signed order from the President giving him “authority” over the DEO, because they want someone without a “personal connection” to the hostage to be in charge of getting him back. Neither Alex or Supergirl is happy about this, but it appears they have no choice.
Over at Lord Technologies, Max finds James poking around and snapping pictures, and James says he’s skeptical about the “industrial espionage” story, given the huge crater outside the building. But Max knows that James knows Supergirl, so he must know the truth about what happened. Max says he finds the presence of aliens “troubling” and promises to do “what needs to be done,” and he has James escorted away.
Back at CatCo, Cat wants Kara to sit with her for a minute, and you can tell this scene is going to be extremely wacky thanks to the comedy strings on the soundtrack. She starts interrogating Kara about her childhood, and where she was in 1997, and who her first grade teacher was, and Kara mentions a “Ms. Marchon” who taught at “Midvale” (Supergirl’s home base in the comics, mentioned for the first time on the show). Kara supplies answers for all of Cat’s questions, but this just convinces Cat even more that she’s Supergirl, because only someone who’s “determined to lie” would be able to answer every question.
Meanwhile at Non’s base, Non’s got a random alien trying to read Henshaw’s mind, and this alien has eight additional eyes on his forehead. Could this possibly be a reference to one of the lamest Batman villains of all time, the Ten-Eyed Man, a.k.a. the guy whose superpower is having eyes on his fingers? One can only hope. Ten Eyes can’t read Henshaw’s mind, presumably because he’s Martian, but Henshaw lies that Ten Eyes is just playing Non “for a fool.” He also calls Non “no threat at all,” so Non reaches over and snaps Ten Eyes’ neck.
Over at the DEO, General Lane introduces himself to Astra. He then launches into a pointless, long-winded childhood story that supposedly proves he’s a man of honor, just before revealing he’s about to torture her with a big needle and bottles full of liquid Kryptonite. And I know it’s been said before, but they sure do have a lot of Kryptonite at the DEO. At this point, I’m wondering if they also make furniture and flatware out of the stuff.
Just then, Supergirl bursts in, trying to stop them from torturing Astra, but she’s immediately weakened by all the Kryptonite in the room. Alex drags her out just as Astra gets injected with liquid Kryptonite and the veins in her face start to glow green.
Back at CatCo, Kara asks what James found out when he went to talk to Max. He pretends it was a “dead end,” but Winn knows he’s lying. After Kara leaves, James tells Winn that Max is really “planning a countermove against the Kryptonians,” and that includes Kara. Wow. He got all that from Max saying he was going to do “what needs to be done?”
And so, James decides to go break into Lord Technologies to find out what Max is planning, and Winn is going to help him break in, because, as always, he’s a master hacker. And they have to keep all of this a secret from Kara, because of… well, I’m sure there’s a reason.
Kara goes to see Cat on her balcony, and what’s weighing heavily on Cat’s mind is that while Kara is wasting time working at CatCo and being her assistant, there are people out there not “getting saved” by Supergirl. Cat doesn’t want that hanging over her head, so unless Kara can prove she’s not Supergirl, Cat’s going to fire her. Okay, that’s a valid concern, and it does seem rather silly for an incredibly powerful super-being to spend all day fetching someone’s coffee. However, even Supergirl can’t be out saving people 24 hours a day. She’s obviously going to have some downtime anyway. And even if she could conceivably fly around 24 hours a day rescuing people, there’s still going to be somebody, somewhere in the world not “getting saved” by Supergirl, so really, Cat is just overthinking this.
Meanwhile, James breaks into Lord Technologies while Winn is over at CatCo hacking into all the security systems for him. But then James gets to a door with a super-duper high-tech security system that can’t be defeated, which is when he’s caught by Max and his goons, who knock him out.
At CatCo, Kara gets a call from Alex saying that Astra gave up Hank’s location. So I guess torture works! Glad we could settle that issue. Alex, Supergirl, and some of Lane’s soldiers rush to the location, which is an abandoned warehouse full of shipping containers, a favorite setting for this show. Supergirl opens up one container, which randomly happens to have Hank inside strapped to a chair. Everyone marches in, and it seems to be a running theme on this show that nobody’s smart enough to figure out when they’re walking into an obvious trap.
Sure enough, “Hank” is really a hologram, and he fades out, revealing a bomb. It goes off, and Supergirl hurls one army guy out of the way, while using her cape to shield Alex. All the other army guys are dead, and Alex says, “It was a trap! Astra played us!” Wait, are you sure? Maybe you should blindly poke around a little bit more just to double check.
Over at Lord Technologies, Max is doing his part to keep up the “torture” theme of this episode, as he has James tied to a chair in a ridiculously cavernous room. He demands to know who helped James break through his security, but James stays mum. This inspires Max to punch him in the face a few times, then pull out a giant wrench and threaten him with it, but he only uses it to smash his camera. He promises, “Next time, I won’t stop with the camera,” and then has him released.
Over at CatCo, Kara is still denying that she’s Supergirl, but she’s insisting that this job is incredibly important to her, and Cat has taught her so many things, and she needs her now more than ever. Cat is not swayed by this plea and still wants her to admit she’s Supergirl. So Kara says she’s quitting.
She storms out and heads up to the Supergirl-cave, where she sees that James has been injured in his encounter with Max and finds out that Winn was in on it too. She’s filled with rage and determined to go over there and beat up and/or kill Max Lord, but Winn blocks her path and tells her if she does that, “You are no different than Astra or Non!” And now, all of the events of the episode are weighing on her: losing her job, not being able to rescue Hank, not getting through to Astra, etc., and even the memories of her mother are now “ruined.” “I have nothing left!”
Winn and Max reassure her, and the three of them all hold hands and have a moment. This inspires Supergirl to go back to see Astra, and this time Supergirl is willing to hear what she has to say. So we get another flashback where it turns out Alura actually does believe that Krypton is doomed, but she has to sentence Astra to prison anyway, because she killed people. She promises to continue Astra’s fight, but without all the violence and bombings, instead using “compassion and reason.” Hmm. And how’d that work out, then? She says, “I love you, Astra,” then hits the button for her to get beamed up to Fort Rozz. And there you have it: Alura is exactly as caring and awesome as Supergirl always thought she was.
And so, Supergirl decides to go ahead and do the prisoner swap. She gets Alex on board, and they’re about to walk Astra out of DEO base camp when General Lane orders them to stop. Soon there’s a tense standoff between army guys and DEO agents with their guns pointed at each other.
The standoff ends when Supergirl stares at that one soldier she saved from the bomb earlier, who immediately lowers his weapon and says, “She saved my life, sir!” He then motions for all the other soldiers to put down their guns. In response, General Lane just… stands there and watches everybody leave. I guess in the military, orders from a high-ranking general are more like gentle suggestions.
They drive Astra over to another dockside industrial area, just as Non lands with Henshaw in tow. Astra and Henshaw then walk past each other in a Bridge of Spies-esque prisoner swap. But before the DEO people can leave, about twenty Kryptonian guys swoop in and hover in the air around them. Alex sees they’re surrounded and tells Henshaw, “You have to transform!”
Kara is confused, but then Astra orders Non to call off the attack and “honor the agreement,” which I guess is… not to attack at this particular moment, but instead attack at some unspecified future time. Non tells his men to withdraw, while Astra warns Kara, “This is not a truce,” and she flies away. And the craziest part here is that the bad guys have at least twenty Kryptonians at their disposal. We’re talking about twenty guys who all have the same powers as Superman and Supergirl. Why have they not completely obliterated the DEO, as well as the entire American military by now?
At the DEO, Henshaw is back in charge and he tells General Lane he’s no longer needed. Lane makes his exit, but warns they’ve only delayed the inevitable. And now Supergirl really wants to know what Alex meant by that “you have to transform” comment.
Cut to Supergirl’s reaction after hearing the news. “You’re from Mars?” She wants to know why Hank is hiding in human form, and he says he wants to make the world safe for humans and aliens. “I failed Alex’s father before I assumed the identity of Hank Henshaw. I won’t fail again.” I really have no idea what that means, and I have no idea why they kept it a secret from Supergirl in the first place, because it doesn’t seem like a big deal that she knows now.
Over at CatCo, Cat gets a visit from Supergirl, and Cat still thinks she’s keeping up the pretense. But then a second Kara walks in. And now Cat is seeing both Supergirl and Kara side by side in the same room and even shaking hands.
Of course, in the real world, if you saw two people who looked exactly alike in the same room, you’d probably assume they were twins or at least related, but in comic book land, this is enough to convince Cat she was totally wrong. Supergirl leaves, and Cat offers Kara her job back and even adds that now that she’s seen them together, “You look nothing like her!” And with that, this show just hit the big reset button on what could have been a potentially interesting development and has gone right back to the status quo. Was that the plan all along? Because it really feels like they initially wanted to go a certain direction but chickened out, or the suits forced them to backtrack.
And I’m pretty sure we all know why there were two Karas in the same room. If this were a Silver Age comic, one of them would have been a Supergirl robot, but the truth is revealed as Kara goes up to the roof, where Supergirl comes hovering down, and briefly transforms into J’onn J’onnz, and then back into Henshaw.
Supergirl thanks Henshaw for using his Martian shapeshifting powers to save her job, because it’s more than just a “secret identity” to her. And then she goes to her desk and gets an IM from “Clark.” Yep, it’s another dose of Superman being on this show, and not being on this show, as Kara assures him over text that she has everything under control. Clark texts back that he’s here if she ever needs him because “Blood bonds us all.” And judging by the speed with which the text balloons pop up, Clark’s an extremely fast typist, but I guess that should only follow.
James and Winn show up, and Kara says they need to expose whatever Maxwell Lord is planning. Right on cue, we head back over to Lord Technologies, where a white-coated scientist informs Max that they just brought in a woman who “meets all your requirements” and has “no connections of any kind.”
Max unlocks that super-duper high-tech door. Inside is a hologram of the Red Tornado arm, as well as a woman in a hospital bed with signs of burns and a bracelet that identifies her as a Jane Doe with “brain trauma”, Max tells Jane Doe that he’s going to help her, and her eyes snap open and they’re solid black. The end. So, which bottom-tier Superman villain will our Jane Doe turn out to be? Place your bets now!
So, no big revelations this episode, and it seemed like the show was just treading water in all its various ongoing storylines. Cat figuring out Supergirl’s secret identity was a total bait and switch, and I haven’t got the faintest clue what Non and Astra were trying to accomplish. Last episode, they told us Astra wanted to get captured, which I assumed was a ruse for the attack on Lord Technologies. But in this episode, it seems like the attack on Lord Technologies was a ruse to get Alura back. So what the heck was the point of these two episodes, exactly?
The show is a repeat next week due to the college football championship (because there’s so much overlap there?), so to fill the void, I’ll be recapping an episode of a classic superhero show. I won’t say which one just yet, so if you want to find out, you’ll just have to tune in next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel! …Oops, I guess I just gave it away, didn’t I?