Dec 4, 2019
Supergirl: For the Girl Who Has Everything, Except Parents (S1 E13 RECAP)
Previously on Supergirl: Non and the Kryptonians broke into Lord Technologies, but didn’t take anything. Winn kissed Kara and wasn’t sure if they could still be friends. Astra and Non were up to their vaguely evil ways. And a strange alien plant creature dropped by Kara’s apartment to say hi.
This week’s episode is titled “For the Girl Who Has Everything”, and as some comic book fans can already tell, it’s an adaptation of a beloved Superman story from the ‘80s. Written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons, the same team behind Watchmen, “The Man Who Has Everything” features Superman being taken over by a symbiotic telepathic creature who causes him to hallucinate about having a happy life and a wife and kids on Krypton, which never exploded.
The story was already adapted once on the animated series Justice League Unlimited, and rumor has it that Alan Moore (who famously had his name taken off movie adaptations of his work like Constantine and League of Extraordinary Gentleman and the aforementioned Watchmen) considers it to be the only worthy adaptation of one of his stories. So, clearly, there’s nowhere for Supergirl to go with the concept but straight down. Even with lowered expectations, this episode is mostly a disappointment that fails to recreate any of the best moments from the original story.
The episode begins with Kara waking up in bed, being greeted by a floating caretaker robot, and all the lens flares must mean she’s on Krypton. But this isn’t a flashback, because she’s her current adult age. Kara is confused about where she is, until her mom Alura enters, telling her she’s recovering from the “Argo fever”, which I believe is a disease that makes you want to award a mediocre film Best Picture. But Kara knows that none of this is real, and her mom died with everyone else when Krypton exploded.
And with that, they’ve already taken the air out of the story. In the original comic, Superman is blissfully unaware, at least at first, that his life on Krypton isn’t real. He has no memory of his time on Earth, and what makes the story tragic is how he slowly comes to realize the Kryptonian family that he dearly loves is completely imaginary. Here, Kara knows everything is fake from the start, and then becomes convinced that it’s real, which is not nearly as effective.
Out in the real world, Cat talks to Winn at the office, saying Kara never came to work. Cat assumes she’s hiding out because of the whole situation where she drove Adam away, but Cat wants Winn to pass on the message that she needs to come to the office immediately, or else. Winn confers with James, who also hasn’t been able to get in touch with Kara, and so they call Alex, and all three of them march over to Kara’s apartment. Alex kicks in the door, and they find Kara unconscious on the floor with a strange alien plant-like creature affixed to her chest.
They get Supergirl over to the DEO, and Alex has her wheeled into an isolation room while James and Winn look on. Yep, Alex happily brought James and Winn into the top-secret DEO base camp. Naturally, Henshaw comes along a moment later to yell about two civilians being allowed inside, and has them escorted out.
Then Alex and Henshaw examine the alien plant creature, and Alex decides that Maxwell Lord has to be behind it. She marches over to his glass cell, which Max amusingly calls “my collectible display case”, and she opens it up and charges inside and starts roughing him up. Max says he has nothing to do with the creature, and Hank believes him, saying something nonsensical about Max being a “survivor” (of what?), and if he knew what the creature was, “he’d tell us to save his own neck!”
And now we visit with Astra and Non in their evil lair, as they stand around a big holographic display of the Sun. Non explains how they’ve created a solar storm that’s “wreaking havoc” on satellite systems, and this will allow them to do whatever vague evil thing they’ve been planning. He also assures Astra that Kara won’t be giving them any problems, because it turns out he’s the one behind the alien creature on her chest, which is called, as in the comic, “a Black Mercy”. Astra is upset by this, but Non says it’s time for the next phase of “Myriad”, and he had no other choice.
Over at the DEO, they’re using a giant version of one of those coin-op claw machines to try to rip the creature off Kara’s chest. But then she flat-lines, and guess what? There’s no way to remove the Black Mercy without killing her.
In the Krypton hallucination, Kara is still freaking out, and she’s decided someone is “using my memories against me”. But then she sees some ugly statue she made for her dad when she was eight. This brings back memories, but she also remembers being sent away from Krypton in her pod. She promises to figure out what’s going on, and when she does, she’s going home.
James and Winn head back to CatCo, and Winn is upset because he hasn’t been on good terms with Kara lately, and he’s afraid he might not get the chance to make amends. Then he runs into Cat, and tries to cover for Kara, making up a ridiculous lie about her being “bitten by a tick”, that somehow transforms into “Kara has lice”. Cat says Kara had better show up within the hour, or she’s fired.
Over at the DEO, Alex tells Henshaw about this, and she wants Hank, the director of a government spy agency, to spend time helping someone keep their job as a glorified gofer. Sure enough, the next scene is Henshaw as Kara (you can tell by the briefly glowing red eyes) stumbling into CatCo, presumably because he’s learning how to walk in heels.
James and Winn spot him/her, but Hank-Kara only says that he/she is “an agent of the DEO sent to maintain Miss Danvers’ cover”. The guys are completely bewildered, and then Hank-Kara brings Cat her coffee. Cat starts barking out orders, telling Kara to arrange interviews with scientists to discuss the solar storm, which somehow brings things around to her obligatory pop culture reference for the week when she namedrops Hamilton.
Cat drinks her coffee, which she’s horrified to discover contains whole milk. Hank/Kara says she should have been clearer with her instructions, and this only enrages Cat.
Over at the DEO, Alex is quizzing the Alura hologram about the alien plant creature. And once again, the hologram has nothing useful to say, and keeps repeating, “I do not have sufficient information regarding this species.” Meaning what could have been a wise Jor-El-like character providing occasional advice has basically become a crappier version of Siri. But I guess the hologram at least allows Alex to vent, and she confesses that she originally resented having Kara around when they were kids, and she didn’t like a strange girl following her around at school, because who wants an alien with incredible powers hanging around them all the time, right? But of course, she’s come to think of Kara as a sister.
Back in the Kryptonian hallucination, Kara is still trying to understand what’s happening to her. And what’s more, she’s starting to have trouble remembering her life on Earth. She runs off, and happens upon her father Zor-El, who actually gets some lines, for the first time on this show. And then Aunt Astra shows up, and Kara yells at her, saying she knows Astra and Non are behind this. But Zor-El says that Non was sentenced to the Phantom Zone years ago, and they all try to convince Kara that she was just having a nightmare.
Then a preteen boy calls out to her. He’s wearing a red shirt with the S logo on it, and he’s got a spit curl, so… guess who? Yep, it’s L’il Kal-El, here to play with Kara. Which means this is the first time we’re seeing Superman on this show represented by something other than a faceless guy in silhouette, or a CGI cartoon. Well, we do see Superbaby in the opening credits, so it seems there’s some sort of age cutoff for when they can actually show us Superman. Maybe we can only see him up until he hits puberty?
Back in the real world, Alex is at Kara’s apartment, looking at photos of the two of them as kids, when Astra suddenly appears. Alex uselessly pumps a few bullets into her, and let’s hope Kara doesn’t have any neighbors who might get curious about all the gunshots next door. But Astra is here to help Kara, explaining that she’s been attacked by a Black Mercy, a “telepathic parasite” which is giving her hallucinations of a perfect life, and the only way to free her from it is for Kara to reject the fantasy.
Astra then sees a picture of Alex and Kara as kids, and finally realizes that the two grew up as sisters. Astra says, “If she is your sister, and I am her aunt, what does that make us?” Wait, wait, don’t tell me. I know this… Third cousins, twice removed? Step-cousins, in law? Kara’s her own grandpa? Hell, I have no idea.
Over in the Supergirl-cave office, Henshaw is here, and Winn is trying to figure out how he was impersonating Kara, but he only says there’s no time to explain. Alex repeats what Astra told her, and she thinks if they “modify our virtual reality tech”, she’ll be able to “enter into Kara’s mind” and convince her to reject the fantasy. Wait, the DEO has virtual reality tech? Wait, the DEO can modify virtual reality tech to make people telepathic?
Hank-Kara then goes to Cat to ask for the rest of the day off. He/she pretends to get apologetic and emotional. Cat brings up Adam, who Hank-Kara knows nothing about, and he tries to bluff his way through the conversation. Cat knows Kara is only crying “crocodile tears”, but gives her the day off anyway.
At the DEO, they’ve brought in Max to upgrade their VR tech to allow the mind meld, and he’s got some Oculus Rift-looking headset that’s going to hook Alex’s brain into Supergirl’s. He fires it up, and suddenly, Alex finds herself on Krypton. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say they’ve given up trying to present anything that even slightly resembles the original story, which certainly never involved anyone walking into Superman’s subconscious.
Over in the evil lair, Non and Astra tell their minions that they will be hitting “six targets” and deploying “packages”. Afterwards, Non wants to know where Astra disappeared to just now. She avoids the question, saying that once “Myriad” is complete, “humanity will be brought to its knees!”
At the DEO, Hank sees that their satellites are offline due to the solar storm, so they can’t track Non’s movements. Winn happens to be hanging out here, and he’s the only one who can figure out that the satellites being offline is actually part of Non’s plan, and so Henshaw allows him free reign to use the DEO computers to do more analysis. Let me guess, Winn gets recruited by the DEO in a future episode?
Then we find Alex stalking through Kara’s Kryptonian hallucination with a gun at the ready. If none of this is real, how is that gun going to help her? I guess this is that ridiculous Inception thing where weapons inside dreams/hallucinations work the same as weapons in real life and we should just not question it. Alex soon finds Kara chilling out with her parents and Astra and Kal-El, but Kara doesn’t recognize Alex. Alex tries to convince her to come home, but Kara is completely buying into the fantasy now, and she grabs that ugly statue and hits Alex in the face with it and knocks her out.
After some drama out in the real world with Hank wanting to pull Alex out, but James stopping him, we return to the hallucination, where things have fast-forwarded to Alex on trial. Alura calls her an “alien spy” and is about to sentence her to the Phantom Zone. And if that happens, this somehow means that both she and Kara will be stuck in this hallucination forever. They’ll be trapped in “limbo”, if you will.
Alex continues to try to convince Kara to give up the fantasy, because “Earth needs Supergirl!” The name “Supergirl” finally rings a bell with Kara, and she starts to realize that none of this is real. She decides to hug her mother goodbye, and there’s a weird moment where Alura’s eyes turn solid black as she says, “We will never let you leave.”
Then we return to the real world, where Alex takes off the VR goggles, and eventually, the Black Mercy crawls off of Supergirl, and she regains consciousness. But all she wants to know is “Who did this to me?” Which is also the first thing Superman says when he wakes up in the original story. When she learns Non is responsible, she plans to make him pay.
At the DEO, Winn has been using the computers, and being the catch-all techie genius that he is, he’s detected hidden signals coming from servers at Lord Technologies. And so that’s the reason the Kryptonians attacked: to plant a computer virus. Max, who’s been let out of his cell and is just hanging out in the command center, says he has six more “satellite farms” throughout the city, and that’s what they’ll be attacking next. Everyone heads out, but before Alex leaves, she conspicuously grabs a giant sword in a sheath.
We find Non sticking a laptop-sized device into a box underneath a satellite dish, which I guess is one of the “packages” he talked about deploying. Just then, Supergirl swoops in and starts pummeling him. She angrily yells about being with her family again and how he “made me lose them again!” as she smacks him around. We then find Astra also putting one of those packages under a different satellite dish, when Alex comes in shooting. Astra runs over and starts to choke her, but Alex knows Alura’s “heart” isn’t in this “war” anymore, because she had lots of chances to kill Alex and/or Kara and never did.
And then J’onn J’onnz comes flying in, and Astra immediately recognizes him as a Martian and realizes he’s the last of his kind. They slug it out, and then we cut back to Kara fighting Non and swearing to protect her new family on Earth. But Non says that “Humanity is the disease! Myriad is the cure!” He then hits her with his heat vision, which somehow sends her flying backwards. I don’t think heat vision works that way, guys.
Meanwhile, Astra has J’onn on the ground with a knife at his throat. She’s about to kill him when she suddenly gets a giant Kryptonite sword through the chest, courtesy of Alex.
Back at the other fight, Non uses his heat vision to make a satellite dish fall over and distract Supergirl long enough for him to escape. As Supergirl catches the dish, she gets a call on her earpiece about Astra. She rushes over and is informed that Astra is dying, but Hank covers for Alex and pretends like he’s the one who killed her.
Kara runs to Astra, and says that when she was under the control of the Black Mercy, she saw Astra in her hallucination, but not as an enemy, but rather as part of her family. Astra tells her that Non can’t be stopped. Kara wants to know more about Myriad, but Astra dies before she can say more. I’m a bit surprised they killed off Astra this soon—if they had to do it, I assumed it would have been in the season finale, since she was revealed as the big bad in the pilot episode. But between the Alura flashbacks and the Alura hologram, I’m sure we’ll be seeing the actress again.
Then they spot other Kryptonians coming to retrieve Astra’s body, so they all take off. Back at the evil lair, Non grieves over Astra, but his right hand man says that “Myriad is operational”, so Astra didn’t die in vain.
At the DEO, Hank is having one of those Myriad packages analyzed. Alex wants to know why Hank lied to Kara, and it’s “because you’re Supergirl’s hero.”
At Kara’s apartment, Kara and Alex and James and Winn are all getting together, and she explains that she only fantasized about living the perfect life on Krypton because she’s been feeling “lost” lately, but she knows she belongs here, and inane dialogue follows, the gist of which is that Winn confirms that they are in fact still friends.
A moment later, it looks like Alex is about to confess that she’s the one who killed Astra, because what better time to reveal something like this than at a fun little get-together? Instead, she simply says that Hank covered for Kara at work, and that it was a disaster.
And then they all sit down to eat and James pulls out a bottle of what looks like peach schnapps, and Kara says it’s not fair because she can’t get drunk, and they all start talking and eating, and that’s the end of the episode. No cliffhanger, no stinger, and no previews for the next episode, which is in two weeks because of the Grammys.
Well, I think this was an informative lesson on how to screw up a great story. The main problem is that the original “For the Man Who Has Everything” was a standalone, whereas here, they shove it into the larger arc of Astra and Non whether it belongs there or not, and the concept gets so overloaded with other random plot threads that there’s no room to explore what made the story so effective.
Also, there’s no room for the most heartbreaking moment of the original story, where the Black Mercy gets pulled off of Superman, and then immediately affixes itself to Batman and causes him to hallucinate that his parents were never murdered. When the Black Mercy crawled off Kara, I was certain it would attach itself to Hank/J’onn and cause him to hallucinate his perfect life back on Mars with his wife and daughters still alive. Not including that was a huge missed opportunity.
I suppose that divorced from the original story, this was a decent enough episode. But the vagueness of the Kryptonians’ evil plans continues to be annoying, and I’m pretty sure they’re making it up as they go along. Contrary to the previous episode featuring Non and Astra, their plan seems to have morphed back into exterminating humanity to save Earth from a man-made disaster. I guess we’ll see how many episodes they stick with that.