Oct 30, 2019
Supergirl: Jailer Bait (S1 E14 RECAP)
Previously on Supergirl: Maxwell Lord figured out Supergirl’s secret identity, which, along with creating a Bizarro Supergirl clone to kill the real Supergirl, was all it took for Alex to arrest him and lock him away at the DEO indefinitely. Alex killed Supergirl’s Aunt Astra, which was totally justified, but Hank decided to take the blame anyway so Kara wouldn’t hate her sister.
At Kara’s apartment, she and Alex are on the couch talking about various plot threads, and Kara says it may sound “messed up”, but she actually misses her Aunt Astra, and she wishes she’d had a chance to get through to her and turn her away from the dark side. Alex starts to confess that she’s the one who killed Astra, but they’re rudely interrupted by the sudden appearance of Non.
Non wants Kara to do one last thing for Astra, and she reluctantly follows him up into the night sky where several Kryptonians are hovering around, and they’ve even got a spiffy flying coffin for Astra. Supposedly, it’s Kryptonian “custom” for a “surviving female to lead the rites”, and now that Astra’s dead, I guess it’s a total sausage party among the remaining evil Kryptonians, so the job has now fallen to Kara.
At Non’s prompting, Kara recites “the Prayer for the Dead”, and hey, look, Astra’s coffin even has a magically appearing peek-a-boo window that shows her face. Kara recites the prayer, and asks that “Rao’s will be done,” and the coffin goes flying up and away. Non says he’ll honor a “period of mourning”, and then, he’s coming after Kara, which has to be like the third or fourth random truce the Kryptonians have decided to honor this season. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the writers were stalling or something.
Cut to Supergirl over at the DEO telling Alex and Henshaw all about the funeral. Henshaw starts to ask questions, and you can see icicles forming in the air as Supergirl glares at him, clearly blaming him for Astra’s death. Just then, Random Female DEO Agent enters and says Maxwell Lord wants to talk to Supergirl.
Over at Max’s cell, he says he should be released, because he helped save Supergirl’s life by freeing her from the Black Mercy in the previous episode. She refuses, and he wonders what he gets in exchange for his “largesse”. Supergirl angrily replies, “I was told you asked for and received Netflix.” What? Do they really allow the Fort Rozz prisoners to stream movies in their cells? As she storms out, she adds, “I recommend Call the Midwife.” Product placement, or another obligatory pop culture reference? You decide.
At CatCo, Kara is confused when she sees a new desk just outside Cat’s office, and the nameplate reads “Siobhan Smythe” and Kara has no idea how that’s pronounced. Enter both Cat and Siobhan, and Cat snidely reveals she’s hired another assistant, since Kara has been having so many difficulties lately.
In fact, Cat has taken to referring to Kara as “assistant #2”, while Siobhan is “assistant #1”, and Kara notes that Cat actually pronounced “Siobhan” correctly. Which is funny, because she’s never pronounced “Kara” correctly, but also confusing, because Kara supposedly had never seen the name “Siobhan” before, so how does she know how it’s pronounced?
But the important thing to note is this is all setting up a future appearance by another obscure DC villain: In the New 52 continuity, Siobhan Smythe is the real name of the Silver Banshee, who as the name suggests, has the amazing superpower of being able to scream really loud. And the character has the traditionally Irish name of Siobhan because she was born in Ireland.
Meanwhile, Cat calls James Olsen and Lucy Lane into her office and tells them that she’s figured out that Maxwell Lord is missing. James, who obviously knows the truth, tries to convince her otherwise, but Cat thinks he’s been kidnapped, and orders both James and Lucy to investigate.
Afterwards, James confronts Kara about how she and the DEO are holding Max against his will. He thinks Max deserves due process in the criminal justice system, but Kara insists he’s too dangerous for that. James says they need to respect his human rights, and he’s worried that Supergirl has lost sight of her ethics. And then we see Siobhan hovering just outside of James’s door, trying and failing to eavesdrop.
At the DEO, they’ve got another escaped Fort Rozz prisoner. In fact, we’re told this is “Fort Rozz Prisoner #2,444”, and boy, it certainly feels like it. This one can turn into some kind of lizard man who feeds on rotting flesh. But when they track him down, they find him locked up in chains, and the DEO is ambushed by a guy in a black suit of armor who blasts them with lasers. He grabs the prisoner and flies away.
Hank and Alex are studying footage of the armored guy, and Hank thinks he might be an “interstellar bounty hunter”, leading to a cryptic exchange where Alex says, “You don’t think…” and Hank says, “If he were in town, we’d know.” This is never followed up on, so they must be dropping hints about the imminent appearance of another DC character. The smart money’s on Lobo.
We next find Armored Guy as he gets Prisoner #2,444 to kneel down inside a laser guillotine. It apparently decapitates people exactly like a normal guillotine, but… it uses lasers! And that’s way more evil, right? Armored Guy says, “No one escapes the Master Jailer!” and down comes the blade. So Master Jailer is our obscure Superman villain of the week. I’d love to tell you more about him, but even after a significant amount of internet research, I can’t begin to tell you what makes this character notable.
Next, Alex and Hank disguise themselves as FBI agents to go talk to some National City police detectives. One is named Draper and the other is named Warren, and if you know anything about the Master Jailer, one of those names has just spoiled this episode’s shocking twist for you. Luckily, no one knows anything about the Master Jailer.
They show the cops a photo of the Master Jailer, and the two men just laugh, and they scoff at the FBI needing to turn to the local police for help. Alex points out they get plenty of help from Supergirl, which pisses off Warren, and he storms out. After he leaves, Draper admits that the police know of five kidnappings linked to the Master Jailer.
At CatCo, Siobhan starts IM’ing Kara from all of five feet away, quizzing her about her relationship with James, asking if they’re “friends with benefits”. Winn raises an eyebrow as Kara says a bit too loudly, “We’re just friends. No benefits. Except the benefit of friendship!” Kara is soon incensed by Siobhan’s texts. Then she gets called away by Alex and Siobhan grows even more smug as she tells Kara she can easily cover for her and do her job while she’s away.
Meanwhile, Lucy has done some snooping, and she’s got photos of cars parked outside Lord Technologies with FBI license plates. But she ran these past her father, and now she knows these cars actually belong to a secret organization that hunts aliens. I’m not sure what to make of this dialogue, considering Lucy is already well aware of the existence of the DEO. She actually visited the DEO and even met Hank and Alex and Supergirl in that episode where her father unveiled his Red Tornado kill-bot.
James tells her to leave this story alone, and he lets it slip that he knows all about the DEO. Lucy realizes Supergirl must have told him about it, and she again questions just how close they are and angrily walks out. And again, creepy Siobhan is lurking around behind closed doors trying to eavesdrop.
At the DEO, they pull up the files of the five murdered Fort Rozz prisoners. And guess what? It turns out the Master Jailer is killing them all in order of their prisoner numbers. Mighty convenient, that. So they quickly figure out that prisoner #2,445 is his next target, and this particular prisoner is a rather unintimidating white-haired guy who frankly reminds me a lot of Stuart Smalley.
Master Jailer confronts Prisoner #2,445, but Supergirl shows up to stop the attack. We get another cryptic line from Supergirl when she regards the Jailer and says, “I thought masks were only big in that other city!” Wait, what? Is this a reference to Gotham City? Does Batman exist in this continuity? I have to say, a guest appearance by Batgirl (who frequently teams up with Supergirl in the comics) would be pretty great.
Master Jailer shoots super-strong chains out from his wrists, and the two slug it out. Eventually, he gets Kara into a rather kinky bondage pose, and by the time she frees herself, Master Jailer is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Prisoner #2,445.
Later that night, Cat finds James drinking alone on the balcony, and tells him a story that just happens to be extremely relevant to his current conundrum. You see, early in her career as a gossip columnist, Cat got talked out of reporting on how an “up-and-coming actor” was abusing his wife, and now she wishes she had, because that same actor ended up shooting his wife in the head. Well, that escalated quickly. The moral of this story that she just pulled out of her ass is that journalists like Cat and James are “driven to tell the truth,” because “we want to be good people”.
She walks off, and Siobhan is again hovering around in the periphery. Is she just nosy, or is she stalking James?
At the DEO, Hank notes that Prisoner #2,445 was a “drug smuggler” put away by Supergirl’s mom, and even this brief passing mention of someone in Supergirl’s family gets her all pissed off again.
That same random DEO minion again enters to tells Supergirl someone wants to talk to her. She thinks it’s Max again, but nope, it’s James. Huh. So James just cruised on up to DEO base camp so he could have a talk with Kara, even though he works in the same office as her and sees her all the time. He literally has a watch that allows him to contact her directly at any given moment, but he decided to drive all the way over here instead. And why did the DEO even let him in?
Anyway, he gives a big emotional speech about how she shouldn’t be holding Max prisoner, and how Supergirl is helping the DEO “run a secret Guantanamo”, and this kind of abuse of power is the exact reason that Maxwell Lord fears Supergirl. And she has to be better than this, and with her, it’s never going to come down to a battle of strength, or wits. “Ultimately, it’s going to be a battle of values.” And the Supergirl he knows “believes in truth and justice.” And all that other stuff, as Perry White would say.
Alex comes in to report that they analyzed one of Master Jailer’s weapons, and found human DNA that links him back to those police detectives they interviewed. Supergirl says she’s always wanted to “catch a corrupt cop ever since we binge-watched The Wire!” Was that before or after she binge-watched Call the Midwife? I really can’t get a fix on her viewing preferences.
Alex and Supergirl go to confront those cops, and initially they think Det. Warren is the Master Jailer, because Warren showed signs of hating Supergirl, I guess. But then Draper starts shooting at them, and it turns out he’s the Master Jailer, which makes sense, since Carl Draper is his real name in the comics. He shoots Alex and abducts Supergirl.
Back from break, Alex is alive, thanks to her bulletproof vest. And now Supergirl is locked up in the Master Jailer’s lair, being subjected to lights that mimic a red sun to make her powerless. She’s across the aisle from Prisoner #2,445, who makes for a shitty cellmate by telling her not to bother trying to break out, because it’s hopeless. “As the humans would say, ‘We are up a creek without a poodle!’” She corrects him that the word is “paddle”, and then he says it’s all “Walter under the bridge.” Oh good, her cellmate is Willie the friendly Visitor from V.
Prisoner #2,445 admits he turned to drug smuggling when “one of [his] wives” fell ill (as always, aliens really dig polyamory). He was sentenced to Fort Rozz by Alura, but he’s over it, and now he’s trying to be a better person, and after Fort Rozz crashed on Earth, he decided to live a law-abiding life as a college professor. So… he’s a college professor who doesn’t know the difference between “poodle” and “paddle”, or “Walter” and “water”? I think it’s best to steer clear of that school.
At the DEO, they figure out that the Master Jailer was never a prisoner in Fort Rozz; he was one of the guards. And now he’s trying to recreate Fort Rozz on Earth, and then they pick up a signal or something (don’t think about it too hard) that allows them to trace the Jailer to a remote cabin.
At the Master Jailer’s lair, he removes his mask and says he’s one of the few who thinks Kara’s mom was a great woman, because she dealt “true justice to the scum of our galaxy”, and he’s simply “carrying on her work”. And with that, it’s time for Prisoner #2,445 to face the laser guillotine.
Meanwhile, Alex and the DEO crew move in on the cabin. And this basically goes on forever, with Alex and crew unable to find any sign of the Jailer, while the Jailer takes an extremely long time to drop the guillotine this time, until finally, Alex notices that the floorboards in the cabin are glowing, which means the Master Jailer’s lair is hidden below. And so, she and her team come crashing down in the nick of time to save #2,445.
Alex gets into a brawl with the Master Jailer, and she shoots holes in the ceiling, allowing sunlight to penetrate the lair and restore Supergirl’s powers. She frees herself and fights the Master Jailer, and then knocks off his mask and says, “It’s over.” She then squeezes his throat and he falls over. Uh. Did she just kill him? I don’t think that was the idea here, but I’m not sure what other conclusion I’m supposed to draw from Supergirl crushing a guy’s windpipe.
So to wrap things up, Supergirl decides to let #2,445 go, and resume his normal life, because he’s already served his time. Then she heads over to the DEO and tells Maxwell Lord that he’s free to go. Supergirl says she’s doing this because it’s “the right thing to do”. But apparently it’s not that much of an ethical quandary for her, because Alex says the DEO has a whole “dossier” on Max’s criminal activities that will be released if Max reveals Kara’s secret identity. Max smirks that this is “mutually assured destruction” and the two make some dumb Cold War-related quips that aren’t worth repeating. Wait, so they now have proof of Maxwell Lord committing crimes, and that’s when they decide to let him go?
At CatCo, Siobhan reaches cartoonish levels of villainy when she admits to Kara that she’s only here to work her way up the ladder at CatCo and parlay this menial assistant gig into a job as an on-air personality. Her ultimate goal is to “build [her] brand”, and in ten years, she visualizes herself having a “luxury home collection”. You know, just like Donald Trump. Well, that settles it, she’s evil incarnate.
Kara goes to James to tell him she released Max, and she thanks him because, “You make me a better hero.” But then he tells her about how Lucy caught him lying. He says if he’s going to make things work with Lucy, he has to be totally honest with her. Which means he’s asking Kara’s permission to tell Lucy that she’s Supergirl.
We don’t find out her answer, because next we find Supergirl going to talk to the Alura-hologram. What’s the over-under on the Alura hologram actually providing useful information for once? Supergirl says she’s come to see the hologram because she just met a Fort Rozz prisoner who, for once, doesn’t completely hate Alura. I assume she’s talking about Professor #2,445, even though everything she says could just as easily apply to Master Jailer.
And then she asks the Alura hologram about that “Myriad” thing that Astra and Non mentioned. The Alura hologram freaks out and says, “Warning. This construct is not authorized to discuss Myriad!” And not only is the Alura hologram completely devoid of useful information yet again, this time it threatens to “self-destruct” if asked more questions about Myriad. I think we can safely say it’s time for the DEO to uninstall the hologram and wipe the disk. Surely they can find a better use for the server space.
Hank quickly switches off the hologram, but Supergirl gets bitter at him because seeing the Alura hologram only reminds her of Astra and how Hank killed her. And now Supergirl doesn’t even know if she can work alongside Hank anymore, the end.
I generally dislike when this show gets into all the over-emotional speechifying, but the scenes between Kara and James actually get to the core of what makes Supergirl (and by extension, Superman) so interesting. Their incredible powers make it all the more imperative that they do the right thing at all times, which make them far more compelling than most of the darker anti-heroes we’ve been seeing on screen. Despite all the show’s faults, Supergirl still understands the character way better than DC’s current feature film franchise.
Next episode: The previous Supergirl, Laura Vandervoot makes a guest appearance. And it looks like she’s playing Mystique. Technically, she’s playing “Indigo”, who in the comics is a descendant of Braniac, but the makeup is totally Mystique. Also, it appears Kara is about to pay her first visit to the Fortress of Solitude.