Mar 9, 2021
Supergirl: Not-So-Secret Origins (S1 E17 RECAP)
Previously on Supergirl: Siobhan betrayed Cat and got fired. Supergirl turned evil due to Red Kryptonite, forcing Hank to reveal his true identity as J’onn J’onnz to stop her. After the inevitable cure, Supergirl worried she would never win back the city’s trust.
On TV, a reporter is talking about how all of National City is currently living in fear of Supergirl, accompanied by footage of Supergirl thwarting a bank robbery where both the robbers and the hostages run away from her in terror. A depressed Kara is on her couch watching this and stuffing donuts in her mouth.
Over at CatCo, Cat watches this news report at work with her reporters, and following a litany of her usual pop culture references (including “Sandy Bullock”, “spin class”, “chard”, and Mel Gibson presenting at the Golden Globes), she notes that crime in the city is now up 40%. And why would that be the result of people being distrustful of Supergirl? She says that eventually, the city will forgive Supergirl, and waves everyone out of the room. And surprisingly, that’s the last this episode will speak of Supergirl trying to atone for her evil rampage.
Winn then gets a text from Siobhan and goes to meet her at the Only Restaurant in National City, where’s she slamming back cocktails and talking about how that “four-eyed bitch in a kilt” ruined her life, and now no one will hire her. But Winn gives her a pep talk, telling her to keep focusing on her “goal”, but considering her goal is to get revenge on Kara at all costs, I’m guessing this advice is about to backfire.
At the DEO, Hank Henshaw is still locked up in one of the cells. Alex pays him a visit, but he warns her to distance herself from him, because he was impersonating the head of a government agency, and “people get disappeared for this sort of thing”. But Alex promises she’ll never abandon him.
Alex and Kara then discover that the military has sent a large contingent over to the DEO, led by Lucy Lane, I mean, “the poor man’s Lois Lane”, who’s apparently now back in the army, even though I’m pretty sure she resigned her commission just a few weeks ago. She’s now working with some random military bigwig named Colonel James Harper (in the comics, Jim Harper is a cop who becomes the superhero called the Guardian) who’s here to investigate J’onn J’onnz and his alleged infiltration of the DEO. Harper promises that everyone will be questioned, though, as we’ll soon find out, “everyone” pretty much means “just Hank and Alex”.
They start out by interrogating Hank, and Harper has a special device that neutralizes his Martian powers. Out in the command center, Supergirl tries to overhear, but they’ve set up some sort of high frequency noise to block her super-hearing.
Lucy asks what happened to the real Hank Henshaw, triggering a flashback to “ten years ago”. It’s the DEO, 2006 style, as the real Hank Henshaw (you can tell by the slightly longer haircut) briefs his men about an “alien fugitive” known as “the Manhunter!” This flashback is basically retelling the story that J’onn told back in the same episode where he revealed his identity to Alex, and just like in the story, among the DEO agents involved is Dean Cain, returning as Jeremiah Danvers, Alex’s father.
The DEO has tracked the Manhunter to the jungles of South America, and Henshaw gives them orders to shoot to kill. Jeremiah protests that the alien is hundreds of years old and maybe they can learn from him, but the real Hank seems to be a bit of a loose cannon, and he only wants the alien dead.
Cut to the jungles of Peru, as the DEO searches for the alien. Jeremiah wanders off on his own, where he gets attacked by somebody’s pet Burmese python… er, I mean, a fearsome anaconda! Suddenly, J’onn J’onnz arrives on the scene, and um… picks up the python. Quite an amazing feat.
Back from break, we’re forced to watch pointless present-day scenes of Alex and Kara talking, and more of the interrogation of Hank, just so we can get back to the flashback. It’s nighttime and Jeremiah has started a campfire, which has got J’onn all freaked out. So apparently, just like in the comics, fire is his fatal weakness. J’onn then reveals he’s from Mars, and he’s the last of his kind.
This inspires Jeremiah to talk about his adopted daughter Kara and how she’s also an alien. He has a photo of Alex and Kara in his pocket that he shows to J’onn. Just then, the real Hank Henshaw arrives on the scene, pumping special bullets into J’onn that weaken him. Hank continues to fire on him, even though J’onn is down on the ground and not posing any kind of threat.
Jeremiah tries to protect J’onn, leading to Hank and Jeremiah getting into a scuffle. Hank stabs Jeremiah in the chest, right before Jeremiah tosses Hank off a convenient cliff. Hank falls to his death, and Jeremiah is mortally wounded. With his dying breath, he makes J’onn promise he’ll look after his daughters.
Cut to J’onn impersonating Hank for the first time and walking into the DEO. So everything lines up with the story that J’onn previously told, only there I didn’t get the impression that all the events unfolded within the space of ten minutes.
Back in the present, Hank denies accusations that he’s building an “alien army”, saying he’s dedicated his life to protecting Earth. And those strange looks Lucy has in all her close-ups are, I think, trying to show that she’s starting to believe his story. But Col. Harper is convinced that Hank/J’onn murdered the real Henshaw and has him taken away.
There’s a brief vignette of Cat leaving work for the night (and supposedly talking on the phone to Kate Middleton), followed by Siobhan sneaking in. She gets on Kara’s computer and begins typing an email to Cat.
At the DEO, it’s Alex’s turn to be interrogated. Outside, Supergirl talks to the DEO Agent Who Is Not Hank Or Alex, whose name is finally revealed to be “Vasquez”. Supergirl wants Vasqeuz to defeat the “sound-dampening tech” the military is using to block Supergirl from eavesdropping. Vasquez refuses to do that, but she does surreptitiously leave behind an earpiece that allows Supergirl to hear everything.
In the interrogation room, they demand to know if Alex knew that Hank was an alien when he recruited her. And that takes us back to another flashback from “three years ago”, as Alex has on a long wig, and she’s being a total party girl at a club, and knocking back shots, and acting, well, kind of slutty, and dancing to “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. Ah, 2013. Those were wild times. Party Girl Alex later gets busted for DUI and ends up in (according to the sign on the wall) the “Sobering Cell” at the local jail.
J’onn as Hank Henshaw walks in, and she immediately thinks he’s a lawyer, but he knows all about her background as a “scientist”. And not only that, but he knows about her sister and her “extraordinary powers”. He says that the government needs her, and warns her not to “throw your life down the drain”, and I’ll just forgive the mangled idiom there. The guy is from Mars, after all.
Cut to Long-Haired Alex being taken to the DEO for the first time. In the present, Col. Harper asks if Alex ever knew that Hank was an alien. Alex says she didn’t, and Harper believes her. But suddenly Lucy turns psychic, and she knows Alex is lying, and tells her she’s under arrest.
Kara rushes over and demands to know where Alex is being taken, and Col. Harper happily reveals he’s taking both Hank and Alex to “Project Cadmus”. It’s a facility seen a lot in the Superman comics, but here, Supergirl has never heard of it.
She rushes to James’ office at CatCo to tell him what happened, and thanks to Superman, James is already familiar with Project Cadmus. He calls it a “dissection lab” where aliens are experimented on to weaponize their abilities, and humans are also held there, and they don’t fare much better.
And so, they get Lucy (still in her full military dress uniform) to come over to Kara’s apartment, where Kara opens her shirt and takes off her glasses to finally reveal that she’s Supergirl. Lucy doesn’t seem all that surprised, all things considered. They need her help to stop Hank and Alex from being taken to Cadmus, but Lucy wants to know why J’onn lied all this time, and why Kara lied all this time, and this triggers yet another flashback, this time from Kara. And this flashback really has nothing to do with the plot; it seems they only wanted to give equal flashback time to all three leads.
In this flashback, it’s twelve years ago, and L’il Kara is shadowing L’il Alex as she goes to Midvale Junior High. And Kara is freaking out because she can hear everything, and see through people, and she’s, like, being a totally embarrassing foster sister. And then the cute guy in class tells Alex that they’re all going to “Swan Beach” (named after Curt, obviously) after school, and he’s even okay with her weirdo sister coming along too.
Cut to the beach, as we hear this flashback’s era-appropriate tune, “Since U Been Gone”. Yes, a Kelly Clarkson song is being used to evoke childhood nostalgia. I’m old. At the beach, Kara acts, like, totally weird in front of all of Kara’s friends, staring up at the sun and being amazed at the sight of birds. Then Kara hears a car accident and goes running off. She uses her superpowers to save a mom and her baby from a burning car, to the shock of all of Alex’s friends.
Cut to Daddy Danvers having to give L’il Kara the Pa Kent Costner talk about not revealing herself and showing off her powers in public. He tells her to chill and just be Kara, because “the world already has a Superman”, and why would a planet need more than one incredibly powerful protector, anyway? And then he hands her glasses that are lined with lead to suppress her x-ray vision, so I guess that answers the burning question of when she started wearing glasses.
And with that, we fade to a flashback from “two years ago” which is even more pointless. Kara is about to interview with Cat Grant, and she meets Winn for the first time, who two years ago was sporting a combed-down hairdo that makes him look uncannily like Marco Rubio.
During the interview, Cat is dismissive of Kara because she’s a “Millennial”, but Kara insists she doesn’t think she’s a special snowflake, and there’s nothing special about her, other than her being “extremely committed”. And then she uses her x-ray vision to tell Cat that her pen is out of ink, which wins her the job. No, seriously. Also, Kara sees a news report on a TV screen behind Cat about a raging forest fire, but is forced to ignore it.
And if you’re wondering why Kara is telling all of this to Lucy, we return to the present as Kara says some nonsense about how being an “alien” means you have to be “willing to sacrifice anything”, and it’s all just a lame attempt to justify the flashback. Regardless, she decided to reveal her identity to Lucy because she trusts her to “do the right thing”.
And now Hank and Alex and Col. Harper are in the back of a truck being taken to Project Cadmus. Suddenly, two motorcycles show up on the scene. The army guys fire on the bikers, but the bullets do nothing, and one army guy thinks they’re wearing body armor.
The bikers shoot out the tires of the truck. Meanwhile, J’onn disables the device that was neutralizing his powers by… um… not actually touching it, and frees himself and attacks Col. Harper. And then the bikers turn out to be… Kara and Lucy. Say what?
Hank grabs onto Col. Harper’s head, and is about to do his memory wipe trick. Alex tries to stop him, but Hank assures her he’s “gotten better at this”, and instead of erasing all of his memories, he’s just going to make him forget what happened tonight. He does the mind meld with Harper, but then sees glimpses of Jeremiah Danvers coming back to life in the jungle, and knows he’s being held at Project Cadmus. Yep, Daddy Danvers is still alive, just as I predicted in a previous recap, but let’s face it, it wasn’t too tough to call that one.
Outside the truck, Supergirl wants to go find Jeremiah, but Alex insists she’s the one who has to rescue him. So it’s farewell for now, as both Alex and Hank are now fugitives, and they take off on the two motorcycles and head for Cadmus.
Meanwhile, Siobhan returns to CatCo, thinking she’s about to get her job back, and Cat talks about how she just got an email from Kara calling her all sorts of vulgar names. But then she calls in Winn, who “analyzed the typing speed and patterns on the hard drive”, which weren’t a match for Kara, but they were a match for Siobhan, and this is just a total string of gibberish. Cat says she’s sorry she already fired Siobhan, because she dearly wants to “fire you again, with feeling,” and Siobhan leaves humiliated.
Then Supergirl and Lucy Lane walk into DEO headquarters, wondering if they’re about to be busted for helping Hank and Alex escape. Instead, they’re informed by Vasquez about Col. Harper’s latest orders: Lucy Lane is now “acting director of the DEO”. And I do believe that Operation: Keep Jenna Dewan Tatum On This Show By Any Means Necessary is still in progress. I mean, the woman has had like six different jobs this season to continually justify her ongoing appearances.
Supergirl knows these “orders” are all thanks to J’onn’s mind control, but she insists Lucy will be great at the job. And then Supergirl heads out to stop a bank robbery, which we don’t see.
Siobhan sees her flying overhead, and is standing on a roof somewhere getting drunk. Winn shows up, thinking she’s about to jump, but she just laughs at him. They argue over how Winn ratted her out, and she eventually gets so upset that she breaks her heel, which sends her falling off the roof.
But then her screams emit waves of force that slow her fall and pulverize the pavement below her. She lands safely and looks up at Winn in horror. And that, it would seem, is the secret origin of the Silver Banshee, destined to be one of next week’s threats.
This whole episode was a lot like a clip show, except the clips were from episodes that never actually happened, which I guess you could say is different. But it definitely has that clip show feel, where it seems like the script was written specifically to pad out the season instead of moving any storylines forward. We didn’t learn anything new, other than finding out Alex used to be an alcoholic party girl at some point, which was a bit of a WTF moment. Oh, and Daddy Danvers is still alive, but that was obvious a while ago.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this episode came about as a stall tactic, while they worked out all the logistics of bringing the Flash onto the show. Yes, next week, Grant Gustin guest stars and the Flash crosses over to Supergirl’s universe, where he helps her take down… Silver Banshee, and… Livewire? Yikes. This is a bit like the Justice League coming together for the first time to battle Mr. Mxyzptlk, but hopefully the camaraderie between Flash and Supergirl will be enough to counteract the lameness of the villains.