by CATHY MUNSON-KLEIN
Originally published on MetaWitches and re-published here with their permission.
Kara does a lot of emoting this week. She has lots of opinions and feelings about how the people around her and the world in general should behave, and no one will listen to her, gosh darn it all to heck. You’d think that everyone would bow down to her superior wisdom and strength, what with her being an alien superhero who’s so strong that she’s nearly a goddess on earth, but the fools all insist on making their own decisions. And they aren’t even sorry about it. Except for Mon El, who does wish that he was better at following orders, but, let’s face it, he’s one of those people who’s never going to stop making sure she’s okay and only protect the civvies. Pretty sure he can learn to multitask though, if Kara can learn to lighten up.
Kara needs another trip to Earth-1 to reacquaint herself with Oliver Queen, Sara Lance, and Mick Rory. The whole idea that humans can’t be dangerous and are unable to protect themselves was ludicrous. Look at Alex. Kara just didn’t want to admit that she was worried about friends and being overprotective.
Kara and Mon El start the episode in the training room, using a device that looks like they stole it from Star Wars. They’re protecting life-size cardboard people from the mini Death Star. Mon El has a mostly successful run, but one little cardboard girl ends up decapitated. Oops. Kara declares Mon El ready for hero work, as long as he remembers the #1 rule: Protect civilians first!
Guardian and Winn are slightly stressed from working two jobs. Well, mostly Winn. Especially when Guardian gets a small bullet hole in the superhero suit that Winn made. He does not have time for repairs when he has to make an entirely new suit for Mon El. Winn is TIRED. Winn does not do well with lies and keeping secrets from his best friends. He wants James to tell Kara the truth, and almost makes it an ultimatum. James finally agrees. Kara probably won’t make a big fuss about it, right?
M’gann is hanging out in her empty cell, because superheroes in the Berlantiverse are compassionate, but don’t give a f*ck about human rights violations, so they keep their long-term prisoners in empty glass cages with nothing to do and no plumbing. Yes, I will complain about this every time it comes up, especially when you aren’t giving a woman regular access to a bathroom. Maybe J’onn can borrow the song I Gave You a UTI * from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for the crossover episode, since Rachel Bloom is writing a song for it. (She can rework the lyrics to fit Supergirl.)
Anyway, M’gann’s mind comes under some kind of attack. She has flashbacks to the civil war on Mars and passes out. They move her to the infirmary, where apparently Alex has been promoted to chief medical officer in charge of aliens. The CW must have seriously cut their budget this year. No recurring doctor at the DEO. Dr. Alex can’t find anything wrong with M’gann, even though she’s clearly in bad shape. J’onn tries to pretend that he doesn’t care, even though he just caught M’gann in his arms as she fell and did a romantic dip with her like they were dancing. See? He’s trying out for the musical episode.
Livewire is having a counseling session in her prison cell. She spouts the usual insults and vague threats. A duplicate guard and another prisoner arrive to break her out.
Later, Maggie and Alex are on the scene examining the evidence when Kara busts through the police barrier yelling about freedom of the press and getting Alex out of eating vegan ice cream for another day. Livewire is Kara’s nemesis, and has her spooked.
Back at the DEO, Winn is even more dramatic. He’s still pretty pissed off about his ex-girlfriend Siobhan/Silver Banshee teaming up with Livewire in season 1. Mon El is ready to rumble. Kara is worked up to the point of accidentally breaking expensive equipment. We’re spiraling here at the DEO, people. It’s like Les Miserables up in here. Why isn’t this the musical episode? So much emotion and drama to work with.
Alex calls J’onn out to discuss M’gann again. M’gann will experience brain death in a few hours unless J’onn mind melds with her to find out what’s wrong. J’onn adamantly refuses. She’s a White Martian, and White Martians are all alike. He blames her and all of them for the death of his family and his people. He will not give her the look into his mind, and the memories of his people, that a mind meld would allow her.
Which brings us to the real themes of the episode: prejudice, hate, stereotyping, forgiveness, and understanding. J’onn has the big, obvious, dramatic storyline on these themes and makes the most progress. Kara has the sometimes humorous, more personal version, and makes much less progress.
Livewire attacks the National City Police. Mon El makes his debut as a crime fighter. Kara gives him strict instructions to stand over there >>> with the humans and let her do the actual crime fighting. I’m not sure why they weren’t supposed to be looking for an exit from that floor of the parking garage, if not the entire building, but, okay. For some reason hiding in the corner was better than trying to run behind cars to a stairwell.
Mon El watches Kara fight Livewire and an electrified prison guard for a few minutes. Then he can’t stand it any more and jumps in. If any superheroes are reading, I’m letting you know now that I probably won’t be following instructions either. Guardian arrives at around the same time, and takes over with the humans. The bad guys escape into the wiring, and James and one cop are injured. Kara finds out that James is Guardian. He’d tried to tell her earlier in his office, but had gotten sidetracked when she thought of Mon El as a potential hero before him.
Mon El has a moment at the beginning of the next scene where he gets to ask “Jimmy” about motorcycles, then finally have the thrill of being the one person in the room who didn’t make Kara mad. Chris Wood works it. Having watched him previously in two different dramatic roles, one good, one evil, it’s been a joy to see what he can do with comedy.
Kara and James have their hero talk alone. James explains why he needs to be out there fighting and helping other people. This is one of the most important conversations of the series, so I’m going to include it. I think it’s a bit out of character for Kara, but we have seen other Kryptonians take the attitude that the people of earth, or other planets, need to let the wise Kryptonians do the thinking and protecting for them. Most notably, that’s what Astra and Non thought. Kara is falling into the trap of believing that she’s entitled to make all of the decisions because she’s the strongest person in the room and can enforce her will on everyone else. She thinks she’s doing it out of kindness and protectiveness, like a benevolent
dictator parent, but the fact is that she doesn’t have the right to make these decisions for anyone else, not even for Mon El. She can decide that they can’t fight with her personally, but that’s it. She’s verging on becoming an alien supremacist with this line of thinking. It’s the flip side of the white supremacists who want to lynch people of color. Instead, some supremacists feel that people of color are more like children than adults and need to be treated that way. The racial parallels are made obvious in the episode.
Kara is visibly trying to hold her temper in through all of this.
Kara: I am going to listen to you. I owe you that much. But you need to tell me why.
James: Because that thing that you feel, that thing that makes you want to make everything better, I feel that too, and I always have. I’ve tried so many different ways in my life to help people, whether it’s career, or friendship, but it’s just not enough. But this is. Now look. I was never meant to be in Superman’s shadow, or yours. I am more me as Guardian than I’ve ever felt as James Olson. Kara, we are the same.
Kara: No, we are not the same. You are a human. You are going to get yourself killed. One mistake. One human error and you’re gone. That’s it. You don’t get a strike, James. Not like me, not like…
James: Mon El?
Jame: Are you serious? You saw him. He left civilians unprotected at that fight, which I had to go back for.
Kara: Mon El’s still learning.
James: At what cost Kara? There was a cop that took a lightning bolt because Mon El’s still learning. He cares about himself, he cares about you and that’s what he’s fighting for.
Kara: But he can change. You can’t. You are never going to be strong enough for this.
James: You do not get to decide who is a hero. And who are you to tell me how to be or who to be. I am meant for this.
Kara: If you don’t stop, I’ll stop you.
James: You’re welcome to try.
James’ first speech feels so much like a coming out speech to me. He’s not of the same hero orientation as Kara, but he’s still legitimately a hero, and he needs her to see that. Kara immediately shoots him down, and counters that he can’t be a hero, because his type is incapable of it. Mon El is of the same hero orientation/type as Kara, so he’s automatically a member of the club. His inability to commit to being heroic doesn’t matter. I’m not even a big James fan, and that part was heartbreaking for me to watch.
It would be great if James could get over his jealousy of Mon El. The boys really don’t need to fight over Kara like she’s the only woman on earth. Let’s get the three-way bromance going and find some other love interests, please. Or, pair two of the guys up. Totally legit option. I’m not completely convinced that James and Winn aren’t having post-mission make out sessions already. Bringing Siobhan back for Winn and Lucy back for James would work, too.
Kara continues on her blame rounds. Next up is Mon El, who isn’t objective enough to watch Kara get hurt, but who also refuses to admit that he has romantic feelings for her, or even that he remembers kissing her when he was dying. Kara could use a season 1 rewatch, because she doesn’t seem to think that she’s ever made a mistake or accidentally put anyone in danger. She maybe also needs to jump over to Central City more often so she can join Caitlin, Barry and Cisco’s powered people’s support group.
M’gann is close to death, so it’s time for J’onn to give in and do the
Vulcan Martian mind meld. He’s used his hatred of the White Martians as his reason to live ever since they slaughtered his family and his species. He didn’t want to give that up, but he also can’t watch M’gann die when he has the power to help. They meld, and he sees that she’s caught in her memory of saving a Green Martian child from the concentration camps. When she sees J’onn, she thinks he’s part of the memory too. They share the memory, then he talks her out of it. They wake up together.
Winn has figured out where Livewire is hiding, but keeps the information from Supergirl. Instead, he tells James so that Guardian can have a chance to save the day on his own. Mon El overhears and tags along. Livewire, as it turns out, is a victim on this one. She was kidnapped from prison rather than escaping. Now she’s being held hostage by a mad scientist who’s draining her powers as if she’s a battery, and putting them into other people to turn them into supersoldiers, including the scientist himself.
Mon El and Guardian don’t last long against the scientist and his two duplicate Livewires, who are the villains Kara fought at the police station. Winn is forced to ask Supergirl for help. Livewire taunts James and Mon El for thinking they can do a better job than Supergirl, which is pretty fabulous. Kara then makes an excellent entrance by dropping through the ceiling, right onto the mad scientist. Kara and Livewire come to a temporary truce while they beat the real bad guys, and then Kara lets Livewire have a head start on her escape. Other powered people get treated with respect. She tells Alex and Maggie later that Livewire still has some good in her.
Mon El and Guardian follow Kara’s instructions well enough that they don’t get yelled at this time. Back at the DEO, J’onn reprimands Winn for withholding information, but then complements him and Guardian for being a good team, so Winn counts the whole thing as positive in the end.
Alex and Maggie are busy being the most adorable couple in the entire Berlantiverse since Olicity left the suburbs. They’re still placing bets on Kara. Hopefully Maggie finds a decent brand of vegan ice cream for Alex to try. Almond and coconut milk are definitely better than soy. Metamaiden recommends So Delicious.
J’onn has decided to let M’gann go free and be friends with her. M’gann tells him that her illness was a psychic attack by the other White Martians. They’re coming.
Supergirl reiterates to James and Winn that she’s in charge of the heroes now and they don’t pass muster. I’m surprised that Alex and J’onn haven’t weighed in on Kara’s intolerant attitude. Maybe they haven’t heard about it yet?
Mon El shows up at Kara’s front door. He admits that she was right. He remembers kissing her, and he does care about her. Her eyes are like comets. I’m not sure what emotion Melissa Benoist was trying to convey in this scene. She looked physically ill. Mon El didn’t take it as encouragement, anyway, and suggested they put it behind them, move on, never speak of it again, etc. Then he left as quickly as he could. With Alex in the honeymoon stage with Maggie, Kara has just spent the episode driving away everyone else that she’s close to who’s around her own age.
Next week, it’s a DEO bottle show as we play tag with a White Martian!