Warning: This recap for the “Changing” episode of Supergirl contains spoilers.
All the pieces are in motion now: James is now Guardian, J’onn is closing in on M’gann’s secret, Mon-el is poised to go from friend to foe. But none of that is as exciting or moving as Alex coming out to Kara. Supergirl continues to balance quiet character moments with superhero action in a way that is utterly charming and unique.
Environmental scientists unearth an alien parasite in the Arctic, and it takes over Dr. Rudy Jones (William Mapother), creating a new hybrid intellect, the Parasite. They/it both want to protect the environment, so it attacks the climate deniers who fired him from his position at the university. Meanwhile, Kara is trying to turn Mon-el (Chris Wood) into a hero and is disappointed to find that he’s taken a job as muscle for bookies. When Supergirl and Martian Manhunter are both put into comas by the Parasite, he is forced to step up and stop it. At the same time, James convinces Winn to let him use the suit he’s designed. Mon-el and the newly dubbed Guardian hold off the Parasite until Kara shows up. She overloads his draining power with Plutonium 239. M’Gann (Sharon Leal) gives J’onn a blood transfusion but worries what he will say when he finds out she’s a White Martian. Project Cadmus kidnaps Mon-el.
Who would have thought that one of the best coming-out stories on TV would happen on a superhero show? They dodge the easy tropes and manufactured drama you might expect from a series like this and tell a story that feels sweet and real and painful in its own way. The mutual awkwardness between Kara and Alex; Maggie’s insistence on being just friends; Alex’s humiliation and reflex of just wanting to forget the experience. Any of those things could have been played too light or too heavy and made Alex’s story feel like a ratings ploy or some writer’s attempt to make the character hip and trendy.
Instead, the show finds a deft balance that not only makes Alex’s revelation feel real — it does it in between scenes of Supergirl punching a giant purple alien. Top that, This Is Us.
Inside comics moment
In the DC universe (yes, Marvel has a Guardian as well), the most well-known Guardian has actually appeared on the show already: James Harper appeared in Season 1 as a Cadmus operative. He works for Cadmus in the comics as well, though in an era when Cadmus wasn’t all that bad. James Harper turns out to be the great-uncle of Roy Harper, who is very familiar to Arrow fans. Aside from the first name, though, it doesn’t appear that there’s any other connection between that Guardian and the James Olsen Guardian.
*Are all the CGI aliens starting to look alike? Parasite kind of looks like a purple version of M’Gann’s White Martian form, which kind of looks like the hologram monster from last week’s The Flash. Or is that being racist to bumpy-skinned digital monsters if you can’t tell them apart?
*The arctic lab is owned by Thorul. Is that a throwaway easter egg, or does Lena Luthor — who sometimes uses the anagram of her name as an alias in the comics — involved? Maybe it’s a Cadmus project?
*More drunk Kara, please.
*At first, that black van made it look like Mon-el was being kidnapped by Roulette for her underground pit fights. Covert black ops organizations should really put bright, easily-readable logos on their vehicles to avoid confusion.
*Was anybody else waiting for Winn and James to fist-bump after calling themselves the Super Friends? Maybe they should have called themselves the Wonder Twins.
*It was actually pretty great to see the big, muscular dude get told by the tiny girl, “We got this,” and be dismissed.
*Line of the Night: “She doesn’t like me … like that.” This is the second time Supergirl has brought me to tears this season; the first was Cat Grant hugging Kara.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on the CW.