Warning: This recap for the “Alex” episode of Supergirl contains spoilers.
Kara learns there are some problems she can’t punch her way out of, and Alex gets to play the damsel in distress while her two damsels in shining armor frantically attempt to rescue her. The somewhat hokey water-filling-the-cell scenario does little to detract from the great emotional scenes of a frustrated Kara and of Maggie and Alex expressing their love for each other under threat of imminent death.
Kara ends a hostage situation, irritating Maggie, who had been negotiating with them for the last 18 hours. At a double date later, Maggie takes her to task for relying on her strength instead of thinking things through. Alex is kidnapped and offered in exchange for the release of Peter Thompson (Gregg Henry) from prison. The kidnapper is Rick Malverne (David Hoflin), Peter’s son and a fellow student of Alex and Kara’s. He has locked Alex in a sealed cell and resists Maggie’s interrogation, Kara’s bullying, even J’onn masquerading as Peter. Kara’s desperation to save her sister is equaled by Maggie’s desperation to save her girlfriend. A red herring leads Kara to trigger a booby trap and Alex’s cell begins filling with water. Maggie breaks Peter out of jail to make the exchange, but Kara instead appeals to Peter’s love for his son to reveal Alex’s location.
The Superman Problem
The problem with writing Superman is how do you create conflict for a guy who can do anything? They can’t all be stories about punching aliens, and you can only de-power him every once in a while before people start to notice. Case in point: There wasn’t even an attempt to explain why Martian Manhunter couldn’t read his mind — that’s how boring that process gets. This episode strips away Kara’s alien advantages and becomes a battle of wills. Who breaks first? The hero, the criminal, or the cop?
As it turns out, it’s the dad. It’s a testament to the genius of Greg Berlanti that he has four superhero shows on one network and they’re all so distinct that we know how each would solve this situation. The Flash would have cobbled together a science gizmo to find Alex. Arrow would have beat the crap out of Rick and spent the rest of the episode racked with guilt and questioning the ethics of it. Legends would have worn hilarious period garb and, while bickering, accidentally stumbled on Alex’s location. Supergirl appeals to a father’s love for his son because the whole point of Kara not being human is that it gives her an outsider’s perspective into what being human truly means.
Lena and Rhea
Rhea (Teri Hatcher) and Lena bond over dinner and, despite being caught trying to hide her alien origins, the two hit it off and decide to combine their technologies. Mon-El’s mother is obviously plotting something once the portal to Daxam is opened. It’s probably an invasion, but the more intriguing option — because Lena shouldn’t be fool enough to fall for that — is that Lena finds herself at odds with Supergirl because the portal turns out to be a net benefit for Earth and a net loss for Kara. What could be worse than to lose your bestie to your boyfriend’s awful mom?
Inside Comics Moment
Rick Malverne has a history with Supergirl in the comics. Like this version, the two grew up together and he knew about her alternate identity. They dated through college and — as was typical of Silver Age stories — there were are a lot of hijinks as Rick tried to prove she was Supergirl, and she came up with wacky plans to avoid getting caught. There is a sad coda to the story; they meet years later as Rick is dying of cancer, a foe Supergirl has no power to stop.
If you’re not sure if someone is a supervillain and they say the line, “You have no idea,” they’re a supervillain. Especially if they’re an alien who looks like Teri Hatcher. Come on, Lena — Lex must’ve said that a thousand times.
When are we going to get a full-on flashback featuring young Kara and Alex? Maybe even an entire episode?
Mon-El’s role as Kara’s adorable arm candy spouting occasional quips is absolutely perfect. Even his love for ham and pineapple on pizza is perfect because he’s an alien and only weird aliens like ham and pineapple on pizza.
You might recognize Gregg Henry from another famous comic property: He plays Grandpa Quill in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. You might also recognize him as one of the greatest character actors working today. He’s done everything from Scandal to Gilmore Girls to multiple Star Treks, Murder, She Wrote, and even an uncredited role in Scarface.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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