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“Welcome to Earth” turns out to be a very apropos title for this week’s episode of Supergirl. The episode focuses on pretty heavy themes: prejudice, ostracization, and immigration and xenophobia.
And man, does it ever do them justice.
The episode opens with a direct continuation from last week’s cliffhanger ending. The mysterious man who fell to Earth strangles Kara before fighting his way out of the DEO and speeding away. As Kara, J’onn, and Alex discuss the situation, J’onn mentions the President’s impending visit. Additionally, he expresses his disapproval of the ‘Alien Amnesty Act,’ an executive order that makes aliens living in the States full citizens. I don’t know if a president can actually do that, but I will allow it. She probably has a Democratic majority in Congress, anyway. J’onn believes that there are too many alien criminals for such an Act to be anything but a security risk.
Meanwhile, over at CatCo, James tries to keep the company running the way Cat would do things. Snapper Carr, since he’s an old white dude who thinks he knows everything about everything, steamrolls him in the editorial meeting. Snapper assigns everyone beats to cover regarding the Alien Amnesty Act. He gives Kara the job of interviewing Lena Luthor about her take on the Act, since she’s Lex Luthor’s sister. Kara and James have a brief exchange about Snapper’s issues, and then Kara has to go off and meet the President as Supergirl.
Kara does meet the President, but someone attempts to murder said President with heat vision. The obvious potential culprit? The escaped alien, obviously, since they believe he hails from Krypton. At the crime scene at Air Force One, Alex meets a local cop named Maggie Sawyer. Maggie is a detective with the Science Division, a part of the NCPD (National City Police Department) that covers everything alien and paranormal. They argue over whose jurisdiction this case falls under, and then Maggie leaves.
Back at the DEO, J’onn and the president get into a disagreement about the Alien Amnesty Act. He states his views. She tells him that once, people said the same thing about him. Someone extended him a chance to prove them wrong, and now, she says, is the time to pay it forward. She tells him she has hope. He asks her, “What if it’s false hope?”
She replies: “It’s hope, J’onn. How can it be false?”
Kara immediately lampshades this as quotable, but I don’t think that reduces how important that line is. Hope, the defining factor of House of El’s stories on Earth, and it comes out of the mouth of an actress who once played Wonder Woman.
Moving on, we reach Lena and Kara’s interview. Which, wow. That, that right there is a Luthor. Katie McGrath and Melissa Benoist bring their absolute A-game to a scene that would not feel out of place on Smallville. Lena, all slightly-wicked smiles, shows Kara a device that will out an alien as an alien with nothing more than a skin test. Soon, it will be ready to market to the public, she tells her. Kara, obviously horrified but unable to really express it because of her secrets, damages the device so she can ‘pass’ as human on its scanner. She also asks Lena if that isn’t infringing on the rights of aliens. Lena basically toes the Luthor party line: humans deserve to know who among them are not human.
This looks like it’s going to be a huge part of what defines the dynamic and conflict in Lena and Kara’s relationship this season. I look forward, definitely, to seeing what they choose to do with it.
Back at the DEO, Winn figures out where the escaped alien’s bracelet tracker is. Alex takes a team there only to find that the alien ditched the bracelet. She also finds Maggie Sawyer there, looking like the cat that got the cream. When Alex gets back to the DEO, she and Kara have a brief hostile encounter where Kara tells Alex she should have been more careful. Then, Maggie calls Alex up to see if she wants to see how local cops work the alien beat.
We then return to CatCo, where Snapper Carr totally dismantles Kara’s submitted article. I can’t say he’s wrong to do so, but I quite liked the op-ed style that functions as Kara’s normal expressive mode. After that, Kara and James have a brief scene together where they talk about bosses, and what kind of boss James wants to be.
Then, Alex meets up with Maggie, who takes her to an alien bar. Maggie is a regular there, and she explains to Alex that she does all this this way because she empathizes with the alien population. She grew up “not white, not straight” in Nebraska, after all.
When Alex comes back to the DEO, Winn determines that our alien came from Daxom, not Krypton as they’d believed. Briefly, Kara talks a little about the Kryptonian-Daxomite war. Then, she flies off in a rage, convinced that this Daxomite tried to kill the president. She thrashes him and takes him back to headquarters. More discussion reveals that there is a deep-seated anti-Daxomite prejudice on Krypton because of this war.
Kara goes to visit the Daxomite in his cell. The conversation doesn’t go well. The Daxomite is arrogant and doesn’t appear to take the situation seriously. Kara is so consumed by fury she refuses to actually listen to anything he says.
Immediately following this, we have a scene between Kara and Lena. Lena has her come by to talk about the article that ultimately ran in the magazine. She’s impressed by its objectivity. Kara admits the earlier drafts skewered Lena, and Lena doesn’t really seem frustrated by this. Eventually, Lena talks briefly about her relationship with her family. She brings up that Lex was the only one who really saw her as family, because she was adopted. When he turned out the way he did, she was devastated. She tried everything to bring him back to the side of good. But, in the end, she says, “Some people are just bad.”
Kara is taken in by this logic because she’s still running hot with anti-Daxomite prejudice, a move I think was phenomenal on the part of the writers. I hope we see more of what Lena and Kara bring out in each other, as well as what Supergirl brings out of Lena.
The next scene change brings us to the Presidential press conference where she intends to officially sign the Alien Amnesty Act into law. Of course, the scene devolves into chaos, because the Daxomite wasn’t the one who tried to kill the President. That dubious honor goes to a redheaded alien who controls fire. She fights pretty damn well, and kidnaps Maggie.
Alex takes the kidnapping most personally, and goes to the bar where she first saw the redhead, when Maggie took her there. She gets into a curb-stomp barfight with Maggie’s usual informant, and then the bartender helpfully lets her know where the redhead hangs out.
Then, Alex and Kara come to Maggie’s rescue. Kara distracts the redhead so Alex can get Maggie out of her restraints. The redhead, unfortunately, is convinced that the Alien Amnesty Act will pressure people into ‘voluntarily’ admitting to being aliens — which, considering what Lena Luthor plans to do with her device, doesn’t feel that far off the mark — and that that it’s all just a pretty word for eventual registration.
However, Alex, Kara, and Maggie do manage to subdue and arrest her, so it remains to be seen if the redhead, who Alex winds up calling Red Hot, and her views, will have any credence in this universe, the way her point of view does for mutants in the X-Men universe.
After this, we head back to CatCo, where James asserts his authority over Snapper. He points out rightly that he is Snapper’s boss, and full editorial control belongs to him, not Snapper. Snapper threatens to walk out of the magazine. James calls his bluff. The whole scene was a highlight of an already fantastic episode.
Then, we head back to the DEO. Maggie and Alex have a scene together where Alex treats Maggie’s injuries. They talk about maybe working together in the future. Alex offers that maybe Maggie should stay in the DEO headquarters a little while longer, but Maggie says she has a date she can’t leave waiting. Alex’s expression sells that Alex/Maggie could definitely be a thing, even if the rest of their dynamic hadn’t done that handily.
Meanwhile, Kara apologizes to the Daxomite for allowing her prejudices to blind her the way they did. He accepts her apology, and asks her if she can help him get home to Daxom. She has to tell him that the planet was rendered uninhabitable in the destruction of Krypton.
Next, we get one last scene with Lynda Carter‘s President. Kara mentions being really excited about having seen Air Force One. The President responds, “You should see my other jet.”
However, when she finally exits the DEO after a final brief exchange with J’onn where she tells him he can’t just protect the world, he has to live in it, we see her skin shimmer and her eyes flick internal clear vertical eyelids. Yes, that’s right: she’s an alien, too!
Finally, as if taking her advice, we see J’onn go to the alien bar himself. He encounters the bartender, who seems taken aback by his natural form. She tries to run away from him, but he follows her out into an alley. There, she reveals to him that she’s a Green Martian, too. “I’m M’gann M’orzz, the last daughter of Mars.”
Overall, the episode sets up really compelling questions about the place of aliens in this Supergirl universe. And it does so in a way that feels both organic and intensely dramatic. Lynda Carter makes an excellent Madam President, and the twist at the end of her appearance made me gasp with delight. Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor very much evokes Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex, sealing herself as an excellent choice to play a Luthor. Maggie Sawyer brings some much needed explicit LGBT representation to the show, and I look forward to seeing if her relationship with Alex turns into something romantic.
This is absolutely the best episode of the Supergirl season so far, and I can’t wait for next week.