In this episode of Supergirl, “How Does She Do It?” Kara goes down in history as the worst babysitter ever, Maxwell Lord turns out to be an evil genius, Hank grows even more suspicious and the love square gets messier.
If this episode feels a little disjointed, it’s probably because it’s being shown out of order due to sensitivity to the Paris attacks. It makes perfect sense, given the subject matter, why CBS would want to hold this episode back until a little more time has passed from the tragedy in Paris. It does mean, however, that some of the story beats just seem weird and out of place.
In the previous episode, Lucy and Jimmy were very much a couple going on wine tastings. In this episode, they’re estranged. In the last episode, the girls found out that Hank Henshaw had something to do with their father’s death. With this episode, Kara is trying her hardest to win Hank’s trust, and Alex is just starting to cotton to the fact that he might be up to no good.
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Juggling It All
Just like Kara, this episode is trying to juggle a lot of balls in the air, and much like Kara it pulls the feat off with varying levels of success. The episode does a good job setting up Maxwell Lord as an interesting and layered villain, complete with Lex Luthor-like tests for Supergirl and a Batman-esque sob story about his parents. It also does a good job of further establishing Supergirl’s heart and smarts, even if she turns out to be basically the worst babysitter of all time.
Perhaps the most notable place the episode falters is in its romantic subplot, which seems to be the real sore spot on the show so far. Really, anyone with eyes and a brain can see the love triangle (now square) coming between Jimmy, Kara and Winn. Now Lucy is added to the mix of a concoction that wasn’t really all that interesting in the first place. Is there anyone watching this show going, “Oh man, I hope this episode features the love triangle more prominently?” Anyone? Bueller?
The Jimmy and Kara romance feels under-baked right now, which is understandable so early in the show’s run. Which is why it seems like a weird choice to bring in an obstacle before there is even much of a flirtation to get in the way of it. And Winn’s unrequited longing for Kara is at peak annoyance level in this episode, which doesn’t help the romance aspect of the show feel any less tired.
As the series moves forward, it would do well to develop Jimmy and Winn as people before shoving them forward as romantic foils. I’m much more interested in seeing the characters fleshed out than I am in the prospect of watching them all mope at each other about their grade school crushes. It’s not that there’s no room for romance on a Supergirl show; it’s that I want the romance to be more compelling and less cookie-cutter.
Bad Babysitter of the Year
The episode starts with Kara flying drills, during which she catches what appears to be a drone. “What is this? I’ve never seen anything like it?” Hank Henshaw marvels. “And why is it carrying an Amazon package with the new Adele CD? My god, is Adele an alien?”
Kara goes into work to find out that Cat Grant has won a Women in Media award out from under Lois Lane, but her mother isn’t much impressed. She won’t be able to go to the dinner, since no one will be around to watch her son, Carter. Kara offers out of the kindness of her heart, which Cat hilariously thinks is a strategic play.
As it turns out, Cat would probably have been better off just wandering the streets, picking any random person and trusting that stranger with the welfare of her child. Kara first forgets to pick up Carter due to some Supergirl heroics, then she leaves him in Winn’s care for most of the episode, and finally he ends up on a train with an explosive on board. As a babysitter, I think a baseline is probably “Don’t blow up my son,” and that’s a line Kara barely cleared.
Of course, Carter had an awesome time, and as a shy and reserved boy, Cat is somewhat amazed to see him so excited and talkative. Carter obviously has a pretty huge crush on Supergirl, but Cat Grant hammers home that he should be impressed with more than Supergirl’s beautiful, perfectly tousled hair.
It’s probably not a bad thing that a superhero show on CBS is so pointed and deliberate about its feminism. It can be, however, just a little bit tiring since the strain of feminism going through the show is about as subtle as a shovel to the face. Yes, it’s infuriating that when women are asked out, they manage to “juggle it all,” a question men are never asked. Yes, Supergirl is amazing for more than just her good looks.
Again, it’s great that a show on CBS is so explicit about the show’s feminist underpinnings. But these scenes are so overt, it can sometimes feel like characters stepping up unnaturally on a soap box to give a lesson and then jumping back into the action of the show. As the series progresses, it needs to find a more organic way to work these moments into the story.
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The Mad Bomber
The DEO manages to track the bombs down to Maxwell Lord, who says he can’t be a suspect because one of the bombing locations was his own lab. So this dude bombed his own lab just to see if Supergirl was strong? That’s stone cold.
While Alex hangs around with Lord, sharing some smoldering sexual tension, he gets out the world’s tiniest violin in order to tell her his sad, sad tale. It turns out he doesn’t trust the government because his parents were virus scientists whose organs were liquefied during an accident in their lab. “Whoops?” Alex offers comfortingly.
Meanwhile, Supergirl is flying all over town, putting out fires and keeping buildings from collapsing. It’s obvious that the next target will be Maxwell Lord’s train unveiling, especially because the bomber turns out to be one of his former employees with a sick daughter. Alex tells him that he should definitely cancel the inaugural train ride. “Nah, bro, I’m cool,” Lord says, totally not suspiciously at all.
A bomb threat gets called at the airport, but while Supergirl is en route, she gets a call from Winn. He figured out that Carter was heading down to the train to try and catch a glimpse of Supergirl and realizes he might be in trouble. Everyone employed by CatCo are terrible babysitters.
Not only does Winn see Carter get on the train, he also sees a man with a very obvious bomb strapped to his chest just sort of wandering around. No one else seems to care about this. On a scale of one to “Oh my god, come on!” this isn’t quite Kara standing next to a giant picture of herself as Supergirl, but it’s pretty close.
Supergirl redirects her flight, leaving Hank and Alex and the rest of the DEO to take care of the bomb at the airport. They don’t do a very good job, and Hank sends Alex out of the building when they can’t disarm the bomb. As soon as she’s out of sight, he gets his red glowing eyes going and just shoves his hand into the bomb. No biggie!
Meanwhile, Supergirl confronts the bomber, who is shocked that she knows who he is. He says that he did everything for his daughter, which confuses Supergirl, and then he gives her 30 seconds to save the train. She looks on sadly as the car carrying the bomber speeds away and then explodes, and thinks about how little sense it makes that he would be doing all this for his daughter.
Later, Alex and Kara talk across each other about some of the funny business that went down and some of the things that don’t make sense. Alex can’t understand why a decoy bomb would have a fail-safe, and Kara can’t understand why the bomber did what he did.
Kara puts the pieces together that this was all some grand plan by Maxwell Lord, and he pretty much confirms it in a super villain speech right out of the Lex Luthor Evil Rich Dude playbook. He was just testing Kara’s speed, strength and agility. Kara tells him that she’s going to keep her eyes on him, glares at him and then flies away.
The whole scene has a nicely done Superman/Lex Luthor vibe to it, meaning it’ll be interesting to see where they go with this relationship in the future.
Okay, Fine: The Love Square
So there’s also a lot of talk in this episode about various characters’ boring love lives. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Winn spends the whole episode in a shirt that looks like he sat down on a freshly painted bench without realizing it. He basically just wanders around being dorky, talking to himself and sighing after Kara whenever she walks away. So that’s fun.
Meanwhile, Alex warns Kara not to get trapped in the Friend Zone with Jimmy. The Friend Zone is sort of like the Phantom Zone in that it is entirely fictional.
Anyway, at first, Kara tries to follow this advice by steering clear of conversation with Jimmy about his ex, Lucy, and why she’s back in town. But eventually, she gets pulled in because Lucy Lane loves telling her whole romantic backstory to attractive strangers.
“I don’t want to burden you with the intricacies of my relationship with Jimmy, but real quick, let me just tell you exactly what our relationship issues were. Man, I feel so much better now!” Lucy Lane says, leaving a downtrodden Kara to weep into her pile of milkshakes.
Kara finally breaks and tells Jimmy that Lucy only broke up with him because he was super in love with Superman and it was bumming her out. Kara advises him to fight for Lucy if that’s what he wants because if he’s not over Lucy it won’t be fair to the next person he dates. “Like me,” she whispers. “What was that?” Jimmy wonders, but Kara is too busy shotgunning milkshakes to answer.
With the bomb scare at the airport, Jimmy runs to Lucy’s rescue and the two finally patch things up. Kara watches them make-out all over the office and thinks to herself, “What is wrong with me?” Meanwhile, Winn watches Kara watching Jimmy and cries. Meanwhile, I watch Winn watching Kara watching Jimmy and wonder why I’m supposed to care about any of this. Because I super don’t.
In the next episode of Supergirl, Winn makes a collage of Kara’s face on his cubicle wall, but she doesn’t notice, Hank Henshaw walks around with his eyes glowing but no one catches on that there’s anything weird happening, Cat Grant gives another rousing speech about feminism and then caps it off by insulting Kara’s appearance (like any good feminist would), and Kara fights the evil supervillain Red Tomato. Umm … I mean, Red Tornado.
What did you think of the episode? Are you liking Maxwell Lord as a villain? Do you care at all about the love triangle? Like, at all? Sound off in the comments!
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)