Welcome to the “thrilling” follow-up to Supergirl‘s dangerous cliffhanger. Let’s just get this over with.
Spoilers beyond this point. Do not read if you plan to watch the episode first.
The episode starts off with some excitement: we see J’onn rescue Kara from her plummet to Earth at literally the last minute, as Brainy and Alex watch on in horror. Having been returned to the DEO, Kara is ushered to a room where they can treat her with the magical Kryptonian cure-all that is yellow sun. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough because the entire atmosphere is Kryptonite infused, and therefore the very air around her is killing her. But fear not, dear readers, because apparently the DEO has Kryptonite shields that will block some of the radiation that is bombarding National City’s favorite (only?) heroine.
This is about all we see of the present situation, though, as we are rushed into the origin story of this season’s bad guy. Now, normally, I would be ecstatic to get some villain origins, but this is not a good origin story. This is a full episode of racism and hatred born out of next to nothing. Not to mention that it feels a lot like Supergirl almost dying was a plot device just to give us this episode, which I think is very unnecessary. We could still have a villain-centric episode without having to bracket it with the “main” plot.
Our villain’s name is Ben Lockwood and we watch him evolve from a man who defends aliens to his racist (species-ist) father to a full-blown species-ist after he gets caught in the crossfire of an alien defending himself from an angry mob of his father’s employees. The episode takes us through two years of Ben’s life, as various alien invasions destroy his home and help his father commit suicide when he enters his rundown factory. We are forced to watch as he becomes more and more unstable, to the point where he loses his tenure at National City University for spouting anti-alien opinions under the thin guise of history lessons. Coming closer to the present we see him meet Mercy Graves, who helps him to further his hate crimes against aliens by giving him body armor and a new target. Remember J’onn’s friend, Fiona? The one he’s been trying to track down for a whole episode? Well, she was Ben’s first real target as Agent Liberty. If only Alex had listened to J’onn when he tried to tell her about his missing friend last episode. Maybe this Agent Liberty business would be mostly over by now.
Back in the present timeline, we see that, while Supergirl isn’t actively dying anymore, the shield and yellow sun lamps aren’t capable of clearing the radiation from her system fast enough. In other words, she’ll die if she stays on Earth but she’s too weak to survive leaving Earth. Alex, in a last ditch effort to save her sister, calls in Lena Luthor, who seals Supergirl in some sort of super spacesuit that will keep her from dying until they can find a more permanent solution. Our final moments this episode are still not of Red Daughter, but rather of Ben Lockwood preventing Mercy from killing the DEO-traitor because Ben thinks Jensen can get them into the DEO so they can finish off Supergirl.
I’m going to be incredibly honest here when I say that if I wanted to see a white cisgender male marginalize an entire group then I would just watch documentaries and the news. I do not come to Supergirl to see this sort of thing. And while I sort of understand the writers framing such an issue within the world of the show, I am not interested in watching it. I am interested in villains who have real motivations beyond “aliens put my dad out of business” or “an alien attacked me out of self defense and didn’t get punished for it.” Let’s get this Agent Liberty nonsense over with so I can finally see Red Daughter. Please: I actually don’t know how much more of this Agent Liberty story I can take.
Rating: 0.5 yellow sun lamps out of 5
-Ben’s dad refused to update his steel company to be able to work with Alien Steel™ and went out of business as a result of his poor business decision. You can’t blame aliens for that.
-That was the shortest “lesson” that didn’t even teach your students about the thing you were supposed to be teaching. Ranting about progress is not the same as teaching Manifest Destiny.
-“Can’t say I’m surprised to hear that from someone of your complexion” can’t say I’m surprised that your students walked out and that your boss is about to fire you.
-Oh no. You did not just follow this poor girl to the bar.
-Thank you for giving him a lesson on consent and touching people, Kara.
-But you probably can’t pull off Beastie Boys, so just do Africa by Toto for Karaoke Night.
-“Raise Georgie the way I raised you.” Please do not raise Georgie the way your dad raised you, Ben. Your dad ruined you.
-Lena Luthor offers to do something nice for you, and gives you advice about not turning into a villain like Lex and you throw it back in her face.
-But you wish you could be as good a villain as Lex.