Supergirl Season 4 Review
I know that in the previous seasons, I've been doing what the different characters have been doing, but I think that maybe I'll just kind of gloss over the individual episodes and point out the important parts.
J'onn has joined a support group for aliens, that focuses on things like helping them adjust to life on earth. A lot of them struggle with their physical differences from humans and often hide them with the cloaking device thing that Lena made in the previous season (originally for Brainy, but then she started mass-producing it for everybody). This leads to a lot of alien-based hate crimes... of which Kara is first to dismiss some of them, but it eventually get to the point where not even she can deny the fact.
This leads to two of this seasons big bads, Marcy and Otis, who are going around and terrorizing aliens. Not only that, but they appear to be at the forefront of a new “humans first” movement that's cropping up.
They try to attack the POTUS, who if you'll remember from previous seasons, is an alien. However, their attack wasn't so much to kill her, but rather, to expose her as an alien. Which they did.
And speaking of Brainy, he's obviously still sticking around as the “replacement goldfish” for Winn (we'll get back to that in a moment), but he's having a hard time adjusting to life in the 21st century. Mainly because he's used to being part of the League, but now he's under Alex's command, and she... doesn't like him running off and doing whatever he pleases, to the point where she “grounds” him. At one point, Brainy puts on some clothes like Winn used to wear (tight plaid button-downs and a cardigan), and he plays with a NERF gun, as a way for Alex to maybe see him more like Winn. However, both of them are quick to agree that Brainy needs to be Brainy, and leave the Winn stuff to Winn. So, you know... at least they didn't completely “replacement goldfish” Winn.
Meanwhile, we introduce a new character: Nia Nal. (My precious cinnamon roll.) She's a new reporter for CatCo, and James asks that Kara take Nia under her wing. And as Kara is quick to realize 1) Nia is basically a baby Kara and 2) Kara has turned into Cat Grant.
Oh, and James is in super awful legal trouble for his vigilante justice as Guardian. (Which, okay. So the pretty blonde alien gets to do it, but the second that the black human does kind of the same thing, suddenly, that's not okay?)
Due to having been exposed, the alien POTUS steps down amidst growing tensions; Vice President Baker takes over. We will be seeing a LOT of him in the rest of the season.
And it's not just in the White House and in DC where tensions are rising... factions of “human first” movements are popping up all over the place, including in the DEO.
Meanwhile, while Brainy goes to get pizzas from a place he likes, his image inducer goes on the fritz... Thanks to Marcy and Otis hacking into L-Corp's servers (they went after client 001, which is Brainy, as I might have mentioned earlier). The pizza shop owner gets angry and upset upon finding out that “Barney” is an alien, and it's only thanks to Nia randomly showing up around the same time that the situation is diffused without... too much violence. Brainly obviously wants to thank Nia for her help, and she promises him that if they're meant to meet again, then they will. (HAHAHAHAHA OH MY SWEET SUMMER CHILDREN.) Brainy later expresses to Alex how the incident shook him so much that he gave Supergirl/Kara bad advice in the field; it's thrown him off his game.
Both of them are obviously shaken from the incident. Nia goes back to CatCo, where she tells James that he needs to make a public statement about what's going on. However, being not only a journalist, but also Guardian (and all of that legal trouble he's been in recently...), it's not exactly the best time to make splashy statements.
Marcy then attempts to steal sometime from L-Corp, which leads to her being captured. In the DEO, she then “seduces” a guard over to the “human” side, to fight for their growing army. When Otis is captured, the guard then helps both of them escape. Once they're free, the three of them set off a kryptonite bomb.
J'onn meanwhile goes to a rally of a group that will later be known as “Agents of Liberty”. (I hope that it goes without saying that J'onn is the only black person in the room. Most of them look like trailer trash. I think that we all know what this is a reference of...)
There's a backdrop of this episode about Kara being treated for the kryptonite by the DEO, but it's not the central point of this episode. (Mainly because it would be largely showing Alex worrying over Kara while Brainy and Lena work on getting the air clean.)
Instead, this episode goes back two years ago, to this season's second-largest big bad: Ben Lockwood. Like a lot of villains, he didn't wake up on day and decide “I'm going to be evil and kill Supergirl!” Which is why we need to jump back 2 years earlier, to show the descent into Agent Liberty. His father used to run a steel mill, but it's been put out of business by some alien steel corporation. Lena Luther used to contract with Lockwood senior, but obviously, since the future is in this other kind of steel, she's moved on to that. Ben tries to get help for his father from Lena, but she's kind of like “sink or swim.” Which honestly should be everybody's opinion about this kind of stuff. Like if your company's going under, maybe you should take a good, hard look at why, rather than screaming about your product being outsourced from some other planet.
When the aliens from season 2 invaded, their house was destroyed thanks to some aliens falling through the ceiling in the middle of a fight. Very little was done to actually help the Lockwood family after that, which... okay, yeah. That would be the time to get fucking angry. Alien invaders destroyed my home and the government refuses to pony up even for the cost of repairs. (But then again: welcome to America.) After this, Ben tries to go to CatCo to say that they need to be reporting on things like this, but while James listens to what Ben has to say, he pretty much refuses Ben.
Angry at how unjust that life has been treating him, Ben then takes it out on some of his alien students at the university where he teaches history. Some of the alien students walk out, and somebody complained to the dean such that she fires him. He tries to argue “that's how history is!” But honestly, this is you just being a racist dickweed, professor. He then stalks one of his alien students to the local alien bar, and he shows his true colors when he accuses her of having reported him to the dean... even though she insists that she didn't say or do anything (other than to walk out from the class). Kara is there to diffuse the situation, and he accuses her of being an alien sympathizer.
Another alien attack then creates an accident at the old steel mill, and Lockwood senior is crushed to death under a steel beam. Which seems a fitting end for a man who thought that he'd go down screaming about steel... This sends Ben into an even worse fit of rage, and he starts to group up with some of the former employees from the steel mill to destroy the new alien steel mill.
He's passing out “humans first” brochures on a street corner when Marcy picks him up, and asks him to help with their cause. He then goes to the warehouse, where he puts on the “Agent Liberty” mask, which quickly becomes the symbol of the “humans first” movement. (Think of it like those V for Vendetta masks, if they had the motives of the KKK.)
With the help of getting Kara under those special sunlamps straight away (Thanks J'onn!) and an anti-kryptonite suit Lena developed for Supergirl, Kara doesn't die. (Well, were you expecting the titular character to die?) However, she feels helpless knowing that she's benched until Lena and Brainy can come up with a way to clean the kyrptonite from the air.
Lena and Brainy work to do that, but it's difficult for Brainy to move past his fear of having almost lost Supergirl. Lena tells him that she compartmentalizes difficult emotions to get things like clearing the kryptonite from the air. She tells him to imagine putting the emotion into a tiny box, and then to lock that box away. Since Brainy is half computer, this is less of a metaphor and more of something that he can actually do.
Meanwhile, J'onn meets the fiancee of the leader of the alien support group, who went missing back in the first episode. His name is Manchester Black, he's insanely British (and proud), and kind of a bad ass, but probably in the worst way possible. Obviously he's there to find his missing fiancee, Fiona. Since J'onn has also been looking for her, they agree to team up.
They end up finding Fiona at a carnival, where she'd being forced to control some aliens to fight against the DEO/anybody who shows up. However, back when she was taken, she was stabbed, and I think that the only reason why they kept her alive was because they needed her. But now that she's been compromised... bye Fiona. Manchester is insanely crushed by her death, and we'll explore this in depth later.
James showed up to the fight as Guardian, but rather than to take what happened in context, the growing Agents of Liberty people instead spinned Guardian fighting aliens as the fact that he's a human sympathizer, and thus, an Agent of Liberty symbol and ally.
Meanwhile, the president wasn't exactly happy when Alex let Kara into the field (and by “let”, of course I mean that Kara did whatever she damned well pleased, because she's Supergirl), so he's put this other agent to oversee the DEO, Col. Hailey.
The Agents of Liberty gave the former DEO agent this thing that lets him drain the powers from aliens to use for a short amount of time. As you might imagine, fighting him is not ideal for Kara, because he can just drain and eventually kill her.
Meanwhile, J'onn hooks Kara up with this alien healer, so she writes an article about him. However, the Agents of Liberty take this special stone of his that he uses to remain alive, and use it to super-power the DEO agent so that he'll retain the stolen powers for longer.
This leads to them cornering the DEO agent, and trapping him inside of a forcefield, but there's also a lot of civilians in the area. He's about to go “nuclear”, but Alex manages to talk him down, and says that he joined the DEO to make the world saver, and he's going to kill a lot of civilians-- human civilians-- because of his shitty actions.
While all of that is going on, Lena drags James to some... big muckety-muck event, where he runs into Ben Lockwood. In this episode, he's basically just some blowhard political asshole on youtube, so it's kind of questionable how he got into the event. But meeting Ben is important for later. James later calls Ben and asks him to “hook him up” to some of the other Agents of Liberty, not knowing at the moment that Ben IS Agent Liberty.
Following the healer's almost death, and Kara tracking down the man's estranged daughter, she learned that the daughter saw her father in a new light because of her article. Kara decides that she's going to start a series about average aliens, so that maybe everybody can begin to see them as just... people. Who like normal things, and have normal jobs, and who have normal lives. But who happen to be from some planet and can shoot fireballs or whatever.
The Agents of Liberty drop a manifesto all over the city, but Agent Hailey refuses to use DEO funding in order to look into this further. I mean, they're only a growing terrorist organization, but sure. However, Alex tells Brainy to continue looking into it under the table. He tries to decode some of it, but the most threatening thing he can get out from it is... ham sandwich. Horrifying.
Meanwhile, Manchester has kidnapped one of the Agents of Liberty, and tortures some information out from him... because that's how he rolls. (There's this big, arching plot with him that he was a horrible person until he met Fiona. She made him want to change for the better, but after she died, he kind of snapped and went back to his old ways.)
And in comparison to how Manchester does thing, James instead goes to talk to somebody that Ben hooked him up with. Now, if you'll remember, Ben is The Agent Liberty, so he's in charge*, but he's putting on this face for the public (at first), that he's just some blow-hard who doesn't know anything. The guy James talks to has this dog that's trained to sniff out aliens, and then bark. (Although, what exactly does an alien smell like? They come from all over, so wouldn't each of their scents be completely and utterly different? It makes zero sense, but okay.)
And Lena and her assistant/secretary/whatever, Eve, are trying to cure... everything. With the haranel that she'd developed from the end of the previous season. They're running tests on these hearts, but nothing's being very productive as of yet. We'll get more into this later as the season goes on.
But first, it's Thanksgiving, so everybody gathers in Kara's apartment to celebrate. On top of Eliza coming down, and Alex and J'onn being there, James, Lena, Manchester, Brainy, and Nia are also there. Earlier, Nia had confessed to Kara that she had narcolepsy, which was why she kept falling asleep at her desk, but her doctor was in DC and she hadn't found a new one yet. However, when Eliza pressed about knowing a sleep doctor, Nia insisted that she had one, much to Kara's bafflement. And because it wouldn't be thanksgiving without an awful discussion of politics... guess what they all get into a fight about? Everything that's going on, plus Lena's idea that maybe we should give people powers. But not like... evil people. Just good people. (YO! NO POLITICS AT THANKSGIVING!!)
This is interrupted when it turns out that the alien residences were being marked for a later “raid” by the Agents of Liberty, so they all run around to try and stop all of this. Kara fights a lizard that can turn into a dragon, but it turns out to be some little girl's pet. Manchester ends up killing a bunch of them... because of course he did. Although James talks down his new “friend”, who then has James kidnapped. Oops.
*he's not actually in charge of shit, as the series went on, but more of that later
James was kidnapped on orders of Agent Liberty. They plan on turning him into a symbol, even if he doesn't want that. And their plan is to have him blow up this symbol of alien freedoms on earth. There's this place called Shelley Island, that's kind of like Ellis Island, but for incoming aliens. They have power dampeners all around the island that... well, make your powers not work. And there's also a kind of “modern” take on the statue of liberty's outstretched arm holding the torch, which is what they intend for James to blow up. James's new friend from the previous episode tries to help him escape, but they're captured again.
Supergirl teams up with Manchester to help track down some of the Agents of Liberty. However, he plays his hand and all of this was a set-up to get her onto Shelley Island, where her powers wouldn't be as effective. They'd promised Manchester an audience with Agent Liberty.
But then it gets worse, because they keep Kara in the statue... that James is supposed to blow up. While she's trying to escape, James notices the lights in the statue, and attacks those forcing him to do the video recording. Ben had been planning to use the footage on his increasingly popular TV show, but he's pissed off when things go south for their side.
After leaving Shelley Island, Manchester is confronted by J'onn. Manchester puts this “emotion sharing” device onto him, which makes J'onn freak out. J'onn later goes to Kara, and they lament about how they wanted to see the good in Manchester, but there is little to be found.
Meanwhile while all of that is going on, Lena gets a test subject for her “cure everybody and maybe some people get superpowers”. At first, she's insanely reluctant to even begin doing this, and even when she does, she refuses to get to know the guy. Finally, little by little, she begins to open up to him, and he opens up to her. She tries to get him to leave, because she's too nice of a person, but he tells her why he wanted to do this: because he needed a new kidney. His brother offered to give him one, but his brother died on the table. He feels so awful, because he gets to live even though he's the one who should have died. This sparks Lena to give him the treatment. She later reports that he exhibited powers for three minutes before he died.
Brainy knows that Nia is important and that her descendants will be important in the future. But obviously, he can't really tell Alex and Kara much about what she or her future off-spring will do without causing a rift in the space-time continuum. (Although, I think that the future he knows went flying out the window at the end of the last season? Which baffles me to no end.) Kara goes to her, and she explains that she doesn't have narcolepsy, but rather, some of the women from her planet have psychic dreams of the future, but they're often seeped in symbolism. (Yes Freud, that banana is a penis.) Brainy helps her tap into her powers, where she helps lead them to a crime.
Meanwhile, Manchester went to the Lockwood residence and ended up directly telling Mrs. Lockwood that her husband is Agent Liberty. They end up at this warehouse, exactly like Nia saw in her dream. And guess who also shows up? Supergirl, Brainy, and Nia. Nia turns out to be oddly useful in a fight, because she can foresee things happening, like a giant warehouse crane swinging, and she uses it to knock Manchester over.
As a result of this fight, both Manchester and Ben were arrested, but Ben was also outed as being Agent Liberty. As he's being taken to a squad car, he screams that the world knows who he is now, but who is Supergirl? This prompts President Baker to visit the DEO and demands that Supergirl tell them her identity. She not only refuses, but says that if they're going to be like this, then she will no longer work alongside the DEO. Oh bother.
This episode was one part of the Arrow/Flash/Supergirl crossover. Didn't watch it.
Kara gets called an attack of an unofficial military ship. She sees a “shimmer” of the usually invisible monster that kills all but one of the crew. The more and more that the DEO looks into the incident, the more shifty things start to become. Including Col. Hailey openly lying about everything. That is, until the truth comes out: years ago, a group in the government raised these aliens to turn them into super soldiers, but the aliens got out. And now, they're looking for payback, which involves them murdering everybody who was involved with the project. Including Hailey. What's worse is that Kara is the ONLY one who can see the aliens when they're invisible, thanks to her super-vision.
While all of that's going on, Hailey is on a mission to get to the bottom of Supergirl's secret identity. Because as if the entire thing wasn't shitty enough as it is. She interviews every DEO member, including Brainy and Alex. Everybody else simply lies to her, but Brainy is able to literally forget the data, and set it on a time to retrieve it later. Handy and also neat. However, one of the people who knows that Kara is Supergirl spills the beans to Hailey after questioning. Hailey confronts Kara right as soon as they manage to capture the last of the aliens. J'onn wipes her memory, but he can't wipe her determination to uncover Supergirl's identity. So, if he can't make Hailey forget about that, then the next best thing would be to wipe the memories of all who know. Including Alex. There's a long moment where Alex says “goodbye” to Supergirl before J'onn wipes her memory.
J'onn, meanwhile, feels like he's found his actual calling: becoming a PI. He's been helping a lot of people throughout this season, and setting up an official shop and getting his PI license seems like the next best step.
Also, there's a bit of Brainy/Nia (Brainia or Dreamerdox) in this episode. Brainy calls Nia and invites her to dinner in the most... Brainy way possible. He's kind of anxious, and hangs up without setting a time or place. Nia's clearly a little interested in him, and agrees to this, but is quickly disappointed when it turns out that Brainy only asked her in a... business context. He wants her to start fighting as a superhero, and gives her a book full of superhero costume ideas. He fails to understand why Nia's upset over the entire thing. Nia later starts to look through the book, but eventually chucks the entire thing into the bin.
Throughout the season, there's been this Supergirl look-alike. We'll get more into her later. But following a training accident, she has her heart restarted, but the resulting blast creates this immense static charge that flows all the way to National City, where it gets into some pills that some dudes are selling from an RV to yuppie white school boys. (You know exactly what I'm talking about...) When ingested, they basically... make the user “hulk out” for a while, and they're filled with this immense rage.
Meanwhile, everybody's still dealing with the after-effects of having erased Alex's memory of Kara/Supergirl. For the others, it was probably??? A couple of years at most, and probably not even all that important. But since Alex is Kara's sister, this was erasing large chunks of not only her adult memory, but also her formative years as well. She forget things like Kara's favorite movie is Wizard of Oz, because Kara relates so much to Dorothy, being lost in a strange land, and no way home. But Alex feels like something is wrong, and asks J'onn to poke inside her head and make sure that nobody's been messing around in there. He hates lying to her, but Hailey finding out about Kara's identity would be worse.
While they're dealing with that, Kara volunteers to drive Nia to her hometown for some harvest festival thing. Nia explains that her hometown is a “safe haven for aliens and humans to co-mingle”. She explains on the way that her mom had a psychic dream of meeting her dad there, so she came to earth, settled, and had Nia and her sister, Maeve. On the way there, Nia has a dream where her mother dissolves into ash.
In the town, they discover pockets of Agents of Liberty, along with their alien-sniffing dogs. But Nia's family is happy to see her, and welcome Kara into their fold. Maeve won't stop talking about “when my powers come in”, and Nia just keeps feeling guiltier and guiltier over the entire thing.
After dinner, Nia is trying to talk to her mom about the powers, about how she can “get rid of it”, in the hopes that this is a thing that can be done. However, Isabel is bitten by a spider and almost instantly dies. During the impromptu memorial for her, more of those kids hopped up on Supergirl-lightning drugs show up and start causing havoc. Supergirl fights alongside Alex for the first time since her mind-wipe, and it does not go well at all.
After, Maeve confronts Nia about how she warned Maeve about the attack, and Nia admits that she has the dream powers. Maeve gets insanely upset over this, and says “you're not even a real woman”. (I think that the worse part about the fight with Maeve is that we never got any actual resolution to it by the end of the season. This episode was the first and last we see of Nia's family.) The dad gives Nia a box from Isabel. On the way back home, Kara tells Nia that she's Supergirl. Inside the box is a superhero costume Isabel foresaw “my daughter” wearing.
Alex took the job as the DEO directly in the hopes that things would get more stable enough to the point where she could do two things: get a girlfriend and adopt a baby. She's done... exactly zero of those things, and she feels like she's constantly putting things on hold because of Kara or something always happening at the DEO. (And now that I think about it, this season was completely devoid of any romantic relationships for Kara.)
Brainy goes to Nia with the prediction that she's probably more likely to want to become a superhero after everything that had happened. However, Nia isn't exactly quite ready to pick up the proverbial cape so soon after her mother's death. She also invites him to her roommate, Yvette's valentine's day party.
At the party, Alex runs into some girl that she went on one date with, and then got too busy with her DEO work in order to call her back. It's... as awkward as you might expect, except that the girl is clearly interested in seeing Alex again.
After Nia gets back from dealing with the monster du jour (see below), she finds Yvette has taken a liking to Brainy, which makes him more uncomfortable than the thought of Nia liking him. He had attempted to give Nia chocolates, but Yvette ate all of them while they waited for Nia. (Rude!) She asks him to help her train.
And for the actual monster du jour, because we haven't had a whole lot of those this season... Some sort of symbiotic snake alien that implants itself into a cat burglar with a taste for fine jewelry. The snake eats the hearts of the victims, and the human host gets to make off with the jewels. It's a win-win. Kara tags along on the case with Alex under the guise of being a journalist on the scent of a good story, but Alex freaks out when the snake-thing attacks Kara and goes into OVERPROTECTIVE BIG SISTER MODE (who doesn't know that her sister is nearly invulnerable). They track the alien/human thing to this big party, where the Agents of Liberty show up and honestly just make things 10x worse than it needed to be... and when the DEO/Supergirl took down the bad guy... THEY TOOK ALL OF THE CREDIT. FOR SHOWING UP AND FUCKING EVERYTHING UP. JFC. But Nia showed up in the costume her mom made, and this is her debut as a hero.
James and Lena also break up. Which is a thing that carried over from the previous season. But they... did not exactly have a lot of chemistry. In fact, I'd say that James had more chemistry with literally everybody except for Lena. (He had more on-screen chemistry with Nia as a boss-new employee, JFC) And they'd been fighting the entire season... but the straw that broke this relationship was Hailey approaching Lena to enter into a contract that she'd make “super serum” for the government, which James thinks is morally repugnant. But their break up makes Lena accept the contract.
Meanwhile, Ben Lockwood gets out of jail on a legal loophole because the Patriot Act only protects “human life”. Ugh.
Kara and Brainy take Nia to the Fortress of Solitude, where they start to train her. Brainy refuses to tell her anything about herself, stating that it'll mess with the space-time-continuum (even though, I might have mentioned it earlier, but they've probably already fucked it halfway to hell by stopping that plague in the last season, and Brainy's decision to stay as a direct result of having changed the timeline... But whatever.) However, she asks the floating robot thing for information on her species, in which she learns that she can astral project and use this kind of dream energy like a physical weapon, so she doesn't have to just rely on predictions. (Brainy isn't pleased with her going behind his back, but she's like “suck it.”)
Meanwhile, Manchester is broken out of jail by a friend of his nicknamed “Hat”, because he has a 5-th dimension hat that he uses to pull things out of. He can also sort of teleport. They break the lady from the previous episode out, Menagerie, and the three of them go around and terrorize the city.
Supergirl tries to tell Baker, but he begins to show more and more of his position as far as all of this goes... and he is not on Supergirl's side. This is made even worse when she has to knock a satellite out of orbit... one that he specifically told her not to fucking touch earlier. As a final “fuck you” to Supergirl, he makes Ben Lockwood director of alien affairs. Ugh.
Hat also steals Brainy's legion ring, which gives him super powers. He can still use his predictive analysis, so he's not hopeless, but he feels so lost without it.
With Manchester, Hat, and one of those invisible aliens from earlier in the season on the loose, they're desperate to catch them, but they've seemingly vanished. Kara compares them to being like a second Agents of Liberty group. They end up at the Fortress of Solitude, where they only have access to because the plot dictates that they do. (The “key” is this like 1 billion pound hunk of metal, the likes of which only somebody with super-strength could handle.) There, they find info about the Kryptons, but also some of the fortress's secrets... But when the heroes are alerted about the break-in, Manchester runs into a room that contains a “sun eater” and seemingly dies. However, J'onn isn't convinced about this, because he feels like they have a connection, and he would know if Manchester was killed. (He's later proved right, and that Hat saved him.)
Meanwhile, Alex is asked to head up Ben Lockwood's security detail. She's obviously disgusted by the entire thing, and complains about it the entire time, but she does her job. He's moving to repeal the alien amnesty act, which a lot of people think is rather unconstitutional, but he's going to try, dammit. He makes some public speech about the entire thing, and invites everybody to a public rally the next day.
But, our alien friends aren't without their own plans. Brainy has been stirring the pot on his own, and has used his powers of technology to organize a peaceful alien march through the streets at the same time as Ben's rally, but he makes sure that none of this can be traced back to him. He tries to ask Kara and Nia to join him at the march... but not as Supergirl and Dreamer, but as aliens who live on earth peacefully. They at first refuse, thinking that they'll just be security, but Kara eventually understands where Brainy was coming from. She changes into her Krypton clothes, and stands at the front of the parade with Brainy and Nia as Kara Zor-El; it's an insanely powerful moment.
However, at the hall where Ben's rally was taking place... IT'S A TRAP. Agents of Liberty start attacking everybody, and then Manchester and Hat show up and it's just a clusterfuck. The entire time, James stands there and takes photos of the events, of which he obviously later publishes. Later, a lot people look at them and say that seeing humans helping injured aliens really changed their opinion about the entire thing.
At the very end of the episode, as James is leaving the office, he gets shot in the back.
And now, we're finally getting into the real meat of this season: Lex Luthor. (And I'm still having a hard time getting over the fact that out of all of the actors in the world, they picked Jon Cryer to play him. Why.) Four years earlier, he did something to the sun to try and stop Superman, but it's what had him arrested in the first place (and put Lena down the path of being better than Lex.)
Somebody pushed the “call Superman” button on James's watch, and Kara found him before he could bleed out. At the hospital, things don't look good. His sister, Kelly, shows up, and Alex talks her into approving the untested super-serum that Lena's been working on in order to help cure him.
Lena, meanwhile, is beyond herself with grief... she still cares deeply about James, and will do anything to help save him, including pushing herself to perfect the serum so that she can save James. They end up dosing him with some of it. But she doesn't do it alone; she has the help of her brother. He's also sick with cancer, which is probably one of the only reasons why they would even let him from the prison at all... because he's seemingly too sick to move much without the help of something. But, as you might have figured out, Lex used Lena's research to cure himself, and he betrayed her in order to escape. Oh, and Lena's assistant, Eve? Totally been working for Lex this entire time. Because of course.
Also, while Brainy and Nia are waiting around the hospital, Nia goes to Brainy. He's upset about a lot of things... how he's stuck in the 21st century, his own troubled past (which is never really delved into this season, unfortunately), his missing ring, the Agents of Liberty, Manchester and Hat, and now James... but he's taking it out on a vending machine that won't give him his snack. But in the middle of his panic attack, Nia kisses him. He later tells her that they can never be together because she's too important in the 21st century, and he's supposed to be in the 31st century. Nia is understandably heartbroken over the entire thing... but not deterred too much. We'll get back to this later.
Meanwhile, J'onn managed to track down Manchester again after Manchester steals this Martian staff thing and defiles the grave of J'onn's father. So, J'onn goes to confront him, and ends up destroying Manchester in the process. Although to be fair, there wasn't exactly much of a person left after Fiona died.
With the junk that Lex took in the previous episode, he goes up against Supergirl... and seemingly wins. After having been defeated, Kara goes to tell Alex and still hospital-ridden James about Lex's escape... and I hope that I don't have to tell you that this is probably the worst news ever.
Meanwhile, most of this episode is a flashback. At his trial, three years earlier, Lex tried to murder the judge and prosicuitors... which probably only just makes him look even guiltier, but hey, nothing quite like first degree murder to... eco-terrorism??? IDK what you would even call something like that. It was outside the courthouse where he first met Eve, a Lex Luthor fangirl who would do anything for him. He told her to go work for CatCo, and then she eventually suggested that she should become Lena's assistant. However, even in prison, Lex quickly had everything under control by bribing all of the officers and such, so he was literally free to come and go as he pleased.
Meanwhile, nine months from the present, a Supergirl clone shows up in the fictional country of Kaznia. (A Russia knock-off, I guess?) She was created when Kara came into contact with the Haranel from the end of the last season. The Kaznian government is friendly with Lex, so they call him up to come and help them. Which he does, by molding “Red Daughter” into a weapon to not only take down the actual Supergirl, but to help him rule the world. Most of the episode shows parallels between all of the other stuff that was happening and Red Daughter's reaction to what was going on.
Lex takes Red Daughter to the United States and puts her to work as a hotel bar waitress so that he can show her what kind of pigs that Americans are. He also makes her think that a child that she once saved and became friendly with was killed by American missiles so that she would do whatever he asked. She's completely and utterly brainwashed by him.
Oh, and in case you couldn't figure it out... but Lex willingly walked into a chamber knowing full-well that it would give him cancer. This was all a part of his long con.
James is released from the hospital, having been magically cured by whatever was in what Lena gave him. However, he's already starting to display symptoms in the form of various powers. We'll get back to this in later episodes. Later, Kelly visits him at work, and can't help but notice that all of the screens are off behind him... because he's too afraid to have to even look at or think about Lex. She encourages him to go see a trauma therapist to work through everything that's ever happened to him (not just being shot, but just... in general, you know). He refuses.
Kara also finds out that everybody but the DEO, aka probably the most capable team to handle Lex, is looking for Lex. But Hailey agrees with Supergirl that finding Lex is a priority right now, and agrees to handle things on her end while Alex goes with Supergirl to help with that. They track down some of Eve's last movements, and find out that she went to cure her cousin from cancer with Lena's serum... talk about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. They go to Eve's lab at some university, where a man with half of his appendages replaced with robotic parts and a kryptonite heart attacks them. But this leads them to another huge clue: they found the gun that was used to shoot James in her office. Later, Lena manages to flip their mother by convincing her that Lex was planning to kill her, not rescue her from jail. Oops.
Then, while everybody's gathered in the Oval Office for the repeal of the alien amnesty act, Red Daughter, dressed as Supergirl, attacks. Where's Kara during all of this? Fighting off a krypton supersuit chucked at her by Eve. So now the entire world thinks that Supergirl's ebul. However, a lot of people who have worked alongside Kara/Supergirl figure that something's not quite right with this. But, the event does do some good, because it convinced James (who was in the Oval Office) that he really did need help when he froze during the attack; he goes to Kelly to get that recommendation.
Meanwhile, J'onn goes on a sort of vision quest. See, at the end of the last season, after his father passed away, he took a vow of peace, which he has since broken when he murdered Manchester. He feels like his powers are failing him through his inability to move past killing Manchester. His vision comes to him in the form of J'onn's father, however, like a lot of things of this type, this is a lot of self-reflecting and coming to realizations that were already known, just mostly unspoken. In the end, J'onn agrees (with himself), that he needs to be Martian Manhunter, not a man of peace, so he's going to take his father's staff back to the place where it was found centuries earlier on Mars, in the hopes that somebody else “acceptable” will come along to get it at a later time.
As the end result of the attack at the end of the previous episode, people are afraid of Supergirl now. She complains about all of this to Lena and Alex (neither of whom know that she is Kara right now). In the end, Lena and Supergirl agree to go search Lex's cell at the prison. As they walk down to it, all of the male inmates start screaming at Kara about how she's where she belongs now. Kara tries to question the guy in the cell next to Lex's, but he refuses to talk to Supergirl. (And dear lord, can you imagine what kind of shit that these people got into to be in a cell block with Lex Luthor?)
Later, Otis shows up with a Kryptonite heart of his own, like the random dude from an episode or two earlier. Lena gives Kara a Kryptonite shield to go fight him. However, as she's running around, she realizes that she'd probably be better off in the middle of the riot with all of the inmates looking for Supergirl... as Kara, the reporter. The same inmate that Kara had previously tried to talk to is happy to see her, and gets excited, because he likes her articles (especially the spotlights on alien citizens).
While the prison riot's going on, Lena discovers a hidden chamber behind Lex's cell. There, they find evidence of the stuff that Lex has been up to, but only just puzzle pieces and no big picture just yet. Just then, Otis comes in, and Lex remotely detonates his Kryptonite heart, which kills him (temporarily). Kara flies Lena out of there before the bomb goes off. After, Kara realizes that going to the prison as Supergirl made things worse, so she decides that she needs to forget about Supergirl and focus on Kara. So she goes to the prison to do an interview with the prisoner that she'd talked to earlier... as Kara.
Meanwhile, Ben goes to the DEO to get all of their alien technology. However, even Hailey's like “Bitch, nobody fucking likes you, asshole.” and she insists that he comes back with a warrant or whatever.
This leads Alex to tell Brainy that the alien registry kept at the DEO isn't safe, so he breaks in with the intent to delete it. However, he's left with a dilemma over if he should or not... one which is a 50/50 chance. He goes to Nia to ask her to see into the future. She tricks him by playing the “if you react this badly towards the advice, then it's clear that you should do the other”, and tells him not to delete the data... which completely and utterly works. (Unlike Brainy, Nia sees things more from an emotional standpoint, so she's like “morally, we should delete it to keep people safe”.) However, Nia has a vision later of Ben storming into the DEO and arresting Brainy, which she warns him about. He said that he'd already deleted the data off of the DEO servers, but he says that he's keeping a copy on his own “hard drive”. (Must be handy to have a computer for a brain!)
Later, Alex meets with Kelly and Kelly offers Alex advice on how to get to Hailey so that Hailey won't call Supergirl for Ben. Kelly tells her own story of how she used her commanding officer's weakness against him in order to get him to do what Kelly wanted. Alex tries this to get Hailey onto her side, but it kind of backfires. However, when Ben comes for the info and for Supergirl, Hailey presses the signal watch twice, so she never shows up.
James also goes to his first therapy session, where the doctor teaches him a grounding technique for the next time he has a panic attack. However later, James and Kelly are starting to realize that the panic attacks seem to be half of the problem... and some of it has to do with the junk Lena gave him.
With Supergirl lying low for a while until all of this is cleared up, Nia takes to the streets to help bring down some petty criminals and to stop the Agents of Liberty from further terrorizing aliens. However, Brainy is worried about her... which he tries to mask by stating that they're all at risk because they're aliens. But she quickly finds out that, no matter how many Agents of Liberty she takes down, no matter how many aliens she helps... nobody feels fully safe anymore.
This leads into Ben's son, George. He's been sort of shadowing his dad, and shadowing the other Agents of Liberty on his dad's orders throughout the entire season. And he's been kind of reluctant but just goes along with whatever his dad asks of him. But during a raid that Dreamer stopped, he discovers that one of his best friends was an alien, and I think that this was the kind of wake-up call that George needed to understand how messed-up that his dad's actions are.
Lena, Alex, Kelly and Brainy are trying to unwrap everything that's happening to James after he was dosed with Lena's power juice. They're trying to pull the juice from him, but not with a lot of success. While Lena works on the science side, Brainy goes into his mind in order to work on the psychological, since James's powers seemed to be linked to his panic attacks. In there, they uncover some deeply hidden truths about James... things he himself had been lying about the entire time. They all though that Lex was behind the panic attacks, but it goes deeper and a lot older than that: to the day of his father's funeral. Kelly herself has a lot of bad memories from the day... because not only was her dad dead, but her big brother didn't even come to the funeral. James said that he got locked into the bathroom of a restaurant across the street, but as the episode progresses, they uncover that bullies shoved James into a coffin in the basement of the mortuary, and locked him in there. (Why he'd lie about something like that is beyond me, but here we are.) In the end, they need to get Kelly into James's memory in order to help him out.
Meanwhile, Kara is working the journalist angle hard, trying to track down evidence and proof of what Lex has been up to. She ends up meeting with one of her alien co-worker's sister who works at the shell company controlled by Lex. She wants to help Kara expose all of this, but she's afraid for her own safety... even more so when they're almost discovered when they're snooping through the company's paper files.
Following this, as well as Nia's failure to make aliens feel safer, the two girls complain to one another about how they feel like they're not going anywhere. Kara has a brilliant idea that rather than doing a spotlight on literally all of the aliens on Earth, she just needs to interview one alien: Dreamer. With the help of their alien co-worker, they set up a live broadcast, and Kara interviews Nia as Dreamer. She talks about how she's just a regular person, how she was born on earth and her status as a half alien. Ben is furious about the entire thing. But when Brainy hears about how Nia loves “nerdy boys who think too much”, he suddenly realizes that he's in love with Nia, and asks Lena (who happened to be in the room with him when they were watching the broadcast), “how do you know when you're in love.” I LOVE THIS SHIP. But it inspires everybody else that they have to fight... including the co-worker's sister who wanted to be a whistle blower. She later gives Kara the info she'd been looking for.
Following the end of the broadcast, Ben and his Agents of Liberty show up at Cat Co. However, thanks to the fact that there's two super heroes, plus Brainy showing up (Alex couldn't go without being court martialed), they got this. James shows up at the last minute and does that awesome “stares down a gun before he literally bends it with super strength” and he's like “Get the fuck out of my building.”
Lena later goes to CatCo, where she and Kara look at Kara's “reporter wall”, where she'd taped up all of the clues and written stuff. Lena is able to decode one thing: Kaznia.
Finally, Ben comes home to find that his wife was murdered by the wife of an alien that he'd arrested. Which... ain't karma a bitch, Benny boy?
Since the end of the previous season, Alex has been trying to adopt a baby. While she's going for a jog with Kelly one morning, she gets a call from the adoption agency that there's a teenage mother who's shortlisted Alex... and she's in labor. Alex and Kelly go to a hotel not too far from the hospital in the town where the teen mother is delivering as they wait for news. However, by the time that things are all said and done, the girl's parents convinced her not to give her baby up, which leads to an upset and disappointed Alex. Later, Kelly tells Alex that she was also once engaged to her CO, another woman. Not only were they in the military, where those relationships are a big no-no, but they were also lesbians, which is also still widely frowned upon. But then the CO died. Kelly goes on to talk about how things like your fiancee dying or leaving you is a deep wound, as is being rejected for an adoption. But you will survive, and you will get past this.
Brainy and Nia also help James train his powers.
Meanwhile, Lena and Kara take Lena's private jet to Kaznia. Kara kept trying to convince Lena that she should go alone, but Lena was insistant. As they fly in, some “mysterious” purple lightning hits the plane, and it's only because of Kara being there that they don't crash into a mountain. Oops. They find a base that looks like it was only recently evacuated, but also some stolen files from the DEO desert holding facility. And also Eve locked in a broom closet. They also uncover information about Red Daughter. As they look around, Eve acts... bizarre. And stupid. Like way stupider than normal. They quickly realize that she was given the super power serum that's been dosed up with the DNA of an alien so she can make endless copies of herself, but every copy makes her stupider and stupider. As they're running around, Kara comes across Red Daughter's cell, which kind of makes her look like a creepy stalker for Kara. Also, in case I never mentioned this, but Lex knows who Supergirl actually is, and in turn, he obviously told Red Daughter. So there's pictures of both Kara and Supergirl side by side. Kara ends up destroying the things in the room in order to hide her identity from Lena. After, as they're returning home, Kara is about to tell Lena that she's Supergirl, but then Lena kind of breaks down over everything that's happened. So many people have betrayed her, and Kara feels like now isn't a good time to drop this bombshell onto Lena.
She tells James about how she feels so sorry for Red Daughter, because it could have been her if she'd landed somewhere else. Then she takes the info she has on Lex to President Baker... only for him to laugh in her face and then somebody grabs her. Oh bother.
Back closer to home, Ben pushes his son further away by not even bothering to show up to his wife's funeral. He knows that James has powers, and that Lena was working on stuff. He breaks into her lab there and takes some of the unstable serum from before she'd perfected it to save James. Brainy tries to tell him that it's unstable and there's an insanely high risk of death if he takes it... but I think that it goes without saying at this point that you could tell Ben not to jump off the Empire State Building, and he'd do it anyway. Ben then goes out and tries to get the FBI to arrest both James and Dreamer, but Brainy reminds the other agents that they all swore an oath to protect people, not cause others greater harm. They take his side, but Ben then takes the serum and goes on a rampage. J'onn finally gets back from his trip to Mars just in time to stop him... for now.
Later, Ben goes to the church where the memorial for his wife had been, and George finally drops some truth bombs: on his quest for revenge against what originally started as a series of unlucky events, Ben is the reason why the wife is now dead. And then he walks out on Ben... because fuck his racist noise.
When J'onn wiped Alex's memory, he had to go in and erase a lot of little things, like just... hanging out with her super-powered sister. This left a lot of memory gaps that needed to be filled in, which her mind did. As such, Kara wouldn't be able to re-reveal herself as Supergirl to Alex unless Alex figured it out on her own. To do so would basically break Alex too much. However, following the rejection of the adoption in the previous episode, Alex starts to, what Kelly says, dwell on her adoptive sister.
Meanwhile, Kara was kidnapped by some thugs of Lex's. She's like “UGH” and quickly takes them out, but as she goes to the door, there's Red Daughter with a hunk of Kryptonite. Red Daughter is supposed to kill her, but the problem is that the Kryptonite makes both of them sick... and Kara's had a couple of decades to get used to Kryptonite. Red Daughter's only been alive for a few months. Kara manages to jump out the window and escape. Later, Kara manages to locate Red Daughter's apartment in the city, and realizes that Red Daughter has become rather obsessed with Kara. Alex shows up, despite Supergirl having told her to remain at the DEO, and then gets a weird call from Eliza. Kara rushes to Eliza's house, only to find Red Daughter there. There's a fight, and Red Daughter has some of that mysterious purple lightning powers, which when it hits Kara, causes day to turn into night.
Supergirl ends up having her heart stopped by Red Daughter, and Alex drives up just as this happens. As she cries over Supergirl's prone body, she suddenly remembers everything. Then, the grass and plants around them randomly give up their sunlight in order to save Kara... Yeah. I'm just going with it at this point. So Kara's still alive, and now Alex remembers everything.
Lena gets a “truthseeker” alien to use her mother to help her create the cure for the super serum... and the threat of having been poisoned works wonders, too. And she really pulls through. Amazing what gets you results.
Meanwhile, all of the pieces are finally starting to fall together. Who's controlling literally everything bad this season? Lex. Lena and James go to talk to Ben about how he's been working with Lex. Ben is... in a bad way. He needs to keep taking the serum, or else it seems like he's starting down the path to an early grave. However, Lena is quick to find out that Ben had no idea... but they're pleased to realize that Ben wants answers about Lex's involvement as much as anybody else. Especially if he himself is the one being played behind the scenes, when he thought that he was the big man in charge around here. He goes to Otis, who was the one who suggested Ben to Lex back in the Red Daughter flashback episode, so he knows way more than anybody could have predicted. James gets into a fight with Ben, which ends up with James becoming unstable. Lena takes him back to her mom, but even though they have the reverse serum, but with the upcoming battle ahead of them, they give him more of the super serum to temporarily stabilize him.
J'onn, Nia, and Brainy go to track down where the Agents of Liberty/Lex have been taking all of the aliens that they're supposedly taking to detention facilities. When they get there, Nia proposes a “Wookie Gambit”, where J'onn shape-shifts into a guard and allows them to be safely captured. However, when J'onn goes off to find a better plan, Nia sees this little girl that she'd seen in a vision, and asks Brainy to shift into Ben (via his image inducer) so that she can be the captured one. But the play goes awry, and they both end up captured. (J'onn watching being like “THOSE FUCKWITS.”) Strapped to a chair, Brainy is tortured by Agents of Liberty until he snaps and some of his ancestral “coding” from his evil ancestors breaks free. He goes kind of berserk and takes out the men holding him, before meeting up with J'onn. He tells Nia in her cage that she needs to be taken to where ever they're transporting the aliens to, and then she can use her powers to communicate with them where they're being held. He also tells J'onn that him being there will double the plan's chances of success. He's acting cold and unemotional, but it's a stressful situation, so neither of them notice much.
And finally, Lex plays his hand: Kaznia started to attack the US with everything that they had (which wasn't much; they're a tiny country and seemingly very poor). And they had the “rogue” Supergirl with them... but then here comes Lex to save the day! Yay, he's a hero!! /UGH
In case you'd been wondering what Lex has been doing with those aliens, and where he's been getting the powers that all of his goons (like Eve) were coming from... he's created a chamber that sucks??? Energy, I guess? From the alien, and puts it into whoever Lex wants.
Then, we show the actual Kaznian invasion, which we missed during the Kara/Red Daughter fight earlier. Lex showed up to save the day and look dapper... because priorities. The Kaznian officers were upset over the entire thing, as is Red Daughter. She finally starts to see Lex for everything that Kara had tried to tell her that he was: a monster who only looks out for number one (himself). So the fight between them was pretty real, but Lex had the upper hand because he knew exactly what he was going to do before it even got started, and came ready to take her on.
Meanwhile, J'onn and Nia are taken somewhere, where they're basically turned into slave labor. J'onn easily figures out that they're on Shelly island with the power dampeners, so they take out some of the guards and turn the things off. Nia then astralprojects to Brainy (in Lena's office, waiting Kara and Alex). They're all upset when Brainy tells them of the plan; he doesn't understand because he still has his ancestral coding turned on, and he doesn't understand things like empathy. He knows that Nia can't communicate while astralprojecting, so he breathes on the window to create some fog, and she scribbles most of “Shelly island” before time runs out on her end... but it's enough.
Meanwhile, Lena is invited to Le Luther Family Reunion at the Oval Office, because of course he's fucking taken everything over. Now that he's got what he wants, he doesn't need Puppet Baker in office anymore. However, not even Lilian is going to deal with Lex's bullshit at this point. However, with Brainy's help, Kara is able to recover the files that Baker had supposedly wiped from the CatCo servers, and she publishes the paper and exposes Lex for the lying liar who lies. Everybody reads it, and... honestly, that must be a lot of damning evidence in that article, because EVERYBODY instantly starts to believe it. (Either that, or people remember all of the other awful shit that Lex has done in the past, and they're like “yeah, him doing this sounds about right.”)
Kara, Alex, James, and Brainy go to Shelly Island, where they're greeted by Ben and his Agents of Liberty. Brainy goes inside to turn off the power-sucking coffins that are powering a super weapon pointed at that Krypton planet chunk that's floating out there (speaking of which, it's where Superman has been this entire season, in case you were wondering). This leaves the others free to stick the anti power serum into Ben... which he is in dire need of at this point. But Brainy can't turn the weapon off, and it's set to go off soon. But J'onn won't give up so easily, and tries to use his psychic powers to overload the machine. Nia starts to use her own powers as well... and it's when Brainy sees Nia in such immense danger and pain, that it snaps something inside of Brainy and he reverts back to normal. He screams at her that he loves her. But it did the trick, and the aliens are free... including Red Daughter.
Kara goes off to fight Lex, who came down to try and stop them. But he's already defeated one Supergirl, so he almost had the advantage over her... But he wasn't counting on Red Daughter's rage. She takes a blast meant for Kara, and dies as Kara cradles her. She tells Kara that Kara had been right the entire time, and to protect everybody. She then dissolves into purple mist and is reabsorbed into Kara's body. With these new weird powers, Kara is able to better go toe-to-toe with Lex... which she does until he flies off. She gives chase, but he'd rather fall to his death than to be helped by her. But when he lands, he vanishes, so... no good.
Lex reappears in one of his labs, but Lena easily finds him. She puts some bullets into him, because fuck you. Before he dies, he shows Lena a bunch of footage of Kara being Supergirl.
In the aftermath, Baker was arrested for all of this bullshit, and Hailey is the most superior person, so she's in charge for the time being. She also makes a very public apology (that Kara watches on TV at CatCo) to Supergirl for all of this bullshit.
Alex and Kelly finally hook up, although their first kiss is awkwardly interrupted by Brainy and Nia walking past on their own first date.
Later, Lena shows up at J'onn's place for game night. She's quiet, but she doesn't say anything about now knowing that Supergirl is her BFF Kara. Instead, she eagerly joins Kara's team for “switched up teams games”. However, Lena later destroys a picture frame of her and Kara, so she's clearly not as okay with it as originally thought.
Meanwhile, George Lockwood has swung radically in the opposite direction of his father, and wants to help aliens in need. Ben watches bitterly from prison.
And then, because we need some teasers for season 5... Eve is apparently being controlled by some mysterious forces that isn't Lex. It's honestly a bit weird, and I don't know what to make of it.
Finally, another Martian comes and vows revenge on J'onn. Some guy who was talking to this Martian goes to where Lex was murdered and I'm pretty sure that he brings Lex back from the dead.