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Supergirl Recap: “Strange Visitor From Another Planet”

"That would be illegal ... maybe ... and completely insane!" -Kara

Supergirl Ep 11 - 1

This week’s episode of Supergirl, “Strange Visitor From Another Planet,” actually told two stories involving unexpected visitors. One from Earth, the other from another planet, and both delivering heartbreak. Welcome to Episode 11 of Supergirl, Season One!

**THIS IS A RECAP – SPOILERS ARE PART OF THE TERRITORY.**

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S1, Episode 11 – The Basics

  • The episode opens with Supergirl saving a family from a trailer surrounded by a brushfire—like a bawss. In voiceover, we hear Supergirl talking about regret …
  • Later, when Kara is relating the story to Alex, Alex notices she doesn’t have her usual Just Saved Someone Swagger. She’s still concerned about Winn and the fact that her best friend is no longer really speaking to her. She wishes everything could just go back to normal. As they stop at the coffee shop to pick up Cat’s coffee order, Cat’s name comes up, sparking questions from a nearby cute guy (Blake Jenner—Melissa Benoist’s real-life hubby and former Glee co-star) who seems awfully interested in what Kara thinks of Cat. When they part, Alex alerts Kara to the possibility that cute guy was flirting with her. Kara thinks not, because she is an awkward dork.
  • Kara returns to CatCo and walks by Winn, on his way onto the elevator. She tries to make small talk, but Winn asks her to stop. He wishes her a nice day, heartbreakingly polite.
  • Later, in a CatCo meeting, Cat discusses the impending arrival of Senator Miranda Crane (Tawny Cypress), a seemingly Donald Trump-like bigot of a political figure who hates aliens and bases her platform on fear-mongering. She wants someone to cover Senator Crane’s rally, but their best reporter has “made a cash grab to Vanity Fair.” When she asked Kara to see who’s available, James jumps in, volunteering to cover it. When Cat tries to remind him that he has layouts to do, he reminds her that he’s their most experienced photo journalist. He convinces her, and Cat demands that he procure a quote “that will offend virtually everyone.”
  • Kara questions Cat giving Crane screen time when she professes to hate bigots. Cat points out that Crane 1) is clickbait, and 2) will hang herself if you give her enough rope.
  • When Cat and Kara get back to Cat’s office, someone is in there. It’s Cute Guy From the Coffee Shop, who also happens to be Adam Foster, Cat’s estranged son. He’s come, because he “got her letter” (you know, that thing Supergirl was reading at the top of the episode? Yeah, she totally sent it without Cat knowing). Cat’s busy, but Adam is willing to go out to dinner with her to catch up.
  • When Adam leaves, Cat is furious with Kara at first, saying she’s overstepped her bounds. She fires Kara. However, Kara convinces her that this is a good thing, that she helped, and that she understands what it’s like to not have a second chance with family. She talks to Cat more like a friend than as an employee, and it works. Kara’s no longer fired, and Cat asks her to make her and Adam a dinner reservation.
  • Later, at Senator Crane’s rally, Crane is making a predictably species-ist speech in which she preys on the crowd’s fears and calls for things like a dome to protect the world from invading aliens. Her speech is cut short, however, by—you guessed it—a group of hostile aliens. The DEO is on site, and they attempt to stop them as Supergirl protects Senator Crane. When Hank sees the alien, he stops cold, as if he’s seen this creature before and is terrified. And then there are flashbacks—of Mars?

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  • Hank is really agitated as he tells his agents to get the senator back to DEO headquarters. Alex tries to find out what’s wrong, but he refuses to answer
  • At the DEO, Crane is pissed about being held there. She doesn’t trust the DEO, or the fact that they’re working with Supergirl. She talks shit about aliens, prompting Alex to shoot her up with a sedative. Hank insists she stay for her own protection.
  • In another room, Hank finally tells Alex and Kara about the alien—a White Martian. But these aren’t awesome Martians like J’onn J’onzz, these are genocidal horrors that came up from underground on Mars, bringing fire with them. They burned all the Green Martians, and are completely devoted to the destruction of all the Green Martians. This one is here for Hank, and when Hank recently used his powers, it was able to find him, because all Martians are able to link when in their true form. Hank asks Supergirl to bring it in, because if he goes after it in his true form, that’s the end of Hank Henshaw, and they risk General Lane taking over the DEO. She agrees.
  • At CatCo, Kara tells Cat that her car is there to take her to dinner with Adam. Kara tries to convince her to speak from the heart and be honest about her feelings, but Cat insists that she can handle this. After all, she’s interviewed some of the most powerful people in the world. Surely she can handle her own estranged son? (Spoiler alert: NOPE)
  • Adam and Cat at dinner—Cat is name-dropping like a mo-fo and sounds completely egotistical. Adam is annoyed, and then doubts that she wrote the letter he got. She tries in her Cat way to talk to him, but Adam is not having it. He’s so over her.
  • Back at the office, Kara and James look over his photos from the rally. After an awkward moment between them as he tells her that he told Lucy he’d be home late (ahem), Kara notices that the White Martian has glowing eyes. James then notices that Senator Crane has glowing eyes in one of the photos. HOLY CRAP THE WHITE MARTIAN IS NOW IN THE DEO OMG!
  • At the DEO, “Crane” is trying to find out from Hank if there are “alien spies” in the DEO, subtly trying to get Hank to reveal the whereabouts of J’onn J’onzz. Hank, not knowing yet that “Crane” is the White Martian, thinks her paranoid, and is trying to talk her down. Meanwhile, Kara calls Alex to alert her to the fact that “Crane” isn’t Crane. Alex grabs her gun and trains it on “Crane” when her back is turned. Hank sees this and gets the message, his hand now hovering over his own gun. “Crane” gives herself away by talking about the White Martian who tried to kill her. Hank: “I never said it was a White Martian.” “Crane”: “You’re smarter than I thought.”
  • FIGHT! “Crane” attacks Hank and everyone else at the DEO in a bid to escape. Supergirl arrives and fights her. In the fight, “Crane” loses a finger, which reverts to its original White Martian form (ie: it’s HUGE). “Crane” escapes and Supergirl goes after her.

Supergirl Ep 11 - 7

  • At the DEO, Hank tells Alex about the extent of the damage that the White Martians did. In a story that is totally a Holocaust allegory, Hank tells about the camps that the White Martians put the Green Martians into. He talks about being forced into a labor camp as he watched his wife and daughter burn. He’s filled with survivor’s guilt, and says that he still hears their screams. Alex tries to convince him that there’s no shame in surviving—that if his wife and daughters had been the ones to survive, he wouldn’t want them to be ashamed. Hank: “But they didn’t.”
  • Supergirl, called back to the office by Cat as Kara, races back to CatCo, because Cat needs tea. Also, she’s upset that Kara didn’t “prepare” her (um, she tried!). Dinner did not go well. Kara feels horrible about having started something that’s gone so poorly, so she vows to fix it.
  • Kara gets to Adam’s hotel as he’s checking out. She convinces him that Cat, deep down, is a good, inspiring person who deserves another chance. Adam figures out that Kara wrote the letter he received. She tries to deny it (“That would be illegal … maybe … and completely insane!”), but eventually ‘fesses up. Adam agrees to give his mom another chance.
  • Another meeting, this time, Kara sits between Adam and Cat, translating each to the other. After starting with the same-old, same-old, Cat is finally the most heartbreakingly honest she’s ever been as she talks about how sad she is that she never got to be his mom. She makes an impression, and after a while, he takes her hand, confessing that he has indeed missed her, despite everything. Kara leaves them to bond.
  • Meanwhile, at the DEO, Hank is ready to slaughter the White Martian, and he’s going to use the finger to track it down. This time, he vows that he won’t freeze. He will use his powers to take down the White Martian no matter what. Alex tries to calm him, telling him there’s no honor in going after the White Martian this way, and that they still have to find the real Crane, since she’s now missing.
  • Hank uses the finger to trace the White Martian, which he can do if it’s its natural form. He and the other agents go to the sewers, Hank hot on the trail of the White Martian, Alex and the others searching for the real Senator Crane. She finds the senator … but wait, so does Hank. HOLY CRAP ALEX HAS FOUND “CRANE” OMG!!!

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  • Alex has been left alive by the White Martian as bait to lure J’onn. She calls Green Martians insects, and Alex less than an insect. She’s “what worms eat,” apparently. J’onn reaches out to the White Martian using their telepathic link, wanting to end this, agreeing to meet the White Martian in the desert. Supergirl tries to convince him to let her help him fight, but he’s resigned to let himself be killed to stop the deaths of more innocent lives. He wants to “join his people.”
  • J’onn and the White Martian meet in the desert, and the White Martian has brought a bound Alex with her. J’onn kneels and surrenders, but before the White Martian can do anything, Supergirl bursts onto the scene and knocks into her. She and J’onn then tag team against the White Martian in a pretty amazing fight scene. Finally, they knock her down for the count. It’s clear she’s defeated. Then Hank puts Kryptonite handcuffs on Supergirl so that he can kill the White Martian without Supergirl trying to stop him. But Supergirl tries anyway, begging him not to lose himself in this way, telling him that she understands what it’s like to lose everything you love. Supergirl: “It makes a hole in your heart. But you can’t fall into it. You have to fill it.” J’onn hesitates …
  • They end up bringing the White Martian back to the DEO to be imprisoned. She screams at Kara, telling her that there are millions of White Martians out there, and that they’ll come for her and show them the meaning of destruction. And Kara’s all, “Let them come.”
  • Kara meets Hank and Alex in the hallway, and he tells them that hid daughters’ names were Ta’ni’a and K’hym (K’hym is actually from the comics. I just made up where the apostrophes go in “Tania’s” name), then says that any man would be lucky to have Kara and Alex as daughters. Kara can’t help but give him a big squishy hug, which he accepts … for a second. Then it’s back to biddness.
  • At CatCo, Kara and Winn pass each other by the elevators again. This time, it’s less tense. Winn smiles at Kara. Kara promises him “space and time.”
  • On the news, Senator Crane is holding a press conference, totally changing her tune about aliens and her Anti-Alien Initiative. Supergirl has made her realize that not all aliens are here to do Earth harm. She wants to learn more before taking further action.
  • Adam shows up to see Cat. He was supposed to be leaving town, but has decided to stay a little longer. Of course, he wants to hang out with his mother more, and agrees to go to lunch with her. But … he’s also interested in Kara. Cat seems tickled by this in her Cat way, and plays wingwoman like a bawsss. When Adam asks Kara out to go get Korean BBQ tomorrow night, and Kara wonders if she’ll have to work, Cat shouts out from her office, “She’s free!” So … they’re totally going on a date now.
  • Back at home, Kara and Alex talk about the upcoming date over ice cream. Kara worries about what’ll happen at the office if it goes bad. Alex is all “Go on the date and have a good time first, before you worry about how it’s gonna go bad.” Good advice.
  • Oh, and by the way, THERE’S ANOTHER SUPERGIRL SAVING PEOPLE LIVE ON THE NEWS! But she can’t be out there, if she’s sitting eating ice cream. The title of next week’s episode is “Bizarro.” Uh-oh …

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The Review Bit, Wherein I Express OPINIONS:

I love that this episode told two stories about unexpected visitors arriving, bringing with them the ghosts of a troubled past, and each of those stories was equally heartbreaking in completely different ways. When director Glen Winter said that this episode would “make you cry,” he wasn’t kidding!

With the arrival of the White Martian, we finally got into J’onn J’onzz’s backstory, and got to know him for the truly awesome, complex character he is! David Harewood’s performance was amazing in this, and he totally grounded material that could’ve been completely “comic-booky” and ridiculous and made it feel real. Even better, Harewood made J’onn’s vacillation between wanting to give up and wanting to kill this White Martian fucker feel real.

Pretty much the entire cast brought their “A”-games to this episode. Chyler Leigh was extraordinary here, and her care for J’onn was palpable as she tried as best she could to console him, having absolutely no frame of reference for what he was going through, and that helplessness and love was all over her face. Benoist, too, gave one of her most powerful performances here—the best of which were the times in which she related J’onn’s loss to her own. You could feel the strength in her that allows her not only to be strong enough to not lose herself, but to be strong enough to help others do the same.

Calista Flockhart gave an astounding performance as Cat this week. Her visitor—her estranged son—was obviously way less alien, but in no way less emotionally harrowing. Flockhart’s vulnerability and simultaneous defense mechanisms were a joy to watch as Cat navigated her new relationship with her son. I also happen to love the fact that Cat seems so on-board with her son dating Kara. She clearly thinks very highly of “Kira,” even though she doesn’t always admit it or show it.

The episode’s guest stars were also pretty amazing. Tawny Cypress (OK, how great a name is that) made an amazing Senator Crane/White Martian. She made the character feel dangerous, even in her human guise, and I loved how the Martian language rolled of her and Harewood’s tongues. Blake Jenner was a wonderful new presence as Adam—just caustic enough and just sweet enough to make me excited about where his relationships with both Cat and Kara are going next.

Supergirl has been getting so much better about making the threats that Supergirl faces really personal for the characters on the show. Whereas they started out being abstract monsters-of-the-week, now every week gives us a deeper glimpse into these people—into what makes them tick, what scares them, their motivations, and what they have to lose.

And here is where I will complain that they really need to give James more to do. This episode even gave Winn time to shine in his two scenes by the elevators, because he had some juicy emotions to work with. James feels “too cool for the room” most of the time, and any time he’s allowed to be vulnerable, it’s only briefly, and they never let it go anywhere. Now that everyone else has had a turn, I would love a big, fat, juicy story for James—one that doesn’t involve feelings for Kara, or even Lucy. Something where we get to see him at his best, or even at his worst, so long as he gets to have some depth. The photojournalism thing is a nice start—but more, please.

In addition to the acting and the intriguing stories of the episode, we also got some wonderful visual effects. The fight between Supergirl and Martian Manhunter and the White Martian was awesome to watch, and the flashbacks to the horrors of Mars were beautifully rendered. “Strange Visitor From Another Planet” is now one of my very favorite episodes of Supergirl.

What say you, Supergirl fans? What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell me in the comments below!

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8PM ET/PT on CBS. For more Supergirl fun, check out The House of El—now MONTHLY on the last Thursday of the month—and subscribe to my podcast, Supergirl Radio!

(Images via Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

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