Supergirl Recap: “How Does She Do It?”

"Nerds can win in the end." -Carter Grant
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Supergirl S1 Ep 5 - 1

Today is just one of those days…

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This week’s episode of Supergirl was actually supposed to be last week’s episode, but it was preempted because of the Paris attacks. And if you watched this week, you probably understand why. So, Episode 4 is now playing the role of Episode 5. In “How Does She Do It?”, Supergirl learns how to Lean In … but in a superhero way.


Supergirl S1 Ep 5 - 2

This isn’t mine. I’d know, because I put my name on everything with a label maker, so this clearly isn’t mine.

S1, Episode 5 – The Basics

  • As Supergirl flies around National City doing her usual superhero thing, she notices that she’s being followed by a drone. She snatches it out of the sky, assuming that Hank Henshaw and the DEO are spying on her, but when she confronts him, he doesn’t recognize the tech. Hmmm…
  • Kara races into work at CatCo and Winn has been covering the phones at her desk. He barely understands how she deals with the phone, let alone how she also flies around as Supergirl. Kara intercepts a phone call that Winn can’t handle, and learns that Cat has just been awarded the Siegel Prize (shout-out to Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman!) for journalism. She runs into Cat’s office to congratulate her and plan her travel to the ceremony, but Cat is concerned that it’s too short notice and there’s no one available to watch her son, Carter. Kara volunteers to babysit, and after suspecting Kara for having an angle (and congratulating her on it), Cat accepts her offer.
  • Meanwhile, it’s here that James and Lucy’s getting back together begins. They meet up at the most drama-filled cafe ever, and Lucy says that she did indeed return to National City for James. James is skeptical, and when Kara overhears and talks to him about it, he says that Lucy isn’t actually interested in restoring their relationship—she just likes winning.
  • Kara hears a building being bombed and flies there to help. She stops the building from collapsing with her heat vision, but then we see another one of those advanced drones. Something is definitely following her.
Supergirl S1 Ep 5 - 3

This is my license to Badass.

  • When Supergirl goes back to the DEO, Alex makes the connection between the drones that have been following her and the tech from the bombs used to bomb the building she saved. Both pieces of tech used an advanced fiber optics relay system created by—wait for it—Maxwell McHotness. I mean Lord. Maxwell Lord. Oh, and then Alex and Kara have a really annoying conversation about “The Friendzone.” Alex says that Kara shouldn’t talk to him like a friend and let him tell her his girl troubles if she wants him to see her as a dateable option. I say, it’s just as bullshit a notion when women ascribe it to themselves as when guys talk about “friendzoning.” Being a friend is always a good thing, and planning to manipulate someone into liking you is always a bad thing, m’kay? They either like you, or they don’t, and the only way to know for sure is to ask. /relationship lesson
  • All of this makes Kara late to pick up Carter from school—remember the babysitting?—so she does a classic Kryptonian outfit change in some bushes and gets him. At first, he doesn’t say much, but then they start bonding over their shared nerdery, and he reveals that Cat is actually a pretty great mom. She apparently encourages his nerdy tendencies, and tells him that if he’d only come out of his shell a little big, “nerds can win in the end.” (OK, I’m now officially Team Cat Grant.)
  • Hank and Alex, disguised as FBI agents (which means they’ve gone from sleek all-black attire to frumpy all-black attire), confront Maxwell Lord about the Lord tech found in the bomb. When he doesn’t seem concerned, Alex calls him on that, but he reveals that it was the building for one of his own subsidiaries that got bombed, so he’s very concerned. He also reveals a huge mistrust of government organizations. He does, however, recognize that Alex is “the brains of the outfit,” and Alex is left behind to guard Maxwell against any further threat.
Supergirl S1 Ep 5 - 4

“Supergirl totally likes younger men … right?”

  • Back at CatCo, Carter is bored hanging out with Kara when the story of Supergirl’s latest rescue comes on the news, and he’s perked right up. He’s totally a Supergirl fanboy—and has a bit of a crush, too, which Kara thinks is adorable. Winn tries to bond with Carter on that fact and impress him by saying he knows her, but Kara stops him. She also stops James—who’s filling in for Cat while she’s away—from breaking an innocent stapler in frustration. However, when he tries to talk to Kara about what’s going on with him and Lucy, she deflects in an attempt to keep things work-focused and keep herself out of the “friendzone.” Ugh.
  • Back at Lord Technologies, Alex talks to Maxwell about his mistrust of the government, and why she chose to work for the government. There seems to be a flirty energy between them (is there any woman he doesn’t flirt with?). But soon, they have something more important to deal with than sexually-charged banter. Maxwell’s employee found a bomb in their labs and it, like the others, was created using Lord tech. Maxwell tries to disarm it, but fails. So, Alex calls Kara, who rushes over as Supergirl and saves the day, leaving Carter at the office with Winn, which is fine, since they share a childish sensibility and a love of video games.
  • Supergirl wakes up at the DEO, and as she’s coming back into consciousness, for a moment, she sees Hank’s glowing red eyes (what is his deal?!), but dismisses it. While she was unconscious, the DEO developed another lead about the bombings, focusing on Ethan Knox, a disgruntled former Lord Technologies employee who was fired and has since gone missing. Supergirl wants to help find him, but Alex warns her that she may be spreading herself too thin between being Supergirl, Cat Grant’s assistant, and a DEO agent, and “even the Girl of Steel might break.” (What would Sheryl Sandberg have to say about this?)
Damn, Supergirl. How many jobs do you WANT?

Damn, Supergirl. How many jobs do you WANT?


  • Kara returns to CatCo and thanks Winn for looking after Carter. When she goes to get him food (Winn is not the most nutritionally savvy babysitter), Lucy finds her in the cafe and tries to pump Kara for information about James—specifically about whether or not he’s dating Supergirl. Awkwaaaard…
  • Alex confronts Maxwell about Ethan Knox, who apparently had a sick little girl that made him snap and blame Lord. She’s concerned that Knox will target Lord’s event debuting his new maglev train and begs him to cancel it, but he’s determined not to be cowed by a terrorist. She wonders why he won’t let her help him, especially considering that his own parents worked for the government and trusted it. Maxwell then reveals that his parents are dead because they trusted the government—when they raised concerns about the safety of their lab, they accepted the government’s findings and died because of a malfunction.
  • Kara returns to CatCo with the food and ends up telling James that she spoke with Lucy, who only broke up with him, because she felt like he was always choosing Superman over her. Kara encourages James to fight for Lucy. He, on the other hand, doesn’t want to go there again.
  • Supergirl then goes to the Lord train event to protect the train from Knox. Meawhile, James and Lucy have it out once and for all. She’s going back to Metropolis and is headed for the airport. They’re done.
  • Winn returns to Cat’s office with pizza for Carter, but Carter has disappeared. As the news from the train station mentions Supergirl possibly being there due to the bombings, Winn realizes where Carter might have gone.
Supergirl S1 Ep 5 - 6

I’m totally willing to risk a kid’s life to test Supergirl. Why not?

  • As Kara is on her way to the train, Hank and Alex contact her. the bomb is at the airport. She flies there. Meanwhile, Carter is at the train station and gets on the train thanks to Maxwell. Winn has followed Carter there, but just misses the train. However, just before the door closes he sees Ethan Knox get on wearing a bomb under his jacket. He calls Kara, who can’t be in two places at once, so she chooses to go to the train station, and she lets the DEO handle the airport. Meanwhile, James is freaking out about the airport bomb, because Lucy is on her way there. THERE’S SO MUCH GOING ON!
  • At the airport: James finds Lucy during the evacuation where she asks him a very logical question: “Why would you run toward a bomb?” But we all know why, right? They kiss. And out of view of everyone, Hank disarms the bomb on his own by REACHING INTO IT AND HAVING HIS EYES GET ALL GLOWY RED. He then lies to Alex when he emerges, telling her that the bomb was just a dud.
  • On the train: Supergirl tries talking to Ethan the same way she talked to Reactron, but it doesn’t work. Now that people know that he was involved with the bombings, he wouldn’t be able to face his little girl. He detonates the bomb, giving Supergirl thirty seconds to save the rest of the train. She uses her heat vision to disconnect the train car he’s in from the rest of the train. She saves everyone aboard, but can’t save Ethan. He dies in the explosion. Later, when Alex and Kara debrief, they acknowledge that none of this makes any sense. The bomb Hank disarmed had a kill switch in it that could be activated remotely, which makes no sense on a “fake bomb.” And why would Ethan kill himself?
Excuse me, sweetheart. I'm going to go kill your babysitter.

Excuse me, sweetheart. I’m going to go kill your babysitter.

  • Cat returns from her trip, and is thrilled to see Carter. However, she’s not so thrilled that he ended up on a train with a bomb on it because her babysitter/assistant was spread too thin. As she checks on Carter, he thrills over having met Supergirl and talks about how pretty she is. Cat reminds him that she’s also smart, brave, kind, and a hero. And then, when she asks him what makes her a hero, he says, “Her legs. Definitely her legs.” Which was totally a joke. Yes, Cat. He CAN make jokes!
  • Once Carter goes to school, Kara apologizes profusely for letting him out of her sight, and asks Cat “the most annoying question of the century.” How do you do it? How do you juggle it all. Cat’s advice: you learn. “You learn to juggle two balls before you add a third.” Cat got good at business first and then she became a good mother. So, when Kara asks, “So, you can have it all?” Cat replies, “Yes. Just not all at once, and not right away.” She makes a good point.
  • Leaving Cat’s office, Kara spots James and Lucy kissing in the office. *sigh* She then sees Maxwell on the news taking responsibility for his former employee terrorizing the city. Something’s not sitting right with Kara, so she asks Winn to hack into hospital records.
  • Later that evening, Supergirl confronts Maxwell. As it turns out, Knox’s little girl is being treated by a doctor with a grant from Lord Technologies. Knox agreed to plant the bombs in exchange for his daughter’s treatment, and Maxwell has been testing Supergirl all along. Testing her agility, her strength, her speed with every new incident. Answering the question, “How does she do it?” with regard to Supergirl. And the last test—which would she choose? Train or airport?—was the most damning test of all. It reveals that there must have been someone on that train more important to her than the greater number of people at the airport, and Maxwell wants to find out who that person might be and use it as a clue in figuring out Supergirl’s identity. Supergirl vows to keep an eye on him. IT’S ON.
Step into my office for another intro to feminism.

Step into my office for another intro to feminism.

The Review Bit, Wherein I Express OPINIONS:

This episode, as well as last week’s “Livewire,” for me mark when the show “got good.” The storytelling was tight in this episode, and I loved that we looked at the “work/life” balance from two very different perspectives between Kara and Cat. Their conversation upon Cat’s return makes the episode for me. Also exciting was the official set-up of Maxwell Lord as a foil for Supergirl. One thing I do wonder, though—WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ASTRA? We haven’t seen her again, and she felt like she was going to be the season’s Big Bad. Now, it looks like it may be Lord.

Which is fine by me. More Maxwell Lord is always fine by me.

However, I really loved the introduction to Cat’s son, Carter. He seems like he’s going to be a great character, and he also reflects the fact that Cat is an amazing mother. Harsh though she might be with others, it’s clear that she goes out of her way to encourage her son, and he seems like a genuinely good (if sometimes Supergirl-crazy) kid. I am loving Cat Grant.

I’m not loving James/Lucy so much. I hate that this particular relationship seems to bring out the most neurotic and insecure in people. Lucy trying to get information about James out of Kara. Kara taking a play out of the pick-up-artist handbook so as not to get “friendzoned.” James just being a whiny baby the whole time. All of this just really needs to stop.

I’d love to hear what you thought of “How Does She Do It?” in the comments below!

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8PM ET/PT on CBS. And for more Supergirl fun, check out The House of El on Thursday, and subscribe to my podcast, Supergirl Radio!

(Images via Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

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Image of Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.