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Supergirl Recap: Kara’s “Triggers” Prove to Be Her Most Difficult Enemy Yet

image: The CW

Season 3 of Supergirl continues to barrel forward with intensity and emotion, not letting up from last week for a second. In this week’s episode, Supergirl’s latest nemesis is a metahuman with psychic ability. Actually, Supergirl’s latest nemesis is her own mental health. Welcome to Season 3, Episode 2, “Triggers.”


image: Robert Falconer/The CW


  • CUE THE WAKE-UP MONTAGE! Alex and Maggie wake up together all cute and lovey-dovey. Sam wakes up and gets Ruby ready for school as she gets ready for work. Kara wakes up alone, finding hints of Mon-El’s existence around the apartment.
  • Sam drops Ruby off at school, and Ruby seems down. Ruby asks her if she has powers, since Sam saved her at the Girl of Steel statue event at the waterfront, but Sam denies it, claiming that it was just the adrenaline rush mothers get when their children are in danger. Ruby seems unconvinced. Sam also tells Ruby that someone else will be picking her up, because she’ll be busy during her first day at her new job, which will be earning her a substantially higher salary. Ruby doesn’t seem cheered up by the prospects.
  • Lena arrives at CatCo as the company’s new owner. Eve Tessmacher is the first to welcome her, and has prepared for her arrival. Lena seems like the most chill boss ever compared to Cat Grant. James arrives, and is surprised by Lena’s arrival. Kara arrives with a welcome gift…she knew Lena was coming in. James is even more surprised when she tells him that she intends to be at CatCo every day so that she can learn the ins and outs of how the company works. She wants to be a hands-on boss. James does not seem pleased.
  • At the DEO, Alex and Maggie are fighting over whether to have a band or a DJ at their wedding (Winn refuses to get in the middle, J’onn goes DJ), when Supergirl arrives, responding to an alert that only analysts are supposed to get (she had herself added to the distribution list). A woman is in the process of robbing a bank with no weapons or interference from anyone there. Supergirl flies off to stop her.

image: The CW

  • Supergirl confronts the robber (Yael Grobglas), who says that she only wanted to play, and that she’s robbing the bank because money equals happiness. She asks if Supergirl wants to join her, but Supergirl tells her her priorities are wonky. When Supergirl tries to stop her, the woman places her under some kind of mind control, leaving Supergirl terrified and cowering in the corner. Later, when Maggie and the NCPD arrive, Maggie finds Supergirl in the bank vault shaking with fear.
  • At the DEO, Winn is examining Supergirl, who insists she’s fine even though she’s clearly not. She tries to just get back out to try and find and bring in the bank robber, but J’onn stops her, scanning her brain for psychic activity. The residual activity he finds in Kara’s brain let him know that they’re dealing with a metahuman.
  • Sam gets a call from Ruby’s school and has to go in to talk to the principal. Ruby punched a girl in the face, which is very unlike her. Sam is worried about Ruby, but she’s also frustrated that this is happening on the first day of her new job.
  • At CatCo, James and Kara walk in together. Kara apologizes for not making that morning’s meeting…a meeting James wasn’t invited to, or even told about. James really, really resents this. He challenges Lena, who responds by inviting him to an upcoming meeting with advertisers. Things are tense between them.
  • The bank robber is in a parking garage when Supergirl arrives to confront her again. J’onn tries to protect her with a psychic shield, but the robber is too strong. She removes J’onn’s shield, then takes Supergirl down again. This time, we see that Supergirl is having visions of Krypton, of her mother putting her in her pod, of being jettisoned off the planet, of the flames… and while all this is happening in Supergirl’s head, the bank robber gets away again.

image: Robert Falconer/The CW

  • Back at the DEO, J’onn apologizes for not being able to protect her. Winn enters with more information on the robber. He’s learned that she’s a woman named Gail Marsh, but she’s called Psi by law enforcement, due to her psychic abilities. He says that he can work on figuring out how to adjust the DEO’s psychic dampeners to work on her. Supergirl then invites him into the other room to talk alone.
  • Supergirl tells Winn that from her last encounter, she learned that Psi deals in fear. She confesses what Psi made her relive, and seems newly traumatized in the retelling. Winn tries to comfort her, but Supergirl won’t let him. She confirms that he can use her information to work on something to help against Psi, she makes him promise not to tell Alex or J’onn what she told him so that they don’t worry, and she walks out.
  • At home, Sam talks to Ruby about the violence at school. Ruby says she punched the girl after being called a liar. She was called a liar, because she told this girl that her mother has superpowers, and saved her at the waterfront. Sam denies she has powers again, but Ruby wants her to admit it. When Sam won’t, Ruby storms away upset.
  • Over at CatCo, Lena confronts Kara about her recent inconsistency at work. Lena thinks Kara is upset about Mon-El. When Kara says she’s not, and Lena asks her what’s wrong as a friend, Kara blows up at her, saying that she doesn’t want to talk about her personal problems at work. Lena then pulls the boss card, calling Kara out on being a crappy employee, and orders her to go interview a contact that she found for a story.
  • A shamed Kara agrees to go, but as she walks to the elevator, she gets a call that Psi is at it again. As she’s about to change into Supergirl, she finds herself stricken with fear again, and cowers in the elevator. She pulls herself out of it and flies out through the top of the elevator and out of the building. However, she’s missed her chance, and Psi has escaped again.

image: The CW

  • At the DEO, Winn tells Supergirl that there’s no sign that Psi tampered with her in the CatCo elevator, and he suspects that she had a good ol’ fashioned panic attack. She gets defensive, claiming that she’s stronger than that, and that she couldn’t possibly have. Before Winn can try and convince her, Alex enters because J’onn has asked for Winn, but sees Supergirl with him and gets suspicious. When Supergirl leaves, Alex intimidates Winn into telling her what’s going on.
  • Sam is on the phone with her new job, telling them that she’s going to have to reschedule her meetings, because she has to take care of her daughter. She’s gotten pizza for dinner, and she goes up to Ruby’s room to bring her down to eat, but Ruby’s not there. Sam texts Ruby asking where she is. Meanwhile, Ruby is at the pizza place eating a slice. She gets her mother’s text and ignores it.
  • Kara is in her apartment doing some Kryptonian meditation to strengthen her mind when Alex comes over. Winn has told her what’s been going on with Kara, which annoys Kara. Kara reveals a deep shame that she can’t stop Psi, and that the things that used to make her happy, or calm her down now don’t. Alex tells her that her fears don’t define her, and that she will always be there for Kara. SISTER HUG!
  • Psi robs an armored car near the pizza place where Ruby is eating. As the police attempt to apprehend her, Psi stops them with all manner of fear and flying objects, including a nearby wrecking ball. Ruby watches from the restaurant, then texts her mother a pin on a map with her location and a message: Save me, mom.
  • At the DEO, Winn gives Supergirl a psionic inhibitor ray that should stop Psi from having an effect on her. Supergirl flies to Psi to stop her. Meanwhile, Sam arrives and spots Ruby, who has purposely walked into danger. Sam runs to her just as the wrecking ball is about to land on her, but before we can see what would happen with Sam protecting Ruby, Supergirl flies in and moves the wrecking ball.

image: The CW

  • Supergirl confronts Psi again and attempts to use the inhibitor ray…but it doesn’t work. Psi takes her down again, this time, flinging her away.
  • Alex runs to where Supergirl landed as Supergirl freaks out. She’s thinking of Mon-El, and that it’s him in the pod where she was seeing herself before. She panics that she’s killed Mon-El by sending him out there, and convinces herself that he’s dead. Alex talks her down, reminding her that, just as her mother put her in a pod to save her, Supergirl did the same for Mon-El. She’s sure he’s alive. Supergirl is eventually convinced that she did indeed save him. She manages to pick herself up again.
  • Supergirl gets to Psi with a second wind. Psi tries to mind-trick her again, but this time, it doesn’t work. Psi is confused. Why isn’t Supergirl cowering in fear anymore? Because the thing that she was most scared of was a lie, and lies are nothing to fear. “Mind over matter,” Supergirl says, a callback to what Psi said to her earlier in the episode, right before delivering a glorious HEAD BUTT.
  • Alex arrives on the scene and consoles Ruby and Sam, whom she remembered from the waterfront. Maggie comments on the fact that Alex was good with Ruby, and Alex alludes to the fact that she’s great with kids and is looking forward to when they have kids. There’s only one problem…Maggie doesn’t want kids. Uh-oh.
  • In the ambulance, Sam asks Ruby why she put herself in danger, and why it’s so important that she have superpowers. It comes out that Ruby misses her overworked mom and wants to spend more time with her, so she hoped that her mom had superpowers so she could just go around saving people and not have to work. Sam is touched, though she continues to deny superpowers. Ruby asks, “Do you think Supergirl has a job.” DOES she…

image: Robert Falconer/The CW

  • At CatCo, Kara apologizes to Lena for not being a good employee, and for being an even worse friend when Lena was only trying to help her. They hug. Lena then introduces her to a new employee: it’s Sam! Actually, Samantha Arias, who will be taking over the day-to-day operations for Lena at L Corp while Lena runs CatCo. Sam is grateful that Lena’s been so understanding of her issues with her daughter.
  • Later that evening, Sam is at home trying to wind down. When she tries to turn on a lamp, and the bulb has gone out, she goes to get a replacement bulb. She also takes a moment while Ruby’s not around her to attempt to bend a crowbar with her bare hands. She can’t.
  • As Lena leaves CatCo for the evening, James is smiling at her. She says goodbye, and he watches her leave.
  • At Kara’s apartment, she and Alex sit watching The Wizard of Oz. When Kara asks Alex if she and Maggie figured out if they’re getting a band or DJ, Alex says they haven’t yet, not telling her about the other thing she and Maggie don’t agree on.
  • And lastly, J’onn is enjoying a drink at the alien dive bar, when suddenly M’gann reaches out to him telepathically. She tells him that he needs to come to Mars right away. Whaaaaat?!

image: Robert Falconer/The CW


Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. Mostly, because it was an amazing depiction someone dealing with mental illness, and I thought it an amazing choice to have Kara go through something like this. It’s funny, because at first, I found myself getting angry with Kara for refusing to admit that she had a problem, or for feeling shame, or for not accepting help…until I realized that she was behaving like so many of my friends who wrestle with things like depression, being bipolar, or anxiety. Hell, in many ways she reminded me of me, and I don’t battle any of those things.

Once again, Melissa Benoist was bringing her A-game, performance-wise, and the scene at the end where she’s convinced that Mon-El is dead was riveting. I was heartbroken both by her sadness, and then by the nearly childlike way she accepted the truth from Alex and found it in herself to stand up again. She was so small and so wounded at that moment, and yet found so much strength.

Jane the Virgin‘s Yael Grobglas was an amazing guest star, and made an absolutely fascinating villain. While I know that Psi exists in the DC universe, I was unfamiliar with the character coming into this, and I was enthralled by Grobglas’ portrayal. She had me really curious about how a woman could possibly turn into this, and I hope they find a way to bring her back, as I really enjoyed the dynamic between her and Supergirl.

I love how Alex and Maggie’s relationship trouble is being handled, and their disagreements feel lived-in and real. I also love the choice to have Lena at CatCo full time. It both provides an opportunity for her and Kara to interact more and provided a really organic way for Sam and Ruby to be more firmly ensconced in the show.

OK, so here’s what I wasn’t crazy about. First, can we talk about the fact that Supergirl just TOTALLY WRECKED a CatCo elevator, elevator shaft, and roof…and no one mentions it?

And second, they seemed to just leave James and Lena hanging without any sort of resolution between them regarding James’ resentment and/or Lena stepping on his toes. I was expecting some moment of understanding between them as the once and future bosses of the company. Instead, we got goo-goo eyes from James. Now, as of the last episode, I sensed that they were starting to try and build a James/Lena relationship, and I can totally get on board for that…if it’s handled well.

When in the corporate meeting in last week’s episode, James and Lena seemed to back each other up and have a great rapport. In this episode, they were suddenly hostile to each other and then never really addressed it before moving forward. And then that look that James gives Lena as she walks out of the office. What the hell was that?

“Triggers” tackled some really heavy themes and relationship issues really well, and featured outstanding performances by Benoist as Supergirl and Grobglas as Psi. I just really hope they can iron out the kinks in the James/Lena relationship. And when the hell is anyone going to mention that there’s a huge hole ripped into the elevator?

What did you think? Were you into “Triggers?” Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8PM ET/PT on The CW.

(image: The CW)

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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.