“Supergirl’s” winter finale, “Hostile Takeover” was an exciting end to this maiden season. Filled with new revelations and a mighty cliffhanger, it’s going to be difficult to wait for the show’s return in January. Last week we watched an upset Winn (Jeremy Jordan) storm out after he saw Kara (Melissa Benoist) and James (Mehcad Brooks) in a suggestive hug, we were shocked by the startling revelation that DEO Director Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) is really Martian Manhunter and witnessed the not so surprising return of Astra (Laura Benanti) and her evil goons.
Astra spent most of the episode playing a long game of subterfuge while revealing new backstory to the demise of Krypton and Kara’s childhood. She begins by playing into Kara’s insecurities over her orphan status, telling her they need to be a family. Kara brushes her off but is clearly left with questions. Astra returns later and makes her presence known to the general public as she hovers over National City. She and Kara engage in a fight but Kara wins and drags her unconscious aunt back to the DEO.
Once in DEO custody, Astra reveals that she still carries a toy from Krypton with special meaning to both her and Kara. Kara softens at the sight and Astra presses on, claiming that Alura manipulated her daughter into setting the trap that led to her capture. Once detained on Krypton, Astra and her husband Non (Chris Vance) were sent into the Phantom Zone for high treason. But was it actually treason? Astra was apparently part of a Green Peace type organization that wanted to prevent the destruction of Krypton but their methodology was draconian. She claims that she has a similar plan for Earth and needs Kara to act as a public relations spin master to smooth the way with the human population.
Kara spends much of this episode conflicted over what she remembers, what her mother’s AI has told her, and the new story from Astra. This “hostile takeover” of emotions leaves her both edgy and defensive as she wades through what she thought was true versus what she wants to believe. Kara’s explosive scene with the Alura AI reveals that her underlying abandonment issues weigh heavily on her heart. In a strange turn of events, Cat Grant is the one to help Kara find a sense of peace with her situation.
From the outset of the episode we see that CatCo Worldwide Media has been the target of a nasty email hack. Curiously, it’s only Cat Grant’s personal emails that have been released to the media. And can we just appreciate the fact that Cat’s stress food of choice are peanut M&M’s? Things get even more interesting when the board and corporate attorneys gather to discuss the issue. President Dick Armstrong (Peter Mackenzie) comes across as a smarmy, creepy character that warrants further scrutiny. Cat instructs Kara, Winn and James to comb her emails to see what other embarrassing issues might be released so that she can stay ahead of the news. The three colleagues stumble across a son, Adam, that Cat had secreted away from the world.
Cat explains that the child was born during her rise to power and that the child’s father wanted to distance himself and their son from her workaholic tendencies. Cat laments about her decision to not fight hard enough to keep her child close, giving into the belief that he’d be happier without her. This personal revelation comes just as Kara is struggling with her own misgivings about her mother’s decision to send her away from Krypton. Both women use their heart-to-heart conversation to work through lingering personal issues. Cat decides in a moment of clarity to step down from the company rather than risk her child being dragged through a media circus.
But wait! Hold the presses! Kara, James and Winn had a plan to rescue their boss from the hostile corporate takeover that seemed so close at hand. In a case of hacking the hackers, two timing the two timers, Kara acts as lookout, James plants a remote transmitter to collect Dirk’s emails and Winn recovers the necessary information. Brilliantly planned, exciting to watch and the death knell delivered by Cat to Dirk felt so good I wanted to hug my television.
Besides the personal and corporate coup d’etat going on, there was also the more straightforward issue of Kryptonians versus Humans. Astra and her henchmen have returned stronger and smarter than ever. They’ve fashioned tactical wear that protects them from kryptonite, allowing them to use their superpowers unhindered and giving them a marked advantage over their DEO counterparts. This leads me to the two issues I had with this episode.
First, the dialogue between Astra and Non as they discuss their plans for Earth is so bad I groaned aloud. It was completely out of character for this show to have such poor writing that I wondered if maybe an intern had accidentally slipped that scene in without anyone the wiser. The actors were exaggerating the articulation of each word and attacking the sounds like a wild animal on a fresh kill. It was painful to the ears and terrible to watch. Maybe it was a case of both Laura Benanti and Chris Vance being uncomfortable with one another but dear Lord, someone save them!
Second, Astra being kidnapped on purpose was a stretch. I know that it enabled the heartfelt confrontation between aunt and niece but I was lost at the end when Hank and Alex (Chyler Leight) decided that she was there as a distraction from impending actions by Non and their alien militia. Nothing in the plot supported this idea. There were no concurrent attacks while she distracted the DEO, no secondary subterfuge to wreak havoc from the inside, and would Hank really assume the threat had been neutralized just because they captured Astra? Seems like a questionable decision to make and uncharacteristic of the DEO Director we’ve come to know.
While there were a few weaknesses in this episode, there were plenty of other strong elements that outshone any missteps. The partnership between Winn, Kara and James is juxtaposed against the odd love triangle that seems to be taking shape. This push-pull makes for a compelling story line and I’m eternally grateful that the writers have kept us guessing each week what will happen next for these friends.
The relationship between Alex and Hank has also solidified and they appear more united in their actions. I did love the moment when Hank revealed that he could read minds, though not those of Kryptonians. Did anyone else see Alex’s face at that moment and wonder what her look of fear and anxiety might be over? If it were me, I’d be wondering if he knew that I had been ogling his ridiculously sculpted glutes when his back was turned. More likely her worry was over the past week’s suspicions that Hank was involved with her father’s death. Regardless of the facts, I wouldn’t mind an Alex/Hank/Maxwell love triangle.
Speaking of Maxwell Lord, wasn’t he dapper as he rushed in to confront Non and his evil army? Oozing confidence and sporting a steely glare Maxwell was still no match for Non, but it was a great moment for him. The DEO storms in and Non orders his army to kill them all. It’s an uneven battle where the Kyrptonians have the upper hand with their flying abilities, toxic breath and cloning skills. Then as Alex bends down to check on an unconscious Maxwell, Non takes aim at her. Supergirl arrives just in the knick of time, realizes who her adversary is and the two rush toward one another. And THAT is where the finale ends.
I may not understand why we need a “finale” for a two week break in this show, but it was such an exciting episode that I’m not really complaining. We finally saw James and Winn discuss their intentions toward Kara and I was pleased that James encouraged Winn to risk everything and ask her out. The sudden realization by Cat that her assistant Kara was actually Supergirl is going to play heavily the rest of the season and I can’t begin to guess how it will change the dynamics of their relationship. Hank’s secret identity is sure to come into play and the DEO is going to have to step up their game if they’re going to present a force strong enough to take down Astra’s army of misfits. For now, though, we wait, enjoy the holiday season and come back January 4th 2016 to see where we’ll go next with “Supergirl.”
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