Once again, we’re picking up right where the last episode left off, with Kara joining the fight between the DEO and the Kryptonians. Kara takes on Non, Astra’s husband, but after a few hits they both fall to the ground. J’onn tries to intervene to help Kara, and Non grabs him and flies off with the rest of the Kryptonians. Maxwell orders the DEO to leave the premises and refuses to tell them what the Kryptonians might have wanted. Hm.
Alex is made directer of the DEO in J’onn’s absence. Kara questions Astra about where Non has taken J’onn, to no avail. Because Kara has chosen to side against her, Astra won’t tell her anything. Later, however, Non contacts the DEO, offering to trade J’onn for Astra.
At Catco, Kara tells James and Winn that Cat now suspects she’s Supergirl in a scene that’s actually pretty funny.
Aw, Kara is adorable. It’s basically a running joke at this point that Kara is terrible at keeping her cover most of the time and it’s amazing that she’s managed to go undiscovered for so long. Bless her.
Unfortunately for Kara, things soon spiral even further out of her control. General Lane and his men have come to the DEO to question Astra themselves. Their methods? Injecting Astra with Kryptonite if she doesn’t give them answers. Torture. Weakened by the presence of Kryptonite, Kara is unable to physically stop them and they won’t listen to her objections. However Kara feels about her aunt, it’s horrifying to see her being tortured like this.
To make matters worse, James has tried to investigate Lord Technologies earlier in the episode but was ordered off the premises by Maxwell. So, Winn offers to help James bypass Maxwell’s security cameras, but James ends up being caught anyway, is beaten up pretty badly, and then gets thrown out of the building. So. Maxwell Lord is terrible. In case we needed a reminder. And yeah I know James was technically trespassing but I still don’t think that justifies tying him to a chair and hitting him repeatedly. Seriously Max just calm down.
But wait, that’s not the only bad thing that’s happening. Cat is still thinks that Kara is Supergirl, and Kara is unable to convince her otherwise despite her best efforts, and Cat has decided on something. She’s decided that working as her assistant means that Supergirl is wasting time that could be spent helping people. She tells Kara that unless she can prove that she is in fact not Supergirl by the end of the day, she will be fired. Jesus. Like, of course Cat is right about Kara being Supergirl, but what if she wasn’t? What if she was literally just firing a normal, innocent woman? How is Kara supposed to prove she isn’t Supergirl? She can’t, of course, so she tells Cat this instead:
“I know you want me to tell you I’m Supergirl, but I can’t do that. What I can tell you is that this job, this place, is more important to me than you realize. Whenever I’m confused or overwhelmed, I come in your office and you somehow sense it. It’s like your superpower. I know I’m not going to be your assistant for the rest of my life, but I do know whatever I do next will be easier because of everything you taught me.”
Kara voicing her appreciation for Cat will be the death of me.
So, with everything going on, Kara’s feeling emotional and powerless. It seems like nothing is going right and there’s nothing Kara can do to fix any of it. She finds out about James’ injuries and it’s the last straw for her. She declares that Maxwell Lord is evil (duh), and she’s going to go after him herself and do whatever it takes to stop him. Winn points out that Kara is sounding a lot like Astra right now.
Winn: If you go after Maxwell Lord like this, then you know what, you’re just proving him right. That you are no different from Astra or Non.
Kara: What if I’m not so different?
Winn: You have to be, Kara. Because if you aren’t, then we lose.
For the question of whether Kara is any different from Astra or Non… yeah, yeah she is? There’s a pretty huge difference between wanting to take out one evil dude who just injured one of your friends and killing a bunch of people in the name of environmentalism. I mean I get what Winn is saying, that this will only reflect badly on Supergirl and give people more reasons to distrust her, but still. Really not the same thing.
You know what’s interesting? Astra and Maxwell Lord have similar methods, though different goals and motivations. Both of them operate under the philosophy that the ends justify the means. If they’re fighting for a good cause (or what they believe is a good cause, in Maxwell’s case), does it matter if some of the actions they take are immoral? If it all leads to good, isn’t it justified? There’s no simple answer, especially because there’s no telling how far you can go with that philosophy and so much of it depends on circumstance. You could justify doing almost anything if you believe that it will ultimately bring about good, and that’s kind of the problem. What couldn’t you justify? Where do you draw the line, if there even is one?
Kara has another visit with Astra, this time a more positive one. Astra reveals that Alura did know about the crisis Krypton was faced with.
Alura: Astra, please look at me. I believe you. I believe Krypton faces annihilation. And far sooner than anyone here will admit.
Astra: Then why condemn me?
Alura: Because you killed people, Astra. No matter what noble goals you hid behind, nothing will ever change that fact. And I am bound by more than blood in this court. But I promise you, I will fight for your cause, not through fear and manipulation, but through compassion and reason. It is the only hope to save our world. I love you, Astra.
A good point, Alura. Whatever Astra’s intentions were, she still killed people. But Alura’s methods, while they sound nicer and easier to swallow, clearly didn’t work. Krypton still ended up destroyed and they all died anyway. Compassion and reason are all well and good but it’s not right for every situation. Astra’s methods were more violent but what if they were more effective. Is there a middle ground to be taken here? Like, use compassion and reason when you can, but use force when it becomes necessary?
Astra says that the only way to get J’onn back is to go through with the trade, so they do. The DEO and the Kryptonians meet and exchange prisoners. Non had an ambush planned, but Astra calls off the attack, saying that they should honor their agreement with the DEO, though she reminds Supergirl and the DEO that this isn’t a truce.
With J’onn back, Alex and J’onn think that they might have a solution to Kara’s problem with Cat. They tell her about J’onn’s real identity, the reveal this time is more comedic than dramatic and it’s also much shorter, so as to not be repetitive. We already got a dramatic reveal with Alex, we don’t need another one.
Anyway, their solution is to have J’onn shapeshift into Supergirl, and for him and Kara to both visit Cat at the same time. Once Cat sees Kara and what looks like Supergirl in the same room, she has to drop the idea of them being the same person. Kara can keep her job and keep her identity secret. I’ll be honest, that development was disappointing to me. I was really excited by the idea of Cat knowing Kara was Supergirl and what that would mean for them and for the show as a whole from here on out, and instead they’re taking it all back? Boo.
Oh, and we get to see what Maxwell Lord has been up to. Sort of. We don’t have all of the details of what he’s planning but we see what he’s so intent on hiding. We see that he has a comatose girl in his custody. The girl has no family or friends or connections of any kind, which is exactly what Max wanted. Already this is really disturbing and gross and when we actually do find out his plans… yeah they’re pretty disturbing and gross.
As a whole, I think this is one of the weaker episodes, though it’s still not bad. It starts out fine and then just kind of goes downhill. I guess in the end it just feels like this episode didn’t really accomplish anything. We learn a bit more about Astra and Alura, I suppose, but it’s not much and it’s nothing that surprising. Cat and Kara’s relationship looked like it might have been developing into something bigger but they took a step backward in the end. Blood Bonds and Hostile Takeover might as well have been one episode, Blood Bonds doesn’t serve much purpose on its own, it seems.
I guess what this episode does do is open up some questions about Kara and the Kryptonians. Is she different from them, and if she is what makes her different? Can she honor her ties to the only family she has left without compromising her personal morals and sense of justice? Those are interesting questions to ponder and I’m glad that we’re not given a straightforward answer.