The episode opens with Kara narrating a letter, though we’re not given context until a bit later on.
Winn is still avoiding Kara. He’s civil when she tries to talk to him, but he tells her that he wants to be left alone for now. As much as it’s sad and awkward, I like that Winn doesn’t just get over it right away, that he’s allowed to be upset about what is an upsetting situation. At the same time, I like that he doesn’t explicitly or implicitly blame Kara for any of it. It’s too hard for him to talk to right now, but he’s not hostile, just distant. Kara misses her friend and she wishes more than anything that things could go back to normal, and I definitely feel bad for her, but there’s nothing she can do except respect the fact that he wants some time alone.
While Kara is getting a latte for Cat, a guy in the cafe overhears that she works for Cat and starts asking about her.
Man: I’m sorry. That you have to work for Cat Grant. I hear she’s a piece of work. A reputation she proudly fosters. Is she really as horrible as everyone says? You know, breathes fire. Eats babies.
Kara: Ms. Grant is tough, but she’s amazing. Not only at her job, but as a person. She’s pretty bad ass.
Women standing up for women 👌👌👌😍👏👏👌👏💯👏👏💯💯👌👌💯👌
Who is that guy, though? He’s seen waiting in Cat’s office shortly after this, and Cat recognizes him. He’s Adam Foster, Cat’s son. He’s come to town for a few days to see Cat, and they agree to have dinner together. Cat is surprised to see Adam, but Adam mentioned having received a letter from her. Turns out the letter Kara was dictating at the beginning of the episode was a letter that Cat started writing to Adam but didn’t finish.
Kara: Well, you’ve been writing a lot of letters, but then throwing them away. And last week you threw one, I won’t say at my head, but in my general direction. And I read it, saw it was for Adam, and maybe… I finished it for you. I know. I know this is really bad. I didn’t think he would just show up.
Cat: Who told you to think? You wrote to my son. Now, get out. You’re fired.
Cat’s reaction is expected and justified. Seriously, what Kara did was way out of line and realistically she absolutely should be fired for this. But of course she’s not actually fired. She explains to Cat that she did it to help her (still out of line, Kara), that she didn’t think Cat would ever send the letter herself (still out of line), and that she didn’t want Cat and Adam to miss out on another chance to get to know each other (hey, Kara? Still out of line). Cat is still angry but not enough to actually go through with firing Kara, just enough to promise to make Kara’s life hell.
Meanwhile, Senator Miranda Crane is holding an anti-alien rally that Cat wants James to cover, because in her words “while bigots will always take the gold on the medal podium of my contempt, they make excellent click-bait”. Hm. Guess I can’t argue with that, but I still think it’s counterproductive to give them so much media attention. The rally is interrupted when a White Martian shows up and wreaks havoc. White Martians are a subterranean race responsible for wiping out J’onn J’onzz’s race on Mars. Supergirl manages to save Senator Crane and bring her back to the DEO, but there’s no sign of the White Martian anywhere.
The appearance of the White Martian is unsettling to J’onn, not just because of their history but because he blames himself for luring it to the rally. He says that as Martians, they share a mental link. If J’onn uses his powers or assumes his true form, the White Martian can sense it. He knows it must have sensed him at Lord Technologies and tracked him to the rally.
As for dinner with Adam, it’s very awkward. Adam gets annoyed because Cat is mostly talking about herself, but to be honest I think he’s being a bit unfair about this. He wasn’t saying a lot even when she asked him questions. What was she supposed to do? Still, this one conversation is indicative of a bigger problem, the one that they can’t avoid. Cat wasn’t there for Adam for most of his life, and it’s not so simple to erase all of the pain that caused him. Cat says that it was what was best for Adam, at that point in her life she wasn’t ready to be a mom. For Adam, though, it’s hard to see how it was best for him when it hurt so much. It only sounds like it was best for Cat.
James managed to get some photos of the White Martian attack, and while he and Kara examine the photos they notice a strange glow in Senator Crane’s eyes. Kara realizes that the Crane at the DEO must really be a White Martian taking her form. Back at the DEO, J’onn comes to the same conclusion. “Crane” tells him that she knows of an alien mole within the DEO, and that she wants him to conduct an investigation. J’onn becomes suspicious when she mentions a White Martian, which the real Crane could not have known the name for. Having been discovered, the White Martian goes on a rampage throughout the building, and unfortunately manages to escape.
Meanwhile, Kara tries to convince Adam to give Cat another chance, by telling him once again that she’s not as bad as her reputation makes her out to be and that she actually has a lot of wonderful qualities beneath her mean exterior. And we get this adorable set of lines.
Adam: You talk about her like she’s Supergirl.
Kara: Well, in some ways, she is.
He agrees to meet with Cat on the condition that Kara must be present as well. Adam and Cat have dinner again, with Kara there to act as a mediator between them. Adam and Cat speak to each other openly about their history, and Cat apologizes very sincerely about not being in Adam’s life. Although things between them are still not perfect, it is a start to improving their relationship.
So that’s basically the end of Cat’s subplot in this episode, except for one tiny thing at the end, but what about J’onn? The White Martian is causing a lot of angst for him (god it’s been forever since I’ve used “angst” in a serious context??), and he goes into more detail about it with Alex and Kara.
J’onn: We fought back. We’d known war. But not like this. White Martians had been toiling underground, building weapons of death. Fire traps. Their technology overwhelmed us. There was no honor in how they fought. They herded us into camps. I swore no matter what, I would protect my family. We would survive. But when we got through the gates, they took the women and children. Men were forced into labor. The others went to the furnace. My wife and daughters burned. I escaped. I survived. To my great shame. I will hear my family’s screams until the day I die.
Shit. I mean… we all knew J’onn had a tragic past, but this is the first time he’s talked about it so personally. I’m glad we’re given a deeper look at it, that we’re able to see how truly emotionally heavy it it. We don’t get that when its only mentioned in passing.
The DEO begins hunting for the White Martian and trying to find the real Senator Crane. Alex is kidnapped by the WM after being tricked by it, so J’onn negotiates a deal with it: his life in exchange for Alex’s. At the meeting, Kara has to talk J’onn out of letting the White Martian kill him. She reminds J’onn that she knows how it feels to have lost everything, and she knows how sometimes it feels like it would be easier to give up.
J’onn: Kara, I’m tired of being the last. Tired of having lived. You, of all people, know how heavy it is to survive.
Kara: I do. I ask myself every day why my mother didn’t crawl into that pod with me. Now I know she felt guilty. She felt responsible for what happened on Krypton. Dying must have seemed honorable. But dying is a lot easier than getting back up when the world’s ended. You have to get up. You have to go on.
I really like this parallel between J’onn and Kara, how they’re both survivors of a dead world. I like that they can both understand each other’s loneliness, they can both understand the guilt that comes with being the only survivor. I wonder how often Kara felt like giving up, how often she wished she had died on Krypton. Once again though, Kara’s strength lies in her ability to be optimistic despite the tragedy of her past. She can never ignore her grief, but she’s able to draw goodness from it, and she tries to impart this on J’onn.
Then there’s an awkward bit where J’onn tries to kill the White Martian and Kara talks him out of that too because killing the WM makes him “just as bad” or whatever and… okay look I really dislike that way of thinking. I don’t agree with the idea that killing a terrible irredeemable villain makes the hero as bad as them and whenever a hero says something like that I always kind of roll my eyes. And I definitely don’t agree that a Green Martian killing one White Martian makes that Green Martian bad when you consider the fact that White Martians are responisble for the genocide of the Green Martians. It’s just not the same. I’m not saying heroes should murder every villain and antagonist indiscriminately, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s as black and white as it’s often made out to be and I don’t know what it says about me as a person, maybe it’s nothing good, but I still think that sometimes killing the villain is not only necessary but justifiable, but that’s also a really complex discussion that I don’t feel like getting into now so. Yeah.
The White Martian is brought back to the DEO and is kept in captivity, though it says that there are more of its kind out there. The real Senator Crane is alive and safe, and has had a change of heart because of the experience. She’s not exactly completely pro-alien but she does publicly acknowledge that she was hasty in her judgments and that there is still a lot to learn about aliens before any action can be taken. I actually kind of like that her stance, while it’s moving toward something more positive, has not done a complete 180 over night. She seems genuine about wanting to learn more and do better, but she still has a long way to go, which is really more realistic than if she was suddenly 100% pro-alien. Bigotry takes a while to unlearn.
Adam is staying in town for a while longer and he asks Kara out on a date, which is incredibly awkward and oh god why. I remember Supercat shippers being made very uncomfortable because of this plotline. At this point in the show, I wasn’t particularly drawn to any ship. I liked multiple ships, including Supercat, more or less equally but there wasn’t any one ship that I was really rooting for personally, I was pretty passive about them. Still, even I felt weird about the idea of Adam/Kara. Just… no, thanks.
Oh, and there’s someone who looks an awful lot like Supergirl causing trouble in National City and ruining Supergirl’s reputation, so that’s our cliffhanger for the next episode!
I’m mixed on this episode as a whole. I liked that J’onn got to be in the spotlight, and we got to explore more of his past and get a better sense of who he is and how tragedy has affected him. The White Martian, while not particularly interesting as a character, provided a kind of tension and excitement that not a lot of villains so far have, so I did enjoy that as well.
What I’m not so fond of is the stuff with Adam and Cat. Cat herself is great as usual, honestly I don’t think I’ve ever not enjoyed Cat in any episode, and her story in this episode is at the very least an interesting idea. The problem is Adam himself. He’s just kind of bland, and I don’t think he contributes much. Even as character development for Cat, he’s just not that interesting. Honestly, I don’t think we really needed to meet him? It’s nice for Cat to get a second chance with him but I don’t think he particularly contributes to her growth because we already know that Cat is capable of being a good, loving mother to Carter. Adam just… didn’t add much for me, and he’s not very interesting on his own.
So, it’s a pretty good episode overall, there’s some stuff I really like and some stuff I feel “meh” about, but the stuff I like overpowers what I didn’t like.