At the end of the last episode, we saw Kara return to her apartment , where she found a weird alien substance there. While she was distracted, a plant-like thing attacks her. Now Kara seems to be coming to after falling unconscious, and when she opens her eyes, she appears to be back on Krypton. Her mother, Alura, is there to greet her.
At Catco, Winn and James are trying to cover for Kara. Cat believes that Kara is simply avoiding her after the drama with Adam, but Winn and James think there’s probably something else going on. They call Alex and the three of them go to Kara’s apartment, where they find her unconscious but still alive, with the weird plant-like alien attached to her. They take her to the DEO, though Winn and James are quickly sent back to Catco so they can continue covering for Kara. No one at the DEO knows what the plant could be. Even when they interrogate Maxwell Lord about it, he claims he had nothing to do with it, and he seems to be telling the truth. It’s not like he’d get anything out of lying at this point anyway. When they attempt to pull the plant off of Kara, it nearly kills her.
The plant, which they call the Black Mercy, was apparently sent to Kara from Non. Astra disapproves of the idea. She made a deal not to harm Kara, and she still cares for her niece deeply. Hm. Maybe Astra’s resolve is starting to crack?
Winn and James are doing a pretty bad job of keeping Cat off Kara’s trail. Well, it’s mostly Winn’s fault. Dude is a really bad liar, or at least he’s bad at thinking of a decent lie on the fly. It’s pretty funny to watch, actually. Except Cat tells him that she knows he and James are trying to cover for Kara and she’s not going to stand for it. If Kara doesn’t show up for work within the hour, she’s fired.
Well, obviously getting Kara to work in less than an hour is going to be impossible, so they have to come up with a new idea. J’onn J’onzz is going to shapeshift into Kara, and take her place at work until she’s free of the Black Mercy. So, this is a fun scene, because it’s basically Mellissa Benoist playing J’onn J’onzz playing Kara Danvers. That must be really hard to pull off and Melissa Benoist pulls it off fairly well. The way she walks and talks, her stiff way of standing, her mannerisms, it all looks and sounds like J’onn J’onzz, yet there’s just the right amount of awkwardness in there to remind us that this is J’onn J’onzz trying to imitate Kara. He talks to Cat way too formally, he swings his arms too much when he walks. He can’t keep up with the fast-talking Cat and misses details that are second nature to Kara, like the fact that Cat hates whole milk.
J’onn: I’m an elite agent of an intergalactic paramilitary force. I think I can handle Cat Grant.
No, dude, you really can’t and it’s hilarious.
Meanwhile, Alex is doing everything she can to figure out how to free Kara from the Black Mercy. She tries asking the holographic Alura, giving it an impassioned and rather touching speech about how much Kara means to her, but the hologram has no information on the Black Mercy.
She then tries going back to Kara’s apartment in case they missed anything, and it’s there that she finds Astra waiting for her. Astra says that she doesn’t want to fight Alex, she came to help Kara. Alex isn’t sure she should trust Astra, but it’s not like she has any other options here. Astra says that to wake up, Kara has to reject the Black Mercy’s fantasy world herself.
The problem is, the longer Kara stays in that fantasy world, the more she forgets her life on Earth. And the fantasy world is just so tempting, it’s giving Kara the chance to have a life on Krypton again, to be where she truly fits in. It’s easier to just stay there, forget Alex and her friends, forget she was Supergirl. That’s why Alex needs to go into the fantasy world too, to convince Kara to come back.
Yanking Kara out of her paradise is likely going to be traumatizing, so Winn and James are called in to the DEO to be there when Kara wakes up. Using their virtual reality tech, Alex will be able to project herself into Kara’s fantasy world. She makes James promise not to pull her out before Kara is freed, no matter how much trouble she appears to be in.
J’onn also needs to find some way of getting out of Catco so he can be there as well. What he does is ask Cat for the rest of the day off. After being three hours late. This doesn’t go over well with Cat, but it gets worse. J’onn tries fake crying to get sympathy, which… God, J’onn, you really know nothing about Cat, do you? Cat does give him the day off, but only because she’s so disgusted with “Kara” that she wants her out of her sight. So. J’onn just made everything a hundred times worse, basically.
When Alex arrives in the fantasy world, she quickly finds Kara and tries to approach her. Unfortunately, Kara doesn’t seem to remember her at all. Alex is thought to be an alien spy and is put on trial, where Alex tries to convince Kara that the fantasy world isn’t real. I really like this scene, because we’ve never really seen Alex this emotional before. Not that she’s never shown any vulnerabilities or emotions before, of course she has, but they’ve always been pretty subtle and controlled, and they usually manifest as anger more than anything. But here, Alex is sobbing. She’s begging Kara to remember her, to remember her friends and family, to remember Earth. She’s desperate and wild, she’s fighting off the guards who are trying to silence her, she’s scrambling over her words and trying to say as much as she can as fast as she can.
Something about Alex’s desperation is poignant, because we’ve never really seen her like this. She’s often so pragmatic, but when it comes to her sister Alex, for lack of a better phrase, has no fucking chill.
I can’t promise you a life without pain and loss because pain is a part of life. It’s what makes us who we are. It is what makes you a hero. You fight every day to keep people from struggling like you have. I know you can remember, please… If you try, please… Please try, Kara. Because Earth needs Supergirl.
Supergirl. The name means something to Kara, and she starts to remember Earth again. As painful as it is, as much as she wants this fantasy to be real, she rejects it. The Black mercy removes itself from Kara, and she wakes up. It’s over.
So now Kara is pisssed. Well. Okay, first she’s just kind of numb. But then she gets pissed. What she had to go through because of Non is absolutely devastating. She had to lose her planet and her family all over again. Not only that, she had to push them away herself. She faces off against Non, angrier and in more pain than we’ve ever seen her. Like, if Supergirl was ever going to actually kill someone, it would be here. She is brutal in her fight with Non. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but it’s not usually Supergirl’s style.
While this is going on, Alex confronts Astra. She and Non have some plan, known as “Myriad”. It’s unclear what the plan is exactly, but Non does say “Humanity is a disease. Myriad is the cure,” so it’s a safe bet that the plan involves wiping out humanity. The question is how, and of course we’re not going to find that out yet. Astra, however, doesn’t seem to have her heart in this plan anymore. At least, not completely. It’s still in it enough for her to attack Alex and J’onn (who joins the fight to help Alex), and she comes very close to killing J’onn.
The only reason she doesn’t is because Alex stabs her through the chest with a Kryptonite blade.
Non flees the scene, and Alex calls Kara over to where Astra is dying. Before Alex can explain what happened, J’onn takes the blame for killing Astra. Kara only has a few seconds to say goodbye to her aunt.
Kara: Astra, I have to tell you, when I was under the Black Mercy, you were there.
Astra: As your enemy.
Kara: As my family.
It’s heartbreaking that this is how things end with Astra, because I do think if she’d been giving more time, she might have come around to Kara’s side. She obviously loved her niece and I honestly believe that Astra’s intentions were good. The reason I’m emphasizing the word “intentions” there is because intent is very different from effect and very different from method. There’s no denying that Astra made decisions and took actions that were destructive and harmful, but I don’t think she was a wholly bad person and I think that she could have been redeemed. She was starting to show signs of a wavering resolve. Alex killed Astra to defend J’onn, because Alex is a soldier, not a superhero. In her eyes, not everyone can be saved, and sometimes killing is necessary. But it’s sad, and I think Alex thinks so too, that things ended that way. Maybe more time was all that Astra needed. They’ll never know.
Alex: Sir. Why did you lie to Kara?
J’onn: Because you’re Supergirl’s hero. And I don’t want her to see you as anything other than that.
That’s the other heartbreaking thing. Alex killed someone who Kara loved, whatever faults she had. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to know that.
The drama over, Kara, Alex, James and Winn (who officially makes up with Kara, thankfully) meet up at Kara’s apartment to celebrate. It’s a pretty bittersweet celebration, though. Kara feels that she has to explain why her perfect fantasy world was on Krypton, because, get this, she’s afraid she must have hurt her friends’ feelings by fantasizing about Krypton. God, Kara is too pure.
Still, Kara’s explanation is an important one. She fantasized about Krypton because lately, her life on Earth has been complicated and painful. It was easier to escape to Krypton in her mind, where she could feel normal. But Kara loves her life on Earth, and despite all of its complications she wouldn’t want to trade it for anything.
Earlier in the episode, Kara told Non that even though she was born on Krypton, Earth is her home and she has chosen to protect it. The whole purpose of this episode is in that one line. There will always be a part of Kara that mourns Krypton and wonders what her life would be if it hadn’t been destroyed, but Kara loves Earth. She could have stayed in her fantasy world, but she chose Earth, and that’s significant.
To wrap up, I really like this episode. High emotional stakes, an interesting story (I like stories about alternate realities and the like), and some comic relief that is funny without undermining the more serious parts of the episode. I can’t ask for much more than that.