Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 18, “Ace Reporter”
Man, it’s been a long couple of weeks. The Fandomentals darling Supergirl returned from its second hiatus this season last night, and it really came out of the gates swinging. From guest star Rahul Kohli (and his magnificent beard) as Jack Spheer, to Kara adjusting to life as an independent reporter, to more Lena Luthor than you can shake a stick at, we certainly hope this episode will be a tone-setter for the last few episodes of season two. Elizabeth’s usual co-writer Gretchen is taking a break from the Supergirl recaps to work on her other amazing projects, so Fanfinity editor and Ladies First co-host Kori will be filling in for her for the rest of season two. Let’s jump in, shall we?
The episode opens with a signature flying sequence that may have gotten a bit of an excited squeal out of Elizabeth. Kara arrives at the DEO 200% ready to work, but shockingly, all the criminals are taking a long weekend or something. Alex suggests that it might be something in the water. With no rogue aliens to hunt down, J’onn settles into a nice stack of paperwork, Winn busies himself with programming tasks, Alex heads off for Thursday morning knife practice (awesome), and Kara goes home to try her hand at baking in an effort to kill some time and stop herself from climbing the walls from boredom.
There’s a knock at the door (it’s locked for once!), and it’s our favorite CEO, Lena Luthor. It turns out her ex, Jack Spheer, is going to be in town to present a conference about a new medical breakthrough, and Lena asks Kara to accompany her for emotional support. Lena explains that she and Jack Spheer ran a startup together for five years, and dated for two. Despite having helped design Jack’s new project, Lena is not out for credit or revenge; she’s genuinely happy for his success. The world would be a much nicer place if more people had that kind of attitude. We’re sure Kara is very proud.
At the conference, Kara and Lena just so happen to sit right behind the press row, and of course, Snapper Carr is sitting right in front of Kara. He takes a few potshots at Kara’s blog, and Kara actually manages to muster a decent comeback! Err. It’s nowhere near the level of Cat Grant, Snapper, or even Lena, but she’s learning! Maybe someday you’ll develop that quick, razor wit, Kara. We believe in you!
Jack Spheer makes the kind of dramatic stage entrance that Steve Jobs would be proud of. He demonstrates his new product by slicing his hand open in front of the audience and then allowing his new swarm of medical nanobots to stitch the wound shut in seconds. The crowd is, of course, properly impressed. Jack asks the audience for questions, and Kara pops up like a daisy in spring, soldiering on with her question about FDA regulations even when she gets flustered, and Snapper tries to hijack her question (rude.)
Kara and Lena meet Jack after the presentation and Kara buys a clue to leave Jack and Lena alone to have a chat. On her way downstairs, she meets Joe, a whistleblower who wants to talk to Kara alone to give her information about Biomax.
You know where this is going.
But before we get to this poor schmuck’s inevitable doom, we cut to the Guardian, hard at work taking criminals off the streets. To his dismay, he discovers Winn fooling around with Lyra in the Mystery Machine instead of watching his back like he’s supposed to. Lyra announces that she wants to join team vigilante! James is hesitant but tentatively agrees to give her a shot. After all, anyone can be a hero in National City: why not Lyra?
Back to Kara, who is meeting Joe in a dark parking lot, in the rain. Very noir. Joe gives Kara the first unraveling strand of Biomax’s shaky documentation, but before he can say anything else, a swarm of nanobots quite literally blows up the car that he and Kara are in. Well, Kara, you have your story and a crime to solve now.
Understandably upset, she meets James the next day to ask if he can push through a Freedom of Information Act request, only to run into the wall of Snapper Carr. Snapper also plans on submitting a FOIA request and rightfully calls out James’ conflict of interest if he helps Kara.
Kara rescinds her request and leaves, but not before listening in to learn that Snapper is going to meet a whistleblower himself that night.
Back at the office, Lena and Jack have a lovely moment of rekindling the spark. Lena insists it’s “just dinner,” but we know that look.
Cut to Lyra’s first night out with the Vigilante Boys. Guardian stops a robber on his way out of a liquor store but stops attacking once he pulls off the guy’s ski mask and realizes he’s just a teenager. Unfortunately, Lyra doesn’t have the same level of restraint and beats the everloving crap out of the poor kid for several seconds before James is able to stop her. She argues that he’s a criminal that needs to be punished. Both Winn and James disapprove of using such extreme violence against a kid. It’s clear that there is a humongous disagreement over methodology, and we can already tell this is going to cause Drama.
We then catch up to Snapper, whose meeting with one of the supposed test subjects for Biomax is about as successful as Kara’s meeting with Joe. And by that, we mean someone else ends up dead, and Supergirl has to flee with Snapper before the murderbot cloud can come for them too. We’re itchy just thinking about it.
Once she’s got Snapper to a safe location, Kara heads home where Mon-El lets her know that Lena called looking for a potential Rescue Call for her dinner date. Kara, being Kara, decides the best thing to do is to is to crash the date. Partly out of concern for her friend, but also with the intention of probing Jack for information. Cue the awkward!
Kara puts on her best reporter face, but Jack isn’t having it and is understandably evasive with Kara’s questions. Jack says that his breakthrough moment happened while watching a flock of starlings fly together. That’s not… overly simplistic or anything, right? Right? Jack tells Lena that he was thinking of her at that moment, and credits her for his epiphany. D’awww.
Sensing that Kara’s probing is going nowhere, Mon-El moves to excuse himself and Kara from dinner and locks Jack in a very enthusiastic bear hug before leaving. As adorably awkward as it was, it served a bigger purpose: Mon-El snags Jack’s keycard from his pocket!
While Lena and Jack have an intimate moment in Lena’s office, Mon-El and Kara skulk around the Biomax offices like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, or possibly the Scooby gang. Mon-El brings a flashlight and everything. Kara reminds him they don’t need it because she’s got x-ray vision. Kara is able to break into Jack’s computer because he set the password to ‘starling;’ what is it with evil geniuses and easy-to-guess computer passwords? Sentimentality is a really poor basis for network security!
Anyway. Breaking into Jack’s computer reveals that the reason there’s no record of human trials for Biomax is that there were no human trials… other than Jack himself. He injected only himself with the nanobots, and now he’s using them to kill people who try to reveal the truth about the lack of human trials for the project! Dun dun duuuuun.
Kara loads the evidence onto a flash drive, which Jack senses, leading him to cut off his romantic moment with Lena early. The detective twins barely have enough time to grab the flash drive before the nanobots chase them from Jack’s office, but they escape unharmed with the damning evidence in hand.
Kara, being the good friend that she is, goes to Lena first and tells her about what Jack has done before going to the authorities. Lena is skeptical at first, but Kara put on her smart trousers today and brought the video evidence with her. Faced with the damning video evidence, Lena seems convinced. Kara, being
mildly smitten an understanding friend, asks Lena not to confront him for her own safety.
We’re sure there’s no way this is going to get incredibly messy in the next fifteen minutes. Not at all. It’s not like this isn’t a show full of stubborn women who totally listen to what other people tell them, like, 24/7. What? Lena goes to see Jack anyway?
But first, we have to take a brief detour to the alien bar, where Winn has a sitdown with Lyra and explains that her loose cannon ways aren’t going to work with Team Vigilante. She reacts by… completely losing her shit, shattering a beer bottle with her bare hands, and screaming at Winn in front of the entire bar before storming out. It’s… not great. But we’ll get to this in the discussion section. We want to talk about less problematic things first.
Moving forward! We’re going to Catco so that Kara can pay Snapper a visit. Now, we’ve both been less than enthused with how they’ve handled Kara’s journalism career this season, but the last few episodes seemed like they were going to finally address this. And boy, did they!
Coming from a journalism background, Kori feels that Snapper’s dialogue on what makes a good journalist in the second half of this season has cleared her skin, watered her crops… well, you get the idea.
Snapper’s stepped up to become a Cat Grant type of boss for Kara, including holding her feet to the fire when she charges into situations without always thinking through the consequences. This episode brought this back to the foreground, and we get to see Kara owning up to her mistakes and realizing that the truth is more important than her ego.
After apologizing for her bullheadedness and impulsiveness, she gives Snapper all of her research, knowing that Catco will have a bigger reach than KaraDanvers.com will. And it’s here that Snapper drops the final nugget of this tiny murderbot mystery: Beth Breen, Biomax’s CFO, has literally everything including the shirt off her back riding on the line of Biomax’s success. I believe we’ve found our motive, dear Watson!
But back to Lena. Where were we? Oh yes. SHOCKED. SHOCKED WE SAY!
Lena goes in alone to confront Jack about the experiment and killing the two whistleblowers. He is confused and emphatically professes that he has no idea what Lena is talking about. Surprise! Jack is telling the truth; he genuinely has no control over the nanobots! It’s actually his second in command, Beth, who is controlling them and executing whistleblowers.
True to form, Beth doesn’t want to kill Lena either. No, she wants Lena under her nanobot control as well and orders Jack to inject her.
Supergirl, of course, swoops in at the knick of time, and we’re treated to another moment of a Super and a Luthor working together. Lena dispatches Beth (with a delightful little exchange of Beth bragging she’s a black belt, only to be sucker punched by Lena with the retort of “Yes, well, I’m a Luthor!”), and Kara draws Jack’s attention away so Lena can access the mainframe.
And then it kind of goes to shit for poor Lena. Free from Beth’s control, Jack can’t control the nanobots that have merged with him. Worse, he’s got Kara pinned, crucifix style, and is slowly covering her with the little murderbots. Lena has a choice. Override the mainframe and kill Jack, or let Supergirl die.
In the end, Lena chooses the greater good, even at a very high cost to herself. She’s left wondering who she’s going to be when the shock wears off. It had better not be “Turn Evil, ” or we’re picketing the CW headquarters. The audience is treated to the full Supercorp scene they’ve been drooling over for quite some time now, and it’s every bit as fantastic as it looked in stills. This ship isn’t heading to the harbor anytime soon.
Mon-El: “This feels like stalking.”
Kara: “NO. It’s journalism.”
Thoughts & Feelings
There is something inherently charming about how Lena is baffled by Kara’s earnest and enthusiastic insistence that they are friends. It’s clear that Lena has had friends before. She tries to set up a rescue call, after all, so she seems to be familiar with the general concept. But Lena is definitely not used to Kara’s Ride or Die attitude towards her. To be fair, we’d be equally suspicious. You don’t get something for nothing. Most people are not paragons of truth, justice, and friendship like Kara is. We’re sure most people Lena has encountered in her life who were nice like Kara had… less than good intentions.
While recent interviews have more-or-less confirmed that the subtext is totally accidental, there’s a good reason why Supercorp is such a popular femslash pairing, and this episode is yet another ship in that ever growing armada. Even though we know it’s all accidental; it’s really hard to not get a little bit of a gay vibe off of Kara and Lena’s interactions. But regardless of where you stand on the Supercorp ship, having a Luthor and a Super form a strong relationship, even just platonically, is awesome. We know that Katie McGrath will be back for season three as a series regular. While we don’t know anything else about the writer’s plans for Ms. Luthor next season, we are certainly rooting for her to stay Kara’s best friend and confidant. Rao knows Kara needs one.
Poor Winn can’t catch a fucking break, can he? We know we went to bat for Lyra before, but uh. Elizabeth might have to revoke that. Lyra’s outburst in the bar was a perfect storm of awful, and we gotta be honest; we’re not entirely sure what James is thinking, letting her back on Team Guardian. We’re also kinda troubled by the fact that this is becoming a pattern within the show. We have characters who have these really violent, awful outbursts, where terrible things are done and/or said, and it’s not even discussed at all before being resolved, let alone properly atoned for.
We know the show is trying to show character growth and emotional progress for Lyra by giving her a low point to start from as far as this vigilante business goes (as if being an art thief wasn’t already pretty shady) but once again the show picks a Not So Great path to get there. If there’s one place that season two has been really wobbly, it’s not thinking through implications. The scenes all work fine at face value, but far too often Supergirl is implying things we really don’t think they mean to imply. This is by far the biggest problem in the writer’s room, and it needs to be fixed in season three.
Kori is a little more forgiving of the Guardian/Lyra arc than Elizabeth. Supergirl often employs long character development arcs, and we’ve really just started to see Lyra’s. After all, she’s fresh from a con stint of using people to steal valuable paintings to pay off her brother’s debts with an alien black market art dealer.
For Kori, this episode was the bottom rung level of her starting that slow turnaround into what Supergirl consistently pushes for. You can be more and better than what you were.
But it also takes work. And yes, Lyra is going to have to start getting better at controlling her temper. On the plus side, this is the most competent we’ve seen James Olsen all season as Guardian, and he’s finally fulfilling a purpose we’ve both hoped for that hero all season. Handling some of the small potatoes so Kara can focus on the the bigger issues. Like killer nanobots and Teri Hatcher.
Teaching Lyra how to be a better hero gives him something to do (since it doesn’t look like he’s ever going to be shown doing much with Catco) as a hero, and it gives us a chance to see him display some of the mentoring, guidance skills that made me like him as a character in season one.
First off darling, you gotta stop dressing in red and blue. Poor Lena Luthor is doing her best to pretend like she doesn’t know you’re Supergirl, and you are not making it easy for her. Also the red and blue ribbons on Snapper’s danish: real subtle.
Also, Kori will be disappointed in the show if it’s not revealed by the end of the season that Lena has already figured out that Kara is Supergirl. Honestly, we both refuse to believe she hasn’t pieced that together by now. Seriously, she flat out asked Kara what her kryptonite was. Come on.
He’s used sparingly in this episode but to much better effect. Kori personally loves him as a foil to Kara, and they found a great balance in this episode. He’s slightly more cautious than Kara’s typical “bulldoze in!” attitude, but he follows her anyway and winds up lifting Jack’s security pass from him. It’s like watching an awkward, but adorable version of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum go “undercover.” Bonus points for Mon-El playing his total lack of weirdness for being affectionate with other men to his benefit when he gives Jack a bear hug and lifts the security card.
Finally, Kori would just like to say she really enjoyed the little things in this episode. The now-canon running joke that Kara can’t bake to save her life. Or the goofy moments where the show finds the right tone to use Kara and Mon-El. We both agree that these are the kinds of moments that really make the show shine, in between The Drama. A little levity never hurt anyone.
Really, the only thing we have to genuinely whine about is that Alex was only in this episode for a few moments, and Maggie was nowhere to be found. Elizabeth is humongous Sanvers trash, so this was a disappointment for her, but we know that she’ll get what she wants next week. If Supergirl keeps up this strong course correction and character heavy trend through the next couple of weeks, season two will definitely be finishing strong.
Next week: we’re all gonna die. Alex is kidnapped, so Maggie and Kara team up to save her. We can’t wait. This is going to be a long six days. See you next Monday!
Images courtesy of the CW, Netflix