We open where we left off, with Kara under attack by the mysterious new alien. He does some property damage and zips off into National City.
But there’s too much happening right now for the DEO crew to focus on him entirely; the President is coming to town to sign her Alien Amnesty Act into law, allowing the aliens who walk among us to come out of hiding and be given the same rights as other Americans. Kara is excited about getting to meet the President of the United States, and it’s adorable, reminiscent of Winn’s giddy reaction to meeting Superman.
James Olsen is leading his first official Catco staff meeting or trying to...Snapper Carr is being such a jerk. He undermines James' authority, questions his expertise, and insults his judgment. James stands there, looking awkward, as Snapper contradicts his every command, then dispatches the staff on missions of his own choosing. Notably, the assignments he hands out seem on the surface to be anti-alien: Ask religious leaders how they feel about interspecies marriage; ask the CDC what alien viruses we might be able to catch. Kara has been assigned to interview Lena Luthor, because her brother was famously, dangerously anti-alien.
Lena Luthor is all cheer, happy to see her new journalist pal again. She immediately guesses the story’s bent, and she states her open-mindedness about aliens…then shows Kara a prototype of an alien detector.
It’s not anti-alien, she insists, just pro-human. People have the right to know who they’re really dealing with, and they’ll pay handsomely for that ability, especially after the Alien Amnesty Act emboldens the aliens among us to walk more freely.
Kara is appalled at this xenophobic display, and she’s also deeply uncomfortable, realizing that Lena expects her to touch the device, as a demonstration. This is pretty messed up, and it lets us know we were wrong to consider giving Lena the benefit of the doubt last week. (But hey, Superman’s willingness to trust is one of his best qualities, and it rubs off on the audience.)
Kara blasts the device with heat vision while Lena has her back turned, and somehow it doesn’t heat up the device or destroy it, only mucks up the programming, so that it still basically functions but misidentifies her as human. That level of techno-surgical precision makes no sense, but whatevs.
Kara wants to write a scathing editorial about the clear xenophobic intentions and hypocritical statements, but Snapper has some good qualities as an editor, even if he’s a terrible boss and executive. He makes her redo the whole piece and keep her opinion out of the text because she’s a journalist, not a blogger.
Meanwhile, the President’s arrival doesn’t go as planned. Supergirl winds up rescuing Madam President from a heat vision-style attack (she fails to save any of the Secret Service agents, but…). It’s immediately assumed that the DEO’s escapee is responsible because they are under the assumption he is a Kryptonian.
The escapee is at astronomical observatory, forcing the scientist on duty to help him send a message to his home planet. Winn uses the DEO’s fancy equipment to identify an off-world transmission in progress, and he says the transmission is trying to reach, not Krypton, but Daxam. Kara snarls and tells the story she has always known about Daxam. They’re the bad guys in a long war with Krypton; they’re enemies of democracy, etc.
She captures the Daxamite and throws him in a cell. His impression of Kryptonians and her feelings on Daxamites erupt in a snide exchange, and it’s clear that her beliefs are based on what was taught to her as a child, which probably has little resemblance to objective truth; he obviously has a similar, yet completely opposite view of Krypton, so both have likely absorbed propaganda from their societies. As they can’t communicate, he won’t tell her anything, even that he has no idea what a President is, let alone any interest in harming one. He sees her prejudice and doesn’t think there’s any point to arguing when she’s already made up her mind about him.
This is where the metaphor really does work well: Kara's gut reaction is based not on objective facts or her own direct experiences but on cultural tradition and tales she heard as a child. The stories we hear in our formative years create a narrative that's hard to argue with, and it's hard to unlearn those prejudices.
Kara stops by to visit Lena again, and for some reason, she’s no longer really troubled by the alien detector. I’m sorry, I know they’re going for a political allegory about how fear of the unknown brings out the worst in people, makes them willing to accept diminished freedom in exchange for increased security (or at least the perception thereof). But this is too quick, too easy, and most of all, too extreme. She’s an alien, Clark and J’onn are aliens. She’s fought a ton of aliens all this time without losing her objectivity, and now a single Daxamite reawakens her old xenophobia, and she’s okay with alien detectors? I don’t buy it.
Meanwhile, Alex has had a meet-cute with a local cop, Maggie Sawyer. Maggie invites Alex to a bar where aliens are free to be themselves. Upon noticing she’s in a room full of casual, drunk aliens, Alex nearly pulls a gun with zero provocation, which doesn’t make her look very good at her job and doesn’t really make sense for a woman whose sister and boss are both aliens. I mean, I know this episode is about the prejudices we all have, whether we acknowledge or recognize them, but there are moments when the point is pounded in with a blunt instrument.
With the Daxamite in custody, our heroes believe the coast is clear, and Madam President holds a press conference to sign her new law. Of course, the heat blasts start right up, and it’s an alien Alex recognizes from the bar. She's raging that the Amnesty act is a false dream of unity, that humans will never trust aliens and are only using this new law to lure them into revealing themselves so they can be rounded up. Basically, she's mistaking the President's intentions for Lena Luthor's, which probably helps Kara realize how dumb it was to feel okay about alien detectors for even a moment. The alien fails again at killing President Wonder Woman but succeeds at abducting Maggie Sawyer.
Kara and Alex rescue Maggie and take down the alien. There’s a nice Wonder Woman homage when Supergirl is on fire and spins in place at superspeed to put out the flames.
Kara returns to the holding cell and opens the door to introduce herself and signal the change in the situation. She takes ownership of her anti-Daxamite viewpoint and acknowledges that it caused her to treat him as guilty by default of his race. He introduces himself as Mon-El. She gives him the bad news about Daxam: It’s a wasteland, ravaged by fallout from the destruction of Krypton.
James has decided to stand up to Snapper, and he starts it off by being sneaky and pulling the same kind of jerky power play Snapper did, which I suppose is meant to earn his respect by playing his own game. They have a standoff in front of the entire staff, and it is the most unprofessional display imaginable, right down to the part when Kara and James have their goofy little “go, you!” moment to celebrate James’ triumph. This is not how you prove you’re mature and capable enough to run a company, and by the way, between trying to assign rookie Kara a plum story earlier and having this public celebration now, you have ensured none of your coworkers will like or respect either one of you. (Granted, it's TV, so none of these consequences may play out, but still, so unprofessional!)
J’onn goes to the alien bar to see how it feels to be Martian Manhunter instead of Hank Henshaw for a little while. (The effects look so much better! Thank you, CW!) He sees that a bartender is spooked by him, and he confronts her. She transforms into her Martian form, introducing herself as M’gann M’orzz (more commonly known as Miss Martian).
Madam President is inspiring and warm, makes a cute Wonder Woman joke about how you should see her “other jet,” and then walks away, her eyes flashing. Yep, she’s an alien.
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