Episode grade: 4
So, I hate to say this, but I think Martian Manhunter may have to leave the show. I love the character, and I love David Harewood, but the writers don't know how to handle his overpowered nature. This week's bizarrely bad episode makes it clear that they feel hamstrung by his skill set. In the first season, his powers were tempered by the revelation that he hadn't learned to wield them properly; he was unable to utilize his psychic abilities, because doing so would essentially lobotomize his target. This week was far too frustrating, watching the writers ignore his abilities in some scenes, because they had to extend the story, and he could have resolved it at multiple points.
The main plot this week was Alex's kidnapping by a dude she and Kara had grown up with. Turns out he'd seen Kara use her abilities long ago, and he'd spent the last couple of years stalking them both, learning everything about everyone they know, and apparently becoming a massively wealthy mechanical engineer, because he seems to own several warehouses and be capable of building lead boxes with computer networking relays too tough for Winn to crack...this episode is so dumb. As I write it all out, I am bewildered by how freaking dumb it all is.
Anyway, this dude, Rick Malvern, is trying to force Supergirl to break his dad, Peter Thompson, out of prison. The whole episode is about trying to rescue Alex from a death trap straight out of the movie, Cell.
But back to my problems with the Martian Manhunter's part in this story... Early in the episode, J'onn pointed out that he was using his psychic power to tell whether Peter Thompson was lying, so the writers clearly wanted to remind the audience of his skill set. Then, for some reason, they later fail to mention the mere possibility of reading Rick Malvern's mind to find Alex.
Here's a way they could have worked around this: J'onn could have been in Washington, recalled by the president to defend his recent decisions regarding the Daxamites. If he simply weren't there, they wouldn't have had that incredible tool in their arsenal, so we wouldn't have had to watch them fail to wield it properly.
Or, as my husband suggested, they could have had J'onn walk into the cell and tell Rick Malvern, "Hi. You clearly know who I am and what I can do. What you may not know is that when I have to dig around in someone's mind to find information they really don't want to reveal, it results in permanent damage to their brain. You're threatening the life of someone who is very important to me, so here's the deal. Within the next five minutes, I'm going to walk out of this room with the information I need to save her. Whether you are a healthy man on his way to prison, or a lobotomized shell on his way to a long-term care facility, is up to you."
But then, at the end, J'onn mentions his plan to selectively edit Malvern's memory to protect Kara's secret identity. He's clearly no longer dangerous to people when he messes with their minds, which means there is just zero reason for not reading Malvern's mind in the first place. (This episode was painfully dumb.)
If he can do a surgical mindwipe (it was revealed that Malvern had been aware of Kara's special abilities since his teenage years, so it's a very significant amount of information and history that J'onn would have to selectively edit!) and leave a functioning brain behind, then why the hell couldn't he have read Rick's mind to determine Alex's location? There is no explanation offered, which tells me the writers knew they had a plothole and couldn't figure out how to plug it, so they hoped we wouldn't notice.
Anyway, what else happened this week besides Alex's kidnapping? Maggie threw a tantrum about Supergirl saving people, which was also really dumb. And again, it's the writers' fault that it was quite this dumb. Maggie says she'd been on the phone working things out with the bank robbers for 17 hours when Supergirl came along.
17 hours. After 17 hours, she thinks she was really close to making a deal? After 17 hours, she begrudges a little help from Supergirl? I would actually love to hear her say this in front of one of the hostages. You know, the average citizens who spent 17 damn hours in fear for their lives. I imagine they'd be calling for her to lose her job over comments like this.
Hey writers, how about you just have an example wherein the cops were actually making real progress before Supergirl came along? Just so your characters don't sound delusional and whiny.
So, Maggie's criticism of Supergirl is dumb, and the inconsistent application of Martian Manhunter's ability is dumb. I guess that just leaves the C-plot, in which Lena Luthor got to know Queen Rhea of Daxam. And yeah, that was pretty cool. Lena came off as smart, reasonable, and open-minded. She doubted Rhea's intentions and reached out to Kara for a sounding board, but when her friend demurred, she made up her own damn mind, with the information she had available. Lena had a good week, though the show as a whole definitely did not.