Episode grade: 9
Lena Luthor awakens in a luxurious bed, totally gothed out. I realize fashion is pretty low on her list right now, but I still imagine she would rather not be seen like this in public. Rhea must have always wanted a daughter to dress up like a doll.
Lena's appropriately pissed at being abducted and Rhea's reaction is that peculiar variety of sociopathic that can also be described as "mother knows best." Rhea's whole way of dealing with the world comes across as a weary frustration that people don't always immediately do what she says, that's she occasionally required to apply pressure to make them fall in line. (This parenting style is familiar to Lena, of course, because Lillian Luthor is a nightmare.)
Even Lillian, however, looks like a good mom now that you've got Rhea for comparison... Rhea plans to force Lena and Mon-El into a marriage that will symbolically unite Daxam and Earth. I bet Mon-El regrets being too heroic to shoot her last week!
Rhea's message of "Welcome to New Daxam; I will be your queen" is being projected all over National City, and her Daxamite army is raining down terror and destruction to bring the people to heel. Our heroes are mostly out there fighting back, except J'onn, who remains in a coma after last week's fight.
The DEO HQ has fallen to the Daxamite army, so our team has set up shop in the alien bar with whatever equipment they could get their hands on. They're all there trying to decide on a plan when Lillian waltzes in. She offers a limited alliance to fight their common enemy, but our friends aren't that desperate...yet.
Guardian and Maggie feel it's their duty to get back out on the street and protect people. For some reason, Supergirl doesn't leave the bar. That is one of the strange aspects of this episode. I get it, narratively, because she needs to be there for specific moments...but still, it's weird that the city is under siege, and its primary hero is hanging out in the bar, looking at computer monitors.
Winn picks up a signal being transmitted between the Daxamite mothership and...Air Force One, zooming right this way! He hacks into this communication (...but two weeks ago, he couldn't trace a signal relay set up by some guy Alex and Kara grew up with? Sorry, I'll try to never mention that crappy episode again), and our team gets to be a fly on the wall for the first contact between President Olivia Marsden, Queen Rhea, and Cat Grant!
Cat is her usual awesome self, trying to play the girl power aspect of this situation. Of course, she's a person with a soul, so she can't comprehend a sociopath like Rhea. There's no negotiating with this bitch. Rhea starts shooting down the presidential escort jets, then Air Force One.
Supergirl gets there just in time to catch Cat Grant, but the plane goes down. This isn't a fatal event for Madame President, though, because she's a Durlan! (We've known since her first appearance that she was an alien, but now we get a confirmation on her species; Durla is the homeworld of a race with shape-shifting abilities. Their most famous citizen is Chameleon, of the Legion of Super-Heroes.)
Back at the bar, the president instructs our team to retake the DEO facility and gain control of the positron cannon, then immediately use it to destroy the mothership. Supergirl and Alex beg her to reconsider, as Mon-El and Lena are hostages on that ship, but the president stands firm that defeating this invasion force is more important than saving any individual lives. (Fair point, and I can't help but note Supergirl's failure to shed tears for the pilot or crew of Air Force One. Not that I think she should beat herself up about their deaths, but she saved Cat and then expressed horror at the thought that she'd failed to save the president...no concern about the others?)
Supergirl's deeply conflicted about carrying out these orders, and Cat gives her the pep talk she needs to make a hard decision; she goes to find Lillian (and Hank Henshaw/Cyborg-Superman!) and agrees to their short-term alliance.
For their part in the adapted plan, Alex and Maggie are carrying out the president's orders (desperately hoping Supergirl's mission succeeds before theirs!), and Winn is helping Cat commandeer the airwaves to send a message of hope and rebellion to the citizens of National City. She gives a beautiful speech to inspire the city to resist Rhea, this thug "who claims she will make our world great again."
When Daxamite soldiers show up at Catco to stop Cat's transmission, Guardian saves the day! He uses lead dust to trigger the Daxamites' "space asthma," which is an awesome use of their one known weakness.
Cat looks right at Guardian and says, "Thanks, James." He and Winn stammer, but she just points out that his eyes are visible through the slit in his mask. (And unlike with Kara, no shape-shifter is on hand to prove her suspicion wrong!)
Lillian's plan involves the Phantom Zone projector in the Fortress of Solitude. They will hack its frequency to get it to beam them behind the shields around the mothership, so they can rescue Lena and Mon-El. Kara asks why Lillian hasn't outed her to Lena, since Lillian knows her secret identity. She sneers that she's waiting for Lena to figure it out, because then she'll see that Kara has been lying to her, proving that aliens can't be trusted, after which Lena will finally become a full Luthor.
Now, I just have to say one thing: I call BS on Lena still not figuring out Kara is Supergirl. I will accept that she can interact with Kara and Supergirl closely without knowing they're the same person, because I'm a comic book fan, and we accept that sort of thing as part of the deal. But now, Lena has met Mon-El both as Kara's boyfriend AND as the superhero who showed up with Supergirl to fight Lena's alien mentor, Rhea, who turned out to be Mon-El's mom, who talks a lot about her son dating the wrong girl and who has a beef with Supergirl...there is no excuse for her not putting two and two together at this point.
In fact, here's the rescue team: Supergirl barely restrains herself from kissing Mon-El, then says that Kara Danvers sent her. If Lena comes out of this without a full awareness of this secret identity, they better have a major explanation...or maybe they'll just have J'onn mindwipe her, so when she figures it all out the second time she can feel even more betrayed.
Lillian tries to screw Supergirl over, of course, leaving her and Mon-El behind on the ship. Winn had rigged a backup plan because Lillian can't be trusted, but Kara sends Mon-El to safety alone! She says she wants to offer Rhea a peaceful surrender. I hate this. I get that it's meant to be the heroic choice, but it's so naive, and dude, you know that if you're not out of there soon, your sister will wind up shooting you out of the sky! Right now, I feel like Kara's greater allegiance should have been to Alex; she should have gotten off the ship to prevent her sister from having to make an awful decision that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
(If you read my recaps of The Originals, you know I'm always bitching about how dishonorable the Mikaelsons are, so believe me, I recognize there's irony in my bitching about how honorable Supergirl is being. I like a happy medium, I guess, where you stand by your word and respect your allies, but you accept that sometimes the bad guy has to die, and you don't risk your life to offer redemption to someone who has shown no interest in it.)
Down on the ground, Alex has her finger on the positron cannon trigger, and the president is ordering her to proceed, but she knows Kara is still on the ship. She hesitates just long enough that we should probably assume she's going to be fired, especially because her hesitation gives the Daxamites time to destroy the cannon. Oops.
Up on the ship, Rhea laughs at Kara's offer to surrender, then introduces another secret weapon...she's got Superman under her control!
This week had a couple of minor flaws, but the return of Cat Grant makes everything better. I love this character, and I could watch Calista Flockhart's gracefully formidable performance all day.
What was your favorite Cat moment?
Next week, Supergirl vs. Superman!