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“American Alien” opens Season 4 of Supergirl. While neither dazzling nor boring, this premier was…well, it just was. There’s nothing wrong with a slow opening and the story elements carried through logically from where we left things at the end of Season 3. Five months later in our characters’ timeline we find some progression (Alex) and some just the same (Lena). Let’s dive in!
The Fascists Are Coming, The Fascists Are Coming!
We are introduced to our (first?) Big Bad of the season in Agent Liberty and his minions Mercy and Otis Graves. It seems Mercy and Otis have been tasked with stealing an EMP from the lab of a noted alien physicist, maligning him in the process by cutting off his alien tusks. Dr. Vose, the victim, is in the same alien support group as J’onn Jonzz and while J’onn suggests to Supergirl that he is the victim of a hate crime she believes his alien-ness is a happenstance. After another clearly alien-motivated act of violence that J’onn tries to point out and Supergirl goes all SuperBrat on him actually saying he left the DEO and he should basically sit down and shut up. Brainy does his investigative thingy to reveal Mercy, Otis, and their hideout – handy to have a super-intelligence on staff, no? – and upon Supergirl going to their lair she does find out that there is an entire community of alien hate of which Mercy and Otis are a part. J’onn declines joining Supergirl in her battle citing his oath to his dying father to be an agent of peace. Sure enough Mercy and Otis use their stolen EMP to make an attempt on the President of the US’s alien amnesty act anniversary party. The whole point is to reveal President Marsden as an alien and “light the spark that will light the way to put an end to the First Order.” Eh, what? Oh, sorry. Agent Liberty takes center stage and puts the leader of the alien support group on ice and says it’s her fault, because…aliens.
Coach Kara/”Oh my God…you’re me.”
Catco CEO James, don’t call me Jimmy, Olsen tasks Kara with bringing up some of the kiddie reporters, especially a certain Nia Nal who acts just like Kara in the presence of Cat Grant (nervous, way too verbal, etc.). Kara tries to help Nia build her reporter-confidence and the relationship seems to be going very well. James even jokes that Kara is starting to act and sound like Cat. “Tick, tock!” There’s not a lot to tell here other than it’s a big major hairy deal that we like Nia because she’s going to be a major player this season.
In the best surprise of this episode we get some quality time with Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong)! Lena wants to help James get out from under the District Attorney’s thumb and her whole “Prosecute The Guardian” vendetta. Even though James doesn’t want Lena to get involved she plays her mama like a pawned fiddle and gets all kinds of dirt out of her on Bruno Manheim (an ex-partner of Lex). The DA graciously takes the Manheim info and forgets all about The Guardian. Lillian finds out by seeing it all on the news and is quite proud that she raised such a master little manipulator. Oh, and the DA says if she ever sees The Guardian out and about he’s going to prison.
There’s Just No Winning
Director Danvers and Brainy (Agent Docks ?) are not getting their communication down to where it needs to be. He lets Alex know that President Marsden is arriving momentarily, in the room – not the building. When Supergirl gets bested by Mercy and Otis he literally takes off to rescue her without Alex’s permission. In talking about it with Kara, Alex confesses that he is driving her bonkers and Kara tries to help Alex see it from Brainy’s POV. Brainy also sees that no matter what approach he takes that he doesn’t have the right way to get on Alex’s good side. So, he takes to dressing like Winn, telling her that she’s not open to accepting him because he isn’t Winn. She notes that change is not easy for her but now that she sees that he wants to make things work she will also try to be better for him.
I ended Season 3 saying that “Supergirl” had lost the character of Supergirl and Kara and had become a team procedural and I felt that was a real detriment to the show. So I was glad to see this episode get back to where the characters of Supergirl and Kara are and how the events of the episode events affect her personally. This storytelling was the hallmark of this series’ first season and is what drew me in as a faithful viewer. Sure this episode had its flaws, Supergirl getting uppity with J’onn being the chief offender, but I feel like some good groundwork for the coming season was well laid out. That being said, I stated in the pre-season podcast that I would be giving a very short leash to this Agent Liberty storyline and I feel like it was already all used up. And we’ve barely gotten started. There better be another Big Bad (Russian Supergirl?) in the works real quick-like. It was not a Season Opener that popped but it didn’t fizzle either. Let’s see where next week takes us, what do you say?
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