In the eighth episode of Supergirl (“Hostile Takeover”), there’s a whole lot of learning going out. And, if you’re me, there’s also a ton of SQUEEing. Because this was my favorite episode so far, for about a million reasons. But enough fangirl glee, let’s get down to business. The episode picks up where the last episode left off: Kara is flanked by two Kryptonians, facing Astra. We learn that her aunt is trying to recruit her, has made fancy Kryptonite-proof suits, and may not be entirely evil. And Kara literally jumps off a bridge to get away from her. And you thought your family had issues.
Kara heads to the DEO, fills in Hank and Alex, who promptly send her home for a nap, as if she were five. She schedules a sparring session with Alex the next day, but that day opens with disaster at Catco: Cat’s emails have been hacked, and the Daily Planet is leaking random facts about Ms. Grant. Cat takes it in stride, but tasks Kara with a) reading through all her emails (in hard copy, guys. WHY.) and b) tracing the source of the hack. Enlisting Winn (who Cat refers to as, “the handsome little Hobbit who has more cardigans that you do,” which made me laugh) and Jimmy, things get awkward. I mean, complicated. Or both. Winn gloats that he knew about Astra reappearing but Jimmy didn’t. Jimmy later says Winn’s acting strange, then brings up The Hug with Kara from last episode. Like I said: awwwwwkward. These two are so good at the, “We’re just friends. Uh huh. Right” card.
Over at the lair of the Fort Rozz escapees (we haven’t seen more than that one room, so it could be anything and anywhere), Astra gets taken to task by her remarkably unfriendly, entirely evil Lieutenant, Non (played excellently by Chris Vance)—who is also her husband. She vows to kill Kara if she doesn’t come to their side and clings to the fervent notion that, unlike Krypton, they can save Earth.
Meanwhile, back at the DEO, Kara and Alex spar. It’s a pretty awesome fight scene—right up until the moment Kara hesitates, which her sister calls her out on. Alex points out that they may need to kill Astra and that maybe Kara should let the DEO handle it. Before Kara leaves, Alex tries to get her to talk about why she held back: “What do you remember about her? What are you holding on to?”
Flashback time! On Krypton, Astra responds to Kara’s beacon, visiting her, despite the peril. Astra is in trouble with the law for killing a guard (spoiler alert: it was her buttfaced miscreant of a husband) while trying to save the planet. Astra came to say goodbye to Kara, and it is a super-touching scene that, honest to java, made me rethink everything I knew about Astra. There was such raw emotion and tenderness in her words and actions toward Kara. (Laura Benanti, you are—as ever—amazing. Can they find a way to let you sing? Please? Pretty please?) But the sweet, heart-wrenching moment of affection and love is interrupted by Kara’s mom, Allura. More on that later.
Back at Catco, Cat insists on talking to the company’s board. There’s hemming and hawing and talk of her taking a sabbatical, keeping a low profile. The only one speaking as if he’s on Cat’s side is a slimy guy named Dirk (Peter Mackenzie), who, in an email, Cat once referred to as “the walking personification of white male privilege.” BEST. Anyway, he turns out to be a) the chairman of the board and b) possibly more smug than if Maxwell Lord and Tony Stark had a baby and named it Kanye. After the meeting, Cat tells Kara that she doesn’t trust Dirk. Kara then overhears him discussing in a hallway about how his plan was working and Cat will be gone by the end of the week. Not really a good place to discuss corporate espionage, dude. Maybe he took subtlety lessons from Jimmy.
Kara, Jimmy, and Winn have a meeting with Lucy to hypothetically discuss the situation. Lucy’s legal advice is that they need hard evidence. Which…duh. That’s not exactly Elle Woods-level legal advice, y’all. But while they’re all sipping iced tea and discussing a plan of action, Kara sees Astra on the news, hovering the sky. She goes to fight her, and it is another really great scene. Harkening back to the fight with Alex, Kara hesitates. Instead of killing her aunt, she drags her (literally) back to the DEO, where Astra gets locked up. There’s an aching sadness to Kara, the kind of open wound that happens when a person starts to question the foundation of the past. Alex offers, “We’ll call you when she wakes up.” But Kara spits, “Don’t. She can rot.”
At Catco, they form a plan to get evidence on Dirk. Jimmy sneaks into his office—while Dirk is off checking to make sure his Maserati isn’t on fire—to plant a device on his computer that will allow Winn to read all his files. Jimmy can’t get out on time and ends up playing the ally, all but stating that he’d be on Dirk’s side should Cat Grant be ousted. This plays right into the chairman’s ego, and Jimmy saunters out without raising suspicion.
Kara gets a call from Alex, who tells her that Astra won’t speak to anyone but her. When Kara, as Supergirl, shows up to talk to her, Astra pushes her beacon against the glass of her cage. (Okay, where the hell did she have that stashed, because she’s wearing a skintight suit. Are there TARDIS pockets?) This provokes an immediate reaction, and Melissa Benoist’s face crumbles beautifully when her aunt tells her: “You’re how she caught me.”
You see, Kara’s mom isn’t a saint. Allura used the relationship/connection between Kara and Astra to catch and arrest her. That is a rather heartless move. While the details of Astra’s frantic attempts to save Krypton are still vague and fuzzy, it’s interesting to see the depth here. This scene made me feel for Astra, and—like Kara—made me furious at Allura. Because using your own daughter as bait is all kinds of NOPE. Again, Astra pleads for her help, basically blaming Krypton’s destruction on global warming/climate change—and saying that Earth is close to the same fate. (Another well-done tie-in to relevant social issues.)
In another stunning scene, Kara confronts the hologram of Allura, tearfully/angrily asking if what Astra told her is true. The betrayal and rage—the kind of anger that only surfaces when someone you trusted deeply demolishes the foundation underneath you—is palpable. It’s seething. There’s such elegant grief in Benoist’s face. Beautiful and heartbreak, but so very real.
When Kara returns to Catco, the Wonder Twins—Winn and Jimmy—try to ask her what’s wrong, but she just wants to focus on helping Cat. Jimmy found wire transfers of money from Cat to an Adam Foster. She brings this to Cat, assuming it’s some kind of boytoy scenario, but Grant merely rolls her eyes and brilliantly quips: “If I wanted to have sex with a Beach Boy, I’d still be sleeping with John Stamos.” SNORT. But it turns out that Foster is Cat’s first son. Her ex left her, claiming she worked too much, and though she furiously pursued custody initially, dropped the suit. The conflicted, painful emotions expressed in this scene were nothing short of powerful. (I wish Calista Flockhart had a Twitter account, so I could fangirl. She’s come a loooong way since The Birdcage.)
To keep Adam from harm, Cat decides to step down. She decides to hold a press conference, but before she can, Winn, Jimmy, and Lucy run in with hard proof of his conspiring. Lucy’s basically just there so Cat can tell her she’s prettier than her sister. (Seriously: why is Lucy even there?)
Cat confronts Dirk in her office, who tries to outmaneuver her. But Cat reminds him that his email was sent on a computer owned by the company, via company email address. So, it belongs to Catco. (Real talk: if that’s true, IT would’ve been able to access that in a heartbeat, no? Is Winn literally the only IT guy in that building?)
After the good guys triumph, Jimmy basically apologizes to Winn and tells him to go after Kara. Winn fumbles and self-depreciates admirably, but I’m realllllly not loving this plotline. He comes off more like he’s in love with the idea of Kara rather than Kara herself. And his Nice Guy façade is annoying.
Speaking of Kara, I totally flailed when Cat pieces together that Kara is Supergirl. It’s a slow unfold, an anxiety-inducing bit of banter. As much as I’m loathe to see another person aware of Kara’s identity, I love the camaraderie between these two enough to overlook it. Cat’s a little bit in awe, and it’s nice to see how layered her character is. In eight episodes, we’ve seen so much growth.
Back at the DEO, we learn a few things: Hank has telepathy, Astra threw the fight, and the proverbial dung is about to the hit the fan. Crazypants Non and a gang of Kryptonians attack Maxwell Lord’s lab. Maxwell has some kind of effective gun that looks like black acidic Spiderman webbing (where is security?), but he only fires once (but, like Han, he shot first). The DEO team shows up and promptly gets their butts kicked. Again, Alex is the last DEO agent standing, and Supergirl flies in just as Non starts advancing on her. The episode ends with Non and Kara squaring off.
I really love how far this show has come, so far. The acting is stellar. There are people to root for, questions to be answered. It’s a lighthearted show, but the writers are aware of social issues and unafraid to confront them. Kara kicks butt, and yet, she’s flawed and complicated, not perfect. To echo a line from the premiere, “Finally, a hero my little girl can look up to!”