Episode nine of Supergirl (“Blood Bonds”) is a subtler episode with more emotional weight than the previous ones. The season, so far, has built up a solid foundation of characters and curiosity, yielding enough growth and development to teach veteran shows a thing or do.
We pick up where we left off: Supergirl and Non go head-to-head. Hank gets captured. Maxwell Lord has a hissy fit at Alex, which seemed…random, but okay. Egomaniacs are rarely tied to rational behaviors.
Back at the DEO, a lot happens. Alex gets put in charge in Hank’s absence (given that she’s the only other DEO agent with a name so far, that makes sense). Kara goes to talk to her aunt to find out why Hank was taken, and what could have been a trite scene was so full of feelings that it won me over. In a particularly evocative moment, Astra says, “Did Non kill you today when he had the chance? I ordered him to spare you. Blood bonds us all.” This transitions into a flashback to Non and Astra’s sentencing back on Krypton. Later in the episode, when the flashback is completed, we learn that Allura believes her sister, believes in what she is doing, but sentences her to prison for her methods (murder = bad, guys. Also, fire = bad. Tree = pretty.).
At Catco, Kara tells Jimmy and Winn that Cat thinks she’s Supergirl (whoopsie) so acting normal is VERY important. Of course, Kara proceeds to fail pretty hard at that. When she and Cat talk, she attempts to excuse herself, leading Cat quipping: “Why? Have a building to leap in a single bound?” That’s one thing I love about the show—Cat’s biting sense of humor. It’s acerbic and dry.
Ever the excellent sister, Supergirl brings Alex food (all the way from Chicago!) at the DEO. Non sends a message that he’s willing to exchange Hank for Astra. And then General Lane shows up to wreck everything, again. Seriously, how is this guy even in charge of tying his own shoelaces? His Red Tornado experiment was more than a mild disaster. Even his own daughter quit to get away from him. And his solution to everything seems to be the opposite of smart. (For those who appreciate Hamilton, the new Broadway sensation, he’s basically Charles Lee. “I’m a General! Wheeee!” Ahem. Sorry. Theater nerd.)
Meanwhile, Jimmy has gone to Maxwell Lord’s labs with his camera to see if he can figure out why Lord was so touchy (i.e., booting Alex out) and what he’s up to. Spoiler alert: Jimmy, despite his suave good looks, is no James Bond. He’s as subtle as a dinosaur chasing its own tail, and while he and Lord dance around each other like Astaire and Rogers (don’t ask which is which), there really is no love lost between those two. Jimmy comes away with no real information, save a bunch of security footage that he and Winn later comb through to find a way to sneak inside.
Cat gives Kara a pop quiz on her own life, trying to trick her into admitting she’s Supergirl. Kara is holding the party line as best she can, but the frustration builds as Cat becomes more dogged throughout the episode. Cat’s brilliance is her tenacity, but she’s also bullheaded at times.
At the DEO, General Lane recounts the plot of The Day the Earth Stood Still (not the Keanu Reeves movie, guys. *tosses hair* Whoa.), before brandishing a syringe and liquid Kryptonite. This guy has all the hallmarks of a bad Bond villain, minus the cat, but heavy on the menace and the scowl. Kara tries to help Astra, but is herself weakened by the Room of Kryptonite, and Alex drags her out.
Back at Catco, Cat gives Kara an ultimatum: prove she’s not Supergirl or lose her job. This plot point didn’t fly so well with me, because I can’t imagine Cat would let her ego run the show without regard for Kara’s reasoning for wanting to keep her identity secret. Semi-secret. Secret-adjacent. Whatever. But the end result of this plays out so well at the close of the episode, I almost don’t care.
Speaking of not caring, I hope Jimmy never quits his day job and tries to be Neal Caffrey. With Winn’s technical magic, he breaks into Lord’s lab, finds a very secret, impossible-to-get-into door…and then doesn’t hear three people walk up behind him, one of whom knocks him out.
Alex calls Kara, who says Astra gave up Non/Hank’s location. They arrive at a suspicious warehouse on the General’s orders (who bristles when he hears Supergirl joined them, because he is an idiot), with a bunch of soldiers. The building is filled with lead-lined shipping containers. Because nothing says, “DEFINITELY NOT A BOMB” like the one thing Kara can’t see through. They think they’ve found Hank, except it’s a hologram covering a bomb. Alex and one single soldier survive, because of Kara.
Next, Jimmy wakes up in a mostly dark room, and Maxwell smarms his way over to him. A little roughing up, a little verbal sparring that leads nowhere (Lord sneers: “You think insulting my ego is going to get me to spill like some Bond villain?” He can snark with the best of them. No wonder he and Cat had a thing.)—and he ends up smashing Jimmy’s camera and letting him go. See? Not evil. Not totally evil.
The next day, at Catco, Kara goes to speak with Cat, giving a heartfelt, gorgeous speech about why she can’t confess to being Supergirl and what the job means to her:
“I know you want me to tell you I’m Supergirl, but I can’t do that. What I can tell you is this job, this place is more important to me than you realize. Whenever I’m confused or overwhelmed, I come in your office and you somehow sense it. It’s like your superpower. I know I’m not going to be your assistant for the rest of my life, but I do know whatever I do next will be easier because of everything you taught me. And the truth is, I need you now more than I ever have.”
Unfortunately, Cat practically yawns and is unmoved. So, Kara does the unthinkable: she quits.
Promptly, she heads downstairs, interrogates Jimmy about his busted lip, reams him and Winn out for being dunderheads, going after Lord alone—and then has a frenetic, barely contained breakdown. And, again, Melissa Benoist’s depth of emotion is stunning. Kara’s practically humming with rage, frustration, and the desperate kind of despair that comes when a person’s whole world keeps routinely falling apart. She has a spectacular meltdown that ends with Jimmy and Winn talking her off the ledge—and the symbolism of the three of them, each man holding one of her hands, did not go unnoticed.
Kara then goes back to see her aunt (Laura Benanti is excellent in this scene. The entire episode, really). They dance around each other, but with all the armor and weapons only family can bring. Earnest, Kara declares, “I still have faith in you.” Tearfully, Astra replies, “I’m not worth your faith.” But that proves not to be true in the end. Alex and Kara spring Astra from jail, against the General’s rather impotent protests (his own soldiers stand down, because Kara saved one of them. Insubordination ftw!), to make the exchange with Non.
At the exchange (outside some kind of power plant? Sewage treatment plant? Oil refinery? I couldn’t quite tell), everything goes smoothly, until Non goes Evil McEvil again. More Kryptonians fly in, prompting Alex to tell Hank he’s got to change, but it’s Astra who comes to her senses and to Kara’s rescue, ordering the Kryptonians and Non to stand down. After he flies off, she pulls a line from Al Capone (“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.”), warning Kara: “Do not mistake my compassion for weakness. This is not a truce.” Hopeful to her very core, Kara quickly replies, “Then let’s call it a start.” It could’ve been saccharine, but Benoist manages to deliver each line with such conviction.
Later, at the DEO, Kara asks what Alex meant about Hank changing. He comes clean, leaving Kara to gape: “You’re from MARS?” It was hilarious, but the truth was also timely. Using his powers to shapeshift into Supergirl, Kara goes to see Cat at the same time as Hank/Supergirl, thus earning her job back at Catco. It was a lot of fun to see Hank and Kara at ease with each other, genuinely liking each other. A brief exchange on the roof reveals that they’re more alike than they previously knew, each needing something to keep them grounded, more human. For Hank, it’s the DEO. For Kara, it’s Catco.
Kara remembers to thank Jimmy and Winn for keeping her from going off after Lord, all rage-y and half-cocked. They agree to figure out what he’s up to, so that they can put him away for good. This dovetails nicely into the closing scene, in which we find out what exactly is behind that heavily guarded door: a girl with black eyes, who Lord says he’s going to help.
Ten bucks says the black-eyed woman punches him in the next episode. Someone has to. Maybe it’s Alex. I mean, her feelings did seem a little hurt, when he ordered her out of his building. Really, Maxwell—that’s no way to treat your crush.