Death comes to Metropolis. Actually, death comes to National City, the in-all-but-name Metropolis stand-in on TV’s Supergirl. It’s veering into spoiler territory which character exits stage left, never to be seen again (except possibly in flashbacks or twinning of some sort), so look away now while you have a chance. All will be revealed below the fold. For now, however, we can talk about tonight’s very special “family” episode (by one conservative count, characters use the word “family” at least 157 times), “For the Girl Who Has Everything.” That girl, of course, is Supergirl and the everything describes her current double life as twenty-something executive assistant by day to Cat Grant (Callista Flockhart), National City’s most powerful women/CEO of CatCo Worldwide Media, her friendships, most notably Jimmy “Please, Please Call Me James” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and the permanently friend zoned Winn Schott, Jr. (Jeremy Jordan), and Supergirl/Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), and second-in-command at the Department of Extra-Nornal Operations to Hank Henshaw/Martian Manhunter (David Harewood).
The title, not to mention the episode itself, pays homage to Alan Moore’s classic 1985 Superman story, “For the Man Who Has Everything.” Like her more famous cousin in Moore’s story, Supergirl falls prey to a plant-like, parasitic organism, the Black Mercy, that attaches itself to its host, invading and plundering the host’s dreams and desires to give the host their individual version of Heaven. While Kara/Supergirl initially doubts her dream life, a return to a pre-implosion Krypton, complete with her parents and Aunt Astra (Laura Benanti), she quickly succumbs, in turn losing her memories of Earth and her identity as Supergirl. Attempts to remove the Facehugger-inspired Black Mercy lead to not unexpected results: If the parasite dies, so does Kara. She has to reject her sham life, no matter how comforting it might be, inside the perfect dream for the parasite to lose its grip. To do that, Alex has to enter Kara’s dreaming hallucination, Dream Warrior-style, but not before Maxwell “Mini-Lex Luthor” Lord (Peter Facinelli), gets a temporary reprieve to help out with his technical expertise.
It’s unlikely Lord will remain a longterm prisoner of the DEO, especially with the long-gestating Kryptonian plot to take over the Earth and remake our world finally kicking into second gear. There’s talk between Astra (Laura Benanti again) and her husband/second-in-command, Non (Chris Vance), about something called “Myriad.” Myriad involves satellites, a solar storm, and most likely, some kind of attempt to hijack communications and/or the Internet (maybe). It’s specifically left undefined so semi-interested viewers can tune in next week and the week after that. By the end of the episode, however, Non has another, typically (super) villainous motive: Revenge on Supergirl and the DEO for the death of Astra (that was the spoiler mentioned up top). Unfortunately, Benanti had to scale back her role(s) on Supergirl for other commitments, essentially ending the core conflict between Supergirl and her aunt, prematurely. Non, of course, will be in vengeance mode, presumably putting Supergirl’s friends and family at risk of substantial bodily harm and death (probably not the death part).
Thankfully, this week’s episode pushes on-again, off-again romantic drama into the background, though Winn’s semi-precarious position as Supergirl’s best friend forever, the result of an unexpected, unwanted kiss, returns to non-precarious by the episode’s end. The episode’s repeatedly underlined theme, family of the biological and non-biological kind, gets a serious cardio-workout too. Kara has to reject her dream (biological) family, her parents, aunt, and even young Kal-El, and re-embrace her family on Earth (Alex, Winn, James, and even Hank). Alone, she’s Supergirl, but with her adopted family behind her she’s still … well, Supergirl, just a happier, healthier Supergirl who presumably will fight all the harder for her close friends than she otherwise might not have (or something). “For the Girl Who Has Everything” also parallels Man of Steel’s Superman-Zod conflict (with Non as Zod now) and Supergirl’s choice of Earth and its inhabitants over Krypton’s survivors (albeit Krypton’s other survivors are all, to a superhuman man or woman, criminals of the terrorist kind).
Lighter moments arrive courtesy of Henshaw shapeshifting into Kara (not Supergirl) to cover for her prolonged absence at CatCo Media. Henshaw’s scenes as Kara might feel like padding, extra scenes used to expand the running time past the forty minutes, but they also serve their primary purpose of adding humor where and when it’s needed most. Henshaw quickly discovers that his military training offers him little in the way of useful information or tactics when it comes to the authoritarian Grant’s demands. It’s also a clever way of including Cat in an episode where an incapacitated Kara doesn’t awaken from her near-comatose state until well past the two-thirds mark. Kara confronts Non and as expected, a fight breaks out. As too often happens on Supergirl, it’s far too short to have much meaning or deliver anything beyond a brief, surface-deep reaction. But that’s what we get when superheroes make the jump from the comic-book panel to the small screen.