Superman might be long gone – not dead, but temporarily forgotten – so it’s back to the Supergirl Power Hour. It’s Supergirl’s (Melissa Benoist) show, after all and despite the brief, two-episode interlude where Supergirl and Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) got to play Super-Cousins together (to the delight of millions of fans), a return to the status quo, welcome or not, was not far behind, ultimately leaving fans with a Superman-sized hole in their collective hearts. But just as one superhero exits, another superhero enters, Olivia Marsdin (Lynda Carter, TV’s Wonder Woman), the first female president of the United States. To Supergirl and her human alter ego, Kara Danvers and her superhero counterpart, intrepid cub reporter for CatCo Worldwide Media, Marsdin is the real thing, a bona fide hero. She might not have superpowers, but to Supergirl, she might as well have them.
Season 2, Episode 3, “Welcome to Earth,” doesn’t mention Superman or his semi-abrupt return to Metropolis to fight super-criminals and otherwise save Metropolis from any number of dangers, existential or otherwise. Instead, “Welcome to Earth” immediately segues to Mon-El (Chris Wood), a mysterious visitor from outer space, awakening in the DEO’s labs from suspended animation. Disoriented, maybe even a little scared, he attacks Supergirl and flees. Given that he arrived in a Kryptonian ship, everyone, including Supergirl, Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), DEO director, and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), Supergirl’s adopted sister and senior DEO agent, assume Mon-El is another long-lost Kryptonian. He’s not. He’s a Daxamite, possibly the lone survivor of a natural disaster that all but destroyed his homeworld, Daxam, Krypton’s sister planet and perpetual enemy (Daxam’s militaristic monarchy opposed Krypton’s technocrats, scientists, and philosophers).
Of course, it takes the better part of “Welcome to Earth” for Supergirl and her Scooby Gang to realize their error about Mon-El’s origins, but when they do, they immediately blame him for a failed assassination attempt on the president. Given that Season 1 established that Earth wasn’t just home to Kryptonians, but hundreds, if not thousands, of aliens from other planets, Men in Black-style, it takes a major leap in logic to assume Mon-El, an alien with little to no knowledge about Earth’s politics, was responsible for the attempt. We learn later that another alien, a red-haired, leather-clad alien with the Human Torch’s powers (sorry, wrong comic-book universe), has taken it upon herself to assassinate the president or barring that, stop her from signing the so-called Alien Amnesty Act.
To hear Marsdin sell it, the Alien Amnesty Act – a rough parallel to the long-dormant immigration reform that’s stalled out in Congress over the better part of three or four decades – will allow aliens to become productive members of society without hiding who they are or where they came from. Despite his status as an alien refugee, Henshaw objects to the act based on his inherent distrust of non-humans and the years spent chasing down alien criminals on Earth. Not surprisingly given her sunny disposition and positive, can-do spirit, Supergirl represents the other extreme. She sees nothing but good in the Alien Amnesty Act. After all, she was welcomed with open arms once she slipped into her Supergirl costume and starting saving the day. She almost forgets, however, that she leads a double life.
As a first-time reporter, Kara runs into the usual problems, learning the difference between editorializing and “objective” reporting (something she should have learned in college or high school, but we’ll let it slide for now), trying to make her perpetually smug, contemptuous boss, Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez), happy, and balancing out her superhero duties with her reporter ones. While Kara pines for a one-on-one with the president, she instead gets a one-on-one with Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath). Lena’s attempt to rebrand the family name as a force for good instead of evil runs into a slight sag: The alien detection device she’s developed for mass consumption may lead to more xenophobia, not less. Kara learns the first of presumably many lessons in journalism when Carr soundly rejects her first draft and makes her do a major rewrite (she wrote an op-ed, not a fact-based article).
If you’re starting to detect a theme in this week’s episode, it’s probably because “Welcome to Earth” isn’t particularly subtle in its pro-immigration, anti-xenophobia stance. The peace, love, and tolerance message also weaves its way into a seemingly minor subplot involving Alex and a National City detective, Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). Alex and Sawyer tangle over jurisdiction, priorities, and working together. By the episode’s end, though, they’re high-fiving each other over their collective kick-ass skills and eyeing each other as romantic partners. Alex’s romantic orientation has been a question. Then again, it’s never been asked either. The built-in, default, heterosexuality, dictated that Alex was straight, but there was never any reason or evidence to suggest otherwise, largely because Alex’s screen time has been limited to her dual roles as Supergirl’s sister and DEO agent.
“Welcome to Earth” ends with Supergirl making peace with Mon-El, seeing him as a fellow survivor and refugee rather than a potential enemy. In a classic double-reveal, however, we learn that President Marsdin may be an alien in disguise (the red eye trick they used to reveal Henshaw’s true nature) and Henshaw, long assumed the last survivor of Mars, isn’t alone after all. There’s another Martian, the “the last daughter of Mars,” hiding among humans, not in any kind of government position, but as a bartender in a dive bar that caters to non-human customers. Both developments promise to fill valuable screen time in the coming weeks. Where they’ll go, no one knows (except the show’s writers). Given what we’ve seen three episodes in, however, and there’s more than enough reason to be optimistic, at least for now.