When we last left Supergirl … actually, scratch that. What happened on last week’s episode of Supergirl matters less than you think. Season 2’s fifth episode, “Crossfire,” replaces the “super-villain of the week” with a local gang armed with alien firepower. Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) encounters the gang moments before they rob a bank. She’s caught completely off-guard by the alien weaponry, losing the fight (in superhero stories on the big or small screen, superheroes invariably lose or tie their first fight with a new foe), but not her thirst for justice (that’s unquenchable, of course). The real culprit, Project Cadmus, the not-so-secret, anti-alien organization with deep pockets, is playing the long game, using the attacks to sow anti-alien sentiment and a backlash against the recently passed Alien Amnesty Act.
With Supergirl briefly incapacitated, James “Don’t Call Me Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) tries to save the day too, but fails miserably. He loses his late father’s camera – one of his most prized possessions – in the fight, but soon realizes that he too has an unquenchable thirst for justice. He’s also tired of being a sidekick, relegated to cheerleader duty while Superman and Supergirl save the world. The lack of superpowers doesn’t stop him from wanting to be a superhero. To get there, though, he needs help and ultimately gets it from computer whiz kid/DEO employee Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). Winn, of course, tries to talk him out of the superhero thing. By the end of “Crossfire,” though, he’s fully onboard, agreeing to design Olsen a super-suit. Olsen teases his superhero name (it’s “Guardian”), but we’re one step closer to seeing him in superhero action.
By episode’s end, we’re not just one step closer to Alex (Chyler Leigh), coming out as a lesbian, with Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), the National City police detective as the object of affection, but a full-blown admission that she’s never felt comfortable living a life as a straight woman. Romance seems all but certain, though Maggie’s recent break-up with the supposed love of her life suggests the Alex-Maggie relationship will take it slow until a suitable mourning period has been observed (i.e., next week in TV time). In classic fashion, Alex tries to come out to Kara, but Kara’s so preoccupied with Mon-El (Chris Ward), the super-powered Daxamite/alien refugee who Kara/Supergirl has decided to guide and mentor (he fails hilariously as a CatGo intern), that she misses all of the signs. Kara could still use a lesson or two on active listening. Like all good things, however, it’ll happen soon enough.
After just a handful of episodes, Mon-El’s future seems in doubt. He lack’s Kara’s focus and resolve. After last week’s drink-fest with Winn, it’s clear Mon-El likes a good time. He’s basically a frat boy, though a well-intentioned one. Whether he becomes a Super like Kara seems increasingly doubtful, but for now, his “stranger in a strange land” routine adds a layer of comedy whenever he’s onscreen. Within a day of joining CatGo, he’s romancing James’ new assistant, Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks), getting himself invited to Lena Luthor’s (Katie McGrath) upcoming charity event, and generally annoying Kara with his supreme lack of seriousness. Kara’s attempts to mold Mon-El in her image, down to the eyeglasses to hide his “secret identity,” goes nowhere, at least for now. We do learn, however, that Kara’s extensive wardrobe also includes several male outfits, all of them in Mon-El’s size.
With Project Cadmus established as Season 2’s Big Bad, the overarching question of the mystery woman’s (Brenda Strong) identity finally gets resolved: She’s a Luthor. She’s Lena’s mother. Like Lex – imprisoned for crimes against superheroes and humanity offscreen by Superman – Lex and Lena’s mother abhors aliens with an obsession bordering on the pathological. Her extremist, xenophobic agenda leads her to justify all sorts of atrocities in the name of her goals. While the actions of Lena’s mother leave no doubt as to her intentions (none of them good), Lena’s remain opaque. She says all of the right things, does all the right things, all in service of repairing the tarnished family name and restoring LexCorp to its former glory financially and brand wise, but given her family (nurture vs. nature, since she’s Lex’s adopted sister, not his biological one), doubt and distrust, not to mention caution, are in order.