There’s a new (super) hero on Supergirl, but it’s not Mon-El (Chris Ward), the last – or one of the last – survivors of Daxam, Krypton’s ill-fated sister planet. Mon-El’s frat-bro behavior repeatedly annoys the fun-averse Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), but it doesn’t stop Mon-El and Kara from hanging out at the local, alien-inclusive dive bar, the same bar where Alex (Chyler Leigh), Kara’s adopted sister and DEO Special Agent, and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), a National City police detective, spend quality bonding time together. It helps – or maybe it doesn’t – that Alex has begun taking the first tentative steps toward coming out to herself and later, to her sister.
That new superhero, though, doesn’t make an appearance until well past the mid-point of Season 2’s sixth episode, “Changing.” Under the metal-and-chrome cosplay a familiar face emerges: None other than James “Please Stop Calling Me Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Tired of standing on the sidelines while super-powered superheroes like Superman and Supergirl save the day – and sometimes the world – Olsen wants to do his (superhero) part. It also gives Olsen something to do besides hanging around CatCo Media and occasionally holding meetings to discuss magazine pitches. Luckily for Olsen, tech mage Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), has just what Olsen needs: A suit of modern armor, complete with a retractable shield and matching motorcycle. By the end of the episode, Olsen’s new persona, the Guardian, has stepped up big time to help Supergirl and Mon-El take down this week’s Big Bad, an energy-sucking alien parasite (actually, longtime Superman foe, the “Parasyte.”).
“Changing” introduces the parasite via an obvious nod (or homage) to “John Carpenter’s The Thing.” Just to be clear, that’s not a bad thing at all. More power to any genre show on or off the CW that pays homage to one of – if not the greatest – science-fiction/horror film made over the last century. Scientists researching the effects of climate change in the Arctic wastelands discover a perfectly preserved, still-warm wolf. It might be three to five thousand years old, but it looks as fresh as it did the day it died. One scientist, Dr. Rudy Jones (William Mapother), makes a colossal blunder (needed, of course, to move the plot along), sticking his hand into the dead wolf’s innards. Screaming ensues, the camera feed dies, and a DEO team led by Alex and her boss, Hank Henshaw / Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), bring Jones back to National City.
In the second colossal blunder in two minutes, Jones walks out of the DEO after a cursory physical exam. The alien parasite melds completely with Jones, taking his climate change views to their logical, if extreme, conclusion: Humans are the problem and he, the alien parasite/Jones hybrid, is the answer. Rushing headlong into danger – something we always expect of superhero – Supergirl loses the first face-to-face with the parasite/alien hybrid, but a second confrontation proves to even more dangerous. Bot Supergirl and the Martian Manhunter not only lose the fight, they’re left practically powerless. While Supergirl’s remarkable healing powers take effect, the Martian Manhuunter’s fate doesn’t look so positive. It takes the intervention of M’gann M’orzz / Miss Martian (Sharon Leal) to save the Manhunter, but her secret (she’s a White Martian, not a Green Martian) suggests their relationship isn’t going to end well.
Supergirl and the Martian Manhunter’s joint incapacitation gives Olsen all the reason he needs to slip into something less comfortable, his new Winn-created super-armor, and head straight into danger. While the fight ends predictably, with Supergirl, Mon-El, and the Guardian defeating this week’s Big Bad, Season 2’s real Big Bad, the head of Project Cadmus (Brenda Strong), makes an unwelcome appearance, kidnapping a vulnerable Mon-El to poke, prod, and otherwise experiment on Mon-El (vivisection isn’t off the menu, so to speak). That scene, however, happens seconds before the credits roll on this week’s episode. Moments earlier, Kara gets to play supportive sister to her distraught older sister. Alex’s assumption that fully embracing her sexual orientation would lead to a romance with Sawyer turns out to be wholly incorrect, at least for one more week. Sawyer gives her the “We’re in different places in our lives right now, let’s be friend’s speech.” Alex doesn’t take it well at all.
Where does that leave Supergirl’s legion of fans then? It leaves Alex in disarray, Supergirl in comfort mode, Mon-El kidnapped, the Martian Manhunter alive, recuperating, but soon to be super disappointed when he discovers Miss Martian’s real identity, Olsen fully embracing his superhero status (with Winn on back-up), and Project Cadmus hovering slightly off-screen, eager to emerge from the shadows and put its anti-alien, pro-xenophobic plans into play. Chances are, it’ll get worse before it gets better on Supergirl. We wouldn’t have it any other way, though.