The nanobots are here. The nanobots are here. It was only a matter of time, of course, before Supergirl’s latest episode, “Ace Reporter,” went where comic books – and science fiction for that matter – have gone before: Nanotechnology run amok. As always, it’s not a good idea to mess with Father time or Mother Nature. And it’s definitely not a good idea to introduce an entirely new, revolutionary product that will change the world without running a few tests, maybe even a few tests on human subjects, especially since said revolutionary product, flying, drone-like nanobots, operate in a swarm, complete with swarm intelligence. The culprit for unleashing the nanobot swarm on Nation City, the city Supergirl has promised to protect? One Jack Spheer (Rahul Kohli, iZombie), an Elon Musk-like inventor with massive amounts of venture behind him and a messiah complex. He’s also Lena Luthor’s (Katie McGrath) ex, as in ex-boyfriend and ex-partner in a onetime start-up that went nowhere. That is , until Spheer shows up in National City with his shiny, new toys.
It’s all fun and games until a whistleblower with a beard and a metaphorical red shirt taps Kara Danvers/Zor-El/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) at the grand unveiling and promises to give her the scoop of a lifetime. Little does the whistleblower know, but his lifetime is about to end when a nanobot swarm interrupts their meeting in mid-sentence. Kara gets enough info, though, to justify her desire to investigate Spheer and not just because she’s feeling overprotective her best friend (for this episode, anyway). Kara eventually crosses paths with her ex-boss, Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez). As Supergirl, she saves him from a second nanobot swarm attack, but as Kara Danvers, she helps with key info (more or less). By episode’s end, mea culpas (Kara’s, not Snapper’s) lead to Kara’s reinstatement as a CatGo Worldwide Media (cub, not ace) reporter. Kara and Snapper almost share a hug, if only figuratively.
While it takes a couple of corpses for Kara to get her reporting groove back on, the nanobot swarm continues to make all sorts of trouble for National City’s inhabitants. Actually, not really. While the swarm looks more than passable on a TV budget, there’s only so much Supergirl’s producers can do with that budget and all-out nanobot swarm attack on National City isn’t one of them. Budget limitations will always determine how much superhero action we’ll get week to to week. Unfortunately, this week we get three, truncated nanobot swarm attacks, with the ultimate culprit revealed not to be Spheer, a brilliant inventor who makes the dumbest mistake known to man or woman (he tests the nanobot tech on himself), but his CFO, Beth Breen (Claudia Doumit). Spheer doesn’t make it out of the episode alive, but Kara-Lena shippers get, if not the scene they want, then the next closest, semi-best thing: Lena leaning heavily on Kara for emotional support during her trials and tribulations.
The Kara-Lena friendship, though, might not last past next week’s episode or the one after that. The back half’s Big Bad (no, not Project Cadmus), Rhea (Terri Hatcher), Mon-El’s (Chris Wood) part-time mom and full-time tyrant, strolls into Lena’s office, not to offer her condolences on Lena’s loss (Rhea couldn’t care less), but to offer her a proposition she won’t be able to refuse. Unfortunately, we won’t find out the nature of that proposition until next week at the earliest. For now, we’re left with the distinct possibility that Mon-El won’t make it out of Season 2 alive or if he does, it’s because he’s decided to return to his homeworld, Daxam, to help rebuild with a less authoritarian, more egalitarian (and democratic) slant. As always, time – not to mention Season 2’s four remaining episodes – will tell.
The B-story – and yes, there’s a time-filling B-story – involves James Olsen/The Guardian (Mehcad Brooks), Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), and Winn’s alien girlfriend, Lyra (Tamzin Merchant). While James just wants to be crime-fighting bros, Winn decides to bring Lyra along on their nighttime missions. Things predictably go sideways when Lyra kicks a little too much ass too enthusiastically, resulting in a temporary rift between James and Winn and later, once Winn decides to follow James’ lead and push Lyra out of the crime-fighting business, between Winn and Lyra. Eventually, though, conflict proves to be temporary, with James taking Lyra back, but only if she follows some unspecified ground rules that will presumably minimize collateral damage and avoid bringing down the wrath of the (nonexistent) National City police on their respective heads. At least “Ace Reporter” gives James, a seriously underused, almost redundant character this season, and Winn, a stereotypical computer nerd, with more to do this episode. Unlike say Alex (Chyler Leigh), Kara’s adoptive sister. We’ll see more of Alex next week when Supergirl’s producers go into full-on Saw/The Cell mode, putting Alex in existential jeopardy while Supergirl literally moves mountains to find and save her.