With Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), Supergirl/Kara Danvers/Kara Zor-El’s adoptive sister, safe and sound and back in the DEO fold, all looked right for Supergirl and Friends, but that was before Rhea (Teri Hatcher), Daxamite queen and spurned mother to one Mon-El/Mike (Chris Wood), decided to take the Earth’s future in her hand and align herself with an unsuspecting Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath). Ultra-eager to prove herself her brother’s equal in the brainiac department and his better in the moral/ethical one, Lena lets Rhea charm her into creating a spacetime portal of some kind. Lena thinks she’ll be able to solve all of Earth’s major problems with her Stargate-inspired teleportation device. Instead, she gives Rhea what she’s always wanted: A way to bring Daxam’s scattered survivors to Earth as part of an invasion fleet.
Like always, though, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The Daxamite fleet doesn’t appear until “City of Lost Children’s” closing moment and when it does, the Earth looks like it’s about to suffer an Independence Day-inspired beatdown. But the Independence Day survivors didn’t have Supergirl to help save the prince (Mon-El) and save the world. Any world saving, though, will have to wait for Supergirl’s last two episodes. For now, we get a re-lesson in the power of the Pep Talk. Rhea repeatedly gives Lena pep talks to help break through a creative or technological impasse throughout the episode. In Rhea, Lena sees the motherly mentor she never had. It’s a blind spot Rhea exploits without remorse or a shred of conscience. She initially wants revenge on Supergirl for stealing her son away and convincing him of the errors of the Daxamite lifestyle, but the portal idea gives her the opportunity to bring Daxam to Earth (as New Daxam).
But since “City of Lost Children” is all about Pep Talks, James “The Guardian” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) gives and gets Pep Talks. He gets one from his best bro and partner-in-fighting-crime Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) when an armor-clad, mask-wearing Olsen scares away a woman he’s just saved from dangerous muggers. As Olsen puts it, “He wants to inspire, not cause fear,” but without Supergirl or Superman’s superpowers – not to mention their fetching colorful red, blue, and yellow costumes – he doesn’t know how he’ll become more than a street-level vigilante defined by his off-the-rack armor and a dual-purpose shield (offense and defense). But where’s an attack by a telepathic, telekinetic alien with a distinctly non-alien name, Erica (Dominique Toney), at a public park, there’s opportunity, opportunity for Olsen to prove he’s more than just another buff dude in ultra-advanced armor.
In detective mode, Olsen discovers the location of the freaked out telepathic, telekinetic alien, but she’s nowhere to be found. Instead, he finds her preteen son, Marcus (Lonnie Chavis), alone in their house. It doesn’t help that Marcus refuses to speak even after Olsen takes off his intimidating mask (it’s not really) to show the man underneath the mask. For probably the first – and likely the last time, at least this season – Olsen’s race comes up. When Hank Henshaw/Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) brings up their special connection or link, Olsen angrily tosses out the “Is it because I’m black?” Maybe, especially once we meet others of Marcus’ refugee kind: They’re black too, but for all of Supergirl’s willingness to mix social and political commentary (i.e., immigration) across its first two seasons, it’s left race practically untouched and most definitely unmentioned, probably out of a desire to appear progressive (i.e, Olsen and Karas Season 1 romance) or to avoid offending right-leaning viewers.
Whatever the reason, it’s a reminder that comic books and their big or small screen analogs can speak to and about the social, cultural, and political issues of the time and not just with a whisper or a passing comment, but directly and passionately. Or not. As always, your mileage may vary when it comes to superhero art (it’s all political, for the record), but to bring it back to Olsen and Marcus, it’s an Olsen Pep Talk about the Power of Friendship (specifically his with Superman) that finally breaks through to Marcus before Marcus and his telepathically linked fellow aliens wreak all kinds of havoc on National City. The culprit? None other than the interdimensional portal or teleportation device Lena and Rhea activated as part of a multi-part test to make sure it works. We already know it works, of course. The cliffhanger ending puts Supergirl firmly in Man of Steel territory once again (last season’s Kryptonian villains replaced by this season’s Daxamite ones), with Supergirl and her allies pitted against a seemingly unstoppable, if not invincible foe.