When we last left Supergirl/Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Friends, they were faced with the arrival of a Daxamite invasion fleet, the result of a Stargate-inspired portal created by Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath). The Daxamite queen, Rhea (Teri Hatcher), took full advantage of Lena’s weak point – the lack of a loving maternal figure in her life – to convince an unwitting Lena that the portal she was building with the Luthor family’s money was for the public good (a matter transporter). Before she could do anything about her betrayal, however, Lena found herself aboard the Daxamite mothership, with Rhea at her bedside. Rhea’s plan (or part of it)? Marry off her reluctant son and Supergirl’s boyfriend, Mon-El (Chris Wood) to Lena, uniting (New) Daxam and Earth. Their half-human/half-Daxamite offspring would rule Earth (or something).
Of course, Supergirl has other ideas, specifically a future without Rhea or her Daxam army. Unfortunately for Supergirl, she’s two or three steps behind Rhea. Rhea declares herself Earth’s new ruler – the TV budget limits her to just a few streets and corners of National City – but it’s more than enough to draw the attention of the current (non-male) president of the United States, Olivia Marsden (Lynda Carter). Marsden takes a not-smart confrontational approach to her first interaction with Rhea. Unsurprisingly, it goes badly, leaving Marsden’s airplane, Air Force One, scattered in pieces across an empty field and her friend/confidante/advisor Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) without a ride home. Luckily for Grant, Supergirl swooped in to save her from a fatal flaw. In the process, though, Supergirl and Grant learn what everyone on the other side of the TV screen already knows: Marsden is not of this Earth. She’s an alien refugee, but the benevolent kind (so it’s all good).
With Grant temporarily back in the fold, viewers know exactly what to expect: Long, looping Pep Talks (Grant’s superpower). She tries to coax a truce between Rhea and Marsden seconds before Air Force One goes down. She does much better when she gives a rally-the-troops speech to Supergirl, her sister and DEO Super-Agent, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), all-around super computer wiz, moments after Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), Alex’s g-friend and National City Super-Cop, and James “The Guardian” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) rush back into battle against the Daxamite hordes (well 5-6 stunt men in generic armor [that TV budget thing again]) because that’s what heroes do. It also allows for a late episode gag where Calista, newly saved from Daxamite soldiers by the Guardian, immediately recognizes the man behind the mask (his eyes give him away).
But with the Daxamite mothership hovering ominously overhead, it’s up to Supergirl and enemies-turned-temporary allies Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong) and Cyborg Superman (David Harewood) to save Lena and Mon-El before they exchange wedding vows under duress. While Supergirl rightly expects Lillian to betray her at the first opportunity (she does once Lena has been found and freed), Supergirl doesn’t expect (a) Rhea to knock out the DEO’s super-secret weapon, a positronic cannon, (b) have a mind-wiped/brainwashed Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) under her control. He emerges from the shadows just long enough to knock a shock Supergirl down while Rhea – a classic, monologue-obsessed super villain if there ever was one – crows from her throne. The future looks bleak for Supergirl and her friends, but with one episode left in a relatively strong second season, we can expect the Supergirl-Rhea conflict to resolve itself via a punchfest (again, on a TV budget).
This week’s episode, aptly titled “Resist,” didn’t set aside much room for character building or character relationships, but hat’s what episodes 1-20 were for. Instead, “Resist” was all about reconfirming the strengths of those relationships, especially Alex and Maggie (they go on a mission together), Supergirl and her favorite mentor, Cat Grant, and Supergirl with Team Supergirl. Supergirl’s vain attempt to convince Rhea to change her ways one last time – presumably because she doesn’t want to take down her boyfriend’s mother with extreme prejudice (remember, though, Superman and Supergirl don’t kill in this universe, at least not yet) – felt more like an excuse for Superman’s surprise entrance on Rhea’s side, intentionally or not. Rhea’s autocratic, authoritarian tendencies may or may not have real-world parallels (Grant calls out Rhea and the Daxamites for wanting to “Make Earth Great Again” in case you missed it), but next week’s finale, “Nevertheless, She Persisted,” teases an obvious connection between Supergirl (the comic-book embodiment of female power), real-world, progressive politicians and opposition to autocratic, authoritarian rulers (hint: women make up the majority of the resistance).