Tonight's (Nov. 23) episode of "Supergirl" — "How Does She Do It?" — asks the question: Can Kara (Melissa Benoist) have it all. The answer? That's a stupid question and it's all more complicated than that, thank you very much.
It's also worth nothing that this episode was originally supposed to air before the episode that aired last week. It was switched out because of its theme of terrorism in light of the Paris attacks. This meant that last week's Thanksgiving-themed episode skipped a few important plot points — namely, how James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) got back together with Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum). Tonight, we got our answer.
Here are the seven biggest moments from "How Does She Do It?"
Cat has an adorable son — and Kara is babysitting.
When Cat (Calista Flockhart) has to go to Metropolis to accept a prestigious media award, babysitting duty for her teenage son falls to Kara. Actually, Kara (Melissa Benoist) volunteers. Because she likes helping people. (And she totally loves Cat — even if Cat is a terrible boss and, sometimes, person.)
For the most part, Cat's son Carter is a dream. He is a quiet, thoughtful kid who just happens to be obsessed with Supergirl. However, that dream turns into a nightmare when he sneaks off to a train targeted by National City terrorists. Because he thinks Supergirl will be there. And, in a demonstration of one of Carter's many endearing character traits, he loves Supergirl. (For her heart.)
Supergirl has some tough choices to make.
The theme of tonight's episode: Kara can't be everywhere at once. She can't be everything at once. Supergirl. DEO agent. Sister. Employee. Babysitter. Friend. Potential girlfriend. It's all too much — no matter what Cat may say about juggling. (I wasn't totally thrilled with the breakdown of this unattainable, sexist standard — although it is always cool to see a show interested in feminist issues at all. But the thing is: Sometimes, you can't do it all, no matter how slowly you add the juggling balls. Or whatever. "Supergirl" proved this in action in having Kara be forced to trust the D.E.O., but Cat's rant was a little off-point. At least to me. )
When Carter sneaks off to meet Supergirl, Kara has an even harder choice to make: stop a bomb planted at the airport or stop a bomb planted on the high-speed train. Because of The Carter Factor, she chooses the train, and trusts the D.E.O. to save the airport. They both succeed, but only just, with Kara losing in that sense that she can't stop terrorist Ethan Knox from detonating the bomb and killing himself.
We kind of ship Alex and Maxwell Lord?CBS
It's still unclear if Maxwell Lord is a good guy or a bad guy, but one thing's for sure: he and Alex have mega chemistry. And it's not hard to see why Alex (Chyler Leigh) might like him. In addition to being super foxy, the brilliant scientist says he chose his path in life because he wants to help people — just like Alex. (Also, have we mentioned that he is a billionaire? He's a billionaire.)
When the D.E.O. finds evidence that Lord Technologies might be the next target of the terrorist bombings currently going down around National City, Alex gets tasked with protecting Maxwell. As previously mentioned, the two totally hit it off.
Unfortunately, Lord also happens to be a super-villain.CBS
This is all thoroughly inconvenient as tonight's episode also seemed to reveal that Maxwell Lord also happens to be a super-villain and was the force behind the terrorist attacks. Kara figures out that he was the one who put Ethan Knox up to the attacks. He bartered these bombings — and inevitably Ethan's life — for the life of Ethan's doctor, who is sick and needs medical care that Ethan himself could not afford.
Why did Lord do all of this? Well, his comment on how the world needs "a new kind of hero" seems particularly meaty. Also, he is obsessed with finding out Supergirl's weaknesses — and her identity. Kara might have caught a break on that last point. Maxwell plans on using the train's roster to determine who on the train Kara cared enough about to warrant her risking thousands of lives at the airport to save the train. Carter was not only not on the manifest, but doesn't have an obvious connection to Kara. Still, Lord seems the persistent type.
Watching these episodes out of order was a bit awkward.
The awkwardness of playing these episodes out of order is more obvious watching this episode than it was last week. There are a few beats here that complement last week's episode well — i.e. the mention of Cat's disapproving mother and the almost-mention of Kara's deceased mother. You can see how they were serialized character moments of the same larger story, which is kind of sad because we saw them out of order, but also incredibly heartening because it implies that "Supergirl" has a firm grasp on these character arcs and dynamics.
James' love life is complicated.CBS
Guys, James was so close to letting ex-girlfriend Lucy go. Even though you can tell that these two will always love one another in some way, it also seems clear that James is ready and eager to move on. And that this moving on might include Kara.
But when Lucy's life is put in danger during one of the terrorist bomb scares, he realizes how much he still hearts her. In addition to Kara's comment that James needs to make sure that he doesn't still have feelings for Lucy because that wouldn't be fair to whomever comes next (i.e. Kara), the threat on Lucy's life is enough for these two crazy kids to go running back into one another's arms.
Guys, this was a disappointing, but still kind of heartwarming plot development — which, narratively, is a good sign. I feel conflicted about James and Lucy getting back together because it's more complicated than James and Kara belong together (even though they kind of do) or that Lucy is mean and Kara is nice (that one isn't true). These are humans who are capable of complicated human emotions, which means their dilemmas and choices are also complicated. And I haven't even mentioned poor Winn in all of this!
Henshaw continues to be shady.CBS
But not necessarily evil. Henshaw (David Harewood) disarms the bomb in the airport with his super strength. That's nice, right? He also seems genuinely worried that Kara was almost hurt when carrying the bomb from Lord Technologies out of National City. This was another instance in how seeing the chronologically next episode first changed how I viewed this episode. We now know that the D.E.O. coerced Kara and Alex's father into working for them, and that their mom thinks the D.E.O. is covering up the actual details of his death.
What are you up to, Henshaw? You may have glowing red eyes, but I'm not ready to write you off as a bad guy. Yet. One wrong move, Cyborg Superman, and we might have to revisit your classification on the hero-to-villain spectrum.