Full disclosure: I wasn’t really looking forward to last night’s Supergirl. After the big cliffhanger in last week’s excellent entry into the season — in which Kara cuts herself on a piece of glass, demonstrating her loss of powers — I was disappointed the show was already going the no powers route so soon. This trope gets explored in nearly every iteration of the Superman/Supergirl story. But boy was I wrong! “Human For a Day” might be my favorite episode so far!
Before we get to the big reveal at the end — and why this ep is tops in my book — let’s start at the beginning. And by beginning, I mean the end of last week’s episode. If you recall, Supergirl channeled all of her rage and fury into her final battle with Red Tornado. Letting out the biggest heat vision blast she’d ever unleashed to straight blow the (ahem, now sentient) android to smithereens.
In doing so, Kara completely drained her solar battery, and will require several days to recharge. She learns this is the case after a series of DEO tests and an exposition dump from her hologram mother. Basically, the writers have incorporated the New 52 Superman’s “Solar Flare” abilities into the show. Jimmy/James even name-checks the ability in a conversation with Kara. You see, Clark loves naming his powers the way Cisco loves to name metahumans.
Because she’s no longer blessed with godlike powers, Kara gets a day off from superheroing. Because she’s no longer invincible, she is now susceptible to the common cold and also gets the day off from CatCo too! But instead of getting the chance to Ferris Beuller around town, National City gets struck by one of the worst earthquakes in history (did Malcolm Merlyn have anything to do with it?)
It really is super bad timing for an earthquake of that magnitude because the DEO is in the middle of interrogating another Fort Rozz detainee. This one, though, is probably the most recognizable inmate to appear on the show. In rather impressive creature makeup, the Saturnian Jemm is being questioned by Henshaw and crew.
If you’re unfamiliar, Jemm has played a key role in several DC Comics stories, but is probably best known as a character most associated with Martian Manhunter. This will be significant later. In the comics, Jemm is usually portrayed as a good guy, but similar to Red Tornado before him, he’s a straight up villain on Supergirl. Like the Justice League’s resident Martian, Jemm has telepathic abilities, so the DEO has to neuter them by placing him in a giant glass tube. Of course, the earthquake knocks out the power at the DEO — you’d think they’d have back up generators considering who’ve they have locked up — and Jemm escapes.
Henshaw sends a task force equipped with inhibitors to counteract Jemm’s psychic powers and capture the alien. Alex wants to go but is ordered to stay behind and monitor the situation. The main reason Alex wants to lead the search party is because last time Hank led an expedition to hunt an alien, everybody but him ended up dead. I’m saying she has trust issues.
Back above ground, Kara and Jimmy are dodging flying debris and runaway cars, and just general chaos a midst the earthquake aftermath. Kara even breaks her arm after Jimmy saves her from getting hit by a car. Honestly, I think it’s just an excuse for Jimmy to take off his shirt.
With the city in chaos — and Supergirl nowhere in sight — Maxwell Lord uses the opportunity to sow more seeds of doubt in the public’s opinion of their superhero. How very Luthor of you, Max.
Kara and Jimmy confront Maxwell about his PR stunt, and he reveals that he knows about Supergirl’s solar flare. He even intimates that she’s taking longer than Superman to recharge and that she might be permanently powerless. Kara doesn’t respond well to being a damsel in distress and decides to be proactive, even without powers. When Jimmy notices looters taking advantage of a convenience store, Kara changes into her Supergirl outfit (how, I don’t know?) to stop the bad guys.
Back at the DEO, Alex is fed up with staying back in the control room, especially when she sees that the agents that accompanied Hank on the search for Jemm are now dead. So she recruits another agent to join her track down Jemm on their own. They find him, but not before the alien is able to mind control the other agent. She’s about to be shot when Henshaw tackles her into another room, saving her life.
Alex, though, is none too grateful about the save and begins berating Henshaw. She unloads on him and even admits the source of her distrust: she thinks Henshaw had something to do with her father’s death. She handcuffs Hank to a pipe in the wall and tells him she’s going after Jemm, but Hank implores that she needs his help and that he isn’t the enemy. When Alex finds Jemm, she’s able to dislodge the
Mind Stone from his forehead, but the alien is undeterred. Just as he’s about to deliver the killing blow, scaffolding crushes him and we see Hank is not only free of his handcuffs, but he’s still saving Alex’s life.
At CatCo, Kara and Jimmy are bonding over abandonment issues when Winn walks in and gets his heart broken.
But there’s no time for soap operatics because there’s a gas leak on a higher floor of their building and CatCo employees can’t get out. Kara’s powers still haven’t returned so Jimmy plays the hero and climbs a ladder in the elevator shaft to help his co-workers. When he falls, though, Kara’s powers instantly return and she swooshes down to save him. All she needed was an adrenaline surge to reinstate her powers, and Jimmy’s near-death experience was the catalyst.
With Supergirl returned, she’s able to help all of the National citizens trapped in the earthquake, and prove Maxwell Lord wrong once again. But really, all we care about is how Hank Henshaw got out of those handcuffs, and what’s the deal with his glowing eyes?
Well, because the Supergirl writers have no intention of slowing down, we get the reveal of the season. Henshaw and Alex have a heart to heart about the day her father died. She was right about the mysterious circumstances. Henshaw and Danvers were indeed hunting an alien in the jungles of South America. When the two finally came upon their prey, Jeremiah had a change of heart because he knew that the alien wasn’t a threat, and ultimately gave his life to protect said alien. That said, Henshaw didn’t survive the encounter either. The only survivor was the alien and he only looks like Henshaw because he’s a shapeshifter.
And if you haven’t guessed, that alien isn’t Hank Henshaw, but J’onn J’onzz!
Let’s watch that again (and again), but in gif form.
Holy shit. Not since Smallville have we seen live action Martian Manhunter action! And once again, he’s played by a Black man! But what do we have to do to get a cape on these characters? They forgot Tornado’s last week, and J’onn doesn’t have his this week!
Remember when we called on WBTV to give Martian Manhunter his own show? Well, they kinda just did! And just like that David Harewood’s character went from being my least favorite to the one I can’t wait to see more of going forward! And according to this interview, they’ll be exploring J’onn’s background even more later this season!
You won’t see how he ended up on Earth, but you will see flashbacks to his family, to how they died, which was a very emotional episode for me. It was around the same time as those terrible attacks in Paris. It was just emotional, the idea that people want to kill others. In our story, and it’s in the comic books, there are two Martian races — there are the Green Martians, which J’onn is a member of, and there are the White Martians. The White Martians exist purely to kill Green Martians. They burn them. They literally put them in furnaces. Playing that on the day was really emotional for me to think that we live on a planet where we kill each other. It was wonderful playing that with Chyler. Hopefully that will be another great episode. J’onn feels deeply that he’s the last Martian. He’s the last of his kind, the only Green Martian left in history.
You guys, we’re getting live action White Martians!