Several backstories and secrets were revealed in “Manhunter”, the 17th episode of CBS’ “Supergirl”, Monday night. The dynamics of the show and the characters were also changed throughout the course of the show.
After saving National City last week from a red kryptonite infected Supergirl, J’onn J’onzz/the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), still in his Hank Henshaw appearance, was interrogated by U.S. Army Major Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and Colonel James “Jim” Harper (Eddie McClintock). Harper is angry and probably scared of J’onn (and rightfully so since J’onn had impersonated Hank for 10 years. He counted “Hank” as his best friend and had him over his house and around his children.)
But, J’onn is quick to point out that not only has he helped the Department of Extranormal Operations catch alien fugitives and prevent alien threats, but he has brought honor to the department and Hank’s name. Viewers are also able to see how J’onn met Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) and learned of Jeremiah’s daughter Alex (adult Alex played by Chyler Leigh, young Alex played by Jordan Mazarati) and his adopted daughter Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers/Supergirl (adult Kara played by Melissa Benoist, young Kara played by Malina Weissman).
Jeremiah’s return to the show, albeit through a flashback, was a very welcomed one and added a new depth to the show’s backstory. He’s been more of a ghost, which has touched many lives, when the show began last year. According to the show, Jeremiah, along with his wife, not only helped Superman learn more about his powers and alien background, but he also ensured his daughters would have J’onn as a protector if anything happened to him. That’s what true fathers do: protect their children from harm and make sure they are taken care of long after they are gone.
But, Jeremiah isn’t as “gone” as J’onn, Alex and Kara had originally thought. And with that revelation, does it mean that the real Hank is still alive also?
In Alex’s flashback, three years ago, Alex was far from the disciplined agent that she has grown to be. The show didn’t really show why Alex was on such a self-destructive path, but according to J’onn, it could be from having Kara as an adopted sister and the loss of her father. As Alex herself said, J’onn gave her a home and a purpose.
In Kara’s flashback, we see her, as a 13-year-old, trying to adjust to being a Danvers and experiencing the strength of her new powers. She’s fascinated by Earth, especially its birds, which Krypton didn’t have and is in awe of the world around. She also has heroics in her blood when she races to save a woman and her child from a burning car. Even though she saved two lives, she is scolded by Alex and Jeremiah tells her she should just be “Kara Danvers”. He didn’t praise her for doing the right thing or tell her to just be careful when she’s rescuing people. He told her to be “normal” and gave her a pair of eyeglasses that would keep her x-ray vision in check.
But, what about Kara’s other powers, which were developing? She was experiencing super-hearing right before she rescued the mother and her child. How hard was it for Kara, during her teenage years, to hear people screaming for help and having to will herself to do nothing about it and turn her super hearing off? Does she feel guilty for not aiding those people when she could have? Is this why she pushes herself so much and is so hard on herself when something she does goes wrong?
Jeremiah’s speech to Kara was similar to the one Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) gave a 13-year-old Clark (Dylan Sprayberry) after he saved a bus full of his classmates in the 2013 film, “Man of Steel”. Parents are protective, and yes, they have to be even more protective when their adopted child is a “stranger visitor from another planet,” but wouldn’t it make more sense to help that child develop and control their powers rather than to scold them when they are using them to help others? Wouldn’t it be safer to raise a child who isn’t afraid of the powers and the abilities they have and tell them to be careful not to be seen when they are saving the day rather than tell them not to help at all and be “normal”?
Kara’s cousin Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El should have worked something out with the Danvers so he could come and train her. No wonder Kara had such a hard time adjusting to her strength and powers: she had to train herself. Without really knowing this show’s Clark’s background, viewers don’t know what his adoptive parents’ taught him about helping others or if they are still alive (since he didn’t take Kara to live with them). But, it seems he failed Kara in helping her to adjust to life on a planet where she has amazing powers and teaching her to embrace her desire to help others.
In episode 1, Jimmy tells Kara that Clark wanted her to become a superhero, but wanted her to choose it for herself. But, she already wanted it when she was a teenager, so he should have trained her to become a superhero.
Why didn’t Clark raise his cousin himself? She was 13 when he found her and he was 24. He could have brought him to Metropolis and helped her get adjusted to life on earth. That would have been a cool backstory, with the first episode quickly recapping this backstory and showing that Kara had moved to another city to begin her career as Supergirl.
Speaking of Clark, he also failed J’onn 10 years ago. The real Hank Henshaw told J’onn that Superman called him “the most powerful being on the face of this earth”. Why did Superman tell Hank about J’onn when he didn’t trust the government? Why didn’t Superman invite J’onn to move to Metropolis and live there or live at the Fortress of Solitude? Where is Clark now that J’onn’s true identity has been exposed to the world and news outlets are showing that DEO agents apprehended him?
Yes, this is Supergirl’s show, but there should be times that Clark steps up, not to take over things, but to provide assistance to Kara and J’onn, who are fellow alien refugees. He doesn’t have to pop in all the time, but his name and his superhero persona have been spoken so often now that it’s time for him to make an official appearance. It’s a shame (and a much anticipated March 28th crossover event) that the CW’s “The Flash” will cross dimensions and team up with Kara before her super cousin does. Maybe Superman will make a guest appearance in the season finale?
Highlights of this episode included Dean Cain’s return to “Supergirl”, the awesome rescue sequence with young Kara, J’onn eating his favorite cookies “Chocos” (the DC equivalent to Oreos), Lucy and Kara rescuing J’onn and Alex and the mention of Project Cadmus.
In DC Comics, Cadmus is basically the evil opposite of S.T.A.R. (Scientific and Technological Advanced Research) Labs (which is the lab that the main characters of “The Flash” operate from). First appearing in the pages of issue no. 133 of the comic book, “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen”, the fictional genetics engineering organization made its debut as the “DNA Project’ in October 1970 and was created by the late, great Jack “The King” Kirby. In the Post-Crisis version of Cadmus, the organization was responsible for creating a “Superboy”, which was a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, and a clone of the yellow and blue clad “Guardian” (think Marvel’s Captain America with a yellow, indestructible shield), whose alter ego is…Jim Harper.
Yes, the Jim Harper in this episode could very well have been a clone under the control of Cadmus. If that’s true, maybe the Jeremiah Danvers at Cadmus is actually a clone.
Kara telling Lucy that she’s really Supergirl seemed a bit rushed and Lucy’s acceptance of it did also, but it was also awesome to see that Kara and Lucy will be helping each other out. That could mean, for the unseeable future, that Kara will not pursue her feelings for Jimmy out of respect for Lucy.
The flashbacks of how Kara came to work for Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) at CatCo and met Winn (Jeremy Jordan) were a nice touch to an episode of backstory building. It was also cool to see how much Kara wanted to be out in the world helping others, but because of her adoptive family, suppressed that urge so she could be “normal.”
Malina Weissman was also a highlight of this episode. She always does a great job of portraying young Kara as an alien on a strange, new world and makes viewers see the wonder that Kara has of her new home. When she looked at the birds in this episode, viewers could really feel she was overcome with awe and when she ran into action, they could feel that she knew she was doing the right thing and didn’t care if anyone saw her. She was a little rough when she threw the woman out of the car, but that’s because no one had trained her how to rescue people and be gentle.
This episode also raised three very interesting questions, one which popped up a few episodes ago: if J’onn is over 300 years old, why is it so hard for him to carefully and telepathically erase specific memories from people’s minds? It’s one of his abilities and he seems quite efficient in using his other abilities. If he had a bad experience using his telepathy on a human when he first arrived on Earth and vowed never to use them again, that would be understandable. But, he clearly uses his telepathy to read minds.
In episode 11, “Strange Visitor from Another Planet”, J’onn told Alex and Kara that the White Martian located him in National City because he used his mental powers. He also used them to scan the mind of Bizarro Supergirl. So, either J’onn is proficient in using his mental powers or he’s not.
The second question, which was brought up in last week’s review, is why hasn’t Supergirl been detained? She destroyed parts of the city, let an alien fugitive go, attacked DEO agents and still gets to walk around the department freely. The department has kryptonite and could easily detained her, like they did in the first episode. The only possible and understandable reason for that would be the fact that Superman is her cousin and the department doesn’t want to face “The Man of Steel”.
The third question is, with so many themes through this season about family, especially sisters, mothers, fathers and father-figures, why hasn’t any attention been put on Kara’s relationship with her birth father, Zor-El (Robert Gant)? We know more about her mother and aunt than her father. Maybe the show will delve into this dynamic next season.
The episode teleplay was written by Cindy Lichtman and Rachel Skukert from a story by Derek Simon. Caitlin Parrish served as executive story editor while Chris Fisher directed the episode.
The show was developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Berlanti and Kreisberg also developed and executive produce the CW’s “Arrow”, “The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”, according to IMDb.com.
“Worlds Finest”, the 18th episode of “Supergirl”, in which the CW’s “The Flash” star Grant Gustin will guest star as Barry Allen/The Flash, airs Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. Central on CBS.