Unfortunately, and maybe appropriately, the topic is covered a bit heavy-handed and ham-fisted in this episode. Understanding that this isn't a college or Master's level course on this topic and knowing that some of the audience are viewers who are kids, this has to be a sort of primer on the subject, presented in broad strokes. In some ways, this reminded me more of the early episodes of Season One where feminist ideas were presented in stilted dialogue that hit the viewer over the head.
That isn't to say I didn't enjoy this episode. There is some personal growth in almost all of the main characters in the show, mostly around this amnesty point. We meet a couple of new characters: Mon-El, Maggie Sawyer, and Miss Martian. And it is clear that an Alex/Maggie relationship is starting to simmer on the back burner. And Lynda Carter is great as the President Marsdin (so close to Marston!) and the show runners add a couple of Wonder Woman Easter Eggs.
And no big surprise, Melissa Benoist is just dazzling in the episode. Whether it is the nervous giddy Supergirl preparing to meet the President or the prejudiced Kara thinking about Daxam or the frustrated Kara Danvers learning one of the most basic tenets of journalism or the determined Supergirl squaring off against a villain, Benoist captures it all perfectly. She is simply a superstar.
On to the particulars. Settle in!
This episode picks up right where the last one ended with Mon-El's hand around Kara's throat. I wonder if this is a new bit on the show, closing with a cliffhanger that immediately hooks into the next episode. Mon-El seems completely shocked about having powers and just takes off. At least we know that he didn't intentionally head to Earth to get powers.
His escape is concerning given that the President is coming to National City to sign the Alien Amnesty Act, a way (as Kara says) for aliens to 'come out of the shadows' and live as a citizen. It also sounds so peachy keen to Supergirl who thinks everyone is good and deserves a chance to live freely. But J'onn and Alex know that they have been fighting evil aliens all their lives. (As Alex says she has met 3 good aliens.)
It is here we see just how nervous and starstruck Kara is about the President. She is asked to be at the airport when the President arrives and she giddily agrees.
We visited this a little last year in the Master Jailer episode. Supergirl's optimism here shines nicely. But she seems almost too sunny given the war she went through last season.
Meanwhile, James is struggling a bit as well. CatCo is going to cover the President's visit. He wants headline pitches. He wants Kara to interview the President. Almost immediately, Snapper Carr wrests control from James. He reassigns Kara to Lena Luthor. He says the headline is the last thing to happen. The meeting ends with everyone walking to Carr's orders.
I did like this shot of James, small in Cat's office, not ready to fill her shoes yet. Nice directing here.
The President arrives and Supergirl is there to greet her. Almost immediately, the President is attacked by an unseen alien wielding fire powers. Supergirl has to save the President by spreading her cape as a shield against a fireball.
I love this imagery of the cape as shield.
Also on the scene is Maggie Sawyer from National City Police Department's Science Division. There is almost immediate tension between Alex and Maggie. Maggie flashes her badge and says 'I showed you mine, now show me yours'. Maggie definitely has a presence right from the beginning - strong, confident, qualified.
At the DEO, the President again says that her Alien Amnesty Act is crucial to extend a hand in peace to the hiding aliens. Hank and Alex are still cautious. Not all aliens want peace and a simple living. But the President reminds them that someone once extended that hand of peace to J'onn one day. People need hope. It again is presented in a very broad stroke. To extend this outlook to real life, the President would be granting aliens from countries amnesty.
Meanwhile at LCorp, Lena has created a handheld alien detector that she plans to sell. She isn't against amnesty. But she does believe that people deserve to know who their neighbors are. Again, to shunt this into the real world, it would be like creating a device that would flag whatever group you can name - by religion, orientation, race. I can understand wanting to know who lives near you if they are a threat (for example pedophiles or sexual offenders). But I don't want people to be wearing symbols or flags labeling them.
Alex runs into Maggie again as she tracks down the escaped 'Kryptonian' essentially blowing her DEO cover. And Kara chastises Alex for going out against this alien alone. In fact, Kara calls Alex a dummy for being so bold. I am wondering if the writers are putting a wedge between Kara and Alex. From last week's disagreement to this barb, I think we are going to see the sisters drift apart.
Meanwhile, Snapper has to tell Kara that she is writing an article not an op-ed piece. (I think they teach that on the first day of Journalism 101.) So Kara writing about the LCorp device as a way to identify 'aliens like lepers', as a tool of the 'xenophobic right', is a bit too personal.
The Alex/Maggie relationship heats up a bit when Maggie brings Alex to a bar where aliens can relax and have a drink. Maggie reveals she can empathize with aliens. As a non-white, gay growing up in Blue Hills Nebraska she felt ostracized. Of course, she says most aliens are 'hard-working immigrants and refugees hiding to survive'. While true, Alex could counteract with Fort Rozz trying to overrun the planet just a week ago. But as the point of this story is to cast the Amnesty Act in a good light, we don't get that.
Again, I'm not saying I am against this Act. But we are hearing a one sided argument here.
Someone at the bar says the escaped alien was looking to send a signal home ... to Daxam.
We learn that Krypton and Daxam were sister planets who warred. Kara recalls that Krypton was a perfect planet of philosophers, scientists, and democracy. Meanwhile Daxam was a backwards world with a monarchy who attacked Krypton for no reason. This shows how Kara can be prejudiced. So this will be the way to have Kara confront here own issues. But given all she learned last season, you'd think she wouldn't have such a pollyanna view of Krypton.
This leads Supergirl to an observatory where she takes out the escapee. It is a great action sequence. Imprisoned at the DEO, the escapee talks about how Krypton attacked Daxam. After all, the Kryptonians were elitists who felt the Daxamites were backwater idiots.
The President comes out publicly to sign the Amnesty Act playing up how this is a historic moment for granting full rights as citizens to the aliens.
But she is once again attacked by the fire wielding alien, now shown to be a young woman who was at the alien bar. While unsuccessful in killing the President, she does escape with Maggie as a prisoner.
There is a nice moment where Kara, on fire, needs to spin to extinguish herself. It is definitely an homage to Lynda Carter and Wonder Woman.
Alex heads back to the bar and beats up a patron until some information is provided on where the fire woman is hiding.
I love when Alex flashes some fisticuffs. This was well done with a nice perspective from the alien's viewpoint, pinned under a bar stool.
The alien claims that Amnesty is a Trojan horse for registration. She has suffered from prejudice on many planets. She doesn't want to be exposed.
Alex and Supergirl arrive and Supergirl says it is attacking aliens like this woman who make people afraid. After a skirmish, Kara quenches the woman's fire with a tornado (poorly shown in this pic) and Maggie finishes her off with a pipe to the jaw.
I love how Maggie says that the Danvers have fun.
Nothing left to do but wrap things up.
James has a meeting where he stares down Snapper and gains control of the office. All shots show James dominating the screen, a subtle way of showing his growth.
Alex and Maggie basically flirt with each other a bit. Alex admits that she has fought aliens for so long she hasn't seen them in any other way and thanks Maggie for opening her eyes.
Supergirl opens up the cell and releases the prisoner who says his name is Mon-El. Kara admits that she was biased and apologizes. She explains that Daxam is gone. The hand of friendship is extended.
And then we get two great hooks.
The President tells Kara she has a better jet than Air Force One (a nice homage to the Invisible Jet).
But then a truly unexpected wrinkle.
The President is herself an alien.
Knowing the Invasion storyline crossing over, I might guess she's a Durlan. But she looks more Khundish.
And then an expected wrinkle.
J'onn decides to take the President's advice and live a little in his alien form. So he heads to the bar in his Martian Manhunter form. And there he meets the bartender from earlier who reveals herself to me M'Gann Morzz, the last daughter of Mars.
So overall a heavily written look at prejudice and amnesty. I do wonder if this narrative will be turned on its head a little when the President is revealed. Is this alien making the borders open to aliens so her troops can be an enemy within? Or is that too politically toxic a plotline to have?
The bottom line is the character segments and growth overshadowed any downsides I have. Seeing Alex and J'onn confront their preconceived notions of aliens was great. Seeing Kara realize she has her own prejudices and seeing her overcome them was wonderful. I liked Maggie's spirit. And Mon-El might be a little too comfortable (how did he know English and where did he get his hoodie?) but he is a great addition.
So what did you all think?