Last week, Supergirl upended itself by not only having Kara go bad, nearly kill Cat Grant and turn all of National City against her as a result of Red Kryptonite. But the episode saved it’s biggest twist for last with Hank Henshaw revealing his true identity as J’onn J’onzz to help take Kara down.
That’s obviously something that, even with next week’s big crossover with The Flash, that the show can’t let slide. So “Manhunter” opens with J’onn in captivity, eating oreos (a great running gag carried over from the DCU), and telling Alex to forget about him. But that’s not an option. Instead, Alex and J’onn give their testimony to both Maj. Lucy Lane–back with the army after leaving CatCo and James–and Maj. Gen. Jim Harper (Eddie McClintock doing fine work if a tad bit unhinged) in flashbacks that explained how they got where they are and it’s illuminating.
A big part of J’onn’s backstory involves Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain, doing something different from his trademark charm) and the real Henshaw who it turns out was a raging jerk. Alex’s backstory, such as we see, apparently involved a DUI and an internalized sense of failure. Not as well fleshed out but it’s well done all the same.
We also get some young Kara flashbacks and they’re heartbreaking. In a lot of ways, these scenes reminded me of the young Clark scenes in Man of Steel. However, they play out a LOT differently here considering the better quality of this show and the additional subtext of patriarchal suppression Kara faces that Clark does not.
The fact that this episode can be that weighty and still zip by is a testament to the team in front of and behind the camera. David Harewood, much like Lance Reddick on Fringe, has been stuck with portentous exposition so far. But behind that is a good actor able to sell the calm Hank we know and the unhinged monster the real Hank was.
The way the episode ends puts the show in a more conspiracy thriller vein and it’ll be enjoyable to see where it goes. Whether the show can juggle this new thread and all its others remains to be seen. But I’ve got high faith in this show.
Now, let’s all prepare for next week’s big race, eh?
Tom Speelman is a contributor to Comics Alliance, The Mary Sue, Strange Horizons and other websites. He is available for hire and blathers on Twitter @tomtificate.
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