James Olsen's new life as a hero may be cut short when a violent vigilante frames The Guardian for one of his own murders. Meanwhile, J'onn experiences odd symptoms following his blood transfusion from M'gann and Kara enters into Cadmus to rescue a captive Mon-El only to come face to face with the real Hank Henshaw!
Superman: The Movie (Lillian Luthor talks to Kara through a high-pitched signal and uses a threat to lure Supergirl into a trap), the third and fourth seasons of Justice League Unlimited (Cadmus as an anti-superhero organization) and the Superman comics of Dan Jurgens (character of Cyborg Superman).
Mon-El asks about the proper procedure for "finding a mate" in Earth culture. Give he's apparently seeing at last three women, you would think he would have asked about that particular custom before now!
It seems highly unlikely that pouring Kryptonian blood on a Kryptonian computer console would cause it to assume that the person standing before the console matched the blood.
Even if that did work, shouldn't Kelex have auditory and visual censors that would allow him to "see" that Cyborg Superman is not Kara Zor-El?
Even allowing that The Cyborg Superman could be using his technopathy to confuse the computer, why did they need Kara's blood if he was capable of that in the first place?
The direction for this episode is top-notch, darker and more intense than is typical for the series.
The editing between the various flashbacks in the first segment works well, as does the scene being filmed with a circling camera moving around the table filming Kara, Alex, Winn and James as they talk about The Guardian.
The set-design for Cadmus is truly spooky and the atmospheric music helps build the tension of the scenes there.
The fight scenes involving Guardian are some of the best this series has seen.
Kara makes reference to her cousin working with a vigilante who had "tons of gadgets" and "lots of demons". This is almost certainly a reference to Batman.
Kara mentions a blonde Valeronian as one of Mon-El's regular lovers. In the DC Comics universe, Valeron is an alien world whose dominant sentient lifeforms resemble Earthlings. It is most well known as the homeworld of Vartox, The Hyper-Man - a super-being who is even more powerful than Superman.
M'gann makes K'rkzar's Tonic for J'onn - an old Martian folk remedy, apparently similar to chicken soup for Earthlings. In the original DC Comics universe, K'rkZar was the name of an alien philosopher who traveled the universe, studying the religions of all sentient races - including The Martians - searching for one great universal truth. J'onn went off in search of K'rkzar in Martian Manhunter Special #1 (July 1996) in the hope that he might have met other Martian survivors in his travels.
The mysterious Cadmus scientist from the previous episodes is finally identified by name in this episode as Lillian Luthor. Lillian Luthor first appeared in Superman #292 (October 1975). She never received any development beyond being ashamed of her infamous son Lex Luthor and is primarily a footnote in comic book history.
Lillian Luthor did get developed somewhat more in the Smallville TV series, where she was portrayed as a spirited woman from a rich family, who stood up to her equally stubborn husband Lionel on a great many things before her death. She was not a scientist, however, so the DCTU characterization of Lillian Luthor is wholly original.
Lillian Luthor uses some kind of hypersonic radio to get Supergirl's attention. This is similar to how Lex Luthor got Superman's attention in Superman: The Movie.
According to Lillian Luthor, Cadmus was the first hero in Greek Mythology and is only remembered today for killing monsters. Ironically, she forgets an important part of the myth - that Cadmus created most of the monsters he killed, planting a dragon's teeth like seeds and killing most of the legion of fierce men - The Spartoi.- who grew from the teeth.
This aspect of the legend - a man creating supermen - is what inspired the name of The Cadmus Project in the original comics.
Cadmus is also remembered as the founder of the city of Thebes and being the first King of that city.
Hank Henshaw first appeared in Adventures of Superman #465 (April 1990). Created as a sort of parody of Reed Richards from Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four, Henshaw was an astronaut that was part of the doomed crew of a space shuttle that was exposed to cosmic radiation as part of a LexCorp experiment. The radiation transformed all of the crew in horrific fashions, prompting all of them - except Henshaw - to commit suicide.
Blaming Superman for the incident and left with the power of technopathy (controlling machines through pure thought), Henshaw devoted himself to destroying Superman. To that end, he fashioned a new body for himself based on Kryptonian technology and Superman's DNA that he gathered after broadcasting his mind into the ship that carried Superman to Earth as a baby. He appeared to the people of Earth as The Cyborg Superman for the first time in Adventures of Superman #500 (June 1993) and set about trying to destroy Superman's reputation in the wake of his apparent death.
It's worth noting that Supergirl and the Cyborg Superman have a more direct relationship in the New 52 DC Comics Universe. There, The Cyborg Superman is Zor-El - Kara Zor-El's father. After sending his daughter to Earth, Zor-El found a way to protect Argo City from the destruction of Krypton using Brainiac technology. Brainiac then infected Zor-El, transforming him into a half-electronic/half-organic being under Brainiac's control.
Both versions of Cyborg Superman have the standard super-powers of a Kryptonaian under a yellow sun, in addition to their technopathy.
It is not explained in this episode how the DCTVU version of Hank Henshaw was transformed into The Cyborg Superman, but he shows strength and durability on-par with Supergirl. There's no visible evidence of his having technopathic powers but it is possible he is using his powers to manipulate The Fortress of Solitude computers and robots in the final scene.
The prison cells in Cadmus are made of unbreakable Nth metal, which Mon'El notes is from Thanagar. In the DC Comics universe, N'th metal is indeed from Thanagar but it has far more unusual properties than merely being strong. Nth metal has the ability to nullify gravity and magical energy. A person wearing an object made of Nth metal - such as a belt - would be able to fly and be protected from most forms of magic. It would also protect the wearer from the elements, speed the healing of wounds and increases their strength. A weapon made of Nth metal could penetrate protective magic spells and disrupt magical energy fields.
It is worth noting that in Legends of Tomorrow, Vandal Savage's immortality was caused by exposure to an N'th Metal Meteorite, as was the reincarnation cycle of Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
It is confirmed that - as in the original comics- Daxamites are allergic to lead.. Unlike the original comics, however, the poisoning is treatable and temporary.
The violent vigilante is revealed to be a Navy Seal named Phillip Karnowsky, who lost his wife to violence and began targeting criminals he felt escaped justice due to legal technicalities, like his wife's murderer.
In the original DC Comics, Phillip Karnowsky was a career criminal known as Barrage, who used a high-tech suit of armor to commit crimes. After losing an arm during a fight with Maggie Sawyer, Barrage developed a stronger suit with a robot arm with an energy cannon to use in his quest for revenge.
The DCTVU version of Barrage is very much like his comic book counterpart in terms of powers, save that his armored suit has a machine-gun arm rather than an energy cannon.
Mon-El says that marriages on Daxamite are prearranged at birth and people become bonded to one another at a certain age. This seems similar to how marriages are handled on some versions of Krypton in the comics.
In addition to his shield, James's Guardian costume comes equipped with smoke bombs, a wrist-mounted bola-launcher and a wrist-mounted grappling hook.
K'rkzar's Tonic is a popular Martian folk remedy prepared for those who are recovering from an illness. While impossible to replicate perfectly on Earth, M'gann attempts to make it for J'onn by substituting ghost peppers for z'arr roots.
Snapper Carr refers to the confirmation bias - the tendency to interpret any evidence to fit a previously established belief. In this case, James Olsen's belief that any costumed vigilante is automatically good.
N'th Metal comes from the planet Thanagar and is unbreakable, according to Mon'El.
Lillian Luthor has a helmet capable of absorbing the energy of Supergirl's solar flare power.
Daxamites are dangerously allergic to lead.
Alex determines that J'onn's blood has low hematocrit levels. A hematocrit the ratio of the volume of red blood cells to the total volume of blood. Alex says this could be due to dehydration or a higher concentration of sodium.
Green Martian blood and White Martian blood are apparently visibly different at a microscopic level.
The White Martians developed an alternative way to exterminate the Green Martians, by turning their blood into a mutagen that would transform Green Martians into White Martians. This is confirmed to be the cause of J'onn's illness and halucinations.
(The crook has been snared by The Guardian and is hanging upside down.)
Crook: You ain't the police! This is wrongful imprisonment! Kidnapping! I know a lawyer, you freak!
Guardian: Good. You're going to need one.
Kara: Are you still feeling sick from The Parasite?
J'onn: I keep seeing my wife and daughters. K'hym. T'ania. Like they're in the room with me.
Kara: Maybe this has something to do with M'gann?
(J'onn just shrugs a bit.)
Kara: When I got to Earth, I saw my parents everywhere. I was in my room one night. I remember looking up at the stars... and feeling so alone. I started to cry. And Eliza came in my room and I yelled at her to get out.
J'onn: Yelled? It's hard to imagine you as a teenager.
Kara: Well, I wasn't always this mature.
(J'onn smiles at that and nods for Kara to continue.)
Kara: Eliza refused to leave. She said... that my parents would want me to be loved. That nothing would replace them. That they were a part of who I am. (sniffles a bit) That was the first time I ever let her really hug me. And that was the first time I didn't feel alone anymore. Having M'gann in your life doesn't mean losing your family. It means feeling whole again.
Kara: If I leave you here, Alex will never forgive me!
Jeremiah: Kara, if you die here, there will be no one to forgive.
(Guardian is running from Barrage's bullets.)
Winn: Go high and to the left!
(Guardian shoots out his grappling hook and does so, only to be knocked out of the air by a sudden explosion.)
Guardian: I thought you said to go high and left?!
Winn: That was to avoid bullets. I did not realize he had grenades!
Supergirl: Why are you doing this?
Cyborg Superman: Because it's time for you to die! You and the rest of the alien scum have no place on this planet!
Mon-El has apparently been sleeping with Darla (the bartender at the alien bar, who used to be in a relationship with Maggie Sawyer), Eve (James Olsen's personal assistant, Miss Teschmacher) and an unnamed blonde Valeronian.
J'onn said his grandmother used to make K'rkzar's Tonic for him whenever he was sick.
The blood transfusion J'onn received from M'gann causes him to hallucinate - first visions of his dead wife and children. Then delusions that one of his fellow DEO agents was a White Martian.
J'onn learned Tai Chi from a Shaolin monk in the late 1800s.
Alex figures out that Winn is involved with The Guardian based on Winn's inability to lie after he defends The Guardian. Winn confesses to her that James is The Guardian.
Alex knows six painful ways to get a person to talk using only her index finger.
Lillian Luthor refers to the events of 106 and Kara's losing her powers briefly following her use of her "solar flare" power.
Daxamites have an allergy to lead, similar to the effects of Kryptonite on a Kryptonian.
M'gann reveals that the story she told J'onn in 204 is true but that she was the White Martian who refused a kill order rather than one of the victims who escaped Mars.
Mon'El is about to tell Kara something about Daxam when they are rescued by Jerimiah Danvers.
The Cadmus base is empty when the DEO storms it.
J'onn locks M'gann up in a cell in the DEO base.
Maggie and Alex agree to remain friends.
Mon'El shows signs of being romantically interested in Kara.
Cyborg Superman is apparently strong enough to lift the key to The Fortress of Solitude.
The final scene takes place in The Fortress of Solitude.
We have yet to learn how Hank Henshaw was transformed into The Cyborg Superman.
The Bottom Line
A rare episode where the best parts lie in the execution of the technical elements rather than the performance of the cast. Between J'onn confronting M'gann, Mon-El needing a rescue, Guardian fighting Barrage, the return of Jeremiah Danvers and Alex dealing with Maggie's rejection there's a lot going on in this episode and the cast doesn't get enough time to truly develop the material they are offered. And the first appearance of The Cyborg Superman is just lame, even ignoring David Harewood hamming it up.