Monday, October 15, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 1 - American Alien

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


It is a period of adjustment. Alex is still getting used to her new role as Director of the DEO, the absence of Winn and the presence of Brainiac-5. James is awaiting arraignment for the laws he broke as the vigilante Guardian. James and Lena are still getting used to being a couple. J'onn is getting used to his new role as a counselor for other aliens adjusting to life on Earth. And Kara has become a mentor to Nia, a new cub reporter at CatCo. But some things never change and Supergirl stepping into action is one of them, when what remains of the anti-alien group Cadmus attempts to assassinate The President. Yet their supposed end game turns out to be the start of something bigger...


Numerous Superman and Supergirl stories in multiple media which used aliens from other planets as a metaphor for immigrants and refugees coming to America. The Superman movies (Kara helping out people around the world and speaking to them in their native languages.)


Kara taking a bottle of vodka from the Kaznia woman seems horribly out of character, particularly since it doesn't seem like it was offered as a gift. (The close captioning for the episode doesn't offer a direct translation of what is said and the woman looks surprised when Kara takes the bottle from her.)

Katie McGrath's natural Irish accent slips out when she says the name "Sam" with a long-a.

Kara's dismissal of J'onn is really out of character. Apart from maybe Alex, nobody respects J'onn more than Kara and her behavior here seems to occur only to set up the lesson that Kara's idealism and experiences as a human-like alien who presents herself as being human have blinded her to the experiences of other aliens who can't pass for human and can't afford an image inducer. This "white privilege" metaphor is highly forced, even ignoring the logic problem that the DEO should be more aware of acts of violence against aliens than any other group in America!

Why did Kara and Alex suddenly drop out of J'onn's life in the past three months?  They're his foster daughters and adopted family. Kara's talk about not knowing what his life is like now is another incredibly out-of-character moment that seems to be here only to force the metaphors inherent in the script.

Kara may be idealistic, but her refusal to believe that there are common people with anti-alien feelings is just idiotic. Particularly when she's faced anti-alien bigotry in the form of the Cadmus group in the past!

Why, apart from plain old racism, is the D.A.'s office so determined to bring charges against The Guardian/James Olsen, when they have no trouble with Supergirl of Superman operating as unlicensed peace officers?


David Harewood is more like J'onn from the comics than ever before. It's odd that he seems to spend most of this episode playing detective, going to two different crime scenes and being told not to get involved by the cops (i.e. Kara) yet doesn't seem to have become a P.I. like in the comics. Maybe later in the season?

Super Trivia

In the opening scene, Kara saves a little girl's balloon from flying off as she's in the middle of saving a crowd from a meteor. This may be a nod to one of the most infamous side-quests of the video game Spider-Man 2, where in addition to answering random calls for help as detected by your Spider-Sense, you would also be called upon to recover lost balloons for crying children.

The whole opening sequence, in which Kara is showing helping people around the world and speaking to them in their native languages, seems to be a tribute to the Christopher Reeve Superman movies.

Kaznia is a fictional Balkan nation in the DC Comics Universe, frequently beset by civil war and the threat of invasion. It was first introduced in the DC Animated Universe and has been referred to on both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

The character of Mercy Graves first appeared in Superman: The Animated Series, in the episode "A Little Piece of Home." Her background was given in the Superman Adventures comic that tied into the cartoon. Here, it was revealed that Mercy was the leader of a group of female thieves who attempted to steal Lex Luthor's briefcase. She was briefly successful, but captured shortly thereafter. Rather than being angry, Lex was impressed with Mercy's skill and nerve and offered her a job as his chauffeur and bodyguard.

Mercy Graves was introduced into the mainstream DC Comics Universe in Detective Comics #735 (August 1999). Again, she was employed as Lex Luthor's bodyguard, along with another woman named Hope. It was implied, and eventually confirmed, that both Mercy and Hope were rogue Amazons whose protection Luthor was somehow able to purchase.

A woman named Mercy Graves, who was said to be Asian-American, was introduced into the New 52 DC Comics Universe as Lex Luthor's executive assistant.

The Arrowverse version of Mercy Graves was Lex Luthor's Head of Security at LexCorp. She turned state's evidence on him to put him in prison. Despite this, she was employed by Lillian Luthor as an agent of Cadmus.

The character of Otis first appeared in Superman: The Movie where he was Lex Luthor's bumbling henchman. He would later appear in one episode of the Superfriends cartoon and the animated series Young Justice. He was never given a last name in any of these appearances.

The Arrowverse version of Otis has the full name Otis Graves is a former employee of LexCorp who worked for Lex Luthor along with his sister, Mercy. He was later employed by Lillian Luthor as an agent of Cadmus.

One of the aliens in J'onn's support group is a Valeorian. In the comics, 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.

Nia Nal (aka Dreamer) is based on an existing DC Comics character from the Legion of Super Heroes comics. Nura Nal (aka Dream Girl) first appeared in Adventure Comics #317 (February 1964) and was a native of the planet Naltor, whose inhabitants all had the powers of precognition, usually in the form of prophetic dreams. Nura was also a gifted scientist, second only to Brainiac 5 in ability. She was also one of the best physical combatants in the original Legion, second only to Karate Kid and Timberwolf, having studied martial arts extensively to make up for the non-combative nature of her powers. She was the second woman to lead The Legion of Super Heroes and was also romantically involved with fellow Legionnaire Star Boy.

Dream Girl was changed significantly for the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths Legion of Super Heroes. Her name was now given as Nura Schappin and she was not a full member of The Legion for most of the years between 1986-2005, though she was still Star Boy's girlfriend. She claimed to be the first precognitive born on Naltor in generations, though this was later contradicted by other stories. She also suffered from narcolepsy and would have a fit whenever she had one of her visions. She eventually did join the Legion under the codename Dreamer, just before the 2005 "threeboot" of Legion of Super Heroes.

The third version of Nura used the codename Dream Girl. This version of Nura experienced precognitive visions as daydreams, which frequently caused her to lose touch with reality as she watched events that were to come thinking they were happening right now. She developed a romantic relationship with Brainiac 5, who had, at first, resented her ability to just come up with the answers to problems he struggled to deduce. For a time she lapsed into a near-death state and was able to appear to people in their dreams as a ghost.

It is worth mentioning that Brainiac 5 has been a love interest of Supergirl in the comics and cartoons, as well as Dreamer. It remains to be seen if that will happen in either case in the coming season.

Nia Nal is an ancestor of Nura Nal.

Nia Nal is the first transgender superhero to appear in an American television series, though she is not identified as a trans woman in this episode.

Lena says that a gangster named Bruno Mannheim was Lex Luthor's business partner as L-Corp when he was first starting out. First appearing in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971), Bruno "Ugly" Mannheim ran Intergang - a crime syndicate who used weapons from Apokolips to defend their territory.

Brainiac-5 makes mention of buying his toys at a comic shop on Excelsior Street.  "Excelsior!" is the famous farewell exclamation of comic book legend Stan Lee.

The character of Agent Liberty first appeared in the comics in Superman #60 (October 1991).  Agent Liberty was a former CIA agent named Benjamin Lockwood, who left the organization after becoming disgusted with what he saw as unethical practices. Lockwood came to distrust the American government and joined a militia group called The Sons of Liberty, who outfitted him with an armored suit that offered him the ability to fly short distances and generate a force-field. He left the group when they plotted to assassinate politician Pete Ross, and Lockwood exposed the group's true beliefs to the public with the help of Clark Kent. He went on to become a reserve Justice League member and helped Superman defend Metropolis on several occasions.

The Arrowverse version of Agent Liberty leads a hate group called The Children of Liberty, which seems similar in scope to The Sons of Liberty from the comics. Unlike the comics Agent Liberty, he is an earnest believer in The Children of Liberty's goals.

In terms of their goal, The Arrowverse version of Agent Liberty and The Children Of Liberty more closely resemble The Americommando and His Minute Men - a jingoistic patriot/group who appeared in the classic graphic novel Kingdom Come.


Ruby's soccer team is playing a 4-3-3 with the Gegenpress and Ruby is a sweeper-keeper.

L-Corp now sells holographic image inducers that can allow an alien to pass for human.

Mercy and Otis Graves are armed with a sonic device that incapacitates beings with super-hearing. cuffs that increase gravity around the person wearing them, a high quality laser, compact fire bombs and a gun that shoots high-power concussive beams of hard-light.

Brainiac-5 claims to be able to processes terabyes of information in microseconds.

Brainiac-5's preliminary scan of the security footage from Dr. Vose's lab brings up 754,231 potential suspects.

Brainiac-5 creates a means of reversing the effects of an EMP.

Dialogue Triumphs

James: You are really good at multitasking.
Kara: (smiling) Some might call it super.

(Brainiac-5 flies to the crater where Supergirl is still trying to free her legs from the Cadmus cuffs.)
Brainiac-5: I thought you could use some back-up.
Supergirl: Brainy!
Brainiac-5: (trying to sound heroic) It is I! (awkwardly) You're free now, Supergirl.
Supergirl: Free?! The cuffs are still-
Brainiac-5: Opened?
(The cuffs suddenly open up. Supergirl is stunned.)
Brainiac-5: I was multitasking.
(Supergirl stands up, smiles, and goes up, up and away. Braniac-5 just stands there and shrugs a bit.)
Brainiac-5: You're welcome.

Agent Liberty: Let him who desires peace prepare for war.
(Otis is seen trying to puzzle this out, counting on his hands.)

(Nia explains to Kara why she wants to write about the revitalization of the Fashion District in terms of people, rather than the clothing trends.)Nia: The Fashion District article I want to write about... isn't about clothes. It's about community. And growth. And hope.

President Marsdin: A leader who caves to fear is no leader at all.

Kara: So you're afraid to make waves? Okay. Make them anyway. Make a Tsumani!

Kara: I feel like I don't know anything.
J'onn: Then you are wiser than you realize.

Dialogue Disasters

(J'onn is trying to explain the rising anti-alien bigotry to Kara.)
Supergirl: I'm an alien and I've been all over the world recently and I have never felt more love.
J'onn: Part of the reason why you were embraced as a hero is because you present as human. Most aliens do not share that privilege. I'm afraid your experiences are not the best barometer here.
Supergirl: I'm embraced as a hero because I'm good at my job. And I really don't appreciate you questioning my judgement.
J'onn: I'm just trying to offer you a different perspective.
Supergirl: J'onn, you left the DEO. So maybe now it's time you leave protecting the city to me.


As the episode opens, it has been three months since Brainiac-5 joined the DEO.

Supergirl can speak both Spanish and Kaznian.

Kara is seen saving a train in Kaznia - a country which was first mentioned in 201.

President Olivia Marsdin, last seen in 221,

The Alien Amnesty Act was passed two years ago, in 203.

President Marsden makes a yearly visit to the DEO.

Superman is off-world on Argo City.

Cat Grant recommended Nia Nal to a cub reporter job at CatCo.

James assigns Kara to mentor Nia.

James is facing an indictment for his activities as The Guardian pending a DA's investigation.

James asks Lena to stay out of his legal affairs and let him worry about handling the DA. This in spite of the fact that Lena has friends in the mayor's office who say that James' only chance of not being indicted rest in applying leverage.

Sam Arias, the former host of Reign, is now working a new job for L-Corp Northeast in Metropolis. She has made two acquisitions that are already turning a profit.

Sam is also said to now be coaching Ruby's soccer team.

Kara does not know soccer terminology.

Kesse Kay is an Aquarian in J'onn's support group.

The leader of J'onn's support group is named Fiona Byme. She is from the planet Ichthanor, used to live in England and has emphatic abilities.

L-Corp has begun selling image inducers that aliens can use to pass for human.

Dr. Vose is a nuclear physicist who is part of an unidentified alien race.

Dr. Vose's race is broadly human, save for their pointed elven ears and the distinctive tusks on their forearms. The tusks can be used to identify individual members of Dr. Vose's race and his lab has a scanner that requires his tusks be inserted into it for it to open the door.

Dr. Vose refuses to hide his nature and lives openly as an alien on Earth. He is also an outspoke advocate for alien rights.

Otis Graves burns Dr. Vose's tusks off with a laser.

Mercy and Otis Graves steal an EMP from Dr. Vose's lab.

Kara likes lattes.

Kara says that Nia reminds her of her. By the same token, James says that Kara is starting to act like Cat Grant when she talks to Nia.

Nia Nul has a degree in International Relations from Georgetown.

Lena is visiting her mother, Lillian, in prison again.

Lillian Luthor claims to have given up on revenge. She later admits she was lying.  She does, however, agree to give Supergirl a location where she might find Mercy and Otis Graves.

Mercy Graves is revealed to have turned state's evidence on Lex Luthor, helping to send him to prison. She was the head of security for Lex Luthor, when he still ran Luthor-Corp.

Fiona Byme asks J'onn to join a neighborhood watch group. He refuses, saying he is done with fighting.

The Graves attempt to fire-bomb the bar where J'onn's support group meets.

Alex has been dating a few women casually but has yet to find anyone she can get serious about.

Lena claims that she wants to rebuild her relationship with Lillian.

Lex Luthor is revealed to have been business partners with Bruno Mannheim. Lillian Luthor claims Mannheim was only in it for the money laundering through Luthor-Corp, however.

Nia refuses to try and claim the Fashion assignment she wanted, letting a reporter name Mackenzie take it after she brags about her mother being friends with a number of big-name fashion designers.

Supergirl investigates the abandoned warehouse Brainiac-5 tracked Mercy and Otis to and finds a server farm for several dark web, anti-alien hate sites.

One of the posts Kara reads asks for advice on how to kill a Phorian. Phorians are a race of telepathic and telekinetic aliens. The boy James rescued as Guardian in 220 was a Phorian.

Brainiac-5 finds blue-prints of Camp David on Mercy and Otis' server.

Otis is arrested by the DEO.

Brainiac-5 attempts to emulate Winn, wearing one of his trademark cardigans (which he finds binding) and buying toys from a nearby comic shop to play with at his desk.

Lena is revealed to be playing her mother to get information to buy off the DA of National City regarding Bruno Mannheim's RICO violations. She does not tell James what she did.

Lena gets the charges dropped against James. However, the DA warns that if James becomes Guardian again, he will be arrested.

Lillian figures out what Lena did after seeing a news report talking about Bruno Mannheim being indicted on money laundering charges.

President Marsdin is revealed as an alien to the world.

Fiona Byme is seemingly killed by Agent Liberty.

It is revealed that the Supergirl clone is punching a tunnel under the Russia/Kaznia border.


Madrid, Spain
Southern Border of Kaznia.
Camp David
Somewhere under the southern border of Kaznia.

Untelevised Adventures

Superman is said to be visiting Argo City.

The Fridge Factor

Kara's is turned into an idiot and the poster child for white privilege in order to teach us a Very Important Lesson.

The Bottom Line

Supergirl's hardly been subtle in its political commentary in the past, but you could always count on the characters to be true to themselves. Kara's personality and personal politics are all over the place in this episode, with Kara's treatment of J'onn being horrible out of character throughout. Weirdly enough, the introduction of Nia turns out to be the best and least-political part of the show. Everything else is just bland, from the introduction of The Graves Siblings to Lena's efforts to save James  Not the best start for the season, in other words.

No comments:

Post a Comment