Trying to take her mind off of how Alex has changed since having her memories erased, Kara offers to help J'onn with his latest case. Unfortunately, the trail leads them right into a confrontation with Alex and the DEO, as they both face off against a new villain called Menagerie, as the Children of Liberty begin hunting for the alien killer as well. Meanwhile, Lena and James' relationship hits another roadblock and Nia invites Brainy to her Valentine's Day party as she tries to cope with her mother's death.
Superman #775 (introduction of Menagerie character), the movie Venom (Menagerie talks to her symbiote in the same way that Eddie Brock and the symbiote did) and some origins of the Marvel Comics anti-hero Venom outside of the comics (in some stories, the symbiote came to Earth on a meteor.)
Alex says that she hates Valentine's Day. In 213, she said she loved it. It's unclear if this is because of her mind being altered or because her opinion on love soured after her break-up with Maggie. Or if the writers forgot.
To say that it is horribly out of character for Lena to think that sharing her research with the federal government is a good idea is putting it mildly. Particularly given what happened earlier in the season with what little she left in the hands of the DEO in earlier seasons!
How did the Children of Liberty find out about the DEO controlled crime scene? You'd think that would be kept off the standard police bands. (Still a mole inside the DEO?)
It's hard to say who is stupider in the battle between The Children of Liberty and Menagerie - Menagerie for not taking the chance to slip out undetected when the Children of Liberty tell the humans to leave the room or The Children of Liberty for going to fight an alien menace that rips people's hearts out with baseball bats.
How do the DEO get to the Ball so quickly?
Why does Kara send away Dreamer to help Alex when she could use a second person to help her fight Menagerie?
The idea that the DEO would allow the Children of Liberty to take credit for beating Menagerie when the alternative is giving credit to Supergirl doesn't hold water. If anything, what the Children of Liberty did lets the government make a case against against vigilantes in general, human or alien, causing more trouble than they are worth, particularly since - as Alex pointed out - her people were wasted trying to stop the Children of Liberty from interfering. (And they didn't even manage that!)
The Patriot Act on Earth 38 apparently says terrorist charges can only be leveled against someone who threatens human lives. Ignoring the issues with that being a consideration when the act was drafted relative to when it was passed in the real world (aliens were supposed to have been revealed to the world only relatively recently), it seems highly unlikely this could be used to justify releasing a terrorist leader who has threatened humans with his activities. (i.e. James Olsen, Manchester Black, every human caught in the crossfire at the funeral in Parthas)
Really, the only thing that makes this episode function on any level is the established core cast. Melissa Benoist is still a delight. Chyler Leigh manages to subtlety display Alex's discomfort in several small ways. And David Harewood gets some amazing side-glances to Kara as she uses her powers without revealing herself to Alex.
Two anti-heroes used the code name Menagerie at DC Comics. The first was a woman named Pamela, who first appeared in Superman #775 and was created by writer Joe Kelly and artists Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo. Part of the team of anti-heroes known as The Elite, Menagerie was reportedly experimented on by a shadow-branch of the DEO and transformed into a super-soldier meant to be sold off to the highest bidder. Pamela was bonded to a collective of aliens known as symbeasts, which she was able to control, reshaping them into weapons and armor. The symbeasts also have individual powers including the ability to generate electrical shocks and one secrets a venom that forces a victim to be unable to lie when bitten. The symbeasts also apparently grant their host acidic blood. Pamela was later killed during an assassination attempt of then President Lex Luthor, after she revealed to Superman that The Elite were being mind-controlled by Manchester Black.
The second Menagerie, Sonja, first appeared in JLA #100 and was Pamela's sister. Bonding with the symbeasts after Pamela's death, Sonja joined the new JLA Elite team formed by Manchester Black's sister, Vera Black. A more sinister figure than her sister, Sonja would eventually be forcibly removed from the symbeasts after she attempted to destroy the JLA Elite from within, ironically helping to facilitate Manchester Black taking control of his sister's body and mind while she manipulated the reformed Elite member Coldcast into committing a murder. He was eventually cleared and she was depowered as punishment before being jailed.
Menagerie was meant to be a parody of Witchblade - a popular 1990s "bad-girl" anti-hero at Top Cow comics, who had similar powers granted by a magical bracelet with a sinister intelligence. The Witchblade had an annoying habit of shredding its host's clothing, leaving her largely exposed save for some metallic "armor" that barely kept her decent. Menagerie also parodied elements of the Spider-Man villain Venom, who had similar powers. However, given that she was an attractive woman who seemed to be naked under her armor, the Witchblade comparison seems more apt.
The Arrowverse version of Menagerie is given the full name of Pamela Ferrer and is closer in tone to Venom than Witchblade. She was a petty criminal who partnered with a man named Chuck, who became bound to an alien symbiote after their getaway vehicle was nearly run off the road by a crashing spaceship and the occupant attacked her. She has the power to spawn independent snake growths, as well as some degree of super speed and the power to fly.
J'onn makes reference to having helped an alien called a Toomian. In the DC Comics universe, Toomians are a species of wolf-like humanoids who have been hunted to near-extinction because of the popularity of their hides among certain rich species who don't care about the legalities of wearing clothes made from sentient beings. The Green Lantern Barreer Wot is a Toomian.
Brainiac-5 makes reference to a race of yellow-skinned aliens called Klaramarians, asking if a Klaramarian is yellow when trying to cleverly say "yes." In the DC Comics universe, the Klaramarians colonized the planet Klaramar, having originally come from Saturn, where they were known as the Yellow Saturnians. It is possible they are descended from Martians, given that some versions of the Martian history suggest that the people of Saturn were Martian immigrants. In any case, Klaramarian are easily identified physically by their yellow-orange skin, pointed ears and complete lack of facial features. Like Martians and Saturnians, they are telepathic.
Brainiac-5 ran simulations and determined there was an 87.4% chance that Nia was ready to begin training as a superhero. (He was wrong.)
The alien that bonds with Pamela is capable of perfectly extracting a human heart. It ripped out Chuck's heart with minimal tissue damage and no blood loss, seemingly cauterize the wounds it caused instantly.
The alien's ship presents itself as a solid rock, being easily mistaken for a meteor.
The alien sheds its skin much like a snake.
Brainiac-5 is able to analyze the DNA from the alien's shed skin and creates a composite image of what it may look like now. It looks like a giant snake.
Brainiac-5 claims that having 85% of his mind focused on a problem is the equivalent of a highly-ranked CSI team handling the same problem. He uses this to justify why he is shopping for Valentine's Day gifts when he is meant to be handling DEO data.
Kara suggests using trace radioactivity to track the alien after Alex finds a sample of its acid/venom.
Brainiac-5 says there was no radioactivity in the acid/venom sample, but he did find human DNA belonging to Pamela Ferrer - a woman who had not been declared missing yet and whose home was a few blocks away.
Brainiac-5 identifies the snake-like creature that bonded with Pamela Ferrer as a symbiote. Supergirl later calls it a symbeast.
Brainiac-5: It is I! And I'd like to make myself clear since I did not last time - I am not here for a date.
Nia: (sarcastic) Happy Valentine's Day to you too.
Brainac-5: I sense sarcasm, which I find confusing in this context.
(J'onn explains his plan to allow Kara to work with Alex on a case as Kara.)
Kara: It's Valentine's Day and you're being a matchmaker.
Ben Lockwood: George, I know what it's like to be scared. All of us do. But then... then an opportunity can present itself. And like a switch... your whole world changes. And you find clarity. And focus. And strength like you have never known. So what I need you to do, is just look out for that opportunity. And trust it. And you will take it.
J'onn: I don't think he's here.
Brainiac-5: (from closet door) I'm right here.
(J'onn rolls the door open. Brainiac-5 gasps and closes it again. J'onn rolls it open again.)
Kara: Brainy! What are you doing in the closet?!
Brainiac-5: I just escaped Yvette. Nia's roommate. Apparently every song is her... gem?
(Brainiac-5 holds out his hand.)
Brainiac-5: Do you have the samples?
(Kara passes him a test tube. He looks at it and nods.)
Brainiac-5: This will take a few minutes.
(Brainiac-5 glances out the door nervously and slowly rolls the closet door shut.)
Brainiac-5: A sophisticated killing! Much like its ship!
J'onn: Oh, man. I feel like this mind-wipe has hurt our family in so many more ways than we could ever forsee. (Master of the obvious, that man!)
Alex thinks she has never been to J'onn's new office before.
J'onn has gotten Valentine's Day gifts from several clients, including the aliens in his support group he helped to organize a neighborhood watch to catch the people spraying "Free Ben Lockwood" graffiti in their neighborhood and a Toomian whose lost family he found.
Col. Haley is away in Washington DC at the moment.
Alex hasn't had time to work on developing her personal life or adopting a child since taking over the DEO. Kara suggests she come to Nia's roomate's Valentine's Day party.
Mrs. Stuart is a woman who thinks her husband has been kidnapped. Her husband is Anthony Stuart - Director of Alien Affairs. He also helped to draft the Alien Amnesty Act.
Brainiac-5 offers to train Nia in using her powers. She says she is still grieving her mother's death and isn't ready.
Nia asks Brainiac-5 to attend her roommate's party. He agrees.
Ben Lockwood asks his wife and son, George, to wait for his movement to bring about his release. Until then, he advises his son to be the man of action his grandfather would have wanted them both to be. Once his wife has left them alone, Ben whispers some kind of instruction to George.
Col. Haley returns to National City early to help her daughter with a school project.
Col. Haley says The President is not pleased with the DEO's lack of answers regarding the origins of the alien rage drug from 411 or the fact that Agent Liberty is more popular than him in the polls.
The DEO discover Chuck's body, with his heart ripped out and apparently eaten.
Brainiac-5 has a deep fear of snakes.
Two more victims were found with their hearts torn out in a mansion near the crash-site.
J'onn offers Kara the scoop on his case to find the missing Director Stuart if she lets him use CatCo's resources to try and see if he can find any leads on who specifically might have kidnapped him.
James' Valentine's Day gift to Lena is a framed black and white photo he took of her while she was asleep after their last weekend together at Lena's lake house. He says it is how he sees her when there are no distractions in their lives.
Lena asks James to fly off to Paris with her for the weekend spontaneously.
Fred Roberts is a Child of Liberty who threatened Director Stuart after the Alien Amnesty Act was signed. He was later convicted of stalking him. He was released from prison a week earlier, but there was nothing about his current address on file in the police records J'onn had access to as an investigator.
Alex says that she hates Valentine's Day. In 213, she said she loved it. It's unclear if this is because of her mind being altered or because her opinion on love soured after her break-up with Maggie.
Brainiac-5 says that the only common link between the murders apart from the victims having their hearts removed was that they were robbed of all their jewelry. They also determined that Chuck's car was used in a heist and that all of the loot was removed from the cart. It is theorized the alien either requires the gems and metals as sustenance or as resources for its world. In either case, there is only so far it could travel on foot, which gives him a means of triangulating a pattern based on how it is choosing its victims.
Kara determines that Fred Roberts didn't have a release address because he was already back in prison.
Anthony Stuart's phone records indicated he had made several calls to Madison Sinclair - a diamond broker who Nia wrote an article about, who invested in the East City Project. They also indicate that he frequented a restaurant near her house and that he had been there that morning. Kara concludes that he wasn't kidnapped - he's having an affair.
Col. Haley approaches Lena on behalf of President Baker with an offer for a contract to develop her research into giving humans alien powers for the government to create super soldiers. Lena is reluctant but agrees to think on the proposal after the news of the heart-eating alien breaks.
George Lockwood records a viral video wearing his father's mask, encouraging other Children of Liberty to hunt down the alien killer so that they can use their actions to demand his father's release.
J'onn and Kara arrive at Madison Sinclair's house and find the dead bodies of her and Anthony Stuart, just before the DEO arrive.
Kara "accidentally' finds a hidden safe in the Sinclair house, after using her X-Ray vision. Alex determines that it's lock was melted by some kind of acid or venom.
Kara suggests using trace radioactivity to track the alien after Alex finds a sample of its acid/venom. When Alex asks how she knew they could do that, Kara lies and says that Winn bragged about all the tech that he had access to off the record.
Alex runs into Becca - a woman with whom she had drinks twice but never called back.
Ben Lockwood saw George's message while in prison and approves of it. He advises George that people have to know it was the Children of Liberty who caught the killer and advises him to be ready for an opportunity.
J'onn and Kara eventually find Brainiac-5 hiding in a closet from Nia's roommate, who keeps wanting to dance with him.. He is able to run the samples while he is in there... somehow.
Kara tells Nia about how Alex had her memories of Kara being Supergirl erased.
The last time Becca saw Alex she was still discussing her adoption plans.
Becca thinks Alex is an FBI agent.
The team determines that Pamela is a jewel thief who is using her bond with the symbiote to enhance her ability to steal as it eats the hearts of her victims.
Nia has a dream of Supergirl fighting Menagerie.
Kara thinks that the reason Alex is holding back on moving forward with her life is that she's gone back to her old habits of protecting her younger sister now that she doesn't know Kara is Supergirl.
The Children of Liberty take credit for Menagerie's defeat in the press.
The President insists that Pamela Ferrer be sent to a regular prison rather than a black ops site so a public example can be made of her, even though she isn't really an alien.
Nia asks Brainy to help her train.
Alex tells Kara that she is going to start trying harder to trust that Kara can take care of herself.
Kara got Becca's number for Alex.
Lena tells Col. Haley that she's accepting her offer.
Ben Lockwood is released from prison after the White House counsel determines that the Patriot Act statute being used to charge him as a terrorist only applies to human lives being threatened.
The episode ends with Pamela receiving a letter from Manchester Black and the revelation that her symbiote is not quite dead.
Oaks Bluff - an exclusive community near National City.
The Bottom Line
Easily one of the weakest episodes of Supergirl ever and a definite contender for the worst of all time. The subplots are all over the place. The performances equally uneven considered as a whole. And Lena is horribly out of character on ever level. Throw in an underdeveloped villain who somehow manages to be even more empty than her comic book inspiration (i.e. she's a crook with a symbiote) and this is one hard episode to sit through.
Season 4 is on a definite downward slide. The only good thing that can be said about this episode is that we know it is building up to the return of Manchester Black who, it should be noted, disappeared about the same time the show started going downhill. I do not believe this to be a coincidence.