Monday, May 13, 2019

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 21 - Red Dawn

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


Supergirl finally comes face to face with the Red Daughter. As the two Kryptonians battle for supremacy, J'onn, Dreamer and Braniac-5 start searching for the alien test-subjects abducted by Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Alex begins to realize that her memory has been tampered with as Lena Luthor turns to an unexpected source for help in figuring in how to extract the Harun-El from a human subject.


Red Dawn (the title and the plot involving a Russian invasion of the United States), Superman: The Movie (the Kryptonite ball and chain used to subdue Kara), Star Wars (Dreamer's reference to "The Wookie Gambit", her asking Brainy to tell her the odds) and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Kara draining the solar energy from a forest to heal herself.)


Kara says that she's been dealing with Kryptonite for 15 years.  When was she ever exposed to Kryptonite before she became Supergirl four years ago?

So none of the guards see J'onn hovering over the alien prison?

Was Eliza Danvers informed about Alex's erased memory? It seems like she would have to have been to prevent any confusion at family gatherings.


Jesse Rath has a great turn here as he transforms into the more traditional Brainiac-5.


The fight between Supergirl and Red Daughter may be the finest in the show's history.

Super Trivia

The title of the episode comes from a 1984 film about a Russian invasion of the United States.

The title card of the episode shows the Red Daughter symbol before changing to the usual House of El symbol.

The sequence in which Supergirl drains the solar energy from the plants in a forest to heal herself is inspired by a scene in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns where Superman does the same thing after being severely injured by a nuclear bomb.


Brainiac-5 says that there is a a 56.3% chance that any plan that involves pretending to be captured will result in their actually being captured.

Alex uses the DEO satellites to scan for Supergirl's unique solar radiation signature so they can track Red Daughter.

Colonel Haley says that the energy beam for the Claymore satellite was powered by an unknown energy source.

Brainiac-5 later determines that the captive aliens are having their power drained and converted into kinetic energy for use in the Claymore particle beam.

J'onn saw aliens being herded into a transmatter portal (like the one the DEO has) suggesting their power is being drained at another site.

Dialogue Triumphs

Lena: Lex is planning on invading America.
Brainiac-5: What?!
Alex: You should have led with that.
Lena: Well, then you're going to love this. Lex has a clone of Supergirl.
Alex: What?!
Brainiac-5: You should have led with that!

(Kara watches Red Daughter looking queasy at the close proximity of the Kryptonite.)
Kara: You know, for saying that you want to know your enemy, you don't know me at all. For instance, that pain you're feeling? You've only felt it for the past couple of months. But me? I've been dealing with Kryptonite for 15 years.
(Kara slips loose of the chain and uses it as a flail against the Red Daughter, running for the hotel room window and jumping through it, flying away once she's far enough away from the Kryptonite.)

(Lena opens a container. Out crawls an octopus like creature, which latches onto Lillian's arm and wraps around it.)
Lena: It's a baby Truth-Seeker. And I need the truth.
Lillian: You mean, I can't lie?
Lena: Nope.
(There is a long pause as Lena regards Lillian.)
Lena: My middle school boyfriend, Taylor.
Lillian: (reflexively) I paid him $14,000 to never speak to you again.
(Lillian looks astonished at having been forced to confess that.)
Lena: I knew it.

(On The "Wookie Gambit")
J'onn: Why does everyone always think getting captured is the best plan?

Brainiac-5: You know 56.3% isn't that bad. By our standards.

Brainiac-5: (panicked) What I'm trying to tell you is that my species has ancestral memory. And my ancestors? Very bad people. (pained) They were collectors! Conquerors! I remember everything!
(Brainiac-5 looks around, eyes wide in terror as the terror gives way to manically glee.)
Brainiac-5: Uh-oh!
(Brainiac-5 laughs manically and passes out. A moment later he looks up, totally dispassionate as he speaks.)
Brainiac-5: In short, your rebooted me. Aligned me with my more... emotionless ancestors. And that was a calamitous mistake.
(In an instant, Brainiac-5 is free of his bonds and unleashing a perfectly executed series of martial-arts maneuvers on the guards.) 

Supergirl: Hope, help and compassion for all. That's what I stand for.
Red Daughter: You will not be able to stand at all when I am done with you!


Alex has a dream about herself and Kara as teenagers. She was trying to teach Kara how to clap her hands to the beat of a song and the clapping created a shockwave that started an Earthquake.

Alex tells Kelly that she has a weird feeling about the dream and she had the same feeling when she was being questioned at the DEO several months earlier. She thinks it has something to do with Kara, for some reason.

Alex gets a call from Brainiac-5, asking her to come into the DEO right away.

The Secret Service informs Kara that they scrubbed the CatCo servers of her evidence of the Kaznian invasion plot.

Kara is able to fight the two Secret Service agents even while tied up without using her powers. She is stopped from escaping by the Red Daughter, who is wearing a dark-haired wig and carrying a box with a Kryptonite necklace.

Brainiac-5 informs Alex of the events of the last episode and how Ben Lockwood is now on a super-powered rampage.

Ben Lockwood took the entire stock of Harun-El serum in Lena's lab at the DEO and trashed the labs to boot.

Lena says that Ben Lockwood must be connected to Lex somehow.

Alex says that she can hunt down the Red Daughter.

Brainiac-5 says he will get J'onn and Dreamer and tackle tracking down the missing alien criminals Lex abducted.

Lena says that she is going to confront Ben Lockwood and try to find out where Lex is hiding, but first she needs to borrow one thing from the DEO. Alex says she can have it.

The Red Daughter is tasked with killing Kara after she is taken captive in the White House.

Kara is able to escape because she's far more used to fighting through Krytponite poisoning than the Red Daughter..

Kara goes to J'onn to get the bullet shrapnel removed from her arm.

Kara says that all of her evidence about the Kaznian invasion and Lex has been destroyed.

Kara says she has to tell Alex the truth about her being Supergirl.

J'onn says that she can't tell Alex the truth because the techniques he used to wall off her memories are fragile and she could go insane if the news is just dropped on her.

J'onn says maybe if Alex remembered on her own her memories might be restored, but he's not certain of that.

Lena Luthor bought the for-profit prison Lillian Luthor was incarcerated in and makes arrangements for her to be sent to her lab for a weekend.

The one thing Lena borrowed from the DEO is revealed to be the Truth Seeker from 410.

Under the influence of the Truth Seeker, Lillian Luthor admits to paying Lena's middle school boyfriend Taylor $14,000 to dump her and never speak to her again.

Lena put a slow-acting neurotoxin in Lillian's lunch, giving her 24 hours to solve the problem of removing Harun-El from a human body in order to earn the antidote.

Lillian Luthor also says that she loves Lena, much to Lena's surprise.

Lena determines that Ben Lockwood really had no idea that his rise to power was facilitated by Lex Luthor.

Lena says she also thinks the unrefined Harun-El cure is causing physical deterioration in Ben Lockwood as he seemed to have a clump of hair fall out when he was talking to her.

Lena and James go following after Ben Lockwood.

J'onn's determines that three aliens were taken from the latest DEO raid site.

J'onn finds a unicorn keychain on the crime scene.

Dreamer has a vision of a young alien girl riding a unicorn being chased by wolves.

Brainiac-5 determines that Faol is an archaic Irish word meaning wolf and that Faolan Shipping is a subsidiary of a subsidiary of Lex Luthor's favorite shell company, Amertek.

The Wookie Gambit is a maneuver where the heroes infiltrate a prison by pretending to be guards escorting a single prisoner.  It is name for how Chewbacca infiltrated the Death Star brig while pretending to be a prisoner, as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker posed as Storm Troopers.

Brainiac-5 decides to try the Wookie Gambit anyway when Dreamer sees the girl from her vision.

Brainiac-5 uses his image inducer to pose as Ben Lockwood. It works until the alien-sniffing dogs react to his presence.

Kara says that absorbing sunlight into her body feels warm and she feels the sensation in her toes first.

Colonel Haley is informed of the Red Daughter's existence and that President Baker is working for Lex Luthor. She agrees to help Alex and Supergirl.

J'onn sneaks into the prison disguised as Eve Teschmacher.

While undergoing electric-shock torture in the alien prison, Brainiac-5's mind is "rebooted" and his ancestral memories take over. This replaces his usual personality with a more cool, logical and amoral one that has no qualms about killing.

Colonel Haley mentions Project Claymore from 413 and says she tried to track down the six engineers behind it. She found all of them had died within the past two weeks and the locations of their deaths match six of the spots Red Daughter visited.

Coloney Haley concludes that Lex is trying to get his hands on the specs for a new Claymore style weapon.

The DEO computer tracks a likely base of operations for the Red Daughter to 1114 Cedar Street in National City.

Supergirl insists on leaving Alex behind and facing Red Daughter alone.

1114 Cedar Street is an apartment which Red Daughter has roughly started to decorate to look like Kara's apartment. It is also within visual range of Kara's apartment, suggesting that Red Daughter has been watching Kara and slowly starting to emulate her.

Ben Lockwood injects himself with another unrefined sample of Harun-El before meeting Otis Graves.

Otis confesses to Ben Lockwood that he was working for Lex Luthor when he started helping get the Children of Liberty started.

Ben Lockwood goes berserk when he learns that all of this planning was based around making money and world domination.

Lena figures out that Lex's plan is to betray the Kaznians and become the hero he sees himself as in the public eye by stopping their invasion.

James has a violent reaction to the Kryptonite in Otis Graves' chest.

Ben Lockwood rips out the Kryptonite heart of Otis Graves, seemingly killing him once and for all.

Brainiac-5 finds Dreamer but informs her that he is not freeing her, as they'll be able to find the location of the where the aliens are being drained much easier if she is sent there and then she sends him an astral projection telling him where to find her.

Brainiac-5 also knocks out J'onn with a series of nerve punches, leaving him to be captured so as to increase the odds of one of them being able to contact him.

Kara finds a journal of the Red Daughter's, which has sketches of her and Alex in it, along with a code cipher and a photo of a young boy as a bookmark. (Mikhail from 416)

Alex comes to Red Daughter's apartment and starts to have a breakdown as she realizes it looks like Kara's apartment and overlooks Kara's apartment.

Eliza Danvers calls Alex to tell her Kara just got there.  Kara realizes that Red Daughter has disguised herself as her and is going after her adoptive mother.

The Red Daughter has developed powers Kara does not have - chiefly the ability to generate purple electrical energy around her hands which is capable of shocking even Supergirl.

Watching Supergirl fight Red Daughter brings back a flood of memories of Kara using her superpowers to Alex. These include using her frost breath to make it snow indoors at Christmas, roasting marshmallows with her heat-vision when they were teens, Kara catching them both after they fell off a cliff whens he accidentally started an earthquake by clapping too hard and assorted clips from the past four seasons.

Alex remembers that Kara is Supergirl.

Red Daughter flies off after she hears Kara's heart stop beating. She appears distressed, however, when she sees Alex's reaction and realizes she actually killed Supergirl.

Kara is able to heal herself by drawing on the solar energy in the plant around her.

Lillian Luthor determines that a second dose of Harun-El should stabilize James' condition.

J'onn and Dreamer are sent through the portal to wherever the alien captives are being sent to.

Colonel Haley determines that the Claymore satellite was a prototype for a weapons system that could be contained within one mechanized suit.

As the episode ends, President Baker is holding a press conference to announce that the Kaznian invasion of America was led by Supergirl but that it was thwarted by one man - Lex Luthor - who killed Supergirl.


Midvale - 2007
Washington D.C.
Midvale - 2019

The Bottom Line

Far better than it has any right to be, given some of the hokier elements of the story. Poetic as it may have been with Frank Miller's narration, Superman absorbing solar energy from plants never quite worked in my mind and it doesn't work any better in live action. Still, what does work here works well, such as Melissa Benoist's dual performance and Chyler Leigh recovering her memories as Alex.

In retrospect, it seems that the writers weren't sure how far to go with Ben Lockwood and one week after turning him into an irredeemable monster, suddenly he's going over the edge to declare war on Lex Luthor. I think the show might have been better had he been killed early on and Manchester Black were still around trying to thwart Luthor's scheme with targeted ultra violence. Ah, what might have been eh?

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