Saturday, November 2, 2019

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 4 - In Plain Sight

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




Plot

Kara begins to investigate William Day's shady connections, only to discover he is not who she thought he was. Meanwhile, the conflict between Malefic and J'onn reaches a boiling point, as James makes a decision about his future.


Influences

The Guardian comics of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and the Martian Manhunter comics of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. James' storyline is also heavily inspired by the real-world crisis in the United States regarding for-profit prisons and the need for reform.


Goofs

Why is William Day pretending to be married? It's an easily detectable lie and adds nothing to his cover identity, particularly since he is going undercover as himself!

For that matter, using a stock-photo off the Internet in place to represent said wife seems incredibly amateurish for an award-winning investigative reporter.

Despite J'onn's assertion that you can see the moons of Mars on a clear day from Earth, the Martian moons are renowned for being difficult to observe. The larger of the two moons is only 14 miles across, with the other being 8 miles across. The two also orbit so closely to Mars that it is difficult for them to be distinguished, even with a large telescope. It's even difficult to see the moons on Mars itself, as the planets circle the planet so lowly and so closely to the Martian equator that the curvature of the planet prevents large portions of the planet from ever seeing the moon.

Chyler Leigh goes over the top in playing the Malefic-possessed Alex, chewing-out J'onn.


Performances

The interplay between Katie McGrath and Jesse Rath is a delight to watch. We don't see Lena and Brainy interact often, but when they do it's something magical. There's an irony in them being the two least emotionally involved characters in the show, but while Brainy seeks to expand his horizons and become more empathetic, Lena seeks to shut down that side of her.


Super Trivia

William Day's contact in Mexico City is said to be a member of Intergang. Intergang is a criminal organization created by Jack Kirby during his time writing various Superman comics, which was given alien technology from Apokolips to facilitate certain operations on Earth to benefit to Darkseid.

The homeless teen who sets James on the path to deciding to stay in Calvintown is named Simon Kirby. This is a tribute to writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, who created the character of Guardian.

James hiring Simon to work for his newspaper at the end of the episode is also a nod to The Newsboy Legion - the sidekicks of The Guardian, who were a group of homeless paperboys who frequently got into trouble while investigating crimes on their own in the grand boy adventurer fashion.

The wind-manipulating female metahuman who shows up at Elena Torres' apartment is not identified in this episode, but has similar powers to Windfall - a mercenary who was part of the group known as the Masters of Disaster. Curiously, Windfall was recently adapted as a character for both Black Lightning and the Young Justice animated series. Whoever she is, she has power enough to force Supergirl out a window when she's not expecting it and has control enough to suck the oxygen out of a small space, nearly suffocating Supergirl in seconds.

The suicide-bomb vest Alex is strapped into is said to be made up of a hybrid of Tamaranean and Pharoid technology. Both these alien races are taken from the DC Comics Universe. The Teen Titan Starfire is from the planet Tamaran. The Pharoids are the rulers of the Phraron Empire and hail from the planet Pharos IV, and first appeared in Green Lantern # 156.

At the end of the episode, James tells Simon not to call him Chief, after Simon says "Thanks, Chief" for James giving him his camera. "Don't call me Chief!" is one of the catch-phrases of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet and Jimmy's usual boss in the comics.


Technobabble

According to Brainy, Malefic's brain chemistry is unlike that of a typical Green Martian. As such, the usual psychic inhibitors and other DEO weapons meant to pacify a Green Martian are ineffective.

Synd'ar'k is the Martian word for Sinner.

The Verdex Blaster is a unique DEO weapon which was designed by Hank Henshaw to kill Green Martians.

Hope says that Lex Luthor's journals helped her to build the inception tuner needed to implement thoughts into the brain, but the specific Q-wave frequency needed for the device is still unknown and could be one of hundreds of thousands of variables.

It is shown once again that Kara requires air to breathe and it is possible to suffocate her.

One of the tools Lena uses is a polarity tuner.

The suicide bomb that Malefic binds to Alex is made up of Tamaranean and Pharoid technology.


Dialogue Triumphs

Lena: Look, Brainy, I know you haven't asked for help, - but you're getting it anyway.
Brainy: No. I need my mind consumed with this problem, so I don't think of Nia.
Lena: What happened to your little boxes?
Brainy: Little boxes prevented me from having a real relationship. Unfortunately, my unboxed self does not make a particularly good boyfriend. So I have been analyzing myself for days, searching for a way to modulate myself for the woman I love.
Lena: Well, I'm not gonna give you relationship advice. But as a scientist, you seem to be stuck in an infinite loop, and unless you can escape, you're headed for a crash.
Brainy: That would be cataclysmic.
Lena: So change a variable. What's the one thing you haven't tried yet? Asking for help?
Brainy: (hesitantly) Will you heeee (clearing his throat, suddenly having a coughing fit) Will. You. Help. Me?
Lena: Yes. And I think a small dose of that will go a long way with Nia.

James: Journalism's about fighting for the little guy. You taught me that. It's your job to point out corruption, so what the hell's going on here?
Nelson: Things have changed for some people. Idealism doesn't feed a family. And this whole power of the press thing... it might work if you've got the backing of a media conglomerate and a certain girl with a cape. But around here, it doesn't mean anything.
James: Standing up for what's right always means something. Nelson. That prison is stomping on the neck of this entire town.
Nelson: It's also the only thing that's keeping this town alive. Look, I'd love to see these bastards get what they deserve. But if I call them out, my advertisers, they pull their money, not only am I out of a job but so are the 30 other people I employ. (sighs) Go back to National City. I like to think of you there. You know, I'm just glad somebody made it out of this town. And I'm glad it was you.

J'onn: On a clear day, you can see the moons of Mars from here. Today's not a clear day.


Continuity

J'onn, Kara and the DEO attempt to ambush Malefic, but he is able to overpower their psychic inhibitors and incept Agent Blake and phases through the Phantom Zone Projector beam.

Kelly and James return to Calvintown - the small town they moved to after their father's death, where they stayed with their Aunt Vi.

Kelly keeps having momentary flashes where she sees through Malefic's eyes.

Calvintown has fallen on hard times since the last times James visited, with soup-lines for the homeless and needy a common sight and a large prison now dominating the town center.

Brainy is tasked with recalibrating all the DEO's anti-Martian technology to be effective against Malefic's unique physiology.

Alex also orders the Verdex Blaster - a gun designed specifically for killing Green Martians - to be retrieved from the DEO armory, despite J'onn's objections. She does agree to hold off on using the blaster in the field, however, until Brainy has had a chance to try and recalibrate their regular equipment.

Brainy is still in anguish from his argument with Nia in the last episode and is completely distracted from his work.

Kara suggests bringing Lena in as backup, given Brainy's current distracted state.

Nia investigates William Day's background and determines that he is not really married. The photo of his wife he keeps on his desk is a stock photo taken from the Internet.

Nia also discovers, after following Day while astral-projecting, that he's gone to Mexico City rather than London, which is where his current assignment is meant to be sending him. He's apparently meeting with a woman named Elena Torres.

Lena agrees to help the DEO capture Malefic, hoping to find a way to use his powers to facilitate her own research into mass mind control.

James and Kelly discover that a group of teenage boys were squatting in their Aunt Vi's home. Apparently the boys were doing homework when they entered the house.

Kara can speak fluent Spanish.

Kara discovers that Elena Torres is dead, apparently killed in a car crash and she spots William Day fleeing the scene with another man in a car.

Elena Torres was the head accountant for Obsidian Worldwide.

Nia runs the plate of the car Kara saw William Day escaping in. It belongs to Sergio Ramos - a known member of the Intergang branch in Mexico City.

James' first job in journalism was interning at the Calvintown Gazette. His mentor was a reporter named Nelson Stewart, who is now the publisher of the Calvintown Gazette.

James and Kelly see one of the boys who was in their Aunt Vi's house later as he's caught shoplifting. Kelly lies and says that he was getting the food for her and pays for it.

James invites the boy to dinner at their house and finds out his name is Simon Kirby.

Kara finds a sheet of paper with some numbers on it at Elena Torres' apartment.

Kara is attacked by a wind-manipulating female metahuman posing as a delivery person when she goes to Elena Torres's apartment.

Kara arrests the metahuman assassin as Supergirl, after Kara is blown out the window.

Alex is ambushed by an agent controlled by Malefic, who is also able to take control of her mind.

Simon has been homeless since last winter, when his mother was arrested trying to shoplift a $30 space heater from the local hardware store. Apparently the judge didn't even give her a chance to explain her actions and sentenced her to 10 years over a petty theft charge.

According to Simon, a lot of people have been getting arrested on minor charges ever since the privately-owned prison was built. The local police, judges and lawyers are apparently getting paid big money by the prison owners to arrest minor offenders and get them sentences for as long as possible to keep money rolling in from the state.

Lena agrees to help Brainy with working out his issues with Nia.

James confronts his former mentor on why the local paper isn't exposing the corruption of the local government and the prison.

Kara has a contact at the Mexico City Herald.

The body retrieved from Elena Torres' car was burned beyond recognition, but was determined to have died of natural causes two weeks earlier. An incisor tooth pulled from the body also didn't match Elena Torres' dental records.

The numbers Kara found correspond to an off-shore bank account with two names on it. One of the names is Elena Torres. The other is anonymous, but tied to an encrypted address.

Malefic attacks J'onn verbally through Alex, pretending that Alex has found out the truth about how J'onn erased all memory of his brother from the Green Martian hive-mind.

James hires the best defense attorney in National City to handle Simon's mother's case.

Simon asks James if he's going to stay in Calvintown and is disappointed when James says he was just visiting.

Kara refers to the events of 403 and how J'onn saved her life whens he passed-out mid-flight after Kryptonite was fed into Earth's atmosphere.

Kara and J'onn realize Malefic has taken over Alex's mind when J'onn says he is glad Nia broke her promise to keep his secret and told Alex about what he had done. Kara says Nia couldn't have done that, because she had been with Kara all morning.

Kelly realizes she is seeing through Malefic's eyes as part of her visions and insists they have to go back to National City to help fight him.

Malefic tells J'onn to meet him at a planetarium which is presenting a special on the history of Mars and its culture.

Malefic attacks J'onn with mob of mind-controlled civilians armed with stole DEO weapons. He also has Alex in a suicide bomb vest.

J'onn phases Alex through the vest before it can hurt her.

Malefic is apparently caught by the Phantom Zone Projector this time. However, it is revealed at the end of the episode that he was actually teleported to Lena's lab, where she said they could help each other.

Nia and Brainy reconcile after Brainy asks if she can help him figure out to be himself without being so obsessive.

James decides to buy the Calvintown Gazette, saying his non-competition contract with CatCo doesn't stop him from owning or managing a newspaper - just writing for one or taking photos.

Nia's hacker friend tracks the address on the secret off-shore bank account to National City. It turns out to be a largely empty house being used by William Day.

Kara confronts William, who claims to be working undercover on behalf of the London Times, investigating the crimes of Andrea Rojas and Obsidian International - a story he's been working on for two years.

William claims that Elena Torres was his contact on the inside and that they faked her death because she was afraid the company was becoming suspicious that she was working with someone on the outside.

William also claims that Sergio Ramos is an Interpol agent, working undercover in Intergang.

William apologizes for being rude to Kara before, but said he was trying to keep people away as part of his cover.

William also says that he thinks Kara is a good writer, and that her work is honest and smart.

James hires Simon Kirby to work for his paper and gives Simon his first camera, offering to teach him how to use a real one.

James also tells Simon to call him Jimmy.


Locations

Calvintown
Mexico City


The Bottom Line

It's kind of sad how sudden James Olsen left the show and how his departure storyline is the third most important subplot of the episode. Otherwise, this one is strictly formulaic and just serves to push everything forward a little bit, with the best parts of the episode being the small character moments that succeed in spite of the script.

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