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When many are left injured by the Ormfell building collapse, including her young charge, Joey Davis, Kelly Olsen will become the guardian her community needs while the rest of the Superfriends are busy with fighting Nxyly.
The comics of Jack Kirby and The Empire Strikes Back (Lena leaving when she learns her friends are in danger mirrors Luke abandoning his Jedi training)
It seems clear that this episode was originally intended to have James Olsen backing Kelly as she officially entered into the role of Guardian and that things were rewritten to put John Diggle in his place.
Granting that Kara has a lot of blind spots when it comes to the image she presents to the world, Kelly's dressing her down over her failure to be an advocate for ordinary people doesn't ring true when Kara was making personal appearances at city council meetings and using her platform to give a voice to the voiceless not two episodes ago.
It is said that Alex's retinal scan will be needed to access an abandoned DEO facility, but Alex resigned as the DEO Director in 512.While the organization shut down shortly thereafter, it's unlikely Lex Luthor wouldn't have personally made sure she was wiped from the databases personally.
For that matter, how does the DEO still have an operational desert facility?
With CatCo reporting on traffic problems in National City, it's increasingly clear why CatCo sank to #8 nationally under Andrea's management.
Early in the episode, Councilwoman Rankin is said to take an experimental new medication but Brainiac-5 later says she was given some kind of gene therapy.
It's a little unbelievable Orlando doesn't recognize Kelly in her Guardian costume at this point. Almost as unbelievable as Kelly not quietly telling him the truth about who she is given her own issues with vigilantes lying to her.
Despite having the power to do wish for virtually anything, Councilwoman Rankin fights Supergirl hand-to-hand.
How did the book Florence wanted to give Lena get delivered to her apartment faster than Lena could fly home in a corporate jet? While it's possible it was delivered by magic, why bother addressing it if she could just send the book to Lena?
David Harewood gets a wonderful and understated moment in the middle of all the big speeches where J'onn explains why he chooses to live life as a Black man when he could appear to be anyone and it is far more powerful than all of Kelly Olsen's "Do you hear me?" speeches.
As always, David Ramsey is a delight as John Diggle/
There are some very good speeches in the script for this episode.
Azie Tesfai, who plays Kelly Olsen, co-wrote this episode. This makes her the first actor to also write for the Arrowverse on television, although Nicole Maines has written a Dreamer story for DC Comics.
David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle, also directed this episode.
John Diggle makes reference to being given the opportunity to become a special kind of hero, but it requiring that he abandon his family to do so. This is believed to be a reference to the Green Lantern Corps, which it was teased he might be joining in the finale of Arrow.
RP-90 is an experimental drug for respiratory issues, still undergoing trials. Somehow, it can give a human powers akin to those of a 5th Dimensional Imp after extensive exposure to magic residue.
The anti-magic cuff also makes it impossible to track Nxyly.
It is suggested that Nxyly can be tracked by modulating the Watchtower sensors to isolate Mister Mxyzptlk's unique magical energy wavelength.
Baltorian scanners are portable and able to trace minute amounts of 5th Dimensional energy.
The device which transformed Kara's heat vision into 5th Dimensional energy also infused the Ormfell building with the same energy as it empowered Nxyly. This caused the energy to spread around the neighborhood and into the people when the building was destroyed. This is what is making the people sick.
Brainiac-5 determines that Councilwoman Rankin underwent some kind of gene therapy that turned her into an energy siphon after she interacted with the 5th Dimensional Energy, pulling life force out of the people of the Heights to make her wishes come true.
Brainiac-5 says they can create their own energy siphon using the same dampening technology employed by the magic-nullifying cuff they creaed for Nyxly. While this won't heal the sick, it will give them their energy back and enable them to start healing. However, this will consume all the 5th Dimensional energy, leaving them nothing to use for tracking Mister Mxyzptlk.
Kelly: Looking at those people at the hospital last night, knowing how badly they're struggling... And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't help them.
Diggle: So you feel alone in this?
Kelly: Alex sent respirators to the hospital, but the rest of the team... Well, they have super villains to deal with.
Diggle: Oliver Queen was really good at seeing the big picture, but sometimes, because of that, he would overlook things. When I wanted to show him something he missed, sometimes he would require proof.
Kelly: Wish it didn't always require proof.
Diggle: I know. Tell me about it.
Diggle: I had an opportunity to become a special kind of hero. But it would've meant me leaving Lyla, my kids, and everything I love behind. So I had to ask myself... what kind of a hero do I really want to be. So the question is... what are you gonna do with what you're feeling right now?
Kelly: I want to be an advocate for the people who have lost hope. For the people who have been failed by those meant to protect them. For the people who don't have heroes that look like them. Protecting those that are exhausted, so they don't have to fight every single day for themselves.
Diggle: Good. Let that guide you.
(Kara apologizes for dismissing what Kelly had said earlier.)
Supergirl: I was just so desperately trying to catch Nyxly, because I know she would cause more damage.
Kelly: Yes, in the future. But while you all have the luxury of focusing on tomorrow, they are barely surviving today.
Alex: I thought I was listening, J'onn. You know, our lives and our experiences, Kelly and I, we have so much in common. I just...
J'onn: You will most likely never understand what she's going through. I came to this planet as a Martian. And in my heart, I've always been more Martian than anything. But... I have chosen to wear the face of a Black man for a very long time now. I could've changed races, could've changed into someone else entirely. But if I'm honest... wearing this skin has made me feel most like an alien on this planet. Feeling like I don't belong. Never quite getting comfortable with the idea that this... really is my home. But I also realize that Kelly and James don't have the option to make that choice. I know you, and I know your heart. And I know how much you and Kelly love each other. She does, too. When she's ready to open up, you'll be there for her. And she'll be glad that you are.
Orlando: All you heroes end up being the same. You say you care, but you're just gonna go and leave us with a mess to clean up. Why should I trust you?
Guardian: You shouldn't. Trust should be earned. And when you've been wronged, nothing in you tells you to trust again. I'm just asking for a chance. A start to prove I'm different.
(There is a pregnant pause as Orlando considers this.)
Orlando: What do you need?
Alex: Well, how do I support you? Because I love you. And it kills me to see you in pain.
Kelly: Just... let me be. And don't push me to unpack it all right now so it can be communicated for you. Hold the space. And love me. Without having to understand all of me. And all my experiences. And for now, just... Hold me.
Kelly: I know! I know that you're all trying to stop Nyxly. I know. But do you hear me? Do you see what is happening? People are gonna die! And I feel like I am yelling into a void! We're supposed to fight for everyone, together. And yet, I am looking at people suffer, people that look like me and everyone here is just too busy. Where is the outrage that people are gonna die without help? Without hope? Maybe you could spare a second for them?!
Councilwoman Rankin: With this power, I can transform this city, sweep away the useless and the weak and make it perfect. And no one will stop me. I'm going to destroy this whole city and rebuild it from the ground up!
As the episode opens, Nyxly and Mitch still have not found the Totem of Courage.
Nxyly declares that there is something off.
A flashback to 611 (i.e. 24 hours earlier) reveals that Joey King was with his friend Ayesha inside the Ormfell when it was destroyed by Nxyly.
Joey is taken to the hospital, complaining that he can't breathe.
Kelly discovers that everyone near the Ormfell when it collapses are experiencing the same symptoms. It is believe they inhaled a lot of dust. Unfortunately, the hospital in The Heights is already short on oxygen tanks and respirators.
Councilwoman Jean Rankin was also in the area when the building collapsed. She complains about being in Chisholm Memorial Hospital and demands to be taken to a different one when she realizes she's been recognized and makes a show about being moved elsewhere so as not to burden that hospital.
Kelly calls Alex to ask for help. Alex, who is in the middle of tracking Nyxly and trying to figure out a way to contain her, brushes Kelly off but says she'll contact some of her med school friends who work at other hospitals and see if they can send more respirators.
The doctor at the rich hospital says Rankin is fine but just needs to rest. She demands he give her an experimental drug for respiratory issues or else she'll pull her support from some local health-care grants the hospital needs.
Kelly calls James to vent about how people are dying around her. but all the local news is talking about is the Super Friends fighting a giant cat.
Lena has apparently started training in using magic with Florence.
Lena leaves Fortune Bay after getting a message about the problems in National City.
Lena leaves Florence's cave without taking a book that Florence wanted her to have.
The DEO Desert Facility is apparently still intact and operational, despite the organization having shut down.
Alex and Kara go to the DEO Desert Facility to try and find some 5th Dimensional energy information that can be used to build a tracking device to find Mxy.
Alex thinks to check on Kelly, but decides she's got things under control.
Kelly calls Andrea, incensed that CatCo is reporting on traffic issues caused by the collapse of the Ormfell rather than the local health crisis. Andrea says her demographic cares more about traffic than The Heights.
John Diggle shows up on Kelly's doorstep, saying that James asked for him to talk to her.
Kelly recognizes John Diggle as being from Star City. He says he's in Metropolis these days.
Kelly and Diggle decide to explore the Ormfell wreckage.
Jean Rankin discovers her power after saying she would kill for a sandwich and magically creating a sandwich after her aide seemingly drops dead.
Kara and Alex find Baltorian scanners which are able to trace 5th Dimensional energy, which leads them back to the Ormfell.
Brainiac-5 says that gathering up the dust laced with 5th Dimensional energy should give them a power source that can track Nxyly and removing the dust should heal the sick people.
Jean Rankin meets with another councilwoman about building a new building that could house five teach companies where the Ormfell stood. She conjures up money to bribe her into helping her.
Kelly tries to talk to Kara about all the problems in the Heights, but Kara dismisses her and says Mister Mxyzptlk will be able to put things back how they were.
Kelly tries to talk to Alex about how she thinks there's something more than the dust hurting the sick people, but Alex runs off to deal with the effort to find Nxyly promising they will talk later.
Dreamer gives Kelly her scanner, just in case they did miss something, before she goes off as well.
Kelly uses the scanner to determine that Councilwoman Rankin is radiating 5th Dimensional energy.
Orlando confronts Councilwoman Rankin on her miraculous recovery, as she's making a speech about how the poor people in her district need to stop letting their weakness hold them back.
Rankin tries to run. Kelly chases after her and Rankin teleports away after creating a sledgehammer to try and kill Kelly.
Kelly is able to grab some of Rankin's hair in the fight with her.
Kelly loses it and shouts at the Super Friends for missing that Rankin was a problem.
Dreamer stops Alex and Kara from following after Kelly as she goes to the Watchtower gym.
Diggle follows after Kelly and tells her that he was given a chance to become "a special kind of hero" but that it would have meant leaving his family behind.
Diggle says that there are many kinds of heroes and Kelly can be the kind that protects people rather than fighting villains.
Kara apologies for not listening to Kelly and references her getting involved with the anti-alien protests in Season 4.
Alex talks to J'onn about feeling like she's failed to support Kelly.
J'onn tells Alex that he chose to maintain the face of a Black man because he never felt so alien as when he looked like Hank Henshaw. He admitted he feared forgetting what it was like to be Martian and an outsider because of his ability to blend in anywhere.
Brainiac-5 figures out a way to drain Rankin's power and save the people of The Heights.
Braniac-5 also helps Kelly with designing a new Guardian costume, being sure to give the helmet better sight-lines. She also wants it to show off her face, making sure people can see that she's a Black woman.
Brainiac-5 tells Kelly that there is still discrimination and racism in the 31st Century, but it has gotten better in many respects.
The Super Friends confront Councilwoman Rankin and mitigate the damage to The Heights, as Kelly activates the energy siphon and tries to save the sick people.
Kelly gets Orlando to help her convince everyone in the hospital to go into the street or help the sick people out.
Councilwoman Rankin is apparently arrested (although it is unclear on what charges.)
Kelly, as Guardian, suggests that Orlando might consider running for her now vacant City Council seat. He dismisses this, pointing out he's an ex-con (even if he was fully pardoned) and that he is more worried about finding a place for himself and Joey to live.
Diggle congratulates Kelly on her premiere as Guardian and tells her something Jefferson Pierce once said - "Don't be a hero to the people. Be a hero for the people."
Kara apologizes to Kelly again and says she's thankful to have her watching out for people when she overlooks them while tending to the big picture.
As Diggle leaves the Watchtower, Brainiac-5 asks if he's heading back to Metropolis already and seems surprised when Diggle says yes.. Diggle then says "Worlds Await." - the same words that kept echoing in his head in F716. (This would seem to imply that he may have changed his mind about the job offer he mentioned earlier...)
With the interference caused by Councilwoman Rankin gone, Nxyly is able to get a bead on the Courage of Totem using her crystal ball.
Lena returns home to find a package containing the book Florence wanted her to take.
Lena's address is 508 Park Place, National City, CA 00389.
Alex apologizes to Kelly and asks what she can do to understand her better. Kelly says Alex doesn't have to understand - just be there to support her when she needs it.
Fortune Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.
Apparently James Olsen and John Diggle became friends at some point, bonding over their similar struggles.
John Diggle also apparently met Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) at some point and is privy to his secret identity.
The Bottom Line
With a hospital short on respirators and a rich white woman who literally draws her power off the suffering of children causing a public health crisis as the villain, this may be the most timely and least subtle Supergirl episode ever. That's not a problem, since Supergirl has never been subtle. The problem is that the script gives Kelly Olsen far too many speeches that try to be Maya Angelou poems and its a bit much.
Had there been more conversations like the ones Kelly has with Alex and Kara near the end of the episode, it would have been a far better episode. On the other hand, Kelly's speeches drive home the point that sometimes one has to shout to be heard and I'm not sure those moments that work well would hit as hard without the moments that don't to contrast against.