TV Review: Supergirl - Season 1 Episode 9 "Blood Bonds"
EPISODE 9: "Blood Bonds"
SYNOPSIS: When Director Henshaw is taken prisoner by Non, Kara searches for a way to rescue him, all while refuting Cat Grant's claims that she is Supergirl.
Anddddd we're back after a shorter than usual mid-season hiatus. But unfortunately the promising developments established in episode 8, in particular the reveal that Cat suspected Kara was Supergirl, were reset tonight... and not for the better. This disappointing setback put a huge damper on an otherwise entertaining episode, which included Kara's emotionally-charged struggle between her blood relative and the human world, as well as an interesting thaw in the icy relationship between Kara and Astra. After episode 8, I praised the SUPERGIRL showrunners for being brave enough to take such a huge leap with Cat so early on in the series. I looked forward to the awesome story ideas they must have coming down the pike. Clearly, I got my hopes up too soon.
Tonight's episode picked up right where we left off a few weeks ago. Kara and her uncle, Kryptonian lieutenant Non, are in the midst of a heated battle at Lord Technologies, fighting each other in the air (while dodging commercial planes) and eventually on the ground. When Non gets the upper hand and is about to finish Kara off, Hank Henshaw intervenes, but is taken hostage.
Now that the director is MIA, Alex takes charge of the DEO and tries to join forces with Maxwell Lord to see why the Kryptonians were interested in his facility. Of course, Lord wants nothing to do with the organization; he even goes so far as to deny that the Kryptonians broke in, attributing the issue to corporate espionage. Thus, Alex is forced to figure things out on her own, hopefully using General Astra first as a source of information and then as a potential prisoner swap for Henshaw.
One of the major themes of tonight's episode is faith, especially when it comes to faith in your blood relatives. "Blood bonds us all" is a motto from Krypton and plays an important role in the budding relationship between Kara and Astra. Instead of choosing the side of her Kryptonian family, Astra declares that Kara has chosen the side of the humans. And as Astra has experienced first-hand, things don't go well when you jeopardize the faith family members once had in you.
In a flashback, we see Krypton a year before it is destroyed. Astra is standing trial in front of her sister Alura. While Astra and Non testify that committing murder was a necessary evil in order to bring attention to the fact that Krypton is dying, Alura doesn't see this as a legitimate excuse. She chooses justice over her family, banishing them to the Phantom Zone. Later, we find out Alura did believe Astra was correct about Krypton's impending destruction, but still had to punish her for her crimes.
Like her aunt, Kara also learns a lesson about faith when she has to choose between listening to the human leadership of the DEO or supporting Astra. The decision is quickly made for her when General Lane, comes back into the picture, replacing Alex as interim DEO director. Much to Kara's horror, he uses syringes full of Kryptonite to torture Astra for information on the location of her headquarters. However, the intel she provides isn't legitimate, leading the army (including Kara and Alex) into a trap rigged with explosives. While Kara is able to save Alex, many of the soldiers are killed.
Although Astra and her Kryptonian army may be a huge threat, Maxwell Lord is also lurking in the background. James and Winn attempt to get to the bottom of why the Kryptonians were so interested in Lord Technologies. Using Winn's technical prowess to break into the facility, James goes on a fact-finding mission, though he eventually lands in Lord's custody. Lord threatens James and breaks his camera, sending a clear message to stay away from Lord Technologies.
Back at CatCo, Kara sees James has been roughed up and is hurt that Winn and James didn't include her in their plan. Fueled by her anger, Kara wants to go after Lord for threatening James. However, her friends convince her otherwise. After all, if she hurt Lord, she would be no different than Non or Astra. Finally understanding what frustration and powerlessness feels like, Kara uses this to relate to her aunt. This time, it seems both women can understand the feeling of being ready to hurt someone in order to save everyone.
Finally showing her niece a glimmer of hope during their bonding moment, Astra reveals that Kara's mother wasn't corrupt after all. In fact, Astra says Kara reminds her of her sister. This heart to heart, combined with not wanting to see her aunt get tortured again, is all Kara needs to take matters into her own hands. Against General Lane's wishes, she and Alex take Astra out of her cell so she can be reunited with Non and exchanged for Henshaw.
Once Kara and Non meet and make the prisoner exchange, a group of Kryptonian soldiers fly in to surround the area. However, what appears to be another trap is dispersed by Astra, who respects the agreement she had with her niece. She knows what it feels like to lose one family member's trust and doesn't want to go through that again. But don't think this is a truce; it's more of a respectful gesture. Each side goes their respective ways, but there is still one more issue that needs to be settled.When they were surrounded, Kara heard Alex tell Henshaw to "transform". Now, Henshaw is forced to come clean that he is J'onn J'onzz from Mars and tells her about his powers (which she will quickly utilize against Cat).
Speaking of Cat, I have very mixed (primarily negative) feelings about what seems to be a backtrack in Cat and Kara's relationship. One of my favorite aspects about episode 8 was that Cat identified Kara as Supergirl. I couldn't wait to see what this new dynamic would bring to the two characters. However, tonight's episode put that genie back in the bottle. At first, it was fun to see Kara and Cat's back and forth as Cat tried to suss out once and for all whether her assistant was Supergirl. I thought it was clear from the last episode that she knew Kara's real identity, but I guess not. Cat put Kara through a series of trivia tests (e.g. how old were you when TITANIC came out), and even went so far as to fire her so that Supergirl would be able to spend more time helping people, as opposed to getting her coffee.
However, it seems the powers that be weren't ready to stick to such a big reveal yet, and instead reset the plot line. This was an unfortunate development and really hurt the episode (and the show). I would have been fine if the whole saga tonight ended with a :wink: :wink: "okay, suuuuure you're not Supergirl." This would allow the incredibly entertaining interactions between Cat and Kara to continue throughout the season. Whenever Kara had to leave suddenly, or pretend to be hurt/sore, Cat would be there to make a smart comment or give a knowing side-eye.
Or, if the showrunners didn't want to go that far, Cat could have made it clear to us, the audience, that she still believes Kara is Supergirl but pretend otherwise to Kara and try to get some inside dirt. I suppose this latter idea could still happen. However, at the end of the episode, when Henshaw (aka J'onn J'onzz) took the form of Supergirl in front of Cat to prove Kara is not the superhero (as it looked like she and Supergirl were in the same place at the same time), it seemed Cat really didn't believe anymore. How incredibly lame. Would a world-class journalist, who now knows there are aliens and supernatural creatures really be so easily convinced that Kara isn't Supergirl?
The episode ends with Lord going into a highly secured room in his laboratory. There, he promises to help a young woman, who looks to have been seriously injured. It isn't until she opens her eyes, revealing them to be completely black, that we know something is seriously wrong here.
I've been seeing speculation that this woman is Bizarro Supergirl or Galatea? What do you think?