From the beginning, Supergirl has been a flawed show with a lot of heart. The “problem of the week” storytelling has occasionally fallen a little flat, but the characters have gotten sharper and sharper. But last night’s episode, “Manhunter,” proved Supergirl has become essential viewing.
Apart from a half-hearted subplot about Siobahn, Kara’s work rival, trying to take revenge on her, the whole episode was about the fallout from last week’s unmasking of Hank Henshaw as the Martian Manhunter. That sets up an episode that’s about half flashbacks, and half the military (represented by Pete from Warehouse 13) conducting a witchhunt to find out any alien sympathizers among Hank’s former colleagues.
The flashbacks are the more interesting part of the episode, because they shore up the main characters of the series—Kara herself, Hank, and also Kara’s sister Alex. Kara and Hank both felt the need to hide their true identities to stay safe and find a place on Earth—but also to deal with the grief and confusion of having lost their whole home planets. What’s great is that the episode delves into all those themes of being an immigrant and needing to fit in that are central to the storyline of Superman—including some scenes that are very reminiscent of Man of Steel. But in the end, “Manhunter” suggests that you really can trust people—as Kara does, when she reveals her identity to Lucy Lane, who in turn saves the day.