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.
All of those relationships that were a bit clunky in the first episode are now so much more well defined. Remember what a dick Hank Henshaw was in the first couple episodes? And how broadly drawn and over-the-top Alex’s jealousy of her super-powered sister were? Hank is now the awesome best friend and surrogate father the girls always needed, and Alex still has complicated feelings about her sister, but they’re still sisters and they’re there for each other. It’s a show where the characters are becoming more compelling with each passing episode.
And J’onn J’onz ate Chocos! That is the best shout-out ever.