Supergirl is busy laying all the groundwork for Kara to have all the stuff her cousin has, including her own versions of the Daily Planet and the Kents. And now, she’s got her own Lex Luthor, too. But is he nasty enough? Spoilers ahead...
In last night’s episode, “How Does She Do It?”, the overt message was all about women trying to “have it all,” and once again Cat Grant is set up as Supergirl’s foil. Cat Grant manages to juggle running CatCo and raising her son Carter, whom we’ve never even heard about before now. And meanwhile Supergirl has a hard time working as Cat’s assistant, being a superhero, and being a DEO agent—and then having to babysit Cat’s son on top of everything else pushes her to her limits. Everybody in the episode keeps reminding Supergirl that she can’t be in two places at once, and at the end of the hour, Cat Grant delivers the lesson of the week: You can have it all, but not right away, because you have to learn to juggle.
But the actual plot of the episode is about Max Lord, the supergenius billionaire, who turns out to be (not all that surprisingly) evil. We met Max a couple episodes ago, and at first he seemed like he was just sort of a jerk—but now his naughtiness is confirmed.
Basically, Max decides to test Supergirl’s limits, now that she’s saved him a couple times and he’s publicly warned that she’s going to turn National City into another shithole like Metropolis. First he sends a drone to spy on her and test her agility, then he starts setting bombs all over his own properties to test her strength and speed—risking the lives of a lot of his own people in the process. The actual “mad bomber” thing gets blamed on one of Lord’s former employees, who’s doing it in exchange for medical care for his sick daughter—so really, this is all Obamacare’s fault. And finally, Lord tests Supergirl’s priorities, planting a bomb at the airport and another one on his new high-speed hyperloop train. (It would be hilarious if it collided with the fancy train to Star City on Arrow, which also had a bomb on it not long ago.)
And Supergirl saves the people on the train instead of the people at the airport. Partly because she believes the airport bomb is a decoy, since the mad bomber guy is on the hyperloop. And partly because Cat Grant’s son Carter is on the train. But Max Lord thinks he can deduce something about Supergirl from her choice to save the train, and maybe he’s right.
So what sort of mega-villain is Max Lord? Well, he believes in high-speed public transit, which is automatically highly suspect. (Although he’s willing to blow it up, in order to prove a point, so.) He’s sort of a cut-rate Tony Stark, who doesn’t make weapons (except bombs.) He and Cat Grant have a sort of thing going on.
In the comics, Max Lord is sort of an ambiguous good guy, who helps to found the Justice League International before turning psychotic and using his mind-control powers to make Superman go on a murder spree. The Giffen-DeMatteis version of Lord is sort of a hilarious egomaniac, whose robot L-Ron is constantly fawning on him ironically, and I kind of miss that version.
Anyway, while Max Lord becomes more clearly a villain in this episode, Hank Henshaw is looking more like a good guy. He uses his glowy-red-eye vision to defuse the bomb at the airport and is actually being nice and supportive towards Supergirl for a change. Maybe he’s a nice cyborg in this version? (Except for the whole thing where he covered up the death of Alex’s dad.) And that thing about the DEO not dealing with human, as opposed to alien, threats? Now completely out the window.
Oh, and because they aired the last two episodes out of order, this week we get to see James Olsen get together with Lucy Lane, when they’re already a couple in last week’s episode. Kara is in terrible danger of becoming James’ confidant about his troubled love life, which means she can never be his love interest—so instead, she first cuts him off, and then helps him get back together with his ex. (After she realizes that Lucy only dumped James because he was always putting Superman first.)
Which leads to the best line of the episode, and one of the funniest lines I’ve heard on TV this year, as Alex tells Kara: “You’ve spent more time in the friendzone than the Phantom Zone.” As Max Lord’s old buddies in the JLI would say, “Bwa ha ha.”