‘Supergirl’ 1.17 Recap: “What Is Project Cadmus?”

Once again avoiding the standard “Villain of the Week” format, this week’s episode of ‘Supergirl’ finally fills in some backstory we’ve been waiting to see – not just for J’onn J’onnz, but for Kara and Alex as well.

The episode begins with Kara reclining on her couch in her apartment, scarfing down donuts and watching the less-than-flattering news reports about Supergirl on TV. Thanks to the way she behaved while under the influence of red kryptonite, National City is having a hard time trusting the Girl of Steel. The public wonders if and when she might snap again.

While Kara is enjoying donuts, J’onn munches on some choco-tacos that Alex brought him. He’s still locked in a cell at the DEO. Alex promises not to betray him and swears she’ll lie if necessary to save him. Alex then gets called out to the main room and meets Col. James Harper (Eddie McClintock from ‘Warehouse 13’), who’s been put in charge of the DEO and plans to interrogate J’onn. Also in attendance is Major Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum), back in the military again.

J’onn is taken to a room for questioning and is told that a stasis field has been generated so he won’t be able to shape-shift or use any of his powers. It also prevents Supergirl (who’s in the main operations room with Alex) from hearing anything going on inside. Harper demands to know what happened to the real Hank Henshaw.

The episode then flashes back ten years in time. We see the original Hank in military camouflage leading a team on the hunt for the Martian Manhunter in the Peruvian Andes. Alex’s father Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) gets separated from the group and has a run-in with a big snake. He’s saved by J’onn and the two spend the night talking. Jeremiah learns that J’onn isn’t a threat to humanity, and J’onn learns all about Jeremiah’s family – including the fact that his youngest daughter isn’t from Earth.

The “real” Hank shows up and shoots J’onn in the leg with a special weapon he’s designed, then again in the left arm. Jeremiah tries to tell Hank that J’onn isn’t dangerous, but Hank refuses to listen. The two men get into a fight, during which Jeremiah tosses Hank off a large cliff (which is conveniently a few feet from the camp he’s set up). However, during the fight, Jeremiah was stabbed. With his dying words, he asks J’onn to take care of his daughters.

Back in the present, Col. Harper isn’t buying J’onn’s story and arrests him. As they make their way out of the interrogation room, they run into Supergirl and Alex. Harper tells Alex she’s up next for questioning.

While all of the above is going on, a bitter Siobhan – still ticked at Kara for getting her fired from CatCo –sneaks into the offices after hours and uses Kara’s computer to write a nasty e-mail to Cat, hoping that she’ll think it was sent to her by Kara.

Back at the DEO, Alex is questioned about her own past. We get another flashback, this time to three years ago, when Alex was a sexy college student who liked to binge drink at nightclubs. She gets arrested for public drunkenness, and J’onn (now in the form of Hank Henshaw) comes to bail her out of jail and recruit her for the DEO. In the present day, when asked directly by Harper, Alex claims she didn’t know Hank was really an alien. The polygraph says she’s telling the truth, but Lucy thinks she’s lying, so Alex is also arrested and taken away. On the way out, Supergirl hears Harper talk about taking the J’onn and Alex to something called “Project Cadmus.”

Returning to CatCo, Kara tells Jimmy what she heard about Cadmus. Jimmy is familiar with the name. He says it’s a secret black ops research facility and the reason Superman refuses to work for the government. Aliens are used as lab rats there in order to turn their superpowers into weapons for the military.

Realizing that she needs to rescue her sister and J’onn as soon as possible, Kara invites Lucy over to her apartment. There, with Jimmy also on hand, she reveals to Lucy that she’s really Supergirl and asks for her help. During this scene we get yet another flashback sequence – this time involving Kara as a young girl. Doing her first heroic deed, she saves a mother and baby from a burning vehicle. In the aftermath of the event, Jeremiah tells his foster daughter that she needs to be careful about whom she reveals her powers to. He gives her a pair of lead-lined glasses that will help dampen some of her abilities so they won’t be a distraction. We also get to see an older Kara at her job interview with Cat Grant, where the fact that she goes out of her way to emphasize that she’s “nothing special” actually gets her the job.

J’onn and Alex, along with Col. Harper, are transported in the back of a semi-truck to the Project Cadmus site. On the road, a couple of helmeted figures on motorcycles assault the truck and force it to pull over. Inside the back of the truck, J’onn uses the distraction to get free and grab Harper. He doesn’t hurt him, but he does use his powers to wipe Harper’s mind about any of the events that took place in the last couple of days. While mind-melding (for lack of a better term) with Harper, J’onn sees an image of Jeremiah Danvers at Project Cadmus. J’onn tells Alex that he believes her father is still alive.

The two attackers on the motorcycles were of course Kara and Lucy. Alex relays what she’s learned about Jeremiah to Kara. Since both J’onn and Alex are now fugitives from justice, they’ll have to work in the shadows until they can clear their names.

Kara and Lucy head back to the DEO, hoping that no one knows it was the two of them who freed J’onn and Alex. Not only are the rest of the DEO clueless, but Lucy finds out she’s been named the new acting Director. It turns out that Col. Harper retired his position and insisted that she take over (thanks to J’onn planting a few ideas in his head).

Back at CatCo, Cat calls Siobhan to her office for a chat. Siobhan thinks she might be getting re-hired – or at the very least, that Kara’s getting fired. Instead, she’s told that Winn has tracked the speed of typing on the office computers (why he ever did this in the first place seems like a plot convenience), and Cat knows that the email she received doesn’t match the typical speed at which Kara types on her computer. Cat throws Siobhan out of her office and tells her that if anything like this ever happens again, she’ll press criminal charges.

Later, Winn finds Siobhan up on the roof drinking. Winn is concerned that she’s going to commit suicide. Siobhan assures him she won’t, but then loses her balance and falls off the building, screaming all the way down. Her screams are powerful enough to generate a sonic blast that prevents her from crashing into the ground below. The episode ends here, but avid comic book readers should be well aware of the supervillain that Siobhan has just become (although it’s kind of unclear how she actually became her).

Despite a few convenient plot contrivances, this is another really good ‘Supergirl’ entry, and actually serves as an origin story for most of our main characters. For the second week in a row, the series doesn’t follow its typical villain format, and for the second week in a row we see just how much potential this series has when it focuses on its main characters. Also, as I suspected all along, Jeremiah Danvers is alive and (perhaps) well, which will hopefully mean we’ll see more of Dean Cain on the series. (He honestly isn’t given a whole lot to do in this episode.) I wonder if the original Hank Henshaw might be alive too, and if that’s something that will be explored in Season 2. (Although CBS hasn’t officially renewed the show yet, it’s almost certainly coming back.)

Next week’s episode can’t get here fast enough! Yes, that’s a not-so-subtle hint about what’s coming.

2 comments

  1. Bryan

    Whether or not it’s accurate (I’m hoping it is), I had read (http://www.newsarama.com/28293-cbs-s-supergirl-renewed-for-second-season.html) that Supergirl *has been renewed for season 2.

    I really enjoyed the filling in on some of the backstories, but did they really have to tell Lucy that Kara is Supergirl. Is there anybody left on the show that *doesn’t* know? (it’s almost as bad as Arrow/The Flash where they seem to reveal their identity to any random stranger they meet on the street!) 🙂

    • Shannon Nutt

      Les Moonves was at a function where he said that all of CBS’s freshman shows that had gone to air would be getting renewed for a second season – so that’s where the buzz came from that SUPERGIRL had been renewed. However, there’s still been no “official” announcement.

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