Supergirl 2x19

‘Supergirl’ 2.19 Recap: “I Can’t Punch My Way Out of This”

Supergirl has to use her brains instead of her brawn this week, when she and Maggie work together to find out what a kidnapper has done with Alex. It’s a rare episode that focuses on intense verbal confrontations instead of big action, and it turns out to be one of Season 2’s best entries.

As things get underway, Maggie is in the middle of a hostage negotiation outside a National City bank. After 17 long hours, she’s finally starting to cut a deal with the criminals inside, only for Supergirl to swoop in and save the day, quickly apprehending the bad guys. Maggie isn’t exactly pleased with the Girl of Steel, a fact she makes perfectly clear at dinner that night when she and Alex have Kara and Mon-El over to her apartment for pizza. Kara doesn’t see a problem with resolving a situation with her fists, while Maggie accuses her of being a vigilante and tells her that these criminals often get their charges dropped because of the “Supergirl Defense”. Kara leaves and, after calming Maggie down, Alex heads out to talk things over with her sister.

The next day, Maggie comes to CatCo to see Kara. She’s worried because Alex never returned to the apartment the night before. (Why did she wait so long to say anything? Plot contrivance is my only guess.) Not long after Maggie arrives, Kara gets a phone call from a man who says he has Alex prisoner and won’t release her unless a convict named Peter Thompson (Gregg Henry) is released from prison. The man on the phone also knows that Kara is Supergirl.

Working with the DEO, Kara and Maggie soon learn that Peter Thompson has a son, Rick Malverne (David Hoflin) – and Kara knows him. He’s from her home town and they went to school together. He figured out that she’s Supergirl when he watched her save a baby and survive a car explosion. They track Rick down pretty easily and bring him to the DEO for questioning, but he refuses to reveal Alex’s location. Meanwhile, Alex – who’s trapped inside a small concrete cell with a camera watching her – uses a credit card to cut open her shoulder (who knew credit cards were so sharp?) and remove a tracking device. She rips open the camera and attaches the tracker, allowing Winn back at the DEO to find her IP location. Ignoring Maggie’s pleas that they need to be cautious, Supergirl races off to save her sister, but it only results in her setting off a timer that starts to flood Alex’s cell with water. Rick scrambled the IP location. Supergirl not only hasn’t found her sister, she’s pushed up Rick’s deadline for freeing his father. Alex now has only a couple hours to live.

Eventually, Maggie decides that the only way she can save Alex is to give Rick what he wants. She sneaks into the prison to free Peter, but Supergirl shows up to stop her. The two women have a heart-to-heart conversation with Frank about his son, and Frank reveals a place where Rick may have taken Alex. Supergirl and Maggie race off to the location (Did Supergirl fly Maggie there? She had to, right?) and free Alex from her watery prison in the nick of time.

Back at the DEO, Rick is carried off in handcuffs, but not before Alex slugs him – which kind of ruins the whole “mind over muscle” theme that this episode is trying to establish.

The only other events going on this week (yes, Jimmy is AWOL once again) involve Lena and Rhea. Rhea wants Lena and LexCorp to help her build a portal (the same kind we’ve seen in prior episodes when Kara and the others transported to other planets). What she plans to do with it hasn’t been revealed yet. Lena figures out that Rhea is an alien and has doubts about working with her. She calls Kara for advice, but Kara is so wrapped up with the Alex issue that she tells Lena she can’t talk. By the time Lena calls her again, she’s already made the decision to work with Rhea. Yes, no good can come from this.

Episode Verdict

After a less-than-thrilling episode last week, I really enjoyed this week’s entry, aside from – not surprisingly – the scenes that take place between Lena and Rhea, two characters I’m not all that invested in.

It didn’t hit me while watching it, but in retrospect I think I know why I liked this story so much. This is one of the few times in the series (the only time?) where Supergirl has to face off against someone without any superpowers at all. Looking back at it, I also realized this might have been one of those episodes where the producers needed to save on budget. (Not many superpowers or visual effects are used.) If that’s true, I hope to see more stories like this in the future. The mind games between the villain and our heroes are far more interesting to watch than a bunch of fight sequences.

However, the episode does have one big plot hole that’s bothering me. Once they found out it was Peter Thompson’s son behind the kidnapping, why didn’t the characters go to Peter immediately and try to appeal to his better nature? Instead, they spend the bulk of the episode trying to extract information from Rick, never thinking that his father could help them. Regardless, this still turned out to be one of my favorite episodes this season.

3 comments

  1. DarthTrumpus

    I loved this episode enough to ignore the one HUGE plot hole- they have Rick in custody so why didn’t Martian Manhunter just read his mind to find Alex? And if there was some half-ass reason why he couldn’t in the episode (“I’ve trained my mind…”), I still wouldn’t buy it because we see MM use his powers effectively throughout the entire episode and even wipes Rick’s mind at the end. All they would have had to do was have MM be away on a mission, MM has a cold, or not let Rick be in custody but taunting them remotely, etc. There were so many non-hand waving ways around this in an otherwise excellent script.

    • Not that this is a satisfying explanation, but the episode does give a token hand-waive to that issue when J’onn states that he tried to read Rick’s mind but couldn’t. This is not elaborated any further, and as you note J’onn is able to wipe Rick’s mind at the end.

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