"Human For a Day" -- Kara and her friends must rely on their inner strength and courage when an earthquake strikes National City, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Dec. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Luke Macfarlane and Melissa Benoist Photo: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.
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Recap: Powerless SUPERGIRL Delivers a One-Two Punch

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Episode 107 “Human For a Day”
Written by Yahlin Chang & Ted Sullivan
Directed by Larry Teng

[Photos: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.]

OK. I have to admit it: I was wrong about Hank Henshaw.

Well… OK. I was half wrong. Because as the producers have even said in interviews from the set, even they hadn’t planned this from the beginning. It was just one of those things that comes up when the producers knock heads together and say “What if…?” followed by “Why not?”

And Chas got to play in the DC sandbox once again!

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Picking up where “Red Tornado” left off, Kara is dealing with the fact that she blew out her powers in what her cousin calls a “solar flare” — a situation recently introduced in the New 52 continuity in the comics. The back-and-forth between Jimmy and Kara about how Clark likes to name his powers and Kara’s reaction to it made for a fun bit of byplay:

“He likes to name them. Heat vision, freeze breath —”

“He’s such a nerd.”

So Kara’s dealing with the lack of powers, and she’s finding out just what it means to be human. And vulnerable. Running late, having to use the bus, catching a cold … these are all things we take for granted that we’ll have to deal with at some point. But for Kara, it’s all new. So when earthquakes start to shake National City — and I’m going to interject that the show really dropped a ball here — she’s got to learn just how humans are limited, but that also makes them able to do more.

When the first earthquake happened, it really looks like the Kryptonians are flying around a building off in the distance. My first assumption was that they were causing the quakes. But then the show never addressed it. Never raised it as a possibility, to the point where I thought maybe I’d seen wrong. And maybe I did.

But then the ending makes me question that, too. More on that in a minute.

This episode also cements the mentor/protege relationship that’s been brewing between Cat and Supergirl — mind you, not between Cat and Kara. Not just yet. That’s developing, but it’s a slower burn because Cat doesn’t actually see Kara until she forced to do so by circumstances. And circumstances have Cat trying to get out in front of Maxwell Lord, who’s already in front of the disaster, saying Supergirl has made the citizens all docile and compliant. Too many people look for the magic rescue that may not arrive. And this time, especially, he’s right.

He’s also figured out about the solar flare, mainly because he’s studied Superman for so long.

"Human For a Day" -- Kara and her friends must rely on their inner strength and courage when an earthquake strikes National City, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Dec. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Melissa Benoist and Luke Macfarlane Photo: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.

So when a man dies from injuries in a secondary explosion, Kara herself is injured and helpless — all those powers, and she couldn’t save him — and Jimmy has to talk her down from her despair, pointing out that humans deal with this kind of limitation all the time. It’s what makes heroes out of people, when they do something extraordinary despite limits.

Kara takes it to heart when she puts on the suit and foils a robbery despite her broken arm and absence of powers. Jimmy captures the moment with his camera, and that leads to some personal space sharing back at the office — something Winn interrupts with the theory that Kara needs a jolt of Kryptonian adrenaline to kick her powers back in.

That comes when the CatCo building has a gas line explode, trapping people in the floors above. When Jimmy falls down an elevator shaft, Kara finally gets her powers back (and she takes the time to change into the cape, to boot).

So that’s the main plot for Kara, and we get some nice interplay between Cat and Witt Winn while he sets up secondary broadcast equipment so Cat can deliver a rousing pep talk to the people of National City — basically telling them to pull themselves up because Supergirl should be inspiration not salvation — National City shouldn’t count on her every time a cat gets stuck in a tree. Basically the same thing Lord says, but with a different spin.

"Human For a Day" -- Alex's mistrust of Hank reaches a breaking point when the earthquake traps them in the DEO with Jemm (Charles Halford), a powerful alien escapee, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Dec. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Charles Halford and David Harewood Photo: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.

And now we turn to the other plot for the hour: earthquake’s impact at the DEO, causing a power loss that allows a telekinetic alien named Jemm (complete with a Mind Stone on his head…) to escape into the facility. It’s a cat-and-mouse sequence that goes pretty much like you’d expect, with a few wrinkles, and a pretty good scene where Alex gets to be Ellen Ripley for a bit. Guns blazing, diving rolls, more guns, etc.

But honestly, this was the weakest part of the whole episode, and while it was a chance for Charles Halford (Chas on Constantine) to be back on a comic book show, it was really just make-work to get us to the final reveal — the confrontation between Alex and Hank Henshaw — who admits that he’s not Hank Henshaw.

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Now this is where I have to admit to being half-wrong, as I predicted on the most recent Rogues Gallery that I thought Hank Henshaw would turn out to be Cyborg Hank controlled by Brainiac. It lined up a bit with what we’d heard — alien presence in South America, Hank coming out alive, and given Hank’s history in the comics it felt like that’s where they were going to go.

And that may have been the original plan, until Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg were chatting on set one day and speculating about David Harewood and wouldn’t it be neat if… ?

So Hank Henshaw is actually [highlight for SPOILER: J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter]. Sporting a rather faithfully rendered look from the animated Justice League films. And it works. And Twitter blew up. And Facebook melted. And all sorts of anger was unleashed at the web sites that spoiled it for the West Coast (won’t name any names here, but you know who they are…). Notice we didn’t do that.

But I still contend that Jeremiah Danvers could still be alive. Maybe he’s Brainiac…

Oh, and the Kryptonians? They show up and ambush Kara at the last, with Aunt Astra twisting her metaphorical mustache in anticipation of the mid-season finale coming next week.

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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