Recap: You Don’t Tug on SUPERGIRL’s Cape…

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Episode 108 “Hostile Takeover”
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Caitlin Parrish
Directed by Karen Gaviola

[Photos: Monty Brinton/CBS]

As hostile takeovers go, it wasn’t much of one. Of course, it’s just the first part, ending in a cliffhanger that already has some fans wishing it was January 4th right this very minute! Or something…

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Picking up where “Human For a Day” leaves off, this episode dives into the confrontation between Astra and Kara, with Astra wielding Hank’s kryptonite knife. But in a semi-interesting twist, Astra tries to recruit Kara to the cause — of course, it involves taking over the planet in order to “save” humanity from themselves, but … well… Kara’s not having it.

We get a little more back story here, as well, with flashes of Kara and Astra using a small communications device to secretly communicate with one another, something Kara’s mother uses against them as she uses Kara as bait to capture Astra. In Astra’s version of the memory, Alura arrests her sister not because she’s right about the planet about to explode, but because she’s doing harm to others in her desperation to get anyone to listen to her dire predictions. It’s an interesting twist on the “villain” thing with Kryptonians, and it makes Astra just a touch more sympathetic as a character — at least, in hindsight. The fact that she’s now ready to commit to global domination speaks to her mental status post-incarceration.

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Her lieutenant is also ready to do whatever it takes to eliminate Kara as a threat to their plans, and he questions Astra’s hesitation when it comes to killing Supergirl. And his identity is a nice layered reveal — first as her lieutenant, then as her husband, then (at the end of the episode) as Non. He speaks! And he has some pretty strong opinions about how things should go.

How things go basically matches the “Modern Villainy 101” guide book; specifically, the chapter that says “get captured and monologue to distract the heroes from the real action” and such. It works here, mainly because the battle between Kara and Astra has been coming since the beginning of the season, and it’s well-executed from a technical standpoint, and it also is eye candy to distract not only the heroes, but also the audience.

And yes, if you think that one piece of the battle between Kara and Astra looks familiar:

But notice that there are a lot of buildings still standing in National City at the end of that fight…

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Astra’s capture serves a couple of plot points: besides the aforementioned “capture and monologue” element, there’s also the damage to Kara’s trust in her mother. When faced with the knowledge that she was used as bait, Kara confronts AI-Alura. Her question “But was she right?” indicates that trust having a few cracks in it. I don’t expect Kara to jump over to the dark side or anything, but the reveal that nothing is black and white is a nice counter-balance to the boppy-feel bright tones of the show.

"Hostile Takeover" -- Kara (Melissa Benoist, left) goes toe-to-toe with Astra when her aunt challenges Kara's beliefs about her mother. Also, Cat (Calista Flockhart, right) is threatened with being removed as the CEO of CatCo after a hacker exposes her private and damaging emails, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, Dec. 14 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Trae Patton/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Speaking of reveals, the other one we got for this episode is going to be fun to watch play out: Cat figuring out Kara Danvers is Supergirl. We’ve seen it coming for a while, and it plays to the whole “How dumb is Lois Lane?” aspects of the Superman mythology. Nicely handled here, having Cat go step-by-step through her process of figuring it out was well-played by Calista Flockhart. But even as far back as the moment when Cat said, “Oh. It’s you,” people suspected Cat had it figured out already.

The whole “Cat’s e-mail got hacked” is just a way to get Cat to that final clue to figure it out. Otherwise, it serves no real purpose at all other than to take up time between combat sets for Kara and Astra. Honestly, that was the weakest part of the whole thing. I’m not even going to address the “walking example of white male privilege” gag, because it was so blatant and over the top and stupid.

The cliffhanger of Kara and Non going after each other in the midst of Maxwell Lord’s facility, was a great place for a cliffhanger, especially since it also echoes an early teaser from Batman v Superman, and I have to wonder if Team Berlanti might be tweaking Team Snyder a bit, showing that you can still do the big action sets without laying waste to half the city.

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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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