Tony remembers how to fly.
When we last saw Supergirl, she was heading towards her Aunt Astra’s husband, Non (oddly enough, he’s never described as her uncle), at speed, during a battle at Maxwell Lord’s HQ. Blood Bonds opens with that inevitable collision, and the conclusion of a Super-battle that ends up with Non taking Hank Henshaw hostage.
What we have for the length of this episode then is a standoff – the DEO has Astra in a Kryptonite-prison, and Non has Henshaw. And while Henshaw’s emergency protocols put Alex Danvers in charge of the DEO in his absence, General Lane and his soldier-boys have a piece of paper from the President that allows them to storm in and use whatever means they deem necessary to return Henshaw to his post. Non demands a straightforward prisoner-exchange to free his wife and general from the humans’ prison. Lane has other, more brutal methods in mind, and the question is which side, if either, can rise above its baser battlefield instincts.
Meanwhile, the season half-break also had Cat Grant finally working out that her mild-mannered assistant Kara was the Girl of Steel, and this episode sees Kara struggle to find a way to persuade her otherwise. And Lord himself is hiding something - exactly what Non, Astra and their crew were after when they showed up at his event. So James and Winn hatch a plan to break into Lord’s private vaults to find out what that was, without telling their mutual friend with the super-hearing.
So all in all, no pressure then.
Where this episode succeeds is not simply in the fact that it manages to tie all of these strands up, but in the fact that it uses a Kryptonian pledge – ‘Blood bonds us all’ – to do it, while pushing several other strands and ideas forward: the similarity between Astra and Kara; the sisterhood of Astra and Alura; even Kal-El gets both a mention in the negotiations to prevent an all-out battle and an ultra-cheap ‘appearance’ via instant message. There are moments of clarity between Astra and her niece, showing Astra that her blind loyalty to humankind is perhaps not all she’s cracked it up to be, and nor is it necessarily appropriate, given General Lane’s behaviour. But there are also gender lessons here – both Lane and Non at one point in this episode look to push home their advantage over their foes, at the expense of their word, and in both cases, the Kryptonian women try to stop them, and hold them to the ethics of an honourable disagreement, rather than a total war.
But it’s not all bad news for the Y-chromosome crowd – when Kara threatens to go off half…erm…cocked and ruin Max Lord’s life, both James and Winn stop her – an action for which, when she’s in her righter mind, she’s grateful. And, when a solution is eventually found and Hank is freed, he’s able to help Kara with her Cat credibility problem.
In terms of a return after a mid-season break, this is a solid episode, rather than a spectacular one – the focus on Kryptonian principles, the choice of a way of doing things, the reminder of how the characters interact, all has more of plate-spinning to it than significantly innovative forward momentum. That said, there is that push forward here in a number of ways – Hank’s secret is shared with Kara, Cat’s understanding of Supergirl’s dual nature is reset, allowing a continuation of her work with Kara. Astra’s mission, while still irritatingly vague, takes steps forward here and the complication of her relationship with Kara helps to stir the pot of Supergirl’s emotional core. But the greatest strand in terms of development belongs to Max Lord. There’s a quite shocking, brutal scene in this episode as Max protects the very secrets that suddenly everyone’s so keen to pry from him – think Bond-torture and improvise from there. And the end of the episode takes shocking to whole new levels for a show which for most of its run so far has been relatively happy and smiley. You’re not going to want to miss the unsettling ending, irrespective of the sense of catch-up and come-back that pervades most of the episode. Certainly, the ending revs the episode up from ‘Yep, we’re back’ to ‘Holy Mother of What The Heck Did I Just see?’ In essence then, much of episode 9 helps to remind us of the characters, settings and interactions of Supergirl Season 1, while the ending actually hooks us into the drama and makes us want to go forward.
Supergirl is back, people. Grab your cap and get happy.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk