REVIEW: Supergirl, S2E20 – City of Lost Children

Supergirl‘s highly-anticipated James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) hour arrives and while it doesn’t make up for an entire season of neglect, it’s a good start. He shares the spotlight with Lena (Katie McGrath) and Rhea (guest star Teri Hatcher), however, as they attempt to create a portal together for very different purposes.

Since this was to be James’ big episode, let’s discuss that aspect first. He comes to realize that his Guardian alter ego inspires fear rather than hope in the citizens of National City, and that truth hits him hard. I sympathize with him, but it also begs the question of why Supergirl chose to make him so scary. What about James Olsen screams “I need a metal mask and Batman’s voice modifier?” Kara (Melissa Benoist) manages to hide her identity without anything covering her face or changing her vocal cords.

James and Marcus make an excellent team.

Regardless, James undergoes a crisis of confidence that’s compounded by J’onn (David Harewood) not having any use for him at the DEO… Until a young alien whose mother is wanted for terrorist acts takes a liking to him, and the team eventually uncovers that they’re being controlled rather than acting of their own free will. The scenes between James and Marcus (This Is Us‘ Lonnie Chavis) were especially touching, and it’s great to see someone innately understand that James is a hero without his suit. He certainly steps up to the plate and goes above and beyond to understand Marcus, and eventually to save his mother and the rest of the telepathic aliens.

The standout moment in his story is when he tells Marcus about how he was bullied as a kid, yet his walls came down when he met his first true friend. It’s a shame we never saw James and Clark interact at the beginning of the season, because that would’ve made his speech about their friendship that much more powerful. However, Brooks and Chavis were excellent in their scenes and pulled at the heartstrings despite the lack of set up throughout the season for the storyline. The resolution also dovetailed nicely with Lena’s plot, but there was one small problem. Aside from reminding us that James is a good man and a hero, what else did his story accomplish? Will he put away the Guardian mask, will he start using CatCo Media as a force for good, or will Supergirl forget about him as quickly as they always do? I pray for the second option, but I still don’t see them incorporating the media as well as they could.

As for Rhea and Lena, the show once more plays around with Lena’s motivations and loyalties – but it’s less believable every time. Instead, her innate moral compass keeps reasserting itself, and soon it will be completely impossible for her to ever turn on Kara. Hopefully that means she never will, but for now it leads to this brilliant young mind constantly being duped by maternal figures. It seemed a little too convenient that their device was triggering the alien powers in James’ story, but as it worked to tie the stories together I won’t complain.

“Kill your heroes,” they said.

Perhaps the most surprising part about the portal was how close Mon-El (Chris Wood) came to killing his own mother. It would have been for the greater good, of course, but this is Supergirl. That’s not something you do when you’re a hero, and yet no one was around to talk him down from it other than Rhea herself. It might not even matter come next week, since the Daxams are invading thanks to Rhea’s evil plan. Why won’t Kara call on her fellow heroes for her own alien invasion the way they call on her? No matter, at least Cat Grant is back!

Overall, it was a joy to see James finally get the attention he deserves. I just hope that this week’s outing has a lasting impact on his development, and we get to see him be a hero outside of his suit for many episodes to come.