REVIEW: Supergirl, S4E10 – Suspicious Minds

Supergirl‘s midseason premiere, “Suspicious Minds,” was all about power and control. The theme was evident even from the opening scene of Soviet Supergirl and the evil overlords planning to train her further for their own nebulous and nefarious purposes. She wasn’t seen again this week and was entirely disconnected from the events of the episode, but the same motif ran through every scene after hers. Colonel Haley (April Parker Jones) sought to control Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) through her secret identity, and Alex (Chyler Leigh) had to resort to surprising extremes to prevent it. Meanwhile, Lena (Katie McGrath) opened up to James (Mehcad Brooks) about her own experiments with control and found him surprisingly supportive.

A soldier, through and through.

For the first time in far too long, Kara and Alex’s storyline was both the focal point and heart of “Suspicious Minds.” While it was primarily filtered through Colonel Haley’s witch hunt and the cover-up of military mistreatment of aliens called the Morae, the sisterly bond shone brighter than it has all season. With Kara kicked out of the DEO, Alex had to work twice as hard to protect her sister from the government’s prying, even asking her employees to lie to a superior officer in order to protect Supergirl’s identity. Speaking of which, why did so many nameless characters know who Supergirl was? This was exactly what secret identities were meant to prevent.

While Alex was keeping Haley from the truth, Kara was busy searching for her own truth in J’onn’s (David Harewood) nifty new Private Eye office. At the start of “Suspicious Minds,” she saved a ship of Navy SEALs from exploding but failed to capture the alien shimmer that dragged off one of the soldiers. By sifting through old DEO documents, she quickly uncovered that those shimmers were really invisible aliens called Morae. Haley and a few other high-ranking officers were involved in a project meant to train those alien children as government operatives – better known as assassins. She, Alex and J’onn went to question one of the men who took part, but he was killed by the very same aliens as an act of vengeance. Surprisingly, this was the first time Supergirl took the more nuanced approach of explaining that violence in retaliation against an oppressor was more human than oppression itself.

In fact, fighting back against control – however ugly that fight got – seemed to be the theme in the latter half of “Suspicious Minds.” One of the Morae, for example, committed suicide rather than risk being returned to DEO custody. And when Haley figured out Supergirl’s identity thanks to one of the DEO agents breaking (this is why we keep secrets!), her threats to conscript Kara were cut short by Alex punching her in the face and throwing her into a containment cell. At that point, even the peace-loving, morally righteous J’onn agreed to wipe Haley’s mind to keep the knowledge away from her. But the wipes didn’t end there, as Haley brought in a truth seeking alien that can’t be deceived. Which meant that everyone in the DEO who knows Kara is Supergirl must have their minds wiped – including Alex. The teary final moments before Alex submitted to J’onn’s psychic ministrations were some of the most heartbreaking Supergirl has ever seen.

Brainy’s installing a dating app in his neurons.

Elsewhere, Lena and James finally had their first real talk since Thanksgiving – however improbable that sounds. He admitted he was wrong in judging her for protecting him, because his time with the Children of Liberty made him realize how easy it was to compromise one’s morals to save another’s life. Their sweet reunion gave Lena the confidence she needed to open up to him about her recent experiments, and how she planned to enhance human powers so that they could be on par with aliens. Though she feared his judgment, James was surprisingly supportive of her confession and proposal. Although it’s not all that surprising when one considers how gung-ho James has been about proving his worth as a vigilante in the past. Anyone else afraid he’ll volunteer to be one of Lena’s test subjects?

On a much lighter note, Brainy (Jesse Rath) invited Nia (Nicole Maines) out on what she thought was a date but he really considered a “meeting” to discuss her potential as a hero. Both were flustered by the misunderstanding, with Brainy saying that he never thought someone as beautiful as Nia could be interested in him and her replying that she didn’t know if she was interested. Given her obvious expectations before, though, something tells me this wasn’t the last we’ll see of their adorable song and dance.

“Suspicious Minds” was a strong return for Supergirl, as well as proof that their allegorical bigotry can be handled more deftly than it was in the first half of the season. Hopefully we’ll see more episodes like this one in the future.

Supergirl airs Sundays at 8/7c on the CW.