REVIEW: Supergirl, S4E14 – Stand and Deliver

Supergirl made a powerful argument for the power of the press, not to mention the elasticity of people’s moral compasses, in “Stand and Deliver.” Ben Lockwood’s (Sam Witwer) racist rally to repeal the Alien Amnesty act was interrupted by a peaceful protest organized by someone going by the pseudonym American Alien, AKA Brainy (Jesse Rath), which in and of itself was intercepted by much more violently-minded Manchester Black (David Ajala) and the Elite. In the midst of the chaos, Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) were forced to decide whether they must follow their hearts or the rules of fair play.

Truly impressed she didn’t kill him.

“Stand and Deliver” opened with the fabulous Super Friends trio of Supergirl, Martian Manhunter (David Harewood), and Dreamer (Nicole Maines) taking in Elite member Menagerie after preventing her from snacking on an unsuspecting human. It was a great look at Nia’s developing powers as well as a not-so-subtle way to introduce the episode’s theme of pacifism versus violence, since Kara has to teach the rookie heroine how to tone down the threats while saving the day. It’s a thread that carried through the hour until exploding at the protest for various characters, J’onn being chief among them. He admitted that Manchester was getting under his skin, awakening the bloodthirsty and vengeance-fueled side of him that had gone dormant after his father’s death. When the Elite unleashed the full force of their power, including a Manchester multiplied about twelve times with the ability to fly most likely granted by Brainy’s Legion ring, J’onn could no longer control his rage and nearly killed Manchester himself. Or rather, nearly killed the Child of Liberty tricked up to look like Manchester – all while the Elite leader looked on from a close distance and remarked how similar they really were.

Meanwhile, Alex had been assigned the dreary task of protecting Lockwood as he prepared for the rally. Such a despicable order required her to gather every bit of willpower she had, and even helpful advice from her sister Kara couldn’t keep her from loathing every second she spent in his presence. Though not in the exact same boat, Supergirl also found herself between a rock and a hard place when it came to Brainy’s counter-protest. While he suggested that she should join the aliens and march as a concerned citizen of Earth, she remained adamant that she should only be on site as a protective measure in case fights broke out. It wasn’t until Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett of Mean Girls, who looks sexy with his hair pushed back) said he believed her to be different from those aliens that she decided instead to join hands with Brainy and Nia in a show of alien solidarity. Her commitment inspired Alex in turn, and the DEO Director manhandled Lockwood to safety before staking her own pro-alien claim on the protest as well.

Ready for Haley to join the good guys full-time.

Overall, Supergirl did a good job of capturing the realistic madness of protests such as these, and “Stand and Deliver” was at some points tough to watch because of it. The parts that were most difficult to swallow, though, involved the nameless crowds and how they reacted to the lead characters. Brainy’s peaceful march is disrupted in just a second by Manchester’s order to kill the nearest alien hater, and yet minutes later aliens and humans are united in helping each other out of the area just because the Elite have disappeared from the scene. The scene of James (Mehcad Brooks) snapping poetic photos of human protestors helping the aliens they once – seconds ago – decried was beautiful to witness, especially set to a cover of “Mad World” that I plan to download immediately, but it didn’t feel quite earned. Nevertheless, the fact that his photos managed to push back the progress of the repeal to congressional hearings at the very least is something to be celebrated. If only fans and characters alike wouldn’t be too busy fearing for James’ life next week after he got shot in the last scene.

That shot will surely hold up his investigation into Lena’s (Katie McGrath) government experiments, which are still up in the air given her own reluctance to pursue them as quickly as Haley (April Parker Jones) would like. While the outcome of the protest may have bought the scientist some time, next week is sure to speed things back up with Lex Luthor’s arrival.

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