REVIEW: Supergirl, S5E4 – In Plain Sight

supergirl 504 in plain sight j'onn

Supergirl has been on fire this season, and “In Plain Sight” keeps that flame alive. The ensemble cast all get moments to shine while furthering the parallel Leviathan and Malefic plots, and yet the focus remains on Kara (Melissa Benoist) in a way that previous seasons couldn’t quite manage.

supergirl 504 in plain sight nia

Brainia lives another week.

J’onn (David Harewood) and his guilt over his brother read something of a climax this week, as keeping the secret of his shame from Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Kara takes its toll. Thanks to his ability to incept humans, Malefic quite literally gets into Alex’s head and uses her concern for Kelly (Azie Tesfai) against them both. When ‘Alex’ lashes out at J’onn for being the real monster in his family, it’s almost believable to the audience precisely because J’onn believes it about himself.

But, of course, Alex would never say or even think such a thing about her surrogate father. Once J’onn figures out Malefic is behind the change, his Martian Manhunter psychic powers and Lena’s (Katie McGrath) latest contraption – more on that later – successfully send the problem brother back to the Phantom Zone. J’onn is saddened that he wasn’t able to get through to his brother, and viewers are probably wondered why “In Plain Sight” cut such a promising villain short – but thankfully a second chance is just around the corner.

Lena gracefully stepped in to help Brainy (Jesse Rath) perfect the Phantom Zone Projector, because he was having trouble getting out of his head after his fight with Nia (Nicole Maines). Their connection ever since the little boxes conversation has been something I’ve hoped to see Supergirl explore; it’s just a shame Lena is currently operating with deceit. Though she gives Brainy some useful and much-needed advice about asking for help rather than pulling away from Nia, she uses the opportunity to swap Brainy’s work for her own plans. Thus, instead of being sent to the Phantom Zone, Malefic is transported to an L Corp cell for Lena’s further experimentation.

Whether Lena is too far gone or not is up for debate, seeing as the only people she’s actively messing with are already “evil,” but the other shady figure in this season’s Supergirl was exonerated “In Plain Sight.” Kara suspected William Day of being part of an international crime ring, or even of being an assassin for hire, after she and Nia discovered another high profile murder connected to him and a mysterious offshore bank account. This storyline was my favorite of the night, though it also made me squeamish about the future. First, it was a blessing to see Kara and Nia teaming up like the ace reporters they are and following the breadcrumbs that led back to William. But the moment that Kara actually confronted William led to a too-early reveal and a too-strong indication of his feelings.

supergirl 504 in plain sight james

See you on the buffer side, James.

I’m not sure if William is meant to be into Kara, or simply into her incredible journalism, but either way the set up feels too similar to Mon-El. Thankfully, Kara called William out for being such a jerk at the start of the season and said she would find it hard to forgive him, but the real question is why the writers felt it was necessary to make him act that way to begin with. She could easily have gotten suspicious of a man who was overzealous to please while also mysteriously disappearing, but instead she has to see that the jerkwad of course has a heart of gold. But I will withhold further judgment until we see where Supergirl is going with them romantically. For now, it firmly ties Andrea Rojas – or at least her family – into the Leviathan circle.

While Nia and Brainy finally got on the same page during “In Plain Sight,” at least in terms of compromising for their relationship, Alex and Kelly were finally reunited after a detour in the Olsen hometown of Calvintown. But James (Mehcad Olsen) took the visit as his cue to leave and fight for the little guys (or fight big guys in the next Mortal Kombat movie), which was bittersweet but perfectly fitting for his character. While it’s a little odd that neither Olsen sibling kept tabs on their hometown or Aunt Vi after moving out, it was really interesting to see Supergirl tackle the notion of how the other half lives. Everyone we’ve met in National City has the resources of either CatCo, the DEO, or L Corp backing their endeavors – and most importantly, they have Supergirl herself. Calvintown doesn’t have a hero, or even a reporter willing to risk their own neck and stop the corrupt prison system. James choosing to be that person for them is the best exit a show that never used him well could have given him.

While “In Plain Sight” took away yet another main character from us, it pushed the thus far excellent season forward in a necessary way and left me excited for what’s to come. Supergirl airs Sundays at 9/8c on The CW.