Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Supergirl here.
“Hostile Takeover” was a pretty solid episode of Supergirl, buoyed by a few very notable high points. The episode juggled two storylines, but one of them was more effective than the other.
It’s telling that Cat’s email hacking scandal was the stronger of the two, as it really demonstrates how compelling a character she has become. Sure, the plot thread also involved Winn and James, who worked out their issues in a friendly way, and “the walking personification of white male privilege” (that got a chuckle out of me). But it was Cat herself, as well as her relationship with Kara, that carried this storyline and yet again stood out as the highlight of the episode. The revelation of Cat’s estranged son also added further layers to her character, despite her being the one who needs it the least. I feel like I say this every week, but aside from Melissa Benoist, Cat Grant is Supergirl‘s best asset.
What was unfortunate about the Cat plot thread being the better one is that it should not have been—not in an episode involving Astra and her minions returning to terrorize Kara and National City. I mean, Kara faced her aunt, with all the family drama that’s inherent to that conflict, but it still felt secondary to an email hacking scandal. As much as Cat contributed to that, the main reason is that Astra has yet to resonate as a villain, especially since she’d been absent for most of the season so far.
I do appreciate that “Hostile Takeover” attempted to make Astra work, though. The reveal of Hank Henshaw as the Martian Manhunter last week was awesome, but it eliminated him as a potential villain—which is unfortunate, because Henshaw had been the most compelling potential antagonist up to that point. Now that he’s been outed as a good guy, the show needs to sell us on Astra. “Hostile Takeover” commendably tried to do just that, revealing that there was more to her than just villainy, and showing us that she had a close relationship with Kara on Krypton. Astra’s not there yet, but hey, baby steps.
Even though the Astra subplot was a bit wonky, it featured a superbly acted scene by Melissa Benoist as Kara confronted her mother’s hologram. Benoist sold that scene so well—the anger, the hurt, the frustration, and the anguish—that she elicited a whole lot of emotion out of me, despite my not caring for the story itself. She’s a fantastic lead, capable of carrying the show on her own if she has to.
The midair fistfight between Kara and Astra was a cool (if low-budget) action scene, but what I liked most about it was that it called to mind the climax of Man of Steel and highlight how different Supergirl is. Just like Superman and Zod, Supergirl and Astra smashed through buildings, but unlike Man of Steel, Kara was shown saving civilians from the wreckage. It’s a small touch, but it speaks volumes to Kara’s heroism, and Man of Steel‘s (perceived) lack thereof. Plus, Kara even said, “Superman doesn’t kill.” If that’s not intentionally calling out Man of Steel, I don’t know what is.
Back to Kara and Cat for a moment, one of the last scenes of “Hostile Takeover” saw Cat finally figuring out that Kara was Supergirl. Despite secret identities being a superhero staple, shows that stretch out the secret too long tend to make the supporting cast look stupid. That’s something Cat is not, and I’m glad Supergirl tackled that early. Plus, it was a really sweet scene.
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)
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