TV Review: Supergirl – “Manhunter”

Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Supergirl episode reviews here.
After last week’s game changing episode, “Manhunter” calmed things down a bit to explore the fallout of J’onn being revealed to the world and dive into the past of Supergirl‘s three most central characters. A primarily character-driven episode, “Manhunter” had no villain of the week and hardly any action scenes, but it was another great episode, demonstrating yet again how strong the characters in Supergirl are.
The main plot involved the DEO coming under investigation thanks to the discovery of Hank Henshaw’s true identity. Though a compelling story in its own right, it was used as a framing device for three flashback sequences for J’onn, Alex, and Kara, and how they were all tied together. And though some parts worked better than others, these flashbacks were the strongest parts of “Manhunter”.
J’onn’s flashback was not entirely revelatory, as it retold a story that we already knew thanks to “Human for a Day”. But it was still great to watch it play out, and to see the Martian Manhunter before he was Hank Henshaw—as well as Hank Henshaw before he was the Martian Manhunter. Plus, the scenes between J’onn and Jeremiah Danvers were suitably touching, as the two bonded over the fact that Jeremiah’s daughter Kara, just like J’onn, was an alien, ending with Jeremiah asking J’onn to look after his daughters as he died.
Alex and KaraWhich led to the second flashback, as J’onn, now Hank Henshaw, recruited an Alex who had lost her way. It was the shortest of the three flashbacks, but I liked seeing how being Kara’s sister and the inherent feelings of inadequacy affected Alex a few years ago. As great as their sisterly bond has been, the fact that it wasn’t always so perfect was a welcome touch of realism.
Speaking of that sisterly bond, the final flashback dove into Kara’s difficulty fitting in as a child, both on Earth and within her family. It was another instance where Supergirl was reminiscent of Man of Steel, as Kara was told by her adoptive parent to hide her powers from the world. And again, Supegirl did it better. Instead of her father telling her to let a busload of children die, Jeremiah simply explained why it was necessary for her to hide her powers and fit in, especially in a world that already had a Superman.
The relationship between Kara, Alex, and J’onn has been one of Supergirl‘s biggest strengths. The flashbacks focused on these characters and their bond, which is what made them so great. It’s yet another testament to Supergirl‘s strong cast of characters that this episode worked so well.
And finally, finally, Lucy Lane has relevance to the plot. No longer a character relegated to relationship drama fuel, she played an active role in “Manhunter” and by the end of the episode became the new director of the DEO. Welcome aboard, Lucy.
Alex and J’onn being on the run was another great development. It took the two strongest parts of the DEO, an otherwise relatively bland setting, and promised to follow them on their own. Although one thing that bothered me was J’onn using his memory erasing powers so easily. These powers caused him great turmoil a few episodes ago—it should take more than an offhand remark to explain how he finally mastered them.
Siobhan’s side plot was generally unnecessary, as it was redundant to show that yes she does hate Kara and is angry at having lost her job. All that was really needed was the final scene in which she… gained? discovered? her powers. Still, it gave Cat Grant something to do and showed how clever she is, which is always nice.
One of the things I loved about last week’s episode was that I knew there would be major consequences, and “Manhunter” delivered. Between National City’s continued distrust of Supergirl and J’onn being on the run, and even Siobhan’s transformation into a supervillain, things happened in this episode. These past two weeks have been so great, I’m almost dreading the return of Non and the Kryptonians antagonists. Hopefully the show can keep it up.
Next week: the Flash!

Rating: 4/5 (Great)

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