‘Supergirl’ Avoids the Friend-Zone in ‘How Does She Do It?’

Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the Nov. 23 episode of CBS’ “Supergirl,” titled “How Does She Do It?”

This episode was originally scheduled to air last week, but because the plot deals specifically with a terrorist threat from a suicide bomber, the network swapped episodes four and five in the wake of the Paris attack. The episode’s near seamless interchangeability is partially due to the fact that the over-arching narrative is somewhat vacillating at this point in the season — Kara is still caught between Winn, James and Lucy; she continues to impress and disappoint Cat Grant; and each episode presents a new villain-of-the-week — and also because the plot is still putting pieces into place, posing more questions than it is answering.

At the end of episode three, we met Lucy Lane who arrived to re-ignite her past romance with James Olsen, catching Kara in the middle. In “How Does She Do It,” Alex advises her sister to not speak with James about Lucy in order to stay out of the friend zone (apparently this has been a problem for Kara in the past). Later, we learn about Kara and Lucy’s mutual jealousy regarding each other — Kara doesn’t think she can compete with Lucy because she Has It All, including a history with James, but Lucy confesses that she first broke things off with James over how much time he was spending with Superman — how much more excited must he be to help a superhero with a skirt?

This week we also revisit Maxwell Lord as a potential mastermind and season- or series-long villain. Lord attempts to seduce Alex, which is the least convincing part of the episode. For someone so composed, mature and suspicious as Alex, buying into someone mysterious and mistrustful of the government doesn’t seem in character. Then again, her supervisor has glowing red eyes and she hasn’t seemed to catch on to that either.

We also see Kara struggle with spreading herself too thin. How can she be Supergirl and work for the DEO, all while assisting Cat Grant (and trying to choose from her potential suitors)? Kara and Cat’s relationship continues to be the most enjoyable part of the series, and Cat maintains her intriguing balance of sass and eccentricity — “Get me a salad for lunch,” she tells Kara. “I don’t care what kind as long as it has a cheeseburger on top” — with mentorship. “So you can have it all?” Kara asks Cat toward the end of the episode. “Of course,” Cat responds. “Just not all at once, and not right away. And not with that hair. Use some conditioner, for god’s sake.”

In this episode, Cat has to accept an award, and Kara volunteers to watch her boss’ son, Carter. Kara is late to pick him up from school because she’s off saving the world, and there’s a great visual moment in which she flies into a bush in her super suit and emerges wearing normal clothes. Carter is an interesting character in that he is the first to come right out and tell Kara that Supergirl is better than her cousin. “She’s cooler than Superman,” he tells her (not to mention, he also has a weird, childish crush).

The episode’s central conflict arises when there are two bombs planted — one at the airport and another on Lord’s high-speed train. Supergirl and the DEO have to split up to avoid catastrophe at either location. Alex and Hank arrive at the airport, but Alex can’t defuse the bomb. Hank asks her to leave the room, uses his secret cyborg (?) powers to stop it from detonating and covers it up by telling everyone the bomb was just a diversion to distract them from the suicide bomber on the train. Supergirl, meanwhile, confronts the bomber, whose name is Ethan Knox. His daughter is sick — we learn later that Lord is suspiciously funding her treatment — and he ends up blowing himself up, but not before Supergirl detaches his car from the rest of the train and saves all the passengers.

Last week we were left wondering about the Danvers family’s secrets, but because of the episode swap, those questions aren’t addressed. Now, in addition to questions about Henshaw’s evil powers and her foster father’s true mission, Lord throws another wrench into the mix for Supergirl: who is he really, and what are his plans? Certainly nothing good.

Fun fact: As if we needed any more hammering home that Kara and Cat are nerds, Carter tells us that they’re both pretty good at Settlers of Catan. Let’s hope they somehow figure out how to work that into a showdown.

“Supergirl” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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