NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
Supergirl finally concluded one of its major current conflicts during what is essentially the midseason finale this week (excluding next week’s ‘Elseworlds’ crossover event that’s being shared between Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash), while only seeming to light the fuse of social unrest in National City even further in the process. At the same time, “Bunker Hill” focused heavily on Nia this week, and began to develop her own apparent powers as Dreamer, whose descendant will one day be a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes alongside Brainy!
Kevin Smith once again returned to direct this week’s episode of Supergirl, and as with most of the episodes he helms for The CW’s shared DC TV multiverse, “Bunker Hill” was a clear cut above your average Supergirl offering. There are a few slower moments, and Kara in particular really seemed to be having an off-week this week, being ultimately forced to serve as a device through which Nia could begin embracing her heroic potential, but beyond that, there was plenty to like in this episode, thanks to two equally strong story hooks. These story hooks also culminate in a pretty dramatic conclusion as well, one that is sure to keep fans of the series buzzing while Supergirl prepares to begin its long midseason break after Elseworlds next week, before returning in late January.
Things properly kick into gear with Nia once Kara notices her acting strangely at CatCo, in turn prompting Brainy to accidentally divulge to Kara and Alex that Nia is crucial to the timeline, for reasons that he can’t explain (although DC fans who love the Legion of Super-Heroes can obviously guess why, considering that Nia’s descendant, Nura Nal is a valued member of the team!). After Kara and Brainy pay Nia a visit at her apartment, they discover that Nia apparently sees the future in her dreams sometimes, which is a trait that’s sometimes possessed by certain women of her alien race about once a generation. Yes, this is a bit of a head-scratcher, since Nia is a trans woman that was born male, but it’s not like the show specifically outlined the science behind this, so whatever. I suppose we can also give this a pass on account of Nia being revealed as an alien this week too, which is done surprisingly casually, though it may explain her blatant connection with Brainy, a much more obvious alien among this show’s lead ensemble.
At the same time, Manchester Black has found his way to Ben Lockwood’s house, being fully aware of his identity as Agent Liberty. After an extended sequence of toying with Lockwood and his wife, Lydia, Manchester eventually reveals to Lydia that Lockwood is Agent Liberty, and he’s there to kill him. While this is going on, J’onn tries to psychically penetrate Manchester’s mind, creating an interesting, if futile clash of identities as J’onn begs Manchester to stand down, before he does something that he’ll regret. Even now, J’onn is trying to reach the person that Manchester used to be, and Manchester’s tricks to keep J’onn out of his head, which even include deliberately cutting himself on a bayonet, are pretty intense! The way that the show ends up tying this into the core Kara/Nia/Brainy storyline is pretty cool too, since the prophetic dream that Nia is having is foretelling that Manchester is about to accidentally kill Lockwood’s wife, even though Nia originally mistakes Agent Liberty as the one pulling the trigger.
The only faulty point of the episode comes when Kara, Nia and Brainy decide to go to Collingwood, a very anti-alien neighbourhood in National City, and one that Agent Liberty obviously frequents, in an effort to deduce who Agent Liberty truly is. This feels like a stupid plan to begin with, since Agent Liberty wouldn’t even confide his identity in James, the boss of CatCo, so what exactly makes Kara, Nia and Brainy think that they’ll have better luck? Sure, Kara’s hilariously bad lie to some Children of Liberty stalkers about being ‘related’ to Agent Liberty, because her last name is, “Liberty”, is pretty funny, but it also highlights another occasional issue with the episode; The story sometimes has to be pushed forward by Kara being incompetent and stupid. After Kara gets herself kidnapped, and Nia and Brainy get rounded up with her after Nia uselessly charges into the situation (I can at least understand Nia being stupid here, since she’s already demonstrated that her heart is bigger than her brain), Kara soon after gets trapped by a stream of liquid Nth Metal, conveniently disabling her so that Nia can manipulate her dreams to subdue Manchester before Lydia Lockwood can get hurt. Kara at least manages to escape the Nth Metal by trying to fly so hard that she lifts up the entire building, but this is more stupid than it is cool, frankly, especially since Lydia almost falling to her death in the process (which would have made Nia’s save entirely pointless), only further highlights that Kara was really off her superhero game this week.
Fortunately, like I said, the dramatic payoff to this episode is pretty awesome, despite Agent Liberty and Manchester Black both being successfully arrested and thrown in jail. J’onn manages to make a small step of progress towards redeeming Manchester again after he’s imprisoned, but this is quickly overshadowed by a legion of protesters gathering outside of the prison where Lockwood is being sent, including Lydia, who protest Lockwood’s arrest, while Lockwood himself demands that Supergirl reveal her identity to the world, since Lockwood is no longer hiding his. This is a really fair point, and one that even President Baker agrees with, as he demands that Kara divulge her secret identity to himself and Haley, so it can be formally kept on file at the DEO. Kara refuses to do so, and because of this, President Baker terminates her employment at the DEO, against Alex’s protests, potentially making Kara a rogue superhero, and no doubt only strengthening the public’s growing distrust of her. The final shot of Kara hovering anxiously over Lockwood as he’s booked and placed in prison was an especially fantastic way to end the episode, and Supergirl’s proper 2018 run, especially with Lockwood’s ominous line of, “See you soon” closing everything out.
Once again, it’s good to see that Supergirl is trying to expand its thinking with the Agent Liberty conflict, and isn’t just pretending that everything is perfectly fine, now that the supposed bad guy has been arrested. In a way, Agent Liberty has only become even more dangerous, now that his identity is public, and now that he’s been very publicly shamed and thrown in jail. The tragic irony of Lockwood preparing to abandon his Agent Liberty identity immediately before Manchester Black started all of these events is an especially great turn, with Manchester becoming indirectly responsible for prolonging the very anti-alien sentiment that he was trying to aggressively stamp out with his extreme methods!
Someone is still pulling the strings of Agent Liberty, and that person is bound to become a bigger problem with Lockwood behind bars, but I suppose we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see which new threats may be emerging in National City after this. “Bunker Hill” certainly did well as a proper final episode for Supergirl’s 2018 run, again excluding the ‘Elseworlds’ crossover next week, and while it had to rely a little too much on Kara’s plot-convenient ineptitude to fully work, the dramatic confrontation between Lockwood and Manchester certainly delivered on its promise. Even with Agent Liberty supposedly stopped (for now), a new phase in the battle for alien rights is beginning, and now that Kara’s no longer under the DEO’s watch, that will only make it easier for that Russian Supergirl double to start causing some damage, once she finally decides to fly across the pond!
- Dramatic, intense confrontation between Manchester Black and Agent Liberty
- Nia starting to come into her abilities and saving the day
- Lockwood's arrest only strengthening Agent Liberty's cause
- Kara's head-slapping idiocy is distracting