NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Supergirl” are present in this review
Supergirl’s month off is finally over, with the show returning this week, alongside DC’s sister CW shows, The Flash and Arrow. This has all three shows positioned perfectly for their big season climaxes, even if there wasn’t much reference to that on this week’s Supergirl offering. Instead, “Ace Reporter” put the DEO and alien-themed conflicts aside (Alex and J’onn don’t even appear in this episode at all, beyond a small opening section), to instead focus heavily on Kara’s civilian identity, as both a reporter and friend to Lena Luthor.
This is a great story prospect, considering how much, “Luthors” from earlier in February served as one of this season’s best episodes up to this point, since that was an episode built around a similar hook. Likewise, “Ace Reporter” is also another standout Supergirl offering, as a cool new villain meshes well with Lena’s past, as well as her present-day friendship with Kara, after Kara has started to become affected by her prolonged unemployment.
Since Kara is no longer at CatCo, she’s invited along as a personal friend of Lena’s to the big presentation of a new technological breakthrough by Spheerical, a company owned by Lena’s former business partner and lover, Jack Spheer. If you’re a particularly avid DC fan, you may recognize Jack Spheer as being a C-list DC villain from DC Comics’ New Earth catalogue. Ironically, Spheer also served as an enemy of Green Arrow in DC Comics lore, not Supergirl/Superman, which makes his inclusion on Supergirl a bit of an interesting turn, considering that The CW also has a Green Arrow-starring series as one of their biggest primetime shows.
Whatever the case, Jack, played in a great guest turn by iZombie’s Rahul Kohli, announces a revolutionary nanotechnology breakthrough that will allow the virtual eradication of most injury and disease. This naturally sparks a huge media frenzy, but Kara’s blog post that got her fired from CatCo actually has her contacted by a whistleblower, who tells her that the human trials for the nanotechnology were faked. Before the whistleblower can finish speaking however, the car that he and Kara are in explodes, killing the whistleblower, but merely leaving Kara in temporary shock, since the attacker, who blew up the car with a nanomachine swarm, is clearly unaware that Kara is Supergirl.
This sparked a really inspired conflict for the episode, as Kara must use her reporter skills to stop the killer, since she won’t be able to rely on the DEO. This also forces her to deal with Snapper again, after Snapper is predictably rude and dismissive to Kara after chancing upon her at the Spheerical press keynote. After Snapper is nearly killed upon contacting his own whistleblower however, another man that Kara fails to save from another nanomachine swarm, Kara and Mon-El manage to find evidence that Jack is aware that the nanotechnology is dangerous, and is killing whistleblowers to cover it up!
This saddles Kara with the difficult choice of having to tell Lena that Jack, whom Lena has now rekindled a romance with, is a bad guy that is murdering people with his own technology. This sets up a straightforward climax, but surprisingly, Supergirl didn’t play to expectations here, which was pretty nice. Instead, Jack is not the real villain, but is actually being controlled by the Spheerical CFO, after the nanomachines merged with Jack and made him a puppet. This leads to a brief scuffle that almost results in Kara being killed, before Lena makes the difficult choice to use an override that will destroy the machines and save Supergirl, but also kills Jack in the process. Jack being an innocent victim was an effective deviation from DC’s comic book canon, just as Lena sadly begging Kara to be there for her when her shock wears off and she becomes fearful made for a great, unsettling foreshadowing of a possible conflict between the two to come later. This conflict also appears to pick up speed as the episode ends with Rhea paying Lena a visit! Could this be part of setting up Lena’s motivations to likely found Checkmate for the Supergirl universe?
Finally, this episode also contained a subplot, though it largely felt like filler in contrast to the main plot. This subplot involved Winn talking James into allowing Lyra to team up with him during his nights as Guardian, something that James is initially against. After he has his arm twisted though, Lyra quickly proves to be out of control, resulting in a bunch of drama that, frankly, doesn’t really go anywhere. Instead, Winn gets caught in the middle of some fuss, and then James and Lyra just decide that they’re good off-screen, despite hating each other at the start of the episode. This was disappointing, since there wasn’t a clear reason for James and Lyra to suddenly become friends, with this development seeming like it’s only happening to set up a secondary hero team-up for later in Season Two, or possibly even in the already-confirmed Season Three.
Beyond the throwaway subplot however, the main material with Kara and Lena, along with the Jack Spheer developments, were all handled very well, and made for a constantly strong episode. “Ace Reporter” even found a satisfying way to get Kara her job at CatCo back in the end, after Kara decides to turn her whistleblower story over to Snapper, since the truth is more important than the reporter’s own agenda. This moment of integrity and humility is enough to allow Snapper to forgive Kara, while granting him a bit more respect for her as a fellow reporter, and that was incredibly satisfying to see. It feels like the season doesn’t have much of an overall threat for its climax in a few weeks, but for now, that’s genuinely alright. I’m enjoying these effective character moments for Kara, and hopefully, the show finds a way to keep them coming, even as it likely has to crowbar Rhea into being an awkward big bad for the season finale soon.
- Kara's reporter persona being the bigger hero
- Lena's and Jack's doomed connection
- Kara getting her job back and earning Snapper's respect
- Winn/Lyra/James subplot isn't that interesting