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Last week’s episode of Supergirl saw the consummation of the “will they or won’t they?” romance between Kara and Mon-El. As anyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows, the so-called honeymoon phase is when you think your partner is perfect and can do no wrong. But after the naked fun-times and blurting out to your co-workers that you and your significant other are an item comes the period where your long-lost adopted father escapes a clandestine organization dedicated to the eradication of alien life forms. Oh, and your new lover suspects that said long-lost father is a secret agent for that organization. Happens to all of us, right?
The Project Cadmus plotline, which had been largely ignored for the past several episodes, returns in a big way with “Homecoming.” When we last saw Jeremiah Danvers (played by Superman emeritus Dean Cain), he was on the run from Cadmus after helping Supergirl and Mon-El escape the facility. But when Supergirl and Martian Manhunter stop a criminal convoy, it turns out that the cargo the baddies were transporting was a battered and bruised Jeremiah. The two heroes take Jeremiah back to the DEO, where he reveals Cadmus’s plan to set a nuclear fusion bomb using radiation from Kara’s heat vision. Mon-El is skeptical about Jeremiah’s sudden re-appearance, finding the timing to be too convenient to be coincidental.
Naturally, Mon-El’s concerns are totally justified—concerns that we Supergirl viewers immediately co-sign—because OF COURSE Jeremiah’s return is suspicious. Of course, it takes the other characters, principally Kara and Alex, about half the episode to get on the same page. I’m sure it was as frustrating for Mon-El as it was for the audience that the others were so credulous about Jeremiah’s return. It’s one thing to have his daughters disbelieve the worst-case scenario about their dad, but not having an experienced DEO director like J’Onn express at least some doubt is a bit harder to swallow. (On a related note, can we please have some consistency with his Martian Manhunter powers? It never occurs to J’Onn to scan Jeremiah’s mind until it’s too late.) Mon-El reluctantly raises his reservations while at a Danvers family dinner that reunites Jeremiah with Eliza (played by Supergirl emeritus Helen Slater). The mere suggestion that Jeremiah’s return isn’t all that it seems angers Alex instantaneously and causes Kara to upbraid Mon-El for not respecting her wishes to stay silent on the matter. It’s a curious stance for Kara to take, given that the “moral” of last week’s Mxyzptlk adventure was that trust was essential to any relationship. Shouldn’t Kara accord Mon-El a similar respect, especially given his prior Cadmus experience?
Undeterred by the nasty row at the dinner, Mon-El meets with Winn in secret to share his suspicions about Jeremiah’s fortuitous reappearance. As nice as it is to see the Mon-El/Winn partnership rekindled for a time, it can’t help but make one conscious of the total absence of Winn’s primary crime fighting partner James Olsen, aka the Guardian. (In fact, both James and the CatCo supporting players are conspicuously absent from “Homecoming” as the balance is decidedly on the DEO side of things.) Winn spies on Jeremiah breaking into the DEO information database, causing both he and Mon-El to go to Kara with their concerns. Kara is suitably swayed enough to confront Jeremiah with this information. Naturally, Jeremiah demurs by saying he was just looking up old case files—a line that Alex buys hook, line, and sinker and which leads to a recriminating encounter with Kara. However, the suspicions about Jeremiah become justified as he overwhelms J’Onn with the help of a heretofore hidden cybernetic arm and steals files from the DEO mainframe. Jeremiah then meets Lillian Luthor and Cyborg Superman in the woods, of all places, but Team Supergirl quickly finds them using a tracer Winn placed on Jeremiah before he left.
The conflict between the two groups is fairly desultory. Cyborg Superman uses the nuclear fusion bomb to blow up a train track—which doesn’t seem like the most ambitious of targets, given how much the bomb had been hyped as a threat—and Supergirl uses her heat vision to solder the tracks together. Alex confronts Jeremiah over his betrayal but the motivations for said betrayal are kept purposefully vague, presumably so the showrunners can unravel the mystery in later episodes. Alex is unable to pull the trigger on her father, allowing Jeremiah to escape with the Cadmus coterie. Both Alex and Kara have good cries over their father’s seeming betrayal with their significant others afterwards. In particular, Mon-El gets his first lesson in being emotionally available for a loved one and even has the good grace not to say “nyah nyah, I was right!” to Kara while comforting her.
As has been the case for much of Supergirl’s second season, “Homecoming” presents a mixed bag. I for one am glad to see Cadmus become a presence in the series once more after the organization inexplicably laid fallow for a while. We learn by episode’s end that what Jeremiah stole for Cadmus was the DEO alien registry, which should hit on the alien-as-immigrant metaphor that gave the Cadmus plotline a sociopolitical relevance. The reveal that Jeremiah is a secret agent for the baddies adds an interesting personal wrinkle to the conflict and will give the showrunners much angst-ridden grist for their storytelling mill. On the other hand, the inconsistent and retrograde characterization and plotting can get grating—I mean, how many times already have we seen the “Mon-El needs to grow up” plot point hit? As I’ve often said, the burgeoning romance between Kara and Mon-El is in danger of neutering both characters as well as depriving other characters of much-needed screen time. (Again I repeat, where the hell was Jimmy in all this?)
All in all, “Homecoming” has the benefit of being one of the more focused Supergirl episodes of recent memory and set the seeds for plotlines with the potential to germinate beautifully. Or the show could repeat some of its more unfortunate tendencies and have those seeds not produce any fruit worth enjoying. We’ll see what kind of tree this Supergirl season turns out to be in the coming weeks.