This week’s Supergirl, in an episode called “Hostile Takeover,” tells two compelling stories — one focused on Supergirl’s (Melissa Benoist) encounter with her Kryptonian aunt, Astra (Laura Benanti), the other on an attempted takeover of Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockhart) CatCo. Both tales are well told, with important developments for the characters. Unfortunately, these two stories never feel organically related to each other, and sometimes feel as if two unrelated half-hour scripts were edited together.
First off, “Hostile Takeover” begins where last week’s episode ended, with Kara’s in battle against Astra and her super-powered minions. Though their first fight ends without resolution, Kara and Astra do meet again, this time resulting in Astra’s capture and imprisonment by the DEO. Once captured, Astra talks to Kara about their former relationship on Krypton when Kara was a young girl. She also reveals the motivations that placed her at odds with Kara’s mother, Astra’s twin sister Alura (also played by Benanti).
Driven by her desire to save her planet — which, in an updating of the traditional comic book storyline, was put at risk because of the Kryptonians’ exploitation of their planet’s resources — Astra was willing to go to great, and illegal, lengths to achieve her goals. Kara’s mother, Astra claims, went so far as to use Kara’s relationship with her aunt as a means to her capture. Although she does not explain exactly how she plans to accomplish it, Astra suggests that her present mission is to ensure that the Earth does not meet a similar fate. She confesses that her actions, though necessary, will be no better liked by the authorities of this planet than by those of Krypton.
The return of Kara’s aunt allows for a lot of soul searching on Kara’s part and a re-examination of her relationship with her mother. Was the decision to send Kara to Earth an act of love on the part of her mother or a final act of betrayal? A moving confrontation with her mother’s A.I. hologram offers no answers. but allows Benoist a chance to dig deep for an emotionally powerful scene.
Aunt Astra’s return also allows for a lot of great action sequences that pit Supergirl against fellow Kryptonians, including Astra’s husband and lieutenant, Non (Chris Vance), who seems to have motives that are more purely sinister than those of his wife. Supergirl’s battle with Astra above National City was particularly fun, although I was disappointed that there was no follow-up to a scene where the two crash through a skyscraper, something that surely left victims in its wake. This casual bit of destruction came after Kara’s observation, earlier in the episode, that her cousin, Superman, does not kill. This take on Superman is, of course, at odds with the controversial ending to 2013’s Man of Steel, so I was hoping that the Kara/Astra battle would end without the kind of destruction that Superman brought to Metropolis in his battle with his own Kryptonian nemesis. It was an opportunity to offer a reproach to such cavalier violence that was, sadly, missed.
The other half of the episode is devoted to the hacking of Cat’s e-mail and the subsequent release of embarrassing personal information to the press. Cat puts Kara, James (Mehcad Brooks), and Winn (Jeremy Jordan) in charge of reviewing her email for potential bombshells, but they take it upon themselves to do a lot more.
Using Supergirl’s super hearing and super vision, the office mates discover that a member of the CatCo board is both behind the e-mail hack and planning a takeover of the company. Just as Cat is preparing to publically step down from the company in order to ensure that an important secret stays hidden, Kara and company save the day.
Overall, it’s a fine storyline that allows Kara’s powers to shine on a smaller, more intimate scale. It also allows for the development of the relationships between the principals, including an important turning point in Kara’s relationship with Cat, a relationship that has quickly become the most interesting part of this series.
Although a good story on its own, the story of CatCo’s internal politics doesn’t have much connection to the fact that Supergirl’s Aunt Astra is back in town. In one scene, Supergirl’s in a life and death showdown that threatens the whole city; in the next, she’s engaged in a mix of corporate spying and boardroom politics. I suspect that the two stories could have come together better but as it is, I found myself wanting to shout at the screen and remind Kara that she had more important things to worry about than corporate intrigue.
Readers of these reviews know that I have been a champion of the CatCo office setting from the beginning, and I’m glad to see so much time devoted to it in this episode. I wonder, however, if the opportunity wasn’t wasted to make two good episodes out of these two strong stories. Every episode doesn’t have to feature a battle with a supervillain, and watching Kara and company focus all of their attention on a more mundane challenge every once in a while could be a lot of fun.