- Series Title: Supergirl
- Season: Season 4
- Episodes: 22
- Discs: 5
- Network: CW
- Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Nicole Maines, Jesse Rath, Sam Witwer, Jo Cryer, Andrea Brooks, Bruce Boxleitner
- Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
The fourth season of Supergirl breaks into two parts, which is why when I missed the first half of the season due to watching Doctor Who instead I didn’t feel all that lost. In the first half of the season, President Marsden (Lynda Carter) is attacked during a conference at Camp David. She’s revealed to be “an alien” and forced to resign. Her replacement is President Baker, played by Bruce Boxleitner, this new president seems obsessed with finding out “the truth” about Supergirl. But more about him in a moment.
Due in part to the revelations about President Marsden, anti-alien sentiment is on the rise. J’onn J’onzz, now a private detective (John Jones) is concerned about this anti-alien feeling. Kara ignores his warnings. Later, a friend of John’s is kidnapped from the alien bar. John meets her fiancé, Manchester Black. They become friends and allies and attempt to find the missing woman. Anti-alien attacks increase, fueled by a mysterious figure known as “Agent Liberty”, and his ruffians, the Children of Liberty, who wear a uniform of black pants, grey hoodies with a large bronze star on the right breast, and “Agent Liberty” masks – robotic-like gold/bronze masks. Whenever one of these agents is caught committing crimes against aliens (beating them up, kidnapping, firebombing homes and businesses, even murder) they claim, “we are all Agent Liberty”. As the attacks worsen, Kara is finally convinced to help J’onn find the mysterious woman and to try to stop the Children of Liberty. They find the woman, but it’s too late. Agent Liberty used an alien device to control her innate psychic powers and then control a large group of aliens and force them to attacks humans at the National County Fair. By the time J’onn and Manchester black find Fiona, she’s dying. This will set Manchester Black on a very dark path.
Although Agent Liberty is responsible for the attack, the aliens are blamed. James Olsen, who had escaped prosecution for being Guardian thanks to intervention by Lena, tries to break up the violence at the Fair. He becomes the Children of Liberty’s “Human Hero”. James considers denouncing the Children of Liberty for a few seconds but then decides to roll with it and go into deep cover to find out more about the organization and uncover Agent Liberty’s identity. President Baker starts to make noises about repealing Marden’s Alien Amnesty Act, which gives aliens civil rights. Baker also puts a new army colonel in charge of the DEO and charges her with finding out as much as she can about Supergirl, including her secret identity. Baker also sees the attack at the Fair as a personal insult to him and a threat to his presidency – something which doesn’t make sense and is the first real indication that something is wrong with Baker.
In an episode ironically called, “Man of Steel”, we find out Ben Lockwood’s (Agent Liberty) background. His father is an extremely prejudiced man who hates aliens, all aliens, and blames them for his own problems. He owns “Lockwood Family Steel”, a steel factory, and feels threatened when a new Nth Metal factory opens in his town, bringing jobs and opportunities for everyone. Even though this new plant offers opportunities to everyone, Lockwood Senior sees it as an “alien threat” out to destroy his factory. He goes to Lena at L Corp to demand she shut down the factory, but refuses her offer of a grant to modernize his own factory and re-train his workers. Initially, Ben Lockwood ignores his father’s prejudice and his wife even tells the man not to use pejorative language in front of their son. Lockwood Senior organizes an attack on the alien factory and attempts to burn it down. Later his own factory closes. The family also loses their home in one of the fights between superheroes and aliens (Ben sees Martian Manhunter knock an alien through his house, which promptly explodes – another scene which makes no sense). Ben is still teaching at a local university when his lectures become increasingly full of lies, manipulations, and slurs against aliens, including alien students. He’s fired after numerous complaints and warnings. (Among Lockwood’s telling quotes, he claims “the framers of the Constitution wrote it to apply to White Men only – not aliens”. Yeah. And apparently, women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, immigrants, and anyone who isn’t a white man doesn’t deserve rights – no wonder he got fired.) Although the entire episode is meant to make Lockwood more sympathetic and understandable (his father dies in a fire in his own factory) it really just shows how Lockwood, like his father, decided “other people” were to blame for his problems. It also shows both Lockwood and his father taking no responsibility for themselves, their actions, or others. Lockwood Senior fires all his factory workers – well before he has to, and also refuses to modernize his factory or re-train his workers. It’s also strange that a man who owns a Steel Factory is portrayed as Middle Class – when he’s more likely to be a billionaire, who could have sold his factory and moved his entire family to Aruba.
Getting back to Supergirl and company – with help from J’onn J’onzz, and Manchester Black – Supergirl finally discovers Lockwood is Agent Liberty, but she is unable to stop him. The situation at the DEO worsens, with one of the agents betraying Supergirl to Col. Haley. When Haley threatens Alex, they have J’onn wipe her mind of the knowledge. J’onn also wipes the mind of every DEO agent who knows who Supergirl is. Brainy is able to compartmentalize his knowledge and even erase it in the short term. But Alex insists she also must be mind-wiped. J’onn agrees. Kara objects, but the mind wipe is done anyway. This changes Alex’s personality, and she becomes as anti-Supergirl as Haley.
Meanwhile, at Catco, Kara takes a new cub reporter, Nia Nal under her wing. Nia and Brainy meet and become friends. Brainy seems to want something more, possibly romantic, in his relationship with Nia. Nia is a trans woman. She also is or will be, the superhero, Dreamer. Brainy knows her, or one of her descendants, in the future. Nia and Brainy are adorable with each other – and Nia is a lovely character. As she becomes aware of her powers, Brainy gives her a notebook of costume ideas, helps her design a costume, and trains her in the use of her powers.
Slowly introduced into the season is Lena working on the Haran-El, a substance she thinks can cure disease but that she later uses to give humans superpowers. We also meet Red Daughter – a clone of Supergirl, discovered in Kaznia, and trained by Lex Luthor, whom Red Daughter calls, Alex. Lex fills her head with propaganda, and when the Alien Amnesty Act is repealed by Baker, has her dress like Supergirl and attack the White House. Supergirl is also there, but helpless, as she’s held in a Kryptonite suit until the attack is over. Supergirl becomes Public Enemy #1. At this point, the connections between Ben Lockwood, Lex Luthor, and President Baker start to become a little clearer. Baker not only pardons Lockwood (who had been arrested for his crimes as Agent Liberty) but makes him the Secretary for Alien Affairs. That’s right – a man who started a radical and violent anti-alien hate group is appointed Head of Alien Affairs. His priority is to abolish the Alien Amnesty Act (which, remember, is basically an Alien Rights Act).
Supergirl continues on, trying to ignore the target on her back, but a chance encounter with a political prisoner at Strikers convinces her to temporarily do more good as Kara Danvers, reporter. She and Lena also examine Lex’s cell, discover he was able to come and go as he liked. Lex had also gotten compassionate leave to see Lena because he had cancer. He pushes Lena to cure it, and when she has doubts – he has James shot and shuts off the power to the hospital during his surgery. Lena uses the Haran-el to save James but decides not to save Lex. Unfortunately, he gets to it first, cures himself, and he and Otis tie-up Lena, then escape. Lena also ends-up with a contract to develop Haran-el into a super serum for the DEO. Lockwood also manages to steal Haran-el from the DEO, during a weapons sweep and injects himself.
But when Supergirl decides to investigate Lex and that leads to Kasnia, Lena joins her. They discover Red Daughter, her training tapes, and a lab where Lex is draining alien powers. Aliens he obtained from “the DEO Desert Facility”. Kara also discovers that Kasnia, led by Red Daughter, is planning an attack on the United States. Kara runs back to DC to inform the president. When she gives President Baker proof of the impending attack, she discovers he knows all about it, and he is Luthor’s stooge. The president has Kara kidnapped and is held in Kryptonite bonds. She and Red Daughter fight and Kara escapes. She goes to Lena and Alex, dressed as Supergirl, but is afraid she will be turned in. Lena and Alex vow to help her. Alex gets a call from her Mom that Kara is at the Danvers home. Supergirl and Alex head there. Supergirl and Red Daughter fight and Supergirl is apparently killed. But Alex, who has broken through J’onn’s mental blocks, remembers that Supergirl is her sister and brings her back. However, Kaznia attacks the US, Lex stops the attack – and Lex kills Supergirl (Red Daughter).
Lena, Alex, Supergirl, Brainy, and Dreamer work to stop this mess that sees Lex as the puppetmaster, pulling Baker’s strings. But it’s Lex’s obsession with finding and destroying Supergirl, as well as destroying Argo – the Kryptonian city in space (where Lois and Superman currently are because Lois is pregnant) that proves his downfall. Kara publishes an article laying out the facts of Lex’s deception, giving the background on Red Daughter, including her attack on the White House, and exposing Lockwood and Baker. The article brings down Baker’s government. The Alien Amnesty Act is reinstated. The aliens that Lockwood rounded-up are released (other than those that Lockwood and Luthor killed by draining them and converting their power to energy).
But unknown to Supergirl, Lex isn’t dead and he escapes. Lena tracks him to Kasnia and shoots him. However, as he’s dying he reveals to Lena that her friend, Kara Danvers, is Supergirl. This devastates Lena.
The second half of Season 4 works better than the first half. Lex Luthor is a formidable opponent. This portrayal shows him as a master manipulator and chess master. Lex actually gives himself cancer by exposing himself to high levels of radiation at a nuclear reactor in Kasnia, so he will be released from prison, sent to see Lena, and she will be forced to finish the Haran-el serum, which she will either use on him or he can use on himself. Lex also recruits Eve Teschmacher to work for Lena and spy for him. But Lex has a fatal flaw – he hates Kryptonians, and is willing to risk everything he gains – simply to kill Superman, destroy Argo, and kill Supergirl and Red Daughter. In essence, Lex’s anti-alien prejudice is what ultimately brings him down.
Ben Lockwood, on the other hand, is a more political and realistic villain, but his rhetoric is full of lies, manipulations, and he’s very good at whipping up fear, distrust, and hatred. Lockwood is a warning for our times, but at the same time, throughout the first half of the season, Kara especially keeps making mistakes – as do the people around her. At first, Kara doesn’t believe J’onn when he says the fear and hatred of aliens is becoming stronger and more dangerous. She even ignores the first few anti-alien attacks. When it becomes too extreme to ignore, Kara tends to trust the wrong people, including Manchester Black, who becomes consumed with the need for vengeance for the death of his fiancée. At least Manchester is straight forward, though his conflict with J’onn is forced. Kara, however, is blindsided by Red Daughter’s attack on the White House. Kara also stands by when Alex agrees to let J’onn wipe her mind of memories of Kara being Supergirl – something that proves to be a very bad idea. Yet there are also wonderful moments, Kara, not Supergirl, standing with Brainy, Nia, and John at the front of an alien counter-protest against Lockwood’s rally to repeal the Alien Amnesty Act. The entire episode where Kara and Nia go to her hometown, a town when humans and aliens have lived in peace together for generations, to visit Nia’s family. Kara’s interview with Dreamer (after Baker declares Martial Law and deputizes the Children of Liberty, freeing Lockwood to round-up innocent aliens). Unfortunately, Kara and her cameraman miss a perfect opportunity when they fail to film Lockwood’s attack on Catco, his men pointing guns at the unarmed Kara and James, and those same jackbooted men in black uniforms trashing Catco. The attack, if presenting on film, would have been as damaging to Lockwood and Baker as Kara’s later article. The series also missed a great opportunity in not having Kara and company prove that the “proof” that Marsden was an alien was faked and restoring her to her rightful position after Baker’s coup. Still, even though the season gets dark and depressing, especially the first ten or so episodes, in the end, Supergirl prevails.
Supergirl also includes the final part of the Elseworlds trilogy and the last episode includes a set-up with the Monitor for next season’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.