[This is a review of Supergirl season 2, episode 18. There will be SPOILERS.]
For the most part, season 2 of Supergirl has shifted away from Kara Danvers' day job at CatCo, opting to instead focus on her work at the DEO alongside her sister Alex, her mentor J'onn J'onzz, her friend Winn, and her boyfriend, the Daxamite Mon-El. With James Olsen having taken on the vigilante persona of Guardian, all the main players in Supergirl have become instrumental aspects to Kara's life as a superhero, rather than the even split of season 1. As a result, Kara's stint as a reporter for CatCo magazine working for her editor Snapper Carr has been underdeveloped at best and completely neglected at worst - that is, until Kara was fired in 'Luthors' for publishing a story about Lena Luthor on her blog when Snapper wouldn't run it himself.
The episodes following 'Luthors' saw Kara throwing herself into her superhero work, though it wasn't much of a change to the episodes preceding her firing except for the rare mention of her being without a day job. Although it seemed Supergirl had shifted entirely away from the goings on at CatCo in the episodes since 'Luthors', the series returns to Kara's dream of being a reporter with this week's episode.
'Ace Reporter' - written by Paula Yoo and Caitlin Parrish and directed by Armen V. Kevorkian - features Kara tapping back into her reporter skills in an attempt to impress Snapper while attending a presentation held by Lena's ex Jack Spheer, played by guest star Rahul Kohli (iZombie). However, when Kara's questioning of Jack's nano-technology leads to a bigger investigation, a more serious danger is revealed.
Supergirl Investigates Biomax
While this week's episode of Supergirl is structured to be all about Kara's career as a journalist, 'Ace Reporter' is still set up with a villain-of-the-week in Jack Spheer and his nanotechnology, Biomax. But, rather than have Kara investigating a threat as her alter-ego Supergirl with the DEO team as her backup, she hits the pavement as her everyday self - after being invited to Jack's press conference by Lena, who doesn't want to face her ex alone. Unfortunately for Kara, she sits near her former editor in the audience and the two trade some verbal jabs at each other, riling up Kara enough to get a question in when Jack opens the floor to press.
Kara is approached following the press conference by an hilariously cliched whistleblower, who reveals that Jack's human trials of the Biomax technology were faked. Beyond her meeting with this whistleblower, though, Kara doesn't do much else in the way of actual reporting. Certainly, she and Mon-El break into Jack's office and discover a video of him injecting himself with the nanotechnology and becoming Biomax, but so far as 'Ace Reporter' shows, that isn't included in the CatCo Magazine write-up - on which Kara gets a co-byline for her one interview.
While it may be fun to see Kara hang up her Supergirl outfit for the majority of the episode, 'Ace Reporter' still fails to truly sell the idea of why Kara needs to be a journalist - other than the fact that the career provides the show with an easy opportunity to interchange the hero's investigating as Supergirl alongside the DEO with Kara investigating as her everyday persona alongside Snapper Carr. It's certainly telling that the structure of 'Ace Reporter' is no different from other villain-of-the-week episodes, just simply with Kara surrounding herself with Snapper, Lena, and Mon-El rather than J'onn and Alex.
Jack Spheer Brings the Heart
All that said about the structure of 'Ace Reporter' and the lack of development pertaining to Kara's career, this week's Supergirl episode is grounded in the series' most compelling new relationship in season 2 - the friendship between Kara and Lena. One of the biggest strengths in Supergirl season 1 was Kara's relationships with both Cat Grant and Alex, but with Cat Grant having moved on from CatCo in season 2, the show was somewhat lacking in female relationships. However, the friendship between Kara and Lena has been compelling to watch as they lean on each other in times of need, specifically when exes come to town as is the case in 'Ace Reporter'.
Added into the mix this week is Kohli and his portrayal of Jack Spheer, which fits perfectly into the tone of Supergirl and brings out a new side of Lena that viewers haven't seen before. For his part, Kohli plays the charming Jack Spheer excellently and, later in the episode, switches deftly between Lena's charismatic ex and the menacing Biomax. Additionally, though the relationship between Lena and Jack is only introduced and explored in a single episode, both Kohli and Katie McGrath's portrayals of their characters bring it to life - setting up the stakes for the moment when Lena must choose to save either Kara or Jack.
After being saved by Lena, Kara tries to comfort her through her grief over Jack. Though Lena is worried about how she'll react to Jack's death once the numbness wears off, Kara promises to always be there for her friend, saying, "I will always be your friend, I will always protect you." It's a sweet moment that speaks to the friendship between the two women.
But, perhaps the most exciting aspect of their dynamic is the mystery of whether Lena is aware of Kara's identity as Supergirl. Season 2 has made it clear viewers don't know everything about Lena - and neither does Kara - so it remains to be seen how her storyline unfolds and whether her relationship with Kara can withstand it. Of course, if Lena potentially allying with Rhea is any indication, a test of her friendship with Kara will arrive sooner rather than later.
Three's a Crowd...
While J'onn is doing paperwork, Alex is at knife practice, and Kara is off reporting on Biomax, Guardian must deal with Winn's relationship with Lyra and how that affects their vigilante activities. The storyline is almost entirely removed from the rest of the episode and all the goings on with Kara, Lena, and Jack, but works on its own. Since Supergirl has taken somewhat of a step back from Guardian in recent episodes - especially since Kara decided to accept James' drive to protect National City as a vigilante - it's been some time since the show has focused on the character. Now, with Lyra thrown into the mix in 'Ace Reporter', it adds a new element to James and Winn's dynamic.
Of course, as the secondary plot of the episode, it isn't given nearly as much time as the main storyline, and Lyra's outbursts to move the story along quicker are indicative of that fact. Still, the friendship between James and Winn is fun to watch, especially considering they began their time on Supergirl as romantic rivals for Kara's affection. Now, they're leading their own vigilante team and, as is a theme of Supergirl as a whole, their story is more about the team's dynamic than their actual vigilante activities.
Still, with Supergirl heading into it's final stretch of episodes, it's good that Guardian, Winn, and Lyra have solidified themselves as a team. With Rhea setting up whatever she has planned to take on Supergirl, it's likely the Girl of Steel will need to call in reinforcements soon enough.
Supergirl continues Monday, May 1 with ‘Alex’ at 8pm on The CW.