This post contains spoilers for Supergirl.
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"In times like this, change wont come from someone with a ring or a cape."
As anyone who follows my reviews on BMD can attest, I watch a lot of television. Week after week I watch a ton of superheroes and angsty teenagers fighting to make a difference in their respective worlds. I enjoy about eighty percent of those episodes, but rarely are any of them worthless. It is, however, rare that one hits so close to home that I find myself fighting to see through tears. “Stand and Deliver” is exactly that.
While Ben Lockwood and his team of domestic terrorists try to repeal the alien amnesty act, aliens from all planets band together to march in protest. Repealing act would mean all alien refugees on Earth would be forced to return to their respective homes. Including hostile planets. Complicating things further are The Elite, who will stop at nothing to kill Lockwood and his cronies, even if it means hurting other aliens.
Supergirl, Dreamer and J’onn all struggle to capture the respective members of Manchester’s little gang. Menagerie gets picked off early, with the Morai taken in not too long after. Hat and Manchester manage to pull a fast one over the team, who then heads out to patrol the march against Lockwood and his ideals.
But Brainy would rather they do something more. J’onn’s ready to march alongside his brother, but Supergirl and Dreamer believe it’s more important to patrol than to protest. Brainiac 5’s been given a bit of a weird characterization on Supergirl while the writers try to find a way to fill the Wynn Schott shaped hole in the series, but he really shines in this episode. After pretending to search for the creator of the march, it turns out he was the organizer all along. When he found himself struggling over the loss of his Legion ring, he realized that a piece of jewelry (no matter its powers) wasn’t what made him a hero. He gives a powerful speech to the Girl of Steel, reminding her that showing the world that she is exactly like the other refugees of Earth is just as important as donning the cape. It’s unfortunately not enough to persuade her.
Seeing a man who had tearfully thanked her for saving his life not a day before choosing to heckle the alien protestor and their allies, on the other hand, is. When Supergirl confronts the man, he tells her that she’s different from the invaders who he sees in front of them. “You’re not like them. You’re a superhero,” he insists. That’s enough of a nudge for Supergirl to return to the front lines of the march as Kara Zor El. She, Brainy, J’onn and Nia walk hand in hand to peacefully protest for their rights with the others. But what’s left of The Elite arrives to ensure that peace ends.
And they succeed, to an extent. Manchester continues to rile the crowd while Hat hands out weapons to fleeing aliens. A few folks on both sides play into their game, giving into fear and anger, but more of them decide to help. Strangers help strangers up from the ground and lead them out of the chaos. DEO agents protect humans and aliens alike. A heart gets changed.
The man who Supergirl saved (and eventually gave a verbal lashing) saw her join the crowd. He saw his hero standing alongside those that he viewed as “cockroaches”, and realized that perhaps he might have been wrong. The Girl of Steel is taken by surprise as she rushes to save the alien he’s standing over, because he doesn’t choose to attack them. He helps them up. Said gentleman also may or may not be interested to know what date it is on Wednesday, October 3rd.
In addition to illustrating that small actions can help change a heart, “Stand and Deliver” also spends a good amount of time driving home the importance of journalism. Earlier in the season, we saw an alien at CatCo being harassed by his coworkers because of his race. His name was Franklin, and he was the one to be covering Ben Lockwood’s hate rally. He was scared, but knew it was important that he go. Small actions can change a heart, but good journalism? Good journalism can shift the opinions of millions. Franklin and Jimmy head to the rally together, James returning to his roots as a photo journalist and Franklin being the bravest damn reporter CatCo ever did see. He stands terrified amidst the screams of “us or them” as Lockwood riles up the crowd, but he does his job none the less.
We see responses to the work that James and Franklin did the very next day. Reporters share that satellite rallies in Gotham and Central City went on peacefully and without incident, while the images that James shot touch millions around the world. The protests and the news combine help delay Lockwood and the President’s plans to repeal the Alien Amnesty Act outright, and instead take it to congress.
All in all, “Stand and Deliver” is forty-five minutes worth of narrative trying to explain to viewers both young and old that their voices and their actions matter. J’onn’s arc is currently illustrating the balance between being a peaceful man, and defending yourself, your rights, and your family. We’ll undoubtedly see him toe a line as Manchester continues to toy with him, but we all know he’ll come out on the right side of things.
There have been so many great episodes in season four. So many important narratives have been seamlessly driven home through these characters in fourteen episodes, and it currently seems like they’re trending to a solid landing as we inch closer to finale territory. The highs of a job well done this week are quickly evened out by an unknown attacker shooting James in the back in his office. Since he was working on investigating Lena, and brother dearest finds his way out of prison next week, we can all pretty much guess who’s behind that attack.
In that same vein, it also looks like Lena’s going to get a test subject sooner than she expected. She might not be ready to test her serum yet, but with James’ life slipping away, she’ll likely be his only option for survival. Who’s ready for that relationship to get more complicated!
See y’all next week when we find out if Jon Cryer brings it as Lex or if Rapaport Casting had a rare miss. You know what to do if you had thoughts on this week’s episode!