OK, look, there was a lot to snooze over in the season four premiere of Supergirl. It was as table setting an episode of television as I’ve seen in a long time, and I definitely found myself wanting to do my nails, or laundry, or something else as I watched. But then it dropped a very big name and suddenly I was at attention.
In the premiere, everyone is...chilling? There’s no great threat on the horizon (that they know of) and no massive emotional trauma that they’re still dealing with after last season’s finale. Instead, Kara is a confident hero saving trains and being gifted with vodka, Alex is an overconfident leader showing her prowess by beating the crap out of her underlings, and J’onn has found that he really likes robes and support groups for aliens.
Everything is fine until Mercy Graves and her brother Otis start being racist dirtbags, assaulting aliens and working with Agent Liberty to grow an underground movement of violent anti-alien rhetoric. Then Supergirl has to acknowledge she has passing privilege (she looks human and is the most beloved hero on the planet so she doesn’t get the hate other aliens do).
Kara’s search for Mercy Graves leads her to Lena Luthor and her mother, Lillian, who apparently meet weekly to ruminate on their crummy relationship and play chess. But Lena has apparently also been hoping to get information she can trade to keep Jimmy Olsen out of prison (a very low key subplot involves James being investigated because he’s also a known vigilante). Lena mentions that Lex only went really, really bad when he hooked up with Bruno Mannheim and she eventually convinces her mother to detail Bruno’s many crimes.
Who? Well...DC Comics character Bruno Mannheim was first introduced by Jack Kirby in an issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. He’s one of the leaders of Intergang (later retconned into the leader of Intergang), a group of criminals that gives Superman a hard time and use weapons gifted from Apokolips. Usually, where Mannheim shows up, his patron in crime Darkseid soon follows.
While Darkseid is apparently the ultimate villain for the DC movieverse, we haven’t really heard him mentioned on the CW superhero shows. Mannheim and Intergang were name-dropped back on Arrow in season six last year, but that was to note that Earth 1's Intergang was taken out. Mannheim’s mention here feels more pointed. Lena setting him up to be arrested could just be some plot contrivance to keep James out of the jail cell the writers directed him into last season. Yet hopefully Mannheim will show up in person to exact some revenge—and also hopefully he’ll have more impact than the character inspired by him and played by Bruce Campbell on Lois and Clark back in the mid-‘90s.
I knock the table setting nature of the premiere, but we did get lots of dorky super people being dorks.
We also got Nia Nal, a new reporter being mentored by Kara, who is apparently now a well-respected reporter who can just interview the president of the United States?
Nia Nal will at some point also become a superhero...probably.
Agent Liberty, the supposed big bad of the season looks real, real, real dumb.
That’s probably because evil Russian Supergirl is waiting in the wings to be revealed as the true villain. She does not look dumb.