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Recap / Supergirl (2015) S1E5 "Livewire"

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Keeping up with the Danvers.

"This is Leslie Willis, coming to you live and wired from CatCo Plaza. The week of Thanksgiving, which means it is time for my annual list of things I am not grateful for. And this year's list is only one item: Supergirl."
Leslie Willis
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We open on the secret underground base of the DEO, where an alien prisoner being transferred. Unfortunately, the alien breaks loose. This looks like a job for Supergirl. With some flight and strength, Supergirl defeats him. Excuse me, her.

It's Thanksgiving, and that means turkey, and awkward family gatherings, even for superheroes. Kara and Alex are nervous about Mother Danvers coming to visit. Alex is worried that her mother is going to blame her about Kara's coming out, while Kara remains optimistic. Meanwhile, CatCo's resident Shock Jock and radio personality Leslie Willis is doing her annual holiday roast... of Supergirl. Of course, this has consequences. Cat, in a moment of uncharacteristic protectiveness, warns Leslie that her radio stunt will cost her. In fact, she has been transferred to traffic reporting for the foreseeable future. Kara invites Winn over for Friendsgiving dinner.

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As Willis attempts to buckle down and finish her punishment, a freak lightning storm knocks her helicopter out of the sky. Supergirl manages to rescue the pilot, and comes back to grab Leslie... only to get struck by lightning while holding the reporter. Cue white hair and a coma.

Kara and Cat visit Leslie in the hospital, although Cat really doesn't seem to want to be there. Of course, when they leave, lightning begins sparking around. Meanwhile, at Kara's apartment, the inevitable fight between mother and daughter begins. Eliza attempts to guilt trip Alex for letting her sister fight aliens, not knowing that Alex herself is looking after her through the DEO. We are shown a flashback of the girls as kids, the first time Kara brought Alex along for a flight.

Somehow, a confused Leslie has ended up outside of the hospital. A scumbag attempts to grab her, only to find a shocking twist: Leslie now has lightning powers. She smiles evilly, before vanishing into a bundle of energy which proceeds to ride the city's electrical system.

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Back at the Danvers Thanksgiving dinner, Kara helps reheat the turkey with her laser vision, while Winn merely looks at the pie lustfully. Kara attempts to defuse the tension in the room with her plucky personality, but fails to notice Winn's bitterness when she gets a call from James from his out of town trip with Lucy. Meanwhile, Alex finally admits she works for the government as Kara advised. The result, a fight. Flashback to the aftermath of Kara and Alex's flight together, in which the girls are getting lectured by Mr. and Mrs. Danvers. Then the worst happens, a knock at the door from The Men in Black... led by Hank Henshaw.

At CatCo, Cat asks Kara's help with faulty computers. Kara suggests Winn should look at it, only to get a look of confusion from Cat. Of course, this is when the lights go out and the televisions activate.

Cat: Leslie?
Leslie: No. Leslie Willis is dead. D-E-A-D Dead. This is Leslie 2.0. Livewire. And we're going to have words.

As the newly christened Livewire appears, Cat tells Kara to run to security for help. Livewire attempts to fry Cat, only for Supergirl to appear. They fight, but after a heat vision/lightning bolt Beam-O-War shows that Livewire can absorb energy, Supergirl tries punching her. Livewire is injured, but takes the opportunity to drop Cat's elevator and get away. Supergirl stops the elevator at the last moment.

The DEO arrives to check the scene for evidence. Henshaw realizes that Kara was the X factor that gave Leslie superpowers, and even has an idea how to fight them. Of course, before they can do that, Kara has to handle Cat. In discussing her family, Kara reveals to Cat her status as a foster kid. Meanwhile, Cat reveals her own strained relationship with her mother. She also admits that Leslie turning into Livewire was a long process that was her fault.

Back at the Danvers apartment, Alex and Eliza make up. Alex asks why she was always harder on her then Kara. Eliza admits it was because Kara was a scared little girl from another world, while Alex was her daughter and therefore could take it. Alex gets a call from work and has to leave. Meanwhile, Cat and Supergirl meet up and hatch a plan to capture Livewire.

The DEO supplies a device that Kara compares to the trapper from Ghostbusters, only to get dirty looks. Meanwhile, Cat uses Leslie's old radio station to lure the supervillainess in. Cat snarks with her former protege, delaying her long enough for Supergirl to arrive. A fight ensues, and the amount of energy that Leslie has consumed is enough to form energy constructs. She takes the upper hand and knocks away the DEO's trap. It's all over.

Until Supergirl punctures the waterline with her fist and sprays down Livewire. The former shock jock is knocked unconscious.

The next day, and Kara is bringing Winn turkey day leftovers as payment for being there during her family's fight. Winn admits that his father is in prison, and definitely deserves to be there. He then says that the thing he was most thankful for... was Kara. He gives her a kiss on the cheek, right before James and Lucy walk in. Bummer.

Cat Grant seems to have come out the other end of this incident a different person. Instead of the normal news cycle stories about celebrities embarrassing themselves on the holiday, she decides to run stories of the humanitarian acts of the holidays. She admits there is a lot that she does not know about Kara... and then goes back to her usual self.

Eliza is packing up to head back home, but not before showing her pride for her daughters. She then leaves a warning, that the DEO was involved in Jeremiah Danvers's death. In another flashback, Henshaw threatens the Danvers as he attempts to take Kara to raise as a weapon. Jeremiah comes forward and volunteers his knowledge and research on Superman in exchange for Kara's freedom.

In the present day, Henshaw celebrates the DEO's first non-extraterrestrial metahuman prisoner, before telling Supergirl to get back to work. Supergirl and Alex then agree that they have to find the truth about their father's death.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Bad Boss: Deconstructed in this episode: Cat's mother was apparently an overbearing helicopter parent who was always pushing her, and nothing she ever did (including becoming CEO of CatCo) was ever good enough for her... and now she seems to realize that she's turning out just like her mom. Also, for all that she projects an image of a strong, confident, powerful woman, we find out she's on antidepressant/anti-anxiety meds.
  • Caustic Critic: Cat and Leslie fall on two different sides of this. Cat criticizes Supergirl as part of her emphasis on Tough Love, hoping to force her to improve. Leslie does it just because it improves her ratings.
  • Deal with the Devil: Jeremiah made one with the DEO to keep Kara from being exploited, ultimately resulting in his death.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Alex's conversations about and with her mother are very reminiscent of a closeted individual coming out during the holidays. It's not helped by a female cover of "Take Me To Church" playing as the two reconcile, nor Kara's use of "come out" no less then four times in reference to Alex and her job.
  • Energy Beings: Livewire, of course. The DEO also already have one in custody.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Eliza uses this during the Thanksgiving dinner when upset with Alex for letting Kara become Supergirl. Kara lampshades this:
    Eliza: How could you do this, Alexandra?
    Kara: (whispers) She called her "Alexandra." This is gonna get ugly.
  • A God Am I: Livewire definitely has the attitude, and were it not for Supergirl she certainly would have backed it up.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Cat Grant calls out Leslie's scathing radio show about Supergirl, when the majority of her own stories about Supergirl have been pretty harsh. She gets called on this but brushes it off. In light of "How Does She Do It?", Cat's probably easing up after her son was saved by Supergirl.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • You're under attack by a supervillain with the ability to control electricity. You're in a high-rise, at least 20 floors up. The local superhero tells you to run for safety. What do you do? If your answer is "get into an elevator that runs on electrical power," congratulations, you're as dumb as Cat Grant briefly was in this episode.
    • Considering it's made a point that the DEO and Superman don't get along, Jeremiah's deal to protect Kara seems a bit unnecessary. They could have just called Superman up and pointed out what the DEO was up to. It seems unlikely he'd stand by while his cousin was taken by a government agency, and Henshaw has admitted they're unwilling to cross him.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Alex really puts down the wine at Thanksgiving, probably because she needs the liquid courage to admit what she does for a living.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Livewire loves these, which of course gets lampshaded.
    Livewire: There is more than one way to skin...
    Cat Grant: ...a cat, yes, congratulations, you have the wit of a YouTube comment.
  • Insistent Terminology: Kara is very quick to correct everybody and point out that Eliza is her "foster" mother.
  • Internal Reveal: Alex reveals to Eliza she's a DEO agent, and Eliza reveals to Alex and Kara that she not only knows about the DEO (although not about Alex being an agent) but also that Jeremiah went to work for them in exchange for them leaving Kara alone, and apparently was killed under unknown circumstances in their employ.
  • It's All My Fault: Kara blames herself for the creation of Livewire, but then discovers that Cat blames herself. Cat believes that she's responsible for allowing Leslie to become the person she was by rewarding her for bad behavior instead of reining her in.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Getting struck by lighting while holding a Kryptonian can apparently give you super powers, which include being able to travel by wire, absorb energy, and create lightning whips.
    • The duplication of super powers by lightning was also used in Lois & Clark, although the there it was temporary.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Livewire easily spots the DEO's fancy Energy Being–capturing device and knocks it away before it can be used, but is defeated by the simple expedient of being sprayed with a water main.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Cat shows remorse about not putting limits on Leslie.
  • Mythology Gag: Leslie's rebirth as Livewire is the same as in her first appearance in Superman: The Animated Series, being struck by lightning channeled through a Kryptonian. Similarly, her defeat is also identical, being hosed down until she's rendered unconscious, and she's introduced ranting about hating Supergirl on her radio show, like the animated version was about Superman.
    • An aerial shot of Livewire travelling between lampposts down the same road looks like it could have been from The Flash (2014).
  • Noodle Incident: Supergirl says that she's been to twelve different planets in the past. It's unclear when this happened or what she did there, though apparently she ate pie on at least some of them.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Although Livewire is clearly a metahuman from both the DC Comics definition as well as that of Kreisberg/Berlanti's other foray into DC mythology, she is never referred to as such within the episode.
  • Out of Order: Due to the terrorist attack on Paris, "Livewire" was aired before "How Does She Do It?" because of the latter episode's plot involving a terrorist planting bombs around National City. It's only really noticeable in James and Lucy being closer than they were portrayed in their one scene in "Fight or Flight". Well, and an off-handed remark that they are glad to be dealing with non-literal bombs.
    • And the fact that Thanksgiving is literally the time of the episode, a week earlier than real life.
  • Parental Favoritism: Eliza gets accused of this, due to always treating Kara with kid gloves while pushing Alex to protect her. She has a very good reason for this.
  • Parents as People: Eliza confessed that she and Jeremiah didn't know how to deal with raising a teenage alien girl with powers. Which is why they charged Alex with watching over her.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Cat condemned Leslie's overtly rude comments to Supergirl.
    • As much as she claims that she doesn't feel guilty about Leslie's condition, Cat does pay her hospital bills and give encouraging words.
    • Cat tells Kara to go home, reasoning there's nothing she can do if Livewire comes again and, it being Thanksgiving, there's no reason for Kara to be at the office when she probably has friends and family she'd rather be with.
      • Cat also shows a hint of empathy when learning that Kara became a foster child after her biological parents died.
    • Moreover, when attacked by Livewire, Cat offered to act as a diversion while sending Kara to get security.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: There's really no good reason for Kara's Take My Hand moment to Leslie in the helicopter, other than providing an excuse to transform her. Unless Kara planned to drop the helicopter, she could have just set the entire helicopter on the ground with Leslie still safely strapped in.
  • Psycho Electro: Leslie's sadistic personality takes a far worse turn when she becomes Livewire.
  • Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Livewire is a Superman villain, at least until her Heel–Face Turn, who originated in Superman: The Animated Series. Her creation is almost exactly like was in the cartoon, except the lightning passed through Kara instead of Superman.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The apparent fate of Livewire.
  • Shock Jock: Leslie Willis revels in this role.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A young Kara letting Alex ‘share’ in her powers, and Alex crying “This is amazing!”. Just like another pair of Sisters.
    • Winn's idea of Orphan Thanksgiving, namely an Orphan Black marathon.
    • Cat sarcastically calls Henshaw Agent Mulder.
    • The capture device the DEO provides gets compared to the trapper from Ghostbusters, much to Henshaw's chagrin.
    • Livewire produces whips of lightning that resemble the villain from Iron Man 2.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Cat tells Leslie that her constant negativity is no longer popular with listeners.
  • Stealth Pun: Leslie Willis is a Shock Jock. For real.
  • Take My Hand: Kara says this to Leslie after catching the helicopter, which leads to her being transformed by the lightning as it filters through Kara.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: Which is why Eliza Danvers is in town, James is off with Lucy, and everyone else is miserable.
  • That Man Is Dead: D-E-A-D.
  • Understatement: Kara tells Cat that her birth parents "died... in a fire." One hundred percent true, just missing the teeny tiny detail about it being a world-consuming explosion that nearly rendered her entire species extinct.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Leslie mocks that Kara "has no sexuality". Cat doesn't take it well.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Kara hoses water all over Livewire and short-circuits the Villain of the Week.
  • Where It All Began: Cat uses this phrase to lure Livewire to her old studio, where in-story she first hired her.

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