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Recap / Supergirl (2015) S4E13 "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?"

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Manchester Black has escaped from prison and formed his own team — the Elite — to counter the Children of Liberty, forcing Supergirl and her Super Friends to stop him. Meanwhile Lena begins working with the D.E.O., and James mulls to report on Lena's experiments.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Adapted Out: While the episode does introduce the Arrowverse version of the Hat, Coldcast is nowhere to be seen.
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  • Astral Projection: One of Nia's powers, though she hasn't quite got the hang of it yet.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Lockwood's control over the Children of Liberty is slipping amongst some of the more rabid supporters, as they believe he's gone soft and "selling out". At the end he is able to reassert control over the movement by beating a mouthy redneck who wanted to be in charge to death.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Brainy is able to calculate where Hat will reappear after teleporting and grab him the second he returns.
  • Badass Decay: In-universe, Lockwood is looked down on by his fellow Children of Liberty for having gone soft. He proves them wrong. Brutally.
  • Batman Gambit: Manchester warns Supergirl of the Kill Sat betting she'll warn President Baker in turn. He also anticipates that President Baker won't back down and will give up the location of the base when he calls the base to have them move up their timetable, having placed the Morae in the Oval Office.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: With a huge emphasis on bitter. Kara stops the Elite's attempt to destroy the White House, but Manchester now has Brainiac 5's flight ring thanks to the Hat, the Elite escape, President Baker is pissed at Supergirl for destroying the satellite, Colonel Haley reveals Baker's acting against protocol, and Baker appoints Lockwood the Director of Alien Affairs.
  • Blatant Lies: Supergirl insists she had no choice but to destroy the satellite to President Baker, even though the viewer knows she did it on purpose. Baker doesn't buy it for a second.
  • The Bus Came Back: Manchester Black, who was last seen in "Bunker Hill".
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Brainy trains Nia to use her powers to see how her opponent will attack and counter accordingly. She puts it to good use against Hat, who tries to surprise her by teleporting only for her to lead him and catch him off guard instead.
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  • Death Seeker: J'onn deduces that Manchester has a deathwish and wants J'onn to kill him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: To make sure we don't root too much for him (and the rest of the Elite), Hat murders an innocent prison guard in the very first scene, so he can infiltrate the prison.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The other Children of Liberty are clearly disturbed by Lockwood beating one of their own to death for suggesting they should be in charge instead of him.
    • Colonel Haley is quite unnerved at Baker unilaterally launching a Kill Sat to take down every single alien approaching the planet, without cluing in anyone else in the chain of command like her.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Elite to Kara's "Super Friends".
  • Exact Words: Supergirl tells Kelex to help Nia with everything she needs, so he also helps her with information on her people, behind Brainy's back.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Lockwood's attempts to make the Children of Liberty legitimate to the public are threatened by its more militant members who just want to keep bashing heads.
  • Hand Blast: Nia can harness her dream energy to fire blasts from her hands. Her first attempt creates a powerful blast with severe recoil, so Brainy builds devices into her gauntlets which spread the energy into a short-range wave that isn't as lethal.
  • Hate Sink: Any notion of Baker ultimately being good is tossed out to sea. Not only is he shown to be petty, sleazy, and self centered, he enables and unofficially deputizes Ben Lockwood and the Agents of Liberty partly to spite Supergirl for destroying government property even though it saved his life in the process. Colonel Haley also reveals that his precious weaponized satellite was actually made against protocol, meaning he was violating the laws that he as President should be actively upholding.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Invoked by Manchester, who says the trope word for word when explaining how he plans to use the Kill Sat to destroy the White House.
  • Hollywood Law: The previous episode made it clear that the President's staff had found a loophole, that Lockwood couldn't be charged because the Patriot Act doesn't apply to aliens. This episode refers to it multiple times as a pardon instead. If you can't be charged, you don't need a pardon.
  • In Name Only: Has pretty much nothing to do with the comic of the same name. The only similarities are the Elite taking a lethal approach to the same issues as a Kryptonian while mocking their ideals.
  • Irony: Alex telling Kara that she is "only human" after the latter forgets their meeting for lunch.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The Elite are unnecessarily brutal, but they're not exactly wrong about Supergirl being unable to effectively fight the Children of Liberty with speeches about hope and peace. Manchester even pegs her response to their actions down to the pose.
    • Though President Baker is an Ungrateful Bastard for Supergirl destroying the satellite, he's right that she didn't need to and destroyed it because she wanted to.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The Elite brutalise and slaughter several Children of Liberty and racist criminals. One such rampage sees the wipe out a group of mercenaries who, if Menagerie is to be believed, would torture captive aliens for fun.
  • Kill Sat: President Baker plans to launch a satellite which will destroy any incoming alien spacecraft. Manchester hijacks it to destroy the White House, and Supergirl destroys it after stopping Manchester's plan.
  • Knight Templar: Manchester has put revenge aside, instead forming the Elite to deal with the Children of Liberty and other anti-alien bigots permanently.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Manchester takes time during his broadcast to poke fun at Kara's signature pose, saying she's probably watching somewhere right now with "her hands on her hips in the name of justice." Which, at the time, she is.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Manchester, while making a broadcast, ends it by saying they're going to a commercial break right before it cuts to an actual commercial break.
  • Loophole Abuse: Lena doesn't write reports to the government about her continued human trials, as the contract was only for products, not procedures.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: Averted, James now realizes he was wrong to kill the story about Lena's human-augmentation experiments because of their relationship and when Mackenzie comes back with a second story he agrees to run it.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • J'onn gives Manchester a brutal beatdown.
    • How Lockwood kills Cooper.
  • No Name Given: The Hat is never referred to by his real name.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lockwood, when he hears that Manchester has broken free.
  • Old Friend: The Hat and Manchester go way back.
  • One-Man Army: During the Prison Break, Manchester easily defeat at least a dozen guards.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Brainy comes to CatCo dressed as the Totally Radical "Barney".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Elite punish anti-alien bigotry with violent retribution.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Of the 2001 Superman story, "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?" adapted to fit the show's mythology.
  • President Evil: Baker is essentially a villain at this point; he commissions a Kill Sat to destroy any alien ships approaching Earth, and is no longer even pretending to condemn Lockwood, instead giving him a high-ranking position in the government.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Manchester gives a big one to Supergirl on TV, telling her how her methods don't work.
    • Cooper verbally tears into Lockwood for not being the kind of man he believes that the Children of Liberty need, notably taking shots at Lockwood's suit and choice of drink (a cocktail, as opposed to Cooper's scotch).
  • Replacement Goldfish: At some point, Clark and/or Kara got a new version of Kelex for the Fortress of Solitude.
  • Sadistic Choice: Kara is faced with a difficult choice, as helping the Elite makes her look like a terrorist, but going against them might make her look like a traitor to her fellow aliens.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Alex joins the fight against the Elite off the books, though she asks Supergirl not to mention she did so. When she learns President Baker broke protocol to launch the satellite, she offers Lena any resources she needs.
  • Serious Business: Manchester's trenchcoat is so important to him that he refuses to leave prison without it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Supergirl nicknames Hat "Clockwork Orange".
    • Both Supergirl and Manchester compare their arranged meeting in a pub to the De Niro/Pacino confrontation in Heat.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Brainy and Kelex. How they got this way is a mystery.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Brainy's idea of keeping a low profile is wearing a shirt that reads "DON'T HASSLE ME I'M LOCAL" in bold letters.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted, the Hat sucker-punches Brainy when he takes time to show off towards Nia.
  • Teleport Spam: The Hat, towards Nia and Brainy, who are able to counter it fortunately.
  • There Was a Door: Supergirl enters through the roof during her meeting at the diner with Manchester.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Nia, after her training at the Fortress of Solitude.
    • Lockwood, who has been a Dirty Coward Non-Action Big Bad up to this point, brutally kills a would-be usurper, and, having become Director of Alien Affairs, is now more of a threat than ever.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: President Baker doesn't care at all that Supergirl saved him, his family, his staff, and the White House itself. His response is to contact Lockwood, her enemy, and hand him a high ranking government position.
  • Villain Decay: In-Universe, some of the Children of the Liberty believe that Agent Liberty has lost his edge since his civilian identity became public. They back off when he beats the member who is the most vocal in this opinion to death.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Played with. Despite President Baker inviting Lockwood to the White House and doing a photo shoot with him, he laughs at Lockwood's suggestion that he deputize the Children of Liberty, and it becomes apparent he's giving him good publicity and schmoozing him for the sake of his own publicity, and has no interest in anything beyond that. That is, until the end, when he makes Lockwood the Director of Alien Affairs.
    • The Elite are shown to have quickly developed a fanbase, since they openly advertise themselves as taking a stand against the Children of Liberty in a way Supergirl won't.
  • Wham Line: Colonel Haley reveals that President Baker didn't just commission a Kill Sat to shoot down alien ships, but he circumvented the law to do it.
    Haley: I didn't know. The President broke protocol.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Alex is shocked that Lena is actually doing her human-augmentation experiments.
    • Alex calls Haley out for leaving her out of the loop on the satellite, only for Haley to reveal they were both left out of the loop.


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