Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
In spite of the ridiculous costuming of Red Tornado, Red Faced turned out to be one of the most powerful episodes of the series. Human for a Day manages to trump that emotional punch and bring a number of the season’s mysteries to the forefront of comic nerds attention as well as finally addressing what is perhaps the biggest question of the season; who is Hank Henshaw?
Cutting right to the chase, Human for a Day spends the majority of its run time hinting at the long awaited confrontation between Henshaw and Alex. By the time the two finally have their sit down it’s pretty evident that the head of the DEO is more than just a regular agent (if the red eyes didn’t give it away). The fires of nerd rage have been red hot since Hank first showcased his more than human sensibilities, with one faction of fans adamant in their belief that Henshaw was secretly Cyborg Superman (the camp in which I belonged to) and the other holding steadfast that he was secretly Martian Manhunter. As it happens, I was wrong. Hank Henshaw is indeed Jon Jonz.
As the sole survivor of some catastrophe on Mars, Jon Jonz fled to Earth in search of sanctuary. Upon his arrival the DEO and Hank Henshaw (the real one) mistook him for one of the many alien threats and hastily pursued him. Realizing that Jonz posed no threat, Papa Danvers followed Henshaw in order to put an end to the hunt. In the end, Danvers sacrificed himself to save the lonely Martian. Now, Jon Jonz has dedicated his life to protect the Danvers daughters as a thank you to his one supporter. It’s a powerful story delivered with absolute precision on the part of David Harewood. Chyler Leigh and Harewood have always had good chemistry but here they take things to a whole new level.
The tension provided by the Alien like atmosphere made the surprise reveal all the more unexpected. With such a heavy emphasis on Superman and the history the Hank Henshaw character has in the world of the comics I was sure that he would be Cyborg Superman. But instead of disappointment I was still left with a smile on my face. Not only does he look fantastic (which was not a given considering last week) but also the story leading to the reveal made perfect sense.
Alex’s fight against the telepathic Jemm (played by Constantine’s Charles Halford) was satisfactorily intense and the fact that she was so willing to risk her life in order to save the others paired well with the history behind MH as well as the parallel Kara story. For someone with no powers to unflinchingly stand up to something larger than themselves is inspiring as well as completely badass. Martian Manhunter swooping in to deliver a Man of Steel like neck snap sort of undermined that but just seeing the Justice Leaguer in action was a sight to behold.
With this massive reveal also comes a turn for the series. Up to this point Supergirl has been content with villain of the week plots with little emphasis on any overarching narrative. Human for a Day still gives us that episodic feel but the core storyline has never featured more prominently. Martian Manhunter is in play and Kara’s aunt makes her inevitable return. These developments may end up being dropped in favor of the storytelling the series has displayed thus far but this seems like things are headed in a much more serialized direction.
Now that I’ve spent the majority of this review fawning over Jon Jonz, let’s get to Kara. Having spent her powers using the solar flare (the recent New 52 addition to Superman’s arsenal) Kara is left powerless for a few days. So of course there is a massive earthquake. Diving into what it truly means to be a hero, Kara must battle with the normalcy of mortality while simultaneously prove to herself that even without powers she is still Supergirl.
It’s a powerful episode leveraged by memorable performances. She killed it last week but this is perhaps Melissa Benoist’s best turn as the character so far. Not to be outplayed are the usual supporting cast. Cat Grant once again defies expectations and rallies behind Supergirl when the world seems to lose their faith. In an episode full of eloquent speeches, this is one of the best.
With all of the awesome that Human for a day provided their had to be at least one thing keeping it from being a completely positive experience. The relationship stuff between Kara and Jimmy came to a head this week, as it’s clearer than ever that the two have feelings for each other. In her moment(s) of weakness Jimmy consoles her and it’s obvious that both realize what is going on. As far as clichéd superhero romances go, this isn’t the worst I’ve seen but in an episode filled with powerful themes of heroism and identity a romantic subplot just distracts.
I like how Winn is beginning to stand up for himself and not dancing around his feelings for Kara anymore. He hasn’t outright said he loves her but he isn’t pretending he doesn’t. I would hate for unrequited love to be the reason he turns to the dark side, hopefully Kara comes to her senses (or Winn gets over it).
Powerful performances from the entire cast, fantastic storytelling, huge reveals and epic action. These are all of the things that make for a phenomenal episode. Adding in the fact that Aunty Krypton is back in play, the season is looking to get even better in the back half. With one episode left before the winter hiatus I can only hope the momentum continues.
Overall Human for a Day gets a 9/10.
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