Warning: This contains spoilers.
How much do you love Dean Cain? Because that may well be the deciding factor for how much you like Episode 14 of Supergirl’s second season.
Dean Cain, as we all know, was TV’s greatest Superman in the 1990s, starring in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman on ITV. The casting of him as Kara’s dad in Supergirl therefore remains one of the best decisions this series has ever made. It’s with barely contained glee, then, that we see him come back to the show for an episode aptly titled Homecoming.
Cain is, of course, surrounded by an equally likeable cast, so their scenes of family reunion are genuinely touching, as Jeremiah Danvers waltzes back into everyone’s lives from his time being held captive by Cadmus. And it’s a good job, too, because the episode needs that emotional heft to make up for the lightweight, contrived plot.
Danvers is discovered by the DEO, when they try to intercept a Cadmus weapon being transported in a heavily armoured truck. So does his presence inside the van mean that he’s been rescued? Or is he the weapon after all?
Of course, the Danvers are pleased to see him – in particular, Alex, who gets to introduce her father to her girlfriend. (Real talk: Chyler Leigh has been the MVP of this season, even out-charming Melissa Benoist.) J’onn is just as happy to see his old friend back, alive and well. The only one who’s not so sure? You guessed it: Mon-El.
Mon-El, who’s clearly watched more Homeland than everyone else, is immediately suspicious of timing of Jeremiah’s return, which happens just as Cadmus is building a bomb from Kara’s heat vision, so that the resulting explosion can be blamed on aliens. At least, that’s what he says.
The tension hinges on that question: can they really trust him? The answer, of course, is no: Jeremiah is the weapon, designed to infiltrate the DEO and steal its list of aliens across the country – just the thing Cadmus needs in its war against extra-terrestrials. Along the way, he strangles Winn and even knocks out J’onn using his super-strong bionic arm.
Let’s just pause there for a minute. Yes, Jeremiah has been given the Cyborg Superman treatment – or, at least, half of it. Given the sheeramount of hugging that takes place in this house, it’s hard to believe that nobody, particularly his loved ones, didn’t notice the difference in his steely, squeezing grip. It’s even harder to buy that Hank Henshaw would have half-assed the security tests, scans and screenings that surely any suspicious foreign entity would have to undergo before entering a top secret government facility. Those tests do exist, right? Or is the DEO the least secure clandestine organisation ever?
It’s those kind of obvious logic holes that stop the episode from entirely working – because the characters are normally so good at their jobs, and so consistent in their behaviour, that this oversight isn’t quite convincing. Even taking into account emotional bias, it doesn’t sit right. That’s partly because you can hear the gears grinding, as the writers engineer a scenario in which Mon-El can be proven to be the good guy. After weeks of his dubious behaviour towards Kara, the fact that he ruins her welcome-home dinner for her long lost step-father is the latest in a line of unlikeable acts – but the end result of this episode doesn’t really justify the means, no matter how much the show tries to tell us it does. By the final moments, Kara’s taken him back, although he does apologise to her for not listening and tries to respect what she wants.
Nonetheless, the emotional baggage outweighs the hulking narrative missteps, as Benoist and Leigh both sell their distraught reaction to Jeremiah’s betrayal with real heartbreak. Cain, meanwhile, gets the chance to play conflicted, as we get a hint that Jeremiah’s not 100 per cent brainwashed by Cadmus. Is that a trick too? Or is it just wishful thinking on our part? Cain’s casting, above all, lets the writers play brilliantly with our nostalgic affection for, and noble perception of, anyone who looks a bit like Superman from that 90s series. Is Homecoming a home run? Not by any means. But if it means we get more Dean Cain, we’re not complaining.
Supergirl Season 1 and 2 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription – with a 14-day free trial.
Where can I watch Supergirl Season 2 on pay-per-view VOD?