David Goyer’s opinion of the character notwithstanding, Supergirl has done more for the public image of the Martian Manhunter than any other non-comic book media in recent memory. Viewers have executive producers Ali Adler and Greg Berlanti to thank for this, as their direction of the series’ overall story modified the shapeshifting superhero’s more cumbersome origins into a more believable arc. That, and they hired actor David Harewood, whose dual portrayal of J’onn J’onzz and Hank Henshaw brought the Martian to life in a convincing manner. So of course it makes sense that an episode like “Manhunter” would come along to reveal what happened between J’onzz, the real Henshaw, and Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) 10 years prior. Just some good ol’ fan service, no?
Yes, and then some. For much of the Cindy Lichtman and Rachel Shukert-scripted episode concerns setup for the rest of the first season. For example, the arrival of Colonel James Harper (Eddie McClintock) — an investigator from the U.S. Marine Corps — spurs a probe into the Department of Extranormal Operations’ apparent oversight in the matter of J’onzz’s infiltration into the organization. Harper shares a name with the DC Comics equivalent of Captain America, the Guardian, but Supergirl‘s version bears stark differences in origin and temperament. Considering how the decidedly anti-alien Harper is dealt with at the episode’s end, however, enough ambiguity persists to suggest his possible return in another, friendlier form.
And then there’s Siobhan Smythe (Italia Ricci), Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockhart) former assistant. For four episodes now, Smythe has served as Kara Danvers’ (Melissa Benoist) chief rival in the non-super setting of the office environment. After she was fired in “Falling,” Smythe became something of an arch-enemy for Kara — albeit one who never spends too much time in the same room as the person she hates so much. The future Silver Banshee’s loathing grows throughout “Manhunter,” and after discovering something rather startling about herself, one of the main villains for next week’s crossover with The Flash, “Worlds Finest” is born.