“I told you, Alex. I am not the enemy.”
So begins the biggest revelation of “Human for a Day,” Monday night’s episode of Supergirl. David Harewood’s character Hank Henshaw, Department of Extra-Normal Operations director and the Danvers sisters’ boss, shares a name with DC Comics’ Cyborg Superman and nothing more. As it turns out, executive producer Greg Berlanti has been using his knowledge of the source material to pull on nerds’ heartstrings for the past seven episodes.
Obviously, there are spoilers ahead.
Following her final battle with Red Tornado, the android designed and made to kill Kryptonians, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) spends most of “Human for a Day” being just that — human. She’s obviously still an alien, but the battle weakened her so much that her powers have all but disappeared. So, whenever disasters strike (and they do), Kara finds herself unable to become Supergirl.
Her powers eventually return in the third act — just in time for Supergirl to save photographer James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) from certain death. Of course, the victory fades quickly when Kara’s Kryptonian aunt Astra (Laura Benanti) and her fellow alien convicts show up in the episode’s final moments. The cliffhanger’s sense of danger is palpable, and Supergirl won’t provide resolve until next week’s mid-season finale.
Anyway, back to fake Hank Henshaw. While Kara plays human for most of a day, a DEO alien prisoner named Jemm has escaped and is trying to free the other convicts. Alex’s suspicions of her boss finally come to a head while Jemm plots, so she quickly confronts him and handcuffs him to be dealt with later. Moments later, right before Jemm kills Alex, an obviously un-handcuffed Henshaw shows up and saves the day. And by “saves the day,” he kills Jemm with his bare hands.
Cyborg Superman would definitely be able to do this. So, too, as it turns out, would J’onn J’onzz — otherwise known as the Martian Manhunter, a shape-shifter who eventually becomes a member of the Justice League.
That’s right. Henshaw’s red eyes and super strength were in fact visual distractions employed by Berlanti and his team of DC Comics nerds. So, what gives?
According to J’onzz, Alex’s father Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) and the real Hank Henshaw were sent by the DEO to find and execute him. They knew he was an alien, and while he wasn’t one of the escaped convicts, they still considered him a threat. At the last moment, however, Jeremiah realized J’onzz was simply a refugee and tried to stop the mission. Henshaw was bloodthirsty and wouldn’t stop until the mission was completed. Both men died and J’onzz managed to survive. Before he died, Jeremiah made the alien refugee promise to look after his daughter Alex. Hence, the Martian Manhunter assumed Henshaw’s identity and recruited her to the DEO.
You win, Berlanti. You had us all going there for quite awhile. Let’s hope that J’onzz’s reveal isn’t just a one-off thing, especially because it looks like Supergirl could use some help in next Monday’s episode.