What if you could have a platonic version of the Spider-Man/Mary Jane upside-down kiss from the first Spider-Man movie, that carried the same emotional weight as Spider-Man saving that subway train full of people in Spider-Man 2? Supergirl‘s midseason finale was pretty uneven, but its penultimate scene did exactly that, when Kara’s super alter ego was discovered by someone close to her… and it was kinda weirdly hot.
Spoilers for Supergirl 1×08 “Hostile Takeover”
But Winn and James, her two love interests, already know about Kara’s double life, so whoever could I be talking about? You know. You’ve known since we wondered, during the second episode, how the hell Cat Grant could look right at Supergirl and sneer at her hair and clothes and general meekness. How she could have such utter face blindness thanks to glasses and a ponytail and some (in her words) cheap pants? Well, this is not a permanent case, and Cat Grant did not get where she is by being stupid. Now that Cat has spent a fair amount of time with Supergirl—and, more importantly, several valuable conversations with “Kira”—it all makes sense. And, being Cat Grant, she calmly confronts her about it.
Cat: “Kira… another week, another crisis averted, thanks to you. My secret weapon, my guardian angel.”
Kara: “It was nothing.”
Cat: “No, it was something. It was something extraordinary. You saved me from a potentially very embarrassing situation with Adam. You know, I was thinking about how you overheard Dirk after the board meeting. I was standing right next to you, and there is no way that he was within earshot. And then I was thinking about the earthquake, and how you got sick for the first time since I’ve known you, and you had a broken arm, and Supergirl mysteriously went MIA. And then she came back, and your cold was gone.”
Kara: “That’s just a coincidence.”
Cat: “I was also thinking about Livewire, about how when she attacked us, you fled into the stairwell.
Kara: “Because you asked me to.”
Cat: “Mm, yes. But not two seconds later, Supergirl shows up. Another coincidence? And let’s not forget that you took it personally when I named her Supergirl.”
Kara: “Sure… for political reasons.”
Cat: “Do me a favor and take off your glasses.”
Kara: “My glasses? I—I can’t, I’d be blind without them.”
Cat: “I doubt that. If you’re not who I think you are, what does it matter?”
Kara: “Ms. Grant, I…”
Cat: “Glasses, or I take it as a confirmation.”
Poor Kara, thrown off and not knowing what to do. Also, “take off your glasses” is almost always the prelude to a romantic moment.
Then look how she subtly transforms. We have never seen her this vulnerable and this strong, not even in uniform.
I have never been a particular fan of Calista Flockhart, but damn is she killing it this season. Now, hear me out. I’m sure plenty of people watch Supergirl and don’t get any sense of sexual tension. Hell, there are multiple Cat/Kara scenes that read more as maternal, especially since both women have such fraught relationships with their own mothers. So, I completely acknowledge that there’s an entirely different take.
But maybe it’s reading all of The Toast’s Femslash Friday columns, and undoubtedly my time on Tumblr looking for Supergirl GIFs that have planted the idea in my head. The first time I realized people ’shipped Cat/Kara, I figured they were grasping at straws. But this scene—just look at the constant shifting of power in just a few minutes. Each woman surprises the other; they share a genuine, honest-to-God moment.
Regardless of whatever subtext is or isn’t happening in those screencaps, we can all agree that this secret identity reveal was handled masterfully. Saving it for the midseason instead of drawing it out for years honors Cat’s smarts, while still not pulling the rug out from Kara; she’s grown to trust Cat, even if she was forced into this confession. It’s a moment that is actually earned. And then:
Cat: “Let me begin by saying thank you for all the help that you’ve given me… Supergirl.”
Kara has earned Cat’s respect!
It’s fitting that this revelation comes in an episode about hacking; that is, Cat’s emails have been hacked (by her CatCo board members, we later learn), with all of her secrets potentially laid bare. If this is meant to be a metaphor for the Sony hack and the damning Amy Pascal emails, it’s a weak one; CatCo is never actually in any real danger. If anything, the hack serves to humanize Cat: She flies the corporate jet to Burning Man. She asked Idris Elba out and got shot down. She sent an audition tape to Undercover Boss on Anderson Cooper’s dare. She has a grown son, whose custody she handed over to his father when she was in her twenties, climbing the corporate ladder, and realized he would be better off with a more devoted parent.
And really, this subplot is mostly set up so Kara can accidentally reveal that she overheard the CatCo board chairman Dirk Armstrong talking about the hack, with her superhero hearing. It’s almost a little disappointing that this is the moment that cements Cat’s suspicions, unless you think of it as the final (seemingly innocuous) puzzle piece clicking into place.
Now, what’s especially ironic is that the more valuable CatCo data to hack would have been Kara’s Instant Messages to Clark Kent. Remember these?
Incriminating information, all over Cat Grant’s computers, and no one notices it! Ah, well, television.
The rest of the episode was pretty forgettable. The reveal that Astra and Kara were close on Krypton—like, seemingly closer than Kara and her mother Alura—felt tacked on, especially considering there’s no warmth between them in the present-day scenes. I imagine that that’s a subplot that will be built upon in the latter half of the season. And while some reviewers have called Astra’s global warming crusade a bit on the nose, I like this notion of an alien who can recognize that another planet is facing the same problem hers had. Now, killing people to save the planet is rather extreme. And Astra’s people attacking Lord Technologies? Eh. I don’t like Maxwell Lord, so I don’t really care about whether he lives or dies.
I know Supergirl is far from perfect, and that it needs to hurry up and figure out what kind of series it is. But that Cat/Kara scene did a hostile takeover of my ’shipper heart. Right now, the show is a lot stronger in its portions at CatCo—that is, the characters’ day-to-day interactions—than it is when National City is under attack. They could have ended on that Kara/Cat scene and I would be more excited for it to return in January, instead of Kara fighting her uncle (?) Non mid-air. Let’s see if the second half of the season learns to value small cliffhangers over bigger ones.