There’s only one plot line I want to focus on in this review of “Human for a Day” and it’s Kara’s struggle with losing her powers. After a massive battle with the Red Tornado android in last week’s “Red Faced” episode, Kara used up all her powers and needs time to heal. No one knows how long she’ll not have her powers and there’s a small fear, on her part, that she’ll never get them back. In talking to the ghost of her mother, she learns that she’ll need time for Earth’s yellow sun to recharge her Kryptonian cells and then she’ll regain her super powers. But, for now, she’s walking around vulnerable like the rest of us.
The beginning of the episode plays out nicely enough with Kara struggling with a cold. She desperately tries to hold back sneezing but can’t. When Ms. Grant comes into the office, she discovers Kara is sick and sends her home. (The writers have a field day with Ms. Grant’s lines in which she talks about how, if she gets sick, millions will be lost by the company for her being out, then people will be fired due to lack of revenue and Kara will be the reason for the next recession. Way over the top—just as we like Cat Grant.)
When Jimmy and Kara bump into each other on the street, there’s a nice exchange in which Jimmy reminds her to rest and to take care of herself. The world can survive without Supergirl for a few days. But at that moment, an earthquake hits National City and all hell breaks loose.
Kara falls hard to the ground and breaks her arm and then she and Jimmy find a man in a car accident who’s dying. Maxwell Lord is also there trying to help, having conveniently had a few years of medical school under his belt, but he knows that unless someone can find where the dying man's blood vessel is ruptured, he’s going to die.
At this point, I thought Kara was going to get her powers back and save the man, but that didn’t happen. He dies and there’s a touching scene with Kara and Jimmy sitting at a bus stop. Kara has blood on her hand and she’s sitting there rejected, tired and hurt. She wanted to save someone but failed. It’s a touching moment because she realizes that she can’t save everyone but wants to. No matter how many super powers she has, she can't be everywhere at once across the Earth. And now, without her powers, her inability to save people—even in her own city—hits home.
Jimmy consoles her and says that being a hero is really in one’s actions and heart and not just having super powers. The chemistry between Jimmy and Kara in this scene is electric, but meanwhile across the street a looting is taking place. Kara jumps up to help but Jimmy tries to stop her. He reminds her that she doesn’t have her powers back and could get shot. The bullets won’t bounce off of her. Kara refuses to not get involved and here she shines, saying that the looter doesn’t know she doesn't have her powers.
The next scene plays out well and is a clear example on why I enjoy watching Supergirl. Kara arrives in her super hero costume and convinces the looter to give her his gun. She uses empathy on him and offers the criminal a chance to stop and get help. The camera work in this scene is expertly done, showing Kara’s holding back her injured arm and how she’s shaking. She’s afraid. If the looter shoots at her, she will likely die. Sneaking in quietly to offer assistance, Jimmy arrives, but at a moment in which the crisis is about to be solved. He takes a photo of the looter handing his gun to Kara and it’s a moment that she’ll remember for the rest of her life—the day that she used her words, and not her powers, to stop a criminal.
There's much to like in this episode because it focuses on the human aspect of the story. Granted, I'm choosing to ignore the whole other subplot with Jemm and the DEO. These parts of the story were exciting, but they were simply filler to the more important story. Yes, we get to learn that Hank Henshaw is actually J’onn J’onnz, the Martian manhunter, but since I don't follow DC comics that reveal didn't hit home for me. I would agree that it was a key point in the plot and in Supergirl's overall overarching story, but the reveal sucked the air out of the episode.
I would guess that what viewers are really interested in is Kara's story. Her struggle with her humanity and powers makes the show exciting. This week's episode was a treat because it's not often that we get to see a hero fall and be weak. I enjoyed seeing Kara rise up and still be a hero without her powers. Such an act of bravery sends a message to women (and men) everywhere: We don't need to have super powers to help, we just need to try. Kara doesn't go into the store trying to break limbs, but talks the criminal down. How rare to see such a scene play out on prime time TV! More and more, I'm liking this show.