Am I the only one who forgets that Supergirl has a Big Bad? It's kind of funny that the show barely reminds us that Evil Aunt General Astra is out there — aside from the random Fort Rozz reference — especially when every character on the show is involved in a clearly defined long-term arc. Supergirl is starting to come together in more important ways, but isn't the appearance of a Big Bad supposed to mean something? Although Astra has the family connection, there's little else that makes her sudden arrival a jaw-dropping moment.
Thankfully, there's plenty happening in "Hostile Takeover." The episode picks up immediately where "Human for a Day" left off: Astra and her goons are staring down Kara moments before they fight. Astra gains the upper hand with a Kryptonite knife — thanks to her team's special suits, they're all immune to it. Kara is forced to run.
Back at the DEO, Kara catches everyone up on the encounter, and both Alex and Hank tell her to focus on getting rested and ready to take on Astra. They can worry about catching her later. (Isn't it great to see Alex and Hank more united than usual? Hank should reveal that he's actually a shapeshifting Martian more often.)
The focus shifts to a crisis affecting Kara's work life: Cat Grant's email has been hacked. (I kind of love it when Supergirl gets topical. It's neither awful nor deft, but it occupies this ridiculous middle-space that's delightfully goofy.) In response, Cat assigns Kara, James, and Winn with the impossible task of poring over her emails to get ahead of any potentially embarrassing leaks. So far, it's only been gossipy stuff, like the fact that Cat asked Idris Elba out on a date and got turned down. Of course, this whole assignment is awkward for James and Kara because Winn's feelings are now obvious, even though he thinks they aren't.
Back at the DEO, Kara and Alex do some training, as Alex is concerned that Kara will hold back when facing Astra. "Superman doesn't kill," Kara says, after it becomes clear what she means. "If that's your answer, then you're not ready," Alex responds.
Alex Danvers, I like you, but BITE YOUR TONGUE.
Then, we flash back to Kara's girlhood on Krypton. She's got a signal beacon thing that can page her aunt Astra. When she activates it, Astra swings by for a nice little talk about how their planet is dying. It's implied that Kara's mom is not happy about her sister's visit, but we don't revisit this scene until much later so that'll have to wait.
Once more at CatCo, we blow through a montage of emails that make Cat Grant sound insufferable and extravagant, but not like Donald Trump or something. Kara's super hearing picks up that the CatCo chairman, a guy named Arnold — who Cat referred to in one of her emails as "the personification of white male privilege" — planned this email hack and wants to force her out of the company. To nail the guy, Kara brings in someone with legal expertise: Lucy Lane, who tells them they need a paper trail.
This story line is momentarily interrupted by Astra, who appears on the news literally hovering in the middle of the city like a Dragon Ball Z villain, calling out Goku to fight in a tournament or some such nonsense. Kara takes the bait, and isn't all that interested in talking. They fight in a well-done sequence that evokes Man of Steel's big confrontation between Zod and Superman. Except, you know, Kara goes out of her way to save civilians whenever property damage endangers their lives, so it's a million times better.
Kara wins the fight, dragging her aunt back to the DEO while she runs back to CatCo to hatch a scheme to sneak into Arnold's office and pilfer some incriminating evidence. It doesn't quite work, but it doesn't quite get them in hot water either. Kara then has to rush back to the DEO to talk to Astra, since she won't respond to anyone else.
Astra shows her that she still has her spy beacon doodad that Kara used on Krypton all those years ago, then asks Kara who told her to use the beacon. In a flashback, we find out Astra's version of the story: She was doing everything she could to prevent Krypton's ecological disaster, but after she killed a guard, Alura considered her a criminal.
For some reason, the Computer Alura plugged into the DEO knows enough about this incident to tell Kara that yes, Real Alura used her daughter to draw Astra out of hiding … but she can't tell her why. Kara is furious, and breaks down after learning that her mother manipulated her in such a way. (Melissa Benoist sells the hell out of this scene.)
Here's the weird thing about this plotline: After that, it's pretty much over. Except for a brief bit at the end, the rest of "Hostile Takeover" is devoted to the CatCo crisis, which Kara devotes herself to after brushing off her friends' concerns.
It turns out there is something tucked away that Cat doesn't want getting out: her first son, Adam Foster. He was a child Cat didn't plan for whilst building her career, and he is someone that she regrets not fighting to keep. At the time, she believed the boy would be better without her. This ends up being the scandal that would cause Cat to resign — she's already abandoned Adam, and she doesn't want to throw him into the middle of a media circus.
However, James, Winn, and Lucy pull through, delivering the evidence Cat needs to oust Chairman Arnold for his scheme. James has a brief heart-to-heart with Winn about how he's totally crushing hard on Kara, and how he's sorry he didn't realize it. Winn, of course, feels inadequate next to Kara, but James encourages him and says she's worth the risk.
In the final scenes of the episode, we turn back to the DEO, where Alex and Hank have surmised that Astra wanted to be captured to distract Team Supergirl from worrying about the rest of her team — who are now raiding Lord Technologies.
Kara misses this update because she's still with Cat, who says she has one thing to tell her privately. They go out to her office balcony, and she drops her big hunch — she thinks Kara is Supergirl. Before Kara can do anything about this, though, Alex calls her and tells her about Team Astra's evil plan. She has to run off, pretty much confirming Cat's suspicions.
Somehow, the DEO is able to get to Lord Technologies first and hold their own against a small army of Kryptonians and assorted aliens with crazy powers. When Kara shows up, she takes on one guy in particular: Astra's fanatical lieutenant, who is also her husband. They square off, and Supergirl's last episode of the year ends as they fly straight toward each other.
It's a pretty weird place to leave things for a couple weeks, right? Luckily, things are coming together. Supergirl is shaping up nicely. Here's hoping that the show continues its gradual upward climb in 2016.