It's time to talk about Winn Schott. If you read DC Comics, he's a character with a lot of baggage — much like Hank Henshaw — but Supergirl has been pretty coy as to whether it would make use of his backstory. There were hints, of course: an occasional line about his family, murky details about his father being locked up for unspecified crimes, as well as Winn's general reluctance to talk about himself.
He's got a good reason to be so quiet. Winn's full name — the name he shares with his father — is Winslow Schott, better known in the comic books as the homicidal villain Toyman.
We finally meet Winn's father in this episode, and he spares no time showing us his true colors: He uses a saw-blade yo-yo to murder his prison guards, which shouldn't be as easy as it looks, but let's just go with it. Winn's story line in this episode is worth the ridiculous weapon.
In the last few episodes, Winn has generally been a nonentity — which is disappointing, given how fun he was in the pilot as Kara's sole confidante. Since James Olsen joined team Supergirl, he's primarily been defined as the tiniest corner of a lopsided love triangle. He's a sad, puppy-eyed, unrequited admirer. Thankfully, though, "Childish Things" throws us into new territory and suggests a couple of things:
- Jeremy Jordan has range.
- This heartbreaking story could potentially change Supergirl's central relationships, which might lead to more Winn development.
At its core, "Childish Things" is a story about nature and nurture. Winn's father is a monster; Winn is terrified he might become one too. So, that fear takes Winn on a harrowing journey — as much as he wants to divorce himself from his father, he can't help but get tangled up in his Toyman schemes. Yes, his father forces him to be complicit in his crimes, but Winn is still trying to understand how a person could go so wrong. (Especially because he's scared that he'll go wrong in the same way.) Years ago, after he got laid off, Winn's father snapped. He was angry and disgruntled and wouldn't stand up for himself. That's when he became something monstrous, killing ten people with a bomb meant for the man who fired him.
In a crucial conversation before the episode's final act, Winn tells Kara that he's worried he might crack like his father did. He's not sure he can control himself when he gets angry. Kara promises that she'll always be there for him. Thanks to the combined stresses of Winn's fragile emotional state, his feelings for Kara, and her genuine desire to comfort him, he misreads their entire conversation and stupidly decides to kiss her. He's immediately apologetic and embarrassed, then rushes out the door — where the Toyman is waiting to kidnap him.
This is the hardest part for Winn, because his father — a toymaker, a man who crafts things with his hands — regards him as his greatest creation. He believes Winn is exactly like him. So, he creates a no-win scenario for his son: Either Winn kills his father's former boss at a toy convention, or a series of bombs will explode inside the convention center, massacring everyone.
Winn almost does the deed, until Supergirl interferes at the last moment and saves everyone with a very improbable use of freeze breath. Whatever. It works, and she catches the Toyman.
Even with his father apprehended, Winn still has to deal with that kiss. When Kara tries to be friendly at work later that night, Winn admits his mistake. As much as she downplays the kiss, he knows he crossed a line and upset the balance of their friendship. In that moment, Winn also seems to answer the question he's been asking himself since his father broke out of prison: Is there a way he can avoid becoming like his father? Yes, by not bottling up his emotions. He needs to be honest about how he feels. So, he tells Kara that he loves her … and he can't simply pretend to be her friend.
To save himself, Winn has to blow up his friendship with Kara.
It's a sad story, even though it's undercut by a series of bizarre subplots. As Winn struggles to free himself from his father, the other characters are left doing things that, quite honestly, seem kind of dumb. (In one particularly bad Supergirl sequence, Kara gets stuck in quicksand, which should literally not be a problem she ever has.) The episode's minor subplot involves Lucy getting a job at CatCo and how James tries to convince her that it's Not Weird for them to work together.
In the major subplot, Hank and Alex do some digging into Max Lord's Secret Room. Essentially, Alex goads Hank to impersonate Lord with his Martian powers, so he can sneak into the room while she distracts Lord on a date. He successfully gets inside, where he sees the Jane Doe who's kept on life support with strange blue goo. Unfortunately, he's forced to wipe a security guard's memory to escape unnoticed — and thanks to a redundant camera system, it doesn't really help. Lord now knows about the alien who can impersonate him and walk through walls. Hank doesn't want to use any of those powers, but if his secret gets out, it could push him to become something he doesn't want to be — the Martian Manhunter.
J'onn J'onzz isn't the only hero Max Lord knows about, though. During their date, he bugs Alex's purse with a tiny camera … and since the episode ends with the Danvers sisters bonding on their couch while Kara stays in costume, he knows Supergirl's secret identity too.
Remember how I told you there's a good story in this episode, but it's undercut by some really dumb stuff? This is what I meant.