Supergirl Season 1 Eps 1-2 (TV Show Review)
Let’s not mince any words here. Ever since the show’s pilot got leaked online a few months back, I’ve been pretty damn excited for this. The trailers were promising, though a bit weird, but I had faith in the show and what it promised to deliver, and the leaked pilot did set me up on the positivity train. Well now, now we are in the second week of the show, and all those months of waiting has definitely been worth it. From the people who’ve brought us so many comic-book properties on television in recent years, Supergirl is a great addition to the line-up.
I reviewed the leaked pilot back in May, which you can read here, and it was a pretty good experience for me. As I said in that article, I found the actual pilot to be much better than the trailer let on, and it made me fall in love with Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of the Maid of Might all over again. Supergirl is one of my favourite DC superheroes, and it is great to see such a perfect portrayal here, which easily matches what Grant Gustin has been doing for close to two years now as The Flash. The supporting cast is also working fairly well together, and though there are a few kinks here and there in terms of story and general character-writing, this show has started off great.
I won’t rehash my thoughts on the pilot too much. There isn’t even that much of a difference between what was leaked and what we finally saw on the actual premiere, mostly just some transitions and stuff, according to a friend of mine who watched both simultaneously. Either way, I do want to reiterate that the final version loos pretty damn good. To be honest, I’d even forgotten what the premiere date was, because most of the big shows of the fall season had already started and I was already struggling to catch up with the lot of them. The premiere date for Supergirl just slipped from my mind, but thankfully I remembered it on time.
In the first episode, we have Kara Danvers’ coming out as Supergirl, revealing what she can do to the rest of the world, putting herself on the map. And she did it in great style, by stopping a plane from getting blown-up in the air/crash-landing into a populated area and causing untold damage. Of course, superpowered villains and the US government (the latter in the form of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations aka DEO) soon came calling, and there were some revelations to be had as many secrets were uncovered all through the episode, even right at the very end when we find out that the leader of the villains is none other than General Astra, twin-sister to Alura and Kara’s aunt. That’s certainly something.
It was a grand episode. Melissa Benoist is so incredibly perfect for the role, due in no small part to how infectious her enthusiasm as Kara is, especially when she comes off of doing something good, such as saving a burning plane, or stopping some bank robbers and stuff. She captures her character’s inexperience and excitement pretty well, and that is certainly something to be valued. Imagine how perfect Grant Gustin was in the first few episodes of The Flash, and then dial that up. Yep, I think she is doing a better job than Grant was! And I like this. We have a good range of options for DC superhero television right now, and Supergirl is in a great position because it is firmly on the light-hearted side of things. There’s no inner angst, no grim and gritty here. This is a show about a young woman finally stepping out of her bubble and taking on the entire world, trying to find her place in the grand scheme of things, learning and adapting to all the different challenges that come her way.
Calista Flockhart’s “I’m a girl” speech still sounds so… hollow, partly because of how it is delivered and partly because of how it is written. It feels very forced, possibly a way for the writers to acknowledge the transition of Kara from being a clone of Anne Hathaway from The Devil Wears Prada to a superhero. Like, “hey, we know we showed you this totally cliche and kind-of-insulting thing at the beginning, but look, that’s not what this is about, we got more for you!’. Meh. Could have been handled better.
Of course, the big selling point of this pilot in particular is that the writing otherwise was so, so much about two women having a talk about something other than men or even how sucky their lives are. Sure, there’s some expected stuff like the above, and Kara asking her sister Alex for dating advice and what not, but I also see some of that as normal. When two girls are together, this is what happens. And Kara isn’t fully entrenched in her role as a superhero. She grew up denying that side of her personality and her life, and she is transitioning over. She is still an average young woman with a family and a job and with all the aspirations and all that come with it.
Most of all though, I love that the big bad villain is a woman, and none other Astra at that. I don’t know anything about the character really, but I like that we don’t have a straight-up clone of General Zod here, but someone much more than that. Astra is her own character, and I can’t wait to see how she is developed further.
The second episode, “Stronger Together“, is all about Kara’s growth into Supergirl. She is young and she is inexperienced at her secondary lifestyle. She is making plenty of mistakes while she is trying to be the guardian angel for National City, and that’s what much of this episode is about. I remarked in the pilot review that sometimes the story was moving a bit too fast, such as the first few steps of the titular character’s transition, and that still holds a little true here as well, but I think it is also appropriate. We don’t want to spend multiple episodes about how Kara Danvers is a crappy superhero and how she is always cleaning up after herself. Heck no, that would be boring, and make this a stale show really fast.
So that’s really the crux of this episode. Kara makes a few mistakes, and the people around her help her in finding solutions to those mistakes and move on from that. And I really loved how the writers incorporated everyone in Kara’s support sphere for this, Cat Grant, James Olsen, Winn Schott and Alex Danvers. Heck, even Hank Henshaw had a few things to say, and he isn’t exactly her biggest supporter. And then, while the monster of the week was really lackluster and unexciting, we got an opportunity for the overall story to really develop, moving ahead. And all because General Astra decided to take a personal interest in the doings of her niece. And I like that, because the writers are taking an approach here that is much different to what we had on, say, Arrow and The Flash, where we wouldn’t see the big bad villain until much later in the season, or at least, have the big villain and the hero come in contact so early, and we are only in the second episode as yet.
It is a good approach. The writers know that the viewers have seen this kind of stuff before, and they just want to get this all out of the way and move on to bigger and better things. And that’s certainly what we are moving on to, if the final moment of the episode is something to go by. The clues are all out there in the names of Kara’s supporting cast, and I think that it will be an interesting moment for sure, when the big reveal for the same happens.
In regards to this episode specifically, I like how the overall character writing was more mature than before. And by that, I mean that the characters were all behaving in a more mature manner, and that some of them weren’t as silly as they were in the pilot, such as Cat Grant and Winn Schott. There was more… immediacy and urgency to all the characters now, which is fitting since the pilot shook up the status quo for all of them, and they have all had to adapt to the changing circumstances.
Plus, can I just say that I love how mature Kara herself is in terms of her powers? She doesn’t have to “learn” how to use them like Clark Kent on Smallville and Barry Allen on “The Flash” have had to do. She is already in full control of them, though she just lacks the proper experience to use them effectively. Her superhearing is well-tuned, her flying is well-tuned, her laser-eyes are tuned enough. And so on. It is a small thing in the grand scheme, but it is still a part of the fabric of this show, and I’m in full support of it.
Which all brings me to the main thrust of this show: while Supergirl is indeed about Kara Danvers becomes Supergirl and takes on the responsibilities of being a superhero, it isn’t quite the traditional journey where she has to learn everything from the ground-up. It is more a story of how she fits herself into two different worlds and manages that balance, and fully accepting who she is and what she is and what she should be aiming for.
And it is not being National City’s guardian angel like Superman is for Metropolis. It is being her own person, forging her own path ahead while accepting help from the people around her as and when she needs it. There’s a great moment in the episode for the same in a conversation she has with James Olsen, and I think it is pretty relevant.
Anyway, that’s all I really have. I like pretty much everything about the show right now. The actors are all mostly great, the writing is pretty decent as well, and I think the show is in a really good place right now. I hope that these highs continue on for the rest of the season and that by this time next year we are talking about a season 2!
Posted on November 3, 2015, in Review Central, Supergirl, TV Show Reviews and tagged Action, Alex Danvers, Ali Adler, Alura Zor-El, Andrew Kreisberg, Berlanti Productions, Calista Flockhart, Cat Grant, CBS, Chyler Leigh, Cyborg-Superman, David Harewood, DC Entertainment, Dean Cain, Drama, Faran Tahir, Female Protagonists, Female Superheroes, Female Warriors, Fort Rozz, Fred Danvers, Glen Winter, Greg Berlanti, Hank Henshaw, Helen Slater, James Olsen, Jeremy Jordan, Jimmy Olsen, Kara Danvers, Kara Zor-El, Laura Benanti, Malina Weismann, Maxwell Lord, Mehcad Brooks, Melissa Benoist, National City, Owain Yeoman, Peter Facinelli, Review, Science Fiction, Supergirl, Supergirl Season 1, Supergirl Season 1 Ep 1, Supergirl Season 1 Ep 2, Superhero Fiction, Superheroes, Superman, Sylvia Danvers, TV Show, TV Show Review, Vartox, Warner Bros. Television, Warrior Women, Winslow Schott, Women In Action, Women in Comics, Women in Science Fiction, Women in Television. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.