Supergirl is, frankly, everything I hoped it would be. And somehow just a smidge better.
Spoilers for episode 2 of season 1….
Pilot’s are always funny things. In the push to set up the rest of the series, they are usually at least a LITTLE clunky. Supergirl was no different. But, overall, Melissa Benoist’s amazingly sincere and relatable central performance and a game supporting cast caused it to rise above the fairly straightforward plotting and general pilot clunkiness.
But it’s in the second episode that we get what will hopefully be a better idea of what the show will be like. Starting off with Supergirl royally screwing up despite her best efforts was perfect, as it gave a place for Supergirl to grow, as she’s much more interesting if she’s not instantly great at this hero thing. It also made for a great set piece at the start of the episode.
Some of my favorite scenes came from the Kara/Cat Grant interactions. Initial reactions to Supergirl drew unfavorable parallels to the Black Widow superheroine movie send up from SNL. But even with the second episode we see something much richer than the basic concept of sticking Kara with a Devil Wears Prada-esque boss. For one thing, Calista Flockhart plays the part perfectly, and she’s a lot of fun to watch. She can make the life of Kara and her friends miserable, sure. But on top of that, she shows that she actually has a lot to teach Kara. She gives her/Supergirl amazing advice when she tells her to chill the hell out and, basically, work her way up. Also, it was REALLY great to hear that this Cat Grant started at the Daily Planet and wrote a gossip column before working her way up to her own company. It’s a fun comic fan touch. Oh, and Maxwell Lord!!!
There’s a ton of great stuff in the episode. Her interactions with her sister and the superheroic montage was great. I mean, how awesome was it seeing her stop that shotgun with her hand? To rescue an… animal… from a tree! And the fact that she spends so much time in costume just being Supergirl is just… so very fun and comic book! Winn and James are a pretty fun support team for Supergirl (something all the Berlanti DC shows have done a good job of cultivating for their heroes.)
This last point (Supergirls expanding support system and why it’s a good thing) is wonderfully articulated by Supergirl when she’s talking to James, in a nice reversal of him giving HER sage advice. “You say people will see me the way they see Superman one day but.. I don’t want to be a hero like him. My cousin… he’s so used to going it alone. He doesn’t know any other way. But I do. I see it now.” It’s a and surprisingly effective emotional beat between them, and further defines Supergirl as her own character separate from her cousin.
All of this leads to Kara confronting Aunt Astra MUCH sooner than I thought she would. Their fight is thrilling, and once it again it makes me think… how is this series affordable to make?!! I don’t care though… as long as they keep it up. I mean, mounting a series with someone with Supergirl’s considerable powerset is a challenge to say the least. I realize this episode probably had some extra money spent on it as the show finds it’s legs. But overall it was really impressive from a special effects standpoint.
The fact it came with a bevy of character interactions and moments that is already making me care about these characters is even better. The final beat between Alura and Kara is really beautiful and simple, as an example. I can’t wait to see what comes our way next.
Note: can anyone see Jay Jackson play a newcaster and NOT think of Parks and Rec’s Perd Hapley?