TV Review: Supergirl - Season 1 Episode 2 "Stronger Together"
EPISODE 2: "Stronger Together"
SYNOPSIS: After Kara/Supergirl makes some pretty embarrassing (and ecologically damaging) mistakes during rescue missions, she has to prove she isn't the amateur superhero everyone in National City thinks she is. If that isn't enough, she also has to prevent another Fort Rozz fugitive from causing too much harm in the city and decide whether Supergirl should give her first exclusive interview to Cat.
With episode 2, it has become more apparent that SUPERGIRL is going to be a polarizing show. It’s no secret that it is cheesy and sweet, and while that may be a deal-breaker with some fans, so far I have found it more endearing than annoying. Yes, of course there are times that I roll my eyes, but it’s nice to have a fun, good-hearted show that celebrates the joy, as well as the struggles, of being a superhero. THE FLASH is the gold standard of superhero TV shows and has found the perfect balance between being endearing and kickass. But we are only on episode 2 of SUPERGIRL; let’s give Kara and co. a flying chance! (See, I can be cheesy too!)
What SUPERGIRL does best is show a different side of superheroes - one that hasn’t been fully explored yet on TV; and no, I’m not just talking about Kara bringing a healthy dose of estrogen into the mix. Taking a page out of the many critical reviews of MAN OF STEEL, tonight’s episode showcased the more destructive effects of a superhero saving the day. Last week, we saw Kara guide a plane to a safe water landing. But what happens to that plane wreckage after she leaves the scene? And in tonight’s episode, when she prevents a ship from exploding due to a nearby dock fire, she accidentally rips the front of the hull and creates an oil spill in the ocean. Woops! These types of goofs aren’t what you normally see from a superhero. And the citizens of National City, especially businessman Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), don’t know what to do with their more “amateur” superhero. At times Supergirl doesn’t even know what power to use! If the events of the dock fire are any indication, she still needs to work on that super breath.
Kara’s superhero career began when she leapt into action to solve huge problems; she didn't necessarily think about the effects of her intervention. So using advice from Cat to "chill the hell out", Kara finally takes a minute to breathe and decides to start taking on smaller missions to gain back the press and public’s admiration and to further hone her skills. For example, she stops an armed robbery while making sure the perpetrators don't fire any bullets. After all, Supergirl is bullet proof but she needs to be careful that the bullets don't ricochet off of her and hit a bystander. With these smaller acts of heroism, Supergirl’s popularity begins to rise and she goes from #TerribleGirl back to #Supergirl.
Note: Did any other PARKS AND REC fans notice Perd Hapley as the National City newscaster? Is Leslie Knope a part of the DCU?
Phew, there sure were a lot of cheesy scenes in this episode, especially when it came to James, Alura, and Alex’s many Kara cheer-up speeches. Perhaps the award for the cheesiest scene goes to James, who at one point tells Kara, “…if anyone can fill Superman’s boots, it’s you.” What SUPERGIRL lacks in dark moodiness it sure makes up for in cheesy, expository dialogue. And does anyone else think Kara needs to be a little more secretive about her identity? She talks openly (and LOUDLY) in CatCo Headquarters about being Supergirl and even opens the door to her apartment in her Supergirl suit. Yes, her sister already knows her identity but what if a neighbor opened their door or walked by and saw? Not to mention, her name was the same on Krypton as it is on Earth… so I don’t think it will be that hard for her aunt, General Astra, to find her. Superman may be able to fly under the radar due to what was said in tonight’s episode – people can’t imagine a hero is in their midst – but keep things more on the DL, Kara.
Looks like I spoke too soon about SUPERGIRL not having flashbacks. Though, so far, Kara’s are a lot less cumbersome (and involve fewer bad wigs) than what we see on ARROW. In tonight’s episode, Kara thinks back to a memory from Krypton in order to identify National City’s villain of the week. Kara remembers her mom putting an insect-like creature, a Hellgrammite, in Fort Rozz and warns the DEO about what they are dealing with. Initially, the Hellgrammite looks like a formidable foe, especially in the scene where he abducts Alex to set up a trap for Supergirl. But, the character had a rather disappointing ending. Yes, it was cool that Alex showed off her combat skills, but could a seriously injured human really kill the creature that easily? After all, a few minutes earlier he was leaping onto a moving truck, ripping its roof off, and dragging Alex back to a warehouse. What happened?!
The flashback scene also introduces an important theme when Alura Zor-El tells Kara she has the “heart of a hero”. That sentiment is setting up to be a through-line of the show. Kara is still not confident in her abilities, especially after her sparring match with Alex in a kryptonite-lined dojo. The kryptonite puts Kara and Alex on an equal playing field, and (no surprise) without her powers, Kara gets her ass kicked. However, even though it was an embarrassing defeat, Kara picked up some fighting tips from Alex that she later uses against Astra.
And speaking of fight scenes, I enjoyed a lot of the action tonight, but at times the fight between Astra and Kara looked exactly like what it was, people flying around and fighting on wires. I get it; it’s really hard to do the action scenes required for SUPERGIRL on a TV budget. I am not holding the show to movie standards, but the scenes of Astra and Kara fighting in mid-air teetered on the edge of silly. Regardless, the purpose of the fight shined through - Kara was able to prove to her aunt that she is not her little niece anymore and is a force to be reckoned with. If there was any hope of her joining her aunt’s quest for world domination, that was quickly shot down and battle lines were drawn. Not only that, Astra was introduced to the one thing on Earth that will weaken her powers, kryptonite. But how was Astra still able to fly back to her headquarters with a kryptonite knife stuck in her arm?
The episode is named “Stronger Together”, or “El-myara” in Kryptonian... another meaning of the "S" on Kara's chest. This idea of togetherness and faith are important for Kara as she continues to build confidence in herself and her team. Kara desperately wants Alex and the DEO to have faith in her abilities. She knows she works best when she has good people supporting and believing in her, unlike her cousin who likes to go it alone. Kara realizes she shouldn't be embarrassed to ask others for help. Alex (and the DEO) are looking out for her, and maybe she does need their help to become her best self, even if it means participating in silly military exercises. In another cheesy moment, Alex reinforces what Alura once said, telling Kara she has the heart of a superhero. And with that, Alex agrees to help train Kara to be as powerful as possible.
To go along with her image reinvention, and to help her friend James Olsen keep his job, Kara (as Supergirl) agrees to conduct a sit-down interview with her boss Cat. After all, Cat is adamant that she get the first exclusive interview with Supergirl before the “hags” from the Daily Planet, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, scoop her. While the interview itself was left for next week’s episode, Kara did make a show of strength and lifted her boss’ town car onto the roof of the building.
There wasn’t a stinger, however, there was a mystery set up at the end of the episode. After Kara is shown her own Fortress of Solitude, complete with an AI “living memory” of her mother, Alex talks to Henshaw, who refers to Kara as “Supergirl”. While Alex thinks this is a show of him finally accepting Kara’s powers, in reality this Hank is evillll, as shown by his red eyes. Dun dun dun.