‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 13: ‘For The Girl Who Has Everything’
Welcome back to Supergirl Guys, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CBS’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and Flash recap veteran Dylan Todd.
This week, Kara heads back to Krypton, but is it all a dream? Well, yes, obviously it's all a dream. Krypton got blowed up pretty good. "For the Girl Who Has Everything" was directed by Dermott Downs, with a story by Andrew Kreisberg and a teleplay by Ted Sullivan & Derek Simon, adapted from a story by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Dylan: This week we saw an adaptation of a classic Superman story, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ "For the Man Who Has Everything." Originally appearing in Superman Annual (AKA Suparmannual) #11, the story sees Superman trapped in a dream version of Krypton while under the influence of a plant called the Black Mercy, itself a “gift” from Mongul, a jerkface from outer space. Supergirl’s story has a lot of the same set-up, but plays out a little differently. What did you think of the episode, Chris?
Chris: I hope Mongul’s business card says “MONGUL: The Jerkface from Outer Space”. As to the episode, I liked it. It wasn’t without problems, but I liked it. As soon as the episode was over I had to re-read the previously mentioned Superman Annual #11 and that may have been a little bit of a mistake in that I think it slightly lessened my enjoyment of the episode. How about you, what’d you think?
Dylan: Yeah, when you come at a story as strong as “For the Man Who Has Everything,” you sort of have to come a lot harder than this did. It also sort of undermines Supergirl by having her get bailed out by Alex yet again instead of her figuring out things are wrong on her own, but at this point, pointing that out is sort of old, as it happens almost every episode.
On the whole, it felt a lot less impressive or smart than the thing it’s borrowing from, but it’s also borrowing from a near-perfect, character-defining story by a creative team poised to literally revolutionize superhero comics, so it’s understandable if a 44-minute CBS drama adaptation doesn’t manage to stand up to it.
Chris: This episode really made me think about the difference between “adapting” something and just “copying” it. Or, you know, “pillaging” it. I’m not saying that’s what this episode did, but the fact that it made me start thinking about it after I re-read the issue probably isn’t the best sign.
It also made me start thinking about how this show just keeps taking Superman stories and telling them with Supergirl. It was neat at first and scratches that fanboy itch to see things we know from comics, but at some point doesn’t it feel a little unfair to Superman and Supergirl? She’s been around since the '50s, so, you know, she’s got some stories of her own they could play with.
I’m not sour about it or anything, but now that my brain has thought of it, I can’t imagine I’m going to be able to un-think of it, if they keep doing it. Am I being unfair? I really like this show, so I don’t want to be unfair, Dylan.
Dylan: I am the wrong dude to ask when it comes to being unfair to this show.
We also got some fun shape-shifter action with J’onn J’onzz pretending to be Kara at Catco and slowly realizing that working for Cat Grant is way harder than running a black ops anti-alien task force. What did you think of the Martian Manhunting this episode?
Chris: It seems like it would be easier for Hank/J’onn to either use his telepathy to say what Cat wants to hear or just to make her chill out, but then we wouldn’t have gotten the cute scenes of Melissa Benoist doing her impression of Hank doing his impression of Kara, and I don’t think I’d want to trade those for a plot that makes more sense. I think my biggest question here is what James and Winn are thinking is actually happening with Hankara?
Dylan: Well, Hankara clues them in right when he gets there and yeah, Melissa Benoist’s David Harewood impersonation is pretty great. More importantly, I had the realization watching last night that J’onn J’onzz is making his body look like human clothing, which means that he is always nude. Which means CBS has been airing a television program where one character is always naked every week. Which is great.
Chris: Ah, that ain’t no big deal. Aliens were naked on The X-Files all the time. What I mean is, when Hankara first shows up she tells Supergirl’s adoring goofballs that she’s a DEO agent sent to fill in for Kara. Fine. Then later they’re having a pow-wow in the Broom Closet of Solitude with James, Winn, Alex, and Hank and Hank is like, “Cat’s a lot tougher to deal with than I thought” and Winn’s like, “Wait, what?” There’s never any closure or explanation on this.
Dylan: Haha. I didn’t even think of that. I do like that Winn’s life is pretty much a constant horror show. One week, his evil dad is showing up to murder him; the next, it’s some dude pretending to be the woman he has a crush on.
Chris: Yeah, he also seems to be the only one that tries to react to anything even slightly like a real person. I think this was one of his strongest episodes honestly. You warming to him at all or feel like he’s showing his worth enough to upset the scales of his previous dinkishness?
Dylan: This episode rehabbed him quite a bit for me, though the “Are we friends now?” thing sort of got my eyes a’rollin’. I did like him and James as Mystery Bros, sneaking around Catco offices and plotting on how best to help their friend. I also liked that this episode ended with Kara coming home to James and Winn doing her dishes and plying her with food. That was nice.
Chris: Agreed. The big issue for me is that they seem to be playing loose and fast with keeping any of the show’s big secrets. Each episode they get a little more cavalier with what characters are saying to each other in “public,” and this episode has to have been the worst offender. Would Kara’s neighbors not notice Supergirl being taken out of her apartment building on a stretcher by a team of government agents?
Dylan: National City isn’t home to snitches, Chris. “If you see something, don’t say nothin’.”
Chris: Duly noted.
Dylan: We also got a lot of Krypton and Krypton accessories, with Astra and Non up to some krypto-nanigans, launching their war against humanity by launching the boringly-named Myriad. Although, as the episode says word-for-word twice during the episode, Astra’s heart might not be into this war. Let’s talk about this Krypton stuff, because it sort of dominated the episode. Did it work for you, Chris?
Chris: Seeing Superbot Kelex was a nice touch. A nice and expensive looking touch. All of the CGI Krypton looked nice and expensive. So expensive that all the rest of Krypton looks like it was confined to only two rooms. Two heavily lens flared rooms.
Anywhoodles, let’s see, I didn’t dislike the Black Mercy Krypton or the Evil Kryptonians on Earth parts really, but the dream stuff seemed like it could have used a little more time to feel “real” enough to fool Kara (and you’re absolutely right about what you said earlier about throwing Alex in there cheapening Kara’s victory over the Black Mercy), and the evil Kryptonians stuff is some kind of plan using satellites? You’re an army of superpeople! You don’t need a Bond villain plan to take over the world, just go take it over! There are only like three good guys with superpowers apparently, and we can almost guarantee that one of them will not show up!
Dylan: I have to say, when this show does light, fun action stuff, it really (excuse the pun) soars, but every time they try to lay the drama on thick, it just trips all over the place for me. And this episode was heavy with the breathy, dramatic scenes. The Astra/Non scenes were especially painful for me, but the Alex’s monologue about how she used to hate Kara didn’t fare much better. I did not buy into it at all, but I’m okay with admitting that just might be me. I am a butthead. I am the funwrecker.
Chris: Nah, I agree with you. Astra fares better when she’s interacting with Kara, but her scenes with Non might as well have been performed by two cardboard cut outs. This was also another week of Alex delivering multiple “cry speeches.” This seems to be either the actress’ go-to acting mode, or the writers’ go-to “give Alex something to do” mode.
Dylan: Crying or stabbing, I guess, which sort of lead me to my next point: there sure were a lot of uneasy alliances this episode, with Astra coming to Alex to keep Kara safe from Non, Alex releasing Max Lord from his DEO cell to help hack the Black Mercy, and Alex pulling James and Winn in to help her stop her boss from Martian Manhunting while she put on her Captain Power goggles and tried to wake Kara up from her wonderful dream.
Alex also was the one who jabbed a giant kryptonite sword through Astra (RIP). I mean, she did manage to save J’onn’s life and took Astra off the board, but she also killed Kara’s only remaining blood relative dead. We talked about it last week, but man, Alex sure makes some rash decisions, huh?
Chris: I’m telling you, man, she’s this show’s greatest villain, made all the more tragic by the fact that all the things she screws up are in the service of trying to help. Much tragic. Very sadness.
Pretty convenient that Alex and J’onn (in full on Martian Manhunter mode!) showed up where Astra was instead of Kara. And that Kara just happened to go to the facility where Non was headed, since she wanted to beat him up. It certainly would have wrecked the plot if Alex had been forced to kill Non and Kara had run into Astra and then they’d just talked things out.
Dylan: Poor Bad Idea-Haver Alex. She just wants to help her adopted sister by killing, and torturing, and illegally imprisoning tech billionaires. I did think it was nice of J’onn to take the heat for committing Martian Manslaughter.
Chris: You’ve earned a CenaSalute.gif for that one, friend.
It also looked like the uneasy alliance between Max and his wig had reached some kind of favorable truce, so that must have pleased you.
Dylan: Being kept in a weird plexiglass cell with only an almond-shaped seat/bed in the middle of it agrees with him, apparently. (Seriously, the accommodations in these secret prisons are so weird to me.)
Speaking of weird, Kara (or rather J’onn dressed up like Kara) had to deal with some of the fallout from her disastrous attempt at dating her boss’ estranged son, which, in case you didn’t know, is a terrible idea. I still love Cat to bits, but I felt like this whole “You dumped my son!” subplot was really crammed in there this week. We’re definitely going to see more of this whole thing soon, right?
Chris: I complain about it on Arrow too (and I think it’s similar on Flash), but why do none of the superheroes’ secret prisons have beds or toilets? Also, why does every superhero show have a secret prison now?
Dylan: At the expense of getting too real: Welcome to a post-Gitmo America, where even the superheroes have black site prisons. And seriously, I have gone crazy trying to figure out the logistics of operating these secret prisons over on Flash. This one at least has the backing of the US government, so you can hand-wave the cost as coming out of a secret budget somewhere.
Chris: Anyway, the stuff with Hankara was definitely fun, but I’d just as soon have not had them trying to deal with Haircut’s departure being a plot point and just had it be usual Cat behavior causing the problems. She’s enough of a handful for an alien agent masquerading as an assistant as is without adding a family romance angle. Plus they possibly shoehorned in a little bit of apology closure on that, but it was Hankara apologizing, so maybe next week everything will be back to normal with the two of them.
Dylan: I can definitely see that being the easiest way to clean up that storyline before moving on to The James Situation and moving into the back half of season one and the eventual showdown with Non. Who, might I add, has an incredible spit-talk game. Dude was practically foaming at the mouth as he was mess-talking Kara before she beat him like he stole something. A+ spit-work, Chris Vance.
Chris: For a lifelong warrior/soldier/military evil guy, he sure got his ass kicked and just bolted though. I think he used his heat vision on Supergirl once and then on the satellite dish and split! I’m sure he’ll say it was just part of his plan, but I think he was embarrassed he was getting beat so bad.
Dylan: Maybe Myriad is referring to the myriad ways Non is going to get his butt beat in the future.
Chris: Fingers crossed.