‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 5: ‘How Does She Do It?’
Welcome 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, a bomber is threatening National City, but Kara has to babysit for Cat Grant's kid. Meanwhile, Hank Henshaw is mysterious, Maxwell Lord is unctuous, and Lucy Lane is still here. "How Does She Do It" was directed by Thor Freudenthal and written by Yahlin Chang and Ted Sullivan.
Dylan: So given that this week’s episode dealt with a bomber running amok in National City, I can see why CBS would choose to switch up the airing order of this and last week’s “Livewire” after the attacks in Paris last week. While the villain of the episode was ostensibly a disgruntled employee named Ethan who could not stop blowing things up, the real villain of the week was Ethan’s former employer, Maxwell Lord, King of the Choo-Choos. Thankfully, aside from the James/Lana relationship, you couldn't have noticed they were out of order.
Chris: I just edited it last time, but do you realize you keep calling Lucy, “Lana”? One of the few Superman family characters that has not been mentioned on this show.
Dylan: Listen, I can’t be expected to keep all these double-L names straight. Just be glad I didn’t call her “Lori Lemaris,” I guess. (Though I would be very okay with them introducing Superman’s mermaid ex-girlfriend into this show.) Anyway, I thought that overall, it was a decent episode, with a good mix of relationship stuff, superhero moments and continuing to setup the overarching focus of the season. Chris, what did you think of the episode?
Chris: I enjoyed it fine enough, but I think this might have been my least favorite episode so far. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but perhaps I’ll get to the bottom of it in the course of our discussion. The Jimmy/Lucy stuff was almost more than I could take. Kara talking to Lucy was fine, and Kara talking to Jimmy was fine, but when it was just the two of them alone in a scene… no thank you.
James Olsen has been charming and great for the most part on this series so far, but I think this episode showed us that his acting Kryptonite is trying to pull off emotionally vulnerable. He felt like more of a loser than Winn in parts of this episode.
Everyone feeling like a weirdo/dork/awkward really seemed to be a running theme this episode actually. There was a weird pyramid or food chain or something of people thinking they were too dorky for someone, while someone else looks at them thinking they’re too dorky for them.
Dylan: Yeaaaah. I already get that feeling every day of my life. I don’t need to see it on TV.
Speaking of awkward dorks, this episode also introduced Cat’s son, Carter, which I realized was just “Cat” with a “rer” smooshed in there. Carter’s defining features are that he has a huge crush on Supergirl and is also a real big nerd. Kara volunteers to babysit him overnight despite the fact that she has a very demanding real life job and also fights crime as Supergirl and also work for the DEO, tracking down aliens. And somewhere in there has to find time to flirt with James Olsen and ignore Winn, who is a dink. Chris, what did you think about Kara’s adventure in babysitting? Follow up question: how did she not get fired for being the literal worst babysitter since that poor lady in Jurassic World?
Chris: I was amazed at how many times she forgot she was supposed to be babysitting, but I guess that was part of what they were going for, right? The whole, “How does she do it?” thing.
Dylan: But she always remembered when she was having casual conversations! all relaxed at the DEO HQ and going, “Oh no! I left him at home alone and now he’s on a bomb-train!”
Chris: Yeah, right after you’ve put out one fire and are chillin’ all cool is usually when you remember that other super-important thing you were supposed to be doing. I expected there to be a lot more, “Watch Kara use her powers to handle babysitting” but they kept it all still very focused on the “real” story, and I think a crummier show wouldn’t have. Later in the season, or in a later season, sure, but at this point it’s probably best they kept things on the tracks. Because there was a train in this episode.
I was a little confused at Carter being crazy about Kara by the end of the episode and telling his mom what a great time they had, when it seemed like all she did was pawn him off on other people and bring him food. Maybe that’s all a kid at that age wants? Where was the scene of their epic Nerf battle? That better be on the DVD bonus features.
Dylan: I thought for sure Kara was going to get in waaaaaaay more trouble with Cat then she did. Cat was all, “So you let my kid wander off onto a train that got blowed up real good and then he showed up just without you and all you can say is, ‘This was hard!’ I am so disappointed in you. Anyway, get me my lunch.” Like… that’s it? Okay.
Chris: Maybe Cat was just so excited to see him joking and talking and doing anything besides staring at his shoes?
Dylan: He did make a sexist joke, so there’s that.
Chris: I did think Winn showed at least a little quality this episode. He wasn’t great at babysitting, but at least he was trying, and he managed to see The Sad Bomber in his hilariously bad/obvious bomber vest (which is not to be confused with a bomber jacket, which is what Green Lantern wears) and warn Kara about it.
Dylan: Man, his little asides this episode though. When they were playing video games and Carter told him he died, and Winn was all, “Every day kid.” I was like:
Chris: Haha, yeah, Winn is definitely at the bottom of the Romance Dork Food Chain.
Dylan: So on the relationship front, Lana Lane is still in town, using her feminine wiles to lure James back into her web. Kara is so into him, right?
Chris: Yeah, Kara could not be more into James, but Lisa Lane is around for one more day, so Kara all but orders James to get back together with her. I’m all for her being kind hearted and upstanding, but this is such a water-treading ploy for a television series that needs to keep things interesting for an entire season. I think I said as much last week, but I’d be fine with no romance on this show. Or, just let them get together and be happy and have conflict and tension that’s not built around dating. I know I ask for too much from television.
Dylan: I’m fine with a little romance, but yeah, the “will they/won’t they” is tired.
Chris: It’d be less tired if it wasn’t what literally every show does.
Dylan: Too true. We also got more of Hank Henshaw’s red glowing eyes and general red-herring-ness, though we still don't know exactly what his deal is. Like, I know they're gonna draw this out for a while still, but it's kind of getting old for me. Am I the only one?
Chris: I don’t mind them drawing it out, but I think this episode pretty definitively assures us he’s Martian Manhunter. Well, I mean, it assures those of us in the awkward comic dork community. I’m sure Jim & Jane Q. Public are just thinking he’s secretly evil.
Not to nitpick, but are agents for secret government agencies really known for handling bomb disposal and then walking out with the bomb as a trophy so everyone can applaud you? Don’t secret government agents usually tend to work in secret? And was there no one from the DEO that could go talk to Maxwell Lord besides the two head people? Shouldn’t they try to keep a low profile if they’re actively going to be keeping tabs on this guy?
Dylan: Yeah, the TV-ness of both of those scenes stretched the credibility for me. Also, the DEO has Time Lord technology, apparently because that was totally psychic paper in their ID holder.
Chris: As though it wouldn’t be a million times easier to just have multiple badges/IDs. In a universe full of things that could make you roll your eyes, an ID that changes when you push a non-existent button is up there. And I say this as someone that used to keep a Doctor Who replica psychic paper ID holder in his suit jacket (along with a toy sonic screwdriver), so I know from ridiculous.
Dylan: Let's talk Maxwell Lord. First off, he was super-into Alex, which will be kind of fun once his vendetta against Supergirl starts to heat up. Turns out that all of the mayhem in this episode was caused by Lord in order to get a better idea of who Supergirl really is and what she’s capable of. Which is pretty diabolical when you think about the possible casualties that could have resulted from his little experiment. What is you think about his overly-involved plan to gather Intel on Supergirl?
Chris: I guess I like that they’re trying to give Supergirl her own Lex Luthor, but I also wouldn’t mind if he wasn’t so much like Lex Luthor... if that makes sense. I’m glad they just went ahead and were like, “Yeah, he’s evil. We won’t keep trying to make you think it’s ambiguous.” Which kind of harkens back to our appreciation of how they had Supergirl find out about (and then fight) her evil aunt in the second episode.
Dylan: Yeah, finally something that’s not being stretched out just because. Speaking of Lord, this was the first time we’ve really seen a lot of Peter Facinelli in the show and boy, am I not sure he has the chops to do amount of “charismatic/brilliant villain” acting he’s going to need to do in this show. It felt very much like he was “Acting!” and not at all genuine. I’m hoping as he settles into the role, he gets better, because his confrontation with Supergirl at the end of the episode was pretty bad. Am I being a grump here?
Chris: Nah, I was okay with his end of the episode confrontation though, if only because his scene with Alex where he said, “Their internal organs melted.” when talking about what happened to his parents was one of the most unintentionally hilarious line readings I think I’ve ever heard.
Dylan: Oh yeah! That was incredible. I’m all about melting organs. There’s a good quote for you, CBS. I will say this, as far as writing goes, I’m kind of mad that they put Kara in a position where she couldn’t save Ethan. I know from a plot perspective, you can’t have him survive because then he’ll roll over on Maxwell Lord, but, like with the Zod neck-snapping in Man of Steel, I felt like it was cheap to put you hero in a place where they can’t be heroic.
Chris: Yeah, that was definitely a no-win situation from the writer’s standpoint, but they’re the ones making this stuff up, so they don’t have to back themselves into these corners… and yet they continue to do so. This seems to be a really problem across the boards with these types of shows. I can’t figure out why though. It’s also probably a bigger discussion for another time.
The only other thing this episode that I wanted to talk about was when Lila Lane said that Jimmy was always running off to help Superman save the world whenever he’d call. Superman does not have a Jimmy Olsen Signal Watch. How often does Superman call Jimmy for help? That is not how these things work. I’m starting to suspect Jimmy just had another girl on the sly or a Magic: The Gathering league he didn’t want Lacy Lane to know about.
Dylan: Umactually, her name is Lucy and yeah, that excuse just won’t (pardon the expression) fly here. You can’t tell me that Superman wouldn’t be like, “Listen, I like you helping me out and stuff, but really, you can go out with your girlfriend. I’ve got this under control.”
Chris: I guess to wrap things up, I’d say that much like the CGI explosions in this episode, it didn’t knock me out, but I didn’t hate it either. It had some good super stuff, but it also had some parts that I would have loved to fast forward through, so maybe that all balances out. It’s like Cat says, you have to balance all the stuff out and use conditioner and get me a cheeseburger… I don’t really know what they wanted me to take away from this one. Oh, but pizza did make a guest appearance and there was a cover of an 80s pop song, so I’ll go ahead and put this episode down as a “win”. But not a “Winn”.
Dylan: I will never forgive you for that one, Chris.