‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 8: ‘Hostile Takeover’
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, Cat gets hacked, Kara gets punchy, Astra gets a backstory, and we meet none other than Non. "Hostile Takeover" was directed by Karen Gaviola and written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Caitlin Parrish.
Dylan: So after last week’s bottle episode that saw Kara struggling to be a hero without her powers, and included Hank Henshaw’s revelation that he was in fact, as foretold by us, the Martian Manhunter, this week’s episode jumps head-first into the super-crazy, with Astra and her flunkies confronting Supergirl on a random rooftop. The Supergirl/Astra relationship was the center for this week’s episode, how do you feel it worked, Chris?
Chris: Man, this one was something else. I definitely enjoyed it, but there was almost too much going on this week.There’s the initial fight with Astra, sparring, kill or be killed talk, flashbacks, corporate espionage, more fighting, e-mail reading, revelations, interrogations, relationship bro talk, lawyering, shocking discoveries, and even more fighting. And I probably left a few things out. That’s a lot to unpack for one week!
Dylan: So, let’s sort of unpack it. What worked for you this week?
Chris: Well, I liked all the super-stuff. The fighting, the flying, the eye beams. She even used some super-hearing and telescopic x-ray vision. Team Supergirl actually having to do something work related and it taking priority over the superhero stuff pleased me here, where I know it might have irritated me on another comic show. I chalk that up to trusting that they aren’t doing it just to keep her out of the costume, because this show has her in the supersuit as much as possible.
Dylan: I gotta say, the non-fighty Astra stuff didn’t do a whole lot for me, mainly because I feel like Laura Benanti isn’t very good at playing either a cold-hearted villain or a perfect, sainted mother, but the fights were pretty great and her krypto-knife was (literally) on-point. What did you think of the whole backstory with Kara, her mom and Astra?
Chris: Yeah, that was probably the weakest thing in this episode for me too. Same reasons you said, but also because no one seems to be giving any kind of definitive answers. Someone will say, “So and so didn’t tell you everything,” and then they flashback or start talking briefly and you still don’t feel like you know what’s really going on.
Melissa Benoist did a great job conveying all the emotions and struggles they asked her to convey, but those reactions were all over the board. Does that make sense? She hates her aunt and doesn’t care if she rots, then five minutes later she’s saying her mom was the greatest woman that ever lived, then two minutes later she’s yelling at her holo-mom. I’m sure they’re not giving it all to us because there’s more to this particular plot, but it felt a little frustrating.
Dylan: My favorite part was when Alex asked Kara, “What do you remember? What are you holding on to?” and then they cut to a flashback (you know, where you remember things) and Young Kara is literally holding onto something. Subtlety!
I do think trying to “rebrand” Astra as an eco-terrorist who’s trying to warn Kryptonians about the Big Boom helps to make her character a little bit more palatable. I also worry that introducing Non to be The Real Bad Guy is kind of a mistake. Having Astra be a person committed to an ideal and not a woman duped by her man into being a bad person is a much stronger character.
Chris: Why bother calling this guy Non, when he is clearly nothing like the established Non? Could they not think of another Kryptonian name?
Dylan: No(n), they couldn’t.
Chris: There’s actually a little wiggle room for the creators here, because more recent Superman lore has retconned Non into being a brilliant scientist who is turned into the unthinking brute we’re familiar with. Normally, I wouldn’t trust one of these shows to know about that kind of thing, but Supergirl has been surprising me with some “straight from the comics” bits here and there that make me think maybe they’ve got a plan for this guy that’s not just “EVIL GUY”.
Dylan: Evil Guy is my favorite Image comics villain from 1994. Speaking of names, did you notice how everybody pronounced Kara’s name differently? Astra says “KAH-rah,” James and Winn say “KARE-uh,” and Cat, inexplicably, says “KEE-rah.” So frickin’ weird, man.
Chris: The Cat calling her “Kira” thing bugged me for a long time, but I let it go once I assumed it’s a creative choice that Cat’s just decided that’s how you say it (or that’s what it is, even when she’s seen it spelled “Kara” and heard her friends pronounce it “Kara”) and just refuses to believe she could be wrong. Or she thinks “Kira” sounds better and is subtly trying to let Kara know.
Dylan: I didn’t notice it as much until Astra showed up with her other pronunciation, but hoo-boy.
Chris: It’s a name from her planet, so I guess she should probably be accepted as the correct pronunciation. Or maybe she just has a weird accent.
Dylan: My favorite stuff was the B-plot, both the Team Supergirl stuff as well as Cat Grant in general. See, CatCo’s e-mail got hacked and leaked to those trash-mongers at The Daily Planet, leaving Cat vulnerable to a conniving Chairman of the Board, a smarmy, rich white guy played by the smarmy, rich white guy from Black-ish.
The industrial espionage stuff from The Supergirl Boys was fun, but the Cat stuff this week was over-the-top excellent. Cat has gone from a mildly annoying character to maybe the best one on the show? She has all the best lines (referring to Winn as, “That handsome little Hobbit who has more cardigans that you,” was amazing, as was her, “If I wanted to sleep with a Beach Boy, I’d still be dating John Stamos,” retort) and her emotional moments are actually compelling and ring true. I’m 100% Team Cat at this point. What did you think, Chris? She’s the best, right?
Chris: Well, I mean, she cannot replace Kara in my heart, but she is certainly the secret star of the show... or the show’s secret weapon. The crazy thing is how almost every episode she starts off being very “Cat,” and by the end she’s shown depth and vulnerability and strength and wisdom (or some combination of all of those and more), and they handle it so well, it keeps pleasantly surprising me.
Dylan: I did like the way they mirrored Kara’s mother/aunt situation with Cat’s secret kid.
Chris: They handled that really well, but this is not the first time Kara life and Supergirl life have lined up just a little too pat, you know?
Dylan: Agreed, but I thought it worked a lot better than other instances where they’ve tried the same thing. It wasn’t exactly subtle, but it was almost subtle?
Chris: Totally. This was definitely the best example of it so far. Speaking of surprising, should we get into that final tense scene between Cat and Kara?
Dylan: Holy crap, yeah! I’d jokingly put forth in these recaps (or maybe Twitter?) the idea that Cat really knows that Kara is Supergirl, and there have been flashes of her being suspicious over the last couple of episodes, but they just ripped the bandaid off this last episode, with Cat adding up the clues and, in a very emotionally effective scene, thanking Kara for her work as Supergirl. It was really nice and added yet another layer of depth to Cat’s character.
Chris: The way Kara plays all that panic was just fantastic. Now, the real question here is, what do you think is going to happen? Because, get ready, I have a theory.
Dylan: Lay it on me, brother.
Chris: Well, let me ask you this first: Do you think Cat definitively knows and they’re just going to leave it at that? Like, do you think that’s just the new status quo, “Cat knows,” or do you think something will happen to trick her. A 'Lois thinking she’s got it figured out and then Clark finds a way to trick her' kind of thing.
Dylan: I guess it could go either way, but her being in on the secret sort of clears up the question of “How is Kara able to work a full-time job for a very demanding boss plus fight supervillains plus also fight aliens for the DEO plus hug James and/or Winn.”
Chris: Reasonable. I don’t think they can possibly leave it at Cat knowing. Something has to give. It just makes it too difficult for accept Cat bossing her around knowing she’s Supergirl. She already has to deal with Hank being a sort of authority figure. I think there is going to be some DEO/Men in Black business that erases the idea from her memory or, the more likely theory, since they made a point of pointing out that Hank/Martian Manhunter can shapechange and read minds, I’m going to guess he takes care of it. This is my prediction. Let’s see if we stay on our hot streak.
Dylan: Prediction hubris! Let’s talk about the lovey-dovey stuff, with Kara and James trying to figure out if there’s a thing between them and Winn being a hurt little butthead over their hug last week. I was making a little gasface when Winn and James were having their little chat at the end of the episode and James was all, “I didn’t know you had feelings for her,” like what? Really? Are you like a total moron or what?
Chris: I don’t think questioning people’s intelligence is ever going to get you far on these shows. James is apparently such a good guy that he can’t even see things beyond the surface level? Or he’s just so wrapped up in his own world? I dunno.
Dylan: I guess I can see what you mean, but on the other hand: come on, James.
Chris: Honestly. I think these last few episodes have been attempting to give Winn a little more storyline worth and make him seem like less of a dink. Cat said he was handsome. A handsome Hobbit, but still. He came up with the plan to save Cat, and it actually worked. I still don’t think it’s going to happen, but I mean, it’s making him a little less one-dimensional at the very least. Right?
Dylan: Yeah, for sure. The more cool they can make him and less “pouty, pining ‘nice guy’” the better.
Chris: I don’t even care if he’s cool, but give us a reason to not actively think he’s a dink. I think this show is getting better with each passing episode. They could totally blow it at any point, but I feel safe thinking this show will improve rather than devolve.
Dylan: So Astra allows herself to get captured by Kara and thrown into DEO lockup so her husband, a decidedly more vocal iteration of Non, can take his army of misfit aliens and raid Lord Technologies for… some reason or another.
I gotta say, splitting the storylines between Supergirl, Team Supergirl and the DEO sort of helped smooth over some bumps this overstuffed episode had, though it did lead to a pretty oddly-paced affair, with the main story sort of wrapping up ten minutes before the actual episode, which itself sort of cuts off mid-action. But it was a really cool fight, with a host of aliens using their pretty cool/creepy powers on some poor, unfortunate DEO agents and Lord Tech security guards.
Chris: Quick aside about Astra: Can they not find a white hair clip-in for her that didn’t come from Dollar Tree?
Dylan: Oh man, that white streak is just plain embarrassing.
Chris: Back to the bad guy attack, why would they attack Lord? Does he have some kind of biological or ecological weapon they need or do they know he’s working on something that will be disastrous to the planet? He’s clearly been working on crazy weapons intended to deal with superpowered beings.
Dylan: Maybe they’re going to make a killer magnetic train? Death by choo-choo! That will teach those polluting Earthlings.
Chris: That cliffhanger was the winter finale, and we’ll have to wait a little bit to find out what happened! How will we stand it?!
Dylan: I can’t handle the suspense!