‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 2: ‘Stronger Together’
Welcome to Supergirl Guys, our new regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CBS’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist in the super smiling title role. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and Flash recap veteran Dylan Todd.
This week, Supergirl faces the creepy-crawly alien Hellgrammite and some Kryptonian family tensions, and turns to her network of friends for help after a titanic goof. 'Stronger Together' was directed by Glen Winter with story by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler.
Dylan: So Chris, after last week’s crammed-to-the-gills premiere, we got a look at what we can expect from the series proper with the second episode, 'Stronger Together'. We got a look at Kara’s relationship with the DEO, the sort of threats she’ll most likely be facing on a week-to-week basis, got some crazy advancement on the Evil Aunt storyline, and some workplace and relationship drama. What did you think of the second episode, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, lots to talk about! I started off a little underwhelmed, which worried me because I thought, “Maybe that first episode was just a fluke and all my enthusiasm and excitement for this show was for nothing!”
But by the end of the episode I was dying to get back to professing my love for this show on all them social medias… so yeah, I liked it. I noticed several times during this episode where they’d have a moment or situation or character that would make me start to roll my eyes, and then they’d pull it back fairly deftly, and that goes a long way for me. Also, the parts of this show that some people might call cheesy are cheesy in just the right way and amount for me to be tickled by them instead of irritated. What’d you think?
Dylan: Overall, I liked it well enough. The cast has a great chemistry and a lot of charisma that, like I said last week, paper over a lot of the cracks that start to appear when you look at it too closely. I have yet to be blown away by it, if we’re being honest.
This episode was the “learning to use the powers” episode, and I liked that Supergirl had a learning curve in public. But like a lot of the premiere, it seemed perfunctory. This show has yet to do something new as far as superhero media is concerned, and I need to expect that maybe they never will. And that’s okay. All I’m really asking is that it’s not aggressively terrible. You know, like Heroes.
Chris: I don’t think there’s any way this show will ever be as bad as Heroes.
Dylan: We can only hope.
Chris: Maybe some of my enjoyment of this show is caused by residual disappointment over how Superman never actually happened on Smallville.
Dylan: Speaking of waiting forever for something to happen, I was legitimately surprised that they pulled the trigger on the Astra subplot so quickly, opting to have her confront Kara in episode two. I fully expected them to tease it out, with a mid-season reveal like they did over on The Flash, but nope! Auntie Astra revealed herself to Kara like NBD, much to the detriment of the episode’s “freak of the week,” a revamp of Superman villain Hellgrammite. What did you think of the whole Astra thing?
Chris: I am always happily surprised when one of these shows doesn’t take forever to get to the point with something like this. Plus, we got all that confusion from last week about who she was cleared up, so we at least know that’s not a mystery we have to worry about anymore. I did kinda expect they’d take a little longer than this to have the two of them face to face, but I won’t complain about it. What’d you think of the first Kryptonian throwdown?
Dylan: It was good. The fight was a lot better handled than any of the Hellgrammite scenes. I’m worried that maybe Laura Benanti isn’t up to the task of playing either the Astra or Alura roles too convincingly. The evil aunt is maybe not evil enough and the sweet, dead mom is maybe too sweet, (and it was weird that nobody on Krypton can speak in a contraction) but we’ll see. These shows usually take a while to get going, especially in their first season, as the first half-dozen episodes are treated like mini-pilots, recapping the premise every week for people who have decided to tune in based on positive word-of-mouth.
Chris: The way they kept mentioning “last week” in the actual story of the episode did get a little tiresome. With all these bad guys being from Krypton, does it not stretch believability just a touch that Superman wouldn’t get involved with some of this?
Dylan: Yeah, but at the same time, I can suspend my disbelief when they go to such great lengths to not have to say the S-word on this show. Also, there are a lot of people who think Superman II is the best superhero movie (I call these people “People Who Haven’t Seen Darkman I Guess”), so doing a bigger version of that is probably a good, crowd-pleaser of an idea. Also, some of these Krypto-dudes look cool. That creeper doctor from the end bit was fun-looking. Sort of like if TV's Frank and Dr. Clayton Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a baby.
Chris: Please, yes. Get more things I like into this show. The bad guys are now working for Gizmonics Institute. It is canon.
Dylan: Speaking of colliding worlds, Jay Jackson showed up again as a news anchor! Supergirl is set in the Perdiverse! Which means it’s set in the same reality as Parks & Recreation, Scandal, Fast Five and Revenge. And Battleship, I guess? I don’t know! Like literally everybody else, I skipped that movie, but… Perd!
Chris: Yes! As soon as I heard that voice, I was like, “Please tell me Perd Hapley is going to be the newsperson here too!” and my hopes were answered when he showed up on that screen.
Dylan: Yeah, Jay Jackson is America’s #1 actor when you need a newscaster and it is amazing. He is the real Superman in my heart.
Switching gears, there was a lot of set-up in this episode. We got the introduction of Maxwell Lord, the burgeoning Winn/Kara/James love triangle, and the hint that Hank Henshaw might not be all he’s pretending to be. As much as I love that there seems to be a mess of plates spinning, I also wonder how it’s all going to work. What do you think, Chris? Too much going on or just enough?
Chris: Definitely a lot going on, and they managed to keep it all well balanced and moving forward so far, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine it getting away from them either. But yeah, so far so good, I think. We’re seeing the relationships start to flesh out a little, getting to know the cast a a little bit beyond their face value stuff. I think some of the characters are actually a little more than two-dimensional now. Like, almost two-and-a-half-dimensional?
Lest people think I’m being too much of a mark for this show, I want to say that I hate the guy they cast as Maxwell Lord. Just thinking about him now makes me sort of uncontrollably make a gross face… but we’re not supposed to like him, so I guess that’s good casting. Damn, you got me again, CBS’ Supergirl!
Dylan: Oh, the Twilight guy? Yeah, he’s the perfect choice for a sluggy millionaire Steve Jobs-type whose face you just want to punch and punch. Good call, Casting Directors Lyndsey Baldasare and David Rapaport! Oh, also, we’re calling Henshaw’s Kryptonite-infused knife the Kryptoknife, right?
Dylan: Okay. Good, good.
Chris: After all the verbal gymnastics not to say his name in the pilot, this week they couldn’t stop saying “Superman”!
Dylan: I only heard it once! Did they say it more than that?
Chris: Oh man, they said it so much I wished I’d kept a running tally. I’m going to rewatch the episode and do just that. I may start doing that for every episode from here on out. Then we can really analyze the data at the end of the season.
Dylan: Please do this. I will make a chart and everything. We can even include all the variations and keep a tally on those as well. This is good stuff. Eisner-winning content, right here.
Chris: It made me laugh that the Kryptonite Danger Room and the Room of Solitude both look exactly alike except for the color of the lights, and I had to wonder if the DEO only knows how to make one kind of room. Is the cafeteria in that base look exactly like that but with yellow lights and all the agents just have to sit on the floor and sorta put their trays on that little pedestal in the middle?
Dylan: TV budgets, bro. Just wait until they reuse it as the commissary next week. Let’s talk a little about the Super-love triangle. Winn and James, who both have been flirty to a largely-oblivious Kara, both know that the other one knows that Kara is Supergirl. This led to some awkward one-upmanship when James and Winn were forced to play dispatcher while Kara was out on patrol. I know we’re supposed to be like, “Which will she choose?!?!” but when it’s down to a tall hunk who never buttons his top buttons and some milksop who is a dink, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Are you Team James or Team Winn, Chris? U-Decide!
Chris: Haha, yeah, I don’t think this will ever really be a love “triangle” as much as a relationship with a third wheel. But they could make it work with Winn realizing he’s a dink that Kara does not like like that, and then they’re all cool and grown up about it and all work together as friends who want to make a positive difference. Or maybe they’ll go really dark with it and he’ll get bitter and turn into Toyman and start killing people with Silly Putty. I’d rather that not happen though.
Dylan: I hope this happens TBH.
Chris: Speaking of things getting dark, that was a fun little homage to Superman III at the start of the episode with Kara being chased by missiles. Sadly, no one was controlling the missiles from a video game though. I guess the oil spill is kind of a Superman III reference too, now that I think of it. I enjoyed seeing Hank and Kara starting to warm up to each other a little.
Dylan: Except Hank is some sort of glow-eyes guy!
Chris: He’s Gambit. Or Darkseid. Or Superman?
Dylan: Yes. These are the only options.
Chris: Has anyone else ever had red eyes? No.
Dylan: Me after I watched Inside Out. (a-bloo-bloo-bloo)
Chris: I just saw Inside Out for the first time this weekend, so let’s change the subject before we both start crying. (But now I do need Joy as Supergirl fan art.) How are you feeling about Cat Grant after this episode?
Dylan: I still feel like she's in this weird space where she either needs to go way broader or be more relatable. She's still a little too cartoony, but a definite improvement over the premiere. Also, she totally knows Kara is Supergirl, right? Because I feel like she acts like she totally knows Kara is Supergirl. All, “Okay, if you’re gonna keep up this dumb charade I will play along, but only because it means I can finally get my morning coffee at the right temperature.”
Chris: Yeah, I don’t know... I could see it going either way. If she does, it would totally negate Jimmy, sorry, James’ pep talk about how Cat won’t be able to see it. Hmm. But yeah, Kara hasn’t been working at this whole dual identity thing for years the way Superman has, so it’s feasible a seasoned news professional like Cat might be able to see through it. Hmmm.
Dylan: Her sensei was Perry White!
Chris: I guess it makes Lois look dumb if Cat can figure it out, but also, how many people are they going to have know who she is?! That line where Cat says, “Supergirl should take a page out of your book, Kara,” is the thing that really makes me think she doesn’t get it though.
Dylan: I’m definitely over-thinking it. But if this is anything like The Flash, every dang person who ever walked the Earth will know that Kara is Supergirl by the season finale.
Chris: You know what else this show has that I like? Pizza and fun superheroing montages set to 80s pop songs.
Dylan: Yes, even if 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot', was a little too on-the-nose. If they use R.E.M.’s cover of The Clique’s 'Superman' next week, I will probably be hospitalized becaue I rolled my eyes so hard they fell out of my head. Last week’s use of Carl Carlton’s 'She’s A Bad Mamma Jamma' was great, though.
Chris: I hope they find a way to work pizza and a pop montage into every episode. Gotta keep those people that followed Melissa Benoist over from Glee happy, right? Also, I like pizza and pop montages of superheroes doing superhero things. Have I said that yet?
Oh, hey, I also liked that Kara got to come back and give James an insightful talking to with Kryptonian history and backstory and a point. Melissa Benoist got to show a little more range this episode, I think. Or maybe I’m just in love with this show.
Dylan: That is definitely a possibility. There are worse thing you could be in love with, I guess: anime body pillows, cartoon ponies, Terry Long.
Chris: A body pillow of anime Terry Long riding a cartoon pony?
Dylan: Aaaaaand I think we’re done here. Next week! Supergirl takes on Reactron and her boss threatens to publish an exposé!
And here’s our Super-Tally for this episode:
Okay, so unless someone tells me otherwise with definitive video proof, they only said “Superman” once in the pilot. For episode two, we got: