‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 1 Episode 7: ‘Human For A Day’
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 finds herself powerless during a crisis, an alien named Jemm gets up to some truly, truly, truly outrageous behaviour, and Chris and Dylan discover they were right about Hank Henshaw all along. “Human For A Day" was directed by Larry Teng and written by Yahlin Chang and Ted Sullivan.
Dylan: Chris! I really liked this episode. We got a decent villain, saw Kara struggle without her powers, watched Cat step up to the plate, and got some pretty definitive resolution to the Hank Henshaw mystery. What did you think about this episode?
Chris: Same! I don’t want to sound like a self-obsessed fanboy, but I really enjoyed it! We are living in a world where last night a network superhero show gave me everything I wanted from superhero entertainment. What a day!
Dylan: This felt a lot like a “bottle episode,” with most of the action taking place in a locked-down DEO facility and at CatCo headquarters during a massive natural disaster. In a lot of ways, these restrictions sort of forced the writers to streamline the stories and it helped the episode, in my opinion.
Chris: Absolutely. I mean, there were a few things I could take issue with here and there, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in that the limitations were ultimately freeing, because they had to focus on what mattered. And of course, when they were able to put the throttle back down, Supergirl really soared.
See what I did there? Because she flies.
Dylan: Wait. Back up a sec… oh wait. I get it.
Chris: Yeah, this is the kind of clever comedy you can only come up with when you know the source material.
Dylan: We got a “villain of the week,” in Jemm, Son of Saturn. Aside from him looking like an alien from Star Trek: the Next Generation, he actually had some interesting powers and drove the DEO subplot forward nicely, giving Hank and Alex a solid foe to face off against while they worked through the mystery of Alex’s dad’s disappearance.
Chris: I thought he looked more like a cross between these two Babylon 5 characters..
That’s right. A Babylon 5 reference.
Dylan: JMS would be proud. Never surrender dreams, Chris. I'm not super-familiar with the character, but glancing over his wiki entry, it seems like a fairly different character, though he works in the context of the show. Did you like Jemm, Somm of Saturmm, Chris, Son of Memphis?
Chris: Yeah, he’s the same enough that a Jemm fan (like myself) wouldn’t get too upset over the changes. Well, some might, I guess, but I was more excited that Jemm was appearing on a for real television show to get upset about it.
The first time I saw Jemm he was knocking the “Great Scott!” out of Superman on that cover, so I had to have that comic to see who this guy was. It also probably allows me to let it slide a little more easily that they used him as a bad guy here, since I thought he was a bad guy on my first encounter with him. Plus, Grant Morrison used him as an “anti-Martian Manhunter” in JLA, so… yeah, it’s fine. I wouldn’t have complained if they’d given him a cape though.
Dylan: Yeah, the grey jumpsuit sort of fit the whole “alien prisoner thing,” but also looked a little drab. Mind control powers are always kind of fun (and help the producers save on having to do actual special effects), and Alex’s whole “Die Hard in the DEO” sequence was nicely handled.
Chris: Yeah, except for the fact that Alex would be so fired if the end of that story was anything other than what it was.
Dylan: Haha. Yeah, she totally lucked out that things worked out the way they did. Imagine if Hank had turned out to be, you know, an evil killer cyborg or something like that.
Chris: Oh man, tell me about it. Can you imagine how dumb you’d feel right now if you’d thought Hank was going to be a cyborg?! Or even worse, if you’d argued with people that that was what was going to happen?! I’m sure glad we didn’t do that!
Dylan: With Kara’s powers shorted out by her fight with Red Tornado (who sucks) last week, we saw her have to step up as a symbol of goodness and hope in a town that was all jacked up. The scene where a powerless Kara talks a looter out of robbing a convenience store was really great, showing her ability to be heroic, even without having superpowers.
Chris: Yeah, that scene was an almost 1:1 adaptation of a recent issue of Superman (#39, for those keeping score) where using his “solar flare” has left him powerless for a little bit and he has to stop a guy holding someone hostage at gunpoint by talking him down.
It’s a good issue and reinforces the point that what makes Superman super isn’t all the superpowers. This was one of those rare instances where the people in charge of one of these live action adaptations takes the right thing away from the source material and I can’t applaud the people working Supergirl enough for it.
Dylan: Oh, crazy!
Chris: Though in both cases, while I appreciate the point they’re trying to make, it seems like there might be a better way to de-escalate the situation than just standing in front of the gun. I know it shouldn’t have, because I know better, but that scene actually made me nervous for Kara and it was such a relief when the guy handed the gun over. So I guess that means this show is doing it’s job well. Again, great job, Supergirl!
Dylan: I will say that having Kara completely unable, again, to save somebody is dirty pool.
With Supergirl sidelined, Cat and Winn both had the opportunity to step up, and proved themselves pretty well. I mean, Winn is still a bit of a dink --- what with him pouting all episode about Kara and James’… whatever you’d call what’s going on there --- but at least he was helpful. (And his “I’m not disappointed in Supergirl. I’m disappointed in Kara,” thing is just ugh, dude. She can have feelings for anybody she wants, bro; back up off her jock a little. You’re coming across as way too thirsty.) And Cat’s rousing speech during the crisis was pretty great. How did you feel about the Cat and Winn stuff this episode?
Chris: Good stuff. I’m really not sure what Winn was in a snit about since Kara and James are only having a one armed, semi-hug since Kara’s arm is busted. Friends are allowed to hug friends after traumatic things go down. “Comforting” I believe it’s called. Sometimes even just because you enjoy hugs! I get what they were trying to do, and it’s fine, but everyone’s reaction was like Winn had just interrupted them in the middle of a big ol’ romantic smoochfest.
Dylan: I saw Big Ol’ Romantic Smoochfest at Bonaroo a couple years ago.
Chris: I heard they put on a great show.
All of Cat’s stuff worked for me too, with the exception of the idea that Winn doesn’t know how to set A/V stuff up, but they’re really doing a good job of taking Cat and letting her be more than just the mean boss lady. Great job, Supergirl!
Dylan: Also, let's just come out and say it: we were right about Henshaw being Martian Manhunter, so everybody in the comments who said we were crazy, well, I'll let this GIF do the talking:
Hank Henshaw is Martian Manhunter. And a pretty cool-looking Martian Manhunter at that!
Chris: Dear Commenters; Do you know how much the issue of Adventures of Superman that has Hank Henshaw’s first appearance originally cost without Googling it? I do. Because I bought it when it came out. With my allowance. I don’t know if some of you are new here, but “Superman” is kinda my thing, so the next time you want to try to question our knowledge of the source material, remember that I’ve forgotten more about Cyborg Superman than you will ever know.
So yes, we were totally right! We laid the case out in pretty indisputable fashion back in the Livewire episode, so if this revelation surprised you, that’s on you.
What surprised me though was just how good a job they did with making him look like a for real deal, live action version of Martian Manhunter. I never dreamed they’d pull it off so well, but I also never would have guessed they’d go so far with it! Yet again, great job, Supergirl!
Dylan: We’re living an age where Gorilla Grodd, Martian Manhunter and Vandal Savage have all appeared on primetime television and where Aquaman is one of the stars of a multi-million-dollar action movie. End times, man. Oh, also, if you’re not reading Rob Williams and Eddy Barrows’ Martian Manhunter series, you should probably do that. It’s real good.
Chris: I’ll recommend that as well, because it is, in fact, real good! That King Shark appearance on The Flash was even crazier to me than Gorilla Grodd, because a giant talking gorilla? Sure. The average person can picture that. But a giant walking shark man?! That takes some bravery.
Dylan: It’s totally jawsome.
I will say this; although I’m glad we got some closure on the whole “Who is Hank Henshaw!” mystery, I worry that adding more heroes into the mix might downplay Supergirl’s importance. I’m all for these shows having an interesting cast of support characters, but I’m hoping Martian Manhunter doesn’t become a substitute Superman, stepping in to save Kara when she gets in over her head, which, spoilers: she will continue to do as the series progresses. We saw a similar thing over in Flash with Firestorm stepping in to save Barry Allen more times than necessary, and as fun as it is to see all these characters, it sort of minimizes the impact of your main character to have a secondary character be the real hero of the show.
Chris: As good as that Martian Manhunter looked, I’m going to guess we won’t see too much of him. Because he looked expensive. Who knows? I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt though and bet they don’t overdo it. I have hope for the future of this show.