‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 2: ‘The Last Children of Krypton’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of CW’s Supergirl TV show starring Melissa Benoist. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley and intrepid reporter Katie Schenkel.
This week, the super-team-up with Superman continues, and Kara couldn’t be happier about it! But things are about to change, as the super-cousins are confronted with the mysterious Cadmus and the menace of Metallo! “The Last Children of Krypton” was directed by Glen Winter from a script by Robert Rovner and Caitlin Parrish.
Chris: Well, we’re back for our second episode of the new season, and there’s certainly plenty to talk about this week. Overall, I really enjoyed this episode, even if there were a few slight lows to go along with the highs, and perhaps some things to possibly nitpick, but my general feeling was a pleased one. What’d you think, Katie?
Katie: I’m very much on the same page in terms of a mixed bag with a lot of highs, although we’ll have to see if our highs and lows match up!
To start off with one of the highs, we have a first scene full of Clark and Kara being bright balls of sunshine in superhero uniforms, and it was delightful. We talked last week about how much we enjoyed the Krypton cousins getting along, and the show let us have more highlights of that before Tyler Hoechlin’s first guest appearance ended.
There were two things about that first scene --- one, the fact that Clark was always more than happy to let Kara take the lead, and two, that when he gets into everyday, no-one-is-in-immediate-danger Superman mode, Hoechlin has this good natured smirk to him with the goons that leans into almost trolling them, but still avoids making him seem like a jerk.
Kara joyful bouncing over to him after they took care of the bad guys was so good I had to rewind and watch it again.
Chris: You watch those scenes and how well they play out and how well the actors involved play off of each other, and you can’t help but think, “Why would anyone ever want to approach Superman in any other way?”
This is Supergirl’s show, so I promise I’m not going to dwell on this for too long, but since this is our last week with him (for now, I hope), let’s get into it a little. I think Henry Cavill could make a fine Superman if given the proper opportunity. If he’d been allowed to star in an actual sequel to Man of Steel first (based on how that movie ended) instead of having a small role in the over-crowded, narrative mess of Batman v Superman, we might have seen his portrayal veer a little closer to something like this. I don’t think it would have been as good as this, but I think it might have seemed a little more… Superman.
Zack Snyder’s version of Superman has a costume with built in abs, so you never forget how ripped he is, and shakes, rattles, and destroys the ground when he takes off. Supergirl’s version of Superman seems so much more powerful and confident than all of that. As though he doesn’t need to prove anything with that kind of unnecessary posturing.
What Supergirl really gets so right about both Superman and Supergirl, that those two movies have missed, is that some people want to try to help, not out of some kind of inescapable sense of obligation, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. They just do what they hope anyone in their position would do, and I love them for that. And also, there’s still room to have some fun with it when you stop some bad guys and smh at them trying to punch Superman.
Katie: I also really liked that while there was a definite change in tone and mannerisms when Clark is talking to Perry as “Mild Mannered Clark Kent,” it’s not that much different from him talking to Kara as her cousin Kal. The show gets that there’s some fun to be had playing up the secret identities of Clark and Kara, but the writers and the actors seem to understand that these aren’t masks Superman and Supergirl are wearing --- their everyday identities are just as much facets of who they are as their identities as the last children of Krypton.
Chris: Yes! Thank you.
Katie: Maybe the most unrealistic thing about the episode was the goons who tried shooting at Superman. Guys, you live in a DC universe and Superman just crunched your bumper --- bullets aren’t going to work, and your fists definitely aren’t. But Clark lampshaded it, so I guess you can chalk it up to a panicked reaction on the goons’ part.
Chris: I thought maybe it was them winking at how criminals on The Adventures of Superman used to try shooting Superman and then would throw their guns at him when that didn’t work.
Katie: You’re probably right. I think in those moments I go into, “Okay but what would I do as a goon in that situation?” and my answer is always, “Nope myself out of there.”
So after one of my favorite opening scenes of this show so far, we get into one of the B plots of this episode, specifically Alex’s defensive jealousy of Clark and Kara’s relationship. I’m interested in your thoughts on this, because I’m of two minds.
On one hand, this isn’t particularly out of character for Alex; even though she and Kara have talked out some of this stuff in the past, she still harbors some resentment even as she embraces her role as Kara’s protector. The dialogue in their argument could have been a little tighter --- her points were sort of all over the place, and I’m not sure the show knew the point it was making --- but I could appreciate that they’re showing Alex as a complicated person who is still trying to figure out herself after years of only seeing herself in relationship to Kara. That growth and maturity is messy.
That being said, the worst thing about this B plot is that it feels like it came out of nowhere, because there was no sign of resentment in the season premiere last week. While J’onn and Clark’s resolution didn’t feel forced in because they set up the conflict in the previous episode, introducing Alex’s frustrations at the beginning of this episode just didn’t work. And it’s not like there needed to be a ton of set up last week for Alex’s story; even just a concerned look or off-hand comment would have helped immensely. Instead, what could have been a more cohesive story element comes off as contrived. What did you think of that part of the episode?
Chris: I think you hit the nail on the head. If you’re the protective older sibling and suddenly Superman shows up to be the new inspirational, mentor figure in the family, how could you not feel a little jealous? But also, it’s Superman, and he’s so wonderful and great and your little sister is so happy, you feel guilty for being jealous. I absolutely buy it happening, but like you said, that conversation/argument was not the most well-crafted moment in the show.
Of course, having said that, maybe it is more realistic for it to all just come tumbling out like that. You’re mad and hurt, but you feel bad about it, and you’re not even exactly sure what you’re mad and hurt about. It got the point across though, so I’m willing to give it a pass.
I think this episode’s weakest moments all revolved around the scenes where they’re basically just paying lip service to setting up or resolving the B plots. The main goal of this episode is clearly to showcase to potential new viewers how cool the superhero-ing on this show can be. Is that fair to say, you think?
Katie: Yes and no. Considering we knew Clark’s time with Supergirl was coming to a close, I get why they were taking time to set up the upcoming storylines among Kara and her friends. For me, the J’onn and Clark stuff worked because it was not only relevant to the guest character, but was also easily the best written not-involving-Kara scene of the episode.
The moment J’onn spoke Kryptonian and explained that he wanted to honor and protect Clark and Kara’s legacy … I mean, how lovely was that? Such a classic Martian Manhunter moment. And yes some of it served to get the viewers ready for M’gann to show up this season, but of all the side story stuff this episode, that connected with me … even if some of Clark’s dialogue about wishing he could trust J’onn as a friend felt like J’onn was taking on Batman’s role, especially with the kryptonite storage.
For the CatCo stuff, it was less about the B plots taking away time from the action scenes and more that the show is going through some growing pains with Cat leaving. We mentioned last recap that watching Snapper Carr take on Cat’s role as mentor was going to be an adjustment, and it was hard to watch Kara essentially be put back on the bottom of the totem pole for this boss who immediately underestimates her.
I’m of two minds about this part, too because on one hand, an editor expecting someone completely new to journalism (and professional writing in general) to earn her place is understandable. As someone who writes for a living, I’m honestly glad this was addressed. On the other hand, maybe Cat could have warned Kara what “pick whatever job you wanted” actually meant? I get why Kara was surprised at the “you don’t work for me line,” is what I’m saying. What did you think of Snapper?
Chris: I guess I don’t really know what to think of him at this point? That’s not a knock on the show, but other than “gruff”, he didn’t have much to do. He seems pretty clearly modeled after Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and I enjoyed that show on Nick at Nite as a kid, so a part of me feels like I already know him, but if I just look at what’s happened on the actual show, I don’t have much to go off of.
I’m sure he’s going to be an interesting player in Kara’s story though, so I’m fine with him. Honestly, even when it comes to the things I want to possibly complain about with this show, I’m kind of a pushover as far as being willing to let them go, because of what they get right. These two episodes were just very enjoyable to me, so I apologize if any readers want less forgiveness at this point.
Cat will definitely be missed though, as the evolution of her relationship with Kara and Supergirl was one of the highlights of the first season. And Calista Flockhart was so wonderful at stealing scenes and just having the kind of acting range and gravitas that some of her young co-stars maybe weren’t quite capable of for some scenes. What do you think?
Katie: The show has an uphill climb with losing Calista’s Cat on a regular basis. She added so much to the show, both as a character with real presence and a compelling mentor figure who learned as much from Kara/Supergirl as Kara did from her. I’m glad she’ll be coming back on and off this season, but I’m still going to miss the crap out of her.
I’m glad we got to see some great scenes with her and Melissa Benoist this episode, both the touching goodbye talks to both Kara and Supergirl and the moment where Cat waxes poetical about Clark Kent’s backside and Kara makes the best “I am not here for this” face ever.
I think you’re right about Snapper --- the archetype can work, and already we’re seeing that “gruff, but actually likes our hero deep down” element coming into play. I found myself remembering that while Flockhart was always entertaining as Cat, it did take a few episodes in season one for Cat to come into her own and go beyond mean boss to a real inspiration for our heroine. I’m willing to give Snapper a little time to come around to our girl, and I’m confident Ian Gomez will find that balance for the character.
But beyond Flockhart’s charming performance, the other thing we’re losing here is a female mentorship, and that’s just a shame to me. After all, Snapper is not a gender-specific name (I’m not really sure it’s a name at all), and part of me wishes we could have seen a no-nonsense Ms. Carr taking on that role in Kara’s life.
Chris: Kara having a powerful female figure in her life to go to when she needed advice on how to the best powerful female she could be was always great, but I’m guessing they really felt like they had to have someone with a very different dynamic so that it didn’t seem like they were just replacing Calista Flockhart. Especially if she’s going to be coming back later in the season. If anything, I think she and Snapper will likely grow to become more colleagues/equals than him being a mentor figure in the way that Cat was. She can respect and learn from him, but I doubt Kara will ever have the kind of admiration for Snapper she has for Cat, because she’s already much more her own person by the time she meets him.
Hey, speaking of replacing Cat, how about the thirty seconds that Jimmy shows up in this episode to say he’s taking over Cat’s job? From photographer to running an entire company is quite a step up! Even for an award winning photographer. Do you imagine one of this season’s subplots will be about James not knowing how to balance being a vigilante and run a multimedia empire?
Katie: So while it’s maybe a little farfetched to go from photographer to running the company, remember that Jimmy was CatCo’s art director last season, so it’s not like he was freelancer Peter Parker in this scenario --- which is good because no one wants to be Peter Parker. My bigger problem is that it feels like there was a scene cut where Cat makes the case to James himself for James to take over. Cat is really good at convincing others of their potential and I wanted to see that. That would have driven home the idea of where he’s going this season.
In any case, to answer your question, since apparently romance with Kara is being taken off the table --- which again, felt really forced last week and I’m still a bit peeved about it --- I’m intrigued at where they could take Jimmy as a man who is coming into his own as both a media professional and soon-to-be hero. They could go interesting places with his arc --- whether they will remains to be seen.
Chris: And we haven’t even mentioned Metallo!
Katie: Metallos, you mean!
I hate to say it, but the two Metallos felt the most like they were just there to get to the action scenes, which were definitely fun to watch, but they didn’t provide as much substance as you’d think they would considering Metallo is one of Supes’ more well-known antagonists.
That being said, we also saw more into this universe’s Cadmus, which is more overtly renegade than previous versions that focus on it as a secret government sector. Not quite sure I buy it yet, although to be frank if they throw in a plus-size Amanda Waller I could easily get on board the Cadmus train.
Chris: Yeah, I wasn’t particularly impressed with how they handled Metallo(s). From the way he kept doing that weird one person chest bump thing to shoot his Kryptonite lasers, to how embarrassingly bad that “glowing Metallo chest fancy costume shirt” they both wore that looked like it came from Party City was. But, the anti-Kryptonite armor Winn made was basically a plastic “S” cover with HDMI cables coming out of it, so... shrug emoji? Like I said, I’m feeling pretty forgiving this week, so maybe they’ll get Metallo an upgraded wardrobe by the next time we see him.
Katie: The only thing about the Metallo shirts was that it reminded me of Havok’s sexy Goblin Prince costume in the X-Men comics, so I kind of almost give it a pass.
Chris: Whereas it reminded me of Havok’s shirts with holes from X-Men: First Class. We’re not so different, you and I.
Katie: I think it’s a little late to give your “join me” speech since we’re already doing these recaps together, Chris.
Speaking of, next episode we don’t have Superman, but we are getting the iconic Lynda Carter as the President and that’s not too shabby!
Chris: Much like, Winn, I am in near tears to see this wonderful Superman fly off back to Metropolis, and can I just say that never have I identified more with a character in a show than I did with Winn’s reactions/interactions with Superman in these episodes, but President Lynda Carter is not too shabby at all!
Share your thoughts with us in the comments, Super-Friends, and until next week; “To Be Continued!”