‘Supergirl’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2 Episode 1: ‘The Adventures of Supergirl’
Welcome to Supergirl Talk, our regular feature breaking down the highs and lows of The CW’s Supergirl TV show, starring Melissa Benoist. Your travelling companions on this journey are Superman super-fan Chris Haley, and newcomer Katie Schenkel.
This week, the second season of Supergirl takes a few running steps and leaps into the sky with the super-team-up everyone was wondering if we’d ever see last season. “The Adventures of Supergirl” was directed by Glen Winter from a teleplay by Jessica Queller.
Chris: Welcome back to National City, Super-fans and please join me in warmly welcoming my new Super-partner, Katie Schenkel!
Katie, welcome to the newly renamed Supergirl Talk (formerly Supergirl Guys). Readers know that loving Superman is basically my main thing in life, but what is your history with Superman, Supergirl, and the rest of our cast of super-family members and shape-changing aliens?
Katie: Glad to be here, Chris! My history with the Superfam is primarily through the televisions shows of the 90s --- I was a big fan of Lois and Clark as a kid and also have a huge place in my heart for the Superman of the DCAU. While I’m enjoying the current Superman and Supergirl books, I still go back to those shows (although in recent years I’ve also really loved the version of Clark in Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane novels).
I’m a big fan of the optimism in these characters, and while the first season of Supergirl had some bumps and flaws, that optimism from Kara and the rest of the cast made Supergirl one of my must-see shows of the last year. So I’m pretty happy I get to recap it.
Chris: You know, last season some readers liked to complain that I and the people I was reviewing various other shows with were too negative. And my response to that was always, “If you think I just like being negative, come read the Supergirl reviews.” Which is to say, I really enjoyed the first season of Supergirl, and all of the things the show tried to say with its portrayal of a superhero character.
And this season is already off to a great start. Some of those bumps and flaws you mentioned, I hope, were simply due to the show trying to figure out exactly what it could and couldn’t do. Finding its flying legs, if you will. That’s terrible. I’m sorry.
If this episode is any indication, I think many of those problems are behind us, but perhaps it’s not fair or smart to base my assessment of the whole season on just this first episode, so let’s get into this thing! Katie, what did you think of “The Adventures of Supergirl”?
Katie: Such a big question for a good 42ish minutes of television ! But no, it was pretty darn great. There are a handful of things that I wasn’t thrilled with, but I don’t want to talk about that just yet. I want to talk about Clark “Dorkus Melorkus” Kent. After so many emoticons and silent messages of encouragement last season, we finally get to see Clark Kent in the flesh and he absolutely fit the spirit of the character I had in my head throughout season one. His first scene talking on the phone with Perry (and Perry giving him crap for saying “lickety-split” like an old grampa) had me grinning from ear to ear. So what did you think of Clark?
Chris: Well, first of all, let me just say how glad I am that I’m going to be doing these reviews with someone who will understand my Simpsons references! That’s quite a relief, because if not for those I don’t know what I’d say half the time.
This was the happiest I’ve been watching a television show in I don’t even know how long. Well, a live action one, at least. In less than half an hour, Supergirl managed to get everything right about Superman and Clark that Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder have failed to in almost six hours worth of movie screen time. And he’s not even the star of the show!
As Superman, he’s warm and friendly and considerate and fun and has a sense of humor, but still completely and absolutely commands respect when he walks into a room full of government agents who are used to dealing with aliens and robots and who knows what all else. And he does it all without any of the pseudo-badass posturing and sneering with glowing red eyes that Mr. Snyder seems to think is the only way to make a guy in a red and blue suit not come off as silly.
I don’t want to spend the whole recap talking about that flawed logic, but the thing Grant Morrison said about how Superman should be the most at-ease person you’ve ever met has always stuck with me. Superman has nothing to prove, and because of that, he doesn’t have to walk around with his chest puffed out and a punch first attitude. He wants to help, not beat you up, and in he’s in a position to be open to helping first because he’s Superman. And if that doesn’t work he can always punch things later.
So, yeah, this was a great night for me. And a great night for Supergirl! Not only did she finally get to have her first of several, team-ups with her cousin, but the writers and producers on the show did a great job of having Superman finally show up and be everything we wanted him to be and not completely overshadow Kara in the process!
Katie: Totally. A friend of mine compared this episode to the Flash crossover last season, in terms of it still being Kara’s show with Clark being a supportive fellow superhero rather than taking over with his own story.
Chris: Yes! Exactly!
Katie: One of the things I was worried about, that would have been very easy for them to do, is have Clark criticize Kara or disapprove of something she was doing as part of the plot. It worked okay for J’onn early in last season, but it would have been such a downer for this huge inspiration for Kara to finally come on the show and be negative towards her.
Instead, we got a Superman who was not only encouraging of Supergirl, but really excited to work with her as hero to hero. There’s also plenty of times they get to just interact and bond. I loved their teasing, but I really loved when they both go over to talk to the kids on their bikes.
Chris: Absolutely. It’s also fun to see that even when she’s Supergirl, a little bit of Kara’s inner-geek peeks through in this moment that’s a huge geek-out moment for fans as well. And that even though he’s a big-shot and inspiration to her, he’s also still that little cousin she was supposed to take care of, and she’s delighted to take an opportunity to embarrass him just a little.
People who think characters this powerful are unrelatable because they can’t be humanized are just lazy, because look at how powerful and relatable they are, and that's just in the show’s opening!
Katie: On top of that, there was so much great characterization in the advice Clark gives Kara. Through him giving Kara help with balancing her life, we’re learning about this Clark’s own views on his life on earth. Him telling her that being Kara was just as important as being Supergirl was really incredible, because that’s how I see Clark feeling about Clark Kent and Superman. Oh man, and the part where he asked Kara to tell him stories about his parents! How amazing was that?
Chris: My heart could barely stand it. It reminded me of Superman and Supergirl’s first meeting when the New 52 started and she made a comment about Clark sounding like he learned Kryptonian from a book because his accent was so odd.
Katie: I think it’s easy for people to forget that while Superman is an immigrant story, he’s an immigrant who came over as a baby. Kara’s story as an immigrant who remembers her home is very different from her cousin’s, and it’s great to see the show understand and acknowledge that.
Chris: Yeah, I think they did a great job in the first season of telling the story of Kara trying to figure out where her place is. And the idea that by the end of last season she had fully realized who she is and where she’s supposed to be in regards to Krypton vs Earth was explained very well in the show’s new expository opening.
Katie: I also just really appreciate how the show is careful in its framing and tone when it comes to their female audience. Something that stood out to me in particular this episode was the dress changing montage and the fact that Kara was wearing a body slimmer. For one, wearing a body slimmer under dresses is normal for plenty of women, but this also allowed for the show to do a silly changing scene without having Kara shown in her bra and underwear. It was such a smart move and totally avoided alienating a core part of their viewership with a voyeuristic moment. It’s a small detail, but that thoughtful choice alone makes me really positive about the show’s place on the CW.
Chris: I’m actually glad you brought this up because there was a second when that scene started where I thought, “Whoa, wait, are they having her in her underwear?!” because it seemed like it would have been so out of place for this show. The human body is a beautiful thing, but this show that so many parents are psyched to get to watch with their little girls who love Kara is not the place for that kind of thing. This show does so much right, and I’m so thankful for it.
Katie: We haven’t really talked at all about the main plot of the episode (because yes, Clark and Kara are just adorable and it’s so easy to get excited about their scenes), but what did you think of Lena Luthor? I doubt I’ll be the only person with this theory, but I’m guessing she set the assassination up so she could look innocent and build up her reputation. The fact that she was happy Clark included the part where she shot John Corben was a pretty big red flag for me. Also the fact that this is Lena Luthor.
Chris: Yeah, on the one hand, like Kara, I want to believe her, but I can’t help but be suspicious of a Luthor. Even an adopted one. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for now, but I’m guessing we won’t have to wait too long to find out if your theory is correct. Though I will say, part of me hopes she’s not simply because of how awful her demise in Jurassic World was... like, can’t this poor actress have something work out okay?
Katie: Oh, my gosh, she was the assistant in Jurassic World?? Then yes, absolutely I hope they give her a complex and meaty role here. She deserves it after that bizarre death scene.
Speaking of bizarre, there was one part of the episode that really didn’t gel with me, and that was Kara and Jimmy’s sort of break up before they actually started dating. Granted, I was rooting for them last season, but it was more the hastiness of Kara’s rejection than anything else. It’s been, what, a few days since she kissed Jimmy before he got brainwashed? It seems like a pretty short amount of time for her to decide they’re definitely better as friends. If she had said she needed more time to learn about herself or just didn’t want to date right now, I could see it, but as it was that whole subplot felt like rushing back to last season’s status quo.
I will give them credit for having Jimmy be understanding and accept Kara’s feelings (while reassuring her that he cares about their friendship). That was a good response.
Chris: Yeah, I was going to say, as good a job as the show did with juggling its big regular cast as well as their special guest super-star, Jimmy… sorry, James, was the one character that seemed a little lost in the shuffle. Winn got a new job at the DEO, the DEO got new digs that were definitely not caused by the show’s move from LA to Canada, Kara got a new vocational direction, and James got… to eat pizza and pot stickers alone while Supergirl was off saving the Endeavor?
To me this smacks of them wanting there to still be some kind of romantic tension on the show, because I’d be willing to bet once the guy in the pod wakes up, there’s going to be a new romantic triangle between the three of them.
Katie: There was also no Lucy Lane this episode, probably because, as you said, the episode was already quite packed with characters. That being said, as someone who also was rooting for Kara and Lucy to get together (this is what Legend of Korra did to me --- I have so much hope for female romantic rivals to fall for each other now), a part of me hopes that character the showrunners have said will come out this season will actually be those two. I dare to dream big, clearly, but if it does happen I can totally point to this recap to show that I called it.
In any case, I’m hoping that she comes back pretty soon, because I like how they developed her character in the first season.
Chris: Big dreams are the only ones worth dreaming, Katie. My dream is to someday look as good in a Superman costume as Tyler Hoechlin does. It’ll be interesting to see which of our dreams comes true first over the course of this season!
My guess with Lucy is the show couldn’t afford to have her back, or at least not right away. And speaking of people they can’t afford, the show certainly seemed to be setting up an at least partial exit for Cat Grant/Calista Flockhart, didn’t it? My guess is she’s going to leave to make up the time she’s lost with her son, but she’ll be back around occasionally. What do you think?
Katie: I definitely think that’s where they’re going with it --- if not specifically to spend time with her kids, then to take Kara’s change as inspiration to try something new in her own life. It’s still really sad that we’re losing her as a regular cast member (seeing her as-usual amazing timing in this episode reminded me how much I’m going to miss her in every episode), I’m glad they’re able to keep Cat as part of the show and give her a character reason not to be there. The fact that this will give her plenty of chances to come back throughout the season is probably the best option if we can’t have her as a regular. I’m going to do my best to not judge Ian Gomez’ upcoming performance based on Calista’s, but it’ll be difficult.
Chris: I salute your effort, even as I wonder how Snapper Carr is going to fit into this world. Oh wow, you know what I just realized? No Maxwell Lord this episode. Not even a mention! He didn’t die last season and I just completely forgot about it did he? Maybe he couldn’t make the trip to The CW either.
Katie: To be honest, it might be nice to have him pop up a little later in the season, maybe to team up with whoever the new main big bad will be, whether that’s indeed Lena or the heads of Cadmus. Can we dare to dream of a new take on Amanda Waller for the Supergirl universe? One that doesn’t make me frustrated?
Chris: I suppose stranger things have happened. Speaking of Cadmus, the last big thing we should mention before we wrap up is that we got our first look at the soon-to-be Metallo. At first, I thought, “Wait, didn’t Supergirl already fight Metallo?” but that was Reactron… who is totally not Metallo.
Katie: I’m actually kind of happy that we get to see Metallo first here instead of him being a Superman villain already. But it was also one of those things where I knew if I googled the bad guy this episode in the middle of the episode I’d find out who he actually was, so being reminded at the end who John Corben was with that reveal made that moment more fun for me. Of course, if the actor spoke like Malcolm McDowell the way Metallo should sound, I would have guessed it immediately.
Regardless, I’m excited to see how Superman and Supergirl handle this new threat next week. Pretty great cliffhanger for the first episode of the season!
Chris: Yep, next week’s episode has got a tall order in front of it, but I’m definitely looking forward to it and looking forward to talking with you about it again, Katie, and hearing what you, dear readers, thought down in the comments!